The Max has been Max’d – now it’s time for the road to Power Struggle as we return to Korakuen Hall with an Elimination main event.
Master Wato, Ryusuke Taguchi & Hiroyoshi Tenzan submitted Ryohei Oiwa, Tiger Mask & Robbie Eagles in 8:15 (**¾)
SHO, EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & Dick Togo defeated Kosei Fujita, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto via referee stoppage in 8:22 (**½)
Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare pinned Satoshi Kojima & Toru Yano in 11:07 (***)
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yuji Nagata submitted Gedo & KENTA in 10:14 (***¼)
Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Jado pinned Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe & Kazuchika Okada in 11:32 (***)
Zack Sabre Jr. won an elimination match in 24:09 (***½)
The road to November’s Power Struggle in Osaka starts here – and with Kevin Kelly back in the States, we’re looking at English commentary following on-demand.
Robbie Eagles, Tiger Mask & Ryohei Oiwa vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato
Eagles and Tiger Mask have a shot at the IWGP junior tag titles on Tuesday’s Korakuen Hall show, as we then get Eagles defending vs. El Desperado in Osaka. So naturally, this match directly builds to neither!
Oiwa, in his first tag match where he’s not partnering with a Young Lion, wanted to start, but instead we get Tiger Mask and Taguchi. Tiger Mask wanted none of Taguchi’s pratting about with hip attacks, kicking him in the gut at the first tease, before Oiwa came in and… ate Taguchi’s hip attack. I nearly demonetized myself there. Master Wato trades chops with Oiwa, only to get decked against Tenzan’s headbutts and Mongolian chops. A brainbuster drops Oiwa for a two-count, but a dropkick bought him time to tag in Robbie Eagles, who traded elbows with Tenzan. Wato tries his luck with Eagles, peppering the junior heavyweight champion with kicks for a near-fall.
Eagles took out Wato’s knee and tagged Oiwa back in, but you can probably guess it didn’t end well from there, despite Oiwa’s smartness in turning a blocked slam into an inside cradle, as Wato rolled Oiwa into a Boston crab for the submission. Decent stuff to start the tour as Wato gets a win going into next month’s Best of the Super Junior. **¾
House of Torture (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, SHO & Dick Togo) vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Kosei Fujita
Gee, I wonder who’s eating the fall here??
The CHAOS lads jump their opponents to start things, looking for payback from Budokan as Togo took a side Russian legsweep/Head Hunter to start. SHO tried to powder, but just backed into Ishii. Fujita’s in and popped up after Yujiro booted him, only for things to spill outside as the CHAOS lads ended up taking the guard rails.
Back inside, Fujita’s knocked down by Togo, who followed with a fist drop for a two-count. EVIL lights up the Young Lion with chops, before SHO set up a distraction for the referee, baiting Ishii into the ring. Togo just throws Ishii to the outside as the rest of the CHAOS lads had a scrap… while SHO tried to put away Fujita. The hold’s broken up as the House of Torture quickly regained the upper hand, leading to SHO breaking a chair over Fujita’s head… with a triangle choke leading to the quick stoppage, as Fujita was already out. Fine for what it was, but it felt too short to really build up the trios title match some. **½
Post-match, SHO chokes out Goto with the chair frame, as the House of Torture paraded with the NEVER trios titles.
United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare) vs. Toru Yano & Satoshi Kojima
This was Henare’s first match back since May, having recovered from a neck injury.
We’ve a jump start as O-Khan paraded Yano’s KOPW trophy, then headed outside as the guard rails came into play. Back inside, Henare charged down Kojima, then got an instant receipt before Yano tagged in… and instantly got cornered for an O-Khan head claw. Heading back outside, O-Khan chokes Yano by the rails, then shoved him into them, looking for a count-out. Yano beats the count, but takes a kicking from Henare, who grabbed a leglock that ended in the ropes, as O-Khan returned to take a seat on Yano in the corner. O-Khan tries to make Yano kiss his boots, but that wasn’t happening, as Yano slipped out and ended up catching O-Khan with a Fireman’s carry takedown.
Tags bring us to Henare and Kojima, who trade strikes, but it’s Kojima who pulled ahead with Machine Gun chops. The top rope elbow followed for a two-count, as Kojima ends up getting winded with a gut punch, leaving Henare open to land a suplex. O-Khan returns with Mongolian chops for a near-fall, before a Judo-ish armdrag left Kojima laying. Henare’s back to help double-team Kojima into the corner, sandwiching him with kicks before Yano tried to muster a fightback. It helped Kojima land a Koji cutter to O-Khan, but a lariat’s caught and turned into a Sheep Killer, before O-Khan put Kojima away with the Eliminator. This was pretty solid, with O-Khan taking some offence before he ultimately made relatively light work of Kojima. ***
Bullet Club (KENTA & Gedo) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yuji Nagata
Gedo’s wrestling for the first time since Summer Struggle, tagging with KENTA… who’s hijacked Tanahashi’s US title belt.
Tanahashi looked to take his frustrations out on Gedo, grabbing a side headlock early on as KENTA looked to play guard for “his” title belt at ringside. Gedo grabs the hair to free himself, as KENTA then tripped Tanahashi and put the boots to him. Yuji Nagata came in to make the save, going after KENTA… who powered back outside.
Tanahashi followed, but gets choked by the rails, before Gedo came in and threw Tanahashi into a conveniently-exposed top turnbuckle. KENTA’s back to try and pick up an easy win with a neckbreaker, but Tanahashi kicks out, ruffles his hair, then began fighting back. More hair ruffling gives Tanahashi strength to hit the crossbody before he tagged in Nagata. Nagata’s quickly quelled by Gedo, who gets pulled into a Nagata Lock II. Of course, Gedo’s tapping is for nought, but KENTA breaks the hold and ends up caught in the same crossface. Gedo rakes the eyes to break that, before Nagata hit the Exploder on KENTA. Tags bring Tanahashi back in, who takes out KENTA’s leg with a Dragon screw, before a pair of eye rakes kept Tanahashi ahead.
KENTA’s Kitchen Sink knee gives him time to tag out to Gedo, whose attempt to Dusty punch his way to victory was slapped away. A Gedo Clutch backfires, and it’s one-way traffic from there until KENTA went back to the eyes to stop a Cloverleaf. Nagata throws him outside as Gedo reaches into his pocket for brass knuckles. Tanahashi disarms him, then hit a Slingblade before the Cloverhold forced the stoppage. KENTA still ran off with the US title belt, so this feud obviously continues into Osaka! ***¼
Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Jado) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
Okada’s gotten his wish – as he’s brought out the old IWGP Heavyweight title belt – the one they retired earlier this year. For those wondering why… Okada asked to have that as a proxy for the G1 winner’s briefcase this year, so he’ll be defending the more-popular design of the belt going into WrestleKingdom next year.
Personally, I’m just sad they didn’t hand-write a sticker saying “G1 Climax winner” to put over the middle of it. Notably, Okada’s got it over his shoulder, rather than around his waist, which feels like “wearing it” is something he feels must be earned… We open with a lock-up into the ropes as Okada gets caught with a cheapshot on the break from Tama Tonga, only to return with a big boot. That initial flurry ends with tags a Tanga Loa and Tomoaki Honma come in to tease stuff for World Tag League, before Togi Makabe came in to clothesline Jado and Tanga Loa into the corners. Mounted punches in the corner lead to a blocked Northern Lights suplex, before Jado cracked Makabe with a Kendo stick behind the ref’s back.
Cue everyone hitting the guard rails, before we resumed with Jado wearing down Makabe with eye rakes. Eventually Makabe hits a double clothesline that bought him enough time to tag in Okada to clear house, leading to Okada hitting a DDT on Tanga Loa for a quick two-count. A Money Clip attempt’s blocked as Tanga Loa broke free with a T-Bone suplex, then brought in Tama for the easy pickings. Okada misses a dropkick, but returns with a flapjack on Tama, before Tomoaki Honma came in and eventually dumped Tama with a brainbuster. He even manages to follow with a Kokeshi, sparking a Parade of Moves… which ended in a hurry as Tama caught Okada with a Gun Stun. From there, Honma’s left prone for another Gun Stun, and that’s your lot. A win under the belt for Tama, who’s looking to be Okada’s only challenger ahead of WrestleKingdom… ***
Elimination: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)
We’ve got Sabre vs. Shingo at Power Struggle for the title, and you know what this match means! Probably 10 minutes of stuff before the eliminations hit… and those only come through pinfall, submission, KO, DQ or going over the top.
Hiromu’s busted out a new pair of shorts for his ring gear, and some stuff on his wrist tape that made me think he was echoing the Zodiac. If he ever comes out with hedge clippers, we’ll know he’s gone all Ed Leslie on us…
The early going starts with Sabre and Shingo testing the waters, before we got to DOUKI and BUSHI as those two spark the usual battle in the rails among the teams. Back in the ring, Desperado and Kanemaru focus on BUSHI, who mustered a fightback on Sabre… only to get his elbow stomped. They try and eliminate BUSHI first, but there’s a save from LIJ that led to a turnaround with Shingo coming in and suplexing DOUKI. Somehow, DOUKI’s able to return with a Daybreak DDT for a near-fall, but Shingo smashes back with noshigami and a Pumping Bomber to eliminate DOUKI at 8:38. Demanding Sabre comes in, Shingo gets his wish as the pair trade strikes, leading to Sabre snapping Shingo’s arm between his legs.
Sabre escapes a pop-up death valley driver, but just got caught with a regular one seconds later, before he saved himself from being thrown out… coming back in with an Octopus hold in the ropes, before low bridging Shingo onto the apron. Instead of a double elimination, Sabre slips back inside so he could trap Shingo in a rear naked choke in the ropes… letting go at 12:00 as Shingo slumped to the floor. Somehow there was no five-count in the ropes that Sabre would have been DQ’d for not breaking on. Hiromu tries to throw Sabre out, but Desperado and Kanemaru save things as they wear down Hiromu. Recovering, Hiromu makes Kanemaru ‘rana Despy, then threw one of his own to Kanemaru as Hiromu looked to be a one-man wrecking crew. A Falcon arrow nearly pins Kanemaru… who responds by using the ref as a human shield, only for Hiromu to just chuck and kick Kanemaru out at 15:43.
Desperado takes over with Dragon screws, which did the trick as Hiromu’s knee buckled on the search for a Dynamite Plunger, allowing Desperado to lift him onto the apron. Despy kicks the ropes into Hiromu as he tried to come into the ropes, with the ref not looking, and it’s an easy shove down at 18:04 for the next elimination. We’re left with BUSHI and SANADA as the LIJ men, against Desperado and Sabre… SANADA’s speared, but blocks Pinche Loco, then slipped out of Guitarra de Angel before a roll-up gets rid of Despy at 19:35. Sabre is the last man for the Suzuki-gun squad, and goes right for SANADA with pinning attempts, before SANADA’s forced to skin the cat. That turns into an attempt to pull Sabre out, but Zack just breaks the grip and kicks SANADA out at 20:58… leaving us with Sabre and BUSHI as the final two. I mean, they’ve already had Gedo win one of these this year…
A missile dropkick from BUSHI has Zack down, before a ‘rana’s countered into an ankle lock. BUSHI drags himself to the ropes, and somehow recovered to hit a BUSHI roll for a near-fall, then a dropkick to take Sabre down into the ropes. We’ve a slingshot DDT through the ropes – with BUSHI staying alive by way of not going over the top rope to hit that move – then a Fisherman Screw for a near-fall. BUSHI goes up for a MX, but Sabre blocks it and pulls BUSHI down into an Octopus version of the Young Boy Killer… also known as YES! I AM A LONG WAY FROM HOME… and that’s the submission to win it all. Pretty good stuff to keep the fires burning for Sabre/Shingo next month. ***½
New Japan returns tomorrow for a show I’ll again be covering on delay, as the Bullet Club enter the elimination match to take on an all-star quintet of Tanahashi, Okada, Ishii, Goto and YOSHI-HASHI.
They’re expanding the number of wrestlers and matches on the cards from this tour as things slowly go back to normal, but with the roster still missing some big names through injury and international absence, this may not be the best time to try and add perceived value for money to these cards! Still, there’s only three streamed shows before Power Struggle, as New Japan’s touring once more.