Satoshi Kojima’s return to the ring highlights this morning’s Road to Destruction main event at Korakuen Hall.
In what is being billed as a Blue Justice event, Kojima will be teaming with Manabu Nakanishi, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Yuji Nagata to take on Togi Makabe, Juice Robinson, Tomoaki Honma and David Finlay. This is Kojima’s first match back since January, where he tore his ACL in a match against Rush during the FantasticaMania tour.
We’ll also see a number of tag matches ahead of the three bigger shows that are taking place later this month. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Kenny Omega, Tetsuya Naito, Minoru Suzuki, Hirooki Goto and Taichi will all be on opposite corners as they team with their stablemates.
Join us for live coverage this morning starting at 4:00 a.m. EDT. There won't be any English commentary; that will resume on September 15 for the first Destruction event in Hiroshima.
They had a ceremony before the first match, proclaiming this Blue Justice VIII, where Yuji Nagata was presented with a gigantic champagne bottle.
YOTA TSUJI DREW WITH YUYA UEMURA (10:00)
This wasn't particularly good, and there was no heat whatsoever. The acoustics in the building were strange, which might have had something to do with that perception.
They traded holds for the first four minutes. Tsuji hit a shoulder tackle, and Uemura used an armdrag. They exchanged forearms to the chest, until Uemura established the first advantage of the match, landing a back elbow in the corner. He earned a nearfall with a scoop slam.
Tsuji came back with a jumping elbow into the corner, and a hip toss. He used a body slam, and applied a crab, but Uemura reached the bottom rope. After the break, they exchanged palm strikes to the chest. Tsuji hit a dropkick, Uemura hit a dropkick, and time expired.
TAMA TONGA, TANGA LOA, BAD LUCK FALE & TAIJI ISHIMORI DEFEATED MICHAEL ELGIN, REN NARITA, SHOTA UMINO & AYATO YOSHIDA (9:03)
A fine tag match. Yoshida worked most of the way for his team, and the Bullet Club OG guys were explosive in executing their offense.
The Young Lions briefly got osme offense, sending Ishimori to the floor, taking down Tonga and Loa, and taking Fale off his feet with a dropkick. Their good fortune was short-lived, as Tonga went to work on Yoshida in the ring, while Fale did damage on the floor.
Ishimori hit double knees in the corner on Yoshida for a two count. Fale and Loa continued to work over Yoshida. Tonga tagged in, cleared the apron, and hit a stinger splash. Yoshida hit a jumping neckbreaker, and was able to tag Elgin, who ran wild. He knocked Loa and Fale off the apron, caught Ishimori off a handspring and turned it into a german, and hit a falcon arrow on Tonga for a nearfall.
Ishimori tagged in and went for a seated senton, but Elgin caught him. The match broke down, and everyone hit a big move. Umino hit a top rope dropkick. Yoshida used a cradle for a nearfall.
The finish saw Ishimori apply a crossface to Narita, who tapped out.
TAICHI & EL DESPERADO DEFEATED GEDO & HIROOKI GOTO (10:36)
Goto and Gedo attacked before the opening bell, and took the early advantage. Taichi gouged the eyes of both Gedo and Goto, and Suzuki-gun took over. They turned it into a crowd brawl, and used a chair and the ring bell hammer on Gedo's left knee.
Desperado continued to work on the knee in the ring, and picked up a nearfall. He used a single-leg crab, but Goto jumped in for the save. Taichi cut him off, and sent Goto to the floor. Gedo ducked a weak charge into the corner, and hit a big right hand, leading to a hot tag to Goto.
Goto missed a charge into the corner, and Taichi hit an enziguri, then removed his pants. Taichi hit a dropkick. After blocking it once before, he then fell victim to an ushigoroshi, and both men made tags.
Gedo used a jawbreaker and a superkick for a nearfall. He went for the Gedo clutch, but Desperado slipped out, and hit a spear. Taichi jumped in and hit Goto and Gedo with axe bombers, and a kick to the back of Gedo's head. Desperado hit the Pinche Loco for the pin.
TETSUYA NAITO, EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA DEFEATED MINORU SUZUKI, TAKASHI IIZUKA, YOSHINOBU KANEMARU & TAKA MICHINOKU (11:37)
Naito and Suzuki got the first star reactions on the show. This was not as good as the brawl these two teams had yesterday, but it was fine.
Suzuki-gun tried to attack before the opening bell, but their plan backfired, and LIJ took control early. Iizuka used a chair to SANADA's back from the floor, and that turned the tide in Suzuki-gun's favor, and they turned the match into an arena brawl. Suzuki hit a con-chair-to on Naito.
SANADA beat the twenty count back inside, but his teammates were left laying in the crowd. Kanemaru removed Iizuka's muzzle, and the four-on-one continued. Suzuki tagged in and went after SANADA's right leg. He stomped on the ankle, and applied a heel hook. He transitioned to a kneebar, but SANADA reached the ropes.
SANADA hit a second rope dropkick on Suzuki, and wiped out TAKA and Kanemaru with a dropkick, before tagging Naito. Naito ran wild and cleared the ring of everyone but Suzuki. He hit Suzuki with a dropkick. He went for the slingshot dropkick in the corner, but Suzuki caught him, and used a heel hook, and grapevined the other leg. Naito reached the bottom rope, forcing a break.
Suzuki went for the Gotch piledriver, but gave it up after Naito blocked it repeatedly. Naito hit a forearm strike, but missed the flying forearm. Iizuka tried to use the iron fist, but SANADA dropkicked it away. BUSHI got a tag. Naito cleared out Kanemaru, and held Suzuki at bay, allowing BUSHI to hit TAKA with the MX, followed by a pinfall.
Suzuki went after Naito after the bell, but the Young Lions held him back, and LIJ posed triumphantly.
KAZUCHIKA OKADA & YOSHI-HASHI DEFEATED HIROSHI TANAHASHI & TOA HENARE (10:45)
Okada and Tanahashi got nice reactions coming out, and an even bigger reaction when they started off the match together.
Okada teased a rainmaker, but Tanahashi blocked. He went for a straightjacket suplex, but Okada slipped out. Tana used an armdrag, then both tagged out. Henare hit a tackle, dropped YOSHI-HASHI with a chop, and got a nearfall.
Henare and Tana hit YH with some double team moves and posed, but Okada broke it up, pulled Tanahashi to the floor, and threw him into the crowd. YH took over on Henare, sending him into the security fence, and continuing the attack in the ring.
Okada got a tag, and deliberately worked over Henare. He whipped him into the buckle, but missed a back elbow, and ate a samoan drop. Tanahashi got a tag and hit a flying forearm, a standing senton, and a somersault drop. Okada went for a big boot, but Tana turned it into a dragon screw. He applied a cloverleaf, but YH broke it up.
Okada came back with a DDT on Tanahashi, and hit him with a flapjack. He went for a tombstone, but Tana slipped out. Okada hit a dropkick. He went for the rainmaker, but Tana turned it into a slingblade, and they did a double down.
Both tagged out, and Henare hit YH with a flying tackle and a spear. Tana held YH, and Henare hit a diving shoulder tackle off the top. He covered, but Okada broke up the pin. Okada rolled to the outside, and Tana hit him with a plancha. YH hit Henare with a lariat for a two count. YH then used the butterfly lock, and got the tapout.
TOMOHIRO ISHII, WILL OSPREAY, TORU YANO & BERETTA DEFEATED KENNY OMEGA, KOTA IBUSHI, YUJIRO TAKAHASHI & CHASE OWENS (11:20)
This was a fun match. They did a lot of comedy.
Yano and Yujiro started out, and they did some comedy. Yano begged off and tagged Ospreay, who demanded Ibushi. They did the same sequence they did yesterday, ending with Ospreay teasing the Sasuke special, but posing instead of delivering the move. Ibushi hit a missile dropkick, and the Bullet Club went to work on Ospreay.
They did some comedy working over Ospreay's legs, and Yujiro hit him in the groin with his pimp cane. They did a comedy rowboat spot, with Ibushi and Ospreay standing in the center of the circle, trading strikes. Ospreay broke it up, and hit Omega and Ibushi with a handspring kick.
Omega and Ishii got tags, and had a nice exchange. Omega took a bump on his head, and Ishii hit him with a powerslam. Owens helped Omega hit a kotaro krusher. He went for a V-trigger, but Ospreay cut him off, and Ishii hit a suplex.
Owens and Beretta tagged in, and Beretta hit a tornado DDT. Owens hit a superman punch, Beretta took a Ray Stevens corner flip, and everyone on the Bullet Club team hit him with a big move. The teams brawled to the floor, leaving Owens and Beretta in the ring.
Owens went for the package driver, but Beretta reversed, hit the dudebuster, and got the pin.
SATOSHI KOJIMA, MANABU NAKANISHI, HIROYOSHI TENZAN & YUJI NAGATA DEFEATED TOGI MAKABE, TOMOAKI HONMA, JUICE ROBINSON & DAVID FINLAY (16:50)
The pre-match saw a group of children in wrestling singlets present everyone with flowers. Everyone in the crowd had blue Nagata posters, and then displayed Orange Kojima posters, welcoming him back.
This was hardly a blow away match, but a fun gathering of some New Japan legends, and a perfectly acceptable house show main event.
Kojima demanded Makabe, and those two started off. Makabe hit a tackle, but Kojima hit some strikes, then a tackle of his own. Makabe hit a second tackle, and both tagged out.
Nakanishi and Juice got tags, and traded short forearm strikes. They traded chops, and Juice hit his jabs. Juice hit a dropkick, and dropped Nakanishi in the corner. He hit a cannonball, then sat Manabu on the top rope. He called for a brainbuster, but Nakanishi dropped him with a headbutt, then hit a crossbody off the top for a two count.
Finlay jumped in, and Nakanishi suplexed them. Nagata tagged in, and called for Honma. They traded strikes, and Honma missed a kokeshi. Tenzan and Finlay got tags. Tenzan tagged Kojima, and the two worked over Finlay. Finlay hit a back suplex, and his team cleared the apron on Kojima's side.
Juice tagged in and hit a delayed brainbuster for a nearfall. Honma got a tag and worked over Kojima's left leg. Makabe got a tag and hit a vertical suplex. Nagata broke up a pinfall, and shouted encouragement to Kojima, who responded with a cutter on Makabe.
Tenzan tagged in and chopped away at Makabe. He hit a corner clothesline, and a brainbuster, picking up a nearfall. Makabe hit a corner lariat and ten punches. Tenzan made a brief comeback, but Makabe hit a lariat for a nearfall.
After a double down, Nagata and Juice got tags. Nagata ran wild on Juice, hitting a boot in the corner and an exploder for a two count. Juice hit a crucifix drop and a spinebuster for a two count, as Nakanishi broke up the pinfall. Nakanishi and Nagata hit a boot lariat combo. Nagata used a Nagata lock on Juice, while Manabu racked Honma. Makabe broke up the submission.
Kojima tagged in, and hit a series of chops on Finlay and Juice in the corner. Kojima went up top, but Finlay pressed him off. Makabe cleared the apron, and they went four-on-one against Kojima. Finlay hit a wheel kick, and Honma hit a kokeshi. Finlay went for a lariat, Kojima blocked, but Finlay hit a backbreaker. Tenzan broke up the pinfall.
Kojima hit a Koji cutter, the hit a lariat, and pinned Finlay. The New Japan Dads are victorious.