Korakuen Hall hosts the final build for the first New Beginning show this weekend.
Yuji Nagata, Tiger Mask, Togi Makabe & Yota Tsuji submitted Gedo, Jado, El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori in 9:01 (***)
Will Ospreay & Great-O-Khan vs. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan went to a no-contest in 2:25 (NR)
Tomohiro Ishii, Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto pinned Yujiro Takahashi, EVIL & Dick Togo in 10:42 (***)
Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI pinned Tomoaki Honma & Master Wato in 13:17 (***¼)
SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi vs. Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & SHO went to a 30:00 draw (***¾)
Once again we’re at Korakuen Hall, with Kevin Kelly flying solo on commentary, since El Phantasmo’s doing a wrestle.
Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori, Gedo & Jado) vs. Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata, Tiger Mask & Yota Tsuji
Jado telling Kevin Kelly to “feel the pump, baby” in his entrance tickled me way more than it should…
We’ve got a jump start as the Bullet Club cornered Makabe early on, but he manages to fight back and send the Bullet Club folks into each other before taking Jado into the corner for some mounted punches. A back rake from ELP breaks it up, but it just earns him a clothesline, before Tsuji came in to slam Jado… only to get tripped as he went for his splash.
Gedo pulls Tsuji to the outside as the guard rails came into play. Back inside, a forearm to the lower back from Jado has Tsuji wincing in pain, with Gedo then tagging in to put the boots to Tsuji… who’s then tossed outside. We get all the back rakes on the outside as Gedo distracted the referee inside. Those back rakes get Gedo a two-count when Tsuji was rolled back inside, before ELP cartwheeled around into a back rake on Tsuji. Ishimori leaps off the middle rope for one, before he ran into a scoop slam as Tsuji finally got free to tag out to Tiger Mask.
Tiger Mask flies in with a crossbody to Ishimori, then fought off ELP before a backbreaker gets him a two-count on Ishimori. A Tiger Driver’s blocked, as was a kick, with Ishimori returning fire with a handspring enziguiri. Gedo’s back in to hit a chinbreaker and a thrust kick… but the kick’s blocked… so Gedo pokes the eye. A Tiger Driver finally lands on Gedo, but he can’t get the pin as Nagata tagged in to begin kicking away on Gedo.
Jado runs in to block an Exploder, but he quickly falls to a stuttering low dropkick, before Gedo tried to nick the win with a roll-up… and a handful of tights. A Kendo stick shot from Jado stops Nagata in his tracks as ELP abandoned the match to go on commentary. Gedo distracts the referee by going for the brass knuckles, but a spear from Tsuji stops that as an Exploder and the Nagata Lock 2 forces the submission win. A decent opener, with a different-than-expected result as Gedo continues to be out of sorts without his Switchblade. ***
United Empire (Will Ospreay & Great-O-Khan) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
The final build for Saturday’s matches, this one should be wild, particularly since O-Khan stormed out there and chased away the ring announcer like he was Bad Luck Fale. This one may not go long…
Kojima and Tenzan came out without their ring jackets, armed with chairs instead. Ospreay and O-Khan back away… but Bea Priestley slips in and low blows the pair of them, and apparently that’s enough to start the match? O-kay. It spills to the floor, but the referee’s thrown into the guard rails. All four men brawl like they were playing WWF Raw, with choking and punches (and accompanying grunts).
Ospreay chucks the timekeeper’s table into the ring, then turfed the referee outside again as Ospreay teases a powerbomb through the table, but instead a Koji Cutter drops him. O-Khan’s in to take some Mongolian chops, before Tenzan shoved down the referee with poor Kenta Sato taking a beating. Kojima and Tenzan go to put O-Khan through the table with a TenKoji Cutter, but Ospreay makes the save as the “match” is thrown out.
Post-match, Ospreay makes his match with Kojima on Saturday a no-DQ outing..
Bullet Club (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & Dick Togo) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
Okada’s got a new entrance video, and that first screen is a bit of a spoof of the ol’ Hulkamania logo, one might say…
Togo and Okada start us off, but of course it’s a ruse as Togo tried to back Okada around… but instead Okada swipes at EVIL, allowing Togo to attack from behind. Togo misses a charge at Okada, then gets met with a drop toe hold and an elbow before the rest of the CHAOS lads came in to club away on Togo.
Togo rakes Goto’s eyes, before EVIL pulled Goto outside and into the guard rails. Everyone else heads outside too as the referee lost what little control he had. Back inside, a chinlock keeps Goto down, while the turnbuckle pad was being removed… and of course, Goto’s thrown into the exposed corner after Yujiro came in. Elbows, leg drops and headbutts get Yujiro a two-count, before EVIL came in to try and throw Goto into the corner.
Goto blocks it and tries for a side suplex, then just tossed EVIL into the corner so he could hit the suplex. Okada gets in next, knocking away Yujiro and Togo so he could go after EVIL… landing a back elbow before missing one into the corner. Okada shrugs that off and comes back with a neckbreaker slam for a two-count, but a Money Clip’s quickly broken up as Togo popped up on the apron.
EVIL gets back up and uses the referee to throw a thrust kick to Okada, as a Darkness Scorpion quickly ended in the ropes. Yujiro’s back in to boot Okada in the ropes, but couldn’t avoid a flapjack as he looked to build momentum. Ishii tags in and takes a few forearms before decking Yujiro out of the corner. There’s forearms for Togo too before a back suplex dropped Yujiro. Yujiro escapes a DDT by biting away at Ishii, then building up into a reverse DDT of his own before Goto came in to break up an Incolle slam. Togo runs in to stop an ushigoroshi as Yujiro clotheslines Goto, while Okada’s run in ended with a quick clothesline from the hands of EVIL.
The Bullet Club lads continue on Ishii, with an EVIL Fisherman buster and a diving dropkick from Yujiro getting a two-count, before Yujiro’s pimp cane was swung… and missed. The Incolle slam followed from Yujiro after a trip from Togo on the outside, before Ishii fought out of Pimp Juice.
The ring begins to fill again, with Okada booting down EVIL before Yujiro was handed off for an ushigoroshi… an Ishii sliding lariat followed, before a sheer drop brainbuster gets the win. Another solid trios match, but with no match booked you can’t help but feel this slow burn is washing over a lot of people right now. ***
Tomoaki Honma & Master Wato vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI)
I kinda dig BUSHI’s mask today. To my mind, that visible eye is a shout-out to Rey Mysterio’s big feud last year…
We get a jump start as Honma was fed up of Naito dilly-dallying his way to the ring, but he’s caught early on with a roll-through pin as Naito nearly took the win in the opening 20 seconds. Growling Honma’s not happy as Naito dawdles outside the ring, before tags take us to Wato and BUSHI, who lock up into the ropes.
An overhand chop from Wato annoys BUSHI, but a rear elbow and a leaping spin kick drops BUSHI as kicks earn Wato a two-count. Stomps keep BUSHI down as Honma tags in… I buffer badly, so after refreshing the feed Naito pulls Honma to the outside and into the railings, after Honma had taken a swipe at the former double champion.
Back inside, BUSHI puts the boots to Honma, before Naito tagged in to hit a double sledge to the back. Stretching Honma in the ropes follows, then a chinlock as BUSHI returned, but some nose-hooking forces the referee to break it up. Naito’s back to club Honma into the corner, then choke him against the ropes, before Honma muscled back with a deadlift suplex. Tags bring us to Wato and BUSHI as kicks keep the masked man down. Wato keeps going but doesn’t go for a pin, and instead gets caught with a low dropkick as BUSHI went to work, torquing Wato’s leg around the ropes. A leg lock forces Wato to break in the ropes, before he looked to fight back… only to get cut off by BUSHI.
A kick knocks both men down as Wato bought enough time to tag out to Honma, who keeps going with chops to BUSHI. There’s a slam to drop BUSHI, but the Kokeshi misses as Naito tagged in to aim for Honma with a neckbreaker, getting a two-count in the process. Honma manages to hit back with a Kokeshi as Wato returned to help out, peppering Naito with kicks as a diving Kokeshi dropped Naito for a two-count.
A DDT keeps Naito down, as does a clothesline, flipping Naito to the mat for a two-count. Wato misses on a rear spin kick, catching Honma before a BUSHI lungblower and a Naito roll-up got the win. A decent match, as the Naito/Honma feud seems to be landing with these Korakuen crowds. Honma and Wato were doing well until one slip up from Wato ended up costing the team the match. That always seems to be the way, eh? ***¼
Post-match, Naito refused to let go of his pin, despite BUSHI counting three more pin-falls. Eventually Wato breaks it up as referee Red Shoes Unno was bobbing his head to every one of BUSHI’s counts. A future official in training there?
Kevin Kelly announces that El Phantasmo will be doing commentary in Nagoya on Saturday. That’ll be the NJPW World subscription going up then…
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & SHO
Shingo and Tanahashi start us off here ahead of their title match on Saturday. A lock-up has the pair struggle, but Tanahashi trips down Shingo and grabs a side headlock.
Eventually Shingo pulls the hair to break free, but Tanahashi copies his idea, before his attempt at a crossbody out of the corner was caught, so he uses a headlock takedown instead to get free as tags bring in SHO and Hiromu. They launch at each other, changing the pace as they swing and miss ahead of SHO low bridging Hiromu to the apron… but his baseball slide dropkick misses as Hiromu faked out a dive.
Ibushi and SANADA come in, with SANADA quickly being grounded on an armbar. A cravat keeps SANADA at bay, but he floated out of a snapmare before headlock takedowns and escapes led to a dropkick from Ibushi to stop whatever momentum SANADA had designs on.
Tanahashi’s back with a body slam and an elbow drop for a cover on SANADA, before a battle of Cobra twists ended with Tanahashi hopping SANADA to the corner so SHO could tag in. SHO works over the arm, but a low dropkick from SANADA stops that as LIJ clear the ring, leading to Tanahashi going into the barriers, while Ibushi was also given the same fate. Back inside, SANADA stomps on SHO’s leg, then tagged in Hiromu who followed in with a low dropkick for another two-count.
Shingo’s back in to keep the focus on SHO’s left leg, before he diverted his attention to Tanahashi, knocking him off the apron as Hiromu came in and worked over SHO’s leg behind the ref’s back. SANADA tags back in, and makes a point of tying up SHO in a Paradise Lock, freeing him to get a two-count from the cover.
Hiromu comes in to take SHO into the corner, but SHO sidesteps and hits a back cracker… which feels dumb given how much those legs had been worked over. SANADA tags back in before SHO could tag out, but he’s stopped with a knee to the gut as the Ministry of Bad Ideas continues to sorta work for SHO. Finally SHO tagged in Tanahashi, who lands forearms before trapping Hiromu in the ropes with a Dragon screw.
A slam leaves SANADA down as Tanahashi lands the flip senton out of the corner for a near-fall. Ibushi wants in, and eventually gets in to land a flying mid kick for a near-fall. SANADA heads outside, but avoids a plancha as Ibushi springboards back inside… and then has to escape a TKO attempt. SANADA lands a ‘rana to take Ibushi outside for the plancha, before returning to the ring as an O’Connor roll took Ibushi into a Skull End.
Ibushi slips out and nails a ‘rana of his own, before SHO tagged back in to charge at SANADA in the corner. SANADA quickly replies with a back suplex as SHO’s bum knee came to the fore again. Hiromu tags in to take advantage, kicking the rope into SHO, but a dropkick misses as SHO nails a clothesline into the corner, before a series of kicks left Hiromu down for a two-count.
A struggle over a suplex sees SHO deadlifting Hiromu up for the move, before LIJ flooded the ring to nail SHO ahead of a Dynamite Plunger for a near-fall. Tanahashi and Ibushi break up that pin, but get thrown outside as SHO looked to fight back with a spear… but it’s caught as he ends up having to slip out of a suplex, ragdolling Hiromu with a German suplex in return. The spear lands at the second attempt, before a Shock Arrow was broken up by the rest of LIJ.
With Tanahashi and Ibushi keeping the rest of LIJ on the outside, SHO goes for it again, but Tanahashi back body drops free, as the pair resort to trading right hands back and forth. Hiromu swings for a clothesline, then went for some headscissors as SHO counters into a Kimura on the mat, rolling Hiromu away from the ropes twice, but that second time gets countered into a corner death valley driver.
Composing himself once more, Hiromu looked to put away SHO, but they end up trading clotheslines before SHO got flung into the buckles with an overhead belly-to-belly. Tags get us back to Tanahashi and Shingo as they launch into each other with right hands, but Shingo clobbers Tanahashi with a clothesline in the corner before Tanahashi struck back with a palm strike.
Tanahashi hits the ropes, but gets stopped with a Shingo Combination, countering the last part of that into the Twist and Shout. Another Slingblade’s countered as Shingo went for a Noshigami, then instead landed his own Twist and Shout. Shingo avoids a Dragon Screw by clinging onto the ropes, then hit them for a Pumping Bomber before landing a Dragon Screw of his own to Tanahashi.
A powerbomb from Shingo gets a one-count, so he followed up with a half-crab. Ibushi makes the save, but gets thrown outside as Tanahashi recovered and hit some grounded Dragon screws to get payback on Shingo as we hit the final two minutes of the match. Wait, are they going the distance on a Road-to show?
Tanahashi’s Cloverleaf’s broken up by Hiromu, before Shingo finally got taken down with a Slingblade. That gets a two-count as we hit the final minute, with Tnahaashi heading up for the Ace’s High crossbody… but Hiromu cuts off Tanahashi with a shotgun dropkick to star a frantic Parade of Moves, ending with Shingo flipping Ibushi inside out with a release German suplex! The pace quickens with elbows and clotheslines until Shingo eats another Slingblade, before he decked Tanahashi with a Pumping Bomber… but Tanahashi kicks out at two as the time limit expired!
Well then! Someone with a better handle on the statistics than I will probably be able to dig out the last time they went the distance in the main event of a Road-to show – and that speaks to just how I wasn’t considering that as a finish until they started barking the final five minutes. In hindsight, some of this did feel like time killing, but I’d not be averse to this finish being used sparingly – especially since it felt fresh and left more questions than answers going into the big matches. ***¾
…and that’s it for this short sprint on the Road to shows. The tour has a stop in Nagano on Thursday, which isn’t making tape, so join us on Saturday for the New Beginning in Nagoya, with a trio of singles matches: Kojima vs. Ospreay, Tenzan vs. O-Khan and Tanahashi vs. Shingo for the NEVER title in the main event.
An improved show on yesterday’s beige outing, which you’d have expected given this was the final build for Nagoya this weekend. At least they put something behind the big matches for Saturday, with the O-Khan/Tenzan and Kojima/Ospreay stuff having a lot of heat after their past three matches, while the Tanahashi/Shingo NEVER title match has a lot of natural intrigue.