Jushin Thunder Liger had his final match in Korakuen Hall, as he headlined for one last time…
Masked Horse comes back for a third time in the pre-show, but he’s not on the back of one of his own… he’s here to do a spot of gambling, it looks like. However, there’s a Masked Black Horse who looks a lot like Taichi, and I’m wondering just what my coffee got spiked with this morning…
Anyway, WrestleKingdom is in TWO WEEKS, and we’ve got commentary here from the usual trio of Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton and Gino Gambino. They announce that Yujiro Takahashi and SANADA are off the card, so there’s some slight tweaks to the line-up.
Tomoaki Honma, Ryusuke Taguchi & Yota Tsuji vs. Togi Makabe, Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura
Tiger Mask and Taguchi start off, and just pirouettes into a kick before he missed a hip attack.
Tags get us to Makabe and Tsuji, with the Young Lion rushing in with forearms, only to get rocked with a single response. The shoulder tackle’s effective, before Tiger Mask came in to drop Tsuji with a knee drop for a near-fall. Tsuji tries his forearms again, but he’s knocked back as an armbar forces Tsuji into the ropes. Uemura’s in next, but Tsuji had little interest in his fellow Young Lion, and ended with a chinlock into the ropes before they traded forearms. Tags gets us to Honma and Makabe, with the latter landing some mounted punches before Honma blocked the Northern Lights suplex. A shoulder tackle from Honma led to… a missed Kokeshi. Of course.
Uemura’s back to hiptoss Honma for a two-count, but he’s quickly met with a leaping Kokeshi. He takes a hip attack before flattening Taguchi with a forearm, with an elbow drop next for a two-count, as my feed drops out. It’s back with Uemura countering Dodon with a roll-up, before he went for a half crab. Honma tries to break it up with chops, but Makabe deals with him as they teased a Taguchi tap… Only for Taguchi to roll out and respond with Oh My Garankle, but Uemura could only circle around the ring before he was pulled up into Dodon for the inevitable. A really good match, with Uemura standing out big time, but the Young Lions don’t get an early Christmas miracle. ***
Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) & Robbie Eagles vs. Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & Gedo)
Gedo’s replacing the injured Yujiro here, and we’ve got a jump start as SHO pushed ELP off the top rope before the bell. They’ve finally learned!
YOH takes Ishimori into the seating decks, throwing enough forearms to make the Bone Soldier swear… Phantasmo heads up there too, as we still don’t have a count-out starting. Eventually everyone heads back towards the ring, although ELP dents the wall when he’s thrown into it, but Gedo heads in to break the count-out tease. Dives quickly follow as SHO, YOH and Eagles take to the sky, which prompt the Bullet Club trio to walk out… but it’s a trap as we’ve even more crowd brawling, before they FINALLY hit the ring, where YOH got thrown into a wonky turnbuckle pad.
Phantasmo puts the boots to him, before we came in with the back rakes. YOH gets free with a double DDT before bringing in SHO to go wild with clotheslines. Gedo’s triple-teamed, as was Phantasmo, who was pushed into a dropkick before Ishimori… suffered a similar fate. Triple superkicks led to the Dominator-ish move, and a 450 to the leg from Eagles. That sets up for the Ron Miller Special, but El Phantasmo pulls out the ref and hits Eagles with the belt. For once, the referee actually calls a DQ on that, and that’s a mighty dangerous precedent to set lads. This never really felt like it was going anywhere, and the odd finish in New Japan canon didn’t sit well with me. **¼
After the match, Roppongi 3K lay out ELP with the 3K, and regain their Super Junior Tag League trophies.
BUSHI vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
We’ve a special singles match here, as SANADA’s out with a facial injury. That means we get to see BUSHI on his own… BUSHI’s wearing three masks, including SANADA’s. Taichi’s out as the Masked Black Horse, which just furthers the acid trip of the day.
Sabre screams for SANADA, but we end up with Masked Black Horse pulling out BUSHI and throwing him into the guard rails after we had a barrage of horse puns on commentary. Neigh. BUSHI goes for a ‘rana, but gets caught in a STF instead, thankfully right by the ropes. Kicks from Sabre target BUSHI’s leg, before an ankle lock added more pain, as BUSHI again has to make the ropes. BUSHI catches Sabre in the corner with an overhead kick, but Masked Black Horse distracts. Nevermind, BUSHI got free to land a missile dropkick to ZSJ, then hit the masked man with a tope… Sabre’s met with a springing DDT through the ropes onto the apron, before he tries to choke out BUSHI with one arm… only for Sabre to get caught as he went for a Zack Driver, which gets turned into the BUSHI roll for the massive upset! Well, BUSHI was a dark horse for this one, and while the match was hardly anything special, the result’s going to stick in the memory for ages. ***
Hirooki Goto, Toa Henare, David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs. Bullet Club (KENTA, Bad Luck Fale & Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa))
Finlay and Juice are wearing Christmas-themed suit jackets… which they toss into the crowd.
Bullet Club try to jump start things, but they’re caught as the good guys corner them for a bunch of stomps. Things eventually calm down when the Guerrillas clear the ring, only to get caught with flapjacks from Finlay and Juice. Some Dusty punches end with Juice getting charged into the corner as the champions took over, heading outside for some more double-teams. Back in the ring, Tama lands a slingshot senton before clobbering Juice from behind… Finlay trips Tama to stops ome double-teaming, before tags got us to KENTA and Goto. KENTA rakes the eyes to avoid an ushigoroshi, before Fale tripped Goto as the kicks start to come. From KENTA, naturally. A draping DDT spikes Goto for a near-fall, with a Shibata-ish dropkick following before Goto avoids a stomp and hits the ushigoroshi.
Henare comes in next to try his luck with KENTA, but Jado distracts with a Kendo stick as KENTA almost took the win. Goto breaks up the pin, only to eat a Busaiku knee as Henare ends up taking the Go 2 Sleep, and another loss. I really, really hope Henare’s 2020 sees him pull away from this role. By the numbers stuff here, with KENTA dropping Goto with a Go 2 Sleep as the Bullet Club hit their finishers on the good guys afterwards. It was what it was. Skippable. **½
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Will Ospreay & Tomohiro Ishii
The comeback continues, as Gino tries to tell us everything is bullshit.
Ospreay and Hiromu shoot out of the gates as Kevin Kelly has to commentate like an auctioneer to get everything in… Ospreay takes Hiromu outside and fakes out the dive, but Hiromu slides back in quickly and gets taken into the corner as Ishii got the tag in. Hiromu quickly bails, as EVIL comes in to trade shoulder tackles with Ishii, then slaps, before EVIL rained down forearms into the corner. Forearms to the throat drop EVIL, but he’s back up to slap down Ishii before he rolled him outside, which allowed Hiromu to sprint for his life as he went after Ospreay, hurling him into the front row via the guard rails. The camera crew has a hard time keeping up as Hiromu tosses Ospreay into the English commentary table, before EVIL and Ishii got back inside, battering each other some more.
Hiromu tags in as Ishii’s on the deck, but it’s not long before Ospreay comes in to turn it back around… he’s taken onto the apron as Hiromu teases a sunset bomb, only for Ospreay to block it and land a pop-up ‘rana then a springboard forearm off the guard rails. Back inside, Ospreay goes for a reverse DDT, but Hiromu counters out and hits a clothesline, before Ospreay countered the handspring counter… only to get caught with a sit-out powerbomb as Hiromu struck back! EVIL and Ishii return to knock seven shades of you know what out of each other with a barrage of forearms. Ishii’s suplex is no-sold, as EVIL’s right back up with a German suplex that puts Ishii down. Ishii wriggles out of Darkness Falls and hits a German of his own, before Ospreay leapt off of Ishii’s back with a corkscrew moonsault… a springboard forearm-assisted powerbomb gets Ishii a near-fall. Hiromu’s back with a clothesline ahead of a Darkness Falls from EVIL for a near-fall, but Ospreay takes care of Hiromu as a pair of EVIL clotheslines nearly end things.
From there, EVIL gets caught with an enziguiri as Ospreay returned for some double-teams, before he took care of Hiromu with a Sasuke special, allowing EVIL to land a sliding lariat for a near-fall… with the sheer drop brainbuster getting the win. Absolutely fantastic stuff, with EVIL and Ishii going balls to the wall, as if they had a point to prove by not being put in anything resembling a marquee match in two weekends’ time. ***¾
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi) vs. Bullet Club (Jay White & Chase Owens)
White spits at Naito before the bell, which led to the jump start as we were all business tonight.
White’s taken into the guard rails for some choking, before Jay took a guard rail… then got rolled into the ring so Naito could pull him up by the hair. Naito slips in the corner as he tried to avoid a turnbuckle, and quickly ends up getting stomped on by White, who finally managed to get rid of his ring jacket as Naito took a receipt, getting hurled into the railings. Chase holds Naito on the outside so White could mock him with a spot of Tranquilo… and then it’s time to toss Naito between the ring apron and the guard rails. Referee Red Shoes Unno refuses to count a pin because of the cheating, so White has to continue.
Chase comes in, but stops himself from landing in Naito’s boot from a fist drop… only to miss an elbow drop seconds later. Naito’s back with a low dropkick to give him time, before tags bring us to Shingo and White, with the latter having to avoid a double-team before he clotheslined the pair of them. Throwing Shingo into the corner gave Chase a glimmer of hope, as did a hair pull, before Shingo back body dropped out of a package piledriver. Some near-misses led to Chase clocking Shingo with a running knee, before Naito came in to ‘rana Chase outside. White’s in too to take a Combinacion Cabron, before he hung Naito across the top rope. There’s a DDT too as White snuffed out Naito, but he took too long going for a sleeper suplex, instead pulling him down as some knees to the midsection had Naito on the deck.
Naito’s leaping forearm’s avoided, but he keeps hold of White’s wrist a la Okada… but Jay gets free and brings in Chase, only for Owens to take a neckbreaker. Shingo returns to clothesline Owens in the corner, before they traded shots back-and-forth, leading to some rights from Shingo and a swivelling lariat to boot. White returns to try and sneak in a Blade Runner to Shingo, but ends up taking a swinging DDT from Naito as a Parade of Moves got going… ending with a Pumping Bomber to Chase, before Last of the Dragon put Owens away. This was… okay? I’m having a real hard time focusing on these Naito/White matches – and it’s a combination of me not being able to get on board with Jay, and tuning out when “T-shirt Naito” is around. Just across these three shows, Naito’s left leg is becoming more and more of a concern, going by the increasing amount of tape he’s using. He’ll be the Yet-ay by January 5. Hopefully not dry humping the belts… ***¼
Jushin Thunder Liger, Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada, Rocky Romero & YOSHI-HASHI
Liger’s rolling back the years for his final Korakuen outfit, pulling out the CTU-era Liger gear – but while the headline for this match was all about Liger, we had the small issue of Ibushi/Okada here too.
Ibushi and Okada start, as Red Shoes dances in time to the crowd chants for both men, before they started throwing forearms at each other. A kick has Okada doubled-over, before Ibushi clung to the rope to avoid a dropkick ahead of a missed Rainmaker and a stand-off. Liger and Rocky come in next, trading shoulder tackles as Liger pulled ahead, before he charged at Rocky in the ropes… sending himself outside. Rocky misses a baseball slide dropkick and took one from Liger, who threw him back inside for a Romero special. How apt. Tags get us to YOSHI-HASHI and Tanahashi, with the latter shouting out YOSHI-HASHI’s real first name in a bid to fire him up. Maybe Tanahashi really is a heel wrestler?
Tanahashi runs into a boot before YOSHI-HASHI hung him up in the ropes ahead of a dropkick to the outside, as all six men proceeded to brawl around the ringside area. Tanahashi’s thrown into the guard rails, while Okada tossed the G1 winner’s briefcase at Ibushi, before we returned to the ring as Rocky chopped and clotheslined Tanahashi in the corner. Forever. YOSHI-HASHI’s back, but he just gets swatted away before a Dragon screw gave Tanahashi an opening to bring Ibushi back in. A series of kicks and palm strikes has YOSHI-HASHI down ahead of a standing moonsault for a near-fall. Okada’s back with a sliding back elbow, then a flapjack to Ibushi, who responds with a springboard moonsault and a vicious head kick for good measure. Kamigoye looks to follow, but Okada gets free before running into a dropkick, as Liger tags in to clear house with his Greatest Hits.
Okada’s still legal, taking a Shotei into the corner before Liger rolled the clock back again for a superplex. A sunset flip from Liger nearly gets the win, but Okada kicks out and hits a dropkick before a ripcord Shotei dropped Okada! The Ligerbomb follows, but YOSHI-HASHI breaks up the cover, as Rocky and YOSHI got taken outside for duelling Pescados. Liger stays behind and hits another Shotei to Okada, only to get caught with a spinning tombstone… then an eventual Rainmaker, as Liger’s run at Korakuen ended with him going out on his back. He brought his best, but in the end, it wasn’t to be. Thank you, Liger. ***½
There was no farewell ceremony for Liger here, as he was carried to the back, while Okada and Ibushi had a staredown in the middle of the ring, while fake snow fell… only for Jay White to run in from behind to give us the wrestling equivalent of coal. Tetsuya Naito runs to make the save as the rest of the snow fell. Gedo’s there too to attack Okada, but he’s laid out as a Saito suplex from White looked to leave us with more Christmas coal… but Okada dropkicks him away and ended the night by declaring that he’s the best. That’s actually a false finish, as Okada thanks Liger and laid out his promise for the Tokyo Dome in two weeks’ time…
So that’s it. The road to Tokyo Dome is over. We’re back on the New Japan trail in two weeks for the first of two nights of WrestleKingdom 14 – and if you’re planning on joining us live, check the start times! In the UK, you’re looking at 7am for the pre-show on Saturday and 5am on Sunday, so get ready for some early/late nights!