New Japan set the finals of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team title tournament, as the mini-round robin tournament came to a close. Oh, we’ve also got the G1 announcements here…
Miyagi’s Sendai Sunplaza Hall is the venue for the penultimate show before the G1…
Satoshi Kojima pinned Yota Tsuji in 7:30 (**¾)
SHO, Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano & Gabriel Kidd submitted Yuya Uemura, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI in 14:14 (***½)
Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Yuji Nagata & Tomoaki Honma pinned DOUKI, Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi in 13:30 (***¼)
Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & SANADA pinned Dick Togo, EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi in 9:50 (**¼)
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: Taiji Ishimori & Gedo (1-2) submitted Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi (1-2) in 14:30 (***¼)
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (2-1) pinned BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi (2-1) in 17:15 (***¼)
Yota Tsuji vs. Satoshi Kojima
It’s a rematch from Saturday, where Tsuji went down in short order…
They start trading hammerlocks and side headlocks in the early going, leading to a push off as Kojima charged down Tsuji with a shoulder tackle. After getting a two-count, Kojima stays in with a chinlock, but Tsuji got to the ropes before he made a comeback, battering Kojima with elbows. A single elbow in return knocks the Young Lion back into the corner though, as Kojima added a neckbreaker for a two-count. Machine Gun chops follow, but Tsuji runs back in to stop Kojima going up top, and maintains the upper hand with a slam and a running flip senton. A big splash is next as Tsuji gets a near-fall, but he quickly has to duck a Cozy Lariat as he broke out a lucha roll-up for a near-fall.
Kojima’s back trading elbows, but he runs into a spear as Tsuji went for the obligatory Boston crab. Of course, Kojima ends in the ropes before Tsuji paintbrushes him with slaps… but a Koji Cutter out of nowhere turned things around for a near-fall as a Cozy Lariat gets the win. Pretty by the numbers stuff, but Tsuji showed more fire compared to Saturday. **¾
Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, SHO & Gabriel Kidd vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Yuya Uemura
SHO and Ishii were raring to get at each other before the bell, but instead it’s Yano who started for the future “challenger team”, while Goto started for the other side in this all CHAOS outing.
Yano ducks a clothesline as he had his eyes set on the turnbuckle pads, which he gets at the second ask before Goto came in with a shoulder tackle. Yano hooks the ropes, but lets go when YOSHI-HASHI came towards him… and promptly made the tag out to Gabriel Kidd. Kidd goes for the wrist of Goto, but the hold’s reversed back-and-forth as Kidd cartwheels in for a trip, going in for a toe hold. Goto kicks it away, then came back in with a side headlock… only for Kidd to counter with one of his own. A shoulder tackle takes down Goto, but Uemura runs in to go after his fellow Young Lion, and it kinda worked as the “champion team” swarmed the as they began to dominate.
YOSHI-HASHI’s in with elbows, but Kidd tries to fight back… only to get chopped to his knees, and here comes Ishii. A double clothesline takes Kidd down ahead of a half crab. That’s freed up as SHO comes in to break it up… and SHO just gets absolutely walloped with elbows, before he’s hurled outside and into the railings. That’ll show him. Pun intended.
Kidd’s still legal, but Uemura tags in to pick apart the pieces. A back elbow takes Kidd down, but Gabe’s in with a kick out of the corner before he took down Uemura with a dropkick. Okada and YOSHI-HASHI tag in… and oh God, YOSHI’s taped again. Back elbows from Okada have him down, as does a DDT which eventually got a two-count as Okada shoved his CHAOS team mate down. YOSHI-HASHI’s back in with a Bunker Buster on Okada for a two-count, but Okada back body drops his way free of a powerbomb as he proceeds to go for a tombstone. That’s pushed off as YOSHI-HASHI returned with a Head Hunter, then made the tag out to Ishii, who went right for Okada with chops and forearms in the corner.
Okada escapes and went for the modified Cobra Clutch, but that’s broken up in the exposed corner… only for Okada to bounce right back in with the neckbreaker slam. SHO smells blood and tags in to take his shots at Ishii, largely succeeding until his spear was caught. Ishii tries to counter with a suplex, but it backfires as SHO got out as it’s back to the strikes… until SHO got that spear in.
Kicks from SHO keep Ishii on his knees, but Ishii begins to monster up and walk through the strikes, returning with some of his own too. Ishii swats away a shot then dumps SHO with a German suplex, prompting Goto and YOSHI-HASHI to hit the ring for some triple-teaming, leading to a back suplex from Ishii. Uemura tags in to try and finish off SHO with some forearms and uppercuts… a shoulder tackle off the ropes gets him a two-count, before SHO rolled out of a Boston crab attempt and into a cross armbreaker. Goto stomps that apart as SHO gets double-teamed again, so Uemura can lock in that Boston crab… but even sitting down on the hold doesn’t help as Gabriel Kidd slides in to break it up.
A forearm takes Kidd out after he’d taken some shots at Uemura, who then went for his Capture suplex on SHO. It’s blocked as SHO broke the hold… but a dropkick has the former junior tag champion down. The Capture suplex lands for a two-count, but Uemura’s attempts to build off it led to him running into a lariat for a near-fall, with YOSHI-HASHI breaking up the cover. He’s taken care of as SHO then lifted Uemura into a cross armbreaker, and there’s the rapid tap. This got more time than usual, and was pretty damn good as a result – hopefully that’s a good sign for Friday’s match and they can recapture the form they had last month! ***½
Post-match, SHO again squares up to Ishii… and eventually pulled him into an armbar as he looked to give his team an edge going into Korakuen Hall on Friday.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Yuji Nagata & Tomoaki Honma vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI)
You’ll be shocked and appalled to learn that Suzuki-gun launched an attack before the bell. I know, right?!
While everyone else went outside, Nagata and Suzuki stayed in the ring as they went at each other. A PK from Suzuki’s caught as Nagata elbows the leg, but a returning front kick is also caught as the pair instead went back-and-forth with elbow strikes. Including those CLONKING elbows, which just prompt Nagata to throw an Exploder suplex.
Honma tags in and chops away at Suzuki, before a slam led to… a teases Kokeshi, which ends with Honma just dropping an elbow instead. That’s safer. He tries again, but Suzuki again rolls outside, and suckers Honma in for a hanging armbar in the ropes, as Honma clearly never learned… Bedlam ensues as everyone heads outside, going into the guard rails, which almost led to a count-out as Taichi put the boots to Honma as Suzuki waited back inside. Honma beats the count, but had to deal with DOUKI’s stomps, before a snapmare and a diving kick led to a one-count as Tanahashi ran in to break it up.
Honma’s taken into the Suzuki-gun corner for some quadruple-teaming. Some eye rakes from Taichi wear him down, and help screw up his vision for a spell as Honma was swinging at thin air. Somehow he’s able to catch Sabre in a Cobra Twist, but Zack escapes and locks the hold i before a leaping Kokeshi took him down off the ropes. In comes Tanahashi, who aims for Sabre with a forearm before he cleared the Suzuki-gun apron… Dragon screws help too, with Suzuki getting spun to the ground as Sabre seemed to have tweaked his knee with the one he’d taken earlier. A slam and a flip senton gets Tanahashi a two-count, but he poses too long and gets caught in an Octopus stretch, before pulling down Tanahashi to twist his leg between his arms.
More Dragon screws leave Sabre down as tags bring us to Ibushi and Taichi kicking each other in the leg. The search for a charley horse continued there, until they switched to front kicks as a rear spin kick from Ibushi took Taichi down, with a standing moonsault getting a two-count. Taichi resumes with a kick to the quad before he went for a Stretch Plum, but that’s broken up as DOUKI came in to catch Ibushi with a low dropkick.
A clothesline follows for DOUKI, getting him a near-fall, as the ring filled with Suzuki-gun triple-teaming Ibushi in the corner. It sets up DOUKI for the Daybreaker springboard DDT, but Honma breaks up the cover as DOUKI proceeded with the backsliding Widow’s Peak that almost snatched the win.
DOUKI calls for Suplex de la Luna, but Ibushi pushes off and lands a high kick, before the ring filled up again. Honma lands a Kokeshi to break up a cross armbar from Suzuki, while Tanahashi dropped Sabre with a Slingblade. The Golden Blade drops DOUKI, leaving him open to take a Kamigoye for the win. Another pretty solid tag match, but with little at stake, this match up leaves me cold. ***¼
Time for the G1 blocks – I’d expect we’ll get matches on Friday.
Block A: Kota Ibushi, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Shingo Takagi, Yujiro Takahashi, Taichi, Minoru Suzuki, Jeff Cobb, Will Ospreay, Jay White
Block B: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI, SANADA, Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, Zack Sabre Jr., Juice Robinson, KENTA
There’s some surprises in terms of there being no juniors in the field, which some had been expecting, nor did New Japan have to dig too deep to fill out the roster, with the likes of Honma, Nagata and Kojima being kept away… and also the lede we’re burying in that New Japan’s managed to get KENTA, Juice Robinson, Jeff Cobb, Jay White and Will Ospreay back into the country for the tour. That last one is going to be a point of contention…
Bullet Club (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & Dick Togo) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & SANADA)
Yujiro was virtually fist pumping because he’s gotten back into the G1…
We’ve a jump start from the Bullet Club lads, with EVIL and Togo trying to focus on SANADA from the off. It’s shrugged off as Togo gets rolled into a Paradise Lock, right as my feed gives out. It picks up as all six of them are fighting outside, with Yujiro jabbing SANADA with his pimp cane while EVIL hurled Naito into the railings.
Back inside, Togo keeps working over SANADA, wrenching the arm as the Bullet Club had seemingly picked their man to focus on. Yujiro’s in to lay in some punches from the mount, before a Miami Shine came to nought as SANADA instead went for TKO… but Yujiro bites his way free. A low dropkick from SANADA has Yujiro down again, as Shingo tagged in to try and push LIJ ahead. Elbows from Yujiro spark a battle as Shingo replied in earnest, following up with a jab before some misses led to the pair clattering in with clotheslines. Eventually those lariats leave both men down, as tags bring in Naito and EVIL. A Combinacion Cabron in the corner traps EVIL ahead of a neckbreaker and Pluma Blanca, prompting Togo to come in with a chair… it makes Naito break the hold anyway as EVIL’s able to retaliate with a Fisherman buster for a near-fall.
Of course we get a ref bump as Togo went out for his choking wire… Naito kicks it away though, only for EVIL to attack from behind with a chair. Shingo and SANADA make the save to clear the ring, as LIJ began to go after Togo with some triple-teams. A Pumping Bomber drops Togo, leaving him open for Destino… and that’s all folks. This was fine – they kept it short, but the threat of shenanigans was an instant turn-off for me. **¼
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: Way to the Ass Master (Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato) (1-1) vs. Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & Gedo) (0-2)
The Bullet Club team need a win to be hopeful of forcing their way into the finals on but Gedo looked happy that he’ll be reuniting with Jay White in ten days’ time.
Wato and Gedo start things off, but Gedo causes a scene by calling out Tenzan, distracting Wato so Ishimori could attack him from behind. Taguchi’s in to level things up as they work together to take down Gedo for a low dropkick. Gedo’s back to beg off, but he pulls Wato awkwardly to the outside, where Ishimori was on hand to throw him into the guard rails as the Bullet Club looked to cut corners. Out comes Gedo’s belt as he whipped Taguchi, before returning to the ring as he laid into Wato. Ishimori tags in to choke Wato in the ropes, keeping the pace low in the process. A cravat keeps Wato down, as do some knees, which led Ishimori into a neckbreaker… but Taguchi instantly breaks it up.
Gedo tags back in to throw Wato into the conveniently-exposed corner, as a punch gets a two-count, before Wato’s again thrown outside. This time so he could get a whipping… But Taguchi’s outside and ready to whip him with the Taguchi Japan towel, and if you’ve ever been pinged with a towel, you know how much of a bugger that is!
Taguchi gives up his towel so he can whip Gedo with the belt next. They return to the ring as Taguchi tags in to go hog wild with hip attacks, following up with the Three Amigos on Gedo, before countering a counter into an ankle lock. Gedo grabs the ref to free himself, but can’t quite hit the mule kick he was going for as the pair end up crashing to the mat.
Ishimori’s back to run into Taguchi with some knees in the corner as a Shining Wizard gets a two-count. A missed hip attack doesn’t harm Taguchi as he rolls through a sunset flip into a low dropkick on Ishimori, before tagging in Wato who did some lucha stuff with Ishimori. Tijeras take Ishimori outside for a corkscrew plancha, before he returned to go for a Magistral driver. Ishimori blocks it and responds with a handspring enziguiri… Taguchi helps out with another hip attack as this is really feeling flat… and again, my feed gives out, returning as Ishimori rolled through a wheelbarrow to stomp on Taguchi.
Wato blocks a Bloody Cross, then returns with a roundhouse enziguiri, following up with a Magistral Driver that Gedo BARELY broke up in time. A more charitable ref would have counted that three… Gedo’s dropkicked to the outside as Taguchi follows out with a plancha, but Ishimori comes back on Wato with some crucifix pins, before rolling him into a Yes Lock, rolling him away from the ropes before Wato eventually tapped. This was fine, but my feed dropping out really took me out of the match. The Bullet Club have done their bit – a win for the LIJ team would make it a four-way final on Friday. ***¼
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (1-1) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) (2-0)
Can LIJ finish with a 100% record?
There’s mind games at the start as both teams tag out before there’s any offence… and then things burst into life with Hiromu going for a sunset bomb on Desperado on the apron, before opting to hurl him into the rails. Kanemaru’s legal, but he’s tripped early and taken in for a low dropkick as LIJ took control. Stomps from Hiromu keep Kanemaru down, but a low bridge from Kanemaru takes Hiromu outside as Desperado was waiting for a receipt. BUSHI gets thrown into the guard rails too for the hell of it, while Desperado grabbed the timekeeper’s mallet and used it on Hiromu behind the ref’s back.
Back inside, Kanemaru puts the boots to BUSHI ahead of a suplex that lands for a two-count. Kanemaru then distracts the referee so Desperado can try and unmask BUSHI… and he manages to show BUSHI’s chin before giving up. Kanemaru stays on BUSHI, driving his knee into the mat with the help of Desperado, leading to a half crab that forces BUSHI to drag himself to the ropes as Despy had dealt with Hiromu on the outside.
Desperado tags in and picks his shots as BUSHI looked to be the proverbial one-legged man in the arse kicking contest, not helped as Despy’s knee breaker found its mark. A bulldog/dropkick combo from BUSHI buys him time as he finally manages ot roll across to tag in Hiromu, who was raring to go.
Elbow take Kanemaru into the ropes, but he evades a dropkick from Hiromu… only for Hiromu to turn it around. A tijeras took Kanemaru outside with Desperado but Hiromu just about caught Kanemaru with a shotgun dropkick off the apron. They return as a Falcon arrow drops Kanemaru for a two-count, before a lariat caught Kanemaru in the corner… only for a low dropkick to miss.
Kanemaru runs into an elbow before a tiltawhirl DDT spikes Hiromu. A neckbreaker from Desperado keeps that focus going, as did a brainbuster, but he recovers to throw Desperado into the corner with an overhead belly-to-belly. BUSHI tags back in as he scaled the ropes for a missile dropkick, spinning back up before following Despy outside with a slingshot ‘rana to the floor.
Back inside, a DDT drops Desperado for a two-count, but the swinging Fisherman suplex is stopped as Desperado got free. He uses the referee as a human shield to stop Hiromu as he lands an elbow, before a Guitarra de Angel attempt came to nought, with BUSHI instead dropkicking him into the ropes.
Desperado rebounds with a spinebuster, before a dropkick-assisted sidewalk slam dropped BUSHI for a two-count. Guitarra de Angel lands for another two-count, before Desperado looked to KO BUSHI with a punch… Hiromu makes the save as LIJ began to build anew, sandwiching Desperado with low dropkicks before a suplex into a powerbomb gets a two-count. The deadlift into a facebuster’s pushed away as Kanemaru tries to keep the match alive, but he’s taken outside and into the guard rails by Hiromu, while Desperado’s knocked back into the ropes by BUSHI.
An enziguiri from BUSHI has Despy down again, with a Destroyer keeping him there for a near-fall, before BUSHI headed up top for a MX. Desperado avoids it, as Kanemaru came in to rake the eyes… then grab the ref to mask a low blow from Desperado, as roll-up snatched the win. That felt a little flat as Hiromu just didn’t break it up in time – but this books a repeat match for the finals of the IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship tournament in Korakuen on Friday. Hopefully with a little more zip to it! ***¼
Your final standings:
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru; Hiromu & BUSHI – 2-1
Ishimori & Gedo; Taguchi & Wato – 1-2
A solid show, marked with a hell of an undercard tag with CHAOS… but let’s be real. Most people only tuned in for the G1 announcements (not that I blame you, as the undercard was largely a copy and paste job from Saturday in Chiba!), but if you hung around for the rest of the show, you got a pretty decent, albeit run of the mill road-to show.