With Tokyo, Hiroshima and Kobe getting “Destruction” events later this month, New Japan World brings us a “Road to Destruction” card today from Korakuen Hall.
#TLDR: Ahead of Saturday’s Destruction in Tokyo show, New Japan put on a tag-filled show which just about built up some matches, but offered precious little else in the way of substance.
The Full Review: Truth be told, this was a filler show going in, with six of the eight matches being tag team affairs…
Henare vs. David Finlay
Henare doesn’t have an entrance video of his own yet… and David Finlay is finally out of Young Lion territory, as he now has a custom ring jacket and non-black trunks. He’s graduated!
Henare gets an early advantage, knocking Finlay down with back elbows, before a missile dropkick off the middle rope gets Finlay a two-count. The pair trade shots briefly, before Henare takes Finlay into a corner and follows up with a Stinger Splash and a snapmare for a near-fall.
Henare catches Finlay in the default Young Lion submission – the Boston crab – and actually drags Finlay into the centre of the ring, before Finlay grabs the bottom rope to break the hold. Finlay escapes from a suplex, then drills Henare with a twisting uppercut, and after kicking out of a backslide, Finlay lands a Stunner for the win. Nice and short, although I’m not too sure about that choice of finisher… **½
Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Yoshitatsu & Captain New Japan
Yujiro’s got new ring music, but he’s back at the bottom of the Bullet Club after he came up short with Hangman Page last time out.
Standard Bullet Club jump start, although Captain New Japan did have a brief fightback. Owens and Takahashi combine for a back suplex/inverted neckbreaker combo that forced Yoshitatsu to break up an early pin attempt.
Owens teased a double axehandle off the second rope as Yujiro held Captain in place, but instead he leapt down for an eye rake. Yoshitatsu finally gets the hot tag, to zero reaction, and kicks away at Owens, before drilling him with a knee to the midsection, then a Triple H knee lift. A Shining Wizard gets a near-fall, before Owens lands a rolling forearm and a pump kick to the kneeling Yoshitatsu.
More tags see us back to Yujiro and the Captain, with a brainbuster getting Yujiro a near-fall before Yoshitatsu broke it up. Captain hit his usual roll-up for a near-fall, then a uranage, before falling to… The Stroke? Jeff Jarrett’s finisher only got Yujiro a near-fall, but he got a short DDT straight after, and there’s another loss for Captain, and a win for Yujiro and his new music. Bring back Yujiro’s Jazz! **¼
After the match Yoshitatsu grabbed the microphone, and my Japanese is virtually non-existent, but apparently he’s fed up of losing. He’s actually running a Twitter poll to decide whether to kick Captain New Japan out of the Hunter Club. Wouldn’t that make it not a club?? At this point, I was starting to get convinced that Yoshitatsu’s only on these cards out of sympathy…
Will Ospreay, Gedo & Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Beretta) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Ryusuke Taguchi
Tenzan opens up with Beretta and a load of Mongolian chops, before Beretta takes the Shawn Michaels bump in the turnbuckle and then some more Mongolian chops from Kojima. Ten-Koji work to double team Beretta with a diving headbutt and slingshot elbow, before Kojima dishes out rapid-fire chops to Beretta… then Romero… and sadly not the remaining half of the CHAOS team.
Ospreay tags in as it sounds like the “home” team crash into the barriers a lot, and Ospreay catches Kojima in an Octopus hold. Gedo comes in and keeps up the pressure on Kojima, mocking his rapid-fire chops, but Kojima makes the tag to Liger, who drops Gedo, then Romero with tiltawhirl backbreakers, only for Ospreay’s corkscrew kick to knock the veteran down.
Ospreay returns again and misses a handspring before flipping over from a palm strike. Taguchi tags in and makes the most of a prone Ospreay by connecting with some hip attacks against the ropes, and then lands a leaping hip attack on the apron. A one-man Spanish Fly from Ospreay takes down Taguchi, who takes a standing corkscrew moonsault from Ospreay for a near-fall as the ring quickly fills and empties.
Romero’s in there with Taguchi for his run of “Forever” lariats, before Taguchi rolls him up for a near-fall. Taguchi blocks a Shiranui, then catches Romero in an ankle lock, before scissoring the leg to force the submission. A fun eight-man tag, but in line with a lot of these undercard matches, hardly spectacular. ***
Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma)
God damn, Nagata’s blue t-shirt makes me jealous of that guy at the PROGRESS shows who somehow has one. If only so I can pull it up and have Nagata’s face over mine… (yes, it’ll be an improvement)
Nagata and Makabe trade arm wringers, then shoulder tackles, with Nagata going down to one, before replying with a big boot to Makabe. Ah, it’s always fun when Nagata’s beating up a guy… Honma tags in, and they double-team Nagata to the mat with a shoulder block, before Honma chops the heck out of Nagata.
Honma’s chops suddenly have no effect on Nagata, so they switch to stiff slaps, and Nagata finally decks him with one. Nakanishi tags in and drops Honma with a cross body off the top, before they go back to the chopping game as Nagata returns to kick away at Honma. Honma no-sells a big boot, so he gets a slap, before he deadlifts Nagata into a suplex.
Makabe returns to charge down Nagata again, but Nakanishi runs in… and gets clotheslined. As does Nagata. Nakanishi resists an Irish whip, and drops Makabe with a clothesline, then another for a near-fall.
Makabe gets caught in a torture rack, so Nagata traps Honma in an armbar to prevent interference. Nakanishi loses the hold, and ends up trading dualling clotheslines with Makabe, before he decides to go up top and gets brought down a la Ric Flair by Honma.
A leaping Kokeshi from Honma sends Nagata out of the ring, and the GBH pair batter Nakanishi with clotheslines to the front and back for a near-fall. After dispatching of Nagata once more, Makabe drops Nakanishi, as Honma follows up with a swandive Kokeshi, before the King Kong Kneedrop seals the win for the former tag champs. Good match to wrap up the first half, and it’s always nice to see the veterans walloping each other for the hell of it. ***
They replay the Time Bomb promo from the G1 finals, and we’re still looking at Power Struggle on November 5th for whomever this is. Minoru Suzuki’s the leader, and depending on how he’s handled in the UK for WhatCulture Pro Wrestling in October, that may go off before then!
A quick turnaround in the interval allows Togi Makabe to put on a vest, his chain… and do commentary for the second half. Which we don’t hear on New Japan World…
EVIL vs. Juice Robinson
A fairly slow start here as Robinson worked headlocks and arm wringers, before he’s sent flying into the crowd barriers courtesy of a clothesline over the top rope by EVIL. On the floor, Robinson breaks open the gate after being whipped into the barriers, and he gets his arm kicked after it’s trapped.
EVIL grabs a chair and we get the “wear the chair and gets tossed into the ringpost” variation of that attack, and Robinson beats the 20-count back into the ring. Juice’s arm gets wringed, as EVIL works his way up to a curb stomp, then a back senton for a near-fall. After fighting out of a rear chinlock, Robinson takes a knee to the midsection, before dropping EVIL with an Arn Anderson-esque spinebuster.
Robinson peppers EVIL with some Dusty punches, and then dropkicks him to the outside, in prime position for a plancha. Back inside, a clothesline in the corner drops EVIL to the mat and in place for a cannonball.
EVIL knees his way free of a suplex, before dropping Robinson with one for another near-fall. A side headlock from Robinson gets countered with a Saito suplex for a near-fall, but Robinson elbows out of an STO, and levels EVIL with a forearm smash, before landing a clothesline. Juice follows up with a powerbomb, before dropping onto EVIL for the cover, and only gets a two-count from it.
Robinson looks to finish off EVIL off the top rope, but he misses a big splash, before EVIL is forced to counter an Unprettier. EVIL runs into a big boot, but decks Robinson with a clothesline, before delivering an EVIL bomb (Fireman’s carry into a sit-out spinebuster) for a near-fall. From there, it was elementary as an STO finished off the job and got EVIL the win after being pushed close by Juice. ***¼
reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. Katsuyori Shibata & Tiger Mask
The hell? I get that Shibata’s been teaming on-and-off with the veterans, but this is one hell of an odd team. Fish and Shibata start off, and the NEVER champion tries to kick the head clean off of the current ROH TV champ, before he’s forced to roll to the ropes to get out of some early headscissors.
O’Reilly comes in and kicks away at Tiger Mask for a spell, before Fish tags back in for more of the same. A slingshot senton into the ring connects, as does a snap suplex, which gets Fish a two-count. O’Reilly returns and traps Tiger Mask in some body scissors, at least until Shibatra runs in to break it up.
Still, Tiger Mask is kept in the wrong corner, but he creates an opening for himself when he catches Fish up top and takes him down with an armdrag. Shibata makes the tag, and he goes to work on Fish with Yakuza kicks in the corner, before landing his diving dropkick. O’Reilly breaks up an abdominal stretch on Fish, who then lays into Shibata with forearms, before the pair trade suplexes.
Tiger Mask comes back in, but he’s quickly overwhelmed and dropped with a back suplex by O’Reilly, who segues into a heel hook. That hold’s broken free of, but Tiger quickly falls into the head and arm choke, before O’Reilly flips it into an Exploder suplex for a near-fall. A dropkick gets Tiger Mask an opening to hit the Tiger Driver on O’Reilly for a near-fall, before he goes for a double armbar.
Fish breaks that up, before he whips Shibata into the guard rails on the outside. On the inside, Tiger Mask kicks away at O’Reilly, but gets caught with a spinebuster before the Two Man Smash Machine (pendulum backbreaker/top rope kneedrop) drops Tiger Mask. Shibata comes in for the save but takes a load of kicks, before he’s dropped with the Chasing the Dragon (suplex assisted with a kick). Moments later, Tiger Mask takes one too, and that’s enough for the win for the ROH team. After a painfully slow start, this got good, but they spent a little too long in first gear for me. ***¼
Post-match, Bobby Fish ranted at the camera which could have been taken as an invitation to merge the ROH TV and NEVER Openweight titles. Well, New Japan’s in the business of merging belts these days, I guess.
Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Tomihiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
Omega’s got his black briefcase from winning the G1 – and the ring announcer has finally learned, as he dives out of the ring to save himself from Bad Luck Fale. YOSHI-HASHI has dyed his hair blonde since the G1… that bleach blonde mullet just looks odd. We have a jump start, and off we go.
The action spills to the outside, and Omega goes after YOSHI-HASHI ahead of their match with Omega’s title shot on the line in Hiroshima next Thursday. In the ring, Goto and Ishii beat on Omega briefly, but focus on Tama Tonga, who takes down Goto with a dropkick after his rope running shenanigans.
Tonga’s got Goto covered, but the referee refuses to count as the cover would have come after a four-way beatdown. Tonga measures up Goto for a kick to the ribs, then sends him into the corner for a Stinger splash. A kick from Goto is blocked and met with a forearm, but Goto finally takes down Tonga with a clothesline as he makes the tag out to Okada.
Okada works briefly with Omega, dropping the Bullet Club leader with a flapjack, before Fale comes in and blocks a bodyslam attempt from the champion. A shoulder block drops Okada, and allows Omega to get a near-fall. Tama Tonga tags in and nearly seals a win after an elbow drop of all things, before Omega comes back in and keeps Okada cornered by using his boot to choke him.
Fale gets his turn to work over Okada some more, as all of the Bullet Club cycle through to stomp away at the champion. After tagging back in, Fale clears the apron of the CHAOS team, and sets up Okada for an avalanche, then lands a big splash for a near-fall as CHAOS flood in to break up the pin.
Okada wriggles out of a Bad Luck Fall and goes for the Rainmaker, but that’s blocked with a Grenade, which Okada dropkicks free of. YOSHI-HASHI gets the tag in and drops Omega with some headscissors, before a dropkick to Omega’s back gets him a near-fall. An attempt at a Bunker Buster is elbowed out of, before YOSHI-HASHI is backdropped out of a powerbomb attempt.
Tanga Roa comes in to work over YOSHI-HASHI, but he gets a flipping neckbreaker for his efforts, as Ishii gets the tag in. Some shoulder blocks barely move either man, before Ishii bounces off of Fale on the apron. Ishii shrugs it off and suplexes Roa for a near-fall, before a cross body is blocked and turned into a bodyslam for a two-count for Roa.
Ishii takes a Stinger splash, back elbow and an avalanche in the corner, before another body slam gets Roa a two-count as the CHAOS team again flood the ring. Tonga and Roa combine to hit Cryme Tyme’s old G9 (Samoan drop/corkscrew neckbreaker combo) for another near-fall on Ishii.
Ishii briefly fires back, but takes a superkick from Omega as we get a parade of highspots in quick succession, featuring Okada slamming Fale, and an ushigoroshi from Goto on Roa. Seconds later, a lariat then a brainbuster by Ishii on Roa prove to be enough to seal the win, despite Omega’s best efforts to break up the pin. ***½
A solid eight-man tag, and you know what you’re getting with these guys. The post-match features some stare downs which build up Fale/Okada and Omega/YOSHI-HASHI for Hiroshima on September 22… and now, a six-man tag main event.
Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI vs. Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA
Well, we say BUSHI… there’s a guy in a suit at ringside in Naito’s smiling silver skull mask which isn’t BUSHI. He may have eaten BUSHI, but it sure as hell ain’t him. So Los Ingobernables de Japon will start a man down, and that leads to Elgin and Naito getting us underway.
An early start sees Naito low bridge Elgin to the outside, before he rakes away at the eyes, only to be dropped by a shoulder tackle as Elgin mocks the Naito “tranquilo” pose. A leaping forearm into the corner rocks Naito, who gets caught up in a stalling suplex that SANADA tries – and fails – to break up.
Tanahashi comes in against SANADA, and he works a wristlock before SANADA takes him into the corner by way of an eye rake. Tanahashi keeps up the pressure with a slam then what I guess was meant to be a back senton, before a standing senton flip gets Tanahashi a near-fall.
KUSHIDA tags in and does a cartwheel into a low dropkick on SANADA, before dragging him over to allow Tanahashi to tag back in. The babyfaces keep motioning at the lack of BUSHI on the apron, which seems to cause a distraction as SANADA hits the double leapfrog, then a dropkick before tossing Tanahashi to the outside, where not-BUSHI-in-a-suit lays into him.
Tanahashi just about beats the count, and goes straight back into an armbar from SANADA, before Naito tags in and puts the boots to him. A baseball slide from Tanahashi knocks not-BUSHI into the guard rails, and gets him a chance to make the tag out to Elgin, who immediately levels Naito with some running lariats in the corner.
SANADA rushes in and takes an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, before not-BUSHI trips Elgin in the ropes… and gets punched out for it. Elgin hits an enziguiri to Naito and then slingshots him into the ring for a powerslam and a near-fall. Another enziguiri from Elgin drops Naito, whose leaping forearm completely misses, as a tornado DDT is caught… and finally reversed back into a DDT from the LIdJ leader.
KUSHIDA tags in and drops Naito with a springboard dropkick, then takes out SANADA with a handspring elbow. Naito elbows away a kick from KUSHIDA, who responds with an armdrag into a cross armbreaker. After the move was broken up by SANADA, KUSHIDA kept on top of Naito with a running knee, before a tiltawhirl was transitioned into the Hoverboard Lock… Only for BUSHI to slowly make his way through the crowd and towards the ring.
As the referee checked on Naito for a submission, BUSHI sprayed KUSHIDA with some mist, before tagging in and dropping the champion with the MX… but Hiroshi Tanahashi made the save.
BUSHI climbs to the top for a second time, but his MX misses, and he gets dropped by a Slingblade from Tanahashi. Another parade of moves ends with a Naito enziguiri, then a lariat from Elgin as the cameraman again focused on our mystery man who was now confirmed as not-BUSHI. Out of nowhere, BUSHI drills KUSHIDA with a Destroyer for a near-fall, before he goes back to the middle rope for another crack at the MX, which connects and secures the win. Well, two out of three is a better hit-rate than Honma usually gets for those Kokeshi! A fun main event, again nothing earth-shattering, with the biggest news being the apparent debut of a new member of Los Ingobernables… ***¾
After the match, Elgin charges Naito into the crowd barriers, before Naito rakes the eyes as the heel crew stand tall. BUSHI and KUSHIDA keep at it afterwards, as they build towards their main event on Sunday’s Destruction card in Tokyo, whilst Elgin and Naito will headline in Kobe on September 25.
All in, this was really a by-the-numbers show, with two main talking points: a fifth Ingobernable, and something way less important – Yoshitatsu potentially committing career suicide by becoming a one-man army and kicking Captain New Japan out of a Hunter Club that’s claimed zero scalps to date.