After two days off, New Japan starts a whole new tour as the short road to Castle Attack in Osaka began in earnest.

Quick Results
Yuya Uemura defeated Yuto Nakashima via referee stoppage in 0:27 (NR)
Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan & Will Ospreay pinned Gabriel Kidd, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Satoshi Kojima in 8:03 (**¾)
Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI pinned Yujiro Takahashi, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori in 12:34 (**¾)
SANADA & Tetsuya Naito pinned Yuji Nagata & Kota Ibushi in 13:32 (***)
EVIL was the last man standing in an Elimination match at 22:57 (***)

We’re back in Korakuen Hall for another new tour – and we’re looking at a slightly earlier start time, with a “pre-show” match to finally introduce us to our newest Young Lion. Sadly, Kevin Kelly’s gone home, so for the road-to shows it’s Japanese-only for the live feeds…

Yuto Nakashima vs. Yuya Uemura
Nakashima is the latest Young Lion to come out of the New Japan system, having been training for a little over 20 months – starting with the Bad Luck Fale dojo before joining the New Japan dojo last June. The 24 year old’s got a background in “real” sports too, including MMA, jiujitsu and, erm, water polo. That last one will be good for dunking.

Nakashima got in Uemura’s face from the off as they started by scrambling on the mat, with Uemura coming out on top in the early going… but then the bell goes. Watching back, Nakashima’s left elbow bent in a way it wasn’t meant to during that early exchange, and that’s his debut over in under thirty seconds. Such rotten luck for the debutant, who seemed over-excited for his debut.

United Empire (Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Satoshi Kojima & Gabriel Kidd
There’s so much I can say about that new United Empire polo shirt, but I’m too proud to make an arse of myself…

We’ve a jump start as Tanahashi went after O-Khan at the bell, before he’s even taken off his ring jacket. Cobb grabs Tanahashi in the ropes though as the Empire turned it around, with Mongolian chops from O-Khan leading to a grounded head and arm choke. Cobb tags in after it’s broken up, and decks Tanahashi with a headbutt, before Ospreay came in and looked to take control… but ends up taking a Dragon screw. Kojima tags in and goes wild with the Machine Gun chops to O-Khan and Ospreay, before Cobb press slammed Kojima off the top rope. Kojima recovers and shoved Cobb into O-Khan, then hit a DDT… but Ospreay’s legal and hits a springboard forearm for a two-count. A Storm Breaker’s countered as Kojima returned with a Koji Cutter, before tags bring in Cobb and Kidd.

Kidd can’t get an Irish whip off, and gets thrown into a corner before breaking free for shoulder tackles. Cobb just chops him before the shoulder tackle lands… as does a slam, after some help from Tanahashi and Kojima. O-Khan runs in to break up the pin, before he threw down Kidd by the arm, starting a brief Parade of Moves. Kidd breaks through with a dropkick off the middle rope for a near-fall on Cobb, but the butterfly suplex is easily countered as Cobb pulls Kidd into a Spin Cycle for a near-fall. From there, it’s a short Tour of the Islands though, and that’s your lot. A decent opener with the hot start and energy that the last week or so of shows were sorely lacking – but get used to the focus of this tour being O-Khan vs. Tanahashi. **¾

Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)
We’ve got a junior tag title match later in the “road” before ELP gets his junior title shot… his light-up jacket’s knackered, which means they no longer turn the lights off for him.

ELP and Hiromu start us off… with ELP “stretching his leg” to avoid the ref checking his boot. They do push-ups and the sort, with clapping push ups popping the crowd, before things started with Hiromu going for some headscissors, only for ELP to ‘rana away. Hiromu goes for flash pins, coming close from a backslide, before things resume with ELP’s springboard crossbody and Quebrada combo… but the latter’s aborted as he ends up taking Hiromu into the corner for a back rake. A Sudden Death to the gut has Hiromu in agony, before ELP took him to the Bullet Club corner. Yujiro comes in to rake the back, then tag Ishimori in to keep the backrake-a-palooza going. The Gas Pedal causes problems to Hiromu, but the referee refuses to count a pin after that, before ELP took too long to set up Sudden Death and ended up taking a Dragon screw.

BUSHI tags in and trades elbows with Ishimori, leading to a missile dropkick and a Fisherman screw attempt from BUSHI. Ishimori escapes, but takes a low dropkick for a two-count, only for Ishimori to return with a shoulder breaker. ELP runs in to help, but ends up taking a dropkick as Ishimori was getting bulldogged. Tags get us to Shingo and Yujiro, who trade strikes before Yujiro bit his way out of a suplex. A Fisherman buster from Yujiro’s good for a two-count, before a missed charge into the corner opened things up for a LIJ triple-team that gets a near-fall. The ring fills up as we get a new spin on a Parade of Moves, largely consisting of folks getting knocked to the outside, before ELP ate a lariat… before Yujiro hit one on Shingo.

Miami Shine lands for a near-fall, but Shingo’s punch and DDT sets him up for a sliding lariat, before a Last of the Dragon got the clear win. A solid match that I had trouble keeping up with (because buffering…), but we’ve plenty more shots to be fired on this tour. **¾

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA) vs. Kota Ibushi & Yuji Nagata
Yep, Tetsuya Naito’s chase for the secondary belt starts here. After a quick stop at where Kevin Kelly would have been sitting…

Ibushi and Naito start, eventually taking things to the mat as they scrambled for a hold. Headscissors from Ibushi are countered out of, but Ibushi breaks a hold via the ropes, before Naito went back to the toe hold. He transitioned to a hammerlock, but Ibushi rolled through and into a side headlock as they seemed to be trolling everyone who boils down their exchanges to the “tempting fate” highspots. Tags bring in SANADA and Nagata, with the latter’s wristlock being countered as SANADA found a way to try for an early Paradise Lock. It’s pushed away before the kitchen sink knee to the gut span him to the mat. Nagata followed in with kicks, only for Naito to trip him in the ropes as LIJ took things to the outside.

Yep. Guard rails. Back inside, Nagata kicks out at two before Naito tagged back in to mock Nagata’s salute while putting him in a chin lock. A rope break followed as SANADA gets the tag back in, before Naito returned to hit a low dropkick for a two-count. Nagata seems to be getting fed up of being made fun of, and began to fight back with an overhead belly-to-belly. Ibushi tags in and drops Naito with a diving kick, before a standing moonsault gets a two-count. A low dropkick from Naito turns it around as he then applied a Figure Four, forcing Ibushi to break in the ropes, before Naito’s attempt at a knee breaker was blocked. A Dragon screw seemed to damage Ibushi’s knee, but he’s able to hit a dropkick as both men tagged out.

SANADA takes a series of kicks from Nagata, but returns with a springboard dropkick before a TKO was countered out of. It’s switched back into a Skull End attempt, but Nagata countered that into the Nagata Lock 2… which Naito quickly stomps apart. Ibushi tries to save, but he’s kicked in the knee again before hitting a high kick, as Nagata lands a suplex to nearly put away SANADA. A German suplex from Nagata’s countered, but Nagata hits an enziguiri before SANADA took him in for an O’Connor roll, snatching the win with a Japanese leg clutch pin. Your usual fare here, with Naito poking fun at Nagata throughout while also doing a good job of making us all thing he’d blown out Ibushi’s knee halfway through proceedings. ***

Elimination: Bullet Club (Jay White, EVIL, Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Chase Owens) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano
You know the drill here: over the top rope, pinfall, submission, DQ, KO or count-outs eliminate you.

We’ve a jump start, as all ten men start on the outside, which means lot of guard rail spots. Tama Tonga lands upside down as YOSHI-HASHI threw him into the bars, while Chase Owens ties up Toru Yano with a strap as he looked to get that gimmick over for a KOPW title match later in the month. The ref’s not looking as Owens whips Yano with the strap, before Yano looked for some revenge… but Owens stops him. Pulling Yano back in with the strap leads to repeated punches, but an atomic drop stops Owens before Yano did the “touch all four corners” gimmick, only for Owens to pull him down and choke him with the strap. Owens throws Yano over the top, but he’s choking Yano… who frees himself and gets eliminated at 2:38… then pulled Owens over the top for the second elimination about ten seconds later. Hoisted by his own petard.

We’re back outside for more bedlam as Okada and EVIL become legal, but a big boot from Okada drops EVIL ahead of a sliding dropkick by the ropes. Ishii comes in, but he’s easily distracted by Jay White as he stared a hole through the Kiwi while chopping EVIL in the corner. YOSHI-HASHI comes in to choke EVIL with his boot, before YOSHI-HASHI and Ishii peppered EVIL with chops. Goto and Okada join in as EVIL’s pinned into the corner under their boots, before the Guerrillas of Destiny swarmed the ring, dropping Okada with a neckbreaker as YOSHI-HASHI and Goto came in to try and neutralise things. They did not. Instead, everyone’s back outside as White chokes Ishii with YOSHI-HASHI’s staff, while the camera crew miss EVIL obliterating the timekeeper’s table with Okada once more.

Back inside, EVIL wrings Okada’s arm, allowing White to tag in to keep it going. Tama Tonga’s next, landing some overhead punches to a seated Okada, before sentons atomico (including Tama’s “at-tat-tat-tah” vocalisations) get a near-fall for Tanga Loa. A cheating abdominal stretch is quickly broken up by the referee, before White pinned Okada into the corner with shoulder charges. Jay White flips the bird to Ishii as he had Okada in a chinlock, before Okada tried to hit back with a neckbreaker slam… eventually settling for a running front kick. Ishii tags in as they do the swing and a miss series with White, who tosses Ishii over the top rope… but Ishii clung onto the rope and comes back in to resume the see-saw stuff before White tried to eliminate him via a Fireman’s carry.

White takes a seat on Ishii in the corner, but that ends badly for him as Ishii gets up and chops away on him, mixing in forearms too as White clung onto the ropes. Ishii shoves the referee, who got a little annoyed, but didn’t do much as White came back, only to get caught with a scoop slam. A powerbomb from Ishii draws in the Guerrillas as we start a big ol’ Parade of Moves, leading to White getting suplexed onto the apron before a forearm knocked White into the clutches of Tanga Loa, who saves the elimination. White recovers and lifts Ishii onto the apron, where they trade shots until Tanga Loa charges at Ishii… only for White to get pull in harm’s way for the elimination at 16:24. Behind the ref’s back, White pulls Ishii down for the cheap elimination at 16:35-ish, so we switch to Tanga Loa and YOSHI-HASHI.

All while Ishii chucks White into the rails on the outside.

A Head Hunter from YOSHI-HASHI lands, before Goto came in to help with a thrust-kick-assisted ushigoroshi. The GYR is avoided by Tanga Loa, who suplexes Goto away, while YOSHI-HASHI had been put in harm’s way… he ducks a charge from Tanga, but got knocked off the apron at 18:40 after a Kendo stick shot from Jado. Some VERY questionable officiating on display tonight, eh? Tama and Tanga focus on Goto, who fends them both off before suplexing Tanga onto Tama. A clothesline from Goto knocks Tanga over the top and out at 19:35, but Goto went over the top himself and ends up going out to a Gun Stun at 19:52. I think it’s just Okada left for the CHAOS lads, with EVIL and Tama Tonga double-teaming him.

A back body drop lifts Tama onto the apron, but EVIL knocks him off at 20:42, before Okada looks to lift EVIL out for the win. That’s elbowed away before EVIL hits his thrust kick, then went to throw out Okada, who clung onto save himself. A backslide from Okada looked to roll EVIL up for a Rainmaker, but instead we get a dropkick before the Money Clip had EVIL in trouble. Dick Togo pops up on the apron to distract Okada… and it works as EVIL throws Okada over the top and onto the apron, before Togo returned with the Spoiler Choker behind the ref’s back. He lets go as EVIL just has to charge Okada off the apron… and that’s the win. Compared to even recent elimination matches, this felt somewhat flat, and will offer yet more evidence for those who are concerned that New Japan are perhaps playing the same cards way too much these days. ***

We do this again tomorrow with a five-match main card topped with Shingo & Naito vs. Ibushi & Nagata, as I strongly suspect the “pre-show” matches will at best be tweaked, and at worst, scrapped.

A rather mixed bag of a show – and that’s not even talking about the unfortunate debut for the new Young Lion Yuto Nakashima. While the in ring isn’t grabbing “all the stars”, we at least started the main show with the energy that was lacking on last week’s New Beginning shows.