Which team from CHAOS would leave Korakuen Hall with the NEVER trios titles? Find out on the latest leg of the Summer Struggle!
For this show, New Japan was trialling out a soundboard website that could be used on mobile phones for fans to count along, cheer and boo along with. You just know that some indies would misuse that thing…
Yujiro Takahashi & Gedo pinned Yuya Uemura & Gabriel Kidd in 8:30 (**¾)
Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Ryusuke Taguchi pinned Yota Tsuji, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma in 9:45 (**½)
SANADA & Shingo Takagi pinned DOUKI & Minoru Suzuki in 12:10 (***)
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & El Desperado in 12:45 (***)
Taiji Ishimori & EVIL beat Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI via disqualification in 10:40 (**¾)
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship Tournament Final: Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto pinned SHO, Toru Yano & Kazuchika Okada to win the vacant titles in 24:20 (****½)
Yuya Uemura & Gabriel Kidd vs. Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Gedo)
Milano Collection AT is messing around with the soundboard before the bell… and Gabe wants to start things off with Yujiro.
Kidd’s instantly caught with a kick to the gut, but manages to escape a side headlock as he counters in with one of his own. Of course, Yujiro bites his way free, then laid in with a forearm… but the Young Lions recover as Uemura helped with a double shoulder tackle that cleared Yujiro from the ring. The Bullet Club pair regroup, and Kidd makes the unwise move to go after Yujiro on the outside. Oh hey, there’s Gedo with his belt. THWACK. Uemura took the less harsh route, courtesy of an Irish whip into the guard rails, before they returned to the ring. Kidd takes a slam, before Yujiro somehow found a way to bugger up a sidewalk slam.
Back on the outside, Kidd’s whipped with Gedo’s belt, and then gets a stomping back inside. Yep, it’s almost the same tag as yesterday, as the Bullet Club duo dominate. A side headlock on the mat’s escaped by Kidd, who then took Gedo into the corner with uppercuts before he dragged his way across to tag in Uemura. Uemura’s beautiful dropkick finds its mark on Gedo, before a second one in the corner looked to lead to a capture suplex, but Gedo… bites the ear to save himself? Yujiro tags in for the prospect of more nibbling, but he’s derailed by a Kidd dropkick as the Young Lions again double-team with a suplex for a near-fall.
Jado’s ready to pounce with a Kendo stick, but a baseball slide from Uemura shows he’s learned, before the Capture suplex nearly put Yujiro away. The obligatory Boston crab follows, but Gedo breaks it up… before he restrained Kidd with a front facelock as Yujiro took home the win with a Fisherman buster and a Pimp Juice DDT. Pretty decent, with the Young Lions actually getting a look in this time… **¾
There’s more flogging for Gabe after the match, as Uemura ended up taking the Kendo stick shots he thought he’d avoided…
Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Yota Tsuji
Nagata seems a little upset with Tsuji, shoving him before the bell… and those two get us going, with Tsuji’s early elbows earning him a boot from Nagata, before he recovered to land a shoulder tackle.
Another boot from Nagata takes Tsuji to the outside, as tags bring in Honma and Taguchi. I bet he does hip attacks. We have lock-ups at first, before the pair trade elbows and chops as Honma looked to inch ahead. A charge in the corner ends with Honma running into Taguchi’s Sprules-ish elbow, before he got sat on a few times as Taguchi was trying out new stuff. Oh, and Kokeshis of his own. Kojima tags in as he resumes chops on Honma, before a falling elbow drop got him a bunch of one-counts. Nagata’s back to snapmare and punt Honma in the back, before more kicks eventually get caught as Honma… runs into a front kick before a leaping Kokeshi took down Nagata.
Makabe tags in to charge through Nagata, as we quickly got to the corner for Mounted Punches… but Kojima steps in and ends up taking his share of corner-to-corner clotheslines before Nagata got the punches. A Northern Lights suplex is good for a near-fall, but Nagata returns with an Exploder as Kojima tagged back in to light up Makabe with Machine Gun chops. Of course, Kojima doesn’t go up top, as Makabe clotheslines him before he could even dream of the ropes, before Tsuji tagged in to try for an unlikely win. Tsuji manages to score with a running flip senton and a standing splash for a near-fall… the ring fills as Kojima ends up taking a clothesline sandwich before Tsuji’s spear led to a near-fall. Tsuji batters Kojima with elbows, but just ends up running into a Cozy Lariat… and that’s all. One clothesline ends the match, which was largely fine but hit and miss in some parts. Parody Taguchi is starting to wear thin, I must admit. **½
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & SANADA)
You’ll be shocked and saddened to learn that Suzuki-gun jumped their opponents before the bell.
Suzuki instantly took Shingo out side and into the guard rails, while SANADA opted to trip DOUKI into a Paradise Lock attempt. That comes to nought, as SANADA low bridged DOUKI to the outside for a plancha, before Shingo came in to hit a slam… then charge Suzuki off the apron for the hell of it. He’ll pay for that. A back senton squishes DOUKI for a two-count, as SANADA returned to put the boots to the masked man. Suzuki kicks SANADA in the ropes as he came in with a hanging armbar… letting go just in time to go after Shingo, who’s taken into the guard rails again. Suzuki grabs a chair from under the ring and cracks it against Shingo’s back, while DOUKI choked away on SANADA back inside.
Suzuki tags in and begins to trade chops on SANADA, before an Arabian clutch drew Shingo in to break it up. Right hands take Shingo back outside, before SANADA found his way back in with a ‘rana on DOUKI. Another tag brings Suzuki back in, right in time to stop a tag out from SANADA… but Shingo’s eventually able to make the tag in. Shoulder tackles from Shingo take Suzuki into the corner, before a suplex drew a two-count. A running boot from Suzuki and a PK levels Shingo. The pair trade chops, then elbows, until a CLONKING elbow from Suzuki staggered Shingo… who somehow tried to counter out of a rear naked choke with a Last of the Dragon attempt. It came to nought as Shingo reapplied the choke, before a front facelock took Shingo into the Suzuki-gun corner.
DOUKI tags back in, but gets levelled with a lariat from Shingo as Suzuki terrorized commentary row. Double-teaming traps DOUKI between a rock and a hard place as a dropkick-assisted back suplex and a standing moonsault almost gets SANADA the win, before Suzuki grabbed the referee and used him as a human shield. That aids a turnaround for Suzuki-gun, with a PK on SANADA and a springboard splash from DOUKI getting a near-fall, as Shingo and Suzuki have another skirmish… while the camera crew missed DOUKI hitting the Daybreaker springboard DDT on SANADA. After the kick-out, SANADA’s pulled up for Suplex de la Luna, but it’s escaped as SANADA tries to counter into a Skull End. That’s escaped, but SANADA quickly finds the win with an O’Connor roll… Minoru Suzuki didn’t break it up as he was too busy choking out Shingo in the corner. That’s very on-brand for him. ***
After the match, Suzuki challenged Shingo for the NEVER title… even if they don’t deliver on that one-time tease of an explosion death match, this’ll be pretty damn great.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
On Friday, Tanahashi, Ibushi and Wato got past the Suzuki-gun mob… only to fall short in yesterday’s trios tournament semi finals. Will it be back to the same old, same old now there’s only bragging rights on the line?
Tanahashi again wants to start for his team, but instead Suzuki-gun head to the floor to kill some time. Eventually, Sabre and Tanahashi get things going, with Zack teasing going for Tanahashi’s leg, but instead Tanahashi avoids it and ends up taking down Sabre with a shoulder tackle before the pair hopped around while trying to lock in a Cobra Twist. It’s too early to be applied as the pair counter back-and-forth, before Sabre was left scuttling back to his corner as Desperado tagged in. Tenzan’s in too, to clobber Despy with Mongolian chops before Kanemaru’s run-in prompted Wato to help out… but it backfires as he’s low bridged to the outside, which sparks the usual Suzuki-gun bedlam on the floor.
Taichi grabs some of the camera cabling to choke Ibushi with, before we returned to the ring with Desperado looking to work over Tenzan’s legs. Sabre tags back in to stomp away on Tenzan’s knee, while Taichi keeps things deliberate when he came in, mocking Tenzan’s Mongolian chops as well. A Mountain bomb gives Tenzan an opening, with Ibushi tagging in to try and build momentum. He’s quickly trading kicks with Taichi, which takes Taichi to his knees, before an enziguiri in the corner had Ibushi back on the deck. Wato tags in next, but he’s quickly taken down as Kanemaru came in… lifting him onto the apron before knocking Wato to the outside. An Irish whip into the rails is blocked, but Kanemaru heads back inside and eats a springboard European uppercut for a near-fall.
Desperado comes in to turn it around with a dropkick-assisted sidewalk slam for a near-fall, as Suzuki-gun built momentum again. Kanemaru goes for Deep Impact, but Wato avoids it as he returned fire with a dropkick, before Tanahashi came in… and quickly found himself on the defensive. An Irish whip into the corner sets up Tanahashi for more kicks from Taichi, who then held him for the restrained Dragon screws… but Ibushi breaks it up before anything can happen. A Kamigoye from Ibushi takes care of Taichi, while Tanahashi’s thrust to the throat and a Golden Blade dropped Kanemaru… before a High Fly Flow crossbody took out Sabre. The Parade of Moves continues on Kanemaru, who ate the abdominal stretch driver from Wato, who flew into Despy too, before the High Fly Flow from Tanahashi landed on Kanemaru for the win! Is the monkey really off of Tanahashi’s back – or is this just good fortune? A decent enough tag now we seem to have gotten past the ad nauseum repeats of “let’s tear apart Tanahashi’s knees” from earlier in the tour, but that lingering seed with Kota Ibushi is still there to add some fresh intrigue… ***
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) vs. Bullet Club (EVIL & Taiji Ishimori)
With Hiromu still on the shelf, our build for the junior title match is a little wacky…
EVIL and Ishimori jump their opponents before the bell, which led to Naito getting taken outside and into the guard rails. He reverses an Irish whip as EVIL takes the Bret Hart bump into the rails. Three times, in fact. Rolling into the ring, Naito puts the boots to EVIL by the ropes, before Dick Togo just tripped the former double champion as the referee was distracted. The EVIL takeover starts there as he wrenches Naito’s knee around the rope, before Ishimori tagged in and continued the focus on Naito’s knees with a deathlock.
EVIL’s back for more of the same, but Naito gets to the rope, before he tried to fight back in with elbows and chops. A suplex from EVIL comes to nought, as instead Naito comes in with a single-leg dropkick, before tags brought in BUSHI and Ishimori. A tijeras from BUSHI takes Ishimori into the corner for an eventual overhead kick, before a missile dropkick took down the junior heavyweight title challenger. Ishimori escapes a swinging Fisherman neckbreaker as he instead began to trade shots with BUSHI ahead of a handspring enziguiri. EVIL’s back, but takes a DDT from BUSHI, who’s somewhat resistant to use his new shirt for choking with… and instead tags in Naito to try and build on that. Build on that he does, taking EVIL to the corner for Combinacion Cabron, before some mudhole stomping forced the referee to separate the pair.
A neckbreaker from Naito across the knee lands, before he rolled EVIL into Pluma Blanca… BUSHI runs in to stop a break-up, so it’s Dick Togo who provides the distraction by hopping up onto the apron. Gloria looks to follow from Naito, but EVIL pulls the hair as he came back in with Darkness Falls for a two-count, as the ring begins to fill for a quick Parade of Moves. An eye rake from EVIL gets rid of BUSHI briefly, but Naito’s back in to roll up EVIL for a near-fall after a BUSHI enziguiri. Ishimori takes care of BUSHI on the outside as Naito looks for Destino… but EVIL shoved Naito into the referee. Dick Togo’s in with the wire to choke out Naito after a low blow… but there’s a save as Hiromu heads out from the back! He puts a beating to Ishimori, but that leads to the DQ as the referee came to. This was okay, but never really got going… and now you know why. **¾
Post-match, Hiromu got the mic and shows us his shoulder’s okay…
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano
The winners of this tournament final become the new NEVER trios champions. Either way this lands, we’re getting Okada winning his first non-IWGP title, or YOSHI-HASHI’s first title… so there’ll be a first-time-ever happening here.
YOSHI-HASHI and Okada start us off with a lock-up, which ends in the ropes with the patronising clean break… that YOSHI-HASHI opted to throw in a cheap shot on as he wasn’t about to bow down to Okada here. A high chop has Okada doubled-over, before Okada recovered to tag in SHO… after a brief spot of clubbering. YOSHI-HASHI quickly takes SHO into the corner, but he escapes as Goto tags in. The pair trade shoulder tackles, with SHO edging ahead, before my feed dropped out. Great timing. It’s back as SHO’s fighting against a three-on-one attack, with Ishii, Goto and YOSHI-HASHI clubbering away on his back briefly, before a double shoulder-tackle and a pair of PKs had SHO on the mat.
Ishii tags in next to wreck SHO with chops and forearms in the corner, as he saw a clear path to the titles he held for like a day two years ago. YOSHI-HASHI’s in next, but a headbutt from Ishii on the apron has SHO back in a heap as YOSHI prepared to dropkick SHO in the ropes, which earned him a solid two-count. Goto’s back to restrain SHO, dropping him to the mat with a single kick… but SHO nearly forces his way back in with a German suplex, only for Goto to escape and take a regular suplex anyway. YOSHI-HASHI and Ishii come in, but fall to a double spear from SHO, as Toru Yano tagged in… and went straight for the turnbuckle pads. Throwing the pad to Goto caused confusion as Yano tried to win with a roll-up, before Yano’s usual shenanigans backfired as he was taken into the corner for a spinning heel kick, while a side suplex out of the corner drew a near-fall.
YOSHI-HASHI tags back in and went for a clothesline, but Yano just pulls the hair to snuff that out. Okada’s back in to trade elbows with YOSHI, who mixed it up with a chop before he got decked with a sliding back elbow. More elbows and a DDT follow for a near-fall, before YOSHI-HASHI wriggled out of a tombstone and returned fire with a Head Hunter. Okada gets triple-teamed with a lungblower and a German suplex as YOSHI-HASHI pulled ahead, going up top the top rope for a diving Head Hunter that almost gets the win. Okada slips out of Karma as SHO ran in to start a Parade of Moves… which led to Ishii getting pushed into the exposed corner while YOSHI-HASHI superkicked the taste out of Okada’s mouth. A Western lariat looked to follow, but an Okada dropkick and a tombstone followed, before that goddamned modified Cobra clutch looked to force a submission… but YOSHI-HASHI inches his way towards the ropes, only to get dragged away as Ishii had to make the save with a diving headbutt.
A Rainmaker follows from Okada, but YOSHI-HASHI counters a second one with a Western lariat as he worryingly clutched at his oft-injured shoulder. Another Western lariat almost gets the win, before YOSHI-HASHI stayed on top of Okada with a Butterfly lock, dragging the former champion into the middle of the ring… but Okada manages to finagle his way to the ropes to force the break. YOSHI’s going to have to wait at least a little while longer. Karma’s next, but Okada blocks it, before another dropkick knocked YOSHI-HASHI flying. Tags bring us back to SHO and Ishii, which is very much my bag, and they’re charging at each other for fun. Lariats from SHO barely faze Ishii, who ends up taking a barrage of elbows before he countered a SHO spear into a suplex. The spear lands at the second attempt, as SHO proceeded to batter Ishii with kicks before SHO had to deal with an onrushing Hirooki Goto. Yes, the ring is filling and emptying, with Ishii getting slingshotted into the exposed corner as a German suplex nearly won the belts for SHO.
SHO looks for a piledriver, but instead rolls Ishii down in a cross armbreaker… Ishii holds firm and kicks SHO’s head to free himself. A CRACKING KICK rocks Ishii, but he just invites some more of those as YOSHI-HASHI returned to help out, hitting a lungblower to feed SHO towards an Ishii folding powerbomb, before knees and headbutts led to a lariat from Ishii for a near-fall. Ishii keeps going, hauling up SHO for the sheer drop brainbuster, but it’s another headbutt that drops SHO… who then lifts Ishii into a cross armbreaker out of nowhere. Goto breaks it up, as both teams can see the finish line… armbreakers from SHO wear down Ishii, who’s dumped with a strait-jacket German for a near-fall. WE KEEP GOING!
SHO followed all that up with a lariat, before calling for a Shock Arrow… but a back body drop frees Ishii, as Goto again slid in. Ushigoroshi! A meteora from YOSHI-HASHI! Ishii’s sliding lariat… but it’s still not enough! Ishii’s feeling his arm, then hits the ropes for another lariat that dumped SHO on his neck, before the sheer drop brainbuster gets the win! My word, this simmered away from the off and quickly escalated into an absolute epic. SHO, who’s still half of the junior tag champions, more than held his own here, but took an absolute beating from Ishii throughout… and if this year’s G1 is openweight, I want those two in the same block. ****½
That’s a first ever title for YOSHI-HASHI in New Japan, and now the joke can move on, especially since the mere sight of Kazuchika Okada handing him that belt moved people to tears.
While the Summer Struggle tour continues next week, hitting Osaka, Ehime (for two nights) and Shizuoka, none of those dates are making tape. Instead, it’ll be nights 13 and 14 that sees us rejoin the tour in a little over a fortnight, as we’ve two more Korakuen Hall shows on August 26 and 27, where the KOPW qualifiers will be held ahead of the Summer Struggle in Jingu on August 29 as the G1 beckons! I’d also expect those two Korakuen shows to give us some detail on who’s in the G1, if prior years’ reveals are anything to go by. The undercard felt like a slight step below yesterday’s, the main event was absolutely phenomenal. Sure, having good and bad guys in wrestling enhances matches and storylines, but sometimes a damn good professional wrestling match is all you really need.