Our semi-finalists in the NEVER trios title tournament were confirmed as New Japan continued their residency at Korakuen Hall.
Last night we found out that the LIJ and CHAOS teams made it through to tomorrow’s semi-finals – while we saw Kazuchika Okada challenge Yujiro, Gedo and Jado to a three-on-one handicap match for his KOPW championship eliminator later in the month. For the lols, as the kids say.
Anyway, we’re still dealing with Japanese commentary for the live feed – and I’d dare say that’s the norm until international travel to Japan is back on the books.
Yuji Nagata submitted Yuya Uemura in 8:00 (**½)
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan pinned Yota Tsuji & Gabriel Kidd in 8:50 (***)
SHO, Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano submitted DOUKI, Minoru Suzuki & El Desperado in 9:10 (***)
SANADA, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI submitted Gedo, EVIL, Taiji Ishimori & Dick Togo in 13:20 (***)
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship Tournament Quarter-Finals: YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto submitted Tomoaki Honma, Ryusuke Taguchi & Togi Makabe in 11:50 (***)
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship Tournament Quarter-Finals: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Master Wato pinned Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & Yoshinobu Kanemaru in 16:50 (***¼)
Yuya Uemura vs. Yuji Nagata
Nagata’s continuing his run against Young Lions, and much like yesterday, this should be straightforward.
We opened with a lock-up as Nagata and Uemura went back and forth on wristlocks early on, but it’s Nagata who edges ahead… or so we thought. Uemura uses headscissors to free himself from a headlock, and stayed a step ahead of Nagata as the veteran tried to go back with a side headlock. Nagata manages to regain control, but they break in the ropes, with Uemura throwing a cheeky slap to boot.
That pisses off Nagata, who kicks his leg out of his leg, before a front kick put Uemura down. Nagata’s back on the deck with a side headlock, and again they break in the ropes, with Uemura this time throwing elbows. He didn’t learn. Nagata swipes back with elbows of his own, before a shoulder tackle from Uemura took him down. We’re back with strikes, but Nagata drops Uemura with a single elbow, following up with a snapmare and a punt to the back for a two-count. A sleeperhold gives Uemura some trouble, as he needed to break the hold in the ropes, before he found a second wind with some more elbows for Nagata.
Dropkicks give Uemura fresh hope, including a running one in the corner that almost got the unlikely win… a Capture suplex looked to follow, but Nagata put on the brakes before eventually taking the throw. Uemura follows in with a cross armbar, but Nagata gets free and looks for a German suplex, only to be wheelbarrowed into a roll-up for a near-fall. The kitchen sink knee to the gut has Uemura back down for a kick, before an Exploder and the Nagata Lock 2 put him out of his misery. These two didn’t quite click I thought, but were still able to put together something half decent. **½
Gabriel Kidd & Yota Tsuji vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
We’ve more Young Lion action here, as TenKoji reunite after Tenzan’s time shadowing Master Wato.
Kidd and Tenzan start us off, locking up and heading into the ropes to force some breaks. Of course, Kidd throws a chop on the break, as he still has that death wish. Kidd keeps going with a side headlock, which led to the obligatory shoulder tackles from the Young Lion before he engaged in a chop war with Tenzan. A headbutt to the gut and Mongolian chops put Kidd in his place, before he surprised the veteran with a dropkick.
Tsuji and Kojima tag in, as they quickly go to the mat but can’t progress from a scramble, but he edges ahead after helping Tenzan with Mongolian chops. More double-teaming backfires as Tenzan accidentally lariats his own man, but Tenzan’s able to regain the upper hand as he headbutted Tsuji into the corner. A suplex follows, getting Tenzan a near-fall, and then my feed craps out. Yay.
The refreshed Kidd was a house afire, charging down Tenzan with a shoulder tackle, but a clothesline takes Kidd back down as Kojima returned to the fray, unloading with Machine Gun chops. A running elbow into the corner follows, but Tsuji grabs holds of Kojima to stop him hitting an elbow drop as Kidd instead hits a press slam to bring Kojima down. The Young Lions gang up on Kojima with Machine Gun chops in the corner. My word, Gabe. A slam from Tsuji’s good for a two-count, before he moved to the obligatory Boston crab… but Kojima uses his legs to flip his way free. Undeterred, Tsuji keeps going with a suplex attempt, but Kojima elbows out and hits a Koji cutter instead for a near-fall.
Kidd interferes but has to deal with Tenzan… and Kojima too… he runs into a TenKoji cutter for his woes, before Tsuji hit a spear to avoid a Cozy lariat. A suplex follows, but Tsuji’s run ends with him eating a Cozy lariat, and that’s all folks. A fantastic effort from the Young Lions this week, but in the end it’s business as usual. ***
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & DOUKI) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano & SHO
A trios match between an eliminated team and a team that’s in the semis, is it? There’s no Suzuki-gun jump start, so they’re saving that for the main event…
Yano and Desperado start the match, with Yano instantly backing into the corner. Desperado offers a handshake, but instead Yano goes for the turnbuckle pad, exposing a corner that Desperado tries to throw him into… and eventually succeeds. Cue the Suzuki-gun bedlam, with Suzuki throwing Okada into the guard rails for some chops, before Desperado and Yano returned to the ring. DOUKI tags in and chokes Yano with his pipe… while Suzuki stretched Yano’s leg off the apron.
When the referee freed them, DOUKI’s in with a snapmare as he built momentum, before Suzuki tagged in to take shots at his old nemesis. Chops blister Yano in the corner, before Suzuki blocked a whip into the exposed corner and just kicked Yano in the back. A Manhattan drop gets Yano back in, as Okada tags in to lay into Suzuki… landing a sliding back elbow off the ropes to take control. Another elbow into the corner, then a DDT out of it gets Okada a two-count, before Suzuki headbutted his way out of a tombstone. A snapmare and a PK gets Suzuki an extremely nonchalant two-count, before the pair teed off on each other with elbows… that led to Suzuki grabbing Okada in a rear naked choke, before a Gotch piledriver came to nought, with Okada countering back with a neckbreaker slam.
Tags bring us to SHO and DOUKI, with the latter raking the eyes before he got bulldozed by a SHO shoulder tackle. Or should that be a SHO-ulder tackle? SHO eats a bunch of kicks, as an enziguiri takes him down before returning fire with a spear to DOUKI. More kicks pepper DOUKI, including a savate kick that nearly ends things, as a deadlift German suplex gets countered into a roll-up as DOUKI countered into the Italian Stretch #8 submission.
There’s more bedlam on the outside as Suzuki-gun tried to restrain their opponents, which led to the ring filling and emptying amid our usual Parade of Moves, allowing SHO to finish off DOUKI with a lariat, a back cracker and a cross armbar for the quick submission. They kept it brief and the BS light – a breeze of a trios match to watch, and it’s another win for SHO. ***
Post-match, Suzuki tried to take a swipe at the commentary row, while Okada clapped like a seal in time to SHO’s chirpy 8-bit theme.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, SANADA & BUSHI) vs. Bullet Club (EVIL, Dick Togo, Taiji Ishimori & Gedo)
We’re continuing the builds to Jingu – but with Hiromu Takahashi still on the shelf, Taiji Ishimori’s just looking for momentum…
We have a jump start as the Bullet Club clear the ring, and everyone’s heading for the guard rails as the cameras stay largely trained on EVIL and Naito. Ishimori and Togo stay in the ring to work over Shingo, but Shingo turns it around with clotheslines before he easily dumped Ishimori with a slam.
A tag brings in BUSHI, who goes in with boots to Togo before a tijeras took him into the corner. BUSHI misses a charge, but connects on the overhead kick before Togo shoved the ref into the ropes to crotch BUSHI… and the Bullet Club take control again. The Bullet Club quarter have messed with the turnbuckle pad again, as Gedo came in to rake BUSHI’s eyes, before Ishimori distracted the ref so he missed BUSHI getting thrown into the exposed corner.
I mean, Yano gets away with it, so that’s just cheating for the sake of cheating!
EVIL’s in as he and Togo charge down BUSHI ahead of some back sentons for a near-fall, as Ishimori returns to charge BUSHI shoulder-first into the exposed corner. He’s sending a message to Hiromu and his injured shoulder, eh? Ishimori tries to pull off BUSHI’s mask, then just blatantly chokes him as the referee was distracted by Gedo… and it remains a one-sided arse kicking.
A hammerlock from Gedo leads to BUSHI going shoulder-first into the exposed corner again, before he applied another hammerlock in a bid to submit BUSHI. The rest of LIJ threaten to get involved, but that just takes the referee’s attention away as BUSHI had to fight his own way back in with a DDT on Togo.
Tags bring us to Naito and EVIL, with the former double champion clearing house all by himself. Combinacion Cabron’s busted out to EVIL, before Naito pushed away the referee… so he could follow up with a neckbreaker for a two-count. EVIL tries to pull the hair, but ends up eating an enziguiri as Naito’s attempt to go for Gloria ended up with him getting whipped repeatedly into that exposed corner.
Ishimori’s back with running double knees and a running knee/PK to Naito for a near-fall, and again my feed drops out. It’s back with SANADA tagging in to tie up Ishimori in a Paradise Lock, but it’s pushed away as Ishimori went for one of his own… but to no avail. Gedo tags in to try his luck, but he has to poke SANADA in the eyes before eating a dropkick after a pair of leapfrogs. The plancha traps Gedo on the outside, while all eyes were on Jado for expected interference…
SANADA aborts a springboard back into the ring before a Skull End sparked a Parade of Moves, with BUSHI’s missile dropkick taking care of Togo. A pop-up death valley driver from Shingo has Ishimori down, before EVIL and Naito’s skirmish cleared the ring. We’re bck to SANADA and Gedo, and here comes Jado’s Kendo stick, which helps Gedo land a thrust kick that almost got the upset.
Jado’s more overt this time, popping up on the apron to distract the referee as Gedo looks for the brass knuckles… SANADA ducks a punch and crotches him on the top rope instead, before he kicked the rope into the Gedos. From there, Gedo’s pulled down into a Skull End, and that’s enough for the submission. Decent enough, but you know exactly what you’re getting when T-Shirt Naito pops up in these tags. ***
EVIL and Naito have another scuffle after the bell, before the LIJ lads bumped fists in the ring.
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship Tournament Quarter-Finals: Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Ryusuke Taguchi
Why does YOSHI-HASHI always let out a pained scream when he’s introduced?
Honma and Ishii launch out of the gates, going in with shoulder tackles, then chops, as Ishii was backed into the opposing corner. Makabe tags in, which prompted Ishii to fight back, but he’s swarmed as he ends up having to get help from Hirooki Goto to and YOSHI-HASHI to try and turn things around briefly.
Makabe slams Ishii as Taguchi and Honma hit Kokeshi – and actually land them for a change – before the CHAOS lads pulled it together to triple-team Makabe. Taguchi’s forced to run the ropes before he’s charged down, as Makabe ends up on the wrong end of the numbers game, taking a pounding in the CHAOS corner.
Goto and Makabe trade chops, before a swivelling lariat from Makabe gave him an opening. Taguchi tags in to go hog wild with hip attacks, including a neat hattrick as he ducked Ishii clotheslines to catch Goto and YOSHI-HASHI in the ropes before scoring with a plancha to the outside.
Back inside, Taguchi keeps going for hip attacks, before he’s faked out into the ropes ahead of a Goto clothesline. Taguchi finally lands another hip attack to YOSHI-HASHI, then tagged out to Honma… who resists the temptation to Kokeshi and instead takes YOSHI-HASHI into the corners. A bulldog to YOSHI-HASHI brings in Ishii to try and make a save… and it works too as Honma gets double-teamed… only ro recover with a Flatliner/DDT combo to the pair.
YOSHI-HASHI blocks a suplex from Honma, eventually reversing it as the CHAOS lads again hit the ring, this time with Goto helping out as Honma ate a Head Hunter-assisted side-Russian legsweep. Taguchi broke it up, but he’s taken outside as YOSHI-HASHI followed up with a Western Lariat on Honma for a near-fall, but a finish from YOSHI-HASHI is delayed as Makabe hit the ring to spark a Parade of Moves.
A double clothesline from Makabe levels things out as Honma got back to his feet, teasing a sandwich of lariats for YOSHI-HASHI… as a springboard hip attack led to YOSHI-HASHI eating a Kokeshi for a near-fall. Ishii barely made the save in time, before a second leaping Kokeshi had Honma ahead. A diving Kokeshi follows for a near-fall, but the numbers game comes back into play as Honma’s triple-teamed, leading to him taking an elevated reverse GTR by Goto, before a Butterfly Lock earned YOSHI-HASHI the submission win. This was perfectly fine, but was on the verge of going a little long considering those involved – the addition of something with stakes is welcome, but the limited roster New Japan’s got on hand right now is beginning to wear a little. ***
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship Tournament Quarter-Finals: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Master Wato vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
I’ve been a little hit and miss on the neverending tag team feud here, but the teases with Kota Ibushi being disappointed in the falling ace Tanahashi is certainly a seed they’re planting.
We’ve no jump start here, as instead the Suzuki-gun lot take their time. Tanahashi demands to start first, and I don’t think that’ll go well for him. Taichi starts the match for his team, he’s instantly taken into the ropes with a tie up as he looked to use Tanahashi’s aggression against him. There’s a lingering shot of a disappointed Kota thrown in for no reason as Tanahashi ends up running into a kick on the apron from Kanemaru… and we’re in familiar territory.
Wato and Ibushi get pulled off the apron by Kanemaru and Sabre, before Tanahashi gets caught up in more double-teaming as Taichi and Sabre work over the leg yet again. I mean, it is meant to be G1 season, where Tanahashi sells an injury for weeks on end…
A leg lock ends in the ropes, before a low dropkick from Kanemaru targeted Tanahashi’s knee ahead of a single leg crab that had some mocking kicks thrown in from Taichi for good measure. Kanemaru throws Tanahashi’s knee into the mat next, as the assault continued on the Ace… and again, this is something I feel would connect more if the crowd were allowed to emote. A cravat and another knee drop to Tanahashi’s knee followed from Sabre, before Tanahashi’s attempt to fight back against Kanemaru finally bore fruit, as he took him down with a flying forearm. Ibushi’s on the apron waiting for a tag, but again Sabre and Taichi call on him to turn on his partner… with Taichi then dumping Tanahashi with a Saito suplex so Sabre could get a two-count from it all.
The tag champions again mock Ibushi, who enters the ring… and teases turning on Tanahashi… but rather than clock him with a Kamigoye, he just pushes Sabre and Taichi aside before finally getting the tag in. Ibushi flies in with a missile dropkick to Zack, before a running leg lariat takes down Taichi.
A kick and a standing moonsault’s good for a two-count for Ibushi, before Sabre countered out of a German suplex by tripping Ibushi to the mat for a rear naked choke. They stand up, but Sabre just turns it into a Cobra Twist, before the pair traded shots… along with some barbs from Sabre, who was annoyed that Ibushi hadn’t joined the dark side. An overhead kick to the arm from Sabre sparks Ibushi back into life, but a guillotine choke drags last year’s G1 winner down to the mat, only for Ibushi to power up and powerbomb his way free. Tags bring in Kanemaru and Wato, with the returning Grand Master hitting a dropkick before landing a springboard uppercut for a two-count.
Kanemaru rakes the eyes after ducking a rear spin kick, before connecting with a dropkick of his own… a scooping reverse DDT looked to follow, but Wato’s kicks got him free before Tanahashi popped up on the apron to tag back in. Uh oh. A boot from Kanemaru’s caught and turned into a Dragn screw, before Tanahashi finally knocked Taichi and Sabre off the corner with a crossbody.
Ibushi’s back in as the former tag champions ploughed through Kanemaru, leading to a double-team Side Effect. Master Wato flies in with a corkscrew plancha to wipe out Sabre on the outside, but a High Fly Flow on Kanemaru ends with Tanahashi landing in the knees… and we’re back to square one with the Falling Ace. Kanemaru rolls out to tag in Taichi for what looked to be the finishing stretch, blasting Tanahashi with an Axe Bomber for a near-fall, before he almost lost Tanahashi on a Last Ride as Ibushi and Wato had to make the save.
The ring fills again, but Ibushi gets double-teamed by the tag team champions, leaving Tanahashi to get torn apart with a series of Dragon screws. A superkick follows from Taichi, before the champion steased Zack Memphisto… but Ibushi makes the save with some head kicks, as Tanahashi snatched victory from deep within the throat of defeat with a roll-up. A win’s a win, but this is a real “your mileage will vary” match – if you’ve dug the latter stages of the Tanahashi/Ibushi vs. Sabre/Taichi feud, you’ll love this, but otherwise it’ll feel very samey until the end. ***¼
After the match, Sabre and Taichi again try and tempt Ibushi away from Tanahashi, but yet again, Kota is sticking by Tanahashi – in spite of everything. They exit stage left, as Taichi grabs the NEVER trios titles from ringside and just throws them in the ring out of disgust.
Tomorrow we get the semi-finals, with Okada/SHO/Yano taking on SANADA/Shingo/BUSHI while YOSHI-HASHI, Goto and Ishii face Tanahashi, Ibushi and Wato with the remainder of the card to be announced in the morning. As for today, well, the match quality was a slight hair above yesterday, but with us still some way off of the Jingu show in three weeks, I was rather hoping the build would have a little more juice in it by now – but I’m guessing it’ll largely be left until the KOPW qualifiers later in the month before that sort of thing comes.