We’re back to Korakuen Hall for the second night on the Road to Power Struggle, with another elimination main event.
SHO defeated Ryohei Oiwa via referee stoppage in 7:08 (**¾)
BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi submitted Kosei Fujita & Ryusuke Taguchi in 10:27 (**¾)
Aaron Henare & Great-O-Khan pinned Togi Makabe & Toru Yano in 10:23 (***)
SANADA & Shingo Takagi submitted Tomoaki Honma & Satoshi Kojima in 11:33 (***)
Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI submitted Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Master Wato, Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask in 14:11 (***)
Hiroshi Tanahashi won an elimination match in 19:31 (***)
We’re dealing with live Japanese commentary, as Kevin Kelly’s back to doing English commentary in post…
Ryohei Oiwa vs. SHO
SHO stopped Fujita via stoppage in a tag match yesterday – after smashing a chair over his head – and I have a feeling we’re up for more of the same today.
With that in mind, Oiwa took SHO outside early on, but SHO shoves the referee aside to get him some, only for Oiwa to stay ahead of the game… at least until we’re taken outside with SHO trying to squeeze Oiwa’s head between the gate at ringside. SHO puts a beating on Oiwa, chopping along in time to the referee’s count, before Oiwa caught him out with a dropkick back inside.
Oiwa’s fightback leads the only way he knows, to a Boston crab, after a side Salto suplex had chucked SHO to the mat. SHO’s able to make the ropes, then return with a lariat, before he forced a referee stoppage with a series of German suplexes and the triangle choke to the already-out Oiwa. Pretty much by the numbers stuff as SHO’s establishing himself as a killer. **¾
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Kosei Fujita
We’re building more for Best of the Super Junior here, with three of the four men involved likely to be part of that field. Assuming Hiromu doesn’t do himself an accident with the inhaler sticks he’d shoved up his nose… then tried to give to Milano on commentary. Covid!
Taguchi and Hiromu mock Mongolian chops to start, but it’s… a distraction for Fujita to jump in? Fujita lands a few strikes, but couldn’t slam Hiromu, who chopped back before knocking Taguchi off the apron. Fujita tries to fight back, but he’s firmly on the defensive against Hiromu and BUSHI’s chops, which led to Hiromu going for a series of two-counts against the new Young Lion.
Fujita manages to make a comeback, allowing him to tag out to Taguchi for a series of hip attacks, culminating in an ankle lock on the apron to Hiromu. A springboard hip attack followed back inside, as did the Three Amigos, before tags got us back to Fujita and BUSHI. This time around, Fujita had more luck, landing a dropkick before rolling BUSHI over for a Boston crab, but that ends in the ropes as BUSHI returns with a big back body drop.
From there, BUSHI rolls Fujita into a half crab, which ended in the ropes, as Fujita then tried his luck with inside cradles… only for a BUSHI dropkick to shut the door on him firmly, leading to the Boston crab for the submission. Pretty much what you expected, with Hiromu and BUSHI having their way with the rookie for large spells. **¾
United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare) vs. Toru Yano & Togi Makabe
We’re building up to O-Khan vs. Yano for that KOPW trophy next month, in what’ll either be a kiss-my-foot match or an amateur wrestling rules outing. If it’s the latter, I will be getting flashbacks to Jerry Lawler walking in horse muck…
We’ve a jump start as O-Khan took Yano outside for some choking, before some double-teaming back inside led to Yano needing to be saved by Makabe. Henare and O-Khan isolate Yano for large spells, but Yano’s still able to remove a corner pad and eventually throw O-Khan into the exposed corner.
Makabe gets the tag in to go after O-Khan with mounted punches in the corner, while Henare met a similar fate… only to power through it and trade elbows with his former World Tag League partner. Henare’s able to knock down Makabe for a two-count, before Makabe’s fightback ended with him whiffing on a King Kong kneedrop. Henare throws a headbutt to Makabe, then hauled him up for a Streets of Rage running death valley driver… and that’s enough to get the pin. Decent enough, but you know what to expect here. ***
Satoshi Kojima & Tomoaki Honma vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & SANADA)
A rather odd choice of match given we’re going for Shingo vs. Sabre next month, unless we’re looking at World Tag League teasers?
Kojima and SANADA start us off, with Kojima eventually charging down SANADA as we had some dancing pecs from Kojima and Honma. Oh, and a missed Kokeshi, because of course we do. Shingo capitalises with a back senton, while SANADa legdrops Honma’s arm as the LIJ duo had picked their target.
A suplex drops Honma for a two-count, with Honma then trying to fight back against SANADA and Shingo… eventually breaking through with a double DDT. Kojima picked up the reins, only to get Machine Gun chopped into the corner, before he returned the favour on Shingo.
A stun gun from Kojima hung Shingo in the ropes, but a follow-up Cozy lariat’s stopped with the Shingo combination. There’s a sliding lariat for a two-count, before Kojima replied with a suplex of his own. Tags get us back to SANADA and Honma, with the latter finally landing a Kokeshi, only for SANADA to come back with a missile dropkick to even the score.
Honma’s bounced with a back suplex for a near-fall, as we then get our typical Parade of Moves… ending with a Skull End attempt that’s rolled up out of for a near-fall. A clothesline keeps Honma close, before an attempted Kokeshi Otoshi was pushed out of, with a Pumping Bomber and a Skull End forcing the stoppage. ***
Robbie Eagles, Tiger Mask, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI)
Our final build for tomorrow’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag title match, as the “Flying Tigers” of Robbie Eagles and Tiger Mask enlist some help against Suzuki-gun here.
Desperado and Kanemaru start by double-teaming Tiger Mask as Robbie Eagles seemingly waited for the ref’s permission to make a save. It wasn’t coming, so Tiger Mash had to save himself with headscissors before Kanemaru raked his eye. Good aim through that mask, eh?
Tags bring us to DOUKI and Master Wato, with the latter pulling ahead before he kicked through DOUKI. Tenzan’s in next to keep things going as DOUKI found himself isolated, before the Suzuki-gun takeover took things outside and into the railings. Back inside, Desperado drags Wato into the corner while raking the eyes as the junior tag champions focused on the least experience member of their opponents.
Wato slips out of a shinbreaker, returning fire with a leg lariat, before Tiger Mask cand Robbie Eagles came in to sandwich Kanemaru in the corner with kicks. Eagles’ missile dropkick to Desperado’s knee looked to lead to something, but Desperado blocks a Turbo Backpack and caught Eagles with Numero Dos – albeit in the ropes.
Kicks from Eagles sting Desperado, but a spinebuster keeps things even as tags take us to Sabre and Tenzan. Zack’s dropped with Mongolian chops in the corner, before he ran into a Mountain Bomb that almost put away the number one contender. An Anaconda Vise followed, which Sabre tries to roll out of, before the ring filled to break up the hold. Tenzan retained the upper hand, but his TTTD is countered into a rear naked choke by Sabre, then a Cobra Twist, and finally an Octopus stretch to force the submission. Decent fare, but not much that’ll stick in the memory going into the tag title match tomorrow. ***
Elimination: Bullet Club (KENTA, EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
This is all building to hyped matches in Osaka – KENTA/Tanahashi, Tama/Okada, and of course that NEVER trios title match. You know the drill – ten minutes and then we’ll likely be into the eliminations.
We’ve a jump start as the two Bullet Club groups were too-sweeting, and we’re immediately out on the floor for some early scrapping. YOSHI-HASHI and Hirooki Goto hit the ring and looked to go for EVIL, who powders as Dick Togo gets dragged in for some clubbering. We get EVIL charging through the timekeeper and Tanahashi getting thrown into an exposed corner as the Bullet Club crew took control.
Tama Tonga clubs away on Tanahashi as the Ace found himself firmly on the defensive. Eventually he forces an opening with a Dragon screw on KENTA, as tags then bring us to Okada and Tama Tonga. EVIL and Yujiro try to intervene, but Okada outsmarts them, landing a DDT on EVIL before Tama’s flapjacked, leading to Okada looking to throw him out over the top… only for Tama to save himself.
Okada blocks a Gun Stun, then tried to backslide Tama into a rainmaker. Tama low bridges Okada onto the apron, but a Gun Stun’s blocked as Okada pulls Tama onto the apron with him, before a missed Gun Stun saw Tama eliminate himself at 8:32. Okada leaps off the apron at 8:40 to eliminate himself too, as the G1 winner lost his head and went after Tama.
Okada stormed to the back, as did Tama Tonga, as cooler heads looked to prevail – even if it means that tradition was broken. We resume with Tanga Loa and Tomohiro Ishii in the ring, which led to Tanga having his ankle held as he lifted Ishii onto the apron, only to get lifted out there too. EVIL sticks his nose in it again, but YOSHI-HASHI successfully pulls Tanga Loa down at 11:18 for the dodgy elimination.
Yujiro boots Ishii down at 11:35 despite Ishii having tried to get back into the ring. Yep, it stands. YOSHI-HASHI resumes, nearly putting Yujiro away with a neckbreaker, before an attempt to hang Yujiro in the ropes led to EVIL interfering… but YOSHI-HASHI dropkicks Yujiro over the top at 13:35 for the elimination.
EVIL grabs the ref as SHO snuck in to spear YOSHI-HASHI… and our next elimination followed at 14:26 as YOSHI-HASHI was turfed over the top. Ishii chases SHO to the back, while KENTA’s dragged outside by Tanahashi, while Goto’s ushigoroshi was escaped… unlike a discus lariat. EVIL’s chucked out over the top, but Dick Togo’s distracted the ref, so it doesn’t count, as the pair end up going over the top onto the apron, only for Togo to pull Goto down at 16:25 for the next cheap elimination.
Tanahashi looks to be the last man out, eliminating EVIL with a Dragon screw in the ropes at 16:55 as EVIL hadn’t gotten back into the ring successfully. That leaves us with KENTA and Tanahashi… KENTA’s Busaiku knee nearly gets the win, before Tanahashi saved himself from being knocked down by slingshotting into a crossbody on KENTA.
A Slingblade followed, as Tanahashi was forced to skin the cat back into the ring… KENTA tries to block it, but gets pulled over the top to the floor to end the match. Elimination matches are usually fun, but this one was chock full of interference and general weirdness that just took me out of the match. At least Tanahashi manages to recover his US title by the end though. ***
We’re back at Korakuen Hall (again, on delay) tomorrow for the third night of the Road to Power Struggle – headlined by Robbie Eagles and Tiger Mask challenging for the IWGP junior heavyweight tag titles.
Today was definitely a show for the completists. A pretty run-of-the-mill road-to show to set up tomorrow’s IWGP junior tag title defence – while it also kept things crawling going into Osaka.