We’ve one more go around as the World Tag League and Best of the Super Junior tournaments wrap up in Ryogoku Kokugikan, as more pieces fall into place for the Tokyo Dome shows.

Quick Results
DOUKI, Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku submitted Kosei Fujita, Yuto Nakashima & Ryusuke Taguchi in 6:09 (**½)
Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo pinned Ryohei Oiwa & Tiger Mask in 2:32 (*½)
Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru submitted Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe, Master Wato & Toru Yano in 9:18 (**¾)
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Yuji Nagata pinned Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa in 9:25 (**¾)
Tetsuya Naito & SANADA pinned Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan in 9:30 (***)
Kazuchika Okada & Robbie Eagles pinned BUSHI & Shingo Takagi in 11:32 (***¼)
World Tag League 2021 Final – YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto pinned Yujiro Takahashi & EVIL in 19:57 (***½)
Best of the Super Junior 28 Final – Hiromu Takahashi pinned YOH in 38:30 (****¼)

We’re at Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo for this, with live English commentary from the two studios – Kevin Kelly in the States, and Chris Charlton in Japan.

Ryusuke Taguchi, Yuto Nakashima & Kosei Fujita vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku & DOUKI)
Apparently after their World Tag League campaign ended 0-11, Minoru Suzuki was furious with TAKA Michinoku… I’d be too.

Yuto Nakashima was staring down Suzuki before the bell, but it’s Kosei Fujita who had the deathwish and started. He’s caught in an early crossface as Nakashima came in and got some similar treatment. TAKA’s in next but gets charged down, before Taguchi tagged in and hit the Three Amigos on TAKA.

A Bummer-Ye’s next for TAKA, which nearly ends the match, but he kicks out at two… and is instantly caught in an ankle lock. TAKA escapes and returned with a bulldog choke, only for a Magistral from Taguchi to get a near-fall. DOUKI’s in with Fujita, who charges DOUKI down into a Boston crab, with DOUKI being forced to make his own way into the ropes.

From there, Fujita tries for inside cradles, but gets pulled into a DOUKI CHOKI… and that’s the submission stoppage. Very brief, but decent for the time they had. **½

Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) vs. Tiger Mask & Ryohei Oiwa
It’s the former junior tag champs against half of the current ones…

Phantasmo and Ishimori tag in and out before they even approach Tiger Mask… who got fed up with it and kicked Ishimori, only to get taken into the corner for some knees. Tiger Mask returns with a tiltawhirl backbreaker, while ELP runs in to take one, before Oiwa tagged in to get a two-count off of a shoulder tackle.

A dropkick from Oiwa lands as a set-up for a Boston crab, but a Sudden Death from ELP breaks it up… and allowed Ishimori to make the nonchalant pin as Tiger Mask was held back. *½

ELP hits a Sudden Death to Nakashima after the match, before Robbie Eagles came to make the save. Eagles is overwhelmed, so out comes Ryusuke Taguchi… and hits hip attacks on everyone, and I’m thinking as three-way for the junior tag titles at the Dome? I mean, he’s got to be the 69th junior tag champion, right? Unfortunately for Master Wato, it looks like it’ll be alongside Rocky Romero…

Toru Yano, Master Wato, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
Some filler next, unless we somehow get a KOPW defence set-up out of this given that both the tag champions and the junior champion is in this one.

Of course we’ve a jump start, as Suzuki-gun took things outside as Kanemaru tried to waterboard Yano with whiskey. When things settled down, Wato and Desperado get involved, but a missed kick from Wato opened it up for Desperado, who low bridged Wato to the outside as things spill outside again.

Back inside, a suplex from Desperado lands for a near-fall, before Sabre tagged in and worked over Wato’s arm. That ends in the ropes, so in comes Taichi came in to try and choke-pin Wato. Wato’s leg lariat gets him free to tag in Togi Makabe, who charges through the Suzuki-gun lads ahead of mounted punches to Taichi.

A lariat from Makabe lands for a near-fall, while another stopped Taichi’s Axe bomber, before Honma came in to tie up Sabre in a Cobra twist. My feed drops, and returned with Honma missing a Kokeshi – the usual – while Taichi came in to wallop Honma with a forearm. From there, Sabre pulled Honma into a triangle… while Kanemaru spat whiskey at Yano to stop the save as the submission’s called. Oh hey, they’re doing Yano vs. Kanemaru for the KOPW trophy coming out of this! **¾

Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa), Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata
A mash-up of teams that fell short in the World Tag League…

We’ve a jump start as the Bullet Club take control, but Kojima and Tenzan combine to charge down Fale before a slam on Tanga Loa led to a falling headbutt/slingshot elbow for a two-count. Tanga’s kept cornered for some Machine Gun chops that drew a lot of swears from Tanga, before the trip up top led to Fale just shoving Kojima down.

Tanga replies with some Machine Gun-ish chops of his own in the corner, before Tale and Owens stood on Kojima in the ropes. Owens takes over with knee drops on Kojima, while Tama Tonga mocked the Mongolian chops, hitting some on Kojima. A DDT gets Kojima free as Yuji Nagata came in to kick away on Tama, only to get caught with a Complete Shot for his troubles.

Tags bring us back to Owens and Tanahashi, with Chase getting caught in a Dragon screw before Tanga Loa and Bad Luck Fale tried to stop a Slingblade. When Tanahashi gets free, he’s caught with a Jewel Heist as the ring began to fill up for the obligatory Parade of Moves… featuring a TenKoji Cutter to Tama Tonga.

Kojima clotheslines Fale out of the ring, as we go back to Tanahashi and Owens… a missed High Fly Flow puts Chase ahead as a C-Trigger dropped Tanahashi… but the Ace comes right back with a roll-up and snatches victory. Seemingly Tanahashi’s second win over Owens pushes Chase out of the US title picture, after he’s called out for a shot at it earlier in the year. **¾

After the match the lights go out as we get a video from KENTA. He tells us he doesn’t want to wrestle Tanahashi, claiming his back still isn’t 100% after their last match… but then offered a no-DQ match with the title on the line. Of course Tanahashi accepted…

…and now we get the Katsuyori Shibata announcement. A few months back at the G1 finals he had that surprise exhibition with Zack Sabre Jr., and promised he’d be back. Shibata’s out in a suit and announced: January 4. He’s going to be back in action – with an opponent TBC.

United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito & SANADA)
In the build-up, O-Khan took shots at Naito for letting SANADA do most of the work in World Tag League – and claimed to have a counter for SANADA’s O’Connor roll finish.

SANADA and Naito thwart a jump start attempt, with SANADA dragging O-Khan by his braid ahead of a Paradise Lock. The dropkick frees O-Khan for just a one-count, before a Sheep Killer stretched SANADA ahead of an eventual trip to the guard rails. Beating the count-out, SANADA’s still kept in danger as Cobb’s knees lead to a two-count ahead of a stalling suplex.

O-Khan rushes in to knock Naito off the apron as the Empire continued to dictate the pace. SANADA tries his luck with Mongolian chops, but gets caught in the throat before a springboard missile dropkick took O-Khan down. Tags get us back to Naito and Cobb, with Naito’s headscissors taking things outside.

Quickly taking things back inside, Naito throws in a Combinacion Cabron for a two-count, before a neckbreaker was pushed away, with Cobb effortlessly charging Naito between the corners for fun. A sandwich of kicks has Naito down ahead of a Sheep Killer slam attempt, but it’s broken up as SANADA came in… and took an Eliminator.

The finish comes moments later when Naito escapes an Imperial Drop and put Cobb away with a ‘rana… and that upset just earned Naito some choking after the bell before Naito got away. This was okay, but never really hit that upper gear in the time they had as they may well be building to Cobb/Okada at the Dome? ***

Kazuchika Okada & Robbie Eagles vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
We start the teasing for January 4 with this, as we prepare for Okada/Shingo for the title…

Shingo and Okada start us off, taking things to the mat as their early exchanges were kept even. A chop from Shingo leads to him ducking a Rainmaker, then teasing a Last of the Dragon, before tags bring us to BUSHI raking Robbie Eagles’ eyes. Headscissors take Eagles outside for a tope suicida, while Shingo dropped Okada onto the apron.

Back inside, we get some t-shirt choking from BUSHI, with Shingo returning to chop down Eagles ahead of a suplex. Knees in the ropes from Shingo fires up Eagles, who hits a pop-up ‘rana ahead of a tag out to Okada, who hits a back elbow and a flapjack as he pulled ahead.

Okada and Shingo trade elbows before an uppercut was almost turned into a noshigami as a DDT landed instead. BUSHI’s back in to come close from his DDT, but Okada turned it back around as he rolled up into a neckbreaker slam. The Money Clip followed on BUSHI, but Shingo breaks it up… only to get caught with a low dropkick as Eagles took him outside for a tope con giro.

Okada’s left with BUSHI, hitting him with a dropkick before a slam and a Rainmaker elbow drop led to a Rainmaker for the win. By the numbers stuff, as we build for the Dome. ***¼

World Tag League 2021 Final: House of Torture (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI
We’ve two first-time finalists for this one, but both EVIL and Hirooki Goto have won it twice in the past with prior partners.

Goto and YOSHI-HASHI take charge early after an attempted jump, before Dick Togo’s early interference ended with Goto and YOSHI-HASHI beating him off. I said what I said. Back in the ring, Yujiro removes a corner pad as Goto’s thrown into the exposed buckles, while YOSHI-HASHI was used to charge the ring announcer off his seat.

Yujiro tags in and chops YOSHI-HASHI in the corner, before EVIL came in and distracted the ref so he could choke YOSHI-HASHI with a t-shirt. Slams get EVIL some two-counts as he tried to wear down YOSHI-HASHI that way. Hirooki Goto’s in with a spinning heel kick to EVIL and a bulldog out of the corner for a two-count, before Dick Togo pulled Goto to the outside, where he and Yujiro hotshotted Goto into the edge of the ring.

Back inside, Goto’s double-teamed some more, with an EVIL Fisherman buster landing for a near-fall ahead of a Darkness Scorpion. My feed drops out, returning with Goto clotheslining Yujiro away as we hit the ten-minute mark. A reverse GTR from Goto nearly wins it, so of course we’ve got the bullshit as Dick Togo chokes out Goto with the garotte wire.

Goto powers free and hits a back suplex to EVIL, as tags bring us to Yujiro and YOSHI-HASHI… an Incolle Slam and a Miami Shine put Yujiro ahead, while EVIL’s Darkness Falls took things closer to the finishing like before YOSHI-HASHI pulled ahead with some clotheslines. A clothesline from Yujiro leads to Pimp Juice for a near-fall, before Goto ducked a Pimp cane shot to drop Yujiro with an ushigoroshi.

EVIL intervenes but gets thrown into the exposed corner ahead of a GTW as all roads looked to lead to Shoto… but Yujiro puts up resistance. Yujiro BOUNCES from a GYW, then gets pulled up for Shoto… only for Dick Togo to pop up and pull out the referee to save the three-count. Here comes the motherlode of bullshit – EVIL’s got a chair, Dick’s got his wire… Tomohiro Ishii comes out to clear house in his Armani gear, dropping EVIL with a headbutt and a clothesline for good measure.

Yujiro tries to get back in with a Big Juice, but a superkick-assisted ushigoroshi puts paid to him. Yujiro pushed out of Shoto, then pushes the ref aside as YOSHI-HASHI blocked a low blow… before a Shoto into a double-team neckbreaker (dubbed the Shoto-kai) gets the win. This was a good little match with a clear set of good guys – and while we had the obligatory bollocks interference, it played into the finish as we now look for Goto & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Dangerous Tekkers once more. ***½

Best of the Super Junior 28 Final: YOH vs. Hiromu Takahashi
YOH’s tournament started horribly, but he’s had the fairytale comeback to make it to the finals. On the first night of the tournament, Hiromu squashed YOH in under five minutes – can we get a KUSHIDA-like redemption here?

The pair start by trading wristlocks, before they headed to the mat and into the ropes… Hiromu works over YOH’s leg, forcing YOH into the ropes from a toe hold, before a side headlock was pushed off by YOH. A leapfrog just gets over Hiromu as YOH returned with a drop toe hold, but a missed low dropkick sparks some pinning attempts and a stand-off.

A flurry of strikes has Hiromu ahead, as did some hanging headscissors in the ropes as things ended up spilling outside. There’s a shotgun dropkick off the apron from Hiromu, before we went back to the chops as YOH looked to get some revenge for his already marked-up chest. Except Hiromu knocked him down for a two-count as commentary began to talk up YOH as being deadly with that Five Star Clutch flash pin.

We’re back to the chops in the meantime though, with YOH’s chest looking like he’d come out worse for wear having walked through an animal enclosure. YOH mounts a comeback with a low dropkick, but a corner clothesline and a low dropkick just puts Hiromu back in control for a two-count.

A Falcon arrow from YOH gets him a two-count, with a Star Gazer calf slicer following before Hiromu fought back by pulling YOH into the D. The ropes save YOH there, as Hiromu came back with a death valley driver into the corner. A wheelbarrow German suplex from YOH gets him a two-count at the quarter-hour mark, before some Hiromu rolls looked to get the win.

YOH’s leaping knee just earns him a sit-out powerbomb in return as both men were left laying. They recover by trading elbow strikes, while a missed YOH dropkick leads to another flurry, ending with a dropkick from YOH… who then ran into an overhead belly-to-belly that took him into the corner.

Hiromu picks up on the apron as he lands a death valley driver, before he ended a count-out tease by going for a sunset bomb… only for YOH to counter with headscissors. A tope con giro keeps Hiromu on the floor. We approach the 21-minute mark with groans of disgust because SHO’s come out to attack the referee and the young lions, as he then dropped YOH with a cross-armed piledriver on the floor.

SHO waits for Hiromu to get up so he could hit a cross-armed piledriver to him as SHO then tried to get the match waved off as a no-contest because of his actions. Referee Red Shoes Unno refused to do that, so SHO grabs the mic and declared things a no contest as Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI ran out to chase him away. Tetsuya Naito and Shingo Takagi come out as well to help Hiromu as the motherlode of bullshit looked to be at an end.

The match continues, but the ref doesn’t count either man out as he instead gave them leeway to get back into the ring to resume affairs. They spark back into life, trading shotgun dropkicks into the corners, before YOH rolled his way out of a Time Bomb for a near-fall. The Five Star Clutch doesn’t come off as Hiromu rolled through into a German suplex instead, before they pair counter for days as they trade headbutts instead.

A Hiromu-chan Bomber drops YOH, as does Victory Royale, but YOH kicks out at two, then tried for the Five Star Clutch again before he caught Hiromu with a Dragon screw. YOH looks to go for a superplex, and eventually gets it as he then rolled through into an over-the-knee Falcon Arrow. Direct Drive looks to follow, but Hiromu floats out into a roll-up for a near-fall, before Hiromu literally ran into a superkick.

YOH’s resurgent, and pulls up Hiromu for a Dragon suplex for a near-fall, before another Direct Driver was rolled through into a Time Bomb. It’s not enough for the win as YOH peels his shoulder off the mat as we sailed past the 35-minute mark in this no-time-limit outing…

A lariat from YOH drops Hiromu, who’s then pulled up… but Hiromu pulled YOH into the D, and nearly got rolled up from that. The Hiromu-chan Bomber drops YOH again, before Hiromu hit a nasty overhook’d piledriver… but YOH shook it off and ALMOST won with the Five Star Clutch! From the kick-out, another Hiromu-chan Bomber drops YOH, before Hiromu made sure of the win with Time Bomb II as Hiromu wins back-to-back tournaments.

I could have done without the SHO interference, but that’s the MO of New Japan when they’re establishing a new unit. Aside from that, this was a pretty damn good match, particularly in the intense closing stretch, but that’s the norm for New Japan’s match style. To the shock of nobody we’ll be getting Desperado vs. Hiromu again out of this, while SHO vs. YOH is almost surely a lock for the Dome after those five minutes we all want to forget. ****¼

…and that’s it for me, at least for now, when it comes to intense New Japan coverage. This isn’t a “goodbye,” as I’ll still be watching and sometimes chipping in with horribly-delayed takes (particularly for WrestleKingdom, but that’ll not be watched live). For the time being at least, the days of me being able to cover every show with the New Japan badge on it in depth are in the past.

New Japan does have some shows before they hit the Tokyo Dome in the new year – with FOUR straight nights at Korakuen Hall between December 21 and December 24. Yes, they are running on Christmas Eve, and I’ve a feeling we’ll see fake snow and maybe Ryusuke Taguchi as Masked Horse again.

They crammed a lot into this show, but the undercard was more about the finishes and angles than the matches, with the majority of stuff going under the ten minute mark. If you’re a star ratings guy, unfortunately that meant that this show is probably largely skippable – but if you’re watching the entire thing, then you got a lot of stuff set up for WrestleKingdom. As Leslie Nielsen often said, I picked the wrong time to quit sniffing glue with this one, huh?