We’re back to Korakuen Hall as the warm-ups for Sunday’s first Destruction show wrapped up!
Manabu Nakanishi, Katsuya Kitamura & Shota Umino vs. Yuji Nagata, Hirai Kawato & Tomoyuki Oka
It’s another “New Japan Dads and their kids” outing, and the dads start where they left off on Thursday, trading chops and punches before the kids had a go. Kitamura was first up to try chopping Nagata, who had enough and brought in the plucky Kawato to have a go.
Kitamura damn near slaughters poor Hirai Kawato with chops, then dumps him with a press slam for a near-fall, as Kawato becomes something of a tackling dummy for Kitamura and Nakanishi. Eventually Kawato gets in a dropkick, before Nagata returns to start kicking away at Kitamura in the corner.
Nagata tries to suplex Kitamura, but it’s reversed as Nakanishi returns to resist Nagata and clothesline him back down. Another clothesline followed for a near-fall, before Nagata’s kids for the day rush in to help triple-team Nakanishi, as an Oka belly-to-belly gets him a near-fall. Oka runs into a slow-mo Mountain Bomb though, before Umino tagged in to pepper him with elbows in the corner.
Umino busts out a cross armbreaker, but Nagata breaks that up as the tables turn – with Oka knocking down Shota, ahead of powerslam that gets him a near-fall. Kawato flew in with a springboard dropkick as Kitamura broke up his cover, but Oka quickly gets in a Boston crab as everyone else brawled on the outside, leading to the eventual tap-out. Poor Shota can’t catch a break – a fun tag, but bare bones when it comes to this stuff. **½
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Beretta & Jado
The main story going in here was Yujiro’s fledgling feud with the newly-heavyweight Beretta – with the Tokyo Pimp seemingly wanting to teach Beretta that it’s going to be plain sailing for him.
Tama Tonga and YOSHI-HASHI get us going eventually, once Tama’s done trying to scare everyone on the apron. YOSHI-HASHI gets the better of the early exchanges with a ‘rana and a slam, before Tama Tonga ate some four-way clubbering. Yeah, the Bullet Club quickly turned things around, with Tama Tonga dropping YOSHI-HASHI with a slam as Bad Luck Fale came in to stand on him. May as well make use of him, eh?
He sits on YOSHI-HASHI for a two-count, before Tanga Loa hits a massively delayed backdrop suplex for a near-fall. YOSHI-HASHI hits back with a lungblower, but can’t make the tag out straight away thanks to Tama, before finally bringing in Goto, who sorta outsmarts the Guerrillas of Destiny. It’s a weird visual, given they’re both challenging for the tag titles tomorrow!
Eventually Tanga Loa tagged out to Yujiro, who blasts Goto with a boot in the corner before he runs into an ushigoroshi. Beretta tags in to hit a missile dropkick, but Yujiro bites back before the rest of the Bullet Club yank Beretta off the top rope. He takes an awkward bump into the padding before a Fale splash gets a near-fall… Beretta pushes out of the Pimp Juice, and snaps in with a tornado DDT, only for Yujiro to fight back with a clothesline and a Fisherman’s buster.
Another Pimp Juice attempt’s escaped, and that leads to the finish as Beretta goes to Figure Four Yujiro, only to lean back and score the pin. An unusual finish, but that wasn’t the end as the Bullet Club attacked their opponents from behind, as the Pimp Juice gets hit in the end. Eh, it was a match – it’s just odd seeing them do something with Yujiro after what feels like forever in relative anonymity. **½
Suzuki-gun (Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) & TAKA Michinoku) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) & Togi Makabe
The other tag title challengers are in six-man tags now, as the Killer Elite Squad – and water-spraying Lance Archer – hit the ring, with TAKA Michinoku and Togi Makabe providing the misfit partners here.
Yeah, we get the Suzuki-gun jump start as everyone ends up outside for the obligatory ringside brawl. You know the drill – Hanson’s thrown into the crowd as the Killer Elite Squad went back and forth with the champs, ending with Archer pouncing Rowe into the ropes. A double-team slam from the KES drop Rowe again, only for a comeback against TAKA to end when he’s poked in the eyes.
Rowe eats a Hart Attack for a near-fall, before he meets an onrushing Archer with a uranage! Hanson gets the tag, but has to deal with the KES, cartwheeling away from them before going to work… and once he’s booted TAKA off the apron, it’s time for those Forever-ish lariats. The KES resist that and try for the Killer Bomb, only for Rowe to break it up as Hanson squishes Archer with the Whoopee Cushion out of the corner…
Now Makabe gets the tag in against TAKA, and it goes just how you’d expect, with TAKA getting slaughtered. An eye poke lets TAKA hit some superkicks for a near-fall, before flipping off Togi – he’s a brave sod! The ring fills form there as Hanson hits a Bronco Buster on Archer – which doesn’t break the bottom rope – before TAKA ate the King Kong Knee drop for the pin. This picked up towards the end, but so far this has been “just a show”… **¾
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs. Will Ospreay & Rocky Romero
Did you know: Will Ospreay is a cat? At least, that’s what Hiromu’s successfully making everyone believe… and I think Will believes it as well!
The two start at a frenetic pace, with Ospreay cartwheeling out of a ‘rana attempt before perching as if he was expecting a treat. Instead of that, we tag out to BUSHI and Rocky, with Rocky’s early Forever lariats going awry… so he watches BUSHI dive to the outside before joining him!
Some brief brawling outside ends with Takahashi taking Ospreay into the barriers, before he gets knocked off the apron once again after some brief double-teaming from the Ingobernables. BUSHI comes in with his shirt to choke Rocky, who then takes a double-team facebuster for a near-fall, before he takes down Hiromu with a leaping knee.
Ospreay returns with a handspring into an overhead kick, before sidestepping BUSHI who catches himself in the ropes… then heads outside as Will shows his cat-like reflexes. A rather not-feline springboard dropkick and a standing shooting star press follows, only for Hiromu to launch Ospreay into the corner with an overhead belly-to-belly.
Rocky and BUSHI come back to windmill punches against each other, before the CHAOS tandem work to drop BUSHI – as a corkscrew moonsault from Will helps Romero get another near-fall. Forever lariats follow, at least until Rocky misses, and ends up taking a double-team Codebreaker as he needs Ospreay to break the cover. BUSHI keeps up with a MX, but Rocky dropkicks it away, whilst Ospreay ‘ranas out of a Sunset Bomb and followed that up with a Revolution kick to BUSHI inside and a Sasuke Special to Hiromu on the outside!
All that’s left is a running knee from Rocky, and that’s enough for the win – a fun tag match, and even if it’s away from a title, they’re finally doing something with Cat Ospreay! ***
Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Leo Tonga) vs. Juice Robinson & David Finlay
This would have been “Juice Robinson continues his run to a US title shot against Kenny Omega”, but with injuries it now means it’s just Juice taking on the bottom-tier Bullet Club guys. Yes, I’m counting Leo as a Bullet Club guy for now, since I guess his impressive debut earned him a shirt!
We open with Finlay and Owens… and I’m a big fan of Togi Makabe joining the Japanese TV commentary team before he wiped off his War Machine facepaint! Finlay drew metaphorical first blood with a dropkick before bringing Juice into play, as both men worked over Owens’ arm for fun. Juice’s standing frog splash and a back senton from Finlay nearly ends it, as Tonga comes in… and promptly gets a double dropkick to take him outside.
Owens responds by yanking Finlay off the top rope awkwardly, and now Leo’s back in to show off his raw power against Finlay, obliterating him with an avalanche clothesline. The Bullet Club keep Finlay isolated, with Leo’s suplex getting a near-fall, only for Finlay to send Chase all the way to the outside with a back body drop. Finlay fights back against Owens and after a uranage backbreaker, eventually gets the tag into Juice, who tries to chop down Leo with clotheslines. Eventually it works!
Except Leo grabs Juice by the throat and teases a chokeslam… which is fought out of as Robinson ends up running into a lariat for a near-fall. Juice escapes a suplex, then a running elbow as he and Finlay double-team on Tonga some more… except Owens comes in and helps Leo squash Juice with a Samoan drop for another two-count.
Chase has to calm down Leo, as he’s “got a message” for Juice… which happened to be a One Winged Angel tease. Juice escapes and tries Pulp Friction, then sidesteps as Leo boots away Chase. One punch later and Leo takes Pulp Friction for the win! Another decent tag match, but so far there’s been precious little on this show that stood out. **½
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL & SANADA) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano
A tease, of sorts, for tomorrow’s NEVER six-man title defence, as we smoosh together that and the long-term IWGP title feuds for our semi-final.
EVIL starts off clubbing down Okada, before he runs into a big boot as the champ looks to be effortlessly in control. Then Yano comes in, just because. A much better choice tags in seconds later as Ishii chops and elbows EVIL in the corner, before SANADA chops away Ishii’s knee… then ties up Yano in the ropes as chaos ensues outside.
Yeah, Naito kicks Gedo in the gut, just because he can.
Naito keeps up the pressure on Ishii, and slingshot dropkicks him in the knee as a modified figure four looks to force a submission as EVIL and SANADA kept guard. It’s almost like Naito’s too lackadaisical about his approach to the Stone Pitbull, who zombies up… only to get kicked in the knee again as Yano (of all people) gets involved. An enziguiri from Naito just earns him a lariat as both men crash to the mat.
Tags get us to EVIL and Okada again, with Okada hitting his DDT before flapjacking EVIL for a near-fall. Okada teases the top rope elbow, but SANADA interferes as EVIL eventually works into a superkick, before scooping up Okada into a side slam. In comes SANADA, but he runs into a neckbreaker slam, as Yano tries his usual buffoonery… and gets a dropkcik.
SANADA tries to play a Yano, but he can’t undo the turnbuckle pads before being whipped into the exposed one. Another attempt to pull the turnbuckle pads off sees Yano get stopped by the ref… and this time Yano’s smart to the ref’s double axehandle as he tried to break up a hair-pull. We seamlessly enter a Parade of Moves as Ishii clotheslines away a Skull End attempt, before Okada dropkicks away EVIL with ease.
Yano looks to slingshot SANADA into the exposed corner, and succeeds before the referee stops a low blow. Instead, there’s a merry go around as the ref’s pushed around, which ends with SANADA doing a Yano – low blow and a roll-up for the win! A fun trios match in parts, and I’ve a feeling that things’ll be stepped up tomorrow, especially when it comes to the trios titles! ***
Elimination Match: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin, KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet
Have a guess at how this starts… if you said “jump start, whilst Elgin and Suzuki viciously go for each other”, claim your non-existant prize.
Well, when I say “for each other”, I mean “Suzuki tries to twist off Elgin’s arm in the ropes”…
The rest of Elgin’s team tries to stomp on Suzuki to break it up, before they go through the usual Taguchi Japan routine. Yeah, I value my life more than to try that, even if it does work! Taguchi dives in to stop Suzuki from booting an onrushing KUSHIDA, before Suzuki just stops in his tracks as he was sent towards Taguchi’s rear end… then just stares at Taguchi, who has no help.
Yeah, don’t piss round with Suzuki, else he’ll kill you. We nearly get an elimination, but Taguchi does the Shawn Michael Royal Rumble deal after being thrown over the top, before Ricochet gets under him to shove his tag partner back into the ring in a nice move. Meanwhile, Big Mike and Suzuki just leather each other, before Suzuki-gun gang up on Tanahashi and almost eliminate him… but he’s saved too.
Tanahashi tries to repay the favour, but just gets a rope hung armbar as Suzuki targets the eternally-injured bicep as the rest of Suzuki-gun take the fight into the crowd. Taichi somehow finds the bell hammer and hits Tanahashi’s bicep after Iizuka’d bitten it.. Yes, they’re doing a good job of wearing down on Tanahashi, especially once that bell hammer tenderised the arm!
Finally, Tanahashi hits back with a crossbody onto Taichi and Kanemaru, before Ricochet gets the tag in. Endless right hands rock Kanemaru, only for Taichi to break it up, but Ricochet comes back with kicks, then a springboard uppercut to knock Desperado flying. The Northern Lights/brainbuster combo gets Ricochet a near-fall on Kanemaru, who rolls away from a shooting star press as Taichi drills Ricochet with the mic stand!
Kanemaru scores the first elimination seconds later with an overly flashy tiltawhirl into a small package on Ricochet, before Kanemaru sidesteps a hip attack from Taguchi. Taichi levels Taguchi with a headkick after some two-on-one, but that’s only enough for a two-count as Kanemaru ends up blocking a flying hip attack from Taguchi and hitting a clumsy-ish roll-up for another pinfall. Except it wasn’t Kanemaru who got the pin, as both men had their shoulders down, only for Taguchi to get his up at the last moment. That was confusing even after a rewatch!
Taichi takes the fight to Taguchi, using the bell hammer to block a hip attack, before Kanemaru sprays Taguchi with whiskey as a Gedo clutch earns a pin for Taichi. Fuck Taichi. He tries the same again with KUSHIDA, but that’s broken-up as Suzuki-gun now had a 4-3 advantage to work with, but KUSHIDA was making light work of that disadvantage!
Taichi tries to eliminate KUSHIDA by powerbombing him to the outside, but instead some headscissors take both men onto the apron… where Kanemaru accidentally sprays Taichi with whiskey, as a handstand kick knocks Taichi off for the next elimination. KUSHIDA blocks a sunset flip from Desperado, only to get caught in a Stretch Muffler as an escape to the Hoverboard lock… but KUSHIDA grabs a rope to force his way out.
The ring fills and empties again as Desperado gets ahead when Iizuka whacks KUSHIDA with his funky oven glove – and a roll-up gets our next elimination. There’s a LOT of challengers getting wins over challengers in these matches, eh? Desperado almost eliminates Tanahashi, but the Ace has to do the Shawn Michaels save before kicking Desperado out after he was clinging to life… Iizuka shoves Tanahashi away next for the next elimination, as Big Mike’s left against Suzuki and Iizuka.
Desperado ties up the ref as Elgin eats some four-on-one offence, before the ref gets held up by Suzuki so Iizuka can choke Big Mike with some rope. That’s spotted as well, and Elgin fights free, nailing Iizuka with a backfist, then an Elgin Bomb… and what do you know? We’re down to Elgin and Suzuki! Perfect prep for tomorrow’s lumberjack death match!
They trade blows, as they’re want to do, with Elgin edging ahead as he gets a near fall out of the slingshot splash, before a PK gets Suzuki a two-count of his own. Elgin powers out of a cross armbreaker, and threatens to powerbomb Suzuki out of the match, before instead throwing a forearm. Suzuki slips back with a rear naked choke, but can’t quite get off the Gotch piledriver, and instead takes another forearm.
An Elgin Bomb attempt gets lost, so Big Mike gets an enziguiri off instead on Suzuki, who staggers into the corner, before slumping to the mat from a clothesline. It’s a ruse though, as Suzuki shoves the ref into Elgin… and the ring fills as hell peeks out (rather than breaks loose). Things quickly clear up, as a Space Flying Tiger drop from Ricochet wipes everyone out, and we’re left with Elgin and Suzuki again, trading forearms.
Elgin’s discus forearm knocks Minoru loopy, before the pair trade Elgin bomb/Gotch piledrivers… and that proves to be the end as Elgin reverses out of a piledriver, placing Suzuki over the top and onto the apron, before an enziguri knocked him to the floor for the win! Another fun elimination match, without too much of the usual fare that drags down Suzuki-gun matches… although the mixture of challengers getting wins here makes me think that there may not be an obvious title change tomorrow. ***¼
After the match Suzuki kills more Young Lions with chair shots, as the winning team celebrated in the ring. Only Big Mike was the odd one out without a belt…
All in, this was another solid, yet skippable Korakuen Hall show. When you’re splitting one pay-per-view card across three shows, the “Road” shows will also suffer – and this was no different. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing abjectly awful here, but we’re no longer in G1 season now… and it’s quite jarring going back to these Road shows! Destruction in Fukushima kicks off on Sunday – let’s see if the PPVs get back on track, eh?