Another day, another Korakuen Hall show as New Japan continued their short sprint to Castle Attack.
Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan & Will Ospreay pinned Yota Tsuji, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Satoshi Kojima in 9:31 (***)
Yujiro Takahashi, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori pinned BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & SANADA in 10:52 (***)
Tomohiro Ishii, SHO & Toru Yano pinned Gedo, Jay White & Chase Owens in 11:15 (**¾)
Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito pinned Yuji Nagata & Kota Ibushi in 13:40 (***¼)
Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga & EVIL pinned YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada in 15:10 (***)
After 331 fans saw yesterday’s show live, we’re back for another midweek Korakuen show – and them reconfiguring things to add video screens on the left and right bleachers perhaps says they’re not expecting many more today.
United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Will Ospreay & Jeff Cobb) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Satoshi Kojima & Yota Tsuji
Tanahashi’s learning! After getting attacked before the bell in the first two nights, he was a tad more tentative to start with, before jumping O-Khan with a crossbody at the bell.
O-Khan quickly comes back, with a Fireman’s carry takedown into that head and arm choke, before transitioning into a leg lock, working on Tanahashi’s oft-injured knee as the pair rolled into the ropes. Staying on the knee, O-Khan kicks away before he took Tanahashi into the corner to have a seat.
Cobb tags in to throw right hands and headbutts, before he charges Tanahashi into the corner so Ospreay could come in. Ospreay targets the knee, but Tanahashi manages to fight back before tagging in Kojima for the Machine Gun chops. The top rope elbow drop followed, but Cobb pulls Kojima off the pin to keep it going as the ring became a virtual dogpile.
Tanahashi throws O-Khan to the outside, then followed it up with a plancha as Ospreay gets triple-teamed with charges ahead of the Mount Tsuji splash and a brainbuster from Kojima for a two-count. Kojima and Ospreay trade shots until a rolling elbow and a backdrop suplex from Ospreay gave him an opening.
Tsuji tags in to try his luck with Cobb, landing a leaping forearm into the corner before a shoulder tackle dumps Cobb for a two-count. Cobb comes back with a Spin Cycle after pulling Tsuji away from the ropes, forcing Tanahashi in to break up the pin before he got decked with a pump kick from O-Khan. Kojima keeps the Parade of Moves going, before a BIG BACK BODY DROP from Tsuji sent Ospreay to the outside.
However, Cobb’s still around, but he’s caught with a sunset flip for a near-fall before returning with a clothesline as he then ragdolled Tsuji into Tour of the Islands for the win. Impressive stuff, throwing around Tsuji like that. This kind of energy was exactly what was missing yesterday, with Cobb and O-Khan standing out here. ***
Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)
After getting a t-shirt from ELP yesterday, Hiromu came out wearing the shirt… and was also bearing gifts for El Phantasmo. A cardboard title belt. I mean, that’s marginally better than being a proverbial paper champion, eh?
ELP attacks Hiromu as he was mocking his entrance, as we start with ELP and Ishimori double-teaming him, but BUSHI comes in to make the save as some double-teaming got Hiromu a two-count. SANADA comes in and ties up ELP in a Paradise Lock, then Ishimori… before completing the hattrick with Yujiro. You know how this gets freed up.
SANADA goes for a back suplex, but ELP flips free and rakes the back as we entered that portion of the match. If you like back rakes, then boy, New Japan has the team for you! SANADA’s had enough and puts on the shirt Hiromu got… the back 2 back ELP shirt stops back rakes, but doesn’t prevent nipple twisters. I bet that’s not on the PWTees description.
SANADA’s able to get free of all that and brings in the brightly-furred mask of BUSHI, who hits an overhead kick in the ropes to Ishimori before some misdirection led to the baseball slide German suplex. BUSHI recovers with a DDT back inside for a two-count, before the LAT from BUSHI and Hiromu almost put Ishimori away.
Ishimori returns fire with a handspring enziguiri, before Yujiro came in to boot BUSHI in the ropes. A Fisherman buster followed for a two-count, before a missed charge in the corner led to some triple-teaming, ending with a back cracker from BUSHI for a two-count. BUSHI looks for Terrible, but ELP runs in to clear house with Sudden Deaths to the midsection, leaving SANADA and Hiromu writhing like they’d food poisoning, before a Pimp Juice DDT from Yujiro earned him the win over BUSHI. They continue to iterate here, as ELP leaves with the (heavy) paper belt and a win as the Sudden Death became a factor. ***
Bullet Club (Jay White, Chase Owens & Gedo) vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & SHO
So we’re dealing with either a Texas Strap Match or a Yano Texas Strap match at Castle Attack – which is either “touch all four corner pads” or “remove all four corner pads” rules. Yes.
After some aggro before the bell, we start with SHO and Gedo… the latter of whom comes in with an eye rake. SHO recovered enough to charge down Gedo off the ropes, before a corner clothesline and some kicks had Gedo on the deck. Yano tags in and goes fo the corner pads, removing one in time for Gedo to charge into it… but then things spill outside as Owens whips Yano with the strap.
Back inside, Gedo throws Yano into the exposed corner, before White came in to nitpick at SHO’s failure to hold onto the tag rope. What is he, auditioning for FTR? Another Irish whip hurls Yano into the exposed corner, before he held Yano for Owens to get some kicks in as Chase began to work over Yano’s leg. Gedo comes in to try and knock SHO off the apron… that just drew him in as an eye rake ends up neutralising the last junior heavyweight title challenger as yet again the referee lost control of proceedings. He tries to restore order by stopping Chase from using the strap, but that just serves as a distraction as White came in to attack Yano.
To pull a Kevin Kelly, “my screen goes out” as I miss Chase Owens having been tied to the railings by the strap, as we went back to White and Ishii playing cat and mouse. Ishii wins out, taking out White on the outside before White responded with an uppercut in the corner, then a Blade Buster for a near-fall.
A back suplex from White has Ishii down again, allowing Gedo and White to get involved again as Gedo teed up for a thrust kick… only for Ishii to catch it and spark a Parade of Moves. Yano distracts Chase as SHO nails a back cracker to White, before Ishii’s lariat landed. Gedo nearly beats Ishii with a roll-up, but he ends up taking a lariat from Ishii and a sheer drop brainbuster for the win. Ishii gets the win over Jay White’s manager… and chokes him out with his jacket after the match, a small measure of revenge for last night as Gabriel Kidd had to make the save. **¾
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi) vs. Kota Ibushi & Yuji Nagata
After mocking Nagata’s mannerisms yesterday, we’re likely in for more of the same today.
Naito and Ibushi start with some mat-based stuff, as they’ve been want to do in these undercards, because they damn sure aren’t killing themselves on a Road-to show. Ibushi edged ahead as he hammerlocked Naito on the mat, then took him to the corner as Nagata tagged in to put the boots to Naito.
A wristlock restrains Naito some more, as Ibushi returned… only to get caught out with some double-teaming as Shingo caught him from behind before going after Nagata on the outside. An Irish whip takes Nagata into the rails as Naito looked to torque Ibushi’s knee some more. Shingo’s in to drop a knee on Ibushi’s knee, then kick it in the ropes ahead of a Dragon screw.
An inverted cloverleaf from Naito sees him restrain Ibushi, but they’re right by the ropes as a break’s forced. Shingo comes in to charge down Ibushi, but a double back flip kick took down the LIJ guys as Nagata returned, rolling through and clipping Naito’s leg as he looked to be going for the stuttering dropkick. Naito recovers with a neckbreaker though, before Shingo returned with knees to the gut as Nagata replies with an overhead belly-to-belly.
Ibushi comes in to help Nagata pepper Shingo with kicks, before a bicycle knee and a front kick in the corner built up to a Nagata Exploder. A standing moonsault from Ibushi gets a near-fall, as Nagata continues to push on, rolling Shingo into the Nagata Lock 2. That’s broken up, but Shingo blocks a Backdrop Hold attempt and takes Nagata into the ropes… only to get caught with a rebound German suplex and a Pumping Bomber.
Back-and-forth elbows ensue as Nagata ends up clipping Shingo with an enziguiri, but a follow up kick’s countered and turned into a death valley driver for a near-fall. Ibushi breaks that up, but got taken outside with a swinging DDT from Naito as Shingo tees up for a second Pumping Bomber… which Nagata kicks away.
The Pumping Bomber eventually lands for a near-fall though, as Shingo then picked up Nagata and put him away with the Last of the Dragon. They’ve made a concerted effort to keep the Ibushi/Naito stuff low key – which is perhaps a good call given their history – but I’d not be against seeing Nagata and Shingo in a spotlight singles match. Perhaps… in a cup tournament? ***¼
Bullet Club (EVIL & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
We’re teeing up for a tag title defence at the end of the month – and that eventual EVIL/Okada match…
Of course, we’ve a jump start as the match starts on the outside, but quickly moves inside as Goto restrained Tanga Loa with a side headlock. The push-off leads to a shoulder tackle on Tanga, before YOSHI-HASHI came in and elbowed away on the back of Tanga’s neck. Another side headlock has Tanga Loa down to a knee, but Tanga Loa breaks free and tagge din Tama Tonga… whose nonchalance early on nearly cost him, before YOSHI-HASHI replied with a tijeras.
In comes EVIL, but he’s pushed away as Okada gets the tag in… but he’s swarmed by the Guerrillas, having to evade them before getting caught in the ropes for a push-down stomp by EVIL. We go back outside now as EVIL posts Okada, then caught him with a thrust kick before landing a neckbreaker back inside for a two-count.
We’re back outside as Okada gets shoved into the timekeeper’s table – this time caught on camera – before Okada’s taken back inside for the at-tat-tat sentons atomico from the Guerrillas. The cheating abdominal stretch from EVIL led to the weird sight of referee Red Shoes Unno grabbing Jado’s Kendo stick as he teases using it himself, before he refused to count a Tama Tonga pin. Because, you know, cheating.
A back senton from EVIL gets a two-count, as Okada began to fight back with some right hands on the way to a neckbreaker slam. Goto tags in and takes Tama Tonga into the corner, but the back suplex out of it is blocked, with Tama instead being taken back in for a spinning heel kick and a bulldog. That gets him a two-count, but Tanga Loa’s back to hold Goto in the ropes for some right hands from Tama, only for Goto to fight free… and get caught with a Tongan Twist.
Tanga Loa’s back in, but he loses his shoe as Goto shoves out of a slam, before YOSHI-HASHI got the tag back in to chop the one-shoed Tanga in the corner. The pair trade elbows at close quarters, before a clothesline was ducked as YOSHI-HASHI tries to roll Tanga into a Butterfly Lock. That’s powered out of, so YOSHI-HASHI comes back with a neckbreaker before Goto came in to help with some double-teaming, including a chop into the corner.
A kick-assisted ushigoroshi came to nought as Tanga Loa hits double clotheslines, before a Guerrilla Warfare gets a two-count on YOSHI-HASHI. Okada makes the save, but gets thrown outside as the Parade of Moves gets going, with gushigoroshis galore on the Guerrillas… but Dick Togo comes onto the apron to distract… YOSHI-HASHI clears him away with a superkick, as well as the interference of Jado, before he ran into the Apeshit, as Tanga Loa dropped him on his head for the win. This was relatively slow on shenanigans, and all the better for it as the reigning champions got a clear win over their upcoming challengers. ***
It’s amazing how much of a difference hiding the bleachers on the hard camera makes, eh? When you plumb low, any improvement is noticeable – and while night three of the tour wasn’t reaching new heights, it was back to the “new normal” that we’ve seen on these Road to shows. I’ll take watchable undercard tags with some energy any day of the week – especially from a promotion that I invest so much time into.