The penultimate live show of the Road to Power Struggle came from Korakuen Hall, as we had the birth of the New Japan Mega Powers!
Commentary’s being handled once again by Mavs Gillis, Lanny Poffo and Chris Charlton. If you ever predicted that as a trio before the start of this month, I’m calling you a liar.
Ayato Yoshida, Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura vs. Tomoaki Honma, Shota Umino & Ren Narita
Shota Umino only had eyes for Ayato Yoshida before the bell… but Yota Tsuji opted to be a gatekeeper of sorts, chopping Umino in the ropes as he looked to rough up his fellow Young Lion.
It’s going to be one of those intense Young Lion matches, and I’m here for it!
Heck, Tsuji even looks to swipe away at Honma, but instead he keeps up on Shota with some forearms in the corner, before Umino came out of the corner and a back elbow. Tsuji’s dragged into the corner as Ren Narita tagged in to slam him for a near-fall, quickly followed by Honma, who drew himself a two-count from another back elbow. There’s a slam as Honma quickly followed up with a Kokeshi, as Umino returned to keep up on Tsuji, who was in desperate need of a tag. He gets it too, with Yoshida coming into to charge at Umino with knees in the corner. PKs follow to Umino for a near-fall, before Shota’s bid at a comeback quickly ended with a lariat from Yoshida.
More kicks for Umino just led to him firing up, eventually catching Yoshida with a dropkick. There’s a dropkick from Uemura too as Ren Narita got clocked in the corner, before he’s rolled over into a Boston crab… but Uemura’s labouring the hold. There’s a switcharound as Narita countered a German suplex, rolling through and into a Boston crab, but Uemura’s quickly in the ropes… and quickly dropped with a HOOKED overhead belly-to-belly for another two-count.
God, that looked like a nasty landing for Uemura. He’s quickly rolled into a Boston crab from there, and left with no choice but to tap. My word, Ren Narita’s got a hell of a finish in him with that overhead belly-to-belly – and this was another banger of a Young Lions trio match, with minimal Honma. ***¼
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto
We’ve more build to next weekend’s Rev Pro British heavyweight title rematch, and yes, this is going to be full of elbows. For some reason, Taichi’s out too, as his entire tour’s been wrecked due to Will Ospreay’s injury… but we quickly find out it’s because he’s flyering for another TakaTaichi produce show.
Ishii jumps straight into Suzuki before the bell, and yes, they’re right outside with Ishii whacking Suzuki with a chair as he tried to get to his challenger before they got going. Suzuki reverses a whip as he sent Ishii into the crowd… and Minoru’s got that chair, which he gleefully puts to use on Ishii’s back and arm. Referee Marty Asami disarms Suzuki as he tried to use the chair back in the ring, while Lanny Poffo read his script. It… was okay, apart from the part where he forgot who was in the ring. It got better as Suzuki goes back outside to choke Ishii with a chair… and they keep up back in the ring as Lanny Poffo dared to compare Suzuki to Gollum.
That’s thankfully interrupted by Suzuki chopping the heck out of Ishii, who fired back through a snapmare and a PK, and this is very much my graps. ALL THE ELBOWS. Then all the slaps, and eventually both men crumble to the mat as they were spent! TAKA tags in, but he’s instantly suplexed by Ishii, who tagged out to Goto, who caught TAKA with a spinning heel kick and a Saito suplex for a near-fall. Suzuki returns and batters Goto with more of those elbows, before PKs from Suzuki, then TAKA drew a near-fall. Suzuki and Ishii end up brawling to the back, which was bad news for TAKA, despite him getting a near-fall from Goto, as Hirooki quickly polished off TAKA with a GTR for the win. The majority of this was Suzuki and Ishii… and yeah, that was quite special. ***¼
Post-match, Goto gets the mic. Originally this was meant to have been Yano and Ishii… but Goto’s addition to the match made things a little suspicious… and sure enough, Goto challenges Taichi for a NEVER title rematch. Taichi takes off his headset (he was on Japanese commentary for that last match), and refuses the shot. Thank God. Nobody needed to see that one again.
Bullet Club Elite (Kota Ibushi, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Toa Henare
You know the score with this, as we’re continuing the build to WrestleKingdom 13. Just 69 days away. Nice.
We start with Makabe outsmarting Chase and Yujiro as they tried to go underhanded from the off… and the double-teaming backfires as the ring filled up with the Bullet Club Elite trio eating mounted punches in the corner. Lanny Poffo calls out the referees giving leeway with count-outs as the Elite turned it around, with Yujiro somehow picking up a bunch of two-counts over Makabe.
Owens tags in and stands on Makabe’s hand, before Ibushi tagged in and called off the dogs, preferring to do things one-on-one… which he did as he kicked away at Makabe. A lariat from Makabe dumps Ibushi awkwardly on his head, before Tanahashi came in and cleared the ring, taking down Ibushi with a Dragon screw. There’s a Cloverleaf from Tanahashi as he countered out of a ‘rana, but Yujiro tries to break it up… earning himself a Dragon screw for good measure.
Ibushi tries to fire back, but a standing moonsault lands in Tanahashi’s knees, before he hauled up Tanahashi for a deadlift German suplex. Tags out bring in Owens and Henare, who trade forearms to the head ahead of a leaping shoulder tackle from Henare. A Samoan drop nearly puts Chase away, as the triple-teaming begins on the Crown Jewel, who takes a Henare spear for another near-fall. Henare whiffs on a shoulder tackle off the middle rope, which allows Chase back into the match, only for Tanahashi to save Henare from a package piledriver as a Parade of Moves broke out.
They quickly clear out as Henare goes for another spear, but Chase rolls free and after some help from Yujiro, almost wins it with a back suplex/neckbreaker combo, before a Package Piledriver spikes Henare for the win. This picked up towards the end, but it took me a while to get into this match. Decent build, but we’ve a LOT more of this to go… ***
Post-match, Ibushi and Tanahashi had another brief staredown, before Tanahashi left on his own with his G1 briefcase… leaving Ibushi the last man standing.
Bullet Club OG (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, Gedo & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano, Rocky Romero & Best Friends (Beretta & Chuckie T)
The attempts at retribution from CHAOS continue here, as does Lanny’s not-at-all-scripted “Genius Facts.”
Okada tried to jump White before the bell, but Switchblade got his distance as Toru Yano for some reason wanted to start. He turned around and faced Fale… so his instant reaction is to remove a turnbuckle pad. Too late. Yano goofs around, slapping Fale in the back of the head before he’s knocked silly. Sillier. Although he had enough smarts to tag out to Beretta, who had to face the monster.
Tama Tonga comes in next, but he’s caught with a half-and-half suplex as the wacky rope running did little… and now Okada and White are off brawling at the back of the arena, which was barely caught on the hard camera. Meanwhile, Rocky Romero’s used as a human battering ram on Tama, as the Best Roppongi Vice Friends hugged it out. Chuckie T’s in with a missile dropkick to Tama, before he looked to go for a dive… but he stops himself as Jado looked to use the Kendo stick, as White and Okada returned from the back continuing their brawl, with Yota Tsuji getting slammed onto a fallen Okada. Meanwhile at ringside, Chuckie T’s double-teamed, including with a comical Jado airhorn as he was whipped into the corner that Yano had exposed earlier.
On the outside, Jay White repeatedly charges Chuckie T into the ring apron before poor Tsuji’s slammed again. White continues on Chuckie with a headlock, before Jado cracked Chuckie with the Kendo stick, which helped Tanga Loa with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall. Soul Food from Chuckie T gets him a breather, but he still has to evade Jay White, eventually scoring with an Asai DDT before Okada tags in.
The rest of the Bullet Club try to flood the ring to stop Okada from going after White… and it kinda worked, although Okada’s able to spike White with a DDT. Gedo tries a cheapshot, but he’s caught and decked with a forearm before White’s flapjacked for a near-fall. Okada kept up, but a missed dropkick almost saw him fall into a Blade Runner, before he hit back with a neckbreaker slam instead. Rocky Romero and Gedo tag in… there’s a ‘rana for Gedo, then some Forever lariats until the Guerrillas of Destiny made a save. Rocky flies all over the place as he was a ball of fire on the Guerrillas… but he’s quickly snuffed out by Fale’s shoulder tackle. Ah well! Fale keeps up on the Best Friends, who use their numbers advantage before Yano throws Fale into the exposed corner.
Distractions looked to become the order of the day again, but Okada wipes out Gedo with a dropkick… allowing Rocky Romero to get back on track, knocking Gedo into Jado before a backslide nearly nicked the win. A rewind enziguiri keeps up as Rocky gets some Sliced Bread… but White pulls apart the cover and spikes Romero with a Blade Runner, before dragging Gedo on top for the cheapest of wins. The crowd HATES that, but at least they had Okada getting a little retribution after that. This was fine for what it is, but without any clear end point, this is going to wear thin… at least until they actually announce White vs. Okada. ***¼
Post-match, Bullet Club again targeted Okada, and once more Hiroshi Tanahashi came out to make the save… beckoning Okada to work with him as we had… a dream team?! Okada and Tanahashi worked together, forcing the Bullet Club to scurry… before Tanahashi offered a handshake. It’s taken… Korakuen explodes, and we have our own Mega Powers?!
They announce the 2019 Fantasticamania tour here, running from January 11 to 21 featuring Atlantis, Mistico, Caristico (aka the original Mistico/Sin Cara), Volador Jr., Dragon Lee, Titan, Angel de Oro, Soberano Jr., Ultimo Guerrero, Terrible, Gran Guerrero, Barbaro Cavernario, Sanson, Cuatrero, OKUMURA, Flyer, Forastero, Templario, Audaz and I think a debuting Atlantis Jr. Christ, that’s a LOT of names!
Super Junior Tag League: Ryusuke Taguchi & ACH vs. Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask
This is effectively a dead rubber, so we have Taguchi and ACH aping their opponents, wearing Liger and Tiger masks.
Yeah, that pisses off the real deals, at least until referee Marty Asami unmasked fake Liger. That scoundrel! Meanwhile, Taguchi must have noticed his gear was falling apart, so he dug out his rarely-used tights from his team with Ricochet back in the day… ACH and Tiger Mask start us off, with ACH chopping Tiger early before some swinging and missing led to a stand-off. Tags bring in Liger and Taguchi, who end up quickly in the ropes, but Liger ties up Taguchi and then gives a clean break, as we have some mind games. Liger swings with some Shotei, but Taguchi ducks and ends up collapsing from tiredness before he’s pulled into a Romero special. Comedy!
Tiger Mask returns as he punches Taguchi in the gut – and it seems Taguchi’s selling a bad breakfast as every shot to the midsection seemed to have him one step closer to vomiting. A camel clutch follows as Tiger Mask stretches Taguchi further, but everyone’s still punching him in the gut. He’s gonna puke…
Finally, Taguchi scores with a hip attack, as ACH came in to try and take us away from the vomit tease… he manages to wipe out Tiger Mask with a senton off the apron, before he stomps away on Liger. A discus lariat leads to a frog splash, but ACH has his own nagging injuries to content with, which led to him leaping off the apron and taking a Shotei on the outside. Back inside, there’s a tiltawhirl backbreaker for Liger on ACH, as my feed stuttered a little. It recovers as Taguchi’s up top and booted in the gut by his own partner before Tiger Mask brought him down with a butterfly superplex for a near-fall. ACH makes up for it with a thrusting hip attack to Tiger Mask, before Taguchi nearly beat Tiger Mask with a Tiger Driver.
Tiger Mask does the same, catching Taguchi with a Dodon for a near-fall, as the ring slowly filled up… and cleared once ACH pulled Taguchi onto a dead Tiger Mask for a near-fall. Liger breaks up the cover and returns the favour before he and ACH clotheslined each other at the same time. Taguchi’s back with more hip attacks, before Tiger Mask turned a Bummer-ye setup into a Euro clutch for a near-fall, as we traded more near-falls, ending with Taguchi throwing over Tiger Mask and sitting on him for the win. This was a little comedic, but quite good fun amid the ridiculousness. ***
Super Junior Tag League: Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Volador Jr. & Soberano Jr.
Roppongi 3K are in a fight for second place – but a loss to the CMLL duo could really hurt their chances of making it to Power Struggle next week.
Volador and YOH start us off as Lanny’s talking about former glories. They’re quickly silenced as the pair in the ring shot out of the gates ahead of a staredown. Soberano’s in, as is SHO, with the pair continuing their even-ness, at least until SHO catches a ‘rana, eventually building up to a dodged PK as he ends up taking a gamengiri from Soberano.
Soberano keeps up with a ‘rana, but YOH gets a tag in and begins to ground the luchador, as Roppongi 3K began to settle into a groove. Eventually Soberano finds a way back in, with a corner dropkick to YOH combining into a flash on SHO on the way down, before a tag’s made to Volador, who nails a handspring back elbow to the former junior tag champs. Soberano flies too, with a Sasuke special into 3K.
Volador and SHO make it back into the ring, but it’s SHO who gets a tag out… only for YOH to run into a superkick. Soberano’s back in with a Tornillo off the top for a near-fall to YOH, who’s then caught in the ropes for an Asai moonsault for another near-fall. YOH tried to come back off the top rope, but he’s clocked with a gamengiri as Soberano looked for a superplex… only for SHO to make a save with a Tower of Doom… with Volador flying in with a frog splash to stop the count. Volador and SHO exchange chops, before things came to a rude end with a Project Ciampa from SHO. Soberano’s missile dropkick clears the ring, before dumping YOH with a back body drop. A dropkick has YOH skinning the cat back into a superkick, before SHO returned to help with a 3K as the CMLL team take another loss. This was pretty good in spots; it felt a little rough at moments, but on the whole this was one of the better tournament matches. ***½
Super Junior Tag League: Bullet Club OG (Taiji Ishimori & Robbie Eagles) vs. KUSHIDA & Chris Sabin
With Roppongi 3K joint top of the league (as it stands), it’s all on the Bullet Club tandem, who started the day with the same record as Liger and Tiger. Let’s just say, they need a miracle…
Ishimori and Sabin start off with a tie-up, but Ishimori’s quickly after a wristlock, only for Sabin to free himself and score with a hiptoss. A blind tag brings in KUSHIDA, who helps out as the Time Machine team worked into a Muta lock/low dropkick… before catching a flying Eagles, who’s cornered and met with step-up elbows in the corner. Eagles manages to come back, with a springboard dropkick to KUSHIDA, who seemed to tweak his knee on that. Of course, Eagles homes in on that body part, as does Ishimori, while for some reason we see Taichi leaving the commentary table. There’s a shinbreaker for KUSHIDA, before a second one’s countered into a sunset flip as KUSHIDA got free and brought in a flying Sabin with a big crossbody off the top.
Ishimori and Eagles tried to double-team him, but Sabin outsmarts them with a tornado DDT before a spin-out Dominator almost got Sabin the win. KUSHIDA whiffs on a moonsault as he and Sabin went for the Outta Time neckbreaker/moonsault, and that opens up Ishimori for a much-needed tag out to Eagles. Eagles and KUSHIDA trade strikes, but after some buffering KUSHIDA manages to counter a 450 to the leg by catching Eagles in a triangle armbar. That’s shifted into a cross armbreaker, before a hoverboard lock is rolled through as what looked to be an elevated Fidget Spinner was stopped by Ishimori. It didn’t look pretty, but it worked!
Ishimori keeps up on KUSHIDA with a baseball slide German suplex, before a pair of PKs forces Sabin in to make the save. A Bloody Cross attempt is countered as KUSHIDA manages to kick away Ishimori’s hand, before a Muta lock/cartwheel dropkick wiped out Eagles. There’s an apron PK for Eagles on the outside, but Ishimori manages to counter a Back to the Future into a tombstone gutbuster, before the Bloody Cross puts away KUSHIDA… and ain’t that a decisive fall? Outside of the tournament, you’d have to think that pin puts Ishimori right in the hunt for a junior title shot once the dust settles on all this. ***¾
Super Junior Tag League: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
With other results, we’re either ending up with a log-jam, or a clear leader at the top of the table.
Yeah, there’s a jump start, as Desperado instantly goes for BUSHI… and his mask. They quickly head up into the stands, with Desperado getting whipped into a wall as Shingo just headbutts Kanemaru as the fans in the cheap seats got a closer view. Kanemaru and Desperado get thrown into each other, before BUSHI does the mandated thing, climbing up onto the entry way as he dives onto the Suzuki-gun pair with a crossbody off of it!
Back in the ring, a slingshot knee drop from Shingo keeps Kanemaru down, before BUSHI comes in with a t-shirt-assisted neckbreaker. Shingo’s back in, but he’s low-bridged to the outside as Desperado makes the most of it, throwing him into the crowd, while Kanemaru does the same. All the chairs!
Returning to the ring, Desperado uses Shingo’s hair for a neckbreaker, before a scoop slam drew a near-fall as the Suzuki-gun tandem tried to isolate Shingo. A DDT from Kanemaru gets followed up with a camel clutch, then some cravat knees as Shingo finally fought back with chops. There’s a forearm from Kanemaru to quickly stop that nonsense, as Desperado again cranks Shingo’s neck. Eventually Shingo stems the tide with a Saito suplex to Desperado, before tags bring in BUSHI and Kanemaru. There’s a ‘rana for Kanemaru, then some leaping knees in the corner ahead of a missile dropkick from the masked BUSHI. Kanemaru avoids a swinging Fisherman’s suplex though, and we’re back a step as Desperado clocks BUSHI in the ropes.
Shingo’s back as he single-handedly charges past Kanemaru and Desperado, before a low dropkick from Kanemaru sent the Dragon staggering into the corner. A scoop slam from Shingo gets him back in, but Kanemaru again cuts him off with a tornado DDT. Just like that, Shingo’s in again with a pop-up death valley driver to Desperado, before tags out almost led BUSHI into trouble as Desperado again went for the mask. Finally BUSHI hits that swinging Fisherman suplex, before Shingo came back in and blasted Desperado with a lariat in the corner. An enziguiri led to the spinebuster/backcracker combo for a near-fall as Kanemaru breaks it up, but he’s thrown outside as Despy ate a Pumping Bomber lariat.
Desperado manages to avoid a tope on the outside as poor Yota Tsuji was dragged into harm’s way as he continued to have a hell of a night. Back in the ring, BUSHI takes a dropkick-assisted sidewalk slam for a near-fall, before Guitarra de Angel draws a near-fall.. BUSHI returns with a mist and a bridging backslide, but Kanemaru pulls out the referee so he can try the whisky spray. BUSHI ducks that, and keeps up on Desperado with an enziguiri, before he’s popped up into a low blow as Desperado yanks off BUSHI’s mask and rolls him up for the win. Ah man, the underhanded finish – but it’s another win for the tag team champions, who now cause a three-way logjam at the top! ***¾
With six matches played, here’s how the table stands…
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Shingo Takagi); Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH); Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (4-2; 8pts)
ACH & Ryusuke Taguchi; Bullet Club OG (Robbie Eagles & Taiji Ishimori); Chris Sabin & KUSHIDA; (3-3; 6pts)
Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask (2-4; 4pts)
Soberano Jr. & Volador Jr. (1-5; 2pts)
This felt like a slight step below Friday’s show, but this was still leagues ahead of the stuff we saw on the smaller tour stops. Perhaps the biggest story was the birth of the “Mega Powers” in that Okada and Tanahashi handshake, which was more a “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” moment than anything more longer lasting.
Everyone has one match left in the Super Junior Tag League – and they’re being spread across the final days of the Road to… shows. On Sunday in Fukushima, it’s El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask. Monday in Miyagi has Shingo Takagi & BUSHI vs. ACH & Ryusuke Taguchi. Wednesday in Nagano has Soberano Jr. & Volador Jr. vs. Robbie Eagles & Taiji Ishimori; while Thursday’s final show (streaming live on NJPW World) in Shizuoka wraps up with SHO & YOH vs. KUSHIDA & Chris Sabin.
The matches that aren’t on a live stream will drop within a day of them taking place with our reviews following ahead of Thursday’s live show (all being well). Given that it’s just the top two that make it to the finals, I’d have to expect an upset to make sure that those last few matches aren’t dead rubbers!