The final show before the G1 saw New Japan return to Korakuen Hall with two title matches – including the finale of the IWGP junior tag title tournament.
Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Tomoaki Honma pinned Gabriel Kidd, Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsiji in 8:45 (***)
Taichi, Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., & DOUKI submitted Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Master Wato in 11:10 (***¼)
SANADA, Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi submitted Dick Togo, EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi in 9:50 (**¾)
Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto pinned SHO, Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano in 18:55 to retain the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championships (***¾)
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru pinned Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI in 17:10 to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships (***¾)
It’s just a five match card here, as the other selling point of this show is that they’re announcing line-ups for the G1.
Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura & Gabriel Kidd vs. Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma
Uemura and Nagata get us underway at Korakuen Hall, and it’s Uemura who’s taking the initiative as he lays into Nagata with forearms, before a whip took the veteran into the corner for a dropkick.
Stomps keep Nagata in the corner, but he blocks a slam before running into a forearm, Uemura keeps going as he gets that slam off for a two-count, then went for a Capture suplex… but it’s way too early as Nagata broke it up with a bear hug of all things. A slap gets Uemura free, but he’s quickly dumped with a kitchen sink knee as the Young Lion’s momentum ended.
Nagata takes over with a whip into the corner for a front kick, before a snapmare and a PK to the back left Uemura writhing. In tags Kojima to keep it up with a neckbreaker and an elbow drop for a couple of two-counts, as Gabriel Kidd ran in to eventually break that up. Honma tags in next for a slam, but he drops an elbow instead of the head for a two-count, before he traded elbows with the Young Lion.
Honma rocks Uemura into the corner, then caught him with a back body drop for a two-count as it was Tsuji’s turn to break it up. Chops wear down Uemura some more, but he finds a way back in with a dropkick before he rolled across to tag in Tsuji, who charges the veterans off the apron so he could go after Honma.
A shoulder tackle has Honma down, before a big splash gets Tsuji a two-count… he followed that up with an attempt at the obligatory Boston crab, but Honma fought out and went back to the chops, before landing a leaping Kokeshi after a struggle for a suplex came to nought. Kidd’s screaming for a tag in, and gets it so he can charge at the also-legal Kojima. The pair trade elbows, but it’s Kidd who pushes ahead, before he missed a charge into the corner that left him open for Machine Gun chops. Uemura and Tsuji try to save him, but they just end up taking some too, before Kidd fought back in with a dropkick. Kidd followed that up by rolling Kojima into a Boston crab, smartly dragging him away from the ropes… but to no avail as Kojima got the break anyway.
Kidd goes for a butterfly suplex, but it’s blocked as Kojima returned with a Koji Cutter for a two-count. Kidd’s saved by his partners, but they’re pulled out, and it’s rather elementary from there as a Cozy lariat gets the job done. Your usual fun Young Lions tag – with Uemura taking a hell of a beating early on. ***
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI)
We’ve got some G1 matches in here, Ibushi, Taichi and Suzuki in the same block, while we’ll be getting another go around on Sabre/Tanahashi too.
Of course, we get the Suzuki-gun jump start. I bet you’re shocked and appalled. DOUKI and Wato stay in the ring this time as everyone else heads outside for a scrap, but Wato’s able to match DOUKI with lucha stylings before a tijeras took DOUKI down. Wato gets a two-count from a pin before he took DOUKI into the ropes… only for his charge to end with him getting lifted outside as he got a taste of the guard rails. Just your usual Suzuki-gun stuff, really.
Taichi throws a cheeky kick to Tenzan at ringside, which commentary seemingly chuckled at, as he was also putting a beating to Taguchi. Suzuki’s got eyes for Ibushi here, which makes some sense, as he tried to choke him out by the railings. Suzuki then holds up Wato for some chops as the referee started the count… but Wato’s able to make it back in.
Except DOUKI throws him back into the Suzuki-gun corner, then tags in Suzuki to knock the Grand Master silly with elbows. A dropkick from Wato gets him free as Ibushi tagged in to get some payback on Suzuki, lighting him up with kicks and ppalm strikes. Suzuki stands up to avoid a standing moonsault, but Ibushi notices and stops himself in time as the pair go back to elbows. Including that CLONKING elbow.
Ibushi fires back with some shots of his own, throwing in some kicks too as Suzuki just laughs him off as he found his second wind. It quickly led to a rear naked choke, but the Gotch piledriver’s countered out of before a high kick from Ibushi and dualling palm strikes left both men laying. Sabre and Tanahashi tag in next, looking for a Cobra Twist, but their endless counters end up going to the mat as they went for pinning attempts that also go back-and-forth. Tanahashi’s shout for a Slingblade is caught as Sabre ties him up in an Octopus stretch, before Tanahashi’s attempt to break it apart ended with him eating a Dragon screw. That familiar foe.
Taichi’s in next, throwing kicks at Tanahashi before a Dragon screw freed him. In come Taguchi with a springboard arse as his team rushed the ring to triple-team Taichi. It leads to a Bummer-ye from Taguchi for a near-fall, then an ankle lock, before Taichi almost fought his way into a Dodon. That leads to Suzuki-gun rushing the ring as a DOUKI lariat dropped Taguchi, giving Taichi time to measure him for a Buzzsaw kick for a near-fall.
Taguchi’s back with hip attacks, but a roll-through hip attack just took him into a Dangerous backdrop driver as Taichi almost won it. From there, a Stretch Plum follows, and with nobody to help, Taguchi taps. This got pretty damn good in the closing stretch, but it’s another statement win for the Suzuki-gun lads. ***¼
Interestingly, after the match, Suzuki and Taichi squared off… they’re in the same block, remember…
Bullet Club (EVIL, Dick Togo & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & SANADA)
We’ve a jump start as the Bullet Club lads attack before the bell – but Naito manages to recover enough to remove his coat so he can choke EVIL with it.
An Irish whip looked to take EVIL into the corner for Combinacion Cabron, but Naito puts on the brakes, only to get unceremoniously thrown outside as Dick Togo was waiting to put the boots to him. Shingo and SANADA get involved as they’re posted, before they return to the ring. Yujiro tries to take control as he puts the boots to Naito, then tagged in Togo, who followed in with a running elbow drop for barely a one-count.
EVIL comes in to kick away at Naito as Togo and Yujiro come in to help. Back sentons from EVIL and Togo squish Naito for a two-count, before Naito found his way back in with a leaping forearm to EVIL. Tags bring us to Shingo and Yujiro, with the latter getting blasted through with a clothesline before Yujiro bit back. A leg sweep looked to lead to a leg drop, but the pair duck each other’s offence before Shingo bit out of a Fisherman buster. A hot shot drops Shingo in the ropes ahead of that Fisherman buster next, getting Yujiro a two-count, before a battle of lariats ended with a Pumping Bomber knocking down Yujiro.
SANADA’s in next, tripping Yujiro for a Paradise Lock, but it’s pushed away as Yujiro took advantage of a distraction from Togo outside to land a reverse DDT. Stomps from Togo and more trips from EVIL keep the Bullet Club lads ahead, as Yujiro proceeded to distract the referee. Togo’s got a chair, but SANADA kicks it away as he went for a TKO… but again, the numbers game.
EVIL’s in for a Magic Killer with Togo, but SANADA kicks it away and suplexes EVIL onto the chair. That starts a LIJ comeback, with a Shingo combination before they cornered Togo and stomped a mudhole in him. A Manhattan drop from Naito and an enziguiri sees him peper Togo, before a TKO from SANADA and a Skull End forced the submission. This felt a little scrappy, but maybe it’s me being over this part of the story… I know, they’re going to stretch it for a while longer. **¾
They announce the entire G1 lineups…
September 19 – Edion Arena, Osaka [Block A] – Shingo Takagi vs. Jay White, Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Minoru Suzuki, Jeff Cobb vs. Taichi, Will Ospreay vs. Yujiro Takahashi
September 20 – Edion Arena, Osaka [Block B] – Zack Sabre Jr. vs EVIL, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Tetsuya Naito, Hirooki Goto vs. KENTA, Toru Yano vs. SANADA, Juice Robinson vs. YOSHI-HASHI
September 23 – Hokkai Kitayell, Hokkaido [Block A] – Tomohiro Ishii vs. Will Ospreay, Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White, Minoru Suzuki vs. Taichi, Kazuchika Okada vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Jeff Cobb vs. Shingo Takagi
September 24 – Hokkai Kitayell, Hokkaido [Block B] – YOSHI-HASHI vs. EVIL, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tetsuya Naito, Juice Robinson vs. EVIL, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto vs. SANADA
September 27 – Kobe World Hall, Hyogo [Block A] – Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi, Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White, Kota Ibushi vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Jeff Cobb vs. Minoru Suzuki, Taichi vs. Yujiro Takahashi
September 29 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo [Block B] – Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito, EVIL vs. Toru Yano, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Juice Robinson, Zack Sabre Jr. vs. KENTA, YOSHI-HASHI vs. SANADA
September 30 – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo [Block A] – Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shingo Takagi, Will Ospreay vs. Jay White, Kazuchika Okada vs. Taichi, Kota Ibushi vs. Jeff Cobb, Minoru Suzuki vs. Yujiro Takahashi
October 1 – Ao-re Nagaoka, Niigata [Block B] – Tetsuya Naito vs. SANADA, EVIL vs. KENTA, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Juice Robinson vs. Toru Yano
October 5 – Takamatsu City General Gymnasium #1, Kagawa [Block A] – Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay, Taichi vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki, Jeff Cobb vs. Jay White, Shingo Takagi vs. Yujiro Takahashi
October 6 – Sun Plaza Hall, Hiroshima [Block B] – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. KENTA, YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tetsuya Naito, Juice Robinson vs. EVIL, SANADA vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito
October 7 – Sun Plaza Hall, Hiroshima [Block A] – Kota Ibushi vs. Shingo Takagi, Taichi vs. Jay White, Will Ospreay vs. Minoru Suzuki, Kazuchika Okada vs. Jeff Cobb, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Yujiro Takahashi
October 8 – ZIP Arena, Okayama [Block B] – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. EVIL, Juice Robinson vs. Tetsuya Naito, SANADA vs. KENTA, Toru Yano vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Hirooki Goto vs. YOSHI-HASHI
October 10 – Edion Arena, Osaka [Block A] – Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi, Kota Ibushi vs. Minoru Suzuki, Will Ospreay vs. Taichi, Jay White vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jeff Cobb
October 11 – Prefectural Gymnasium, Aichi [Block B] – Tetsuya Naito vs. EVIL, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hirooki Goto, Juice Robinson vs. SANADA, KENTA vs. Toru Yano, YOSHI-HASHI vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
October 13 – Hamamatsu Arena, Shizuoka [Block A] – Kazuchika Okada vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Minoru Suzuki vs. Jay White, Shingo Takagi vs. Taichi, Kota Ibushi vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Will Ospreay vs. Jeff Cobb
October 14 – Yokohama Budokan, Kanagawa [Block B] – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. SANADA, EVIL vs. Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano vs. Tetsuya Naito, Juice Robinson vs. Zack Sabre Jr., YOSHI-HASHI vs. KENTA
October 16 – Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo [Block A finals] – Kota Ibushi vs. Taichi, Jeff Cobb vs. Yujiro Takahashi, Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay, Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jay White, Shingo Takagi vs. Minoru Suzuki
October 17 – Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo [Block B finals] – Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson vs. Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano vs. YOSHI-HASHI, EVIL vs. SANADA, Tetsuya Naito vs. KENTA
October 18 – Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo – G1 finals, with the card to be announced on show day…
All of these shows will have a lone undercard match, with some mixture of Gabriel Kidd, Yota Tsuji and Yuya Uemura in singles action.
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI (c)
We’ve a rematch from a little under five weeks ago as the NEVER trios champions made their first defence…
SHO and Ishii want to start – and they leap at each other following their scuffle on Wednesday’s show. SHO mounts Ishii and punches him from the mount, forcing referee Marty Asami to separate the two for the punches. Goto tags in… so in comes Yano, who tries to do the turnbuckle pads, but he’s stopped at the first attempt.
Third time’s the charm as Yano throws the pad at Goto, who just comes back with a shoulder tackle before tags got us to Okada and YOSHI-HASHI. Okada takes him to the ropes for a clean break, before YOSHI tried to charge at him… that led to a side headlock that Okada sunk in, before the push-off saw YOSHI come back with chops as he stung the former champ.
A Head Hunter drops Okada as YOSHI-HASHI pushed on, but his attempt to dropkick Okada in the ropes ended with him getting kicked in the back by Yano, as Okada and SHO swarmed the ring for some double-teaming. Before SHO went back to Ishii, knocking him off the apron so they could brawl on the outside, with Ishii getting sent to the guard rails. Okada borrows the idea for YOSHI-HASHI as he returned to the ring to look for a count-out. Of course, YOSHI beats the count, but he’s quickly taken into the corner by Yano, which doesn’t help his taped-up neck much. Ishii tries to make the save, but SHO takes care of him before Yano charged into his own exposed corner. Karma. Not the move.
Goto manages to tag in as his first task was ot clear the apron, before Yano raked the eyes. A back suplex gets Goto back in, before a clothesline and a bulldog out of the corner drew a two-count. Yano tries to go back to cheating, pulling Goto down with a hair-assisted neckbreaker as Okada tagged in to build on it.
An elbow into the corner, then a DDT gets Okada a two-count. They block each other’s swings as Okada looked for a modified cobra clutch, but Goto kicks that away before some back-and-forth led to him dropping Okada with a lariat. Ishii’s back in with chops and forearms to Okada in the corner, but he’s kicked away before Ishii swung for SHO again… a distraction which led to Okada hitting him with a flapjack.
SHO tags in next, predictably, and goes straight for Ishii with clotheslines. Kicks leave Ishii in a heap, but SHO continues to pester him with elbows as the pair go back and forth once again. A Fujiwara armbar from SHO’s rolled into a keylock as Ishii tries to scramble for the ropes, but instead he rolls up to go for a suplex, only to get suplexed himself. When he got back to his feet, Ishii chopped SHO into the corner – deliberately aiming high and for the throat – before he POUNCED SHO out of the corner. A clothesline followed before a folding powerbomb almost got the win, but then it’s; back to the shenanigans. Yano trips Ishii, only to get knocked off the apron as a Parade of Moves broke out, leading to Goto hitting a superkick-assisted ushigoroshi only for another trip to break Ishii again.
Yano tries to turn it around by himself, until Okada dropkicked Ishii away, as SHO then looked to seal the win with a deadlift German… but it’s not enough! From the kick-out, he pulls Ishii into a cross armbar, but YOSHI-HASHI dives into save his title. A backslide from SHO rolls Ishii in for a strait-jacket piledriver that nearly does it, before a Shock Arrow gets broken up by YOSHI-HASHI.
Another Parade of Moves led to YOSHI dumping Okada with a Western Lariat as he desperately didn’t want to lose that belt, before helping Goto with a GYR on SHO. That left SHO easy pickings for Ishii, but SHO’s second wind drops Ishii with a German suplex, only for him to get murdered with a lariat. Ishii tries to finish with a brainbuster, but SHO counters into another armbar, trapping Ishii in the middle of the ring… only for Ishii to kick his head to get free. Whatever works.
A jumping enziguiri from Ishii has SHO down for a sliding lariat, but SHO kicks out! The sheer drop brainbuster is next, and that my friends, is that. This lacked something that the first match did – probably the story of the underdog finally coming good – but this was a fantastic heated scrap between six guys who are meant to be part of the same unit. Perhaps the match of the Road tour so far… ***¾
After the match, Ishii offered SHO a handshake – it’s accepted, and everyone’s friends again.
IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
Suzuki-gun’s win on Wednesday earned them their place in the finals – can they win back-to-back matches against LIJ to regain the junior tag titles?
BUSHI and Kanemaru start us of, but it’s Kanemaru who took control early going for BUSHI’s neck… but there’s a quick turnaround as BUSHI and Hiromu hit the ring to take care of Desperado’s attempt to double-team. Kanemaru’s back, but he’s quickly choked by a t-shirt before Hiromu came in and put the boots to him.
Chops follow as Hiromu took Kanemaru into the ropes, but a boot and a dropkick swings it back around as BUSHI’s taken into the guard rails by Desperado on the outside. Kanemaru posts Hiromu next, then swivelled him onto the apron for a running boot to the head on the floor. They hang Hiromu upside down in the ropes for a spell for some more kicks as the referee started the count-out, but of course Hiromu’s back in in plenty of time.
A rear naked choke from Kanemaru sees him keep control as Desperado tags in, before simultaneous boot chokes in the corner forced the referee to break. The pace is reduced a little as Desperado rakes the eyes and traps Hiromu in the corner again. Hiromu tries to fight back out of the corner, but he’s double-teamed as an eye rake from Kanemaru led to a scooping reverse DDT for a near-fall.
Kanemaru follows that up with a camel clutch next, but Hiromu drags his way to the ropes and eventually forces the break. Desperado tags in to hit a suplex for a two-count, before another eye rake takes Hiromu into the Suzuki-gun corner for some more stomps. An attempt to fight back quickly ends as Hiromu misses a running dropkick, but he’s able to catch a kick and spin down Kanemaru with a Dragon screw as he finally gets across to tag in BUSHI.
Tijeras from BUSHI take Kanemaru down, but Desperado’s in to frustrate as BUSHI needed to hit a missile dropkick off the top rope to clear the ring. A DDT drops Kanemaru for a two-count, while a dropkick took Kanemaru outside… only for Desperado to trip BUSHI to stop the tope suicida. Back inside, Kanemaru goes for the scooping reverse DDT again, but BUSHI counters free with a neckbreaker for a two-count. A low dropkick from Kanemaru stops BUSHI in his tracks though, as Desperado returned, looking for a knee breaker, only for BUSHI to block as he returned with a flying ‘rana off the middle rope.
Hiromu’s back next, taking Despy into the ropes before a shotgun dropkick directed him into the corner. A lariat and a low dropkick followed as Hiromu came close with a pin… before a spear from Desperado capitalised on interference from Kanemaru on the apron. The dropkick-assisted sidewalk slam gets Despy a near-fall as again the Suzuki-gun team ran interference to frustrate their opponents, leading to an attempt at Guitarra de Angel being escaped by Hiromu… only for him to roll into a Pinche Loco attempt.
BUSHI makes the save on that as the ring filled up, leading to a sunset flip/German suplex combo on Desperado. They then go for their Fidget Spinner Facebuster finish, but Kanemaru breaks it up before getting dropkicked to the outside, where BUSHI quickly followed up with a tope suicida. Desperado tries to steal the win with a Mouse Trap, but Hiromu kicks out and returned with a lariat, before a Dynamite Plunger drew a near-fall. A suplex/powerbomb combo is next for a two-count, before the Fidget Spinner Facebuster – which apparently is tagged the LAT – should have gotten the win, but Kanemaru pulls out the ref to save the match.
Kanemaru fights back with an enziguiri, then a pop-up low blow to Hiromu before a shot with the whisky bottle left Hiromu laying. With the referee still laying, Desperado fought his way up for a Pinche Loco, but BUSHI dives in in time to break it up. A brainbuster from Kanemaru gets rid of BUSHI, before Kanemaru held up Hiromu for a punch to the throat from Desperado, as Pinche Loco sealed the win. That’s as clean as you’ll get here, and that’s the belts back on Suzuki-gun – with presumably the path set for a long run, given the lack of established challengers. ***¾
Post-match, Desperado lays out Hiromu with a belt shot, so I’m guessing that we may get a rematch at the end of the G1 tour given that they’re intentionally keeping the G1 undercards lean.
Another solid show brings the New Japan Road to a close, and while nothing here cracked through into the proverbial notebooks, the two title matches more than delivered, while we got whatever teases we could for G1 matches.