We’re back at Korakuen Hall as the Road to Destruction took in an elimination match between the United Empire and Los Ingobernables de Japon.
YOH & Ryusuke Taguchi pinned TAKA Michinoku & DOUKI in 8:41 (**¾)
Shota Umino, Yuji Nagata, Master Wato & Tomoaki Honma pinned Yuto Nakashima, Ren Narita, Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado in 12:03 (***¼)
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano pinned Bad Dude Tito, Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls in 9:58 (***¼)
EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi pinned DOUKI, SANADA & Taichi in 8:25 (***)
Zack Sabre Jr. submitted Satoshi Kojima to retain the NJPW World TV Championship in 12:07 (***¾)
Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Togi Makabe & Tiger Mask to retain the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship in 17:46 (***¾)
Jeff Cobb won an elimination match in 27:43 (***¾)
We’re back inside Korakuen Hall for the second night of the tour – Chris Charlton’s solo on commentary once more. We’ve also had another card change, as Boltin Oleg’s continued injury saw him drop out of a multi-man tag… while Satoshi Kojima, whose planned match with Oskar Leube, found himself challenged to a NJPW World TV title match by Zack Sabre Jr. instead.
Just 5 Guys (DOUKI & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & YOH
A slight tweak to last night’s match, with TAKA subbing for Yoshinobu Kanemaru…
We start with TAKA and Taguchi, trading holds as a low dropkick put TAKA ahead in the early stages. A poke to the eyes earns TAKA a hip attack, but TAKA’s quickly back in the driver’s seat as he took Taguchi into the corner as DOUKI came in to score a low dropkick of his own. Some double-teaming ends with another low dropkick from TAKA, picking up a near-fall for DOUKI, before a hip attack took DOUKI down and gave Taguchi time to tag in YOH. A tijeras from YOH took DOUKI out for a plancha, before they returned to the ring… where a front kick from TAKA drew a near-fall.
A step-up knee from TAKA in the corner downs YOH ahead of a shin kick and a superkick… then the Just Facelock… which Taguchi hip attacked apart. From there, an over-the-head brainbuster from YOH, then a Bummer-Ye from Taguchi set the stage for a wheelbarrow Codebreaker to take home the win. **¾
Yuji Nagata, Shota Umino, Master Wato & Tomoaki Honma vs. Strong Style (Ren Narita, Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado) & Yuto Nakashima
That best of seven series kicks off tomorrow – so we’ve one last warm-up…
This one broke down at the bell as everyone but Desperado and Wato spilled outside the ring for a scrap… armdrags and shoulder tackles have Wato down, before dropkicks took Despy outside as Wato proceeded to introduce him to the guard rails. Those blue bars came into use for just about everyone, as Despy and Wato returned to the ring to try and get a pin going. Umino tags in as Desperado was kept cornered by Wato… a dropkick from Shota caught out Narita on the apron as those two continued to antagonise each other. Honma tags in next as Desperado remained legal… a bulldog from Honma downs Despy ahead of the eventually-missed Kokeshi. Wato tries to help, and this time Honma hits it!
Nagata’s in to kick Desperado into the corner, but a low dropkick has Nagata down as Desperado makes the tag to Suzuki to renew that particular rivalry. We’ve a PK from Suzuki for a two-count, before Nagata’s back body drop countered a Gotch piledriver attempt. The pair get up to trade elbow strikes from there, ending with the clonker from Suzuki before the step-up knee and Exploder from Nagata levelled things up. Narita and Umino are in next to trade shots, as a spinning heel kick from Narita looked to put him in front. A bridging half-hatch suplex is good for a near-fall for Narita, while Shota’s attempt at a Death Rider earned him a front kick by the ropes ahead of an Exploder.
Nakashima gets the tag in as he tried to put away the downed Umino… a hiptoss from Nakashima, then a forearm takes Shota down as we crossed the ten-minute mark. Suzuki and Desperado come in to help triple-team Umino, leading to a Nakashima powerslam for a near-fall. A Boston crab follows, but Honma’s in to break it up… only for Nakashima to throw him back outside. Umino gets back in it with a dropkick from there, then a diving uppercut for a near-fall, before the Death Rider DDT took home the win as tempers continued to boil over afterwards. ***¼
TMDK (Mikey Nicholls, Shane Haste & Bad Dude Tito) vs. Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) & Toru Yano
A rematch from last night, thanks to the card changes…
We start with Goto and Haste locking up, leading to Haste getting an early one-count before YOSHI-HASHI came in to help suplex Bad Dude Tito onto Haste to help turn things around. Chops from YOSHI-HASHI sink Haste, before Mikey Nicholls dragged YOSHI-HASHI to the outside… back inside, Tito’s senton atomico crushes YOSHI-HASHI ahead of a stalling suplex that picked up a solid two-count. Tito stays on YOSHI-HASHI with a camel clutch… that goes nowhere as Nicholls tagged in and found himself on the receiving end of a chop from YOSHI-HASHI. Nicholls gets spun down with a low dropkick as Yano tags in and instantly removed a corner pad. Much to the bemusement of Nicholls.
Yano bops Nicholls on the head, but got sent into the exposed corner… then sidestepped a charging Nicholls ahead of a roll-up for a two-count. Another bop’s topped as Haste and Tito came in to help triple-team… but it backfires as Goto came in to try for a double bulldog… which got countered into a back/suplex/neckbreaker. Tito’s back for chops, while an enziguiri and a deadlift German suplex ragdolled Goto for a near-fall. Goto’s back with an ushigoroshi to Tito, sparking a Parade of Stuff that ended with Haste going into the guard rails, before Tito was put away with the Shoto. ***¼
House of Torture (EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Just 5 Guys (SANADA, Taichi & DOUKI)
EVIL’s got “World Heavyweight Champion” scribbled on his t-shirt, like how SANADA’s got an entire shirt saying he’s the champion. I dig that kind of trolling…
Just 5 Guys jump start things… but Yoshinobu Kanemaru went down shortly after he’d rolled into the ring, as he looks to have blown out his knee while charging after Yujiro. The match grinds to a halt as Kanemaru’s carried to the back as the House of Torture began to attack SANADA and Taichi from behind. DOUKI hits the ring and took Kanemaru’s spot as the match finally got going. DOUKI’s isolated from the off as the initial brawling on the outside gave way to DOUKI getting thrown into the exposed corner. SHO picks up a two-count from there, before SANADA threw away EVIL’s modified t-shirt… but all that just distracts the ref as DOUKI continued to get worn down on the outside.
DOUKI finally hit back with a leaping headbutt to EVIL off the ropes, allowing him time to tag in SANADA, who cleared house. He pulls down SHO for a Paradise Lock, then baited in Yujiro to break it up. SANADA adds a springboard dropkick to EVIL from there, before Dick Togo threatened SANADA with a chair in the ropes. SANADA stops himself, but we’ve got trips to both EVIL and SANADA in the ropes as Taichi tried to level things out. Axe Bombers clear the way as DOUKI tagged back in to help triple-team EVIL, leading to an elevated stomp for a near-fall. DOUKI finds his way into the DOUKI CHOKEY, putting it back on as EVIL looked to roll to the ropes.
A head kick from Taichi rolls EVIL down as DOUKI almost took home the big upset… before Dick Togo chucked a chair at a springboarding DOUKI. All that’s left is Everything is EVIL, and that’s your lot. Considering how the match was derailed before the opening bell, could have gone a whole lot worse… ***
NJPW World TV Championship: Satoshi Kojima vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (c)
After making his 13th defence last night, Sabre now wants to make it to 20 by the end of the year, which is making me wonder… where’s the banana skin coming? Hopefully Kojima found the toilets in time…
Sabre goes for the wrist early on, but Kojima heads to the ropes… where he’s tied up ahead of the clean break. Kojima doesn’t budge from a Sabre shoulder tackle, before he charged down Sabre as things headed outside and into the guard rails. Back inside, Sabre dropped Kojima’s arm over the top rope, then followed him back outside to continue working on the arm. Kojima’s in almost an endless arm wringer as Sabre pulled him to the mat, going for an armbar as Kojima scurried into the ropes for a break. Returning, Kojima charged down Sabre at the five-minute mark, then sidestepped a charge into the corner as he proceeded to pepper Sabre with the machine gun chops.
Sabre’s up to stop Kojima from hitting the elbow drop though, trapping him with a hammerlock on the top rope before Kojima swept the leg to send Sabre crashing onto the side of the ring. A DDT from Kojima properly spiked Sabre upside down onto the side of the ring, while another DDT back inside looked to have him on course for victory… except Sabre’s able to grab a limb and pull Kojima into an armbar. The ropes save Kojima once more, as he resumed fire with a series of elbows and a Koji Cutter to Sabre. Sabre kicks away a lariat attempt, then threw some of his own… but Kojima doesn’t budge as he stuck out a strong arm for Sabre to run into. The Tenzan-ish brainbuster’s next for a near-fall, before Sabre caught Kojima with a Zack Driver as he was prepping for one more lariat.
We’re back to the pair trading elbows from there, but Sabre counters a lariat into a Cobra Twist… only to get thrown aside as another Koji lariat swatted Zack! Kojima can’t make the cover though, and only gets a two-count when he got over, before Kojima rolled back the years to hit a CCD for a near-fall! Sabre struck back as he rolled Kojima down into a triangle armbar as Korakuen voiced their support… but it was moot as Sabre had it all sewn up, forcing Kojima to tap seconds later. As a bonus addition to the card, this was absolutely fantastic – with points that I thought Kojima was about to snatch the gold… but it just wasn’t to be here as Sabre makes it to V14. ***¾
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: Togi Makabe, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomohiro Ishii (c)
The pre-match video package for this highlighted the recent rivalry between Tenzan and Ishii… while omitting Tiger Mask’s age, but this challenger team’s got a combined age of 153, with almost 90 years of in-ring experience. Suddenly I feel young…
We start with Tenzan and Ishii, who were somewhat calmer than they were this time yesterday… although what quickly gave way to chops from Ishii and Mongolian chops from Tenzan, before a shoulder tackle took Tenzan down. Okada’s in next as he took some Mongolian chops before Tiger Mask tagged in to keep Okada on the back foot. Okada shuts down Tiger Mask with a flapjack as Ishii and Tanahashi joined in with low dropkicks. Tanahashi’s in next for a flip senton out of the corner for a two-count, before Ishii came in… right as the feed gave out. He’s trading shots with Tiger Mask, but it’s the former junior champion who finds himself on the deck as Okada returned to hit a slam… then charge Makabe off the apron.
Heading outside, Okada slings Makabe into the guard rails as Tiger Mask remained isolated in the ring. He’s able to take down Tanahashi, but Ishii just storms the ring to clear the apron as he found another way to get at Tenzan on the outside. Okada’s back to land a neckbreaker on Tiger Mask for a two-count, before Tiger Mask looked to fight back with an avalanche armdrag off the top! Tags bring us to Tanahashi and Makabe, with Tanahashi getting cornered for mounted punches before he ran into a Makabe lariat for a two-count. A Twist and Shout dumps Makabe to the mat, before Ishii came in to wallop Makabe with chops and forearms in the corner.
Makabe pops up from a suplex to catch Ishii with a powerslam, before Tenzan tagged in to hit a spinning heel kick. We’ve more Mongolian chops too, before Okada came in to catch Tenzan with a DDT as things looked to break down. Tenzan’s triple-teamed ahead of an elevated DDT… which almost got the win as Makabe dove in to break up the count. From there, Ishii tries to go after Tenzan, eventually taking him down with lariats as Tenzan refused to stay down. An enziguiri doesn’t have any effect, before one more lariat took Tenzan down for the near-fall. Makabe’s back in to go for a double clothesline, but it’s blocked as he instead knocked down Tanahashi… a tiltawhirl backbreaker from Tiger Mask takes care of Okada, as the champions suddenly looked vulnerable.
Tenzan headbutts have Ishii rocked, ahead of a Tiger Driver and a King Kong Knee drop… while Tenzan’s falling headbutt looked to set up for the brainbuster. That one was more than an okay brainbuster, but Tanahashi breaks up the count ahead of an Anaconda Buster that almost got Tenzan the win! From there, Tenzan heads up top, but Okada stops the moonsault – and got booed for it. A German suplex threw down Tenzan, who tried to get back in with Mongolian chops to Tanahashi and Okada… but a landslide tombstone and a sliding clothesline almost ended things. Ishii adds a sheer-drop brainbuster to the mix, and that’s your lot. The challengers are absolutely in the dying days of their careers, but they were able to make a believer out of me here – and Korakuen – as Tenzan came agonisingly close to having one more title run. ***¾
Elimination Match: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Yota Tsuji, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs. United Empire (Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, Great O-Khan, HENARE & Callum Newman)
The United Empire vs. LIJ rivalry’s dominating this tour… so why not have an elimination main event?
We start with Ospreay and Tsuji trading wristlocks and counters before they headed to the ropes for a break. An overhand chop from Tsuji led to the pair trading tijeras, before Tsuji’s armdrag and shoulder block had Ospreay down. Shingo tags in from there, keeping Ospreay on the deck as LIJ began to isolate Ospreay in their corner. Tsuji drops Hiromu onto Ospreay for just a one-count to end that spell of pressure, as chops proceeded to take Ospreay into the corner… only for him to return with a hotshot to Hiromu, then a running boot as the Empire flooded the ring. Just about everyone heads outside for a scrap as Cobb flung Naito into the rails, while Ospreay grounded Hiromu with an Octopus stretch in the middle of the ring.
HENARE’s in next, as was Cobb as Hiromu was getting overwhelmed against the heavyweights here. Cobb’s deadlift suplex picked up a seated Hiromu before he ran laps of the ring and stuck Hiromu into the corner. Newman tags in to pick up the pieces, stinging Hiromu with a chop, while a chinlock kept Hiromu down on the mat. O-Khan’s in to add some Mongolian chops, then took a seat on Hiromu in the corner, before everyone took their turn on the stuck Hiromu. Once again, Hiromu’s left isolated as he tried to fight back… only to get beaten down before an attempted elimination was thwarted at the ten-minute mark.
HENARE’s back with a back senton to Hiromu, before a pop-up was countered in mid-air with a DDT. Naito and Cobb come in, but a low dropkick drops Cobb into the corner ahead of a blocked Combinacion Cabron… Cobb misses a legdrop seconds later, then ate a neckbreaker. Cobb tries to bounce back, but Naito remained a step ahead, avoiding a standing moonsault before tagging out to Shingo. Newman’s back in to wow the crowd with some rope running ahead of a tijeras, following with a springboard clothesline to Shingo for a two-count. O-Khan comes in to help, only to get shoved into Newman as Shingo’s DDT took care of O-Khan… while Newman’s spinning roundhouse almost forced the first elimination with a near-fall. Shingo ducks a hook kick, but couldn’t avoid it at the second attempt before he put Newman away with a Pumping Bomber at 14:55.
O-Khan’s in to try and score some flash pins on Shingo, following with a head-and-arm choke on the mat that ended in the ropes. Mongolian chops from O-Khan looked to have Shingo rocked, but he returns with some of his own ahead of a back suplex… only for a pump kick to take Shingo down. A right hand from O-Khan took Shingo back to the mat, before O-Khan knocked Shingo over the top… a low bridge from Shingo sees O-Khan join him on the side of the ring, before O-Khan eliminated himself and Shingo with an Eliminator onto the side of the ring at around 18:30.
HENARE’s in and chucks BUSHI over the top rope… but BUSHI gets back in and took a body blow for his troubles. HENARE misses a step-up knee in the corner and gets thrown out over the top at 19:25… Ospreay takes over as the United Empire were on the back foot… and swipes through BUSHI with a Hidden Blade to get the elimination at 19:48. Tsuji’s in now to square off with Ospreay, who unloads with some elbows to take Tsuji into the ropes. There’s receipts from Tsuji, who returned with a stomp to Ospreay before a missed Stinger splash looked to have Tsuji in trouble. Ospreay heads up top, but Tsuji catches him on the ropes… a teased Spanish Fly ends with Ospreay slipping back in to hit a Cheeky Nando’s, before a Ligerbomb drew a near-fall.
Tsuji pushes Ospreay over the top to block an OsCutter, but ends up getting dragged out with him as Ospreay skinned the cat… the pair head up to the apron as a teased Storm Breaker ended up as a blocked OsCutter before a curb stomp from Tsuji eliminated him and Ospreay at 23:46. We’re down to Cobb vs. Hiromu and Naito, and it’s pretty much a handicap match from there… but Cobb’s able to overpower some of it, countering a tijeras from Hiromu before he powerbombed him over the top and into the Empire pile at 25:09. It’s the final two now, with Naito cracking Cobb with an enziguiri ahead of an attempted Esperanza… but Cobb blocks before he got caught with a tornado DDT/roll-up for a near-fall.
Cobb goes for the throat from there, then blocked a Destino before Naito tried to throw him out over the top… a low bridge takes Cobb onto the apron, where a Koppo kick looked to force an elimination, before Cobb suplexed Naito from the ring and landed him on the apron… culminating with a superkick from Cobb, and a Combinacion Cabron that left Naito on the apron… where one more dropkick took Naito down to the floor as Cobb won the match. This really picked up towards the end, as the United Empire stood tall to keep the pressure high going into Kobe in two weeks’ time. ***¾
The tour moves to Chiba on Sunday as the annual Yuji Nagata produce show also sees the start of the best-of-seven series between Strong Style and the trio of Nagata, Shota Umino and Master Wato.
With the card changes perhaps could have been the biggest takeaway here, but a strong showing in the second half of the card made this the better of the two night swing at Korakuen Hall.