The IWGP Heavyweight tag team titles are on the line at Korakuen Hall today, as Suzuki-gun defend against Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI.
Gabriel Kidd pinned Yota Tsuji in 7:45 (**¾)
Great-O-Khan & Will Ospreay pinned Yuya Uemura & Kazuchika Okada in 11:10 (***¼)
Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado in 12:20 (***½)
Jay White, KENTA & Chase Owens pinned Tomoaki Honma, Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi in 12:25 (***¼)
Tetsuya Naito & SANADA pinned Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL in 11:23 (**¾)
Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. pinned YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto in 34:50 to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship (***¾)
For one final time on this tour, we’re back at Korakuen Hall. If you’re gonna miss Korakuen… don’t. Five nights of the upcoming World Tag League x Best of the Super Junior tour will be coming from here…
Gabriel Kidd vs. Yota Tsuji
We start with a lock-up, as always, breaking in the ropes as Tsuji tried his luck with a side headlock, clinging on as Kidd tried to shove him off.
Kidd breaks the hold and took Tsuji down with a headlock takedown of his own, before a shove-off sent Kidd to the ropes. He dropped down to meet Tsuji on the mat with a side headlock, but another shove-off leads to shoulder tackles, as Tsuji began to find a way in with shoulder tackles and a hiptoss for a two-count.
A cravat from Tsuji keeps Kidd at bay, with it turning into a snapmare as Tsuji rolled him into a camel clutch. Kidd fights up though and dumps Tsuji with a back body drop, before a running back elbow gets him a two-count. Chops take Tsuji into the ropes, with a knee drop adding another two-count, as did a back senton, as Kidd was building up a head of steam.
A battle of suplexes is won by Tsuji, who followed up with a slam, a running flip senton and a splash off the ropes for a two-count. Tsuji follows that up with a Boston crab, but they’re in the ropes instantly as a break is called for, so the pair reset with back-and-forth elbows. Kidd looks to be fading, but slips out of a running powerslam to get a two-count with a roll-up.
Tsuji’s forced to kick out from a small package before he levelled Kidd with an elbow… then ran in with a leaping sunset flip… but Kidd rolls the flip back and snatches the win with the reversal! A solid opener as Tsuji’s good run of form seems to be coming to a screeching halt. **¾
The Empire (Will Ospreay & Great-O-Khan) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Yuya Uemura
Okada kept turning a nervous glance towards O-Khan during his entrance, having been repeatedly jumped by him in the past…
O-Khan and Okada start us out though, but Ospreay comes in from behind to attack Okada as we begin with some two-on-one. Okada clears that out with a neckbreaker to O-Khan, before he tagged in Uemura to take some shots, only for Uemura to get dragged outside by Ospreay. He fights back, but Ospreay grabs Uemura in the ropes as O-Khan just clotheslines him back into the ring.
A gutwrench facebuster from O-Khan gets him a two-count, before O-Khan chopped the ear and tagged in Ospreay. There’s a back elbow off the ropes from Ospreay for a two-count, then some chops in the corner before a slam threw Uemura back towards the corner for some more boot choking.
O-Khan tags back in to sit on O-Khan in the corner, while Ospreay distracted the referee so Bea Priestley could get stick her boot in too. Getting free, Uemura tries to throw some right hands, then went for a slam, but O-Khan blocks… until Uemura caught him with a slam off the ropes. A tag brings in Okada to knock down O-Khan with a sliding back elbow, while a pancake takes Ospreay out.
Okada keeps going, leaping into O-Khan with a back elbow before a DDT out of the corner drew a two-count. Back-and-forth elbows follow between the two, but O-Khan uncorks the Mongolian chops to knock Okada down, before a backdrop into a facebuster got O-Khan another near-fall. A big boot misses as O-Khan ends up taking a neckbreaker slam, before Uemura came in to help double-team O-Khan.
Uppercuts and elbows have O-Khan rocked ahead of a dropkick that folds him in half for a near-fall. Uemura looks for the Capture suplex – which apparently has been dubbed the Kannekin suplex – but has more luck with a running elbow as O-Khan instead got knocked down for a Boston crab. O-Khan powers out of it though, then hit a front kick to knock Uemura down as his version of Hiromu’s Victory Royale nearly ended it.
Ospreay and Okada went at it, but an elbow knocks Okada ot the outside as O-Khan was left to finish off Uemura with a delayed inverted suplex and the Eliminator. A perfectly fine undercard tag, with the added intrigue of Uemura pushing O-Khan shockingly close for a while there. ***¼
Post-match, Okada attacked O-Khan… and put him in the Money Clip. Except O-Khan broke the hold with the iron claw, letting go for Ospreay’s hook kick to land before he dropped Okada with the Eliminator. And then Will Ospreay went all melodramatic calling O-Khan “a brother to me.” Uh-huh. Check the timelines… it’d have been a long-distance brothership, eh?
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
After coming up short yesterday, the LIJ/Suzuki-gun build is focused on Shingo vs. Suzuki on Saturday…
Of course, we’ve a jump start, this time with Shingo throwing the first shot as he proceeded to take Suzuki outside and into the guard rails while Hiromu and Desperado stayed back in the ring to trade chops. Just like yesterday!
A chop off the ropes from Hiromu finally stopped Desperado in hi stracks, before a whip from corner-to-corner led to clotheslines from Hiromu, and a shotgun dropkick too as Kanemaru’s attempt to interfere backfired. Shingo tags in to drop Despy with a brainbuster, then went after Suzuki, shoving him off the apron and into the railings before BUSHI tagged in to help work over Desperado’s arm.
BUSHI finds luck with a ‘rana off the middle rope, before a kick from Kanemaru in the ropes and a spear from Desperado turned the tide… with some help from the rest of his team as Hiromu and Shingo were taken into the railings. Suzuki chokes Shingo through the guard rails while starting a hole through Toru Yano on the Japanese commentary team… while a low dropkick from Kanemaru back inside got him a two-count on BUSHI.
Suzuki comes in and decks BUSHI with an elbow, before a Boston crab in the middle of the ring drew in Shingo to break it up with a Pumping Bomber… but Suzuki just takes him outside and takes him into the railing for his troubles. Back inside, Desperado and Kanemaru gang up on BUSHI… but a leaping kick to Desperado’s arm gets BUSHI free as tags bring us back to Shingo and Suzuki.
They lay into each other with elbows, before a clothesline in the corner from Shingo just earned him some rapid-fire elbows from Suzuki. He returns the favour with a Violence party of chops and punches, which Suzuki tries to zombie through, before he got dumped with a suplex. Suzuki tries to laugh it off, before they went back-and-forth with elbows and boots… but Suzuki’s able to find a way through with a rear naked choke, but couldn’t haul up Shingo for the Gotch piledriver.
Eventually they head into the corner as Kanemaru tagged in… Desperado’s in too for triple-teaming as my feed dropped out. It’s back with Kanemaru climbing the ropes for a Deep Impact DDT, but Shingo caught him… so Kanemaru rakes the eyes. An Irish whip from Kanemaru’s reversed as LIJ comes back with low dropkicks from BUSHI and Hiromu, then a suplex/powerbomb, before Shingo’s sliding lariat almost put away Kanemaru.
The Shingo combination deals with Suzuki, before Kanemaru used the referee as a human shield… but it doesn’t work out for him as a pop-up death valley driver and a Pumping Bomber almost gets Shingo the win. From there, Shingo deadlifts Kanemaru up for Last of the Dragons, complete with an awkward landing for the pin. A cracker of a tag match to set up Saturday in Osaka… and post-match, Suzuki chokes out Shingo then hits a Gotch piledriver, before holding him in a Boston crab… yep, this is the “go home” show with all of the afters we’re getting! ***½
Announcement time… it’s the Best of the Super Junior field! “Once cancelled, it’s back in force” – no comment! In the tournament then: Ryusuke Taguchi, Master Wato, SHO, Robbie Eagles, Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, DOUKI and Taiji Ishimori. A condensed league of ten wrestlers, with Robbie Eagles being the big surprise – and no additional outsiders. You’ve got to think Hiromu, Eagles and Ishimori are the early favourites…
They also announce a Super J Cup for 2020… in the United States. It’s going to be a one-night tournament with TJP, ACH, Lio Rush, Chris Bey, Rey Horus, Blake Christian, Clark Connors and El Phantasmo. There’s your outsiders! It’ll be on December 12…
Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA & Chase Owens) vs. Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma
A do-over from yesterday – so we’re going to have more Fun With Briefcases?
Jay White bullied Yota Tsji into the ring during his intro, forcing the Young Lion to cheer for him, then into Too Sweeting… before throwing him outside when he refused. White suckered Tanahashi into a posedown, but he’s attacked while doing so, before the good guys cleared the ring and left Chase Owens in there to take a beating.
Owens elbows back in before Honma got dragged outside as he tried to go for a Kokeshi. All six men end up outside as the Bullet Club edge ahead, with a neckbreaker from White back inside getting a solid two-count on Honma. KENTA’s in with shoulder charges to keep Honma in the corner, while White throw in some chops too before a snapmare and a kick to the back from KENTA gets him a two-count.
KENTA looks to mock a Kokeshi, but just charges Tanahashi off the apron before Honma hit back with a DDT. Pushing off KENTA, Honma tag sin Tanahashi, who laid into KENTA with forearms, before a Dragon screw had KENTA down for a Cloverleaf. Chase Owens tries to break it up, but he too takes a Dragon screw before KENTA hit back with a powerslam for a near-fall.
A tornado Stun Gun’s next from KENTA, then a flying clothesline for a two-count, before he and Tanahashi exchanged strikes, leading to a short-range Slingblade. Tags bring us to White and Ibushi, with a running death valley bomb getting White a near-fall, before a ‘rana from Ibushi forced his way back in. Honma tags back in to chop through White, before a suplex earned Honma a two-count.
White rolls into the ropes and gets kicked by Ibushi as some triple-teaming broke out, leading to a bulldog from Honma and a triple Kokeshi… which all missed. From there, White looks for a Blade Runner, but Honma pushes out and hits a Kokeshi, then a second for a near-fall, before a Kokeshi Otoshi was escaped. He headbutts White, but runs into a Blade Runner as White snuffed him out in a heartbeat. A solid enough tag, with the Bullet Club lads winning again as Jay White once more tried to snatch the G1 winner’s briefcase afterwards. ***¼
After the match, Ibushi and Tanahashi get laid out with the briefcases, with KENTA being left beside himself after realising Tanahashi’s head broke it. Again.
Bullet Club (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA)
We’ve a jump start from Naito as the timekeeper ran back to his table to ring the bell – with the match starting on the floor as Naito charged EVIL between the ring apron and the guard railings.
In the ring, Naito uses his jacket to choke EVIL with, before SANADA came in to put the boots to his former tag partner. EVIL gets the foot up in the corner, but runs into a ‘rana as SANADA took him outside… only for a follow-up plancha to miss as EVIL then charged SANADA through the railings, knocking the timekeeper into the front row too.
Naito takes the guard rails too as EVIL then went for a chair under the ring and used it on naito as he was laying on the floor. Back inside, SANADA’s thrown into a conveniently-exposed turnbuckle, before a leg drop, an elbow drop and a falling headbutt got Yujiro a two-count. SANADA’s tossed outside so EVIL could knock the timekeeper back into the first row again. That’s gotta be a rib, right?
Of course, back in the ring, the referee wouldn’t count the pin – and it’s telling that Red Shoes Unno isn’t on duty here, as he usually is for the top two matches, having been wiped out in yesterday’s main event. Yujiro tags in to land a running front kick before he bit away on SANADA’s thumb, before EVIL tagged in and looked to throw SANADA into the exposed corner.
SANADA sidesteps as EVIL hits the buckles, before a back suplex bought him time as a tag was made out to Naito. An elbow from Naito and a neckbreaker keeps EVIL down as Dick Togo popped up… and got knocked right back down. Combinacion Cabron follows for a near-fall, but Togo gets involved again, tripping Naito in the ropes as Yujiro came in to try his luck.
SANADA makes a save, following in with a dropkick before a double hiptoss looked to build momentum for LIJ… but EVIL gets involved, tripping SANADA to the outside as Yujiro set up for a shot with his pimp cane. Naito ducks it, then looked to use it himself… but the referee disarms him as Yujiro came in with an Incolle slam for a near-fall.
Naito looks to fight back with elbows as SANADA returned to help out with some double-teaming, allowing Naito to set up for Gloria, before Destino landed for the three count. A pretty conclusive ending to a match that had all of your favourite (?) bits from this feud, apart from that goddamn garrote wire. **¾
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) (c)
YOSHI-HASHI’s recent career resurgence has seen him claim a third of the NEVER trios titles… can he add to it with the IWGP tag titles as well?
Referee Red Shoes Unno has resurfaced for the main event, so his limited schedule today is just working the main event. The champions take their time in getting ready, but when we do get underway it’s Taichi and YOSHI-HASHI who start, eventually locking-up as Taichi just wilted into the ropes. He tags out to Sabre instantly, who went to work over YOSHI-HASHI’s arm, taking him down with a wristlock, before back-and-forth headscissors on the mat saw the pair counter each other.
Sabre’s back up with a wristlock, but YOSHI-HASHI wrings the arm to get free… only for Zack to come back as YOSHI-HASHI needed to use some tijera to get himself free. YOSHI-HASHI took Sabre into the corner, tagging in Goto who hiptossed YOSHI-HASHI onto Sabre for an early two-count. Goto followed that up with a back elbow and a chinlock, prompting Taichi to come in and rake the eyes to break it up as the champions search for a double-team attack ended with a double clothesline from Goto.
Taichi kicks Goto in the ropes, as Sabre took advantage of the distraction, snapmaring Goto to the mat ahead of a neck twist, before Taichi threw Goto into the guard railings. The camera cables are used too, with Taichi choking out Goto on the floor, then against the guard rails too. Sabre joins in as the Suzuki-gun lads try to get a rise out of Toru Yano on commentary, but nothing’s going there, so they just roll Goto back inside for some more choking.
A neck crank keeps Goto down, with YOSHI-HASHI coming in to try and intimidate Taichi, but all it does is bring in ZSJ to knock YOSHI-HASHI off the apron as the champions continued to isolate Goto. Some headscissors see Sabre torque away on Goto’s neck, turning it almost into a Lasso from El Paso that ends in the ropes…
Taichi is back to choke away on Goto, who eventually got free and tried to launch a comeback, only to get throttled and taken into the corner once more. An Irish whip’s reversed, but Goto still falls to an enziguiri in the corner for a near-fall, before Taichi whipped off the trousers. Goto has to block a Saito suplex before he turned around with a rolling lariat, as tags bring in Sabre and YOSHI-HASHI.
YOSHI-HASHI charges at Sabre with chops, before hanging him in the ropes for a dropkick that helps with another near-fall. Sabre escapes a Bunker Buster and eventually caught YOSHI-HASHI’s arm with a Pele kick, before a leg sweep knocked him to the mat. Zack’s back with a heel hook, neutralising YOSHI-HASHI’s attempts to fight free for a while, before YOSHI-HASHI managed to hit back with a rear spin kick.
Goto tags back in to charge Sabre down, then knock Taichi off the apron before a spinning heel kick into the corner and a bulldog out of it left Sabre down for a two-count. Zack returns with uppercuts, while Goto’s elbows offered a response, before Sabre just trapped Goto in the middle of the ring with an Ocotpus hold. An escape sees Goto try and counter into an ushigoroshi, but Sabre countered that into a guillotine before the hold was broken up with a suplex.
A running clothesline traps Sabre in the corner as Goto and YOSHI-HASHI went in for double-teaming… which Taichi broke up, dragging YOSHI-HASHI to the outside. Goto tries to push on, btu misses a clothesline in the corner as the Suzuki-gun lads pepper Goto with kicks for a near-fall.
A Zack Driver’s attempted, but Goto avoids it… and ends up in a triangle armbar on the mat as YOSHI-HASHI tries to break it up… but Taichi stops YOSHI-HASHI with a Stretch Plum. Goto continues to struggle, but his attempt to powerbomb free is stopped when Taichi blasted him with a kick as Goto remained in the hold, eventually rolling into the ropes as he looked to fade.
Taichi’s in with Kawada-style kicks to Goto, but can’t quite get him up for a powerbomb as Goto back body drops his way free. Instead, Taichi grabs Goto and tried to hold him for Dragon screws, but YOSHI-HASHI made the save as both teams teased double-teams. An elevated GYR lands where the Zack Mephisto did not, but Taichi’s able to kick out at two to retain the titles… for now!
Goto fires up for a mid kick to Taichi, before he popped up from a Dangerous backdrop driver to nail another clothesline. YOSHI-HASHI screams for a tag, and gets it as he looked to put Taichi under the thumb some more, landing a Western lariat for a two-count. Taichi elbows out of Karma, then dropped YOSHI-HASHI with a head kick before Black Mephisto was countered out of… only for Taichi to land an Axe Bomber, with YOSHI-HASHI shrugging that off too.
YOSHI-HASHI tries to push forward with a running Ligerbomb, but Sabre dives in in the nick of time to break up the pin before he ate a Head Hunter. A slam follows from YOSHI-HASHI, as he heads up top for a Loose Explosion, but it’s still not enough to put away Taichi, who then got trapped in a Butterfly lock, which Sabre eventually comes in to try and kick apart… but Goto dives in to knock Sabre away.
YOSHI-HASHI switches the hold into a rear naked choke, so he could drag Taichi away from the ropes but eventually getting back up, Taichi knocks the referee to mask a low blow as a Gedo clutch almost stole the win. Sabre’s back to go for a Zack Driver, but he just gets pushed off into an ushigoroshi, before Goto got met with a leaping enziguiri to end that brief flurry.
Taichi and YOSHI-HASHI get back up to trade clotheslines, then kicks, before YOSHI-HASHI’s chops again brought Taichi to his knees. Getting back up, Taichi lands a mid kick, then an elbow, before YOSHI-HASHI suckered Taichi with a superkick, following up with a Dragon suplex and then a Western lariat that almost won the titles.
A kumagaroshi lands next for YOSHI-HASHI, but Taichi gets up at two, before Sabre returned to block a Karma attempt. Goto stops him as a double-team neckbreaker to Sabre looked to lead to another GTR, but Taichi makes the save and hits a superkick to aid with a Zack Driver on Goto. YOSHI-HASHI is back with a Meteora to Sabre, before he and Taichi clattered each other with clotheslines again.
One of those lariats felled Taichi for a near-fall, before another attempt at Karma was elbowed out if, with Sabre running in to help Taichi hit Zack Mephisto for the win. While hardly anyone gave YOSHI-HASHI and Goto much chance to win this, this match felt like another chapter in YOSHI’s rise up the card – even if it did unfortunately fall into the “forced epic” that the New Japan house style is sometimes prone to doing in the main event. In short, there’s absolutely no way this needed to even come close to 35 minutes, and it lost my interest well before the finish. ***¾
Post-match, Toru Yano runs into the ring and undoes the turnbuckle pads… because he had a message. His match with ZSJ needed a stipulation, per the KOPW rules… so he picks a no-turnbuckle pad match that’ll open Power Struggle.
That’s it for the Road to Power Struggle – a cut above yesterday’s show, the final Korakuen stop on the Road to Power Struggle gave us some “go-home” build to raise the stakes and tension ahead of Saturday. Like yesterday, only the main event really stood out from the pack, but this show absolutely wasn’t a waste of your time.