The Road to Power Struggle starts here, with Suzuki-gun getting a shot at the NEVER trios titles.

Quick Results
Yuya Uemura pinned Yota Tsuji in 9:09 (***)
Great-O-Khan & Will Ospreay pinned Gabriel Kidd & Kazuchika Okada in 10:17 (**¾)
Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & Minoru Suzuki in 12:51 (***¼)
Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma pinned Gedo, Jay White & KENTA in 10:36 (***)
SANADA & Tetsuya Naito submitted Dick Togo & EVIL in 11:58 (**½)
YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto pinned DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi in 32:25 to retain the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship (****)

The G1 finished less than a week ago, but New Japan have put the foot on the pedal ahead of Power Struggle on November 7. That card’s going back to the G1-format of six singles matches, featuring Toru Yano defending the KOPW title against Zack Sabre Jr., Suzuki vs. Shingo and Naito vs. EVIL.. but first, we’ve got the tradition of undercard tags.

This show is brought to you on delay courtesy of the new NJPW World website player that my browser REALLY didn’t like… so I’m watching this on replay.

Yuya Uemura vs. Yota Tsuji
After the culmination of the unofficial C-block, these two have now had forty matches in 30 months – an impressive record. Tsuji’s won eleven of them, Uemura seven, and 22 draws.

We start with the pair scrambling for a hold, instead reaching a stalemate before a side headlock from Tsuji was neutralised with Uemura rolling into a wristlock. Tsuji reverses it, but he’s quickly spun away from as Uemura took him down for a side chinlock on the mat. They go back and forth from headlocks to headscissors, but Tsuji’s old tricks just weren’t working here. Uemura traps Tsuji in an armbar, but headscissors lead to a rather compromising escape for Tsuji, who wrenched away on Uemura some more until the eventual escape. A leg spreader from Uemura ends with him pulling Uemura down to the mat for a Dragon screw to the arm. An armdrag takedown keeps Tsuji down for an armbar, switching it into a short scissored armbar that quickly ends in the ropes.

Elbows to the arm keep Uemura ahead, as he wore down Tsuji to the mat, then took him to the corner, only to have a hiptoss stuffed. Tsuji builds his comeback with a bodyslam, before a cravat and a Camel clutch had Uemura in trouble… that turns into a modified crab, with Uemura eventually dragging himself to the ropes.

Tsuji tries to keep going with elbows, knocking down Tsuji ahead of a suplex, but Uemura slips free and lands a dropkick for a two-count. From there it’s back to the armbar, but Tsuji gets out as the pair trade elbows, with Tsuji winning out as another slam gets a two-count. More elbows from Tsuji had him ahead, but he’s stopped with a near armdrag from Uemura, who then rolled him up for the capture suplex that gets the win! A win out of nothing for Uemura, who’s new focus on the arm is really paying dividends… at least until that gets figured out. ***

The Empire (Will Ospreay & Great-O-Khan) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Gabriel Kidd
Gee, I wonder who’s taking the fall here?

We’ve a jump start as Great-O-Khan attacked Okada before the bell, and it’s Okada who’s isolated early, with Ospreay eventually hitting a low dropkick to knock the ring skirt off of Okada. Okada’s knocked outside, so Gabriel Kidd gets a beating from Ospreay, who throws elbows… only for Kidd to fight back, and get tripped in the ropes by Bea Priestley. Oh great, it’s one of THOSE factions. A clothesline takes Kidd outside as as snapmare and a running PK from Bea had Kidd down… just in case you thought there wasn’t enough interference in your heel groups in New Japan.

Great-O-Khan throws Kidd into the railings too for the hell of it, before a slam form Ospreay back inside gets him a two-count. A tag brings in Great-O-Khan, who grabs Kidd by the ear for a chop, following up with a gutwrench facebuster for a two-count, and some sitting too, as Great-O-Khan just sat on Kidd in the corner, while Bea and Ospreay put their boots in too.

Ospreay’s back in as Kidd tries to fire back, but he’s chopped down before Kidd retaliated with a dropkick as he managed to make a tag out to Okada who went through Ospreay with back elbows. Okada looks for a neckbreaker slam, but Ospreay gets out and took Okada to the corner for a Final Cut-like clothesline. Great-O-Khan is back for a facebuster that gets a two-count, before he Mongolian chopped Okada in the corner. A baseball slide dropkick’s next for a two-count, but Okada’s able to return with a neckbreaker slam as he proceeded to knock Ospreay off the apron. Okada’s tombstone is blocked with a Mongolian chop, but he’s back with a dropkick before he tagged in Kidd.

Kidd goes in with elbows and uppercuts before a running forearm off the ropes had Great-O-Khan down. A suplex looked to follow, but the brakes are put on as Great-O-Khan ends up taking a dropkick instead for a near-fall. Kidd looks for the double underhook suplex, but it’s thrown away by Great-O-Khan, who then lifted up Kidd for a stalling inverted suplex that almost wins it.

From there, Great-O-Khan grabs Okada for an Iron Claw, with Ospreay flying in to knock down Okada, before the Iron Claw slam – now dubbed the Eliminator – got the win. O-Khan looked tidy in his role here, but this Empire act is quickly going to generate “go away heat” from a certain section of fans if they’re going to run the Bullet Club interference playbook. **¾

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
“Death Pumpkin” BUSHI managed to show off his swanky new mask-mask in time for Hallowe’en… while Hiromu had his heart set on the IWGP junior tag titles.

We don’t have a jump start here, with both sides waiting for the bell as we started with Desperado and BUSHI… until Kanemaru came in and attacked BUSHI from behind. BUSHI manages to get rid of Kanemaru, but elbows from Desperado drew in Hiromu as LIJ’s double-teaming put them ahead. A charge into the corner sees BUSHI lifted onto the apron… where he’s stopped by Kanemaru from climbing the ropes as all six men ended up outside for our obligatory trips into the guard rails. Suzuki and Shingo have a delightful-as-ever scrap, while Desperado rubbed the junior tag titles in BUSHI’s face. Literally.

Back in the ring, Suzuki tags in to pull at BUSHI’s ears, before he pulled him into a high angle Boston crab. Suzuki taming a lion, is it…? It turns into a regular Boston crab until Shingo came in to chop away at Suzuki, before he eventually punched apart the hold. Suzuki elbows Shingo outside not long afterwards though, as Desperado and Kanemaru came in to keep wearing down BUSHI.

Kanemaru’s suplex dropped BUSHI for a two-count, before an Irish whip took BUSHI into the corner as the reigning junior tag champs were enjoying control of proceedings. Desperado’s suplex came to nought, but he avoids a dropkick from BUSHI as we cross the five-minute mark, before a flying ‘rana from BUSHI bought him enough time to make the tag out to Hiromu.

Hiromu knocks Suzuki off the apron as he proceeds to go for Desperado with tijeras. Clotheslines follows as Hiromu avoided double-teaming, dropkicking Kanemaru into Desperado, sending the pair outside as a shotgun dropkick off the apron took the tag champions into the railings.

Back inside, a Falcon arrow nearly wins it for Hiromu, but a spinebuster from Desperado stopped that momentum in a hurry. The pair trade chops to the chest, going back-and-forth until Desperado stomped Hiromu’s foot, then hit an elbow before some misdirection led to a spear. Hiromu hit back with an overhead belly-to-belly into the corner, as both men then tagged out… bringing us to Shingo and Suzuki.

They lay into each other with elbows before Suzuki snuck in a rear naked choke, but Shingo slips out. Suzuki reapplies the hold though, and this time manifesto lock it in as he then went back to the Gotch piledriver… which Shingo wriggles out of, countering with a death valley driver, only for Suzuki to pop back up with a PK. We’re back to the elbows, which Suzuki tries to cut off with rear naked chokes before he dragged Shingo into the corner for Kanemaru to tag back in.

A satellite DDT from Kanemaru has Shingo down, before BUSHI’s attempted interference was dispatched. Triple-teaming has Shingo in trouble, as a dropkick-assisted side suplex almost gets Kanemaru the win, but a Deep Impact attempt is then caught and turned into an overhead suplex.

Kanemaru tries to fight back, but he’s caught with a sliding lariat for a two-count as the ring filled… then emptied as Shingo popped up Kanemaru for a death valley driver, before a Pumping Bomber got the win. An entertaining trios match,with the LIJ lads gunning for gold – but only Shingo has a date on the books right now… ***¼

After the match, Shingo and Suzuki brawl around ringside again, then to the back, before Hiromu took the mic and issued a challenge for the junior tag titles. Which Desperado flatly refused.

Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA & Gedo) vs. Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomoaki Honma
We’re building to White vs. Ibushi next month, and it’s those two who start…

Except of course, White tags in KENTA before they even lock up, which makes Tanahashi want to get in as well. But then KENTA doesn’t wanna get involved, so we start with Gedo and Honma instead, just to complete the downgrade. An eye rake from Gedo has Honma on the mat within seconds, but Honma’s able to recover and charge down Gedo with a shoulder tackle. An early Kokeshi attempt misses, because of course he does… then again as Jay White pulled Honma to the outside for a trip into the guard rails.

Back inside, Gedo tries to snatch an easy win, but Honma’s up at two, as Jay White then tagged in to rake the eyes. KENTA tags in to trap Honma in the corner with shoulder charges, following with a kick to the back and some knee drops before the aloof backheel led him into some air guitar. Just because.

Chops from Honma looked to get him free, but KENTA elbows him down before taking out a Kokeshi… to knock Tanahashi off the apron. Kicks keep Honma down, but they’re eventually caught as Honma eventually fought back with a suplex. Tanahashi tags in and knocks KENTA down with a leaping forearm, before a Dragon screw hauled down KENTA by the corner.

A slam and a flip senton followed, but KENTA’s back with a roll-up for a two-count before he caught Tanahashi in the corner for a tornado stun gun. KENTA follows that up with a diving clothesline off the top for a near-fall, before the pair traded strikes, leading to a Slingblade from Tanahashi.

Tags bring us back to Kota and White, but it’s the G1 winner who’s on top with a variety of strikes before a mid kick and a standing moonsault got him a two-count. White elbows away at Ibushi in the ropes before a double-leg takedown allowed him to hit a Dragon screw to the leg, before a tag brought in Gedo for a jawbreaker and a thrust kick for a near-fall.

With Gedo distracting the referee with brass knuckles, KENTA tried to come in and use his IWGP US title briefcase… he’s stopped by Tanahashi, as Jay White tries to come in for a Blade Runner, but he’s pushed off into a leaping Kokeshi. Gedo’s back to eat a thrust kick and another Kokeshi, before Ibushi put him away with a Kamigoye. A by-the-numbers tag, with passing build for the two Power Struggle right-to-challenge defences… ***

Post-match, KENTA and Tanahashi went at it again, with Tanahashi left laying, before recovering for the post-match poses to the crowd. It’s very curious they’ve just given Kota a posh folder for his contract – perhaps briefcases are now seen as a played-out trope?

Bullet Club (EVIL & Dick Togo) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA)
We’ve got EVIL vs. Naito again at Power Struggle, so here we go…

EVIL and Naito start, with the latter landing a kick to the gut before a hair pull had EVIL free. He locks on a side headlock on Naito, before a shove off led to a shoulder tackle from the challenger… but Naito’s back with an armdrag and tijeras. SANADA tags in with EVIL having been dragged into the corner, then came in with boots and forearms to knock his former tag partner into the ropes.

A back elbow off the ropes has EVIL down for a two-count, as the LIJ tandem looked to be taking a comfortable lead. Naito’s back for a cravat that’s broken via the ropes… before an Irish whip led to Naito getting kicked in the ropes by Togo as all four men ended up on the outside.Of course, we get the obligatory trips to the guard rails, before we return inside as Togo removed the turnbuckle pad – just as Naito was being thrown into the corner. Togo’s back to put the boots to Naito, before a chinlock and a fist drop from Togo earned him a two-count. EVIL tags back in and instantly throws Naito outside for more trips to the guard railings. I’m getting bored of this. EVIL stomps on Naito’s knee on the floor, before they went back inside as EVIL got a one-count.

OH GOOD! More pointless distractions to mask a double-team shoulder tackle… which the ref watches as a pair of back sentons gets EVIL a two-count. A struggle over suplexes came to nought as a Manhattan drop and a low dropkick has Naito ahead, with a tag bringing SANADA back in.

Another low dropkick from SANADA has EVIL rolling outside, while Dick Togo runs in and gets himself tied up in a Paradise Lock. SANADA keeps going with a plancha to EVIL on the floor, getting an eventual two-count from it, only for EVIL to return with a spinebuster. Togo tags back in to put the boots to SANADA, following up with a crucifix for a near-fall… then a crossface as we cross the ten minute mark.

SANADA breaks the hold via the ropes, then made a comeback, backflipping over Togo before he got tripped in the ropes by EVIL. Sigh. EVIL distracts the referee with a chair, meaning the ref misses chairshots from Goto, who then tried for a Pedigree onto the chair… but SANADA back body drops away from it.

EVIL runs in but is pulled outside by Naito, then sent flying over the railings as SANADA proceeded to block a low blow from Togo, taking him in for a TKO for a near-fall. From there, SANADA locks in a Skull End, and there’s the submission. Look, this match was technically fine, but the story between EVIL and Naito is beyond played out to me. It’s probably the first storyline in recent history that’s actively hurting my enjoyment of these shows – as they at least moved past the Tanahashi/Ibushi vs. Suzuki-gun tags after a while! **½

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & DOUKI) vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI (c)
Set-up with a clash on the G1 finals, this is the CHAOS team’s second defence of those NEVER trios titles, as Suzuki-gun look to add more gold to their ranks.

We start with DOUKI and YOSHI-HASHI going after each other with elbows, before a chop out of the corner from YOSHI-HASHI saw him forge ahead. More chops from YOSHI-HASHI just irk DOUKI though, who’s eventually taken down with a neckbreaker as both teams flooded the ring. The ring clears with DOUKI getting triple-teamed as he was left laying… with YOSHI-HASHI remaining on top.

Zack Sabre Jr. kicks YOSHI-HASHI in the ropes, then distracts the referee as DOUKI comes in with a pipe to choke YOSHI-HASHI with, and now we’re on the outside for more trips to the guard rails. Taichi chokes away on Ishii with some camera cable as things eventually calmed down… then flared up again as Taichi dragged YOSHI-HASHI back into the railings so Zack Sabre Jr. could work away on YOSHI-HASHI’s arm.

Back inside, Taichi chokes away on YOSHI-HASHI as the challenger team tried to dictate the pace. They isolate YOSHI-HASHI too, with Sabre getting his boots in as the Suzuki-gun lads were thinking that YOSHI-HASHI was the weak link – perhaps looking to that G1 record as proof that the turnaround isn’t quite complete?

YOSHI-HASHI tries to fight back out of the corner, but an eye rake from DOUKI stops him as Sabre came back in to try and wrench his arm out of its socket. Chops from YOSHI-HASHI offered some resistance, but it’s a suplex that gets him free as a tag finally brings in Hirooki Goto… who charges at Sabre ahead of a spinning heel kick into the corner, and a bulldog out of it.

Sabre tries to stop all that, eventually trapping Goto in an Octopus stretch, before a head kick and a leg sweep looked to lead to a PK. Goto catches it, then lifts Sabre up for an ushigoroshi, as tags take us to Ishii and Taichi, with those two going at each other at pace. An elbow from Ishii and a shoulder tackle out of the corner has Taichi down, but Taichi shrugs off some chops as he proceeded to kick away on Ishii, before DOUKI ran into help double-team with stomps to the legs.

DOUKI flies off the top rope with a double sledge to Ishii’s knee, while YOSHI-HASHI returned with a tijera to take DOUKI outside. A thrust kick sets up Taichi for a backdrop suplex from Ishii, but Zack Sabre Jr. comes in to overwhelm as the double-teaming resumed with more kicks to that taped-up knee. Goto runs in to stop Ishii suffering the Tanahashi fate of endless Dragon screws, as we sorta-reset, with everyone clotheslining Taichi by the ropes, only for Ishii’s powerbomb to come to nought.

DOUKI jabs Ishii in the ropes with the pipe as Taichi and ZSJ followed up with more kicks to leave Ishii down, as they then looked to Tanahashi his knee with Dragon screws. A head kick from Taichi drops Ishii for a near-fall, following up with a Last Ride powerbomb for a near-fall, and a half crab that kept the focus up on Ishii’s leg.

Eventually Goto broke free to come in and break the hold up, but he’s instantly taken outside by Sabre as Taichi went back to work with kicks to the bad leg. A superkick’s stopped as Ishii headbutts his way free, with YOSHI-HASHI waiting on the apron to tag in… which he did. Chops from YOSHI-HASHI fell Taichi, but a charge into the corner misses as a gamenigiri from Taichi left both men laying.

DOUKI wants in, still looking for that first big win, and he charges into YOSHI-HASHI with lariats. They’re returned as the pair trade elbows, before YOSHI-HASHI goes back to the chops to send DOUKI flailing around the ring ahead of a leaping enziguiri. After a struggle, DOUKI floats up YOSHI-HASHI into a backslide position, but it’s escaped as YOSHI-HASHI returns with a Head Hunter before some triple-teaming came to nought, with Taichi pulling YOSHI-HASHI outside as the Suzuki-gun lads forced an opening.

Sensing a chance, DOUKI heads up top and hits a flying back senton into the pile, before he and YOSHI-HASHI rolled back inside to beat the count. DOUKI keeps going with a Widow’s peak that turned into a backslide for a near-fall, before the CHAOS team hit the ring to save from a Daybreak DDT… as things broke down into another Parade of Moves, with Sabre avoiding a Magic Killer as Goto and Ishii ended up eating a pair of mid-kicks.

YOSHI-HASHI tries to make a one-man comeback, but the numbers game overwhelms as he’s set up for the Daybreak DDT from DOUKI, getting a near-fall, before he rolled YOSHI-HASHI into the Italian Stretch #32. He lets go and rolls YOSHI-HASHI back into the middle of the ring to reapply it, while a Buzzsaw kick from Taichi landed for a near-fall… and it’s back to the stretch as DOUKI looked to squeeze out a win.

In the end, YOSHI-HASHI manages to wriggle his way towards the rope, with a leg forcing a break. YOSHI-HASHI comes back with an armdrag and a rear spin kick, while Goto returned for a kick-assisted ushigoroshi, feeding DOUKI in for a sliding lariat from Ishii and diving double-knees from YOSHI-HASHI for a near-fall.

A Western Lariat from YOSHI-HASHI spins DOUKI for another near-fall, before ZSJ came in to break up Karma… with Taichi being given YOSHI-HASHI for a Dangerous backdrop driver. DOUKI’s thrown onto YOSHI-HASHI, but can only get a two-count from that lay-up, before DOUKI took off his mesh vest and hit the ropes for a running lariat.

From there, a springboard stomp from DOUKI landed for another close-call, before Suplex de la Luna forced Goto in to break up the pin as the titles almost found a new home. With YOSHI-HASHI still down, Goto drops DOUKI with a GTW, but it sparks a Parade of Moves as a leaping head kick from Taichi earned him a lariat from Ishii as we seemed to steam towards the finishing line.

DOUKI is back with a dropkick, but YOSHI-HASHI caught him with a DDT-like takedown into a Butterfly Lock, dragging DOUKI into the middle of the ring. YOSHI-HASHI tries to pull DOUKI up into Karma, but it’s rolled through for a near-fall as DOUKI tried to snatch the win with a flash pin… before YOSHI-HASHI teased his own Suplex de la Luna. It’s elbowed away as ZSJ and Taichi teased Zack Mephisto on YOSHI-HASHI, who then helped take out Taichi with an elevated GYR.

The ring fills and empties again as DOUKI ate an elevated GTR, before YOSHI-HASHI spun DOUKI into Karma for the win. This was a nice surprise – a Korakuen main event that spotlit DOUKI and YOSHI-HASHI, without feeling forced? While DOUKI’s still looking for his first big win, his outing here kinda boosts him in defeat, what with the Best of the Super Juniors on the horizon – while the continued rise of YOSHI-HASHI continues to be a joy. ****

Post-match, YOSHI-HASHI grabbed the IWGP tag titles… and I guess that’s his way of making a play for World Tag League. But who with…?

While the tour continues, it’s not until next weekend that we’ll be back to cover it as the Road to Power Struggle hits Korakuen Hall on Sunday November 1 and Monday November 2… with no cards announced for those as of yet, going into Power Struggle in Osaka on November 7.

The turnaround between the G1 and Power Struggle may be rapid, but at least they’re establishing the new storylines coming out of the Climax – even if the top of the card there is an uninspiring retread. Still, make sure you catch this one for the main event – a match that was well worth me struggling with the new NJPW World player for!