The Kizuna Road tour wrapped up in Sendai, as Rev Pro’s British championships… and a spot in the G1 were on the line!
We’re at the Sunplaza Hall in Sendai, with no English commentary, which is bloody weird considering what the two title matches are.
Yuji Nagata & Yota Tsuji vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
Looking to impress Nagata, Tsuji led a jump-start to the match, as the “dad and lad” pairing put the boots to Kojima in the early going.
DDTs from Kojima quickly got him back in as the former multi-time tag champions quickly found their stride. Tsuji tried to fight back with forearms, but he’d looked weakened surprisingly early on, as he found himself cornered for some machine gun chops in the corner. Tsuji saved himself from an early ending when he ducked a Cozy Lariat, as Nagata finally came in to bring some fight to the match for his team. Kojima cuts off Nagata with a cutter, only for Tenzan to come in and wander into a Shirome armbar. That’s quickly kicked away by Kojima, who just gets booted in the face for his troubles. Ah well.
Some double-teaming to Tenzan led to him almost losing to a bodyslam, only for Kojima to return as a TenKoji Cutter almost led to the win. Nagata breaks up the pin, but couldn’t save Tsuji from an Anaconda Vise, as the Young Lion was made to tap. Decent fare, but Tsuji looked extremely tired in this – the rigours of the tour? **¾
Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi)
With all due respect, that’s a hell of a lot of dead weight on Ibushi’s team…
Once again there’s dissent within LIJ as EVIL refused to raise fists, which led to a jump start from Shota Umino. That’ll be the Moxley influence pushing through… especially when he took Naito outside and spat on him.
That just earned Shota a beating as Naito took him into the crowd while the rest of LIJ focused on Honma in the ring. Despite the earlier snub, EVIL combined well with Naito, using a running Bronco buster for a near-fall on Honma, but the tables turned when SANADA took a clothesline, with Makabe coming in to hit a few more. Shingo tries to fire back, but Makabe just took him down as we cycled through tags. Kota and EVIL trade blows, with Ibushi slightly edging ahead, before he was forced to tag out to Ren Narita… who shockingly managed to suplex Shingo as the ring filled to help neutralise any LIJ interference. A Parade of Moves breaks out, but ends rudely with a clothesline from Shingo… who almost lost to a backslide as Narita countered Noshigami, then to a roll-up as Sendai was BITING for Narita.
A Pumping Bomber couldn’t put Ren away though, as Shingo finally took the W with that Noshigami. Some excellent spirit from Narita at the end, but heart still isn’t enough to get that first win. ***¼
Post-match, Honma and Naito fought in the crowd, just because. Kota Ibushi had a brief staredown, and I’m suddenly fearing for their necks. Again.
Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
This one immediately spilled to the outside, with Mikey Nicholls throwing Tama Tonga into the wall at the back of the hall… while Juice met a similar fate. Eventually they made their ways back to the ring to beat the count, and continue the brawl, as the prospective title challengers began to find their footing.
The Guerrillas quickly regained the momentum though, squashing Juice and Mikey in the corners as the pace of this one quickly ground to a halt. Jado got involved with a Kendo stick to snuff out Nicholls’ attempted fightback, before Tanga Loa’s swandive headbutt and a wonky big splash from Tama led to a near-fall. Jado gets involved again, but Juice cuts him off with Dusty punches… only for a Gun Stun from Tama to stop all that. Nicholls looked set to take a second, but he countered the Gun Stun into a backslide, and that’s the win… and surely a title shot down the road, no? Hopefully that match won’t be as dry, but at least they’re giving Nicholls something here. **½
After the match, Nicholls said that they wanted their tag belts… and since these two teams are wrestling in Melbourne this weekend, expect that to suddenly become a title match.
Bullet Club (Jay White, Taiji Ishimori, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toa Henare & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
With Roppongi 3K having lost the junior tag titles earlier in the tour, they were looking to make a case for an instant rematch – but things weren’t helped when Ishimori clung onto the ropes to avoid a four-way dropkick early on.
That miss put the Bullet Club ahead for a spell, with Chase Owens working over SHO’s leg before Jay White continued the motif. The pace slows a little as Yujiro booted SHO in the ropes… only for SHO to come right back with a spear. Tags took us to White and Tanahashi, with the Ace single-handedly clearing house, eventually pulling down White with a Dragon Screw. White retaliated with a Saito suplex, then a brainbuster, before Tanahashi had to counter a Blade Runner with the Twist and Shout neckbreaker. Henare comes in to try and pick up the slack with a deadlift suplex, as a Parade of Moves broke out, culminating in Tanahashi slipping on a pescado to Yujiro.
Back in the ring, Henare almost put White away with the spear tackle, before a uranage’s countered into a snap Saito suplex as our favourite Knife Pervert ended up taking a rather elementary win with a Blade Runner. Based on this showing, I’m massively worried for Tanahashi in the G1 – unless he’s gaming himself, he’s nowhere near his best after his last surgery. ***
After the match, White took verbal shots at the birthday boy YOH, before taking aim at how Hirooki Goto was a failure. Apparently Goto went to the LA Dojo with Shibata to try and get back on track… so White told him to just cut that out and retire. Those two have a block match on July 13 to start block B. Sure enough, Goto ran out to attack White from behind. Gedo tries his luck, but he took an ushigoroshi as the Bullet Club pair were sent packing.
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask
Hey, it’s the forgotten Suzuki-gun theme!
Surprisingly there’s no jump start, as DOUKI and Liger opened things up… with Liger making light work of the Suzuki-gun part-timer, pulling him into a Romero special. It’s quickly broken up as both teams made tags, with Suzuki going to work on Tiger Mask, while simultaneously booting away Toru Yano’s attempt to get involved. Eventually Tiger Mask got free, and brought in Okada, who again made light work of DOUKI… but then struggled a little with Lance Archer as the size difference instantly showed. Archer looked for the Black Out early on, but Okada slipped out and had to fight out of the EBD Claw, before dropkicking away a chokeslam.
Tags get us to Ishii and Taichi, who trade kicks and chops until Ishii hit the mat… that’s the cue for Taichi’s trousers to come off ahead of a buzzsaw kick as a Stretch Plum almost forced a stoppage. Liger breaks it up as the good guys mounted a late comeback, only for an Axe Bomber from Taichi to stem the tide. Another buzzsaw kick’s caught though, with Ishii countering into a back suplex, only to get caught by the rest of Suzuki-gun. DOUKI (of all people) looked to put Ishii away with the Daybreaker slingshot DDT, but Okada stopped the travesty before a lariat from Ishii dumped DOUKI on his head. One sheer drop brainbuster later, and that was all for DOUKI in New Japan. For now. This was pretty entertaining, even if the G1 teases weren’t their hottest. ***¼
RevPro Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. El Phantasmo (c)
A month ago, Taguchi picked up a win over ELP to effectively end his Best of the Super Junior tournament – and earn himself a title shot in the process. Hey, Sendai woke up for their hometown challenger… and even cheered referee Red Shoes Unno and his crotch chops.
Taguchi schooled Phantasmo early on, so the champion responded by slowing down the pace to his level. Headscissor escapes were shoved away as Taguchi ended up falling on his face, before he was sent into the ropes… and eventually outsmarted Phantasmo’s attempt at a low dropkick. An attempt to wind up Phantasmo by doing his rope-walk gimmick ended with ELP letting go as Taguchi just crotched himself in the ropes. D’oh!
ELP retaliated with his rope walking, before my feed buffered… and returned to the sight of Taguchi’s arse in a thong. I didn’t think I’d see my lunch again… Taguchi crashed and burned on a dropkick, leaving himself prone for a Quebrada as Phantasmo looked comfortable. Hip attacks easily got countered into atomic drops as ELP was a step ahead… until he went to the well once too often himself, and left himself open for an enziguiri. Now Taguchi unleashes hip attacks, including a flying one off the apron to Phantasmo on the floor.
Eventually those hip attacks backfired as Phantasmo countered into a roll-up for a near-fall as the tide started to shift back, accidentally aided by the referee, as ELP countered Dodon with a roll-up, before a whirlibird neckbreaker left Taguchi flat on the mat. Somehow Taguchi found a way back in with Three Amigos and a Bummer Ye, before a Dodon To The Throne almost led to a title change.
From the kick-out, Taguchi traps Phantasmo in Oh My Garankle, but the hold’s broken up in the ropes after ELP had climbed over the referee to get there. A wacky Blockbuster/Destroyer nearly gets the win, before ELP got the victory with the CR2. This was fine, but this felt more like a placeholder title defence than anything else. Nothing against Phantasmo or Taguchi, but it just felt like there was something missing in this. Should we read anything into ELP throwing his two title belts to Shota Umino after the match? ***
RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: YOSHI-HASHI vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (c)
In addition to his Rev Pro title, Sabre’s put his spot in the G1 on the line as YOSHI-HASHI wanted to better his dismal 3-6 record from last year.
Sabre started out as you’d expect, grounding YOSHI-HASHI and taking him to the ropes, before suckering YOSHI into a false sense of security as he evaded a dropkick in the ropes. That was just a prelude to Sabre tying YOSHI around the ropes and the guard rails as it was clear that Sabre was looking to make YOSHI suffer. A series of kicks from Sabre were eventually caught as YOSHI countered back with a suplex, along with a Headhunter and finally, that rope-hung dropkick. The Bunker Buster neckbreaker’s next, as Sabre looked to be in some discomfort, but he was able to roll away from a senton as he resumed work on YOSHI-HASHI’s arm.
That armbar’s broken up with a powerbomb from YOSHI-HASHI, but he’s right back in trouble as Sabre meets him on the top rope… only to get shoved down ahead of a Blockbuster as YOSHI was still in this. He even manages to lock in a Cobra Twist on Sabre, then flipped him up into an old school shoulderbreaker. God, I loved that move back in the day. From there, a superkick left Sabre prone for a butterfly lock, but a look of anger flashed across his face as he struggled to get to the ropes for a break… and got pulled back into the ring before he got himself free. YOSHI keeps up with a headbutt, but a running Meteora’s rolled through a Sabre slipped in a STF sleeperhold, forcing his challenger to reach for the ropes.
Sabre looked for a Zack Driver, but it got countered into a back cracker as YOSHI-HASHI pushed on. Perhaps too much, as he looked for Karma, and ended up getting waffled with PK after PK as Sabre began to dismantle him once more. A roll-up and a Western lariat had British hearts in mouths as YOSHI-HASHI again threatened, only to get rolled to the mat as Sabre forces the submission after he’d literally tied up YOSHI in knots. Well, he gave it his all, but Sabre never looked to be in too much danger here – as we avoided the relative ignominy of Rev Pro’s title being held by the serial underperformer YOSHI-HASHI. Shame, I was looking forward to seeing YOSHI-HASHI at the Cockpit… ***½
Post-match, Sabre berated the “cretins” in Sendai for thinking that YOSHI-HASHI had any chance of victory. He then declared he’d be buried with the Rev Pro British Heavyweight title, something he said he’d win on his route to being the first British IWGP champion. “Strong Style is dead, long live Sabre-ism”.
As the culmination of Kizuna Road, this was something of a flat show. Yes, I’m using my boiler plate “nothing stunk, but nothing was exceptional either” line, but it’s true – with a tour of Australia coming up this weekend, and the trek to Dallas for the start of the G1, there’s a lot of tired bodies about to get even more tired, so nobody was really expecting a blowaway show here.