Tetsuya Naito and SANADA team up to face Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI as the latest stretch of Korakuen Hall shows wrapped up.
Shingo Takagi defeated Yota Tsuji via referee stoppage in 11:09 (***)
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato submitted Yujiro Takahashi, Taiji Ishimori & Chase Owens in 10:58 (**¾)
Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga pinned DOUKI & Zack Sabre Jr in 11:56 (***)
Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan pinned Tomoaki Honma & Kota Ibushi in 12:04 (***¼)
Tetsuya Naito & SANADA pinned YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto in 23:24 (***)
We’re back for the final night on this run of weekday shows at Korakuen Hall, with English commentary following later for those checking this out on-demand.
But first, a wild Kazuchika Okada appears. He’d been off these cards after recovering from covid, and promised he’d take his title shot. So I guess he’ll be in whatever they’re doing to crown a new IWGP champion?
Yota Tsuji vs. Shingo Takagi
The last of Tsuji’s impromptu trial series sees him take on one of the men who’s trying to stake a claim for that vacated title.
On paper, this could be an easy one for Shingo, but I’m hoping to see some sort of fire from Tsuji that had been sort of lacking in his matches with Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi earlier in the week. The opening lock-up ends in the ropes, with Tsuji hitting a cheapshot on the break, before he rushed back inside as Shingo threw him to the floor.
A sort-of armdrag takes Tsuji to the ropes, but he’s back with a shoulder tackle before elbows looked to lead to a slam. I buffer, as we end up on the outside with Tsuji in the railings, before Shingo continued to rough up the Young Lion in the corner. Chops rock Tsuji, who returns fire with a dropkick, then a suplex.
A running flip senton and the Mount Tsuji splash follow for a two-count, but Shingo’s jab, elbow and lariat stems the tide as Shingo surged ahead. Shingo’s suplex gets a near-fall as he moved to a half crab, which ends in the ropes. Tsuji blocks a noshigami, but just gets battered by elbows before he finally offered a response… in the form of a spear.
Tsuji tries his luck with a Boston crab, but Shingo just flips his way free before he caught a second spear, countering it into a DDT. A sliding lariat follows, before a noshigami drew the nearest of falls. Shingo comes back with a Pumping Bomber to the back, then the front, before a rapid-fire series of elbows took what was left out of Tsuji… and that leads to the stoppage via knock-out. This was a little better in terms of fire, but otherwise this was as easy as it should have been for Shingo. ***
Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Taiji Ishimori) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato
A bit of a random tag…
Master Wato demanded to start against Taiji Ishimori, with the Bone Soldier going for the eyes early on before a lucha series led to headscissors and a dropkick from Wato. Tenzan’s in for some Kokeshi-like falling headbutts as he took over on Ishimori, throwing some Mongolian chops before splashing Ishimori in the corner.
A brainbuster follows for a two-count, before Tenzan just punched Ishimori in the head… only to get tripped by Yujiro, who pulled him to the outside as we started the obligatory brawl on the floor. Back inside, Ishimori punches Tenzan’s head – which backfires, because it’s too hard, so Yujiro tags in and instead elbows Tenzan in the jaw.
Chase Owens comes in for some gut shots, before a chinlock was elbowed out of. He again falls for the headbutt, as Tenzan replied with a Mongolian chop, only for Yujiro to run in to stop a tag out from being made. Chase hits some Mongolian chops of his own, but runs into a Mountain Bomb as Master Wato tags back in.
Wato kicks Owens into the corner, then was lifted to the outside as he returned with a springboard uppercut… a leaping neckbreaker’s next for a two-count, before Yujiro tagged in and kicked Wato in the rope. Finally, a tag brings in Tanahashi, who caught a front kick from Yujiro and countered it into a Dragon screw.
There’s Dragon screws for Ishimori too, before Yujiro caught out Tanahashi with a Fisherman buster for a two-count. Owens and Ishimori hit the ring to help out with a back suplex/neckbreaker that drew Tenzan and Wato in to break up the count. Tanahashi tries for a suplex, but Yujiro bites back on his way to an Incolle slam for a near-fall, before Tanahashi bit back himself to escape the Pimp Juice.
In the end, Tanahashi came back with a Texas Cloverleaf, rolling over Yujiro while Tenzan trapped Owens with an Anaconda Vise… and Wato had Ishimori with an Anaconda Vise of his own… which gave Yujiro no choice but to tap. This was fine, but was largely your run-of-the-mill undercard tag. **¾
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Somewhere, you just know that Gedo was shaking while booking this, knowing that he was so, so close to running back that trios match we saw so much of in April…
DOUKI starts against Tanga Loa, but his early dropkicks proved ineffective… he manages to low bridge Tanga to the outside for a dive, while also dealing with Tama Tonga, who got rolled into some headscissors by Sabre back in the ring. A stomp from DOUKI takes Tama outside, but DOUKI took too long for his second dive as the Guerrillas pulled him outside for our obligatory outside-the-ring stuff, which saw DOUKI slammed onto the edge of the ring, before getting thrown inside for a senton atomico.
Tama Tonga starts to get frustrated at DOUKI’s resilience, so he tags in Tanga Loa to lay DOUKI out with a forearm before a powerslam landed for a two-count. DOUKI tries his luck with a swinging DDT on Tama, but had luck with a springboard armdrag as Zack Sabre Jr. finally tagged into the match.
Sabre boots Tanga Loa off the apron, then locked in a Cobra Twist on Tama Tonga… rolling through a hiptoss escape as he tried to twist Tama’s neck off. Jado’s in for old time’s sake, and also gets the neck twist before Sabre got pancaked. A Tongan Twist gets Tama a near-fall, with DOUKI then coming in… and getting taken care of with a Stinger splash in the corner.
Guerrilla Warfare lays out Sabre for a two-count, as did a powerbomb/neckbreaker, before Jado called for a super powerbomb… but Sabre escapes the set-up and trapped Tanga Loa in a guillotine. That’s escaped, so DOUKI flies in with a missile dropkick to Tanga, then with headscissors to take him outside as Jado ends up eating a plancha too. Again, for old times’ sake…
DOUKI goes for a Daybreak DDT to Tanga Loa, but instead has to go for a sunset flip and roll-ups for two-counts, before a powerbomb from Tanga led to DOUKI getting pulled out at one. A second powerbomb ragdolls DOUKI, but again Tanga pulls him up, so he could finish off DOUKI with a Taichi-esque Last Ride for the win. Post-match, Zack Sabre Jr. takes a Magic Killer as the Guerrillas continued to send their message… ***
United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs. Kota Ibushi & Tomoaki Honma
I have a bad feeling about Honma…
We started with O-Khan and Honma, locking up into the ropes before Honma charge down O-Khan. He resists the temptation for an early Kokeshi, and instead clubs away on O-Khan, who responded by throwing him down to the mat. My feed drops out here, recovering with Honma being stood in in the corner as Ibushi tried to break it up… only for Jeff Cobb to just chuck him to the outside.
Cobb slams Honma and fakes out a Kokeshi… and just stomps on Honma instead. Clubbing forearms keep Honma down, before he went after Honma’s ears, taking him into the corner. O-Khan’s back in as they keep Honma isolated, ahead of that modified Cobra Twist. Honma manages to escape O-Khan’s slam, eventually hitting a DDT before bringing in Ibushi, who ran wild, taking down O-Khan with a diving kick.
Ibushi follows O-Khan outside for a plancha, before a standing shooting star press back inside gets a near-fall. Cobb cuts off Ibushi by popping him up into an O-Khan uranage, before a running suplex out of the corner nearly got Cobb the win. Ibushi tries to cut him off with a backflip kick, which misses, before he had more luck with a dropkick.
Honma’s back in with chops to Cobb, then a bulldog as he then went for… and missed a Kokeshi. Cobb holds Honma up for Mongolian chops, but Honma broke free and found a way in with a leaping Kokeshi to Cobb for a two-count. Going up top, Honma’s caught by Cobb, but slips down as he went for a clothesline… only to run into a Spin Cycle for a near-fall.
Ibushi’s back to try and waylay Cobb, only to get laid out with a Cobbi-goye… with Ibushi freezing on the impact as he looked to be KO’d. He’s not the legal man though, so the match continued as Honma ate two front kicks before getting thrown into a Tour of the Islands for the win. Decent enough as we have something to look forward to in Cobb vs. Ibushi, one of the few highlights on this run of shows. ***¼
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA) vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
A bit of a weird one given Naito and Ishii has been the collision course plotted this week, but here you go…
SANADA and Goto start us off, but it’s shoulder tackles and hiptosses that have Goto ahead, with YOSHI-HASHI getting hiptossed onto SANADA for good measure. Naito comes in and is quickly disposed of, as we then spilled outside for the usual trips to the guard rails. BUSHI headed to ringside to take a seat – and with Shingo Takagi already on commentary, that means that all four LIJ members are at ringside…
Back in the ring, Naito stretches Goto in an armbar, before SANADA tagged in and worked an arm wringer. Goto’s taken into the corner and suplexed out of it for a two-count, while Naito returned to hit a neckbreaker for another two-count. Naito’s chinlock keeps Goto down for some pinning attempts, before Goto pushed away a swinging DDT to land a neckbreaker of his own.
YOSHI-HASHI tags in to clear the apron as he then forcibly removed T-Shirt Naito’s top… so he could chop him. A running Head Hunter has Naito down, as did a neckbreaker, before Naito returned with a hiptoss and a low dropkick. SANADA’s in to try for a Paradise Lock, but YOSHI-HASHI pushed him away before bringing Goto back in to trade elbows with SANADA.
A headbutt and a back rake has SANADA ahead, as he looked to work Goto’s lower back… only to get met with a clothesline. Goto’s bulldog takes SANADA out of the corner for a two-count, before an ushigoroshi was blocked. SANADA returns with a double leapfrog/dropkick, taking Goto outside for a plancha, before a springboard missile dropkick took Goto down back inside.
Goto recovers and quickly finds his way for an ushigoroshi, but SANADA counters with a Dragon sleeper, which gets flipped out of as Goto instead applied a sleeperhold. SANADA fight out of it, but ran into an ushigoroshi anyway as tags take us back to Naito and YOSHI-HASHI, with the pair trading elbows for fun.
YOSHI-HASHI’s chop looked to have him ahead, but Naito replies with some headscissors to take him into the corner for a Combinacion Cabron. A neckbreaker’s next, them some headscissors on the mat that ended in the ropes. Elbows take YOSHI-HASHI into the corner as I begin to wonder… are they going to try and go to the time limit here?
Naito takes YOSHI-HASHI up top, but YOSHI-HASHI slips out and lands a powerbomb out of the corner instead. As we pass the 20-minute mark, YOSHI-HASHI tries to fight back, but gets caught with a low dropkick from SANADA, then a single-leg dropkick from Naito, who then took him back up for that top rope ‘rana. It gets Naito a two-count, before his running Destino got blocked.
Goto runs in to clothesline Naito and start a Parade of Moves, leading to a teased double-team on Naito that eventually played out as a superkick-assisted ushigoroshi. YOSHI-HASHI runs in with a double knees for a two-count, before YOSHI-HASHI tried his luck with karma. Naito elbowed free, but got caught with a lariat, then a Western Lariat from YOSHI-HASHI for another near-fall…
…before another Karma’s escaped, with Naito and SANADA’s flurry of double-teaming leading to an enziguiri, a back suplex and a roll-through pin as Naito got the win. What, not even a Destino? A sudden finish as they had me fooled thinking they were going the distance, but really this never got going for me. ***
…and with the Tokyo Dome event currently off the books, we’ll be back on Tuesday for New Japan’s next show. It’s another pair of Korakuen Hall events, before the three-stop Road to Dominion wraps up next Friday at Tokyo’s Ota City General Gymnasium, and I’d hope there’ll be announcements long before then.
“Hurrah! Next Week, Another Tour, Surely This One Will Be Better Than The Last” is a slight play on one of Zack Sabre Jr’s wordy hold names, but is perhaps a fair summation after this particular run of blighted shows. With Dominion taking place the weekend after next, New Japan still has a LOT of confirmation to do in terms of how they’re tackling the IWGP title, as well as any other pieces that need to be slotted for the Dominion card.