New Japan returned to Korakuen Hall on Tuesday for an unusual “between the New Beginnings” show – with a trio of elimination matches!

Tomoyuki Oka vs. Henare
Yes, they still have the “King of Sprorts” typo in the Young Lions’ entrance video.

Henare and Oka grapple to begin with, but it’s Henare who is the early aggressor, resisting shoulder tackles before slapping at Oka… only to end up taking a hiptoss for a near-fall. Oka gets another near-fall from a suplex before he tries for a Boston crab, before a switch into a single-leg crab just allows Henare to make the bottom rope.

Oka takes Henare into the corner for some chops, before the Kiwi charges out with a shoulder tackle, then again off the top rope for a two-count. It’s then Henare’s turn to go for a Boston crab, with Oka grabbing the ropes this time, before the two Young Lions trade forearms and chops. A Samoan drop takes down Oka, as does a suplex, before Henare turns a kick-out from a jack-knife cover into a Boston crab, and that’s eventually enough for the submission. A decent enough Young Lions’ opener – and Oka’s still looking for his first win in his incredibly-short career. **

Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Yoshitatsu vs. Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata
Liger was subbing for Hirai Kawato here, so this became a bit of a veteran’s match – plus Yoshitatsu!

Nagata’s taken to the ropes early on, as Yoshitatsu’s early heelish stuff earns him a battering by Yuji. A snapmare and a kick to the back rocks Yoshitatsu, who then stares at Nagata and does nothing before they both tagged out. Liger tries for, then loses a suplex as Kojima reverses it. Kojima’s chops take down Liger again, before a period of offence ends with a Shotei as Yoshitatsu finally makes the tag in.

Yoshitatsu resumes with the kicks to Nagata, knocking him down for a near-fall, before he unwisely entered an exchange of forearms. An Exploder takes down Yoshitatsu before Kojima came in for his rapid-fire chops in the corner, but he was unable to follow through as Yoshitatsu hit back with a spinning heel kick. A Blue Thunder Bomb gets a near-fall as Nagata breaks up the cover on Kojima, before he kicks away a Pedigree attempt from Yoshitatsu.

Kojima tries to end things with the Strong Arm, and at the second attempt he takes down Yoshitatsu for the win. Basic, but about what you’d expect from these guys on this show. **¼

Suzuki-gun (Takashi Iizuka & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask
TAKA really struggles to get Iizuka in the ring with his leash, and we’ve got a jump start as Tenzan and Tiger Mask are jumped in the aisle.

Iizuka and Tenzan enter the ring as Tenzan – still in his ring jacket – gets choked to the mat, before TAKA and Tiger come into play, with a monkey flip sending TAKA into the ropes. Tiger Mask kicks away before Iizuka grabs him on the ropes to allow TAKA to hit a bicycle kick. On the outside, Iizuka goes after Tenzan again as TAKA rakes Tiger Mask’s eyes, before they spill to the outside for some more double-teaming.

Iizuka takes Tiger Mask into the crowd, and into some fans’ seats, whilst Tenzan’s thrown into the ring post by TAKA. When everyone returns, Iizuka chokes away on Tiger Mask again, but Tiger recovers to avoid a charge in the corner, then neutralise a sneak attack from TAKA before landing a Tiger Bomb!

Tenzan tags back in to knock down TAKA and Iizuka again, hitting some Mongolian chops and a suplex as we finally broke down into something resembling a match. An inverted atomic drop knocks Tenzan into the corner though, and more double-teaming comes up short as Tenzan moves away… and we’re back outside the ring. The Mountain Bomb knocks down Iizuka for a near-fall, before an Anaconda Vice is broken up by TAKA’s interference.

Tenzan tries to go up top, but TAKA holds him as Iizuka press slams him to the mat. They tease using a chair, but Tiger Mask makes the save, before TAKA swings and misses with his chair shot. The Suzuki-gun pair finally use their foreign object though, as Iizuka hits Tenzan with the Iron Glove and that’s your DQ. Well, there was a seedling of a match in here somewhere, but this was way too short and fragmented to be anything really. Iizuka does his act well, but even for someone who’s only really seen him for a month, it’s tired out. *¾

Tiger Mask takes an Iron Glove-d chop to the throat after the match, but they’re both fine moments later.

Up next are the three elimination matches on the card – Kevin Kelly confirms that these are effectively battle royals with pinfalls and submissions thrown in too.

Elimination Match: Hirooki Goto, Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI, Gedo & Jado vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Katsuyori Shibata, Juice Robinson & KUSHIDA
The match starts with Shibata and Ospreay corralling their team mates out of the ring so they could start against each other, and it’s Shibata who draws first blood, turning Will inside out with a big boot.

They go to the corner for Shibata’s strikes, but again Will hits a dropkick to cut-off the diving dropkick as he looked to ape Shibata’s diving dropkick. Some forearms rile grumpy Shibata, who decks Will with a single forearm, only for Will to come back with a handspring corkscrew kick. Ospreay doesn’t last much longer as his OsCutter attempt sees Shibata kick him onto the apron, before a running kick knocks him to the floor for our first elimination. Shibata follows him out, landing a plancha onto Will to eliminate himself, just so he could chuck him into the guardrails as they headed to the back.

I’ve loved the hot sequences between Ospreay and Shibata – roll on their match on Saturday!

After they disappear, Gedo and KUSHIDA come in to slow down the pace, and KUSHIDA teases an over-the-top-elimination, before the remaining entrants come in to stop/help, resulting in absolutely nobody getting knocked over. Goto and Honma square off, and of course, Honma misses a Kokeshi, opening things up for the CHAOS team. YOSHI-HASHI blasts Honma with a chop in the corner, then gets a two-count out of a suplex. Honma takes a beating for a spell, before overcoming Gedo with a DDT and finally landing that Kokeshi onto Jado.

Makabe comes in to knock Goto and YOSHI-HASHI off the apron, before he charges at Gedo and Jado in the corners. A thrust kick is caught by Makabe, who drops Gedo with a clothesline, before the King Kong Kneedrop gets the next elimination. Jado tries to chop away at Makabe, but that was as effective as you’d expect, so Jado just drags him down into a crossface. The ring fills for a bit as KUSHIDA drops YOSHI-HASHI with a cartwheel dropkick as Makabe gets a breather.

Makabe recovers to drill Jado with a clothesline in the corner, before another King Kong Kneedrop gets rid of Jado. YOSHI-HASHI falls into Makabe’s sights, but he lands a left-arm lariat then a powerbomb with a jack-knifed cover for a near-fall, before losing a battle of lariats, until Makabe’s low-bridged to the outside for an elimination. YOSHI-HASHI clings on to avoid joining him, before KUSHIDA tries in vain to turf out YOSHI-HASHI. The flipping neckbreaker takes down KUSHIDA, who then almost eliminates himself, before he kicks YOSHI-HASHI off the apron and to the floor.

Hirooki Goto gets rid of KUSHIDA with a simple throw over the top rope, as we’re left with Goto against Honma and Robinson – who’s barely appeared so far. Goto knocks Honma over the top, and the Kokeshi master is forced to hold on as Robinson accidentally clocks him, before Goto’s right hand knocks Honma to the mat. Goto tries to eliminate Robinson, but Juice drags himself back up before he tries to suplex Goto to the floor.

Goto blocks it,then drags in Robinson for a draping GTR, before a pair of clotheslines rock Goto into the ropes as the third knocks him over – and Juice Robinson is your soul survivor! A fast open, and the rest of the match didn’t drag; a decent elimination match! ***½

In the intermission, we get my personal favourite: announcers holding printed placards in lieu of graphics!

Elimination Match: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Rocky Romero & Beretta
Okada’s knee is still heavily-taped from Sunday’s marathon with Suzuki, and that’s exactly what Suzuki targets as we get the jump start.

The IWGP tag champs work over Archer and Smith for a spell, before rolling out of the ring as Beretta and Taichi take over. Kanemaru comes in to get double-teamed by Roppongi Vice, who then land a pair of topes to Taichi and Kanemaru through the ropes. Archer nonchalantly drops Romero on the ring apron after that, and it’s the Killer Elite Squad tandem who take over from there.

Taichi grabs the bell hammer and uses it on Beretta’s head whilst the referee was distracted. Taichi and TAKA do their fake pin gimmick, like on Saturday, before Suzuki comes in just to knock Okada off the apron and go back to that injured knee – despite Ishii’s efforts to restrain him. Suzuki enters the ring and traps Beretta in a heel hook, before catching Yano’s attempt to stomp his partner free… and gives Yano a heel hook at the same time!

Okada finally tags in and drops Suzuki with a DDT as that knee continues to cause him problems, before a Suzuki scuttles towards Okada as he took his time heading to the ropes for an elbow drop after a slam. Beautiful sneakiness from Minoru there! A Yakuza kick follows, as does a PK, as Suzuki gets a near-fall, before a running knee to the midsection eventually takes the champion down.

Taichi comes in, but immediately takes a flapjack as Okada tags out to Romero, who takes Taichi into the corner for some chops and those Forever lariats. Romero’s backdropped onto the apron by Taichi during one of those lariats, but Romero saves himself… before a ‘rana takes down Taichi as Romero lands a pair of Axe bombers to Taichi and Kanemaru as the pair eventually throw him over the top for the elimination.

Tomohiro Ishii comes in next and goes after Taichi, before the Killer Elite Squad wear him down instead. A pair of enziguiris gets Taichi a near-fall on Ishii, who then replies with a lariat as a brainbuster ends Taichi’s brief spell here. Davey Boy Smith Jr replaces Taichi and drops Ishii with a clothesline as those two fought ahead of their tag title three-way at the weekend. A bridging butterfly suplex almost gets Smith an elimination, as does a back body drop to Ishii, who lands on the apron before dragging Smith over with him, and finally eliminating the “British Bulldog” by kicking him to the floor after a missed legdrop.

Lance Archer takes his shot to shoulder-tackle Ishii down, then lands a massive chokeslam for a near-fall, before Ishii hooked the turnbuckles to prevent an Iconoclasm-like move. Instead, he’s just kicked off the top rope by Archer for the next elimination, as Yano gets a similar fate a minute later, as Archer blocks a low blow before he falls for the usual Yano spots. A low bridge makes Yano think he’s won it, but Archer grabs a full nelson then lifts him over the ropes for an elimination. Beautiful.

Okada is next up as he tries for a Rainmaker early on against Archer, and he too blocks that Iconoclasm-like move, landing on the apron before sidestepping Archer’s big boot. The pair land on the apron, before Okada goes back inside and gets a dropkick for the elimination – hurting his knee in the process. Of course, Suzuki smells blood and capitalises on it, grabbing a knee-bar as Kanemaru delays Beretta’s attempt to break up the hold.

Suzuki blasts Okada with a forearm, before Okada sinks to a knee after some shots of his own. That gives Suzuki the shot to slap in a sleeperhold, before releasing it to try a Gotch piledriver, but Okada backsdrops free to send Suzuki onto the apron. A sleeperhold on the apron sees Suzuki drag Okada onto the apron with him, before Suzuki grabs a big boot and applies a knee bar to drag Okada to the floor for our latest elimination. The next one is just seconds later as Beretta dropkicks Suzuki to the floor – and since Minoru went over the top earlier, that still counts!

We’re left with a surprising final two of Kanemaru and Beretta, and Kanemaru tries to throw Beretta over the top before the two trade some shots. A German suplex and a dropkick rocks the former Trent for a near-fall, before a tornado DDT takes down Kanemaru as the final stretch goes back and forth, with a diving knee getting Beretta another two-count. Taichi comes in to interfere as the referee was distracted by some fighting outside, which meant that the Dudebuster ended up being turned into a Destroyer instead. That leaves Kanemaru free to hit a satellite DDT for a near-fall, before a flying DDT off the top gets Kanemaru the win. A pretty great elimination match, with eliminations not too bunched together after the opening ten minute spell. I think that was the first multi-man Suzuki-gun match of this run that hasn’t been total dross. ***¾

There’s another beat-down after the match as Suzuki grabs a microphone, and apparently what happened in Sapporo wasn’t the end… but the beginning.

Elimination Match: Dragon Lee, Ryusuke Taguchi, Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Michael Elgin vs. Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA
Takahashi came out wearing one of Dragon Lee’s masks like a trophy/scarf in some ways, whilst Taguchi came out with a baseball bat to mock SANADA.

We start with Takahashi and Lee launching into each other, with Lee flipping out of a rana before he flips out of a German suplex as well. Takahashi slides out of the ring as Lee is almost tempted to follow him out… instead, he tags in Taguchi, who found his rope running stuff almost didn’t work, as he settled for a hip attack on BUSHI instead.

The match breaks down as everyone fights outside whilst BUSHI chokes Taguchi with his t-shirt whilst EVIL flattens Tanahashi with a back senton. SANADA drops Taguchi on his Funky Weapon with an atomic drop, before he gets a near-fall from a back elbow off the ropes. Takahashi returns to stomp away on Taguchi in the corner, before Naito comes in to try and rile up Elgin whilst continuing the beatdown.

Taguchi finally comes back with a DDT/reverse DDT combo to EVIL and BUSHI, before he tags in Elgin to try and throw out Naito… but it doesn’t work. Takahashi tries to tie up Elgin with a sleeper, but he ignores it and hits the deadlift German suplex to SANADA as Takahashi went flying as well. Elgin slingshots Naito back in for a powerslam, before Big Mike’s Falcon arrow gets a near-fall. Some more clotheslines from Elgin rock Naito, before another big lariat flips Naito onto the mat.

BUSHI comes in to drop Elgin with a missile dropkick, before a rana and a Codebreaker gets blocked and turned into a death valley driver by Elgin. In comes Tanahashi to take advantage, as Tanahashi’s back senton after some offence from Taguchi and Nakanishi earned a near-fall. With the ring cleared, BUSHI hit a reverse spinning heel kick, before falling to a Slingblade and a High Fly Flow for our first elimination.

SANADA comes in against Tanahashi to trade some forearms, before Takahashi’s knee to the back stops any momentum from Hiroshi. A diving dropkick gets a receipt from Hiroshi to Hiromu, before a Dragon screw took down SANADA in the middle of the ring. EVIL tries to eliminate Tanahashi by throwing him over the top as a push-down stomp was attempted, before EVIL peels away Tanahashi’s fingers. That doesn’t work as Tanahashi’s partners make the save, only for an attempted headscissor takedown to fail as EVIL shoved him to the floor anyway.

Nakanishi takes over with a clothesline to EVIL, but EVIL recovers with a thrust kick before he’s taken to the ropes. A punch is ducked, and EVIL tries to hoist Nakanishi to the floor… but that doesn’t work as the veteran lifts him up with an Argentine backbreaker, only for EVIL to rake the eyes before Naito low bridges him to the floor. Elgin comes in to go after EVIL again, landing an enziguiri before Elgin stops himself from being low-bridged by SANADA.

EVIL gets thrown out over the top with ease, and Naito looks to pick up the pieces, only to get backdropped onto the apron as he then takes an elbow and a big boot from Elgin, as Takahashi ran in to block a deadlift superplex, only to run into a massive boot. Elgin and Naito stay on the apron, before he just drops to the floor to avoid a big boot, whilst Takahashi dropkicked Big Mike to the floor.

Takahashi goes in and tries to rip off Dragon Lee’s mask, but that just earns him a snap German suplex off the ropes before he’s backdropped to the floor for an elimination. Taguchi comes in and tries to low bridge Takahashi to the floor as the two of them end up on the apron trading shots, before SANADA gets pulled onto the top rope… that leaves SANADA and Takahashi on the apron with Taguchi… and a big boot from SANADA meant for Taguchi knocks down the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion.

We’re left with Taguchi and SANADA as our final two, and Taguchi tries to turn his rope running spot into an elimination – but SANADA hangs on. Taguchi drills SANADA with some hip attacks, before SANADA pulls the referee into a rope-running Taguchi. With the referee down, Taguchi eliminates SANADA with a hip attack, but the ref obviously didn’t see it, so SANADA returns and whacks Taguchi in the back with the baseball bat before giving him a side suplex for a near-fall.

SANADA goes for the Skull End from there, but it’s blocked and reversed, before Taguchi hits an enziguiri.Out of nowhere, SANADA lands the TKO for another two-count, before another Skull End is countered into a wheelbarrow roll-up for the win! Another fantastic final straight, as the Ingobernables attempt at cheating-to-win comes up short! ***½

As an all-over show, this felt like it was on the same level as Sunday in Sapporo – without the show-stealing matches. On the surface, this is a skippable show, but the three elimination matches are worth your time alone.