The Road to Power Struggle wrapped up as we found out who’d be joining the Bullet Club in the Super Junior Tag League finals.
Going into their final block match with ten points, the reigning IWGP junior tag team champions were guaranteed a spot in Sunday’s final – but results today could make that match a four-way, unless the Bullet Club won in the main event here. We’re coming from Osaka’s Prefectural Gym #2, with commentary from Kevin Kelly and Gino Gambino.
Super Junior Tag League 2019 – Titan & Volador Jr. vs. Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi
A win for the CMLL team eliminates the “super coaches”, which’d be a little ironic if Taguchi got eliminated before his beloved Rugby World Cup ends.
We start with armdrags and takedowns in a lucha-inspired series, with both Rocky and Volador working up into a stand-off. Taguchi and Titan come in, with some rope running looking to tire out the luchador before he gave Taguchi a run out. A dropkick takes Taguchi down, before Titan’s Sasuke special took him outside… Taguchi had moved out of the way, instead landing a pescado as he went flying.
Taguchi tried to steal a win via count-out, but Titan’s back in too as the coaches had issues deciding who’d be whipped into the cornered Titan. Rocky won out, as he directed traffic, telling Taguchi to hit Forever lariats, before things backfired as Romero got whipped into Taguchi’s arse. Friendly fire sees Taguchi elbow drop his partner as he tried to break up the resulting pin, but Rocky’s able to rebound with a suplex, before Taguchi tried to stretch over Titan in the ropes. Titan manages to get free and land a springboard crossbody before Volador tagged in… where he outsmarted some more double-teaming before landing a missile dropkick on Taguchi for a near-fall.
A double-team splash/legdrop from Titan and Volador flattened Taguchi for a near-fall, before Volador just superkicked away a hip attack. Titan and Rocky return, with the latter taking a ‘rana before he dropkicked away a springboard attack…
From there, Rocky puts Taguchi on the top rope for another hip attack spot… there’s a reversal, but Rocky puts on the brakes as a Bummer-ye nearly gets the coaches the win. A double team Dodon/lungblower’s good for another near-fall, with Volador breaking up the count, before another barrage of hip attacks were eventually dodged, with Titan Matrix’ing away from the strikes. Volador takes advantage, taking Taguchi outside for a tope con giro, before Titan almost snatched it with a La Magistral cradle. An O’Connor roll gets Titan nearer, while Rocky’s roll-up kept the match ticking on. Forever clotheslines from Rocky get countered with Titan’s through-the-ropes clothesline, and it’s not long before a springboard stomp from Titan connected for yet another two-count. A second stomp follows, and the luchadors have spoiled the party as the super coaches fall at the final hurdle! ***½
Super Junior Tag League 2019 – Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Birds of Prey (Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles)
The winners of this match are guaranteed a spot in the finals – whether it’s a three-way or not. Taichi’s out for “moral support” as he joined the Japanese commentary table. You know what that means.
We’ve a jump start (shock!), as the match starts on the outside with Robbie Eagles getting choked by Desperado. Kanemaru took Ospreay into the ring, before Eagles returned to help clear the ring as the pair proceeded to land a dive to the outside. Back inside, Suzuki-gun regained the lead as Ospreay’s dropkicked to the outside, where Desperado was waiting as Will got hurled deep into the crowd. Meanwhile, Robbie Eagles became acquainted with the timekeeper’s table before found himself isolated against Suzuki-gun back in the ring. Phantom tags made sure Suzuki-gun’s double-teams were at least somewhat legal, as Desperado proceeded to trap Eagle in a single-leg crab in the middle of the ring.
A diving cutter from Eagles jars Kanemaru as he finally bought himself some time, and got the tag out to Ospreay, who fires out of the gates with a handspring enziguiri for a near-fall. Kanemaru rakes the eyes to try and claw back into the match, as El Desperado returned to help chop Ospreay into the corner. Eagles helps out with an assisted monkey flip as the Birds of Prey flicked the switch and made things look ridiculously easy. A dropkick to Desperado’s knee looked to set up for a Ron Miller Special, but Desperado pushed away… only to get trapped in the hold anyway. They’re right by the ropes, as Desperado easily forced a break, then came back with a spinebuster as the momentum suddenly swung.
A dropkick-assisted sidewalk slam’s enough for a near-fall for Suzuki-gun, as Desperado switches into Numero Dos, but Eagles counters out and regained the lead with a sandwich enziguiri with the help of Ospreay. Despy’s spear stops them in their tracks, but a Turbo Backpack cuts him off, as the pair proceeded to trade chops, until Ospreay dragged Despy outside and held him for a stomp to the leg. From there, Eagles goes back in with a 450 splash to the leg, before the Ron Miller Special was reapplied… and with a springboard 450 to the back of Desperado from Ospreay adding extra pain, Kanemaru eventually fought in to break it out, throwing himself and Ospreay onto Eagles. Undeterred, an enziguiri from Ospreay takes Kanemaru outside for a Sasuke special, before Taichi offered a distraction from the commentary table.
Ospreay shrugs it off as more enziguiri trap Desperado in the corner… but as the Birds tease Red Wing (the original Spanish Fly), Taichi hits the ring. That distraction allowed BUSHI to come out and mist Ospreay, while the Suntory Surprise blinds Eagles, and that’s all folks! BUSHI had announced himself as Ospreay’s next challenger for the IWGP Junior title, and it seems that a lot of fluids being spit have cost the Birds of Prey dearly. This felt like it took an age to get going, but when it did, they just about hit their stride before the shenanigans played out. ***½
After the match, Ospreay grabbed the mic and called BUSHI back out – so he could challenge him for Power Struggle on Sunday. That’s a quick turnaround.
Super Junior Tag League 2019 – Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori)
Roppongi 3K need to win to make the finals… which I’m sure some pundits will be thrilled with.
We get going with Ishimori and YOH, working on the mat as the pair exchanged holds. Tags bring in Phantasmo and SHO who looked to do something, and it was ELP who struck first with a ‘rana before getting taken to the apron before a back body drop left ELP down and out. Ishimori tried, and failed, to fight back, as both halves of the Bullet Club team ended up outside, right as my feed gave up.
One refresh later, and ELP’s trading headlocks with SHO, before a clothesline took SHO into the path of Ishimori on the floor, with the Bone Soldier gleefully charging him into the apron. Back inside, Phantasmo gets a two-count, then began to bust out all the rakes as SHO’s taped-up back became the obvious target. The Gas Pedal’s next, as SHO continued to get worn down, with Ishimori trapping him in the ropes for the baseball slide German suplex.
Eventually SHO found a way through, suplexing Ishimori before YOH got the tag in for the first time. ELP’s also back, catching the Bullet Club with Dragon screws for fun, following up with a figure four that ended when ELP rolled to the ropes. YOH’s targeting the Canadian’s leg, but a quick double-team sees the Bullet Club land a pair of superkicks for a quick two-count.
Ishimori keeps up on YOH with running double knees before a sick effing tag move saw the Bullet Club hit an elevated lungblower, then a moonsault for a near-fall. YOH avoids the whirlibird neckbreaker and hits a pair of DDTs, before SHO got tagged back in… and that was a bad move as SHO was instantly on the defensive. Another bad move was SHO going for a powerbomb, but ELP fights out as a Doomsday something-or-other was stopped by YOH, as the former junior tag champions hit a double-team.
ELP picks himself up and staggers into a 3K, but Ishimori broke up the cover. Phantasmo goes for a low blow, but SHO catches the punch and lands a barrage of kicks before he set up for a Shock Arrow… the back gives out as ELP ends up landing the dick punch anyway, before a small package led to a near-fall. SHO fought back though and landed the Shock Arrow anyway… and that’s enough to knock out the Bullet Club at the final hurdle. This was another match that never really got going for me – while the matches have been good, and in particular the story of SHO taking a beating and still getting the victory, the junior tag division as a whole needs a real big shot in the arm – if only to ensure we’re not going back to repeat matches like this. ***½
Can we go back to a knock-out tournament for this next year, please? Back-to-back round robin tag tournaments at this time of year is a real killer.
El Desperado and Suzuki-gun hit the ring afterwards to face-off with SHO and YOH… and yeah, there’s an attack. A whiskey bottle and Pinche Loco laid out the winners… and you’d better believe the story on Sunday is going to be Roppongi 3K overcoming the odds to earn themselves a title shot. Strangely, ELP and Ishimori vanished…
Your final standings, then:
1. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori); Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)*; Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)* (5-2; 10pts)
4. Birds of Prey (Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles); Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi; Volador Jr. & Titan (4-3; 8pts)
7. TJP & Clark Connors (1-6; 2pts)
8. Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura (0-7; 0pts)
*Roppongi 3K and Suzuki-gun qualify for the final by way of head-to-head results