Korakuen’s latest show was main evented with another elimination match, as Osaka’s New Beginning crept ever closer.
It’s back to Korakuen Hall for the second of three shows as we continue the build to Osaka with what looked to be a few more people than yesterday. Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton and Gino Gambino are on commentary as usual.
Gabriel Kidd vs. Yuya Uemura
We’ve another singles outing for Gabe, and we start with the pair swapping wristlocks in the opening moments.
The grappling continues onto the mat as Kidd uses some headscissors before Uemura got free and used a cravat to take Kidd down to the mat. Chops follow as Kidd was in the ropes, but he responds with a dropkick, then with a shoulder tackle before rolling Uemura over into a half crab.Uemura gets to the ropes and almost snatches a win with a small package, before it’s back to the forearms. Kidd shows off some Japanese, but ends up eating a dropkick before a capture suplex gets a near-fall… leading to a Boston crab that forces the submission as Uemura leant all the way back. Solid stuff as usual here, as commentary seemed surprised this didn’t end in a draw. **¾
Yota Tsuji vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Another Young Lion outing here, and we start with Taguchi getting taken into the ropes by Tsuji… who sucker punches him to start some back-and-forth.
Tsuji breaks ahead with slams for a two-count, but he’s caught with a hip attack as Taguchi took him to the mat… but an attempt to work the taped-up shoulder is countered, so Taguchi goes to a leglock instead. The Three Amigos follow from Taguchi, and he actually hits all three, but Tsuji’s able to respond as he rolls Taguchi into a Boston crab that instantly ended in the ropes.
A turnaround has Tsuji in the ropes for some hip attacks, but he responds with a spear for a two-count. He’s able to follow with a Boston crab… but after Taguchi gets free, he’s given another scare as a Bummer-Ye’s countered into another Boston crab… before he rolled free and eventually found his way through with an ankle lock. Another roll-up by Tsuji gets a near-fall, before Taguchi goes back and wrenches in Oh My Garankle for the submission. By the numbers stuff, but Tsuji got some good shots in here as he forced Taguchi to quit fooling around. **¾
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Manabu Nakanishi vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
The retirement tour continues for Nakanishi, who started by trading forearms with Honma, only for Honma to go for a slam perhaps a touch too early in the match, as Nakanishi just slams him with ease ahead of an elbow drop.
Tenzan comes in to land some Mongolian chops, but Makabe’s also in as he took down Nakanishi with a toe hold. A leg splitter’s next on Nakanishi, as Honma resumes work on the knee, as Nakanishi gets to the rope to save himself. Honma manages to slam Nakanishi, but misses a Kokeshi as Nakanishi had to stagger into the corner to bring Tenzan in. Tenzan’s able to push through with Mongolian chops and headbutts, before a brainbuster landed for a near-fall. A spinning heel kick keeps Honma down for a two-count, but a Kokeshi manages to get Honma back in as Makabe tries to pick up the pieces, going after Tenzan in the corner with some mounted punches.
There’s Mongolian chops from Makabe before he ran into a Mountain bomb, as Nakanishi returned to try and chop through both Makabe and Honma at the same time. A clothesline decks Makabe next, but he’s able to land a double-clothesline as double-teaming was attempted… which led to Nakanishi eating a clothesline sandwich, then a leaping Kokeshi for a near-fall. In the end though, a King Kong knee drop gets Makabe the win as Nakanishi inches nearer to the end. **¼
The live crowd were told that Will Ospreay’s gotten a Rev Pro title shot in nine days’ time at York Hall as a result of yesterday’s win…
Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI)
We’ve a jump start as Sabre instantly goes for Ospreay’s arm as the match spilled outside… where Ospreay manages to recover with almost a bunny hop springboard forearm off the guard rails.
In the ring though, Suzuki and Ishii batter each other with elbows while Ospreay and Eagles picked up the pace, taking ZSJ and DOUKI outside for duelling pescados. Ishii and Suzuki resume… but Suzuki just hurls Ishii into the ropes and to the floor as bedlam broke out once more. Chairshots from Suzuki came Ishii’s way in the crowd, which meant that Ishii was inclined to return to the ring with a chair. The referee removes it, as Ishii ends up cornered, as Sabre and Suzuki double-team his arm ahead of a keylock from Suzuki. Man, I miss that Sabre/Suzuki tandem…
Suzuki and Ishii trade more elbows, including THOSE clonking shots, but Ishii stops registering them briefly and eventually takes down Suzuki with a suplex as tags bring in Ospreay and Sabre… with the former coming in with a springboard forearm. DOUKI’s in to stop any offence, but Eagles overwhelms him as Ospreay lands a handspring enziguiri for a near-fall.
Sabre’s back with a boot, before wangling his way into a mounted Cobra Twist, taking Ospreay into the corner for DOUKI to come in. A clothesline lands for a two-count, before Eagles tags in and hits a springboard dropkick to the knee. DOUKI’s able to hammer back in with the Daybreak springboard DDT for a near-fall, as all hell proceeded to break loose as the ring filled, then emptied. DOUKI tries to put away Eagles with Suplex de la Luna, but gets rolled up for a near-fall as Eagles adds an Asai DDT, a 450 splash to the leg… and finally a Ron Miller Special for the submission. Same old, same old for DOUKI, as Robbie Eagles gets another under-the-radar fall – keep an eye on him in the not too distant future! ***½
Hirooki Goto & Toa Henare vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & EVIL)
Goto wants to regain the NEVER title that he’s become synonymous with – even though his recent runs with it haven’t exactly been glorious.
Shingo and Goto start us off, going in hot with shoulder tackles as Goto looked to edge ahead, before Toa Henare tagged himself in. He’s chopped in the ropes by EVIL, before he stopped to knock Shingo off the apron as the Kiwi was looking to force himself into a title shot. A kick on the apron from Shingo weakens Henare, who’s clotheslined outside before getting sent into the railings…and it looks like Shingo’s answered the call, as he hurls Henare into a wall. Nonchalantly taking Henare back to the ring, EVIL’s left with easy pickings, but Shingo’s back to land a knee drop for a two-count as Henare continued to get worn down. More chops from EVIL drop Henare for a near-fall, but Henare’s able to reply with a leaping shoulder tackle, before bringing Goto back in.
Goto fires back with kicks and armdrags on EVIL, before he suplexed EVIL onto Shingo. The referee comes into play as EVIL lands the superkick, before a misdirection clothesline had Goto down. Shingo’s back as the pair clatter into each other with clotheslines, but Goto edges ahead with a massive lariat, before Henare tagged back in.
Henare looks to go for the win with a Toa Bottom, before some double-teaming got LIJ back on top. EVIL’s involvement drew in Goto, who lands an ushigoroshi to take both men out… which meant nobody could save Shingo as Henare’s headbutt almost caused the upset. C’mon Henare! In the end though, Shingo’s sucker punch drops him, as a sliding lariat and noshigami gets a near-fall, before a Pumping Bomber spun Henare one last time for the pin. It’s telling that Henare lost to not-Shingo’s-main-finish, but the heart on show here confirms he’s on the right track… even if it’s one long track… ***½
Suzuki-gun (Taichi, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
We’re gunning for the IWGP Junior tag title match here, as we find out that Okada’s new robe doesn’t work quite so well without the black light.
We’ve a jump start as SHO & YOH got taken into the crowd, while Taichi chokes Okada in the railings. Desperado hits the ring with a chair for SHO, but it’s dropkicked into his head as the CHAOS trio looked to pull ahead. Okada’s in too, working in with an Octopus stretch on Desperado, which he breaks as Taichi threatened to come in. SHO’s back to throw some kicks, then forearms, before Desperado raked the eyes as Kanemaru attacks from behind. We’re back outside now for another scrap, returning as Taichi started to work over SHO’s legs, stomping on the knee in particular. The knee remained a target until SHO was able to suplex away Kanemaru and tag in YOH, who has to overcome double-teaming to push ahead.
An armdrag from Kanematu looked to turn it around, as tags get us to Okada and Taichi. A big kick from Taichi drops Okada, as the trousers come off… as Okada’s shotgun dropkick just earns him an axe bomber. Another dropkick from Okada finally has Taichi down, allowing Okada to bring in SHO… who’s quickly caught in a half crab. YOH breaks it up as the ring fills… then empties… allowing SHO to respond with a spear. SHO looks to add a spear to Taichi, but the ref’s distracted and misses a chairshot from Desperado as Taichi proceeds to put away SHO with a Last Ride. I had trouble getting into this, as it was very shenanigan-y, but I wouldn’t read anything into heavyweight-Taichi beating a junior tag champion… unless we get a similar result tomorrow. ***¼
Post-match, Kanemaru and Desperado wipe out SHO & YOH with chairs, as they looked to uneven the playing field ahead of Osaka.
Elimination Match: Bullet Club (KENTA, Jay White, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi)
You know the score here – over the top rope, pinfall or submissions eliminate you (as do DQs, but I’m sure that’ll not come into play).
We’ve got a jump start as things settled down to Hiromu making ELP forcibly ‘rana’ing Ishimori before the Bullet Club cleared the ring… and again, this is a little too wild as the camera crew struggled to follow. In the ring, Hiromu’s met with a back rake from ELP and Ishimori, before we found that a turnbuckle pad had been removed… so Hiromu’s thrown into the exposed corner.
In comes Jay White to work over Hiromu in the ropes, before KENTA came in to catch Hiromu from behind as the Bullet Club continued to dominate. Hiromu’s held in the corner for the Gas Pedal, before Ishimori tried to toss Hiromu out… but again it doesn’t come off as Hiromu clung on. All that does is earn him a punt to the back from KENTA, but finally Hiromu gets a tag out as Naito rushes the ring at a blistering pace, crashing into KENTA’s knee with a low dropkick – keeping that thread going from yesterday. A Figure Four followed to KENTA, but it’s broken up as KENTA’s able to charge into Naito in the corner with a boot, then with a stalling dropkick, before a big stomp off the top led to a near-fall as the Bullet Club were on top once more. Naito replies with a tornado DDT off the ropes, as tags bring in Ishimori and SANADA.
SANADA traps Ishimori in a Paradise Lock… then ELP… before Gedo tried to interfere. The distraction lets White toss SANADA over the top, but he saves himself as he eventually freed ELP and Ishimori with low dropkicks. Jay White’s next, but that’s pushed away as SANADA tries to flip over the former IWGP champ… only to get caught with a DDT on landing. White looks to lift SANADA to the outside, but it’s resisted as SANADA proceeds to block a Blade Runner… then got taken onto the apron again. White joins him there as a suplex struggle led to a Skull End. White drops to the floor as Gedo had the ref distracted, and by the time Red Shoes turned around, White had pulled SANADA to the floor as both men were ruled out.
Ishimori and BUSHI take over, with the Bone Soldier looking to snatch an elimination by dropping BUSHI onto the apron before kicks from ELP and Ishimori knocked him to the floor. Hiromu comes in to capitalise, going after Ishimori… but the misdirection plays on the apron backfire as Ishimori looked for a springboard in. He’s dropkicked to the apron, then saved by ELP as a sunset bomb was teased… but a dropkick from Hiromu knocks Ishimori down, as it was ruled that the aborted springboard counted as Ishimori “getting in the ring”.
ELP takes over on Hiromu, trading some rapid two-counts as the IWGP and Rev Pro junior champs looked for an advantage. Phantasmo teases a CR2, but Hiromu escapes to tease a Time Bomb, only to get kicked away as both men end up going over the top and onto the apron, where Hiromu kicks Phantasmo off the apron and onto the guard rails. It’s not an elimination as he’s not touched the floor… and Ishimoru helps him back into the ring, only to get pinned with a small package. All that showing off for nothing!
Hiromu celebrated, but gets taken over the top and to the floor by KENTA, who then low bridges Naito onto the apron… but it comes to nought as the pair return to the ring to tease finishers. A missed stomp from KENTA looked to open it up for Naito again, but the double champion ends up having to defend from the apron, before a running boot knocked Naito to the floor as KENTA ended up your sole survivor. I’m not sure how to rate this one – the jump start and brawling at the start threw me off, while the trademark long opening spell before the eliminations just didn’t connect with me. I did like the cute attempts at avoiding elimination by Ishimori and ELP, and while it didn’t work out for them, it did help KENTA to a win as he’s gotten some more momentum going into Sunday. ***½
Another solid show from New Japan, but this undoubtedly is a show that you can get away with skipping. Tomorrow’s final “road” show before Osaka features a NEVER trios title match, and will likely build further going into the New Beginnings events, with Roppongi 3K’s likely to get assaulted before, during and after their undercard with Suzuki-gun. My fear though, is while the crowd was up on yesterday, Korakuen is going to end up taking a beating throughout February with all the Road shows they’re getting…