Yuji Nagata celebrates 35 years in wrestling for his annual show in Chiba as part of the Road to Destruction.
The Togane Arena in Chiba plays host to today’s card – which is still sans English commentary…
Young Lion Cup: Yuya Uemura vs. Yota Tsuji
Tsuji and Uemura are very familiar with each other, and it showed as they matched each other move for move in the early going.
Tsuji looked to take control first, wrenching on Uemura with a side headlock before charging him down with a shoulder tackle… only to get taken into the corner as Uemura threw some shoulder charges. It remains fraught in the corner as the pair exchange chops, which ended when Uemura ran at Tsuji… only to get met with a shoulder tackle. The aggression from Tsuji continues with a slamas he looked for a Boston crab early, but they end in the ropes before Uemura was rolled over. More chops trap Uemura in the corner, as Tsuji followed in with a leaping elbow… before he got caught unawares with a dropkick. That was the prelude for Uemura to go to a single-leg crab, but this time it’s Tsuji who got to the ropes.
A spear from Tsuji stops Uemura dead in his tracks, before Milano Collection AT on commentary lost his mind at Tsuji doing a Giant Swing. That’s the obvious prelude to a Boston crab, and with Uemura dizzy the hold’s wrenched on as Tsuji got the win. Pretty good stuff as Tsuji’s adding more moves to his arsenal – and picks up a definitive and meaningful victory in this dojo feud. ***
Young Lion Cup: Ren Narita vs. Shota Umino
From one dojo feud to another, eh?
Umino goes in for a takedown but Narita grabs an arm in the opening stages, with Umino countering back with a wristlock that’s taken back-and-forth. A side headlock from Narita gets Umino to the mat briefly, before he’s pushed off for a shoulder tackle that barely budges Umino. Second time was the charm for Ren-Ren… As was the case for Umino, who got a shoulder tackle in that looked like it could have rung Narita’s bell, as he went straight into the corner before he got met with some chops and stomps. Umino rolls him over into a Boston crab, but Narita hand-walks into the ropes… with Umino wrenching back further when he should have broken.
Narita’s back with a back body drop, along with some running elbows before his overhead belly-to-belly almost put away Shota. More elbows follow as Umino eventually got back into it, before he ate a second overhead belly-to-belly… with Narita unable to keep the bridge up. From there, Narita looked to roll Umino into a leg lace, but it gets countered into a small package for a near-fall, before a dropkick from Shota put him back on top. With Narita down in a heap, Umino looks for a Fisherman suplex, but it’s turned into a small package for a near-fall, then a roll-up, before Shota’s spinebuster snuffed out the threat. From there, a German suplex from Shota lands… and despite Narita kicking out, the ref’d already counted three and that’s it. An odd-looking finish I guess, since it’s not Umino’s usual finisher, but it’s not the worst I’ve seen someone take this situation lately… ***
Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks, Alex Coughlin & Michael Richards vs. Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
It feels like ages since we’ve heard Togi Makabe and his overdub theme…
Makabe and Connors start us off, with Makabe throwing a couple of chops in the ropes before he invited Connors into some shoulder tackles. Of course, they had little effect at first, before Makabe backed into his corner… with Ishii tagging in to beat the tar out of the current Young Lion Cup leader with chops that… drew blood?! Coughlin tries to respond with some chops of his own, but Ishii just charges him down before some more chops were almost laughed off. YOSHI-HASHI comes in to keep up with chops, while Tomoaki Honma was clearly the last man picked as his team was tagging in anyone but him. Finally Honma gets the tag in on a worn down Coughlin, who tries to fight back with chops only to get decked by a forearm.
I think there’s messages being passed on here.
Finally, Honma runs into a chop as Coughlin gets the tag in on Fredericks, who lands a dropkick flush early on, then a slam as the American hit a pair of stomps for a quick two-count. A quick turnaround sees Honma land a Kokeshi, before YOSHI-HASHI came in to beat up Fredericks for using his shoulder tape. Michael Richards comes in to try and take the heat off things, landing a shoulder tackle as the visiting Young Lions went to work on YOSHI-HASHI, with a spear almost putting him away. Richards kept up the pressure, shrugging off chops from YOSHI-HASHI before he got wiped out with a Western Lariat for a near-fall. Karma’s next, and there’s the submission. A pretty good showing from the Young Lions, but they’re not challenging for tag titles soon so the result was pretty elementary. ***
Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & Chase Owens) vs. Will Ospreay, Robbie Eagles & Toa Henare
Different partners, but we continue to build to the junior tag title challenge of the self-named “Birds of Prey”.
There’s not so much of a jump start, as a clearing of the decks as the Bullet Club looked to strike first, but were sent packing as ELP and Ishimori were sent outside, with Ospreay and Eagles faking out dives until they landed duelling planchas. Back in the ring, they try to wrench out Ishimori’s arm, before a quick spell of triple-teaming had him back on the mat. Henare’s in to throw a falling forearm for a two-count, before ELP and Owens spilled the rest of the match outside with the Bullet Club taking control. Back in the ring, Henare takes all the back rakes, which Ishimori seemed to enjoy how low-effort it was, before a sleeperhold from Phantasmo ended up getting fought out of.
Ospreay tags in and went to town on ELP with an over-the-top 619 and a springboard forearm, before a blind tag brought in Eagles for some of their sublime double-teams, including a propelled monkey flip with a kick on the way down. Eagles gets cut off looking for a cutter out of the corner, which Phantasmo countered into the whirlibird neckbreaker. Tags get us to Henare and Owens, with Henare landing a deadlift suplex for a near-fall, before the rugby tackle almost put Chase away. A quick Parade of Moves led to ELP taking a hook kick as Henare set up for a flying shoulder tackle… but Chase sidesteps it, and ends up getting caught in a small package for a near-fall. He had more luck seconds later, catching Henare with a knee before a package piledriver got the win. A familiar result for Henare, as the Bullet Club racked up another W. ***
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
With Tanahashi defending the Rev Pro title against Sabre next Sunday in Beppu, we’re still building…
Meanwhile, Taguchi loses his rugby ball to Suzuki and gets mad about it… even more so when Suzuki hoofs it into the crowd. That’s as good a reason as any to jumpstart the match, I guess. Taguchi’s mob lead early as Kanemaru gets cornered and battered with running attacks, including a rare Irish whip into a hip attack as that move finally comes off. Taguchi does the Nagata pose, since it’s his show, before Suzuki got involved, kicking YOH in the ropes and dragging him outside with a hanging armbar as bedlam broke out.
Things go from bad to worse for YOH, as he had crowd barriers and chairs thrown on him, while Yota Tsuji provided an example for why you shouldn’t wear a New Japan shirt while guarding the crowd… back in the ring, YOH’s bent out of shape as Sabre and Suzuki work a myriad of holds on him, before a simple forearm from Suzuki led to both halves of Roppongi 3K being in trouble. And the ref. DOUKI comes in next to avoid a dropkick from YOH, before my feed gave out. It’s back as Tanahashi dishes out Dragon screws to Kanemaru, then to Sabre, before Zack retaliated with an Octopus stretch, ending when he rolled Tanahashi to the mat as we got a rope break. SHO’s back to spear Sabre, before a suplex led to Roppongi 3K double-teaming the former Rev Pro champion in the corner.
Sabre looked to take a double-team Dominator, but slips free as Suzuki and DOUKI hit the ring to turn things around. Duelling PKs nearly put away SHO, who looked to fight back with forearms before nearly winning with a German suplex… only to get caught in an omoplata as Sabre countered out of a powerbomb to make SHO submit. This was fine – not helped on my end with the stream going, but again, there was surprisingly little in the way of interaction between Sabre and Tanahashi going into next week. ***¼
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Rocky Romero
A rematch from Korakuen Hall on Friday then, as SANADA continued to push Okada ahead of his title shot.
SANADA and Okada start us off, trading hammerlocks before a slow-mo drop toe hold led to some grappling on the mat. That comes to nought as BUSHI and Rocky up the speed, with BUSHI landing a ‘rana to take Rocky into the corner… but the CHAOS team hits the ring and clears the match outside for our obligatory spot of brawling. In the crowd, Okada whacks SANADA with a Nagata fan (the handheld things they were giving out live), while Rocky began to work on BUSHI’s arm in the ring. Goto’s in to get a near-fall off a suplex, as CHAOS continued to wear down BUSHI. A DDT buys BUSHI some time as Shingo charges in after Goto, landing a clothesline and a Saito suplex out of the corner for a near-fall.
The pair continue to go back-and-forth, with Shingo’s’ clothesline getting answered in kind by Goto, before Okada came in and landed a sliding back elbow. Okada looked to be getting it all his own way, but Shingo countered a DDT into a suplex before tagging in SANADA, as the pair were actually going closer to full speed this time around, with SANADA quickly putting Okada in a Paradise Lock. A low dropkick frees Okada, but the champion’s back on top soon, catching SANADA with a scoop for a tombstone… but SANADA slips out into a Skull End before his attempt at a springboard dropkick was caught and turned into a nasty-looking neckbreaker slam. Rocky tags in and almost got caught with a Skull End, before SANADA and BUSHI’s duelling low dropkicks nearly put him away. The ring fills for a Parade of Moves, with Okada missing a dropkick before BUSHI (of all people) cleared him outside for a tope. That left us with SANADA and Romero in there, with Rocky quickly getting pulled into a Skull End for the submission. Again, this was fine, but that opening slow-mo stuff with SANADA and Okada had me looking to pull my remaining hair out. I’ve got big worries about that match on this form… **¾
Bullet Club (Jay White & Gedo) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & EVIL)
White’s given back the belt he stole on Friday, but he’s here trying to sledge, calling Naito “Naito no belts”, which… is pretty weak given some of the name calling that goes around.
We start with the usual tactics from Naito, who avoids locks-ups… as does White, who ends up getting rolled up for a near-fall as he was perhaps too playful here. After going Tranquilo, Naito looked to work over White’s arm, as did EVIL, who tagged in and wrenched it a few times before landing a shoulder tackle. White quickly grabs the rope as EVIL looked for a pin, before things spilled outside with Gedo taking EVIL into the guard rails, solely to antagonise Milano on commentary. At least Milano used EVIL’s own merch to try and keep him cool… When things calmed down, White works on EVIL’s leg with a Dragons crew, before he charged him into a slightly-exposed corner for good measure. Gedo’s in to rake at the eyes, before White returned with a shoulder tackle for a two-count as Naito continued to watch from the floor. EVIL’s taken between the guard rails and apron as Gedo busted out plenty of swears before he got met with a chop.
Gedo scurries over to tag in White, who stops EVIL from tagging out… but it only delays things as Naito came in and went to work with headscissors and armdrags. Naito tries to mock White, in between throwing some right hands his way, before an aborted Combinacion Cabron attempt ended with Naito just spitting at him. White’s quickly back with a DDT, spiking Naito on his head, before a spinebuster and tags get us back to EVIL and Gedo. EVIL hands over a boot from Gedo so he could connect with a thrust kick, then with a Fisherman buster for a near-fall before Gedo bit at EVIL’s ear to avoid the Everything is EVIL. Gedo fights back with thrust kicks of his own for a near-fall (and some more swears), before EVIL came right back in with a Scorpion Deathlock for the submission. This was fine, but it’s telling that they have nothing for EVIL right now when Gedo of all people was getting as much offence in as he was. ***
After the match, Naito and White spit at each other some more, with White having particularly spectacular aim, landing his gob on the bridge of Naito’s nose.
Yuji Nagata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa), Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Jado)
It’s been nearly six months since we’ve seen Nakanishi on a New Japan show… and a shade over two for Nagata, who was celebrating 35 years in wrestling with this ten man tag. Set your expectations low…
Before the match, Jado called for a fair fight, particularly since he was starting with Liger… but Liger knew what was coming and refused the offer of a handshake. Jado remained persistent though, breaking cleanly in the ropes before he offered another handshake, again with Liger refusing. Third time was the charm, as we even got a hug… and of course, that’s the cue for a Bullet Club run-in as Liger should have trusted his gut. Things spill outside as Liger’s thrown into the guard rails, before he’s held in the ropes as Jado focused on Liger’s midsection. Tama Tonga’s a little less subtle as he chokes Liger, while Fale just stands on his back for the Tongan Massage Parlour. Liger bounces off the turnbuckle as Yujiro walked him into the corner, but Liger finally hits back with a tiltawhirl backbreaker before a tag’s made out to Kojima, who instantly clears the apron.
Tenzan’s in too as a pair of shoulder tackles drop Yujiro, before almost all of the Bullet Club ate machine gun chops with varying degrees of incredulity. Tanga Loa recovers as Kojima gets double-teamed, as a suplex and a slingshot senton of all things from Tama keep the bread lover down. Yeah, Tama mocks the chops, before Yujiro tried to win with a snap legdrop that prompted Liger to break it up… and stomp Kojima too out of disappointment. It didn’t quite help straight away as Fale came in to slam Kojima, who at least moved out of the way before Nakanishi tagged in. Yep. The two big lads throw forearms at each other before Nakanishi’s shoulder charges led to him landing a spear. He manages to lift up Fale in an Argentine backbreaker with ease, but Tanga Loa wanders in to break it up before Nagata tagged in to kick away at Fale.
A big boot and chop block takes down Fale as a big splash from Nakanishi led to a near-fall, before Jado cracked Nagata in the back with a Kendo stick as he looked to build up steam. The Bullet Club quintet take over there, with 5-on-1 beatings to Nagata that culminated in a big splash from Fale for a near-fall. Jado goes back with the Kendo stick, but the good guys outnumber him as Jado ate a Shotei for a two-count. We nearly see Jado steal the win with a roll-up, but in the end he’s pulled down into a Nagata lock as the cameramen blinded him with their flashes, prompting the submission. Ah, no Shirome armbar? This wasn’t as bad as I feared, but very by-the-numbers stuff as Yuji Nagata and friends stood tall on his latest anniversary. **¾
For the Young Lion Cup, Alex Coughlin stands alone at the top of the pile with an unbeaten record, while Yuya Uemura is the lone man at the bottom.
Young Lion Cup Standings
Alex Coughlin (2-0; 4pts)
Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks, Ren Narita, Michael Richards, Yota Tsuji, Shota Umino (1-1; 2pts)
Yuya Uemura (0-2; 0pts)
Truth be told, if this weren’t the Nagata anniversary show, this wouldn’t have been streamed in all honest, A card full of proverbial “gentleman’s threes”, outside of the Young Lion Cup matches, this was a skippable show that gives more proof that you shouldn’t have *every* show up for streaming. Especially while there’s people like me who’ll watch it… The next live show in Destruction in Beppu next Sunday – while the Young Lion Cup matches from the tour will be dropping on a VOD basis during the week.