New Japan returned to Chiba for a second night, as the mini-tournament to crown new IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team champions continued.
We’re back at the Makuhari Messe International Conference Hall in Chiba, and yes, it’s still Japanese-only commentary for now.
Yuji Nagata submitted Yuya Uemura in 8:45 (***¼)
YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & Gabriel Kidd submitted Yota Tsuji, Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano in 11:35 (***¼)
Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI submitted Tomoaki Honma, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Satoshi Kojima in 12:50 (***)
SANADA, Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi pinned Jado, EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi in 8:50 (**)
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (1-1) pinned Gedo & Taiji Ishimori (0-2) in 16:50 (***½)
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI (2-0) pinned Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi (1-1) in 18:00 (***½)
Yuya Uemura vs. Yuji Nagata
It’s a familiar proving ground for Uemura here, and he starts somewhat brightly, going for a wristlock on Nagata, who powers free.
Nagata returns the favour, but Uemura also spins out before Nagata swept the leg and took him into a leg lock. Uemura tries to counter out into a cross armbar, but to no avail as Nagata torqued the leg some more, then rolled into an armbar as they took up. An armdrag has Uemura on top briefly, as he tries to work Nagata’s arm, but a suplex gets him free… only for Uemura to get some headscissors on as the ropes force a break. Uemura throws some strikes by the ropes, but Nagata’s back to kick his leg out of his leg, before a snapmare and a PK to the back left the Young Lion in agony. Nagata pulls him down for a Fujiwara armbar, but it’s right by the ropes, as Uemura got back up and began a fightback with some elbows.
Kicks stop him though, as Nagata jarred the arm over his shoulder, before mid kicks took Uemura back to ground. An Irish whip bounced Uemura off the buckles, but he dove back out to take out Nagata, following up with some elbows in the corner and a dropkick that saw him almost land on his head again. Shoulder tackles and an elbow drop get a two-count, before a Boston crab proved fruitless. Uemura tries for the capture suplex, but elbows from Nagata leave him wobbly. He shrugs off a front kick to land another dropkick though, before landing the capture suplex for a near-fall. A wild slap from Uemura spun Nagata ahead of a German suplex attempt, but that’s elbowed out of as Nagata slapped back, knocking Uemura to the mat.
Nagata measures up for another mid kick, which almost ends the match, but Uemura kicks out and ate an Exploder before the Nagata Lock 2 forced the submission. A pretty solid opener, with Uemura getting his usual fire in, but as ever, came up short. ***¼
Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, SHO & Yota Tsuji vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Gabriel Kidd
I know it’s a limited six-match card, but man, it is so weird seeing Okada in the second match on a prolonged basis. Maybe that’s keeping him out of the picture to fool us all ahead of the G1?
Ishii and SHO get us going, as a side head lock from the former junior tag champ ended with him getting shoved into the ropes… but he couldn’t budge Ishii with shoulder tackles. Nor could Ishii, as see-saw tackles led to them changing tack as elbows eventually took Ishii into the ropes to score the knockdown. SHO’s right back with a suplex though, as Tsuji and Kidd rushed the ring as Yota fancied an early scrap on his birthday. Okada’s in too, but Goto & YOSHI-HASHI deal with him… until Yano tripped them both to turn it around. SHO trips Ishii into Okada’s feet as the next challengers for the NEVER trios titles looked to be enjoying things. Kidd tagged in behind Okada’s back, so Tsuji did the same as the two Young Lions battered each other with elbows, before Tsuji caught Kidd with a slam off the ropes.
The apron’s cleared as Kidd’s dragged into the wrong corner, and in comes Okada to almost laugh off Kidd’s elbows. He goes all Suzuki on us as a single elbow knocks Gabe down, before a slam and a senton atomico landed flush. Yano’s in to hiptoss Kidd for a two-count, before an eye rake and a slam gave Yano time to undo the turnbuckles – after baiting in Ishii to distract the ref, of course. Kidd dropkicks the turnbuckle pad into Yano before he crawled over to tag in Goto, who cleared the apron before clotheslining Yano. Elbows take Yano into the corner ahead of a spinning heel kick and a back suplex for a near-fall. Yano misses a charge into the exposed corner, and ends up eating some elbows from Goto before a hair pull took Goto down… Ishii’s angry and stomps Yano, but can’t avoid a Manhattan drop as Yano brought Okada back in.
Okada throws Goto to the corner for a back elbow and a DDT, getting a near-fall, prompting Okada to clap like he’d had SHO’s theme playing in his head again. A neckbreaker slam is blocked by Goto, who returned with a swivelling lariat as YOSHI-HASHI came into play for the first time, throwing chops at Okada ahead of a Head Hunter. Okada squirms out of a Bunker Buster, then trapped YOSHI in the modified camel clutch, but he’s charged into the corner to break it up. YOSHI-HASHI misses a splash,then ran into the neckbreaker slam from Okada, before Tsuji tagged back in. He’s taken into the ropes and charges down YOSHI, as Tsuji seemed to be hoping for a win on his 27th birthday. A dropkick certainly made it look a little likelier as the rest of his team hit the ring to quadruple-team YOSHI, before feeding him to a Tsuji spear for a near-fall. The obligatory Boston crab follows, only for Kidd to ruin the fun as he came in to break it up.
SHO tosses Kidd aside to start the Parade of Moves, ending with a double spear from Tsuji to Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI. Elbows and chops keep Tsuji ahead, but he runs into a chop and a superkick before a Bunker Buster almost got the win… as a Butterfly Lock forces the submission. Worst. Birthday. Present. Ever. Solid stuff here to continue the build for Friday’s title match, and it’s kinda refreshing that there’s absolutely no narrative over a unit imploding – as we’d probably see if these titles mattered. ***¼
After the match, SHO and Ishii continued their scrap, with Okada joining in. Those two had better be in the same G1 block!
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI)
I’d never properly listened to that Golden Ace mash-up before, but that intro is… not good.
You’ll be shocked to learn that Suzuki-gun jump started the match, but for a change they didn’t take things outside, and were quickly dispatched of themselves with a quartet of bodyslams. Suzuki was left in the ring as Honma and Tanahashi scored a double-team shoulder tackle, before, erm, stopping to flex their pecs. Whatever works. What didn’t work was duelling Kokeshi, as both Honma and Tanahashi missed, with Suzuki rolling Tanahashi outside ahead of a throw into the guard rails. Bedlam ensued. DOUKI tries to give Ibushi a tracheostomy with his lead pipe, while Suzuki took things back to the ring to boot Tanahashi in the corner. A PK lands next for a nonchalant two-count, before DOUKI tagged in and raked Tanahashi’s eyes into the corner.
Clotheslines take Tanahashi down for a two-count, before he was rolled into Italian Stretch #32, but that ends in the ropes as Sabre and Taichi took the opportunity to wear on Tanahashi’s knees. For old time’s sake. Taichi chokes, then threw Tanahashi to the wolves as the Ace seemingly continues to fall. Tanahashi ducks a Buzzsaw kick and fought back with a Twist and Shout neckbreaker, before Ibushi tagged in. Kicks from Ibushi take down Taichi for a standing moonsault, getting a near-fall, before Ibushi floats over an onrushing Taichi… and resumed the kicks. Taichi kicks back though as they looked to give each other a dead leg, but it’s a rear spin kick from Taichi that took down Ibushi before he seemingly went for a Kamigoye.
Ibushi slips free, but couldn’t avoid a gamengiri in the corner. A high kick stops Taichi though, before Kojima and Sabre tagged in. Kojima sidesteps a charge and dishes out Machine Gun chops, before Sabre stopped the top rope elbow by catching Kojima and wrenching away at his elbow. An arm wringer forces Kojima to try and punch his way free, eventually doing so, before a Northern lights suplex took Sabre into a cross armbar. My feed drops out, and recovers with Honma hitting a regular and reverse DDT to DOUKI and Sabre, before a brainbuster almost got an unlikely win. In the end though, Sabre came back, trapping Honma’s neck between his legs before he pulled him into a triangle armbar… only for Ibushi to break it up with stomps. A clothesline from Taichi clears him out, before a headbutt from Honma stunned Sabre ahead of a Slingblade… and he finally lands a Kokeshi for a near-fall!
Honma goes for Kokeshi Otoshi, but Sabre slips out and goes for a Cobra Twist as DOUKI climbed the ropes and dove onto a pile outside… I don’t think anyone caught him, as Sabre turned his hold into an Octopus stretch for the quick submission. That’s a first half full of submissions – another rarity, it seems? Decent enough as a match, but it’s a lame duck match-up given that there was nothing to play for or even build up. ***
There’s still no word on G1 announcements – I have a feeling the shows streamed on Wednesday and Friday will be where those drop.
Bullet Club (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & Jado) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & SANADA)
THIS MATCH. A repeat of yesterday’s mess, hopefully with better results.
We have the same jump start as yesterday, with everyone being taken outside as EVIL stripped Naito of his jacket… so he could choke Shingo in the ring with it. Shingo makes a comeback with clotheslines before dropping EVIL with a DDT… and then stopped himself from running into the ropes, where Jado was waiting with a Kendo stick. A reverse DDT from Yujiro takes care of Shingo, and we’re back outside again as Naito got thrown towards the guard rails – aggravating his knee again. Jado’s feeling a bit chilly at his advanced age, so he puts on Naito’s LIJ jacket, while Yujiro’s falling headbutts on Shingo got him a two-count.
Jado tags in and mocks the Kokeshi, but instead he just walks over Shingo. That corner’s gotten exposed again, so Jado throws Shingo into there, before EVIL came in to take some elbows… and then throw Shingo back into the exposed corner. Yujiro’s back with a front kick as Shingo was trapped in the ropes, getting another two-count, before Shingo avoided a low dropkick and caught Yujiro with a sliding lariat. EVIL tags in, and stops Shingo from tagging out… but his attempt to use the ref for a thrust kick was stopped as Shingo countered back with a Dragon screw. In comes Naito, who dumps EVIL with a back elbow before taking him to the corner for Combinacion Cabron. SANADA’s in with a low dropkick for a two-count on his former tag partner, but a follow-up TKO came to nought as EVIL wriggled free, then backed him into the ropes for a Kendo stick shot from Jado.
Jado’s back in with the Green Killer – the draping DDT – on SANADA, which almost ends the match. The ring quickly fills for a Parade of Moves, as Shingo single-handedly looked to clear house… only for Yujiro to bite and send him outside. The referee’s manhandled by Yujiro as Jado goes for the Kendo stick again, but SANADA ducks the shot, shoves Jado into the corner, then got the win with a Japanese leg clutch. Eh. This was shorter than yesterday, and didn’t feel as achingly dull – but this still wasn’t any great shakes. **
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (0-1) vs. Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & Gedo) (0-1)
Since both teams lost yesterday, whoever loses here is virtually out of contention. Could the former three-time champs really be the first to fall?
Ishimori and Desperado start the semi-main – circling each other with some degree of trepidation as both teams are known for cheating, of course. They tag out before there’s any contact, so it’s Gedo and Kanemaru… but Gedo slaps Desperado, who tags back in to keep the game of cat and mouse going. Ishimori tags in and attacks Desperado as he was yelling at Gedo, but Desperado managed to get back in, sidestepping a springboard attack before he got tripped by Gedo in the ropes. Kanemaru’s knocked off the apron as Ishimori took the ref, masking Gedo whipping Despy with his belt, as we’re into this stuff rather quite early, no?
Desperado’s rolled back inside, but referee Red Shoes refuses to count a pin because of the way he’d been manhandled earlier. Of course, the Bullet Club corner pad’s been manipulated, leaving the top buckle exposed as Desperado’s thrown into it. The ref fixes the pad, but Ishimori deftly re-does it as Desperado gets thrown back into the steel. Some choking from Gedo behind the ref’s back led to a two-count, as the Bullet Club pair were having it their own way. Gedo boots Desperado somewhat scornfully, then went for the eyes before Despy used the ref as a human shield ahead of a low dropkick to the knee. A tag brings in Kanemaru, who knocks Ishimori off the apron… but Ishimori rushes in to make him pay as Kanemaru had to avoid the double-team, tripping Ishimori into the corner before a reverse DDT on Gedo got a two-count. A Figure Four followed as Gedo was trapped in the middle of the ring, before Desperado returned with a shinbreaker… and held the leg out for a dropkick from Kanemaru to take Gedo down again.
More choking from Desperado wears down Gedo, to the point where Gedo’s hugging Despy’s leg to save himself. It doesn’t work as Desperado raked the eyes… then had his raked in return. Not to worry, Kanemaru drags Gedo to the corner and wraps the leg around the ring post as the former champs continued to focus on the left knee. Kanemaru distracts the ref as Desperado pulls Gedo outside for a trip to the guard rails. Things recover with Gedo catching Kanemaru low, before Ishimori tagged in to try and turn things around. A handspring enziguiri drops Kanemaru for a two-count, before Ishimori landed a flatliner/reverse DDT combo… then rolled Ishimori into a Yes Lock right by the ropes for an instant break.
Kanemaru turns it around with an arm drag and a low dropkick to Ishimori, as Desperado tagged back in to try and push things over the line. A leaping knee from Ishimori buys time, as Gedo tagged back in… but he lays out Desperado ahead of a thrust kick for a near-fall. Another thrust kick looked to set up Gedo for a Gedo clutch, but instead we get attempted mule kicks from both guys as the cheating intensified. Ishimori runs in to give – and receive – a clothesline as Desperado built up a head of steam, but a Pinche Loco’s countered out of with a back body drop from Gedo. A Manhattan drop keeps Desperado rocked, but he’s back with a spinebuster for a near-fall… then rolls Gedo into Numero Dos, prompting Ishimori to make the save.
Kanemaru throws Ishimori into the ref as it’s time for more shenanigans. Out comes the whiskey bottle, but Gedo blocks it with a low blow as Ishimori flew into Kanemaru with a seated senton… here comes Gedo’s brass knuckles, but Desperado struck first with his regular knuckles, before a shot with the whiskey bottle and Pinche Loco was enough to get the win. This was starting to get a little ridiculous at the end, but this was a wild tag with the two teams cutting their usual corners to try and win – and it made for an entertaining match-up. ***½
The Bullet Club team is all but out. They’ll need to hope for a three-way tie for second-place with some funky results…
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Tournament: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) (1-0) vs. Way to the Ass Master (Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato) (1-0)
The winners of this are guaranteed a spot in Friday’s final, but we’ll need to wait until Wednesday to see if we get a multi-way tie for second.
Wato and Hiromu open proceedings, with a pacey series that saw Wato catch Hiromu with an elbow to the gut before he began to sting the former junior champion with kicks. Elbows from Wato looked to wear down Hiromu, but Wato’s caught in the ropes by BUSHI, before he recovered to kick Hiromu’s leg out as the LIJ team were stuttering. At least until BUSHI rushed the ring and helped double-team Wato. Hiromu chops his way back in, cornering Wato before BUSHI tagged in for a spot of t-shirt choking. Eventually the referee stops it, but Wato’s cornered as Hiromu returned to mock Hiroyoshi Tenzan at ringside with Mongolian chops, before he pulled Wato into a camel clutch. Taguchi wanders in and breaks that up with a Mongolian chop, which Tenzan approved of, but Wato couldn’t find a way back as he fell to a neckbreaker from BUSHI.
Chops from Hiromu keep Wato in trouble, prompting Taguchi to try and make a save… but he whiffs on a hip attack as the LIJ team landed a double-team suplex for a two-count on Wato. Hiromu plays guard dog as he kept Taguchi out of the ring as Wato needed to drag himself to the ropes to break up a STF. Hiromu’s back as Wato kept on taking a beating, eating a corner clothesline before sidestepping a low dropkick, before a step-up headscissors dropped Hiromu to buy him some time. BUSHI’s in to try and stop the tag out, but it doesn’t work as Taguchi tags in to spam hip attacks before landing a regular/reverse DDT combo. Hip attacks follow in the ropes, then a swandive hip attack to BUSHI for a two-count, as the Three Amigos quickly fell apart.
Fortunately for Taguchi, he was right back in as he countered BUSHI’s rear spin kick into an ankle lock, holding firm as BUSHI tried to roll out. Hiromu runs in, but gets tripped as he falls into BUSHI’s nether regions, before Wato took care of him with a corkscrew plancha on the outside. Taguchi’s feeling it, and followed up with a Bummer-ye for a near-fall, then went right back to the ankle lock on BUSHI. BUSHI gets back to his feet and has to counter Dodon with a swinging Fisherman’s neckbreaker, only for Taguchi to hit back with an enziguiri as Wato tagged back in. He quickly eats a DDT from BUSHI, before Hiromu returned to blast through Wato with a dropkick. Wato avoids a Dynamite Plunger, but quickly got rolled down for a low dropkick as the Falcon arrow followed for a two-count.
A lariat from Hiromu drops Wato as BUSHI took care of Taguchi on the outside, meaning that nobody could save Wato from a death valley driver in the corner. Taguchi tries to make a save with hip attacks, but BUSHI countered one as Wato found his second wind with a roundhouse kick, before he fed BUSHI in for a hip attack. Taguchi follows BUSHI outside with a body press, as Hiromu was set up for a wheelbarrow bulldog for a near-fall. An Alley Oop from Wato sets up Hiromu for the RPP, but BUSHI makes a save, only to get dropped with another hip attack. Wato misses RPP, and despite having a glimmer of hope, he found himself sandwiched with low dropkicks as Taguchi again needed to make the save.
He’s taken outside for a tope suicida from BUSHI, as Hiromu looked to put Wato away… but Wato escapes a Time Bomb and came back with a high kick. Hiromu’s superkick knocked him down before BUSHI suplexed Wato into a powerbomb for a near-fall, as the Fidget Spinner Facebuster picked up the win. This was again starting to feel a little long, with Wato not quite there yet, but he more than held his own in a big time spot. ***½
Everyone’s got one match left, but here’s how the mini junior tag league stands:
Hiromu & BUSHI – 2-0
Desperado & Kanemaru; Taguchi & Wato – 1-1
Ishimori & Gedo – 0-2
If they count tie-breakers, Taguchi and Wato currently have the edge, but I have a feeling they won’t given that Chris Charlton’s floated the possibility of a three-way tie for second, which could happen if the LIJ team complete their 100% run and the Bullet Club team wins on Wednesday.
The tour’s back on Tuesday, but that show is not going to make tape… nor does it have any tournament matches. We’ll be back on Wednesday at the Sendai Sunplaza Hall for the final rounds of the mini junior tag league, featuring Suzuki-gun vs. LIJ and the Bullet Club vs. Taguchi/Wato. This was an improvement on last night’s card, with the lows not being quite so low – but really, this tour seems to be one to cherry pick from. No G1 announcements mean that you can skip to the last two matches again if you’ve not got the time – but this was another largely good show that breezed by as it stuck to New Japan’s current edict of “six matches in two hours”.