For the last time on this tour, we’re back at Korakuen Hall for more from the Young Lion Cup and the Road to Destruction.
We’re still without English commentary, as we start with the usual pair of cup matches before diving into the build for matches on the bigger Destruction shows.
Young Lion Cup: Michael Richards vs. Alex Coughlin
Both of these guys won their opening match, so someone’s 0 is going tonight.
We start with the pair rolling to the mat, then into the ropes from a tie-up, before another lock-up went to the corner, with Coughlin breaking rather uncleanly with a chop. Richards fires back as they quickly swap the dull thuds for firework-like cracks, before Coughlin took Richards into the corner for more stomps and chops. A headlock takedown keeps Coughlin ahead, shoving away an attempt to get free, only for the Kiwi to counter with some headscissors instead. Coughlin tries to bridge out, and it works somewhat as he’s able to roll out into a leg grapevine as Richards grabbed the rope to stop things progressing.
Another firework-like chop cracks Richards in the ropes, as that chest was getting marked up pretty good, before Richards ran back in with a clothesline. Regardless, Coughlin’s able to come back, rolling Richards into a Boston crab, but it ends in the ropes… so Coughlin goes in with a side Russian legsweep before a leg spreader added more pressure, with Coughlin bridging backwards to force the submission. That’s gotta be the first time I’ve seen anyone tap to that – but it makes a change from Boston crabs all the way. A heavy hitting match, with both men leaving with scars to prove it – grand stuff. ***
Young Lion Cup: Karl Fredericks vs. Clark Connors
It’s a battle of the LA Dojo! Fredericks lost his opener, so he’ll be looking to get on the board… with some urgency too, as he kicked away an attempt from Connors to go to ground.
Likewise, Connors was trying his best to avoid being taken down, as the pair decided to trade strikes. Shoulder tackles follow, with Connors standing up to Fredericks’ charges, before catching a dropkick as he looked for an early Boston crab. It ends in the ropes. Connors instead goes to Fredericks’ injured right arm, throwing it into the mat before throwing some chops, as Fredericks was looking in trouble. Perhaps having your arm so obviously taped up wasn’t a good idea for a match…
A quick dropkick buys Fredericks some time, as he began to unload with some European uppercuts… but he couldn’t get off a slam, and almost lost via roll-up. Third time was the charm for the slam, before a shotgun dropkick sent Connors hurtling into the corner ahead of a Stinger splash. Elbows keep Clark there, but he charges out with a spear as Karl looked to run corner-to-corner. The pair go back to strikes, but a spinebuster has Fredericks back on top, before a single leg crab with some boots to the head eventually forced the submission. A win for Fredericks then, but the injured arm is clearly a big weakness in this cup. **¾
Satoshi Kojima, Ren Narita & Yota Tsuji vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Shota Umino & Yuya Uemura
Poor Kojima, coming out first all tour it seems…
Kojima and Tenzan start us off, locking up and heading into the ropes as Tenzan threw in a sly chop on the break. He stops Kojima from responding by grabbing a headlock, before adding in a shoulder tackle after he’d been sent into the ropes. Mongolian chops follow, but Kojima’s got some too, following back in with a shoulder tackle to leave Tenzan down as the regular tag partners ended up tagging out.
In come Narita and Umino, who try shoulder tackles before they lay into each other with forearms. Shooter looked to be edging ahead, but Narita’s shoulder tackle takes him down before an elbow and a low dropkick restored order for Umino. Tags get us to Uemura and Tsuji, reigniting their little feud as they scramble into the ropes ahead of an obviously not-clean break from Tsuji. CHOP. Uemura’s far from happy with that, but his charge ends up with him getting caught in headscissors that he manages to slip out of, before he took Tsuji into the corner where Umino snuck in some cheeky kicks as Tenzan tagged in.
Tenzan chokes away on Tsuji as Umino comes in to help with double shoulder tackles. An uppercut from Umino has Tsuji down, before we go back to chops… only for Umino to run into a slam. Kojima tags in and swings for a lariat, before instead landing a DDT on Umino, taking him into the corner for Machine Gun chops, following in with the top rope elbow for a near-fall. Umino tries to fight back, landing a missile dropkick off the middle rope before Tenzan tags back in and looked to finish off his partner. Mongolian chops return to trap Kojima, but there’s a response as Kojima lands a Koji cutter before tags got us back to Narita and Uemura, swapping slams before Uemura looked for a capture suplex… and instead took a back body drop.
Umino slips in with a dropkick before he ran into Narita’s overhead belly-to-belly throw, while Uemura found a way back in with an overhead belly-to-belly of his own for a near-fall, only for Narita to snatch victory with his bridging overhead belly-to-belly. It finally works… and when it works, it gets the win! Decent stuff here that was starting to feel a little long, but the homegrown Young Lions are at the point where they can churn out good matches in their sleep it seems. ***
Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Tomoaki Honma vs. Bullet Club (Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Yujiro Takahashi)
Tanga Loa’s busting out his red and black gear today, mixing up his wardrobe a little…
YOSHI-HASHI starts up, but he falls for the usual Guerrillas’ game as Tama Tonga circled him… allowing Tanga Loa to run in and attack from behind. Someday they’ll learn. The tag champions end up on the defensive as they got chopped in the back as Honma looked to capitalise, landing a Kokeshi early on. A second one quickly misses as Tama rolls away, before we calmed down to YOSHI-HASHI chopping Tama… before he got tripped in the ropes by Jado. A low dropkick gives YOSHI-HASHI quick payback, but that self-imposed distraction led to him getting dragged outside, as we had our obligatory tussle around ringside.
Back in the ring, Yujiro tags in to try his luck with YOSHI-HASHI, as the Bullet Club continues to show their hand. A slam from Tanga Loa gets yet another near-fall out of YOSHI-HASHI, before Tama Tonga returned to keep it going. Mocking a brainbuster led to predictable countering, as YOSHI-HASHI found a second wind and got free, eventually tagging in Ishii, who had to fight through the numbers game before he could attempt his brainbuster, eventually getting it on Tanga Loa. Honma tags in to try and take advantage, pelting Tanga with forearms before a Kokeshi finds its mark. Problem was, Tanga Loa’s able to fight back, along with some help from Jado’s Kendo stick as a clothesline dropped Honma, before Apeshit got the win. This was fine, but YOSHI-HASHI being in there for so long didn’t do much to quell the usual complaints people have about him. **¾
After the match Ishii and Tanga Loa trade headbutts on the apron – something that got more heat than most of the match.
Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & Bad Luck Fale) vs. Will Ospreay, Robbie Eagles & Toa Henare
With Yujiro having already wrestled, ELP has nothing to malfunction for… so he just antagonises Jushin Thunder Liger on commentary.
Eagles and Ishimori start us off, heading to the ropes for a clean break. After using the ropes to break a submission attempt, Ishimori ends up getting taken down with a ‘rana as Eagles built up a head of steam, leading to him tagging in Ospreay as it was Ishimori’s turn to have his arm worked over today. Henare comes in to throw chops, but Ishimori gets free with an eye rake as Phantasmo came in and found a way ahead. Which involved a double-team Gas Pedal to the hung-up-in-the-corner Henare, and a lot of back rakes. Including a high risk back rake off of the shoulders of Fale…
Fale tries one, but it goes awry as my feed blanks out, returning with Ospreay and Eagles bursting out their double-team offence on Phantasmo. ELP’s able to avoid a hook kick, but not an enziguiri before he countered Ospreay’s handspring into a whirlibird neckbreaker. Tags get us back to Henare and Fale, but Henare unwisely goes for a Samoan drop early on and ends up struggling before Ishimori made a save. That leads us to Fale landing a big splash for a near-fall, before the ring filled and cleared, with Henare almost snatching the win with a lariat. It’s bad luck from there though, as Fale squashes Henare in the corner before a Grenade got the win. Decent when the juniors were in, but otherwise very run of the mill. The time’s gotta come soon for Henare to actually break out of this role, right? ***
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Rocky Romero
Oh hi BUSHI, what’s the mask today? Very Dark Order-y…
We eventually get going with Shingo and Goto for a change, as we open with shoulder tackles going back and forth… then chops. Lots of chops. BUSHI tags in, but can’t avoid a Saito suplex as the match spilled outside, with SANADA getting hurled into the guard rails. Things settle down with BUSHI and Rocky Romero in the ring, with Rocky relishing things… dropping BUSHI with an uppercut for the hell of it. Okada’s in to have a go, before Goto returned to subdue BUSHI with elbows. My feed buffers again, returning as SANADA caught Okada with the double leapfrog dropkick and a pescado to the outside, before tags gotus back to Shingo and Goto.
A clothesline traps Goto in the corner, but Goto responds with an ushigoroshi. Rocky tags into try his luck with Forever lariats on Shingo, but they’re eventually booted away before Rocky’s tornado DDT lands for a near-fall. Sliced Bread from Rocky is blocked as LIJ flood the ring to triple-team Romero as a Parade of Moves starts off, featuring Skull Ends and the like as SANADA looked to edge ahead on Okada. A running Shiranui from Rocky almost gets an upset on Shingo as we settled down to the regular match, before a Pumping Bomber and Made in Japan got Shingo the win. This was pretty good – at least, the bits I saw in between buffering! Shingo getting a fairly easy win over a junior keeps the story going as he continues his path in with the heavyweights. ***¼
Bullet Club (Jay White & Chase Owens) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & EVIL)
Something tells me Chase may be finding out what everything is tonight…
Naito offered a fist-bump to EVIL… who just gets chased out of the ring by Owens, as he was left hanging. I guess that’s one way to switch up the “attack from behind” formula, as Naito and White start us off. Well, briefly, as EVIL comes in to clothesline and chop Chase as payback for earlier, leaving him in the corner for a barrage of stomps. Gedo gets involved, trying to trip EVIL from the outside as the distraction worked, prompting Naito to go after Jay White on the outside before he got whipped into the guard rails as Chase Owens again stole some EVIL merch to use against him. Back inside, White rolls EVIL into a single leg crab as he mocks Naito’s eye pose, before Chase came in to try and chop EVIL.
That doesn’t work, so he goes for an eye rake. Which worked, along with a barrage of strikes as Jay White cheered on from the apron. White can’t keep up the momentum though, as Naito tags in to take Jay in for a Combinacion Cabron, but Jay cowers and instead came back with a DDT. Some double-teaming helps LIJ back in it as Owens came in, but White makes a save as the Bullet Club try to double-team EVIL, working up into a Blade Buster and a running knee for a near-fall. Naito makes a save with a ‘rana as we settled down to Chase and EVIL, with the latter landing a headbutt and a rolling elbow on the way to a near-fall, before… no, Everything wasn’t EVIL… as a Darkness Scorpion (Sharpshooter) forces the submission. This was fine, but I worry for that Naito/White match – two stallers against each other could make for a tough watch. ***
Post-match, White pulls Naito out of the ring and throws him into the guard rails – I guess because he couldn’t do it enough during the match.
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi
I thought Sabre and Suzuki were getting separate entrances, but it turns out Suzuki came through a different entrance so he could pull Liger off of commentary and throw him into the ring. What the hell? A choke and Gotch piledriver left Liger laying as the good guys came out without an entrance, and we rush into our main event!
The bell rings with Tanahashi laying into Sabre in the corner with uppercuts, before Taguchi came in to keep up with forearms of his own. Of course, Suzuki gets involved, catching Taguchi with a hanging armbar, dragging him outside for guard rail spots as the pair went into the crowd as commentary row came close to the action again. Meanwhile, Sabre and Tanahashi went at it too, although the camera crew were more intent showing Suzuki bouncing chairs off of Taguchi’s back before they cut to Sabre trying to rip off Tanahashi’s arm in the crowd. Taguchi’s able to beat the count-out, but Sabre just rolls him into a single leg crab as the former Rev Pro tag champions had their way with the Funky Weapon, switching around their Rolodex of submissions for fun.
Taguchi tries to fight back, but Suzuki laughs it off and returns fire with elbows beforre they went back to their attempt at twisting Taguchi apart. Tanahashi runs in to break it up, but ends up getting caught in a rear naked choke from Suzuki as the focus again remained on Taguchi. Sabre targets Taguchi’s arse with forearms, but Taguchi… likes it? It just toughened it up ahead of an eventual hip attack, and an eventual tag out as Tanahashi looked to get some licks in on Suzuki. He demands to test out Suzuki’s elbows, which of course is heeded, but Tanahashi fought back with a slam and a flip senton for a two-count in the corner.
Suzuki slips in with a rear naked choke as Sabre tags himself in, but he’s quickly caught in a Cobra Twist that Sabre tries to counter… eventually doing so with an overhead kick tot he arm. A Zack Driver’s slipped out of with Tanahashi countering into a Twist and Shout, following that up with a Slingblade for a near-fall. Tanahashi heads up for a High Fly Flow, but Sabre got the knees up and returned with a triangle armbar, before duelling armbars with Suzuki forced Taguchi in to break it up. Hip attacks from Taguchi catch Sabre in the ropes, before a springboard hip attack folded ZSJ in half for another near-fall.
In response, Sabre goes for a cross armbreaker, which Taguchi countered out of into an ankle lock… but Sabre just reverses the reversal as they keep rollin’… ending up with Taguchi locking in Oh My Garankle, with Sabre diving to the ropes for safety. Taguchi stays on top as he prepped for a Bummer-Ye, but it’s caught and turned into an Axel Dieter Special that Tanahashi stomped apart. The ring fills again as Suzuki tries to choke out Taguchi in the corner while Tanahashi ate a Zack Driver… as did Taguchi as the Suzuki-gun tandem picked up the relatively easy win. Solid stuff here, with Sabre continuing to show that his loss at Royal Quest was just a fluke. ***½
After the show, ZSJ promised to win back the Rev Pro title before saying he’d go for Boris Johnson. There’s a sentiment a lot of people share…
So, another solid Road to show from New Japan – with little jumping off the page apart from the pre-main event angle as they continue to build to the trio of big shows.
Young Lion Cup Standings
Alex Coughlin (2-0; 4pts)
Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks, Michael Richards (1-1; 2pts)
Ren Narita (1-0; 2pts)
Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura, Shota Umino (0-1; 0pts)
There’s one more live stream left on these Road shows – and it comes from Chiba on Sunday as Yuji Nagata hosts his 35th anniversary in wrestling… headlining the show in a ten-man tag with the rest of the New Japan Dads against the Bullet Club. After that, we’ll just be getting the Young Lion Cup matches on VOD – which we’ll cover – before the big cards in Kobe, Beppu and Kagoshima.