Another Korakuen Hall show gives us a pair of United Empire vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon tag matches.
Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru submitted Tomoaki Honma, SHO & YOH in 12:02 (**½)
Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Jado pinned DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi in 9:21 (**½)
YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto & Tomihiro Ishii submitted Gedo, EVIL, KENTA, Yujiro Takahashi & Taiji Ishimori in 15:25 (**¾)
Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan pinned BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito in 9:30 (***)
Shingo Takagi & SANADA pinned Aaron Henare & Will Ospreay in 18:07 (***½)
For those who don’t follow me on Twitter, I’m going to be keeping a lot of reports brief going forward, especially for the minor Road-to shows. They’ve reconfigured Korakuen Hall again, with the hard cam side having reduced seating…
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) & Tomoaki Honma
Out goes Gabriel Kidd, in comes Tomoaki Honma as Roppingi 3K look for a friend to help them win this opener…
We’ve our usual jump start with everyone pairing off, with YOH helping SHO overcome Kanemaru in the early going, but after the obligatory trip outside, Minoru Suzuki starts to wear away on SHO with a leglock. SHO manages to come back with a spear as YOH got the hot tag and cleared house. At least until Desperado nicked back in with a spinebuster.
Suzuki and Honma lit each other up with chops only for Honma to miss a Kokeshi, as he’s want to do. He eventually lands it, after SHO & YOH held Suzuki down like he were being stretched on a rack… and of course, Suzuki’s pissed after that as he aimed for Honma’s leg, stretching him in a leg lock that ended in the ropes. Suzuki struggle switch a Gotch piledriver as Honma tries to fight back, only to get pulled into another leg lock for the submission. It’s curious to see how SHO’s “fallen” since YOH’s returned – we’re all expecting a turn, but who knows anymore? **½
Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & DOUKI) vs. Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Jado)
Same, same, and not different?
Of course, we’re building towards an eventual tag title match, via a ladder match (of all things) for the Funky Oven Glove. Tanga Loa overpowers Sabre early on, tossing him with a German suplex as the Guerrillas decided to focus on him for the early going. Things change when Taichi got the hot tag as he chokes away on folks, before an abdominal stretch on Tama Tonga was broken up.
Taichi finds a way back in with a gamengiri, before DOUKI comes in… his brief flurry is quickly stopped by Jado. That distraction sees DOUKI plancha onto Jado, only to return as an attempted Daybreak DDT’s countered with a Gun Stun… and that’s another one-hit kill win. A different, out of nowhere finish. We’ve got just under three weeks before their big feature match, but right now this isn’t doing it for me as New Japan continue to do their usual thing of stretching out tag team feuds. **½
The Guerrillas brawl with Sabre and Taichi after the match…
Bullet Club (EVIL, KENTA, Yujiro Takahashi, Taiji Ishimori & Gedo) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii
At least we’ve got EVIL and Yano in the same match, so we’re building up to a KOPW defence and the NEVER trios title defence, while KENTA seemingly threatened to knight Tanahashi with the bo staff before hand…
Tanahashi and not-Jay-White start, but Gedo’s not in the mood for being shown up while posing, only to need EVIL’s help as Tanahashi tried to hit a Blade Runner on him. We do the usual “cycle through tags” routine, giving us EVIL and Yano, with the latter’s attempt to blindfold EVIL being stopped by the ref.
Things break down on the outside with everyone getting taken into guard rails and what have you, wearing down Hirooki Goto in particular… and it stays the same in the ring. Goto’s thrown into an exposed corner pad, before his attempts to fight back saw him have to clear house by himself before clotheslining Yujiro to the mat.
The ring fills for a Parade of, erm, Hair Pulling, before we got to Ishii and Yujiro. Elbows and biting. Yujiro pulls ahead with a clothesline, getting a two-count off of a Fisherman buster. A series of counters leads to an Ishii slam and a German suplex, before tags give us KENTA and YOSHI-HASHI, with the latter pushing on with a Head Hunter.
KENTA fights back, exchanging strikes ahead of a DDT before Gedo came in to try and push the match over the line… a chinbreaker gets him a two-count, before it was time to cheat. Dick Togo distracts as Gedo tries to use the brass knuckles, only for Tanahashi to stop him as a mini Parade of Moves led to YOSHI-HASHI locking in a Butterfly Lock… holding onto it for grim death as KENTA’s distraction led to the lights going out.
When they come back up, EVIL’s apparently choked out YOSHI-HASHI with the garotte wire, but Toru Yano low blows him before Goto’s super-kick assisted ushigoroshi dropped Gedo… and then it’s back to the Butterfly Lock for the eventual submission. A little shtick-y towards the end, but the finishing stretch at least looked lively. I could live without the lights going on on EVERY house show match featuring Yano mind you… **¾
After the match, YOSHI-HASHI retrieves his bo staff, so the adventures of bo chan and his trash-talking promos is over? Nope! KENTA attacks him through the curtains, and we see him walking off with the bo staff backstage.
United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI)
They’ve been teasing Naito and O-Khan again since their first round match in the New Japan Cup… but Naito doesn’t seem to want to get involved, as he instead froze in the aisle doing O-Khan’s pose. A most peculiar staredown.
In fact, an entrance that took so long, they stopped playing Naito’s music, so as to prod him into the ring. When we get going, there’s a lot of avoidance going into a tranquilo that annoyed O-Khan, so much so he chased Naito away to do his own version of a tranquilo pose. Baseball cap and all.
Of course, Naito and BUSHI stomp on him before a pony-tail assisted seated surfboard drew Cobb in to break it up. O-Khan gets a two-count from a Mongolian chop after that, before he tried to eke out a win with a head claw on Naito. BUSHI breaks it up and is taken outside, but he’s quickly tagged in to try and find an opening.
He did not. There was a slight opening when Naito combined with him for a see-saw sunset flip, with a Fisherman screw from BUSHI getting a near-fall, before he tried Terrible on Cobb. O-Khan just boots BUSHI away before ragdolling Naito down. That was impressive. From there, a head claw on BUSHI sees O-Khan throw him into a Tour of the Islands, and that’s your lot. Remarkably one-sided, as the Empire have mostly been in these tags. ***
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & SANADA) vs. United Empire (Will Ospreay & Aaron Henare)
Of course it’s Ospreay vs. Shingo part four at the end of the line here.
We’ve a jump start as the match spills to the floor at the bell, but it’s a different story in the ring. Danielson elbows wore down Ospreay as SANDA tagged in… only to get low bridged as Henare takes the match back outside for a spell. That trip to the guard rails puts the Empire ahead again, with Henare choking on SANADA in the corner before a PK blasts through SANADA to get Ospreay a near-fall.
Ospreay keeps the momentum building with a backbreaker on SANADA, who eventually fought back with a low dropkick on Henare. Shingo eventually gets the tag in and hits a snap suplex on Ospreay for a two-count, only to come out second best on a chop battle in the corner. A springboard forearm from Ospreay lands for a two-count, before Shingo’s brief comeback got snuffed out.
SANADA has more luck, with a ‘rana to take Henare outside, following with a cannonball on the floor, but Henare gets back on top with a PK to the back. Another quick flurry sees SANADA regain the advantage with a missile dropkick… but Shingo gets caught out as his noshigami’s taken into the corner with a gamengiri from Ospreay sparking another resurgence from the Empire… one that nearly ended awkwardly with Ospreay clipping the ropes on a short tope to SANADA.
A spear tackle from Henare nearly gets him the win, but double-teaming overwhelms as a dropkick-assisted back suplex has Henare down… before Ospreay came in to save Henare from a Last of the Dragon. Cue a Parade of Moves, ending with Henare eating a noshigami, then a Pumping Bomber for some near-falls. One last attempt from Henare sees him crack Shingo with a headbutt, but a swinging Dragon Sleeper from SANADA leads to him handing off Henare for a Last of the Dragon – including a gnarly landing – for the pin. I’m not sure I’d have transitioned Henare from “nearly man for the home team” to “very well looks like the United Empire’s pin-eater”, but I’m not Gedo. ***½
The tour’s got a non-televised show on Friday… and then it’s back to Korakuen Hall on Sunday for the first of three back-to-back shows, building to the NEVER trios title defence on Tuesday.
Today was another run-of-the-mill Korakuen show – nothing unspeakably bad this time out, but likewise you’re not getting much that’s going to grab you here. It’s all about quantity of shows until restrictions end, but if you’ve been following along, you’ll know that already…