New Japan returned to Korakuen Hall for the last show on the road to Power Struggle, as the finals for the Super Juniors Tag Team Tournament were firmed up.
Hirai Kawato vs. Teruaki Kanemitsu
With David Finlay promoted and Jay White in Ring of Honor… we’re no longer in Kansas! Some decent technical stuff here, with Kanemitsu working over the arm of Kawato before he’s caught in a headlock.
Kanemitsu again took down Kawato with an arm drag, before a hiptoss out of the corner got him a near-fall. The older Kanemitsu worked up into a camel clutch, before a chinlock was broken via the ropes. Kawato fired back with a dropkick, then a slam for a two-count, before going to the dreaded Young Lion Boston Crab… but Kanemitsu made the ropes. Kawato almost took the win with a roll-up, then a small package, but Kanemitsu kicked out and caught the 19 year old in a Liontamer-esque Boston Crab for the win. Decent for a Young Lion’s match. **½
So, it seems that New Japan are so invested in the BONE SOLDIER gimmick, they haven’t gotten around to taking a new match graphic photo for him…
Yujiro Takahashi & BONE SOLDIER vs. Yoshitatsu & Juice Robinson
Yoshitatsu jumped the Boner at the bell, kicking him out of the ring… and it looks like the Boner’s mask is now fastened on with two press studs, rather than the shambles we’ve seen before.
Yujiro and Boner attack Yoshitatsu outside briefly, before the Boner choked away at Yoshitatsu in the ring. If I could describe this feud in a word, it’d be: insipid. Things picked up when Juice Robinson tagged in to drop Takahashi with chops and forearms, before knocking the Boner down. Juice runs into Takahashi with a cannonball, before a Jackhammer-like suplex got him a near-fall. Takahashi tried and failed with a suplex, so he rakes the eyes, only to run into a spinebuster from Robinson.
Another pair of tags bring in our feuding couple, with Yoshitatsu slapping the Boner… only to get his eyes raked. Yoshitatsu lays into the Boner with some kicks, then drops him with a hotshot across the middle rope for a near-fall. They go to a finish as Yoshitatsu tries for a Pedigree, but instead the Boner just low blows Yoshitatsu for the cheap DQ… which actually draws boos! I’ve rated the prior two matches as DUDs, and this wasn’t any better than either of them… so you know where we’re going: DUD
After the match, Boner hits Yoshitatsu with his old Captain New Japan shield, before giving him a full nelson slam and then uses his belt for some choking. Yeah…
Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Angel de Oro & Titan vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Tiger Mask
There’s part of Yuji Nagata’s team that sticks out like a massively-sore thumb, isn’t there? But oh my God, Nagata and Nakanishi got their own customised face t-shirts – you know the ones, with their cartoon faces on the underside when you pull it over your head?
Oro started off with Liger, and wiped him out early on with a Sasuke special, only to walk into a tiltawhirl backbreaker back in the ring. We then move from the flying to the monsters, with Tenzan and Nakanishi doing some old big lads’ wrestling, and of course we got Mongolian chops. Titan flew in with a crossbody and a handspring back elbow against Tenzan, who had little response, before being forced to grab the bottom rope to free himself from an inverted figure four. Nagata tags in and lights up Tenzan with kicks to the chest, before being taken down with a Mountain bomb. In came Kojima to set Nagata alight with the rapid-fire chops, before a Koji Cutter took both men to the mat, and finally into the corners as Tiger Mask and Titan came into the fray.
Titan and Oro combined to drop Tiger Mask with a slam, as Titan moonsaulted into the knees of Tiger Mask. A Tiger Driver nearly won it, as did a butterfly superplex, but in the end Tiger Mask took the win with a Tiger suplex. Too many tigers in that paragraph! A typical undercard New Japan tag, but a five-star classic compared to the previous match! **¾
Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto vs. Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Chase Owens
This is your typical “build up a future match” spiel, and it sure as hell isn’t Chase Owens vs. Hirooki Goto! All three of the Bullet Club were in orange face paint, because… Halloween.
It’s another typical New Japan undercard tag match, and particularly with this combination of the Bullet Club, there was precious little to write home about. Nothing amazing, nothing awful. Tonga accidentally knocked Loa off the apron after Goto sidestepped a charge, before Chase Owens was used as a human pinball after he tried to prevent a tag out.
YOSHI-HASHI took down Tonga with some headscissors en route to his Bunker Buster neckbreaker. Goto tried to tie up Chase Owens for the final straight, where Tama Tonga’s rope running almost led to a Gun Stun, before the tag title challengers countered it into a powerbomb. Owens surprised Ishii with a slingshot into a Codebreaker for a near-fall, before Goto fought off both of the Guerillas and dropped Tonga with an ushigoroshi. In the end, Ishii took the win with a brainbuster on Owens to end a match that was just there. ***
After the match, the IWGP tag champions and their challengers brawled through the crowd, before things calmed down… only for Tama Tonga to raise the crowd’s ire by running back, sliding through the ring, and then heading to the back once more.
They announced the line-up for next year’s FantasticaMania shows next January, featuring CMLL imports Atlantis, Mistico, Volador Jr., Maximo Sexy, Dragon Lee, Titan, Stuka Jr., Soberano Jr., Blue Panther Jr., Ultimo Guerrero, Euforia, Ephesto, Barbaro Cavernario, Hechicero, OKUMURA and Raziel. There’s a lot of names there are familiar, but plenty that aren’t – I’m looking forward to seeing whatever of these shows pop up on New Japan World in the new year!
Kenny Omega & Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & Gedo
The Elite one-upped the rest of the Bullet Club by coming out in costumes, rather than just facepaint for Halloween. Cue the Ghostbusters, Kenny and Matt, in full-on Ghostbuster gear with Proton packs, with Nick playing a ghost. Omega had trouble climbing into the ring because of his gear, before Ghost Nick was obliterated. They’re wrestling in these costumes too, just for added awesomeness. To complete our “fashion paragraph”, Will Ospreay’s been able to wash out YOSHI-HASHI’s hair dye from last week’s show, which was a thing.
The Ghost and the Busters jumped Gedo at the bell, with Omega and Matt charging into a cornered Gedo back-first with their proton packs, before a double back senton from the buster flattened the veteran. No, I can’t believe I’m typing this either… Ospreay flew in with a “trick or treat” crossbody to the Elite, which somehow led to Nick losing his costume, and us getting Ghost Ospreay! Who gave us a spooky tornillo!
Gedo earned some revenge on Matt, then Kenny, only for the Bucks to run wild with a pop-up dropkick to Okada, and a dropkick to knock Ospreay off the apron. The Elite kept up the pressure with a trio of topes, before they used Gedo’s beard for a series of spots, including the beard-equivalent of an arm wringer. Nope, don’t think I’ve seen that before!
Will Ospreay flew in with a springboard forearm to help Gedo make the hot tag to Okada, which led to a brief flirtation with Kenny Omega ahead of their Tokyo Dome match. Okada tied up the Young Bucks with a weird double-team submission, before Omega’s interference led to an inadvertent Indian deathlock.
The Elite’s freeze spray came into use when Omega sprayed Okada off the top turnbuckle, but the IWGP champion recovered and drilled Matt with the reverse neckbreaker for a near-fall. Gedo came in to drop Omega with a reverse STO, but again Okada overcame the Bucks, before Ospreay’s handspring overhead kick and a double ‘rana off the top rope took the Bucks down. A Rainmaker attempt on one of the Bucks was avoided as Omega connected with a high knee, before Ospreay ran in with a one-man Spanish fly as the match entered it’s closing stages. Ospreay took down Omega with a handspring into an overhead kick, before a standing corkscrew moonsault earned him a near-fall.
Omega blocked an OsCutter, only to take a superkick from Matt Jackson, which served as a set-up for Ospreay to go flying with a Sasuke special… except Matt and Omega caught him on the outside and turned it into an Indy-Taker on the floor to wipe out the Best of Super Juniors winner.
Back in the ring, Omega looked to finish off Ospreay with a triple-team superkick, but Okada and Gedo made the save as that only got them a two-count. Instead, Kenny went for the One Winged Angel, and that did the job as the number one contender came out with the win. A really fun six-man, before, during and after the Ghostbusters shtick… and it was odd to see that Gedo wasn’t the man taking the fall in this match. ***¾
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Katsuyori Shibata, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs. Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA
Unfortunately, this match took us back to “generic undercard tag match” territory, but at least we cycled through two feuds that will culminate this weekend, in the form of EVIL/Shibata and Tanahashi/SANADA.
Shibata and EVIL worked fairly well together, with Shibata landing leaping knees in the corners, before EVIL took him out of the equation with a side slam. The pair continued to work as EVIL threw Shibata’s injured shoulder into the ring post, and then again with a chair wrapped around the arm for good measure. Naito picked apart Shibata’s arm in the ring, before BUSHI’s shirt was used to choke the NEVER champion. We ended up with BUSHI dropping Makabe with an enziguiri, only to be almost pinned with a lariat seconds later, before SANADA came in to take a clothesline himself. Tanahashi and SANADA briefly worked together, with the pair trading Skull Ends and Dragon Screws.
Honma came in for a spell with Naito, spiking the Intercontinental champion with a DDT in the process, before a Kokeshi off the top rope was cut-off by EVIL. In the end, Honma took the loss, despite headbutting out of Destino, as he took the black mist from BUSHI, before Naito made the cover from EVIL’s lariat. As a match… this was there. Definitely nothing to write home about. **¼
Super Juniors Tag Team Tournament, Semi-Final: Ryusuke Taguchi & Fuego vs. Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero)
The dissension within Roppongi Vice – which had been dropped for their first round match – was back in flow here, with Beretta shooting Romero plenty of evil looks during their entrance.
Fuego and Romero started us off with an armwringer, before Fuego Matrix’d his way out of a Romero clothesline and started to tease a series of hip attacks. After taking a forearm, Romero went to make the tag, but was shoved down by Beretta, who eventually tagged into the match.
Beretta worked over Taguchi for a spell, mocking Romero’s taunts in the process, before Taguchi made a hip-attack laden comeback. One of those hip attacks was turned into an atomic drop, before a clothesline took Beretta and Taguchi to the outside. Despite the disagreements, Beretta and Romero were still able to work together, even though an attempt at a spike Dudebuster was cut-off when Fuego held down Romero. A missile dropkick from Fuego would take Romero to the outside, with some headscissors ensuring that Beretta followed suit, as Fuego would then fly with a body press to the outside. Fuego and Romero traded chops, before a springboard frog splash earned the luchador a near-fall. We got some hip attacks out of Taguchi and Fuego, before Beretta literally dragged Romero into his corner for a tag.
Romero flips off his partner instead of making that tag, and proceeds to launch into Fuego and Taguchi with Forever lariats. Taguchi replied with some Forever hip attacks, and a reverse Exploder, before the Bom-a-Ye gets him a near-fall. The match almost ends when Romero countered a Dodon into a roll-up for a near-fall, before Beretta came in to help his partner clear house – despite the earlier abuse.
A tope con hilo sends Beretta into the front row – taking down both opponents in the process – before Beretta missed a leap off the top rope and looked to hurt himself Taguchi’s attempt to capitalise with a heel hook was ended via a rope break, as Beretta recovered to land a belly to belly superplex. Beretta’s attempt at a Codebreaker gets blocked and turned into an ankle lock from Taguchi, before a Dodon earned him a near-fall. Fuego tried to get a win with a top rope rana then a Quebrada, but more cohesion from Beretta and Romero led to a double team knee strike. Taguchi tried to tie-up Romero, but earned a superkick off the apron, as Fuego finally took the dropkick-assisted Dudebuster for the win. A large chunk of this match didn’t click, as Taguchi was nowhere near his A-game… but that could have been because the story of the match was firmly fixed on Roppongi Vice. **½
Super Juniors Tag Team Tournament, Semi-Final: ACH & Taiji Ishimori vs. Ricochet & David Finlay
Finlay started off with Ishimori, but the NOAH team quickly took the upper hand as ACH continually taunted Ricochet whilst working over Finlay.
Ishimori drilled Finlay with some double knees in the corner, before a lungblower off the middle rope earned him a near-fall. Finlay finally made a comeback with a dropkick off the middle rope, before tagging out to Ricochet, who took down Ishimori, then ACHI, before the former inadvertently gave the latter a facebuster. Ricochet flew to the outside with a Sasuke Special to Ishimori, before Ishimori blocked a Regalplex in the ring. A short-arm clothesline from Ricochet earned him a two-count, before Ishimori surprised him with a handspring into a corkscrew kick off the ropes. After knocking ACH off the apron, Ricochet eventually took a reverse ‘rana after originally blocking a standard ‘rana.
Finlay came in and quickly took a Sasuke special from ACH, who later Matrix’d out of a clothesline from Finlay before finally taking a lariat. Ricochet came in for a spell that ended with a diving European uppercut for a near-fall from Finlay, before Ricochet ended up fighting off both of the NOAH team, ultimately taking a slingshot cutter from ACH for a near-fall.
A pair of low crossbodies in the corner rocked Ricochet, as did the double apron dropkicks, before Ricochet managed to block a gutwrench and a spinning tombstone piledriver. Finlay got the tag back in for a spell, but lost Ishimori for a Finlay roll, with Ricochet springboarding in to help him.
A release suplex from Ricochet started a chain of moves that ended with a uranage backbreaker from Finlay for a near-fall on Ishimori. Ricochet tried to help once more, but he eventually took a slingshot DDT from ACH, who instantly ate a spear from Finlay. More back and forth from Ishimori and Finlay ended with a big boot from ACH, before a standing Shiranui almost got the NOAH team the win.
The end was nigh as ACH rolled through on Ricochet into a brainbuster, before duelling 450 Splashes earned ACH and Ishimori a place in the finals against the warring Roppongi Vice. A decent main-event, nowhere near match-of-the-year levels, but a worthy semi-final nevertheless! ***¾
I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this show felt like a chore to sit through at times. Going in, I fully expected the Yoshitatsu/Bone Soldier tag match to be a bomb, and boy, did they deliver. The rest of the show was just there – which surprised me with New Japan, as at least the broadcast shows build up my anticipation for the upcoming PPV.