It’s back to Korakuen as New Japan’s second show there in as many days featured a tweaked undercard… and four more Super Junior Tag League matches!

Let’s get going – this undercard seems very wash-rinse-repeat, so we may skip over stuff. English commentary is provided by Kevin Kelly, Gino Gambino and Chris Charlton.

Tomoaki Honma & Karl Fredericks vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Yota Tsuji
Tsuji and Fredericks start out as the Young Lions traded blows, before Tsuji whiffed as he tried to knock Honma off the apron.

Liger’s in to trap Fredericks in a grounded Octopus stretch, before a leg spreader forced Fredericks to the ropes. Shotei keeps Fredericks in the corner, before Liger drives his knee into the mat, but Karl lands a shoulder tackle to give him some breathing space. Honma comes in to charge through Liger, following up with a bulldog and a missed Kokeshi. A neckbreaker drops Honma as Liger pushed on, only to see Honma counter a Liger bomb by falling onto his arse. Annoyed, Liger chops back before he’s met with a leaping Kokeshi, as tags get us back to the Young Lions, with Tsuji almost winning from a hiptoss.

The pair trade roll-ups before Fredericks chopped the tar out of Tsuji, following up with a spinebuster before he rolled Tsuji into a half crab for the submission. Decent stuff here, but Honma is absolutely shot in 2019. **½

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA & Shingo Takagi)
There’s a LOT of empty seats in Korakuen, especially by New Japan standards. Yes, I’m ice cold on Naito vs. Taichi.

We start with DOUKI vs. Naito, with Naito starting a Combinacion Cabron – stopping to knock Taichi off the apron on the way. SANADA’s in to take DOUKI into the corner, before Sabre saved him from a Paradise Lock. Zack pulls down SANADA’s leapfrog before he stretched SANADA right by Milano Collection AT on commentary.

Taichi Brookes’ Naito in the (sparse) crowd, before Sabre and Suzuki hit the ring and tied up SANADA with a myriad of submissions. Commentary teased World Tag League pairings there as Sabre borrowed from Suzuki’s playbook, calling SANADA by his real name, before Taichi came in and clocked SANADA with a kick in the corner.

Taichi traps SANADA in a Stretch Plum, but Naito wanders in to break it up as Sabre tries to keep up the pressure with a cravat. Suzuki’s in, but gets caught with a Dragon screw before EVIL came in to clear house, squashing Suzuki in the corner with a Bronco buster for a near-fall. Suzuki tries to fight back, but gets caught with a thrust kick by Suzuki, before Shingo came in… and got caught with a rear naked choke. DOUKI tags in to kick Shingo into the corner… but it all goes wrong when DOUKI got caught with some right hands, before a Noshigami and a Pumping Bomber put him away. They kept Naito/Taichi to something of a minimum here, focusing more on possible tag team stuff for World Tag League, but you’ll probably skip this, as Naito and Taichi faced down each other after the match. **¼

Post-match, Sabre again tried to add himself to the unannounce championship series at WrestleKingdom.

Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Toa Henare vs. Bullet Club (Jay White, KENTA & Yujiro Takahashi)
Speaking of matches that seem cold to a Western audience… we’ve got Goto/White again!

Goto jumped White before the bell as the match instantly spilled outside, with White getting thrown into a wall while KENTA’s choked with an umbrella by Ishii. Back in the ring, Goto kicks away at White, then landed a bulldog for a quick two-count, only for White to respond by hauling him to the floor.

We spill outside again as White choked on Goto in the crowd, while Ishii and KENTA disrupted the Japanese commentary crew. Once again, Milano’s caught up in it, as was his shoe, while Goto beat the ref’s count to keep the match going. Yujiro’s in to take over as somehow this has only been going five minutes. It feels longer.

White gets a near-fall on Goto, before he went to the hair… ending up with Goto landing a spinning clothesline to buy him some time. KENTA gets a tag in, as he charges to stop Goto from tagging out. It doesn’t work, as Ishii got in, trading forearms with the NEVER champion, before KENTA simply spiked Ishii with a DDT. More shots from KENTA lead to him slamming Ishii… just just returns the favour as both men were left laying!

Tags get us to Yujiro and Henare, with the Kiwi’s spinning clothesline almost getting a victory. White and Goto return to tease finishers, but Henare just clotheslnes White ahead of Goto’s ushigoroshi, before a spinebuster on Yujiro almost took the win. A Toa Bottom looks to follow, but Yujiro slips out and tries for Pimp Juice, eventually landing a Fisherman buster before Pimp Juice got the win. It was what it was – and I guess that snuffs out anyone’s hopes that Henare’s moving up soon. **¾

After the match, Jay White did his best Gollum impression about “my belt”.

Super Junior Tag League 2019 – Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura
Rocky’s busted out his Black Tiger mask for this one, while Ryusuke Taguchi is in a slightly more conciliatory mood.

Uemura and Rocky start us off, with Uemura looking to work a side headlock early on as the pair scrambled back to their feet. Running charges from Rocky lead to him running into Uemura’s boot, then his shoulder, before Taguchi and Tiger tagged in. Tiger Mask just lets Taguchi tire himself out in the ropes, leading to an exchange of armdrags that Tiger Mask edged ahead on.

Uemura’s back to work over Taguchi with forearms, but there’s the expected turnaround as Uemura showed his lack of experience, as Rocky came in to pepper him with Forever clotheslines in the corner, before Uemura got free as Tiger Mask tags in. Taguchi tries to make a save, but to no avail as Tiger just boots Rocky out of the ropes. Rocky boots Taguchi out of sheer disappointment, then got caught in a knee bar by Tiger Mask… luckily, Taguchi’s happy to break it up, before he gave Rocky a receipt.

Taguchi’s thrown outside as Uemura returns to help double-team Romero, but Rocky quickly snuffed him out as Taguchi tags back in to try and finish things off. The Three Amigos connect as Taguchi nearly picks up a win, before a butterfly superplex from Tiger Mask looked to give Uemura an open goal to score from, as a Boston crab looked to force a submission… Rocky’s caught in a submission again as the coaches again tried to stop each other from tapping before Taguchi got to the ropes. Uemura almost steals it with a German suplex on Taguchi, but he’s quickly met with a pair of hip attacks as a tope from Rocky cleared Tiger Mask on the floor. Back inside, a roll through nearly gets Uemura a win as he countered an ankle lock, then a Bummer-Ye, before Taguchi’s enziguiri knocked him down for a Bummer-ye for a near-fall. Taguchi followed that up with a Dodon, and that’s the win for the coaches – great effort from Uemura, but this went to form as the Young Lion picked up another loss. ***¼

Super Junior Tag League 2019 – TJP & Clark Connors vs. Volador Jr. & Titan
There’s new gear for the CMLL crew, who were looking to make it two wins from two here.

TJP and Volador start off, as TJP busted out headscissors early on, only for Volador to escape. Volador tries his luck with some of his own, but we reached a stand-off, as tags get us to Connors and Titan for a spell. Things turn around when Titan sent Connors into TJP, before a springboard stomp to the arm kept TJP in trouble.

A springboard splash from Titan is undersold by myself as it gets a near-fall on TJP, before a blind tag from Connors caught out Titan ahead of a POUNCE! Connors adds a snapmare and a double-handed chop to the back as the Korakuen crowd got behind Titan. TJP’s back and manages to work his way into a trapped-hand Sharpshooter, letting go to switch into a Muta lock as TJP was showing fresh confidence.

Titan got free and brought in Volador to kick his way back in, following up with a back cracker for a near-fall, before a backbreaker and a sweet springboard legdrop from Titan almost took the win. From there, TJP wriggles out of a Doomsday Device, turfing Volador outside so he could go for a superplex… and lands it, before rolling through into a Detonation kick for good measure. Volador barely gets in to save Titan, before Connors’ spear led to another two-count, as a Boston crab looked to force a submission. That too is broken up by Volador, as the luchadors began to isolate Connors… after a tope con giro from Volador wiped out himself and TJP.

A small package nearly upsets Titan though, who quickly responds with a diving clothesline to trap Connors in the corner ahead of a springboard Goomba stomp for the win. Pretty solid stuff, with TJP looking good, but in the end, partnering with a Young Lion is going to do the damage on this tour. ***¼

Super Junior Tag League 2019 – Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori)
Expect some shenanigans here as we’ve got a Bullet Club vs. Suzuki-gun tag. It put ELP in a very bouncy mood, to say the least…

Of course, Suzuki-gun jump start things, but Desperado’s taken outside as the IWGP Junior tag champs focused on Kanemaru with rakes. So many rakes, it’d make Sideshow Bob jealous. ELP switches it up with some rope-walking, showing off with springboarding and stability as Desperado tried to shake the ropes, only for Kanemaru to sweep the legs away. Hey, someone finally found a counter!

On the outside, Despy slams ELP on the floor, before he raked Phantasmo’s eyes… only to run into a boot in the ropes from Ishimori. A dropkick from ELP helps turn it back around, as does the Gas Pedal as Gino Gambino likened it to birth control. We’re back outside as Kanemaru threw a chair off of Ishimori, before he took him up into the stands as Ishimori’s head was bounced off of that West sign. Closer to ringside, Desperado jabs ELP with umbrellas, as Suzuki-gun maintained the upper hand back in the ring. Desperado threatens a low stomp, but instead drops a knee as the Suzuki-gun pair exchanged quick tags as they continued to isolate. A running boot traps Ishimori in the corner ahead of a reverse DDT from Kanemaru, before Ishimori finally hit back with a pump kick.

Tags bring in Desperado and ELP, with Phantasmo finding his stride quickly with a springboard crossbody and a Quebrada, throwing in a tope to Kanemaru for good measure. A springboard splash stops Despy, but only gets a near-fall, before Desperado fought back with a Numero Dos… looking for a submission. Ishimori breaks it up as he came back in, taking Despy into the corner for some knees as the champions went all CCK with an elevated lungblower/moonsault combo for a near-fall.

My feed drops as the referee’s unsighted, meaning we get a lot of dick punches, including a low blow to stop an ELP belt shot. Despy uses it instead, before Ishimori low blows the belt, before a Suntory surprise and a belt shot completed the ridiculousness, as Pinche Loco gets the win. This was full of shenanigans, and started out way too slow for my tastes… but it did end up gloriously ridiculous by the end as the game of “can you top this?” left everyone with sore groins. **¾

Super Junior Tag League 2019 – Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Birds of Prey (Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles)
Ospreay was coming into this with food poisoning, which could lead to a whole new method of aerial attacks for him…

Meanwhile, SHO’s lower back is taped up from what happened with Desperado yesterday, while Kevin Kelly sounded almost forlorn when talking about Will Ospreay’s Twitter habits. Eagles starts by working SHO’s wrist, but ther’s a switch as SHO slips out and looked to tie up the Aussie, but to no avail as the pair end up trading shoulder tackles instead.

Ospreay and YOH tag in as they end up in the ropes for a clean break, which ended with a switcheroo as YOH… teased punching Ospreay in the gut before begging off. Quick switches leave Ospreay on the deck as he gets caught with a dropkick, only for some double teaming to take YOH into a monkey flip, complete with a kick to the back.

SHO and Ospreay fight through the crowd, with SHO going into a wall at the back of the venue, before Ospreay returned to the ring to charge through YOH with a low dropkick. Eagles tags in to throw in some chops, but a Dragon screw from YOH looked to buy him time, before he had to take down both opponents with a ‘rana to get free. A tag brings in SHO, who took Eagles onto the apron for a low dropkick. Ospreay’s caught with a myriad of kicks from SHO, before he began to fire back with forearms. SHO returns those forearms, only for Ospreay to return with a chop and some Kawada-style kicks as commentary suggested Ospreay may be wanting an early finish so he could, erm, sort himself out.

SHO powers through though, walking Ospreay to the corner before a big clothesline flipped Ospreay inside out. YOH’s back with a spinning forearm to Ospreay, before a low dropkick stopped Eagles ahead of a Figure Four attempt. Eagles gets to the ropes, then lifts YOH to the apron as a low dropkick took him outside for an eventual tope con giro into the crowd. Back inside, Eagles stays on YOH, landing an Asai DDT for a near-fall before he rolled him into a Ron Miller special. That’s stopped as Ospreay returned, hauling YOH up for an avalanche Shiranui for a near-fall, before YOH got caught with duelling gamengiri in the corner. A Spanish Fly off the top was stopped as SHO came in to help with a kneedrop-assisted Burning Hammer on Eagles for a near-fall. The 3K’s countered as Eagles hits a spinning DDT, before landing a Turbo Backpack, spiking YOH for a near-fall.

After the kick-out, Eagles rolled YOH into the corner and teased a 450 to the leg… YOH got his feet up as Eagles stopped himself, before YOH mounted one more comeback attempt. The Dragon suplex is broken up as Eagles threw more kicks, only for his Shiranui to get pushed away… another Turbo Backpack’s countered with roll-ups for a bunch of near-falls, before YOH countered with a 5* Clutch, and that’s enough for the win! Like most of the card, this was fine, but this didn’t threaten to break through to the next level. ***½

For the love of God, skip the undercard – and at least the league matches will be somewhat passable. Perhaps it’s the after effects of the current situation in Japan, but a reduced crowd in Korakuen made for a rather lethargic crowd – which seemed to rub off on the show as well. Things ought to pick up as we get deeper into the tournament – perhaps for the second leg of Korakuen shows?

Your Super Junior Tag League standings, now we’re two matches deep… and we’ve got a surprising team propping up the table:

1. Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi; Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru); Volador Jr. & Titan (2-0; 4pts)
4. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori); Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (1-1; 2pts)
6. Birds of Prey (Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles); Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura; TJP & Clark Connors (0-2; 0pts)

The Super Junior Tag League becomes VOD-only for a while – and after Friday’s show in Nagano was cancelled, we’ll now be waiting for Saturday in Niigata (with those matches dropping on VOD sometime on Sunday). Ospreay and Eagles against CMLL’s Volador Jr. and Titan is your tasty main event there…

After that, it’s Monday in Akita, Tuesday in Iwate and Wednesday in Fukushima, before another break – we’ll be covering those matches after they all hit on VOD.