The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship is on the line tonight in Sendai.
El Desperado will defend the title against Master Wato in Wato's highest-profile match to date. A two-time Jr. Champion, Desperado will be looking to make a second successful defense of the title in his current reign.
In the semi-main event, SHO faces YOH in another in their series of singles matches. Their feud began following SHO turning on YOH last summer. They have since squared off in singles matches at Wrestle Grand Slam, in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, and at Wrestle Kingdom.
Tiger Mask will face Gedo in a singles match tonight. Tiger and Robbie Eagles are scheduled to defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag titles against Bullet Club's Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo on February 19.
A six-man tag will preview the upcoming IWGP World Heavyweight and IWGP United States Heavyweight title matches on the tour, as World title holder Kazuchika Okada, US Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Yuji Nagata face Okada's challenger Naito, Tanahashi's challenger SANADA, and Shingo Takagi.
Great-O-Khan vs. Satoshi Kojima will face off in a singles match. Toru Yano, Togi Makabe, and Ryusuke Taguchi will tag against Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, and TAKA Michinoku. Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, and Hiroyoshi Tenzan will face EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, and Dick Togo. Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and DOUKI will be the main card opener.
Tomoaki Honma will take on Ryohei Oiwa in a pre-show match.
Our live coverage begins with the pre-show at 2:30 a.m. Eastern time.
Tomoaki Honma defeated Ryohei Oiwa
Admittedly, I'm a sucker for young lion matches; this wasn't an exception. While not a great match by any means, I enjoyed the pacing and simplicity.
Oiwa held his own in the opening exchange, even getting the better of Honma early on; This was short-lived, however, as Honma used his striking to subdue the young lion, a decision that left him in control for quite some time.
A dropkick from Oiwa opened the door for a comeback. After a brief offensive sequence, Honma ended Oiwa's lead with a tackle and falling headbutt. Oiwa fought through, landing another dropkick before locking in the Boston crab. Once Honma broke the hold, he took back advantage with a lariat immediately followed by a Boston crab of his own. Oiwa tapped out, leaving Honma with his first win in some time.
After the match, Oiwa slapped away a Honma handshake.
DOUKI & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-gun) defeated BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi (Los Ingobernables de Japon)
This was an uneventful, formulaic tag.
Hiromu and Douki opened the match, but Kanemaru involved himself early. The LIJ pair gained a slight advantage, but Suzuki-gun's antics allowed them to steal control after some outside offence. What followed was a typical isolation sequence, with Kanemaru and Douki focusing Hiromu.
Hiromu eventually turned things around with a falcon arrow. A hot tag followed, letting Bushi get in some moves. Bushi failed in getting much accomplished, as a dropkick to the leg opened him up for a figure four that Hirmou was forced to break up.
There was a four-way struggle in which LIJ landed significant two-man moves. Bushi, in follow-up, tried for a lungblower, but Kanemaru rolled through the blow, turning it into a pin from which Bushi did not kick out.
Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, & Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Dick Togo, EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi (House of Torture)
A busy match with unfulfilling teases—this stuff just is not good.
In typical HoT fashion, this match opened with a brawl. Tenzan received most of the HoT ire early on, leading to a hot tag into Goto. Goto lost control after Yujiro bit his hand. It took Ishii interference to turn things back around.
Ishii landed heavy blows, but Evil was able to survive via underhanded tactics. Yujiro and Togo hit the ring to steal control for HoT once more. Goto joined the action, making the save. Goto hit the now legal Togo with a Ushigoroshi, which Ishii followed with a sliding lariat. Togo was pinned to end the match.
Ryusuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano defeated Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & TAKA Michinoku (Suzuki-gun)
This was a silly little teaser for the upcoming KOPW match between Yano and Suzuki. Nothing worth writing home about, but it was cute.
Before the match could start, Suzuki jumped Yano. Once inside the ring, Suzuki tried handcuffing Yano to the ropes but didn't succeed. Instead, Suzuki-gun isolated Yano, slowly picking him apart. After a prolonged struggle, Yano tagged Makabe into the match.
Makabe and Tachi shared the ring for a while as did Michinoku and Taguchi; meanwhile, Suzuki was doing something to Yano just out of view. Taguchi secured in an ankle lock leading to Michinoku tapping out.
After the match, Suzuki handcuffed Yano and locked Taguchi in a dog cage. The closing visual consisted of a restrained Yano rolling a caged Taguchi to the back.
Great-O-Khan defeated Satoshi Kojima
This match was so strange. The opening act was built around a random forearm, and somehow, it was quite captivating. The rest of the match was almost dull, but the opening kept me interested, and in the end, it didn't even matter. What an oddity this one was.
O-Khan rushed Kojima as the match began. Kojima fought back, sending O-Khan to the outside. Kojima landed a dive before slamming O-Khan into barricades.
Back in the ring, O-Khan landed a seemingly mundane single forearm that sent Kojima to the mat. Kojima could not stand; I was honestly expecting a referee stoppage. O-Khan landed a gut wrench suplex but stopped his own pin to continue punishing Kojima.
Kojima was able to fight back after this brief pause, but O-Khan caught him on the top rope. O-Khan then hoisted Kojima into a fireman's carry on the apron, but Kojima slipped free before landing a DDT. Kojima then landed a jumping elbow for a near fall.
O-Khan caught Kojima in the cobra twist but failed in his transition into a German suplex. Kojima landed another DDT and a cutter to reset the match. O-Khan snagged Kojima again with a sheep killer, transitioned successfully into an elbow drop and a near fall. Kojima then landed a brainbuster for a near fall of his own.
Another reset followed a double lariat. Even though O-Khan fell and Kojima maintained his footing, O-Khan succeeded in follow up, landing the eliminator and scoring the pin.
SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito (Los Ingobernables de Japon) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada & Yuji Nagata
This was about what you would expect from a preview tag, but it felt like it was an hour long. Okada vs. Naito doesn't need to be sold in my eyes, but they tried.
From the before the opening bell, Naito teased engaging with Okada. Sanada and Tanahashi opened the match with basic wrestling. Okada and Naito had another non-interaction before Shingo and Nagata tagged in. Shingo and Nagata traded strikes, before Tanahashi and Okada aided Nagata in isolating Shingo.
Once Shingo finally tagged out, Naito and Okada were left alone for the first time. Naito succeeded in gaining control over the world champion, but an Okada boot ended this sequence. Naito stopped the money clip, but Okada landed the air raid crash.
Soon, Sanada and Tanahashi were legal again. Sanada tied Tanahashi into the paradise lock before attempting a sleeper; this prompted Tanahashi and Sanada to go back and forth, trading dragon sleepers. After neither man succeeded with a sleeper, Nagata tagged in.
All six men hit the ring, and all of the LIJ squad was locked into submission holds. Once this segment ended, LIJ isolated Nagata. Nagata fought through for some time but eventually fell to a TKO from Sanada. Sanada locked in skull end, forcing Nagata to verbally submit.
After the match, Naito attacked Okada. Naito then taunted Okada with a few words on the microphone as the ring crew held Okada back.
Tiger Mask defeated Gedo
This was bad.
Gedo started the match by exiting the ring. In-ring action was then teased, but Gedo again tried to flee. On the outside, Gedo caught TM with the bell hammer, bludgeoning him in clear view of the referee. Gedo then began to whip TM with a belt before whipping him into an exposed turnbuckle.
TM managed to reverse an Irish whip into the exposed corner, opening Gedo up to a dropkick followed by a tope into the barricade. TM then took his turn whipping Gedo with the belt. TM landed a cross body for a near fall.
Gedo landed a shin breaker into a thrust kick for a near fall of his own. Gedo then equipped brass knuckles, but the referee stopped him; this allowed TM to catch Gedo, who landed a tiger driver for another near fall.
Gedo bumped the referee before an awkward strike that commentary called a low blow; TM kicked out. TM tried for a crucifix pin that he transitioned into an armbar, resulting in a submission.
SHO defeated YOH
This match, nay this pair does absolutely nothing for me anymore. The well is dry. This feud is dead. These matches are rancid.
YOH rushed SHO before the match, but SHO gained the advantage on the outside. SHO missed a strike with a wrench, allowing YOH to slam SHO into the barricade. SHO slipped back in the lead by throwing a young lion into YOH before bashing him back into the fence. In the ring, SHO maintained this control. SHO smothered YOH with a buckle covering before choking him with his boot.
YOH was given a chance to fight back after some strikes from SHO. YOH landed a flying elbow for a match reset and a dropkick to take control. A tope con hilo left YOH far ahead. YOH scored a near fall with a falcon arrow.
The pair traded reversals before SHO pulled the referee in YOH’s way. SHO then landed a spear to take over once more. SHO locked in a kimura that forced YOH into the ropes.
A dragonscrew from YOH acted as a reset, prompting a strike exchange. SHO landed a German and lariat in quick succession, but YOH responded with a lariat of his own. Que another referee bump. SHO grabbed his wrench again, but YOH caught him with a kick before he could use it. YOH grabbed the wrench himself but didn’t use it.
SHO bumped the referee again, hit YOH with a low blow, just in time for House of Torture to hit the ring. HoT beat down show, prompting CHAOS to hit the ring. CHAOS ran off HoT, but SHO landed a strike with the wrench. The referee spotted the wrench before SHO could pin YOH but EVIL hit YOH with the never belt as the referee was distracted with SHO. SHO landed the shock arrow and pinned YOH to end this awful match.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado (c) defeated Master Wato
I hate to sound like a carper, but this was boring.
The match opened with back and forth chain wrestling; this lasted for quite a while, with minor escalation throughout. The match eventually wandered to the outside, where Desperado slammed Wato into the barricade. Back in the ring, Desperado began laying boots to Wato with particular attention paid to the leg.
Wato eventually landed a dropkick to end an extended period of Desperado control. Wato countered pinche loco and landed a tope to broaden his lead over the champion. A missile dropkick yielded a two-count for Wato.
Desperado dodged a kick and locked in numero dos. Wato countered into a submission of his own. Desperado escaped before landing a dragon screw to take control once more. Desperado locked in numero dos again; this time Wato escaped via rope break.
A code red from Wato led to another submission attempt. Recientemente resulted in another Wato favoured near fall.
Desperado fought back with a drop, forcing a match reset. The pair then traded strikes; the exchange ended with a Wato thrust kick. Wato missed the RPP, allowing Desperado to land Guitarra de Angel; Wato kicked out. Wato stuffed the next pinche loco attempt, but Desperado kicked out of the quick pin attempt that followed.
Wato blocked another pinche loco, prompting a quick sequence of pin attempts. Desperado emerged from the sequence with control of the leg, locking in numero dos once more. This time, Wato did not escape; Desperado retained via submission.
After the match, Desperado and Wato shared kind words.
This was a skippable show, start to finish.