We’re back at Korakuen Hall as New we’ve warm-ups for future title matches, and some of the final matches before the send-offs of Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura.
Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Yuji Nagata pinned Yota Tsuji, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma in 11:34 (**¾)
Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo & Jado pinned Yuya Uemura, Tiger Mask & Robbie Eagles in 12:13 (***)
Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toru Yano submitted Gedo, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi in 12:10 (**½)
Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru submitted YOH, SHO, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto in 18:06 (***)
EVIL & Dick Togo pinned BUSHI & Shingo Takagi in 14:01 (**¾)
New Japan’s calling this night ten – evidently counting all of the stops in Osaka, Sapporo and Nagoya that got a full name. If you missed Sunday’s Wrestle Grand Slam event, you’ll have missed the confirmation that we’re going to be without live English commentary until September’s Wrestle Grand Slam show. That ought to give Kevin Kelly enough time to get rid of the wasps in his studio…
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata vs. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Yota Tsuji
This is the start of Tsuji’s final week in New Japan, with the promotion having announced send-offs for he and Yuya Uemura on Sunday.
Nagata looked to frustrate Tsuji early, but quickly found himself slammed before he battered Tsuji with knees and elbows. Kojima and Honma come in next to restart, as Honma built up to… and misses a Kokeshi. Tenzan’s in for the slingshot elbow/falling headbutt combo with Kojima, before Nagata came in to kick Honma into the corner.
Tenzan keeps it going with Mongolian chops, then a suplex, before Honma cracked Tenzan with a headbutt… hurting his own head in the process. A missed Kokeshi from Tenzan led to one from Honma that landed, as Kojima came in for his usual stuff – apron clearing and mounted punches. What, you thought he was going to take a bump here?
After taking some Mongolian chops, Makabe goes for clotheslines before… christ, there’s a bump on a Mountain bomb! That’s his one for the night, as tags bring in Kojima… but not Tsuji yet, as Makabe traded strikes before a bodyslam gave him time to make that tag. A dropkick from Tsuji has Kojima down ahead of the flip senton and Mount Tsuji splash, only for a Kojima DDT to level things. Tsuji gets triple-teamed in the corner ahead of a Koji Cutter, before a Parade of Moves led to Tsuji running into a standing lariat… with a Cozy lariat ending things moments later. Pretty much what you’d expect, with Tsuji largely being kept out of there until the closing stretch. **¾
Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo & Jado) vs. Robbie Eagles, Tiger Mask & Yuya Uemura
This one’s building to the Super Junior Tag League, since Hiromu (I guess) isn’t wrestling until his return match in September at the MetLife Dome.
ELP and Eagles start, with Phantasmo seemingly bemused that the Australian won the IWGP junior title on Sunday… Eagles tried for an early Ron Miller Special in the opening exchanges, which ended with the double dropkick and front flips into a staredown. A spinning heel kick countered a kick attempt from ELP, with Tiger Mask coming in to help with dual low dropkicks.
Ishimori runs into a tiltawhirl backbreaker, while Jado was held for a shoulder tackle from Uemura. Things spill to the outside for the obligatory guard rails trips, before we settled down with Tiger Mask in a cravat back inside. Tiger Mask stayed on the defensive, taking some fancy back rakes (and some not-so-fancy ones), before he blocked a CR2 and hit a Tiger Driver.
Kicks from Eagles wear down Phantasmo, who blocks a Shiranui and came back in with back rakes. A whirlibird neckbreaker out of the corner followed, but Eagles slipped free as things stayed even. The pair trade head kicks, with tags taking us to Ishimori and Uemura, with Uemura pulling ahead as he looked to land a Kanuki suplex.
Of course, Ishimori blocks it, but couldn’t avoid a back suplex as Uemura then rolled him into a Boston crab. That ended in the ropes, before Jado cracked Uemura in the back with the Kendo stick… leaving Uemura open for Cipher UTAKI… but he countered with some flash pins for near-falls. A release Kanuki suplex gets Uemura a near-fall, before Uemura tried an O’Connor roll, only to get it countered into a Bone Lock… which Ishimori transitioned into a Yes Lock, then into a Bloody Cross for the win. That closing stretch made Uemura look good, while Eagles vs. ELP could be a pretty damn good feud for the title – if they ever get around to it. ***
Toru Yano, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada vs. Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi & Gedo)
Apparently Chase Owens is going to become a serious wrestler and part of the G1 this year… and you just know Wrestling Twitter loved that news. Meanwhile, I loved the fact that somehow New Japan had the Yano/Colt Cabana remix theme on hand, despite Colt not having been in Japan since before the pandemic.
Yano sprays something in everyone’s eyes before the match, and I guess we’re starting with a blinded Bullet Club? Gedo’s bounced into the turnbuckles to start as Okada controlled the early going, while Yano and Tanahashi joined in on trying to pop Gedo’s arms out of the shoulders. We get several minutes of that before we move to a circle jerk of hair pulling, before things spilled outside as Owens choked away on Yano.
Back inside, Tanahashi’s eyes are raked as they head to the corner, while Yujiro came in with a low dropkick for a two-count on Tanahashi. The Bullet Club cycle through tags as they wore down Tanahashi, keeping him in their corner by usually foul means. T-shirt Owens is in with a chinlock, but Tanahashi eventually fought free with a Twist and Shout neckbreaker.
Yano tags back in to do his shtick. Off comes the turnbuckle pad as Owens feigned throwing powder in his eyes. Owens then ran into the exposed corner and got rolled up for a two-count, then again from an inside cradle before a front kick dumped Yano to the mat. Yujiro’s back, but runs into a Manhattan drop with Okada tagging in for the home stretch, featuring all of your Okada favourites… but Yujiro turned it around and tagged out to Gedo.
Double-teaming corners Okada, with a thrust kick getting Gedo a two-count, before Chase took a pratfall as he tried to throw powder in Okada’s eyes. Tanahashi just about Slingblades Yujiro, before Okada made Gedo tap to the Money Clip. This wasn’t bad, but it felt rather… needless? **½
Just as we thought all was done… we hear a pained yelp. It’s Jeff Cobb knocking Okada out of the back again, as he charged Okada into the ring post before a Rainmaker Tour of the Islands left Okada laying. This feud must continue, and I am not complaining about that!
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
We’ve got a NEVER trios match and IWGP tag title upcoming out of this match…
Sabre and Goto start with their early exchanges ending in the ropes, before a knuckle lock from Goto had Sabre on his knees. A struggle over a backslide ends with Sabre getting charged down, before SHO tagged in… he’s overwhelmed by Kanemaru and Desperado at first, but YOH makes the save before the CHAOS lads teamed up on Despy.
Things looked to calm down, but no, we end up on the outside as Taichi choked Goto and YOH in a two-for-one deal. Back inside, SHO’s taken into the corner by Kanemaru and Desperado, then met with a dropkick-assisted side suplex as the junior tag league preview looked rather pessimistic for SHO.
Even more so when Sabre and Suzuki wound up his arm repeatedly ahead of a Kimura, but SHO breaks free with a suplex before tagging in Ishii. Desperado and Kanemaru came in without a tag as the ring quickly filled and emptied, before we went to Ishii and Suzuki going after each other with elbows.
Suzuki locked in a sleeperhold as he then lifted up Ishii, presumably for a Gotch piledriver, but my feed dropped out… it recovers in time to see it, but Ishii countered with a back suplex before tags bring us to YOSHI-HASHI and Taichi. A thrust kick and a neckbreaker has YOSHI-HASHI ahead, only for Taichi to return with some Kawada-ish kicks and a leaping enziguiri.
A Parade of Moves breaks out, culminating in a Western Lariat from YOSHI-HASHI, before YOH got the tag in to clear house with dropkicks. Taichi’s choking stops him briefly, before YOH had to escape a Dangerous backdrop driver. The 3K double knees take Taichi down, but Desperado and Kanemaru take care of YOH as Taichi’s Axe bomber nearly won the match… before a Dangerous backdrop driver from Taichi and the Holy Emperor Cross Mausoleum led to the submission from YOH. This was fine, but I’m starting to develop an aversion to these tag team feuds, knowing they’re probably going to lead to a 40-minute match these days… ***
The two sides continue to brawl after the bell. Poor Yota Tsuji got a chair thrown at him as he’s probably hoping his final days as a Young Lion here pass quickly…
Bullet Club (EVIL & Dick Togo) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
EVIL vs. Shingo’s been confirmed for MetLife Dome, so we’re in for six weeks of these kind of tags…
EVIL powders outside at the bell, then tagged in Dick Togo as we had the usual mind games. Of course, EVIL sneaks back in to attack Shingo from behind as we get double-teaming early on, which Shingo managed to overcome as he took Togo to the corner. In comes BUSHI, who lands a ‘rana out of the corner before Togo impressively raked BUSHI’s eyes through that mask.
An Irish whip took BUSHI into a conveniently-exposed corner, while EVIL went after Shingo on the outside for some fun with chairs. Back inside, a nerve hold from Togo wore down BUSHI, before EVIL came back in to go for the eyes. Shingo tries to make the save, but gets thrown into the corner, as did BUSHI, as EVIL looked to pin BUSHI through repetition.
Togo’s back to land a fist drop for a two-count, before BUSHI’s enziguiri left both men down – and opened the door for Shingo to tag in. Slams dump Togo for a back senton, but they’re quickly back on the outside as EVIL charges Shingo into the guard rails. Back inside, EVIL drops Shingo for a two-count, before some interference from Togo backfired, leading to a DDT from Shingo.
BUSHI’s back in to hit a tope suicida on Togo on the outside… Shingo’s back elbow and lariat dumps EVIL while we waited for BUSHI to return, as a Fisherman screw landed for a two-count. My feed drops… we’re back with a rewind enziguiri from BUSHI, who then took Darkness Falls for a near-fall before Togo holds Shingo down, so Everything is EVIL can finish off BUSHI. They kept this brief at least, but I have a suspicion that this feud is going to take a while for Western fans to get into… **¾
New Japan returns on Friday with the first of three consecutive nights at Korakuen, headlined with an Elimination match between Bullet Club and Los Ingobernables de Japon.
A busier-than-usual Korakuen was on hand for this come-down from the Tokyo Dome, as today’s card teased stuff for the MetLife Dome… and the upcoming Super Junior Tag League.