May 22nd, 18:30 from Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
The story so far…
Here we go…
- Tomoyuki Oka & Hirai Kawato defeated Syota Umino & Katsuya Kitamura **
- Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku & Taichi) defeated CHAOS (Jado & Will Ospreay) *1/2
- Bullet Club (Marty Scurll, Yujiro Takahashi, Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga) defeated Ricochet, David Finlay, Hanson & Raymond Rowe ***1/4
- Dragon Lee, Jushin Thunder Liger, Juice Robinson & Satoshi Kojima defeated Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito **** – Seriously good multi-man tag that clocked in at just over ten minutes. It never let up and had great crowd heat throughout.
B Block – Round Three
Volador Jr. vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
We got some wrestling to start – a novelty when Suzuki-gun are involved – but of course Kanemaru took the fight to the outside and landed an apron-hung dropkick. Volador made the ropes from a Boston Crab, so Kanemaru took him outside again and nailed a DDT on the floor for a near-countout. The punishment continued with a Camel Clutch, before Volador finally made inroads with a ‘rana and tope con hilo. Diving crossbody, but Kanemaru blocked the follow-up then missed the diving moonsault and Volador’s La Magistral earned two. Volador also missed a moonsault, but the superkick and lungblower connected for two (with Kanemaru catching the ref’s hand to prevent the three-count). Reverse DDT from Kanemaru after a bit of silly business with the referee, then Taka Michinoku distracted said ref, Kanemaru struck Volador with a bottle and landed the Deep Impact diving DDT for the win.
This was fine before the shenanigans. **1/2
Tiger Mask IV vs. ACH
After a couple of clean breaks, ACH flipped his way into a dropkick, but Tiger was able to take control on the outside. A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and some kicks worked ACH’s back before a nasty backdrop got two. ACH made the comeback, landed a plancha, and followed with a trio of suicide dives much to the crowd’s delight. ACH brought Tiger back in, breaking the count, and the slingshot cutter connected for a two-count. ACH hesitated because of his damaged back, however, and Tiger was quick to take advantage, culminating in a butterfly superplex! Tiger Driver – two-count only. They fired back-and-forth with strikes and ACH nailed a lariat for two, but his back prevented him from hitting the modified Michinoku Driver and, after a quick exchange of counters, Tiger got the three-count with a crucifix pin.
ACH has endeared himself to the New Japan crowds, while Tiger Mask is already doing better than I had anticipated. This was a good effort from both men, with Tiger keeping up well with his much younger opponent. ***1/2
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. El Desperado
Taguchi played matador, but found himself speared for his insolence. He recovered, though, and bested Desperado with armdrags and hip attacks, but a springboard effort was countered and Desperado took the fight to the floor where he threw Taguchi into the chairs. Back in, Taguchi was whipped into a chair wedged into the turnbuckle, then Desperado stabbed him in the ass with a pen (seriously). Back elbow for two and a modified single-leg crab had Taguchi scrambling for the ropes, then more legwork followed, with a rope-trapped dropkick earning two. Taguchi finally earned respite with a hip attack, then followed with a crossbody to the outside, springboard dropkick, tope con hilo, and springboard hip attack! What a comeback! Spin-out powerbomb for two, but Desperado rolled-through the attempted Dodon and applied the Stretch Muffler, from which Taguchi just made the ropes. They exchanged submission attempts, before Taguchi landed an inverted powerslam, the BomAss Ye and Dodon’s Throne for a near-fall! Desperado half-countered the Dodon, but Taguchi held on to cinch in his ankle lock. Desperado then bamboozled the referee by removing his mask and accusing Taguchi of ripping it off. In the confusion, Desperado went low and landed Pinche Roco (butterfly facebuster) to steal the win!
I enjoyed this quite a bit, but it’s very much dependent on your tolerance for shenanigans both Taguchi and Suzuki-gun flavoured. In spite of those caveats, the crowd was way into this from the start. Taguchi harnessed his comedy effectively to draw sympathy and Desperado again impressed with his intensity. He’s been very much in the background since his stable returned, so it’s pleasing to see him use this opportunity to remind people that he can still go in the ring. ***3/4
KUSHIDA vs. BUSHI
The threw elbows straight away, before Bushi blocked the handspring elbow, sending Kushida to the floor. Outside, Kushida was able to drop-toehold Bushi onto a chair, then sat him down and launched a running dropkick. Bushi replied with a t-shirt choke, DDT to the apron and landed his own sit-down dropkick, just like Kushida’s. Safe to say referee Red Shoes lost control of this one. Back in, a rope-hung dropkick and neckbreaker earned two, then Bushi cranked Kushida’s neck with an STF. A middle-rope dropkick connected, but Kushida pulled Bushi into a turnbuckle, handspring kicked him to the outside and flattened him with a tope con hilo. Triangle Lock into an armbar back in the ring, then a jumping DDT landed and Kushida targeted Bushi’s arm with kicks. Bushi reversed the handspring kick into a lungblower, sending Kushida to the floor, and followed with a suicide dive! The Codebreaker landed as Kushida re-entered the ring, the diving version was ducked, but a backslide earned two, then both men were down after kicks. Main Event Strike Battle time, and huge slaps allowed Bushi to spike Kushida with the Destroyer for a near-fall! Diving Codebreaker – one, two, NO! The top-rope Codebreaker was countered and Kushida rolled-through into the double-wristlock! Bushi started crawling to the ropes, so Kushida picked him up and crunched him with a Small Package Driver! One, two, three!
Well, I did suggest Kushida was a new tactic/finisher away from winning these matches. A strong, aggressive fight in front of a hot crowd, and I’d say this was the best match I’ve seen between these two. Kushida’s kick-started his tournament, but what about Bushi? He might want to take a page from Kushida’s book (I would say “from Hiromu’s scrapbook” but it’s not like he’s doing great in this tournament either). Good stuff. ****
A Block standings after Round Three
- Dragon Lee – 4
- Will Ospreay – 4
- Marty Scurll – 4
- Ricochet – 4
- Taichi – 4
- TAKA Michinoku – 2
- Hiromu Takahashi – 2
- Jushin Thunder Liger – 0
B Block standing after Round Three
- El Desperado – 6
- Yoshinobu Kanemaru – 4
- Ryusuke Taguchi – 4
- Tiger Mask IV – 4
- ACH – 2
- KUSHIDA – 2
- Volador Jr. – 2
- BUSHI – 0
Final thoughts: Fun show today. Better than expected, in fact. The pre-intermission multi-man tag was a lot of fun, then the last two tournament matches really delivered in front of an especially lively Korakuen Hall crowd.
Back later tomorrow for Day 6, which features Ricochet vs. Dragon Lee. See you then.