We’re back at Korakuen Hall for more on the Kizuna Road tour with Shingo Takagi and Kota Ibushi having the first of several warm-up tag matches in the main event.

Quick Results
Zack Sabre Jr. submitted Yuya Uemura in 12:34 (***½)
Taichi pinned Yota Tsuji in 14:14 (***½)
Toru Yano, SHO & YOH pinned Jado, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori in 9:53 (**½)
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada pinned Gedo, EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & Dick Togo in 15:17 (**¾)
SANADA, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI submitted Master Wato, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi in 18:26 (***)

Yuya Uemura vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
It’s back-to-back nights against Suzuki-gun for Uemura, who’ll be looking to steel himself with another technical outing here.

Uemura tries to take Sabre to the mat early on, but managed to escape Sabre’s counters as he frustrated the tag champion in the early going. Sabre found a way through with a toe hold, before he offered a leg to Uemura, who didn’t take him up on the offer before scoring a takedown.

Sabre keeps Uemura at close quarters and forced him into the ropes before a hammerlock took the Young Lion down to the mat. Escaping, Uemura starts a chain of hammerlock counters that ended with Sabre getting sent to the outside, with Zack looking like he was having to figure out some new tactics. Especially after he got taken down with a shoulder block back inside.

A series of elbows surprise Sabre, who hit back with an uppercut or two, before a wristlock and a stomp looked to compromise Uemura’s left elbow. Sabre stays on it with a levering armbar on the apron, before a series of kicks back inside dropped Uemura for a two-count… only for Sabre to get caught out of nowhere with a dropkick.

Elbows from Uemura have Sabre down again, with a Northern Lights getting him a two-count… before Uemura worked his way in for a scissored armbar attempt. Sabre tries to roll free, but can’t quite as Uemura rolled with him, eventually getting the cross armbar in as Sabre got into the ropes.

An overhead kick from Sabre has Uemura down, as did a missed forearm from Uemura, before Sabre pulled him into another armbar. Fortunately for Uemura, he was pretty close to the ropes and was able to break, before he slapped Sabre back after catching a kick. A rolling prawn hold from Uemura nearly nicks it, before a second one ended with Sabre countering into a rear naked choke… right by the ropes as Uemura’s luck remained high.

Sabre runs into an armdrag as Uemura looked to put him away with an armbar… before Sabre’s extravagant counters almost cost him as the Young Boy Killer double armbar eventually forced the submission. This was a really good war of attrition between the two, and – some slight hesitation notwithstanding – I thought Uemura looked a million miles better here than yesterday. Why on earth have they not done these singles matches sooner?! ***½

Yota Tsuji vs. Taichi
The result may be academic, but that’s half the fun in these Young Lion matches. That and perhaps finally finding out what they call Taichi’s version of the Stretch Plum…

When we eventually get going, the pair circle the wagons before Taichi backed into the ropes from the opening tie-up. We wash, rinse, repeat, then break down into shoulder block attempts as Taichi was almost mocking Tsuji ahead of a sumo toss attempt… which Tsuji countered with a simple bodyslam.

Tsuji prods Taichi with his foot, then went in with elbows before tossing Taichi to the outside for some more. Taichi reverses an Irish whip to fling Tsuji into the railings, before chucking the referee aside to wear out a chair on Tsuji’s back, insulted at the Young Lion’s early efforts. The guard rails come back into play for Taichi, who eventually rolled Tsuji back inside ahead of some choking.

The throttling’s easily spotted by the referee despite Taichi’s play for a cover, before Tsuji looked to fight back with some more elbows. Those get shrugged off as Taichi instead rolled Tsuji in for a half crab, before an attempted powerbomb got switched up for some Kawada-ish kicks. Tsuji back body dropped, then slammed his way free, before countering a tiltawhirl backbreaker with an armdrag.

Tsuji stays lucha with some headscissors, taking Taichi to the outside as he got his revenge on the earlier guard rail moments. Tsuji goes for the chair, but the referee of course disarms him, forcing Tsuji to return things to the ring for a leaping elbow and another slam out of the corner. The Mount Tsuji splash followed for a two-count, but Taichi sidestepped a spear before he had to block a Boston crab… by choking!

Regardless, Taichi’s grip gets broken as Tsuji rolled him over, but the ropes save Taichi… as Tsuji went back to the spear again, and got it this time. Taichi’s up at two, but ends up blocking a Mount Tsuji off the top by lifting his knees. A quick Axe Bomber nearly puts Tsuji away in short order, before Taichi’s Dangerous backdrop driver was rolled out of!

A forearm from Tsuji has Taichi down, but the Young Lion’s quickly caught with a Dangerous backdrop driver for a very nonchalant near-fall… so Taichi ups the stakes with a thrust kick for the win. Ah, we still don’t know the branding of the Stretch Plum, but Taichi had a hell of a scare here as both Young Lions brought their A-games in defeat tonight. Just as well their tests get easier tomorrow. Wait… they don’t? Okada and Tanahashi? Ah well! ***½

Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo & Jado) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) & Toru Yano
We’re still building to the junior tag title match next week, with Toru Yano randomly being thrown in against Jado to make this a six-man tag…

SHO and Ishimori open the match, with Ishimori looking to catch out SHO with misdirection before a dropkick from SHO forcing some early headway in this one. YOH comes in, but gets charged outside for the obligatory Bullet Club shenanigans, featuring elbows from ELP and some trips to the guard rails.

Phantasmo rakes SHO’s eyes on the edge of the ring before Jado returned to punch YOH in the gut. A side headlock keeps YOH down ahead of some forearms to the lower back that set up for the usual over-the-top back rakes. Toru Yano comes in for back rakes, but they had no effect on him until ELP pulled up the t-shirt… and then they worked.

Eventually YOH came back in with an overhead kick to Phantasmo, before making the tag out to SHO who cleared house. A baseball slide dropkick knocks Ishimori off the apron, while a SHO spear lands for a two-count on Phantasmo. Tags bring us to Jado and Yano, with the latter removing a corner pad while Jado went for his Kendo stick. We get a stand-off and a short-lived ceasefire as Jado ends up sidestepping as Yano charged into the exposed corner.

From there, the OJK crossface followed on Yano, but SHO & YOH come in to break it up… my feed legitimately gives out, and returned just in time to see Yano roll-up Jado for the win. They kept this short at least, but the match did little to get me excited for that junior tag title outing next week… **½

Bullet Club (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, Dick Togo & Gedo) vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada
That NEVER trios title match is next week, and we’re chucking Okada and Gedo into the mix for good measure.

We start with YOSHI-HASHI and Yujiro, as we’re surprisingly light on jump starts today. A side headlock from YOSHI-HASHI is held onto before Yujiro bit his way free before chops took YOSHI-HASHI into the corner. YOSHI-HASHI returns the favour, then scored with a neckbreaker for a two-count, before EVIL tripped YOSHI-HASHI in the ropes.

A leg sweep and a low dropkick from Yujiro turned it around momentarily, before Goto caught YOSHI-HASHI in the ropes, then joined in with his share of a double shoulder block. Cue the same for Gedo, before Dick Togo’s drummed on, while EVIL’s booted to the outside before he could even jump into the ring.

YOSHI-HASHI blisters Yujiro with a chop when things calmed down, then tagged out to Ishii, who was more than happy to go after Yujiro. Dick Togo’s blind tag allowed him to sneak in and elbow Ishii, eventually building to him throwing Ishii into a suspiciously-exposed corner as EVIL lifted the pad out just in time.

Guard rail stuff happens behind the ref’s back as Ishii’s worn down. EVIL’s in next to keep the pressure up as Ishii’s kept isolated as four-on-one offence ends with back sentons for a near-fall. Eventually Ishii manages to charge through Togo, before making the tag out to Okada, who was more than happy to clear house.

Until Gedo poked him in the eye.

Okada shrugs it off and DDTs Togo for a two-count, before a slam looked to lead to a top rope elbow. Togo’s up to avoid that before EVIL’s kick in the rope helps Togo land a clothesline that had the former champion down. We’re back outside and into the guard rails, before Okada finally turned it back around while my feed dropped out. Again.

We recover with Goto laying in elbows ahead of a bulldog out of the corner for a two-count… EVIL recovers by taking Goto into the exposed corner ahead of a lariat, while Gedo’s chinbreaker and thrust kick almost caused the upset. That prompted him to go for the brass knuckles, but the distraction ends up leading to a Parade of Bullshit, with Yujiro’s cane and Togo’s garotte having different results.

EVIL tries to interfere, but gets booted by Okada and put into a Money Clip, while YOSHI-HASHI and Goto put away Gedo with the GYW for the win. This was fine, but the match took a little too long to get into any kind of gear as we’ve been trained to wait for the bullshit before the finish approaches… **¾

Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI)
We don’t have a date, but we do have an opponent as Shingo Takagi called out Kota Ibushi as his first challenger for the IWGP World Heavyweight Title. Meanwhile, Tetsuya Naito’s out with the tour program, as he’s got a dream: he wants Taichi to sign his copy.

Shingo and Ibushi start things off for us, locking up into the ropes for the quick break. A knuckle lock followed, with Ibushi breaking free to throw some kicks as we buffer. When the feed recovers, we’ve shoulder blocks and armdrags as Shingo and Ibushi reached a stand-off, before tags brought in Naito and Master Wato.

It’s a ruse though as BUSHI came in to attack Wato from behind, with Wato’s kicks helping him turn it around as a tiltawhirl backbreaker dropped Naito. There’s a diving kick for SANADA too, before Tanahashi tagged in to spam slams on Naito. Someone watched Powerhouse Hobbs on Dark: Elevation last week, huh? An elbow drop followed, as did an abdominal stretch, with Tenzan tagging in to help keep things going.

Mongolian chops greet Naito, before SANADA hung up Tenzan in the ropes, setting up for LIJ to swam the ring and turn things around. Naito stretches Tenzan by his mullet, then BUSHI comes in for some t-shirt choking on Tenzan, while SANADA tagged in to rake the eyes. Naito’s back as he just about got off the Combinacion Cabron in the corner ahead of some mocking Mongolian chops on Tenzan.

Of course, Tenzan returned the favour, but SANADA’s in to break up a suplex attempt before Shingo teased a sliding lariat to Tenzan… only to charge Ibushi off the apron. Shingo calls for a brainbuster, but Tenzan blocks and hits one of his own, before Tanahashi came in and ran wild, trapping Naito in the ropes with a Dragon screw.

A flip senton off the middle rope from Tanahashi gets a two-count on Shingo, before Ibushi tagged back in to fire off some kicks. Those led to a two-count on Shingo, who then blocked a half-and-half suplex before nailing a Dragon screw of his own. A sliding lariat followed from Shingo, but that just riled up Ibushi into trading elbow strikes, leading to Ibushi finally landing that half-and-half… only for Shingo to rise back up for the Pumping Bomber.

Tags bring us to BUSHI and Master Wato, who trade elbows as they turn up the pace… BUSHI’s missile dropkick has Wato down, before a leaping rear spin kick had Wato back ahead. A springboard diving uppercut lands for Wato, as BUSHI found himself cornered as my feed again dropped out…

We’re back with a BUSHI Screw to Wato, with BUSHI tagging out to SANADA as he looked to push the match over the finishing line. SANADA’s springboard missile dropkick lands, unlike the moonsault off the top, as the ring then filled up for a Parade of Moves… including a tope from BUSHI to Tanahashi on the outside. Wato looked to have taken care of Naito, but ends up running into a Dragon Sleeper, reversing it with a roll-up for a near-fall. More roll-ups nearly nicked the win for Wato, but he misses a leaping kick and gets caught in a TKO into a Skull End from SANADA for the stoppage. ***

Post-match, Taichi’s coaxed into the ring as Naito still wanted him to autograph the tour program… and after much hesitance, he actually put pen to the front cover.

Tomorrow, we’re back at Korakuen Hall as the Young Lion series sees Yuya Uemura take on Hiroshi Tanahashi, while Yota Tsuji has the challenge of Kazuchika Okada. No big deal, eh? We’ve also got the return of the New Japan Dads, with Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima and Yuji Nagata all in the same match.

Once again, the Young Lion matches buoyed up the show – and increased calls from fans for both Uemura and Tsuji to get promoted out of the division sooner rather than later. Problem is, with Yuto Nakashima still on the shelf after injuring himself in his debut in February, I’m not quite sure how you can promote either of them without anyone there to fill the void…