It’s the final stop on the Road to the New Beginning, as New Japan hits Korakuen for the final time on the tour – with some more build for this week’s shows in Hiroshima.
El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru pinned Yuya Uemura, Ryusuke Taguchi & Gabriel Kidd in 7:36 (***)
Jay White, EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi beat Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada via disqualification in 5:16 (**½)
Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI pinned Jado, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa in 9:58 (***)
Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI pinned Tomoaki Honma & Master Wato in 12:21 (***¼)
Kota Ibushi & SHO vs. SANADA & Hiromu Takahashi ended in a 30:00 draw (***½)
Yep, we’re back to Korakuen Hall for the last time… for about a week. Kevin Kelly’s running on commentary with El Phantasmo for what may well be the final time.
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Yuya Uemura & Gabriel Kidd
We’ve a jump start as the Young Lions dashed to the ring, with Yuya Uemura having a death wish as he went straight for Suzuki.
In the ring, Taguchi caught Kanemaru with a leaping hip attack, then tagged in Gabriel Kidd as Taguchi used the Young Lions as battering rams on Kanemaru. Another hip attack followed, but Taguchi’s Hail Mary fails as Suzuki-gun switch around and throw Kidd head-first into Taguchi’s arse. Suzuki scares Taguchi silly as the Young Lions were laid waste to. A cravat from Desperado restrains Kidd, who fought free before a back elbow took Kidd down. Kidd fires up with elbows and uppercuts against Suzuki, but it had little effect as El Phantasmo gave Kamikaze Pro a shout-out.
Uemura tags in and tries his luck with Suzuki, knocking him into the corner with elbows before a slap sealed Uemura’s doom. Uemura keeps slapping away, then lands a dropkick to Suzuki in the corner as a forearm followed for just a one-count. Suzuki slips out of a slam and grabs a rear naked choke, but the Gotch piledriver attempt is countered as Uemura went for a Boston crab, but Suzuki deftly rolls free.
A forearm decks Uemura as Suzuki begins to get his revenge, before Desperado came in and almost got put away with a roll-up. Taguchi’s hip attack sets up Uemura for a back suplex on Despy, getting another near-fall, before a distraction from Suzuki took the referee’s attention away, allowing Desperado to put away Uemura with a punch and the Pinche Loco. An enjoyable opener with Uemura in particular shining, but with great offence on Suzuki comes great pain. As he found out. ***
Bullet Club (EVIL, Jay White & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto
Okada jumps EVIL at the bell as the Bullet Club were instantly put on the back foot.
Goto and Ishii double-team Jay White while Okada’s low dropkick caught EVIL in the ropes… so yeah, Thursday’s NEVER trios match is simmering away there. EVIL’s tossed outside, but he recovers to throw Okada into the guard rails, knocking timekeeper Makoto Abe off of his table. Standard. Back inside, EVIL slaps around Okada and ends up taking some elbows before a clothesline got EVIL a two-count. A Money Clip from Okada’s quickly broken up but EVIL just ends up running into a big boot as ELP just gargled away on commentary. I’m sure that’s a shot at the “gargoyle” Ishii…
Dick Togo trips Goto in the ropes as Yujiro proceeds to capitalise with a front kick. A leg sweep takes Goto down for a low dropkick too, before a series of counters ended with Goto being nibbled on. Goto tries to respond with an ushigoroshi, but White and Ishii come in for a scrap, ending with Ishii landing a German suplex.
Okada’s back to help triple-team Yujiro, who eventually took an ushigoroshi before White hung up Goto in the ropes. White taunted YOSHI-HASHI, who was on Japanese commentary… YOSHI-HASHI leaps the rail and attacks White in the ring, which leads to the disqualification. This was really good while it lasted, but at five minutes, this was more like an angle than anything else. **½
After the match, Okada called out EVIL for a singles match right there, but Dick Togo helps distract as we get some double-teaming before EVIL hit a home run on Okada with some chairs.
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & DOUKI) vs. Bullet Club (Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Jado)
Ahead of the tag title match on Wednesday, we’ve got this trios outing. Tama Tonga’s got three bags in as he looks to play some more games with Taichi’s Iron fingers.
Taichi kicks Tama’s head off as he began to look through the bags. He finds a regular glove… then a catcher’s mitt, before a struggle over the third bag found… a rubber chicken. It squeaks, which broke me, as Taichi then went after Tama with some choking. DOUKI tags in, but gets dragged outside by Jado, who cracks him in the front and back with the Kendo stick. Back inside, DOUKI takes a back body drop before a senton atomico from Tanga Loa continued the offence. A one-handed sidewalk slam sets up for a senton atomico from Tama for a two-count, before Jado came in to continue beating up DOUKI.
Taichi distracts th referee as the Bullet Club continued to play prop comedy, as an elephant hand puppet saw Tama play around too much, as DOUKI hits an enziguiri. Jado tagged in from the elephant, which I guess was legal, as he then proceeds to ground DOUKI… he gets free as tags get us to Sabre and Tanga Loa, but ZSJ’s charged down.
Sabre comes back with a mounted rear naked choke, but it’s broken up in the corner as Tanga throws Sabre corner-to-corner. He misses a charge in as Zack returned with uppercuts and an overhead kick to the arm, before a leg sweep took the big man down. Taichi tags in and boots away Tama as he followed in with Kawada-style kicks to Tanga Loa.
Tanga’s back with a slam before Jado’s pin was broken up by ZSJ. The referee’s losing control here as Jado went for the Kendo stick again, but DOUKI blocks it with his pipe. Tama and Jado get laid out with the pipe before a superkick from Taichi puts Jado away. Enjoyable even if only for the prop comedy as the Guerrillas find new ways to upset their challengers on Wednesday. ***
Tomoaki Honma & Master Wato vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI)
We’re building to Wato vs. BUSHI on Wednesday, as Naito mocked Tenzan for not being able to do the Mongolian chop anymore. He’s actually sticking to it as well, short-circuiting in the middle of a tag match at the Giant Baba memorial show last week…
Wato and BUSHI launch at each other at the bell, trading right hands as we start with the battle of the blue pants. BUSHI’s rana takes down Wato ahead of a kick to the back, but Wato responds by taking BUSHI into the corner for some stomps, forcing Honma to tag himself in. Honma throws BUSHI into the corner so Naito could tag in, but BUSHI just attacks Honma from behind as the pair slowly circled. Naito’s stomps lead to Honma getting choked against the top rope, before BUSHI tagged back into land a neckbreaker. Naito mocks a Mongolian chop as he hits a double sledge to Honma’s back… before he went back to the cravat to choke Honma in the ropes.
BUSHI’s back to kick Honma, then trap him in a chinlock that ended in the ropes. An eye rake just seems to wake up Honma, who replies with a DDT before Wato tagged in to come in with a springboard uppercut. A tiltawhirl backbreaker’s next for Wato, who then sent BUSHI outside with a dropkick ahead of the tornillo to the outside.
Back inside, Wato kicks away at a seated BUSHI, before Recientemente was teased. BUSHI blocked, but can’t hit his Terrible as Wato took him down for a near-fall. A powerbomb from Wato comes to nought as BUSHI returned with a back cracker before heading to the corner for a running lungblower. Wato blocks it, then returned with a head kick before an enziguiri left both men laying. Naito gets the tag back in, as does Honma as those two go at it again. A back elbow and a low dropkick catches Honma ahead of Combinacion Cabron in the corner, with stomps from Naito following as I buffer badly. Wato tries to make a save, catching Naito with a leaping kick before Honma helped out with a leaping Kokeshi.
Honma takes Naito up top and lands a superplex for a near-fall, before a Kokeshi Otoshi was broken up by BUSHI. Naito combines with BUSHI to hit low dropkicks for a two-count, before Destino was countered with an inside cradle for a near-fall. Another headbutt from Honma leaves Naito groggy ahead of a clothesline for a two-count, before a short Destino caught out Honma. From there, a lungblower from BUSHI and a roll-through pin from Naito gets the win as Naito picked up another win against the growler. ***¼
Post-match, Master Wato broke up the “pin”… but get tossed outside for a tope suicida from BUSHI.
Kota Ibushi & SHO vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & Hiromu Takahashi)
We’ve split introductions to hype up the two title matches later in the week…
SANADA and Ibushi start us off as commentary straight up teased another time limit draw like we had earlier in the tour. They play to the crowd from the off, acknowledging the rhythmic clapping before SANADA knocked Ibushi off the turnbuckle, sending him down to the floor. The pair go for springboards, then their finishers as they came up short ahead of a stand-off. A lock-up ends with SANADA taking Ibushi into the ropes for a clean break, before SANADA took Ibushi down for a bridging hammerlock. Ibushi escapes and took down SANADA in a side headlock, but there’s escapes as we hit another stand-off. Tags bring in SHO and Hiromu, who launch into each other with elbows, before their shoulder tackles led to both men getting knocked down.
SHO low bridges Hiromu onto the apron, then sweeps the leg… but Hiromu pulls himself up to avoid the low dropkick as he proceeded to fake out a dive. Rushing back inside, SHO charges down Hiromu once more, before Ibushi came in to help out sandwich Hiromu with kicks for a near-fall.
Some figure four headscissors from Ibushi keep Hiromu down, but it ends in the ropes as Ibushi then brought SHO back in to apply an armbar. Arm breakers follow, with Hiromu’s arm going over the shoulder repeatedly… but a distraction from SANADA allows Hiromu to briefly trap SHO with headscissors in the ropes, before taking him outside for a trip into the railings.
Ibushi has a similar visit, thanks to SANADA, before Hiromu and SANADA cornered SHO back inside. An uppercut keeps SHO at bay, before Hiromu came in to land some body blows on the mat. SHO tries to fight back, but he’s decked with a chop… then again with one from SANADA, who proceeded to tie up both opponents in Paradise Locks. Low dropkicks free them as SHO almost got pinned by SANADA, with SHO then trying to fight back against Hiromu, only to get chopped into the corner. Eventually SHO retaliates with a kitchen sink knee to the gut, before he suplexed SANADA and made that tag back out to Ibushi.
SANADA reverses an Irish whip, but eats a diving kick from Ibushi, then a scoop slam as the double champion’s springboard moonsault almost ends the match. Kicks from Ibushi get caught and elbowed away as SANADA returned with a low dropkick, taking Ibushi outside… but he escapes the plancha and instead looked to hit a Last Ride on the floor. There’s escapes and counters as SANADA tries to take Ibushi into the rails, before a drop toe hold took SANADA there instead.
Back inside, a springboard dropkick from Ibushi takes down SANADA, but SANADA recovered to back flip out of the corner in search of Skull End. That’s escaped, but SANADA quickly maneuvers in for a Magic Screw as both men dragged themselves to tag in SHO and Hiromu once more. Hiromu’s hot to start, catching a spear before they trade elbows as more kicks from SHO leave Hiromu down.
There’s no pin as SHO measures up for more kicks, getting a two-count from a mid kick, before he blocked a ‘rana from Hiromu. A spear lands at the second time of asking for a near-fall, but SANADA rushes in as LIJ quickly turn it around with low dropkicks, as a Falcon arrow from Hiromu nearly ended it.
Ibushi makes the save, but got taken outside as SHO tried to find a way back in, landing a leaping knee to take Hiromu down. A sunset flip from Hiromu’s countered as SHO rolled into a Kimura, only for Hiromu to power free and break the grip with an elbow. We hit the final five minutes as a thrust kick from Hiromu, then a clothesline battered SHO, who hit back with clotheslines of his own, but neither man budged!
Eventually one more double clothesline took both SHO and Hiromu down. Ibushi and SANADA run in to drag their partners to the corner so they could tag out, rather than have nothing happen. SANADA and Ibushi trade elbows as the draw looked nailed on, but an O’Connor roll from SANADA led to a Skull End that Ibushi baclflipped his way out of. A head kick drops SANADA ahead of a Kamigoye attempt, but SANADA countered back into a Skull End, swinging around Ibushi before dragging him to the mat.
The referee looked to stop proceedings as we hit the final minute, but Ibushi refused to submit… so SANADA lets go and head up top for a moonsault, but Ibushi rolls away as we began a Parade of Moves, featuring a pop-up powerbomb from Hiromu on SHO, before a springboard dropkick from SANADA took down Ibushi. We’re back to the Skull End, but Ibushi countered with a roll-up, only for the bell to sound. Yep, that’s two main event draws on this road-to show (inside 14 days, too), and while the match was pretty good, commentary perhaps shouldn’t have tipped it off. Knowing how wrestling is with overdoing stuff like this, as good as these matches go, can we have a moratorium on draws in this spot before it gets done to death? ***½
…and that’s it for the Road to the New Beginning. Hiroshima’s Sun Plaza Hall hosts the final two stops in the tour, with Wednesday’s show starting at 9am GMT/ 4am ET, with SHO vs. Hiromu and GOD vs. Sabre/Taichi being your top two matches. Thursday’s has a 6am GMT/1am ET start time for you night owls…
Still your typical road-to show, this one at least felt like it had some zip to it, with the post-match stuff that delivered the finishing touches to the big matches in Hiroshima.