Manabu Nakanishi’s 27-year-plus career came to an end on Saturday as New Japan’s year of retirements continued.
We’re back at Korakuen Hall for the fourth day in a row – and our second retirement of the week – with Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton on commentary.
Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura vs. Tiger Mask & Gabriel Kidd
A rematch from Friday, and my God, Kidd’s picking a fight with Tsuji as they start with shoulder tackles and forearms. G’wan Gabe!
Tsuji cuts him off with a dropkick before he ran into a back elbow as Kidd lands another shoulder tackle. Tiger Mask comes in to kick out Tsuji’s leg, then followed up with elbows to the head as the veteran was bossing things. Kidd wants back in, but Tiger Mask just wants to kick Tsuji some more… then tags Kidd back in.
The crowd shows sympathy for Tsuji as Tiger Mask returned to look for an armbar, letting go when Yuya Uemura ran in to break it up, but instead Tsuji is cornered again as Kidd ended up running into a back body drop. Finally Uemura comes in, but he has trouble slamming Kidd… and instead ends up throwing chops instead. Kidd’s dropkick snuffs out Uemura as Tiger Mask returned, but the Young Lions double-team him as Uemura looked to upset Tiger Mask with a cross armbar. It’s broken up just in time by Kidd, who’s then tossed outside by Tsuji before Uemura looked for a belly-to-belly… and eventually gets it for a near-fall!
Tiger Mask escaped the cross armbar and counters with one of his own… but Uemura comes back with one of his own as the veteran needed a rope break. A dropkick takes Tiger Mask to the corner, but more kicks get him back in as Tsuji made a save to stop Uemura losing to a Tiger Driver. Tsuji’s taken outside as Tiger Mask resorts to a Tiger suplex, and that’s enough to get the win. A solid opener, just what you expect from the black trunked boys. ***
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Toru Yano, Colt Cabana, Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero
I wonder if Minoru’s going to try and murder Toru Yano? Well, Bailey Matthews was a warm-up…
You know the drill – Colt and Yano argue over who’d start, so Suzuki-gun jump them as… yes, that’s Minoru trying to kill Toru. Yano goes for the turnbuckle pad and tries to send Suzuki into the corner, but he ends up getting wiped out with a PK instead. Suzuki-gun mug Yano, before Cabana helps distract… Rocky and Taguchi try to make a save, but whiff on hip attacks as Colt and Yano had to do it themselves.
Kanemaru gets his arms wrung before getting quadruple teamed. Eventually, as Taguchi’s made to run his own plays. Tiring! Taguchi then went to have Kanemaru thrown into his arse, but Suzuki-gun pull everyone out and now it’s Minoru who starts to stalk him. A hanging armbar catches Taguchi, who’s then taken into the crowd to have chairs whacked over him, only to recover and beat the 20-count. Of course, someone’s waiting for him as Desperado took over where Suzuki left off, turning a hip attack into an inverted atomic drop. Second time’s the charm, before Cabana came in to take over with Dusty punches and a Bionic elbow. Suzuki kicks Cabana in the ropes and chokes him out as Desperado proceeds to punch out Colt. Boom boom. Rocky and Taichi come in next, with Romero landing some ‘ranas to build up momentum on Taichi.
Taichi’s left isolated as he took hip attacks in the corner before Rocky’s running Shiranui nearly ended it. Another Shiranui is blocked as Taichi countered with a head kick… and off come the trousers! Except it’s Taguchi who rips them off as the non-consensual stripping almost led to the win for the good guys. Things turn around when Suzuki chokes out Taguchi, before a rear spin kick and an Axe Bomber gets a near-fall for Taichi… with the Stretch Plum finally forcing the submission. Perfectly acceptable stuff, with the shenanigans kept to a minimum. **¾
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Toa Henare & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
Could BUSHI & Hiromu make a push for a junior tag title shot – or will SHO or YOH be gunning for Hiromu’s belt? And why is nobody happy with just one belt these days?!
BUSHI and YOH start us off, trading slaps early before a blind tag from SHO tried to force a change in fortunes… except it drew in Hiromu as LIJ double-teamed the junior tag champs. SANADA tags in to land a suplex for a two-count on SHO, before Hiromu completed the set, putting the boots to him. BUSHI and Hiromu double-team SHO with a rewind hiptoss/facebuster, but SHO’s able to recover and tease a suplex on SANADA, then a German suplex, before finding luck with a spear.
In comes Henare, who charges through LIJ, quite literally, against SANADA, before topping it off with a stalling suplex on SANADA for a near-fall. SANADA turns it around, taking Henare out for a pescado, before getting cornered back inside as Henare mounted a comeback with a running Samoan drop out of the corner. Henare tees up for a rugby tackle, and gets it for a near-fall before landing a scoop slam as SANADA threatened to get back in it. YOH and Hiromu tag in next, trading chops for fun but Hiromu pushed on, carving up YOH in the corner only to get caught with some forearms and elbows. YOH’s all marked up from Hiromu’s chops, but he’s able to hit a DDT for a near-fall, before Hiromu responded with a sunset-flip-assisted German suplex.
BUSHI takes SHO outside for a tope suicida, leaving YOH alone to force his way out of a Time Bomb. Instead, YOH runs into a lariat for a near-fall, before a double-team wheelbarrow facebuster – like a Fidget Spinner, but into a facebuster – got the win. A pretty out-of-nowhere win, and looks like LIJ have a massive thing with belts this year. BUSHI three belts? ***¼
Bullet Club (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)) vs. Juice Robinson, David Finlay, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
There’s no obvious match they’re building up to here, but we’ll run with it.
Makabe and Fale start us off, working into shoulder tackles and forearms before a trip from Gedo distracted Makabe long enough for him to get charged down. All eight men end up outside as the guard rails come into play, which nearly led to Makabe getting counted out, but he makes it back in as Jay White mocked him with some mounted punches in the corner.
The Guerrillas of Destiny come in next, slingshotting themselves onto Makabe, before they paid homage to ELP with back rakes. Makabe eventually pushes through with a swivelling lariat to Tanga Loa, before Finlay tagged in and charged through Loa with a running uppercut. Another one followed off the middle rope, but Tama Tonga stops Finlay from following up immediately, as both of the former tag champions went back and forth.
Duelling crossbodies from Juice and Tama left them writhing on the mat, before Jay White returned… and took a uranage backbreaker from Finlay. Honma’s in with chops to White, but a missed Kokeshi shut the door there as a Blade Buster gets a near-fall. Makabe’s in to help Honma, dropping the Guerrillas with a double-clothesline as a Parade of Moves broke out, leading to clothesline sandwiches for White and an assisted side-Russian legsweep. Heck, Honma even lands a Kokeshi for a near-fall, but a Kokeshi Otoshi’s escaped… Honma instead looks for a top rope Kokeshi, only to get cracked by Jado’s Kendo stick, before a Blade Runner put him away. By the numbers, but short enough to not outlive its welcome. **½
Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Will Ospreay vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & EVIL)
They’re certainly hinting at Ospreay vs. Naito, aren’t they?
Ishii and Shingo start us off, and yes… I’m still here for this. Straight in with the shoulder tackles and forearms, these two bulls picked up where they left off on Thursday as Ishii knocked down Shingo with ease. Ospreay and YOSHI-HASHI come in to help triple-team, as an assisted standing moonsault from Ospreay left Shingo down.
EVIL’s taken down by a Head Hunter from YOSHI-HASHI, as the ring filled up… then calmed down as all six men went outside. Ishii’s bounced off the ring post repeatedly, before Naito took over in the ring with a neckbreaker and a cravat. A Sharpshooter from EVIL has Ishii in trouble, but YOSHI-HASHI breaks it up as the ring fills and clears once more. Ishii’s back with chops, but he gets hung up and stomped in the ropes before he had to resist a Fisherman buster to hit a suplex of his own.
Shingo tags back in, only to get slammed by Ishii as Ospreay gets the next tag in, going after Shingo with forearms and kicks. Naito rushes in too, but takes a handspring enziguiri before a springboard forearm took down Shingo for a near-fall. Duelling forearms follow as Shingo punched out Ospreay ahead of a pop-up death valley driver that almost spiked Will. Ospreay avoids a sliding lariat before his handspring enziguiri was countered… he eventually wins out with an enziguiri before a lariat spun him to the mat. THAT EXCHANGE!
YOSHI-HASHI and Naito are in next, but an early ‘rana and a Bunker Buster had Naito on the ropes. Naito floats out of a powerbomb and hits an enziguiri, then a neckbreaker in the ropes as he keeps the pace up, adding a top rope ‘rana too. A running Destino’s blocked as YOSHI-HASHI’s Western Lariat drops Naito ahead of a running powerbomb for a near-fall, but in the end, Naito pushes out of Kumagoroshi as a Parade of Moves is set off, leading to a Pumping Bomber from Shingo for a near-fall, before Destino got Naito the win. Some cracking stuff here – but at eleven minutes, it felt like they were teasing a LOT more. Now, who’s Ospreay getting first? Shingo or Naito? ***¾
We get a video package to sum up Manabu Nakanishi’s career. Complete with him taking photos of his breakfast, and footage from his career. Sadly, they couldn’t license him as Kurasawa in WCW. Quit talking with your mouth full. The bowls and plates stacked up as the video progressed through his career – a sad analogy as this would be the last of his Monster Mornings as an active wrestler.
Riki Choshu came out before the match to do commentary for New Japan World – he upgraded from Wednesday’s sweat pants…
Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Hirooki Goto vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata
Nakanishi came in with a relatively long winning run for him – having last been on a losing team on February 5. Time to seize the tactics, for one final time…
Nakanishi starts out with Okada, as we have a tie-up into the ropes, complete with a playful break from Okada… who then tried to mock Nakanishi with an Argentine backbreaker attempt. He’s pushed off and met with a shoulder tackle before a double-thrust to the throat cuts off a Rainmaker. In comes Tenzan as the New Japan Dads swarm Okada, leading to a standing splash from Nakanishi as Okada’s forced to kick out of two.
Nakanishi accidentally clotheslines Tenzan as the match spills outside, with Nak getting sent into the guard rails as Okada looked to make it a sad farewell. Ibushi’s in with Tenzan, hitting him with a Mongolian chop as the crowd turned on the newly-crowned tag champion, before Tanahashi did the same. A sunset flip from Tanahashi’s blocked, but he still hits another Mongolian chop before Goto came in and helped with a wishbone leg splitter.
Goto adds a spinning heel suplex and a back suplex for a near-fall on Tenzan, who eventually struck back with a Mountain bomb. Kojima’s in next to pepper Goto with Machine Gun chops – keeping the New Japan Dads ahead – while a top rope elbow almost gets the win. Kojima and Goto trade chops and elbows next, before a Koji Cutter led to a brainbuster tease… which he eventually lands at the second try for a two-count. Goto ducks a Cozy Lariat and turns it into an ushigoroshi as tags bring in Nagata and Ibushi, and it looked like Kota was finding a way through, hitting a dropkick and a standing moonsault. Nagata’s out at two, and is quickly back with an Exploder before a Nagata Lock II forced Ibushi to squirm to the ropes.
A backflip kick from Ibushi takes us to the ten minute mark as tags brought in Tanahashi… who ran into a boot and an overhead belly-to-belly from Nagata. Nakanishi’s back in to chop away at Tanahashi… but after Nagata’s offer of help ended up with him accidentally booting Nakanishi, the two dads end up going after each other. An Argentine backbreaker drops Nagata onto Tanahashi, then Ibushi, as the Dads again ran wild.
Nakanishi goes for another Argentine backbreaker to Tanahashi, but it’s escaped as Tanahashi came back with a Dragon screw for all. A suplex has Nakanishi down as Tanahashi went up for a High Fly Flow… but Nakanishi’s up to chop him and bring him down with a superplex. How the hell did Nakanishi not implode on impact?!
WHAT THE BLOODY HELL. NAKANISHI IS GOING UP TOP AGAIN. CROSSBODY!
It almost puts Tanahashi away, as another Argentine backbreaker followed… with Nagata, Tenzan and Kojima restraining the rest of their foes as Nakanishi eventually turned it into a Hercules cutter for a near-fall. Nakanishi looks for a German suplex, but Goto and Ibushi cuts him off… only to get double-suplexed. An Okada dropkick has Nakanishi down as a Slingblade from Tanahashi followed for a near-fall, with Nagata breaking up the cover – but you felt the tide was turning right there.
Nakanishi’s left in there against all four opponents, and it’s all downhill for him from there. GTR from Goto. Kamigoye from Ibushi. Rainmaker from Okada… and finally, a High Fly Flow from Tanahashi, and that was the end of it. It’s been a regular note on Nakanishi that he’s looked like he’s been struggling for ages, and to his credit, he managed to pull out a heck of a final run – but all good things, I’m afraid, must come to an end. ***¾
Post-match, Tanahashi’s left sobbing on the mat as Nakanishi’s helped to his feet ahead of the retirement ceremony. You know the drill by now even if you just started watching in 2020: flowers, photos and surprises. This time, the surprises came in the form of Seiji Sakiguchi, Hiroshi Hase, Riki Choshu and Tatsumi Fujinami before the ceremonial ten bell salute brought down the curtain on Nakanishi’s career.
Much like the Tiger Hattori show on Wednesday, this wasn’t a show that bothered about match quality – if you’ve long-since handwaved Nakanishi as “immobile”, his retirement match is well worth a watch as he rolled back the clock for one final hurrah.