An IWGP Jr. Heavyweight tag title match capped Monday’s New Japan action in Tokyo.
Although the promotion has three major shows in the next twelve days, they chose to headline historic Korakuen Hall with a title match on Monday, perhaps to give the hardest of hardcore fans some added value in a building that they have been running with greater frequency in recent months.
The result was a mixed bag. While attendance seemed to be up from the last Korakuen show, and the main event certainly delivered, the undercard was nothing special. The reality is that there are only so many combinations of multi-person tag matches that you can offer, particularly when broadcasting so many road shows. The fact is that most of those combinations have been exhausted on this Road to Wrestling Dontaku tour.
I’m ready for the singles matches.
Below are Monday’s results.
Yota Tsuji and Yuya Uemura went to a time limit draw
Tsuji and Uemura are a couple of Young Lions that I had not seen much of previously. Of the current crop of rookies, I still think Umino and Oka are the standouts, but this was a fundamentally sound opener.
The nearfall/near submission spot at the end was really cool, and this is worth checking out if only for that spot.
Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata & Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Ren Narita, Shota Umino & Tomoyuki Oka
Oka looked the best of the Young Lions here, and Umino looked good as well. Tenzan is clearly in a lot of pain. The rookies all put Boston Crabs on the veterans near the finish, but all three powered out.
Umino kicked out of a pinfall attempt from Nagata, but fell victim to an exploder and a crossface.
Roppongi 3K and Rocky Romero defeated TAKA Michinoku, Taichi & Takashi Iizuka by DQ
Hopefully SHO and YOH find themselves back in the Jr. Heavyweight title picture sooner than later, as seeing one of the three best teams in the world working with Iizuka is not my preference. Iizuka got the DQ after hitting SHO with the iron fingers.
Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto defeated KUSHIDA, Toa Henare, Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe & Juice Robinson
Much of the focus was on KUSHIDA and Ospreay, and rightfully so. I always refer to their spots together as state of the art, because that’s the best way I can describe their innovation. No one is more creative in the ring right now.
I would prefer to see Ishii in a more prominent role than working with Henare, and the Juice and Goto spots here felt like an afterthought, which encapsulates their entire rivalry to this point.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, David Finlay & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Kazuchika Okada, Jay White & Gedo
The crowd was eerily quiet. Finlay got the best of an opening exchange with White. Taguchi tagged in and did the Taguchi train spot. The Chaos team quickly took over and worked Taguchi over for several minutes, including Okada working over Taguchi’s butt.
Finlay eventually made the save for Taguchi. The crowd woke up for Okada and Tana’s spots, but there was more emphasis placed on White and Finlay than the IWGP champ and challenger. Finlay got the pin on Gedo after a stunner.
Minoru Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad defeated Tetsuya Naito, EVIL & SANADA
Suzuki-gun tried to jump their opponents at the bell, with mixed success. Killer Elite held their own against EVIL and SANADA, but Suzuki got the worst of an exchange with Naito, as they brawled on the floor.
Suzuki recovered, and helped Killer Elite Squad gain the advantage in the ring, before turning his attention to Naito outside. They brawled into the crowd, and Suzuki worked over Naito with a chair. Suzuki-gun got the heat on SANADA, and spent several minutes working him over. Smith used holds, Archer used shoulder blocks and a body slam, and Suzuki used strikes.
SANADA was able to land a low dropkick on Suzuki, taking out his leg. He was able to tag Naito, and we got a preview of the upcoming Intercontinental title match, as Naito and Suzuki traded blows. Suzuki worked a kneebar for a long time, and Naito teased tapping out, but finally reached the ropes.
The match broke down into a six-way. EVIL And SANADA scored a nearfall with a vertical suplex on Smith. Smith and Archer hit a Killer Bomb, but Naito made the save for a nearfall.
The finish saw Suzuki lock Naito in a kneebar, while Smith and Archer hit the Magic Killer on EVIL and picked up the pinfall. Suzuki continued to attack Naito’s right knee after the match.
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI to retain the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championships
The crowd was quiet for a main event in Korakuen until Takahashi tagged in, and then their interest was piqued. They did some standard Suzuki-gun brawling in the crowd. Desperado stacked chairs on top of Takahashi and hit him with a chair, then rammed him into the post. They teased a countout, but Takahashi made it back inside.
Kanemaru and Desperado spent several minutes working on Takahashi, who finally reversed Suzuki-gun’s momentum with a vertical suplex on Desperado. He reached for a tag, but BUSHI was pulled off the apron by Kanemaru. Once BUSHI finally got a tag, he ran wild with hurracanranas and a missile dropkick. He hit a downward spiral on Kanemaru for a nearfall.
Takahashi reentered the bout, and hit a pair of front dropkicks from the apron to the floor on Kanemaru. He followed that up with a senton from the ring post to the floor, nailing Kanemaru and Desperado. Hiromu and Desperado traded strikes, selling exhaustion.
They twice teased a Doomsday Device from BUSHI, but he was cut off both times. Kanemaru hit him with the whiskey mist on the second attempt, and Desperado scored a nearfall on Hiromu. Kanemaru went to interfere, and BUSHI hit him with black mist, and the crowd started to sense a title change.
Hiromu hit a Dynamite Plunger for a nearfall. He used a fireman’s carry to toss Desperado into the corner like a lawn dart, and went for Time Bomb. While on Hiromu’s shoulders, Desperado grabbed Red Shoes, and the referee took a bump. With the ref out, Desperado used a belt shot and a Pinche Loco (sitout double underhook facebuster) onto the belt, revived Red Shoes, and got the pinfall. The finish was screwy, but this turned into a fun main event. Not must-see, but check it out if you have time.