We’ve a battle of former junior tag champions in the main event as El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru take on the out-of-sorts Roppongi 3K.
Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma pinned Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi in 12:34 (**½)
YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima pinned DOUKI, Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi in 13:37 (***)
Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano submitted Jado & Chase Owens in 9:15 (**½)
Super Junior Tag League 2021: Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo defeat Tiger Mask & Robbie Eagles via referee stoppage in 16:22 (***¼)
Super Junior Tag League 2021: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru pinned YOH & SHO in 21:52 (***½)
After a couple of stops on the road (and Resurgence in the States, which I’ll get to…), New Japan’s back at Korakuen to pick up the Super Junior Tag League again. We’ve got some card changes too because of covid protocols – BUSHI & Shingo Takagi drop off the show, so Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi are moved to the undercard, with Gedo & Dick Togo forfeiting their league match.
Not to make light of things, but there’s a certain degree of irony in the only guy in New Japan who frequently double masks being involved in a scare…
Team 6 or 9 (Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato) vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma
Our first card change then, and we’ve got Taguchi and Wato having gained two points via forfeit… so they can move into the opener.
Taguchi and Makabe start things off, as a side headlock’s pushed off and met with a shoulder block by Makabe early. A hip attack provided a response, before Taguchi faked out a dive so he could swivel his hips instead. Wato’s in to kick Honma in the legs, ahead of a leaping spin kick before a drop toe hold and a pair of low dropkicks left Honma down for a two-count.
A shoulder tackle from Honma takes Wato down, as did a Makabe slam, before a chinlock grounded Wato. Honma’s chops follow, but Wato broke free ahead of Taguchi coming in for all the hip attacks. Another hip attack’s caught by Honma, who fell for one seconds after after some faked out rope running, only for Taguchi to whiff on a Kokeshi.
Honma does too, but hits a leaping Kokeshi moments afterwards, before Makabe returned for some mounted punches. Wato’s back to hit a gamengiri, then a springboard uppercut to Makabe, before… AS IF HE’S DOING TO BUMP FOR RECIENTEMENTE. Instead, Wato throws some kicks for a two-count, before Makabe made one more comeback, landing a Northern Lights suplex for a near-fall.
A double clothesline drops Wato and Taguchi, with Wato being legal and alone for the sandwiching clothesline. Another lariat drops Wato for a two count, before Wato chanced his arm on some roll-ups, before a slam left him open for the King Kong knee as Makabe took home the win. Good enough, but very low energy for an opener. **½
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI)
The only undercard match that survived the changes is a warm-up for the IWGP tag title match at the MetLife Dome next month.
We get going with YOSHI-HASHI and Taichi, as Taichi’s doing his usual “wilt into the ropes” shtick. After some choking, Hirooki Goto gets involved to charge down Taichi, before he and YOSHI-HASHI club away on Zack Sabre Jr’s back. Then DOUKI’s. Then everyone joined in on Sabre.
Kojima’s in with Machine Gun chops to a snarling Suzuki, before Tenzan’s double-team shoulder tackle had him down. There’s shenanigans on the outside, with a surprisingly low amount of trips into the rails, before the Suzuki-gun lads ganged up on Tenzan in the corner. Taichi’s in for a choke-pin on Tenzan, which the ref spots, before an inverted cravat from Sabre and a heel hook from Suzuki continued to add to Tenzan’s woes.
A Mountain Bomb from Tenzan stops Suzuki in his tracks, before tags got us to Goto and Taichi. There’s a clothesline for Taichi, before Sabre wrestled Goto down for a stomp to the elbow. YOSHI-HASHI returns with chops, but got caught in a Cobra Twist by Sabre. Cue a Parade of Moves, leading to a PK from Sabre before YOSHI-HASHI fought back… only to get pulled into a sleeper as Suzuki and DOUKI sandwich him with PKs.
DOUKI’s Daybreak barely gets a one-count as Tenzan was on hand to break it up, before a rear spin kick from YOSHI-HASHI led to DOUKI’s lucha roll-up for a near-fall. Goto’s in for the save, and a superkick-assisted ushigoroshi on DOUKI, before a GYW gets the win in a decent enough tag match that keeps things burning ahead of the MetLife Dome show. ***
Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano vs. Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Jado)
Okada’s back after having been rested since he sent off Yuya Uemura with a dropkick…
We’ve a jump start as Owens goes for Yano, while Jado threw Okada to the outside so he could… rake Yano’s eyes? Yano gets free as Okada booted Jado away, forcing Owens to beg off. Of course, Okada doesn’t want to shake hands, as he puts the boots to Chase ahead of a slingshot by Yano.
A neckbreaker’s next from Okada, as Owens and Yano proceed to remove turnbuckle pads. Everyone plays pass the parcel, with the crowd clapping in time, before things head outside, with Owens dropkicking Yano into the rails. Now we get the guard rail trips, while Owens pulled out a strap and used it on Yano on the floor.
Back inside, Owens rakes Yano’s face, then hit a thrust kick for a delayed two-count as the pace was kept low. Eventually Yano got the tag out to Okada, who elbowed and DDT’s Owens before he went up top for the elbow drop. Owens avoids it as Okada ran into a kick from Jado, then an Eye of the Hurricane from Owens.
Jado tags in as Okada’s double-teamed, leading to a Jewel Heist clothesline for a two-count, then a OJK crossface from Jado, only for Yano to make the save. From there, there’s a quick turnaround as Okada caught Jado in the Money Clip, and there’s the submission. At least they kept this short, but this was another round of filler ahead of the dome shows. **½
Super Junior Tag League 2021: Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) vs. Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask
A win for the current tag champions here puts them in pole position for tomorrow’s final round… while a win for Eagles and Tiger Mask wraps up the league for them here and now. I think we can guess the result based on that!
Eagles and ELP start us off with wristlocks before a side headlock was pushed off, with Eagles watching his ‘rana cartwheeled out of by Phantasmo as the pair trade pinning attempts. My feed buffers, resuming with ELP and Ishimori begging for a timeout on the floor, before they caught Eagles and Tiger Mask unawares, with ELP being precise as he found the eye holes on the mask.
Back in the ring, we get back rakes, before Tiger Mask’s hauled into a Tree of Woe for the Gas Pedal stomps to the balls. Eventually Tiger Mask kicks his way free, before making the tag out to Robbie Eagles’ springboard dropkick. A diving knee flips Phantasmo backwards, ahead of a leg lariat from Eagles and some double knees into the corner.
Eagles gets a two-for-one with a low dropkick on ELP and Ishimori, grabbing him a two-count in the process. Kicks eventually get caught as Phantasmo chops back, leading to a battle of elbows, with Eagles pulling ahead as he lands a springboard dropkick to the knee. Phantasmo blocks a Ron Miller Special as the pair trade roll-ups, before an Asai DDT from Eagles led to… Sliced Bread that was countered out of with a neckbreaker.
Tiger Mask and Ishimori tag in from there, with Ishimori’s double knees and handspring enziguiri taking down Tiger Mask for a two-count. A Yes Lock ends in the ropes as Ishimori was looking for the stoppage. Tiger Mask takes things up top as ELP was thrown outside for an Eagles tope con giro… allowing Tiger Mask to hit a butterfly superplex for a near-fall back inside.
Kicks sandwich Ishimori in the corner ahead of a Tiger Driver, but it’s not enough, as Tiger Mask goes to the armbar… which got broken as Ishimori rolled into the ropes. Cipher UTAKI’s next from Ishimori for a near-fall, before Ishimori’s headscissors were countered into a spinning tombstone. Tiger Mask calls for the finish, but a Tiger Suplex is stopped via ELP’s interference, with a Sudden Death laying out Tiger Mask for a near-fall, thanks to Eagles’ save.
ELP throws Eagles outside, as Ishimori applies a Bone Lock, but with Tiger Mask still out cold, the referee stops the match as Eagles and Tiger Mask would need what Chris Charlton calls the “food poisoning” route to make it to the final, as they’re now on the losing end of a potential tie-breaker. ***¼
Super Junior Tag League 2021: Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
A loss for Desperado and Kanemaru would hand the league to ELP and Ishimori, so I think we can see another Roppongi 3K loss inbound?
We’ve a jump start out of SHO & YOH, who were looking to desperately snap their losing run as they took Desperado and Kanemaru outside and into the railings. In the ring, SHO & YOH double-team Kanemaru, only for Desperado to pull SHO outside and back into the railings.
On the outside, YOH gets posted as Desperado came in to hit a suplex on SHO for a two-count, before Kanemaru wrapped SHO around the ropes with a Boston crab. Despy shushes the crowd as SHO tries to fight back, eventually landing the Kitchen Sink knee to the gut as we crossed the five-minute mark.
YOH tags in, and instantly dropkicks Kanemaru away as he went for Desperado with a leaping forearm. Kanemaru stops YOH on the top rope by throwing him down, as we again visit the guard rails, while Desperado crotches YOH around the ring post. Returning to the ring, it’s a similar story again as Kanemaru keeps YOH grounded, using a half crab that forced SHO in to make the save… only for him to get a knee breaker as a reward.
Outside again, SHO’s chuked into the guard rails as Kanemaru leaps on YOH’s leg in the ropes. Desperado’s back with an Indian deathlock as we crossed the ten-minute mark, forcing YOH to scamper into the ropes to force the break. Kanemaru’s back, but his kicks earned him a Dragon screw, only for Desperado to run in and take a dropkick as SHO finally got the tag in.
SHO elbows away in Kanemaru, then took Desperado into the rails with a dropkick as kicks took down Kanemaru for a two-count. A Kimura followed from the kick-out, but Kanemaru got free and proceeded to kick away at SHO’s knee before scoring a satellite DDT. SHO fought back with armbreakers, but a low dropkick spins him back to the mat ahead of a Figure Four.
After a spell, SHO gets to the ropes, but Kanemaru stays on him, looking for a suplex that’s eventually reversed. A spear’s next as SHO makes the tag out to YOH, with Desperado also coming in. YOH lands a missile dropkick, but jarred his knee on the landing as he took his time following up with a Falcon arrow for a near-fall.
Desperado looks to take things to the corner, but he’s booted away, before he just twisted YOH with a Dragon screw in the corner. Numero Dos followed from Desperado, but YOH’s quickly in the ropes to force the break. More stomps to the knee wear down YOH, but SHO’s in to help turn it around… only for YOH’s knee to crumble beneath him as Roppongi 3K went for the Dominator/neckbreaker combo.
A kneebreaker and a dropkick to the knee has YOH down again, as the Numero Dos again followed. SHO slides in to make the save… but he… doesn’t? Instead SHO dropped down to the floor and let YOH make his own save, before watching a dropkick-assisted back suplex and Guitarra de Angel get a near-fall as YOH wasn’t about to give up.
It’s just a matter of time though as SHO’s just watching from the floor as Pinche Loco finally get the win. A good match, as they finally pull the trigger? ***½
Post-match, SHO came in with an ice pack… for his own knee as he shooed away Desperado and Kanemaru. He pulls up YOH and dumps him with a Shock Arrow, and I think enough was enough for SHO, as it’s time for a change!
Your current standings, with one match remaining, as that forfeit win for Taguchi and Wato really was moot because of other results…
El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori (4-0; 8pts)
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 3-1; 6pts
OUT: Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask (3-1; 6pts)
OUT: Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato (2-2; 4pts)
OUT: Dick Togo & Gedo; YOH & SHO (0-4; 0pts)
Tomorrow we’ve got the final Super Junior tag league matches. I’d guess the Roppongi 3K tag is going to be forfeited, and El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori looks like the finale to decide whether the Suzuki-gun combo get a shot at the junior tag titles… or ELP and Ishimori get the MetLine Dome shows off?
New Japan choosing to resume their push in America is a good call, but with the roster remaining in Japan already on the thin side, any covid-enforced absences are going to make these undercards an even tougher sell than usual. At least the tag league matches were newsworthy and good, as we lead to the final-round shoot-out tomorrow in Korakuen.