Budokan Hall’s the host for the finals of the World Tag League and Best of the Super Junior tournament finals – as title shots at WrestleKingdom were on the line.
Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale & Taiji Ishimori pinned Robbie Eagles, SHO & Toru Yano in 5:53 (**½)
Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan & Will Ospreay pinned Toa Henare, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada in 10:45 (***)
Shingo Takagi & SANADA pinned Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL in 4:58 (***)
Kota Ibushi & Master Wato pinned BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito in 10:06 (***¼)
Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa pinned Juice Robinson & David Finlay in 22:15 to win World Tag League 2020 (***½)
Hiromu Takahashi pinned El Desperado in 30:14 to win Best of the Super Junior 27 (*****)
We’re at Tokyo’s Budokan Hall for the finals, which is going back to the six-match card that worked so well for the bulk of the tour, and we’ve live English commentary from Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton and Gino Gambino. I guess the road to WrestleKingdom is just about to start (I mean, technically the Road to Tokyo Dome tour starts next week, but you know what I mean!)
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Taiji Ishimori) vs. Toru Yano, SHO & Robbie Eagles
Toru Yano’s wearing a GoPro on his head – so he’s either filming for his vlog, or he’s bringing back Refer-Eye Cam in 2020. Exactly what we needed!
We’ve a jump start, because of course we do, as Fale ripped the GoPro off of Yano’s head. The Gone-Pro. We get Yano in the ropes, raking Fale’s eyes before a slam was tried too early. Fale easily does it though, but misses a charge in the corner as Yano managed to get free and untie a corner pad.
Being bopped with the pad does little to Fale, who just slams Yano again, as Ishimori tagged in to just throw Yano into the exposed corner. He puts the brakes on as Yano lands a slam… then tagged out to SHO who cleared the apron before landing a corner clothesline. Kicks keep Ishimori down before they got caught… but misdirection from SHO leads to a spear for a two-count.
Ishimori elbows free but can’t avoid a rebound German suplex before he hit a handspring enziguiri. Chase Owens tags in, apparently mad at suddenly realising that SHO’s finisher is a little like his, but Robbie Eagles comes in also, landing a gamengiri in the corner. A springboard dropkick takes out Owens’ knee, but the Ron Miller Special is rolled out of as Eagles instead fires off some kicks.
Running double knees crack into Owens in the corner for a two-count, before a 450 splash to the leg misses. Owens recovered for a package piledriver, but it’s countered with a ‘rana for a near-fall, before Owens hit a superkick. He rolls through Eagles for something, but it’s countered into a roll-up for a two-count, before he clapped out of a Turbo Backpack. A Jewel Heist lariat nearly wins it, before Fale wandered in to help with a Grenade Launcher for the win. Surprisingly brief for an opener, but what we got was solid enough. **½
Post-match, Yano keeps trying to slam Fale. Oh God. Chris Charlton gave away he might be looking for a bodyslam match… and with Fale stomping on Yano’s trophy, I guess that’s official? How quickly can they book an aircraft carrier for that match?
The Empire (Will Ospreay, Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Toa Henare
We’ve got new music for the Empire, which makes O-Khan’s entrance look more like he was dancing to the beat. Meanwhile, remember when that Okada/Tanahashi team was a dream team? Oh, those heady days…
Okada wants to start with Ospreay, and he gets his wish as the pair trade elbows at the bell… but it’s Ospreay who corners Okada early on as the referee forced a separation. A big boot from Okada drops Ospreay, with Tanahashi then tagging in… but Ospreay manages to outmaneuver them and tag in O-Khan to go to work.
A head and arm choke restrains O-Khan, but it’s pushed away from as Tanahashi hits some low dropkicks to the knee, following up with an elbow drop as a falling chop from Henare helped out. The double-team Boston crab is next, but of course they can’t keep it on as O-Khan came back with Mongolian chops, then rolled Tanahashi into a leg lock.
Tanahashi drags himself to the ropes as Ospreay had Okada in the guard rails. In comes Cobb to put the boots to Tanahashi, before he picked him up for some standing backbreakers and a slam, before O-Khan returned with the head-and-arm choke on the mat. Ospreay’s back to boot Tanahashi into the corner, before some gutwrench suplexes from O-Khan and Cobb threw Tanahashi around for fun.
Ospreay’s back to throw a dropkick for a back suplex as some triple-teaming nearly put Tanahashi down. Tanahashi tries to fight back with a crossbody out of the corner, but that misses… unlike a Dragon screw which took Ospreay down. Okada’s back in to go after Ospreay with back elbows and a DDT, before a neckbreaker slam was fought out of. A sorta-Eye of the Hurricane out of the corner from Ospreay has Okada down, with Cobb returning… only to get flapjacked.
Henare’s in next to throw some rights at Cobb, following up with shoulder tackles before escaping a stalling suplex. Elbows from Henare dazed Cobb, who came back with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex, before he escaped a Samoan drop. A rear spin kick from Henare lands as his partners flood the ring to make sure there was no interference – a Samoan drop lands for a two-count, as does a Slingblade/leg sweep combo.
O-Khan’s back to trap Tanahashi in a leg lock, while Henare’s sent into the ropes for a Tour of the Islands… and that’s all folks. A solid enough trios match that keeps things going for Okada/Ospreay – and possibly teased Tanahashi/O-Khan as well, going by the brief afters? ***
Afterwards, Okada and Ospreay squared off… Okada grabs Ospreay by the throat, which of course drew in Cobb as an Os-Cutter leaves Okada laying. Bea Priestley threw in a chair as O-Khan swiped at Tanahashi’s knee several times, as the Empire stood tall.
On the English commentary, they announced that both nights of WrestleKingdom would have live English commentary – from inside the Tokyo Dome! It’ll be Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero and Chris Charlton, and for those wondering, these shows are currently slated for 8am UK start times, which is way more palatable than the 6ams we’ve had before!
Bullet Club (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & Shingo Takagi)
We’ve a jump start from the Bullet Club lads, but SANADA takes EVIL down with a plancha early on as Shingo and Yujiro stayed in the ring.
A suplex from Shingo drops Yujiro, who replied with an eye rake as Dick Togo was choking out SANADA in the aisle with the garotte wire. “Measuring the neck,” as Gino put it. Quite. Shingo saves SANADA as the match spilled into the aisle, but they’re back quickly as a legdrop from Yujiro gets a one-count.
EVIL tags in as he rakes Shingo’s eyes, before a whip takes Shingo into the conveniently-exposed corner. Shingo’s on his own as we see the Young Lions checking on SANADA in the aisle… as Fisherman buster from EVIL and a kick from Yujiro gets a two-count as Shingo was really on his own here.
Shingo threatens a comeback, but Dick Togo trips him as EVIL distracts the referee… but SANADA pops back up to save Shingo from the Pimp Cane, as he went after EVIL with some ground and pound. He throws EVIL outside for whips into the guard rails as SANADA finally showed some anger, while a Shingo combination and a sliding lariat left Yujiro open for a Last of the Dragon for the win. That was surprisingly brief, with the story of the match benign that SANADA getting choked out finally had him snap on his former tag team partner whom he’d been relatively ambivalent towards since the summer split. ***
Post-match, SANADA keeps beating on EVIL, meeting him in the aisle as they fought to the back. Then we had Jeff Cobb appearing in the ring as he and Shingo had their staredown as they’re really throwing stuff at us for WrestleKingdom. Cobb played tug of war with Shingo’s NEVER title, pulling him into a Tour of the Islands as that match looks to be set for the Dome.
They announce a return on March 4 at Budokan Hall for the Anniversary show. I wonder if we’ll get Naito vs. Hiromu then, or has that been left in the dust?
Kota Ibushi & Master Wato vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI)
Our final undercard match is a preview of the January 4 Tokyo Dome main event, with Tetsuya Naito having gifted Kota Ibushi a title shot…
Those two start us off, throwing elbows until an eye rake from Naito put the brakes on things. Naito mocks a Mongolian chop, then had to avoid a PK as he ended up getting caught by a dropkick from Ibushi. A tag brings in Master Wato to kick away at Naito, before elbows and a rear spin kick had the double champ down.
Naito recovers with a kick of his own before BUSHI ran in to see-saw Wato into a diving kick. An Irish whip takes Ibushi into the guard rails as Naito proceeded to hit some Mongolian chops on Wato… then brought in BUSHI to hit some of his own. Those help get BUSHI a two-count, before Naito came in with headscissors to trap Wato. A rope break saves Wato, who’s still stomped on before BUSHI came in to help double-team again.
A tiltawhirl backbreaker from Wato gets rid of Naito, while an enziguiri drops BUSHI, before a tag brings in Ibushi to light up Naito with elbows. Ibushi’s diving kick stops Naito again, with a mid kick and a standing moonsault following next for a two-count. Naito picks up with some elbows and a dropkick, then with Combinacion Cabron, and a big tornado DDT off the ropes.
BUSHI returns with a missile dropkick to Ibushi, before a DDT nearly upsets Ibushi… a Fisherman’s neckbreaker gets another two-count as Wato makes the save, but gets thrown outside. A back cracker out of the corner gives Ibushi an ugly landing as BUSHI pushed on… but his Codebreaker’s caught and pushed away.
Naito tries to intervene, but gets taken out with a springboard uppercut from Wato, then a tornillo, before Ibushi returned to kicking away at BUSHI. Those softened him up for Kamigoye, and that’s enough to get the win – a nice, but tame warm-up as Ibushi gets a win over LIJ ahead of the Dome. ***¼
World Tag League 2020 Final: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. Fin-Juice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson)
Fin-Juice came in looking to win World Tag League for the second straight year – while the Guerrillas surprisingly had never won this tournament before.
Finlay and Tanga Loa start, but an early side headlock from Finlay is easily broken up as he’s lifted into the corner for a break. Finlay reapplies the side headlock, clinging on before he was thrown off, with Loa coming in with a headlock takedown of his own that ends with both men tagging out as they hit the ropes.
There’s a stand-off Juice and Tama were legal. They lock-up and head into the ropes, but Jado interferes early as he tried to trip Juice in full view of the referee… and gets ejected for it. The Young Lions have to drag Jado away kicking and screaming, as Fin-Juice picked up with a double-team bulldog on Tama for just a one-count. Juice and Finlay keep going as they work on Tama’s arm with double sledges… but Tanga Loa tags in to hit a back body drop on Finlay… then Juice.
Tanga keeps the momentum going with a powerbomb on Finlay as the Guerrillas looked to isolate him. Slaps from Tanga rile up Finlay, but he’s knocked flying into the corner with an elbow, but Finlay hits an elbow then side-steps Tanga as he looked for a tag out… but Juice gets pulled off the apron at the worst moment. Tama tags back in and eats some uppercuts before Finlay managed to make the tag out, with Juice going wild with elbows. A spinebuster drops Tanga, while a full nelson slam leaves Tama down. There’s planchas too from Juice, before he hit a crossbody off the top to take down Tama back inside for a two-count.
Finlay returns for some double-teaming as a backbreaker/legdrop took down Tama for a two-count, before a Hart Attack attempt was stopped with a spear from Tanga Loa. Tama hits back with a quick Tongan Twist to Finlay as Juice was left in on his own, taking a double-tema facebuster for a two-count. The Guerillas head up top for a swandive headbutt/frog splash combo for another near-fall, before they called for the Super Powerbomb.
It’s set up as Juice is charged into the corner, but he avoids a Stinger Splash as Finlay came in to spark a Parade of Moves, featuring a uranage backbreaker on Tama before Finlay took a running powerslam. A Left Hand of God from Juice completes the set as all four men were down… but Fin-Juice get back up first, with Tama taking a cannonball, then a right hand from Juice as he looked to build up to Pulp Friction.
Except Jado wandered back out to distract as the Guerrillas hit Juice with a second Kendo stick, getting a near-fall as Finlay makes a save. Tanga followed that up with the OJK on Finlay, while a Sharpshooter from Tama trapped Juice, but Juice makes it ot the ropes and stays alive in the match.
Juice is prone though, as the Guerrillas lift him up for a Magic Killer, which lands for a near-fall, before they charged Juice back into the corner. This time the Stinger Splash lands as they again set up for the Super Powerbomb, but Juice ‘ranas out of it as Finlay looked to turn things around. He eventually lands a Prima Nocta on Tama, before a Trash Panda dropped Tanga Loa… but Juice is still down as Fin-Juice looked to hit back.
A Hart Attack finally takes down Tama for a two-count, as they looked to follow it up with a Power-Plex… but Tama kicks out at two again! A Doomsday Device looked to continue Fin-Juice’s gamut of 80s and 90s finishers, but Tanga shoves Finlay off the top rope. Jado tries to interfere with a Kendo stick, but instead KENTA runs out to bop Juice on the head with the US title-shot briefcase, before a Super Powerbomb swiftly put Juice away. Nice bounce from the ref to sell it, as the Guerrillas finally win World Tag League… I could have done without the KENTA run in, but you know how they operate these days, both in terms of the bad guys needing to cheat to win, while I guess that’s setting something up down the line. As a match, this didn’t really feel like a final for me – even though the effort was there, it never seemed to get into a higher gear. ***½
Best of the Super Junior 27 Final: Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado
A storied rivalry moves to the main event of Budokan – and while we’re not likely to see the wild crowd brawls like these two had given us in Korakuen Hall before, I’ve got very high hopes for this.
The gong sounds, but they don’t race at each other, as they opted for a much more measured approach. They struggle over a lock-up, trading wristlocks to start off with as a headlock takedown from Hiromu was quickly neutralised. Desperado and Hiromu stay on the mat as a side headlock from Hiromu helped drag Desperado back up, following up with a hammerlock as they go back to the mat, with the ropes saving Desperado early on.
Hiromu toyed with a boot or two on Desperado, which then sparked some back-and-forth chops as they showed they weren’t about to hold back. A poke to the eye from Desperado stops Hiromu briefly, as he then caught some headscissors and caught Hiromu with Numero Dos… forcing the former champion to scramble to the ropes. Elbows from Hiromu force Desperado to use the referee as a human shield… and then we’re quickly outside with Hiromu being thrown into the rails.
Back inside, Desperado removes a turnbuckle pad, then threw Hiromu into the exposed corner. Repeatedly. A back suplex drops Hiromu, as Desperado looked to control proceedings. Overhand chops from Hiromu looked to give him an opening, but Desperado slams him, then leapt onto the knee as he was clearly softening the legs up for later on.
Desperado throws Hiromu outside again, slamming him into the floor with a thud before driving Hiromu’s knee into the floor. Hiromu’s able to roll back inside, but Desperado stays on top of him with a splash to the leg for a one-count, before he tied up Hiromu in a leg spreader. That ends in the ropes, but Desperado remained on top… at least until Hiromu hit some headscissors as that bad knee was already playing into things.
A low dropkick from Hiromu buys him time, as does a version of the tarantula, hanging Desperado in the ropes before a wheelbarrow facebuster off the apron led to another bad landing. Hiromu followed that up with a shotgun dropkick off the apron, taking Desperado into the railings, before they returned to the ring as a Falcon arrow gets a near-fall.
Hiromu gets a boot up in the corner, but had to fight out of a spinebuster as Desperado looked to get back in it… but his Numero Dos was quickly rolled out of. He charges at Hiromu, but just gets tossed into the buckles with an overhead belly-to-belly. An attempt at a Dynamite Plunger is blocked, with Desperado slipping out as Hiromu’s knee gave out. Still, Hiromu’s able to hit a superkick as Desperado came off the ropes, before a death valley driver sent Desperado into the corner.
A second one leaves him in the middle of the ring, but an early Time Bomb is rolled out of as Desperado goes back to the Numero Dos. Yet again though, Hiromu gets to the ropes as Despy held on, before Hiromu escaped a Guitarra de Angel… only for his knee to buckle once more as he rolled outside for respite.
A switcharound from Hiromu looked to see him rush in with a Sunset bomb, but Desperado held onto the ropes as Hiromu crashed and burned something ugly – and that slight opening was well and truly shut. Desperado chucks Hiromu into the guard rails, before distracting the referee with a belt as he proceeded to destroy a chair over Hiromu’s already-injured knee.
Referee Red Shoes Unno doesn’t wave it off though, so Desperado stomps on the knee some more as they head back inside for another go at Numero Dos. Hiromu kicks it away though, only to get caught with Guitarra de Angel for a near-fall. From the kick-out it’s back to Numero Dos, rolling Hiromu away from the ropes as both arms were tied up too. Somehow Hiromu manages to pull himself up out of trouble… and breaks the hold with a Destroyer!
Hiromu hobbles back to his feet and goes for another death valley driver… but Desperado shoves him into the corner with the referee before going low. A straight punch from Hiromu saw him punch out Desperado before he could be caught with one, before Hiromu ripped off the scalp from Desperado’s mask!
Desperado then willingly removed the remains of his mask as the pair lit each other up at the 25 minute mark… and it was like the fight had started anew! An eye rake from Desperado earns him a big slap… but he’s back with a right hand that knocked down Hiromu, and seemingly put him back on track. Pinche Loco looked to follow, but Hiromu headbutts his way free, before lifting up Desperado for Victory Royal. Is that Hiromu now on top again?
Time Bomb 2 was attempted, but an El Es Claro roll-up counters as Desperado came agonisingly close to snatching the win, before the pair clattered into each other with lariats. Desperado goes back to the knee, but ends up taking another superkick before an attempted Pinche Loco was countered as Hiromu drove him into the exposed corner with a death valley driver, cutting him up in the process.
Time Bomb follows, but Desperado is up at two. Another Victory Royal plants Despy, before Hiromu scooped him up for Time Bomb 2, drilling him into the middle of the ring… and that’s all! This was exquisite – building off of their earlier match in the tournament, we had Desperado going for the knee like a dog with a bone, but Hiromu outlasted that – and upped the ante to the point where Desperado unmasked for the remainder of the match, only to come up short. Hiromu’s now a two-time BOSJ winner – and while he’ll be getting the headlines, this outing likely does just as much for Desperado. One of the easiest “full fives” you’ll see if you’ve been following the tournament! *****
Post-match, Hiromu issued his challenge… to face the winner of this weekend’s Super J Cup!
With this wretched year winding down, we’ve got three more New Japan shows left that’s making tape – and those are all from Korakuen Hall from December 21 through 23 as the company finishes up on the Road to the Tokyo Dome.
Until the finals, this was threatening to be a so-so show for the in-ring, but truth be told, this was a show that was all about setting up stuff for the Tokyo Dome. With only three (streaming) events left, this was the last big show of 2020 for New Japan, and in terms of storyline progression, they damn sure made it count. Throw in an instant classic of a main event, and you’ve got a final show worthy of both tournaments.