It’s back to Korakuen Hall as the Road to Destruction continues!
We’re still running without English commentary, so any nuances will go over my head.
Young Lion Cup: Michael Richards vs. Yuya Uemura
Uemura starts by taking Richards to the mat, before getting taken down to the mat with a headlock from the Kiwi.
They scramble on the mat as we began the “wrestle wrestle wrestle” portion of proceedings (yes, I watch Mike Quackenbush’s series). A side headlock from Richards gives Uemura something to struggle with, before taking Yuya into the corner for a clothesline for a near-fall. Uemura fights back with some swinging forearms, but Richards has some too before he ran into a dropkick. Some mudhole stomping traps Richards in the corner, as do some close-range forearms, before Uemura turned Richards over into a Boston crab. Fortunately, Richards didn’t tap out at the five-minute mark, and crawled to the ropes for the break.
Elbows follow from Uemura after they got back to their feet, but a clothesline from Richards stops the momentum, as does a suplex as he looked to find his second wind. A Boston crab followed from Richards, but he ends up losing his balance as Uemura had an easy path to the ropes. Another Boston crab follows, with Uemura trapped in the middle of the ring… but again Richards loses his balance… only for Uemura to tap anyway. I have a feeling someone may be in for Boston crab practice after this, as the “home team” Young Lions continue their poor start to the cup. **½
Young Lion Cup: Karl Fredericks vs. Ren Narita
We wrap up the first batch of matches with perhaps the star of the LA Dojo… and it’s worrying that his right shoulder is that taped-up already.
Narita starts by slapping Fredericks, who was only happy to return the favour as these two were intent on chopping the tar out of each other early on. Fredericks edges ahead with slams and a stomp, putting Narita down for a two-count, before a side headlock kept Narita at bay. Ren elbows free, but is quickly elbowed down, then taken into the corner as Karl went in with a big Stinger splash. A leaping elbow drop’s good for a two-count, but Narita fought back, landing a suplex for a two-count of his own. Fredericks quickly responds with a spinebuster before he wrenched Narita in half with a single-leg crab… pulling him away from the ropes before Ren forced his way to freedom.
My feed drops out, and recovers as Narita gives Fredericks a taste of his own medicine with a single leg crab, before he spun out and turned it into a leg lace instead… and that forces the submission! Ren Narita’s the sole “home-grown” Young Lion to win their first match, and it’s a shock loss for Fredericks. **¾
Satoshi Kojima, Clark Connors & Alex Coughlin vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Shota Umino & Yota Tsuji
…and now for the “Dads and Lads” tag match to round out the Young Lion Cup portion of the undercard… and my word, the Young Lions are feisty tonight!
Tenzan and Kojima start the match, with Kojima heading into the ropes for a less-than-clean break. A shoulder tackle’s next as Kojima makes his pec dance, before Tenzan started a chop battle that ended when Kojima broke out some Mongolian chops. He looked so pleased with himself there. Tenzan stops those with a shoulder tackle before landing some Mongolian chops of his own, before tags got us to Clark Connors and Shota Umino. Clark’s uppercuts quickly descended into a battle of shoulder tackles, which Shooter won out with, before they properly turned up the tempo as Connors lands a dropkick for good measure.
Tsuji and Coughlin are in next, straining over a lock-up that ended in the ropes, where Yota threw a cheeky chop. Coughlin’s got one of his own as they both get good sounds out of each other. Mostly. A slam gets Coughlin a two-count before charging Tsuji into the corner as Kojima returned to pick apart the bones. Proverbially, of course. Coughlin and Connors combine with a double-team hiptoss as Korakuen tried to get behind Tsuji, but in the end it’s Tenzan who had to come in to break up stuff, raking the eyes to get Tsuji free… eventually leading to Tsuji making space for himself with a dropkick as tags got us back to Tenzan and Coughlin.
Tenzan began to boss it for a spell, prompting Coughlin to throw a series of chops… but Tenzan resists and goes back to the Mongolian chops. Coughlin’s dropkick is effective, before Tenzan tagged out to Umino, who hit the ring like a bull in a china shop, dropping Connors with a dropkick and a brainbuster for a near-fall. Tags get us back to Kojima and Tsuji, with Yota taking the Machine gun chops, before he countered a Cozy lariat with a spear… only to get spun inside out as he ran into the lariat seconds later, as Kojima picked up the W. This was fantastic for what it was, with the Young Lions showing the kind of fire that’s been missing from this tour so far. ***¼
After the match, Kojima and Tenzan shake hands, while their partners continued to have a scrap.
Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Toa Henare vs. Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Chase Owens)
Overnight it was confirmed that Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI’s match with the Guerrillas in Beppu next weekend is now for the IWGP tag team titles.
We’ve got a jump start here as Tanga Loa’s really standing out in his bright blue and black gear. Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI offered resistance though, as things calmed down a little with the match settling down into Owens vs. Henare… a mini-feud that’s seemingly never going to end.
Owens leaps over Henare in the corner before landing a jumping shoulder tackle… Chase escapes a Samoan drop and ends up sending Henare outside for a through-the-ropes dropkick to keep the Bullet Club ahead. Back in the ring, Henare remains cornered, with Tama Tonga tagging in to land a slingshot elbow before he mocked Ishii’s brainbuster… which just drew the former NEVER champion in to break up the attempt. Finally Henare lands his Samoan drop, as a tag out to YOSHI-HASHI followed. A running Head Hunter takes down Tama, who quickly got held up in the ropes for a dropkick as the future tag title challengers looked to take hold of the contest.
Then Chase Owens returned to bust out a wacky bridging submission on Ishii, which combined a stranglehold and a leg grapevine, only for Henare to break it up. Chase drops Henare with a version of the GTR, before he went back to work on Ishii with strikes, before some pinning attempts looked to end with a knee strike. Somehow, Owens manages to stay ahead, but a package piledriver’s escaped as YOSHI-HASHI came in to deck Chase with a Western Lariat, allowing Ishii to put Chase away with a sheer drop brainbuster. This was fine, but man, Chase Owens being the proverbial man of the match? Was NOT expecting that. ***
Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Will Ospreay, Robbie Eagles & Tomoaki Honma
Phantasmo malfunctioned around Pieter… as did my feed.
We open with Eagles and Ospreay working over ELP’s arm, much like how they did against Ishimori yesterday, before Honma came in and… hit a Kokeshi. That embarrassment led to the Bullet Club trio hitting the ring to take things outside, with Honma getting choked by Yujiro’s pimp cane. Back inside, Phantasmo goes to work with all the back rakes before a snapmare from Yujiro led to a diving boot on Honma. Ishimori’s in with running knees to Honma, who finally retaliates with a suplex before Robbie Eagles tagged in. Kicks from Eagles have Ishimori on the ropes, where he’s met with a 619 to the knee and a springboard dropkick to the same joint.
The Ron Miller Special looked to follow, but ELP runs in… and has Ishimori sent into him as Eagles combined a diving clothesline and dropkick in one fluid motion. Ospreay tags in as the self-proclaimed Birds of Prey went through their playbook, cracking into Ishimori with duelling enziguiri in the corner before they teased a double Spanish Fly. ELP pulls down Eagles to stop that, before a reverse ‘rana from Ishimori spiked Ospreay. We’re back to Honma and Yujiro, with another Kokeshi landing on an unusually successful night for Honma. Ishimori gets battered with some more triple-teams, before he avoided a swandive Kokeshi, which nullified all of Honma’s good work.
A leaping Kokeshi similarly misses, allowing Yujiro to hit a Fisherman buster for a near-fall, then the Pimp Juice for the win. Decent stuff as the feud for the junior tag titles heats up. ***
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Roppongi Vice (SHO & YOH)
Poor Gabriel Kidd felt the force of Suzuki this morning…
There’s a jump start as Tanahashi posed with his belt, and we start on the outside with the same kinda pairings as yesterday – Suzuki with Taguchi, Sabre with Tanahashi, and so forth. Things calm down as Taguchi calls the shots, with the rest of his partners charging into Suzuki in the corner, culminating in the expected backlash from Suzuki who resisted being whipped into Taguchi’s arse until the rest of his team made a save.
Instead, Taguchi got the living heck scared out of him before he tried to attack Suzuki with his rugby cap. That was dumb. Suzuki makes him pay for it by throwing the rugby lover into the crowd, before a slight diversion by YOH ended with Taguchi tasting some chairs. Back in the ring, Suzuki works over Taguchi’s leg while SHO’s attempt to make a save ended up with him taking a leglock took as Suzuki-gun looked comfortable. Even to the point where Suzuki felt like he could go after the ref…
DOUKI tags in to continue beating on Taguchi, as did Kanemaru, but Taguchi finds the second wind to come back in with a hip attack before tags got us to Tanahashi and Sabre. Tanahashi hiptosses out of a Cobra twist before delivering a Dragon screw… only to get caught in a triangle armbar as Sabre suckered him into a hold. Somehow, Tanahashi countered out into a Cloverleaf, but the pair end up rolling through holds as a cross armbreaker from Tanahashi ends in the ropes. We’re back to SHO and DOUKI as they exchange forearms, with SHO edging ahead before a lariat from DOUKI led to him getting speared. A deadlift German suplex sparks some interference from Kanemaru as Suzuki-gun flooded the ring.
That led to a Widow’s Peak from DOUKI on SHO, bridging forward after the impact for a near-fall, before a Suplex de la Luna attempt was escaped… the cameraman goes MIA as a Parade of Moves broke out, ending with Sabre taing the Roppongi 3K knees as DOUKI was left alone. A roll-up nearly snatches the win for DOUKI, but in the end he runs into the 3K, and that’s all folks. Enjoyable fare, and we got to hear SHO’s 8-bit theme too, so I’m putting this down as a win for everyone. Unless you’re in Suzuki-gun. Then you lost. ***¼
After the match, Zack Sabre Jr. ranted and raved at Tanahashi. God help him when he finds out the latest on British politics today…
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Rocky Romero
Hey BUSHI, which mask did you pull out of the cupboard today?
It’s a rare semi-main for Okada, as they’ve flipped the Korakuen order around today, with Rocky Romero getting to face his best mate in the world. Okada and SANADA start, initially with Okada landing a shoulder tackle before they both teased their finishes. Instead, Okada ends up snapmaring SANADA for a low dropkick, before Rocky came in and tried his luck with some Forever lariats. SANADA tries to boot him away, but instead Rocky has to clean house by himself as the rest of LIJ hit the ring.
Okada rushes back in, but just gets caught in a Paradise Lock before the obligatory low dropkick. BUSHI and Rocky come in, with BUSHI using his t-shirt to choke Romero with, before Shingo tagged in and killed Rocky with a chop. A ‘rana buys Rocky time as Goto asked for – and got the tag in… but SANADA comes in to try and delay things. It backfired. A lariat from Shingo takes down Goto as BUSHI came in to help out with some triple-teaming, ending with a Shingo lariat and some low dropkicks for a near-fall. The MX from BUSHI has to be aborted, prompting a Parade of Moves as the ring filled, then cleared, as an ushigoroshi from Goto leaves BUSHI laying… before a GTR finally got the win. A little frantic, but exactly what you expect from these undercard tags. ***¼
Bullet Club (Jay White & Bad Luck Fale) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & EVIL)
We’re still building up to White/Naito, and those two start as White laid into the Intercontinental champion from the off.
Naito turns it around, throwing Naito outside so he could Tranquilo. EVIL comes into help with a brief double-team, before Naito took White into the corner for a Combinacion Cabron… only for Fale to pull him down to the outside. EVIL takes the guard rails too, before the Bullet Club did a bad thing and broke Milano’s EVIL fan. Cue tears. Fale tags in to keep wearing down Naito, before White did the usual “charge between the apron and rails” spot… and this isn’t doing it for me. Naito takes more of the guard rails as White lampooned the crowd some more, and things slow down again with Fale trying to stand on Naito for the pin. Of course Red Shoes refuses to count it.
White comes in to try the same thing from a slam, as eventually Red Shoes started to make some two-counts. Finally Naito manages something defensive, as he rolls away from an elbow drop, before a low dropkick had Fale down on the mat. EVIL tags in to try and capitalise, landing a series of lariats before an attempt to slam the big man was thwarted. A clothesline from Fale has EVIL back on deck, with White returning to take over with a Blade Buster twisting suplex for a near-fall. Chops from White sting EVIL, who escapes a Fireman’s carry and eventually chopped White off the ropes. The thrust kick follows, with some help from the ref, before Naito tagged back in.
White takes a running ‘rana as Naito built up some steam, taking White down for a headscissors submission… but Fale just stomps that apart. A sleeper suplex from White looked to follow, but instead Naito got free before his leaping forearm was countered into a uranage. Fale’s back to charge into Naito in the corner, following up with a big splash for a two-count, before EVIL returned to lay out White with Darkness Fales. Oh. Fale just wipes him out with a clothesline, before Naito’s tornado DDT put the big man down. From there, Naito looked for Destino, but Fale just shoves him into the ref as Gedo slid into the ring and… misses a brass knuckles shot. That was cover for White to get in with a chair, but EVIL has one too as this is beginning to feel a little over-the-top for New Japan standards… calming down as EVIL clotheslines away a Grenade before he did his baseball chair swinging at Fale.
The referee starts to come to as Fale’s picked up, then met with a Destino… and that, mercifully, is it. Not exactly my cup of tea, but it was what it was for a main event. **¾
So, this was a much better show than yesterday – perhaps the jet lag’s died out a little more in 24 hours? While the Young Lion Cup matches don’t seem to be clicking just yet, the more established matches, especially between the “home” Lions, should knock it out of the park. For those keeping score:
Young Lion Cup Standings
Clark Connors, Alex Coughlin, Ren Narita, Michael Richards (1-0; 2pts)
Karl Fredericks, Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura, Shota Umino (0-1; 0pts)
There’s streams on Friday and Sunday from the Road to Destruction, before the tour becomes VOD-only – for the Young Lion Cup outings – as only the big shows in Beppu, Kagoshima and Kobe remain live.