The Flying Tigers get their shot at junior tag gold, as they take on El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru in today’s Korakuen Hall main event.
SANADA & Hiromu Takahashi pinned Yuji Nagata & Ryusuke Taguchi in 9:58 (**¾)
Yujiro Takahashi, EVIL, Dick Togo & SHO pinned Master Wato, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI in 11:27 (***)
Aaron Henare & Great-O-Khan pinned Tomoaki Honma & Toru Yano in 10:21 (**¾)
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe defeated Gedo & KENTA via disqualification in 9:19 (**¾)
Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga & Jado pinned Satoshi Kojima, Kazuchika Okada & Hiroyoshi Tenzan in 11:34 (***)
Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI pinned BUSHI & Shingo Takagi in 11:27 (***½)
Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask submitted Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado in 20:29 to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team titles (***½)
It’s the third and final night on the road to Power Struggle that’s coming from Korakuen Hall – and we’ve got a seventh match on the card as they start to expand line-ups. It’s title match today, as part of Robbie Eagles’ agreement to grant El Desperado a shot at the IWGP junior title… if he and Tiger Mask get a tag title match.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Yuji Nagata & Ryusuke Taguchi
LIJ’s opponents were brought to you today by the Fire Pro random button, I guess?
Taguchi and Hiromu start us off with a BOSJ preview, with Hiromu over-egging a Mongolian chop as he ended up hitting the ropes. He backed away from a teased dive after an armdrag from Taguchi took him outside, then fell to a Kokeshi-like headbutt back inside as Nagata tagged in to have his fun.
A Kitchen sink knee from Nagata winds Hiromu, before Taguchi came in for some seated-splashes by the ropes. Things quickly spell outside as Hiromu posts Taguchi by the crotch, stretching him out there for good measure as SANADA tagged in to hit an atomic drop. The Paradise Lock follows, as my feed gives out…
We’re back with SANADA getting kicked into the corner by Nagata, ahead of a butterfly suplex for a near-fall, while the pair traded elbows ahead of a TKO from SANADA for a near-fall. Nagata retaliates with a Nagata Lock II, but Hiromu stomps the crossface apart, only to eat Taguchi’s hip attack as we calmed down. SANADA flips out of a German suplex, but runs into a knee as Nagata looked to finish him off… only to get caught off the ropes with a Japanese leg clutch pin as LIJ snatched the win. **¾
House of Torture (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, SHO & Dick Togo) vs. Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI & Master Wato
It’s the last (to-be-streamed) build for the NEVER trios titles match, and I wouldn’t expect this match to be awfully straight-laced.
As expected, we’ve a jump start but things quickly settled down as the trios champions teamed up against SHO, throwing him down for a trio of kicks to the back. Yujiro gets a clubbing, as we seemed to calm down with YOSHI-HASHI and SHO. Ishii holds SHO for some shots in the corner, but eventually SHO gets free and chucks Ishii into a conveniently-exposed corner.
SHO puts the boots to Ishii, as Yujiro joined in with a back suplex. Dick Togo’s fist drop is good for a two-count as EVIL’s attempt to join in ended with him taking a backdrop as Ishii finally makes a tag out to Goto. We’ve quickly got a spinning heel kick into the corner and a bulldog out of it from Goto for a near-fall, before a clothesline dropped EVIL ahead of an ushigoroshi that ended with an eye rake.
Goto stops himself from running into a Pimp Cane shot, but Togo just trips him up as EVIL pushes on, before a rolling clothesline got Goto free. Tags bring in Wato and Yujiro, with the latter taking a springboard uppercut before a Western lariat from YOSHI-HASHI cleared the way.
Recientemente from Wato nearly puts away Yujiro, but SHO trips up Wato on the top rope as he went for RPP… and with Dick Togo distracting the ref, Yujiro’s able to clock Wato with the pimp cane, then finish off Wato with Pimp Juice. This was pretty good to build up the title match, with the House of Torture lads setting some extra licks in after the fact. ***
We’ve a post-match brawl for the hell of it, as the House of Torture go low and parade with the trios titles…
United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare) vs. Toru Yano & Tomoaki Honma
Thankfully, at time of writing, O-Khan’s choice of a “kiss my foot” match for Power Struggle is getting beaten as much as my Jets were this past weekend. Evergreen and self-deprecating!
We’ve another jump start as the United Empire pair off and take things to the outside. O-Khan’s taken into the railings, as was Henare, while Yano then took it back into the ring to try and make O-Khan kiss his boot. O-Khan retaliated by going for a belly-to-belly, but instead he just held Yano so Henare could intervene.
O-Khan takes a Manhattan drop from Yano and a shoulder tackle from Honma, before a pump kick knocked Yano down for some choking. More strangulation attempts followed on the mat, while Henare came in to capitalise as he tried another way of making Yano kiss O-Khan’s boot. Honma saves, but misses a Kokeshi before O-Khan just sat on Yano in the corner. Yano tried to sneakily undo the corner pad, then does his usual rope holding, bopping on the head as we then went amateur style with some takedowns from both men.
Tags get us back to Henare and Honma, with the latter going for the throat with chops, only to get caught with a Samoan drop for a near-fall. Yano’s back to help double-team Henare, throwing him into a leaping Kokeshi for a two-count, before a Honma brainbuster drew a near-fall.
Honma tries to scoop up Henare for a Kokeshi Otoshi, but that backfires as O-Khan breaks it up. From there, Honma’s met with a leg sweep and a kick for a near-fall, before a Streets of Rage was escaped as Honma tried his luck with more elbows. A headbutt from Henare softens him up for the Streets of Rage, and that’s enough to get the win as Henare’s racking up wins on this tour so far. Now, I’m glad this is the last streaming show because I could do without a week plus more of foot teasing… **¾
Post-match, O-Khan attacks one of the Young Lions, and booted him out of the ring so he could force a spot of boot-kissing…
Bullet Club (KENTA & Gedo) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe
Yesterday, Tanahashi won the elimination match and managed to recover his US title belt.
We start with Tanahashi and KENTA, but that’s a ploy as we end up with Gedo and Makabe tagging in to start proceedings. An eye rake has Makabe down early, but he recovered to take Gedo and KENTA into the corners for clotheslines, leading to mounted punches on Gedo for good measure.
On the outside, Gedo charges Makabe into the rails, then threw Tanahashi into them… back inside, Gedo stretches Makabe on the mat, while KENTA had his go, almost baiting Tanahashi in to make the save.An eye rake from KENTA earned him a swivelling lariat from Makabe, who crawled over to Tanahashi to tag in… and despite Gedo’s best distractions, Tanahashi’s able to land some Dragon screws on KENTA… then Gedo.
KENTA and Tanahashi trade eye rakes, leading to a Kitchen sink knee from KENTA as Gedo then looked to take over. A chinbreaker from Gedo keeps the pace going, before he leaned over for the brass knuckles… it distracts the referee as KENTA’s in with a chair, but Makabe stopped him with an eventual double clothesline.
That cleared the way for Tanahashi to push ahead, but his Slingblade’s countered as Gedo went for inside cradles. Eventually Tanahashi lands that Slingblade, before a Cloverleaf was stopped by KENTA hitting Tanahashi with a belt shot for the obvious DQ. This one never really got going, and I assume that the belt shot gets us back to where we were yesterday, with KENTA holding the title hostage going into Power Struggle next month. **¾
Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Jado) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
We’re still headed for Tama vs. Okada in Osaka, and we’ve got the Bullet Club as the victims of a jump start here as Okada and co pounced before the bell.
Things hit the ring with Jado being double-teamed by Kojima and Tenzan, before Tanga Loa was bulled down with a double shoulder tackle. A spear from Tanga takes Tenzan down as Tama Tonga single-handedly cleared the apron, just so he could post Okada. They brawl on the floor, before returning to the ring as Tanga picked up an easy two-count on Tenzan.
Tenzan retaliates with Mongolian chops to Jado, who responds by pulling him down into the OJK crossface. My feed drops here, recovering with Okada having gotten a two-count on Tama from a DDT, before he maneuvers Tama into a Money Clip. We’re back again with Kojima’s Machine Gun chops in the corner to Tanga Loa, as NJPW World’s really not enjoying my laptop today… as a top rope elbow drop gets Kojima a two-count.
A Koji cutter drops Tanga Loa next, before Jado cracked Kojima in the ropes with a Kendo stick. Triple-teaming leads to an assisted back-suplex on Kojima for a two-count, sparking a Parade of Moves as Okada came in… only to miss a dropkick. Okada blocks a Gun Stun, but couldn’t avoid a Tama Tonga dropkick as the moves continue with a Tongan Twist to Kojima, then Apeshit from Tanga Loa for the win. ***
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
It’s our final streaming build for ZSJ/Shingo next month, and this should be an enjoyable tag given the teams involved…
Shingo and Sabre start, ending in the ropes as Shingo looked to calm Sabre’s early flurry, before he missed a back senton. Armdrags, headscissors and holds keep things fluid as we reach a stand-off, with tags bringing in BUSHI and DOUKI to have a go. BUSHI’s early advantage heads to headscissors out of the corner, before we headed outside with Sabre and DOUKI controlling the pace.
Back in the ring, BUSHI’s choked into the corner, before a DOUKI stomp and a Sabre neck twist left him down for a two-count. BUSHI’s double headscissors turn it around though, with Shingo then finding a way through as he hiptossed DOUKI onto Sabre. A noshigami’s blocked as Sabre slips out and dragged Shingo down by the arm, only for Shingo to get free and tag in BUSHI.
DOUKI’s knocked off the apron as BUSHI came in with a DDT for a two-count, before a missile dropkick to the back ragdolled Sabre down. BUSHI finds a way past Sabre to dive into DOUKI on the floor, while Shingo looked to help out with Sabre, leading to a back cracker/spinebuster combo for a near-fall.
In the end though, Sabre trips up BUSHI and tied up his legs in almost a reverse Figure Four leg lace… Shingo tries to elbow Sabre to break it up, instead opting to punch him in the head. That sparks a Parade of Stuff as Shingo’s sent outside for an Asai moonsault from DOUKI, before Sabre rolled out of a backslide to hit a PK, then a Zack Driver for the nonchalant pin. An enjoyable tag to keep the Sabre/Shingo stuff simmering into Osaka. ***½
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c)
Eagles still has to defend his IWGP junior title against El Desperado regardless of the result, as the junior division seems to like consolidating their titles.
Kanemaru grabs the ropes as Tiger Mask went for the arm early… Desperado goes for the mask as a distraction, but the challengers manage to clear the ring, only to get taken outside for a brawl. Eagles gets posted by Desperado, before a dropkick to Tiger Mask’s leg looked to keep things going for the champions.
Kanemaru stays on Tiger Mask’s leg, while Desperado threatened to rip the mask as the champions dictated the pace. Eventually Tiger Mask makes an opening, kicking away Kanemaru before Eagles tagged in and flew into the champions with a crossbody off the top. Armdrags follow, then a leaping leg lariat, before Eagles caught the champions with a diving knee/clothesline combo for a two-count.
Desperado tries to roll back in with Numero Dos, but had more luck with a spinebuster as Despy and Eagles resorted to strikes and elbows. Eagles escapes a Pinche Loco, eventually hitting an overhead kick to Desperado, before tags brought us back to Kanemaru and Tiger Mask.
Tiger Mask takes things up top in search of a butterfly superplex, only to get shoved down as Kanemaru’s Deep Impact also missed, leading to him running into a spinning tombstone from Tiger Mask for a near-fall. An armbar nearly forces the stoppage, before Desperado slid in to kick the hold apart, only to get tossed right back outside.
A low dropkick from Kanemaru spins Tiger Mask back down, leading to a Figure Four that forces Tiger Mask to drag himself to the ropes as Eagles was being restrained on the floor. From there, a dropkick-assisted side suplex led to Tiger Mask eating a Kanemaru moonsault for a near-fall, before a desperation Tiger Driver bought enough time for Tiger Mask to get the tag back out.
Eagles spins Kanemaru with a springboard missile dropkick to the knee, as he looked to push ahead, taking Kanemaru into the corner for a kick/knee sandwich, then some Sliced Bread ahead of a Turbo Backpack for a near-fall. Desperado’s taken outside as Eagles again heads up top, hitting a 450 splash to Kanemaru’s leg, before a Ron Miller Special was countered with an inside cradle.
Another roll-up looked to out-fox Eagles, but he kicks out and ties up Kanemaru with a Ron Miller Special… and there’s the submission! This was fine, but never really threatened to hit a higher gear as Desperado and Kanemaru’s fourth reign with the titles didn’t make it past their first defence. This marked Tiger Mask’s first title of any kind since 2016, when he was NWA World Junior Heavyweight champion, and his first New Japan-flavoured gold since July 2012, when he held these junior tag titles with Jushin Thunder Liger. ***½
There may be six more stops on the road to Power Struggle, but this is the end of this run of taped Road to Power Struggle shows – and in fact, that’s all until Power Struggle itself a week on Saturday (November 6) from Osaka’s Edion Arena. Bell time for that is 8am in the UK, 4am in New York (thanks to the weirdness of different endings of daylight savings)… and then we’ve a week from that until the start of everyone’s favourite World Tag League and Best of the Super Junior tours (oh, and the Battle in the Valley show from the US-arm of New Japan).
Save for the top two matches, this was another skippable night. I kind of feared this when the announcement was made about expanded cards, but New Japan are going to have issues if they are hell-bent on having longer cards with the roster they currently have. Throw in the whole thing of the company “serving two masters” as they juggle touring in Japan alongside the Strong tapings and one-offs, and we’re going to be looking at a lot of slim picking until they can bring outsiders back in.