By Mark Worrall @hoohoowozza
KORAKEUN HALL, TOKYO
TOMOYUKI OKA def. TETSUHIRO YAGI
Singles match between of the New Japan young lions to start the show with Yagi, the smaller of the two realising that he needed to work the legs of his opponent if he was to have any chance of winning the match. Oka’s strength was too much for Yagi as his attempt at scooping the big man failed and he became the victim of a couple of scoops himself. To be fair Yagi resisted the first Boston crab from Oka who nailed a powerslam on Yagi leaving him tapping to the second crab. Quick opener that was ok.
YOSHINOBU KANEMARU, TAKA MICHINOKU & EL DESPERADO def. JUSHIN LIGER, TIGER MASK & SHOTA UMINO
Suzuki Gun attack from the off and take the match ringside as Liger turns the match into his favour after taking a beating and locks El Desperado into a surfboard until the rest of Gun make the save and then work on Umino, the young lion who tries desperately to not to submit to El Desperado’s half crab but did succumb when Desperado locked in the stretch muffler has his teammates held back Liger & Tiger Mask.
DAVID FINLAY & YUJI NAGATA def. MANABU NAKANISHI & KATSUYA KITAMURA
Kitamura is ridiculously big for a young lion but when he slapped Nagata they looked genuinely painful as a nice little rivalry ensued between the two. Nakanishi looked tired and his offence was weak as Kitamura took most of the ring time and became somewhat of a nemesis to Nagata who teamed nicely with Finlay who worked the young lion who sold as well as he hit. A double torture rack from Nakanishi & Kitamura on their opponents was cool; however as always it was the youngster taking a bridging exploder from Nagata that got the pin.
HIROYOSHI TENZAN, SATOSHI KOJIMA & TOGI MAKABE def. TOMOHIRO ISHII, JEDO & TORU YANO
With G1 season approaching it is time for some of the roster to step up, Ishii and Makabe surely were making their presence known as they tested one another’s strength with Makabe seemingly the stronger as they left the ring and took it around Korakuen Hall’s seats. Yano as always is amazingly over with the crowd as he exchanged chops with Tenzan while Kojima hit about a thousand slaps on the opposite team! Run of the mill stuff we have seen before, enjoyable still with Makabe getting the rub by pinning Jedo from a knee drop.
TETSUYO NAITO & HIROMU TAKAHASHI def. HIRAI KAWATO & HIROSHI TANAHASHI
Takahashi has replaced the IWGP Junior strap with a cuddly toy cat that received a fist pump from Naito as the former champions faced Tanahashi and an excited Kawato who continues to get a nice move up the card with the crowd chanting his name, which is testament to a young lion getting this kind of response. To be fair he has earned it, his reckless, eagerness and no fear attitude has won him over and mixing it up with Naito and Takahashi and not being scared of laying offence in their direction as earned him this kind of respect. Tanahashi went back to the offence on Naito that earned him the IC title win at Dominion, working the leg and attempting to lock the clover leaf, however Naito had Takahashi watching his back this time, and it was the aforementioned Takahashi that finally forced Kawato to submit to a Boston crab at the second time of asking. Really good tag match.
HIROOKI GOTO, KAZUCHIKA OKADA & YOSHI HASHI def. MINORU SUZUKI, TAICHI & DAVEY BOY SMITH JR
Although Goto had some moments with his previous rival, this match was based around Suzuki and Yoshi Hashi with the latter falling victim to a table and a chair from the Never openweight champion Suzuki as they went around the hall as Suzuki used whatever he could lay his hands on to keep Hashi down. With an impending matchup on an upcoming Kizuna Road show, they exchanged forearms with Suzuki overpowering Hashi it seemed although Hashi kept getting up and their future title encounter being set up rather nicely. Yoshi Hashi would pick up the victory forcing Taichi to submit from a butterfly lock with Hashi being booked strongly here as the rest seemed rather irrelevant and Okada taking it easy, truly deserved!
NEVER OPENWEIGHT SIX-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
BUSHI, SANADA & EVIL (C) def. JUICE ROBINSON, KUSHIDA & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI
This match was also used to highlight Kushida and Bushi’s upcoming Junior title match on the June 27th show as they opened the match with Taguchi Japan controlling early on with some good comedy that this team does well. LIJ reversed the match to their favour with Evil having the sense to use Juice Robinson’s hair to change the tide of the match as Sanada took over to work on Juice. Juice’s attempt to lock ‘Pulp Friction’ on Sanada was met with an attempted hurricanrana that Juice impressively caught planting a power bomb that got a near fall. These titles are the only belts in the LIJ camp at the moment so losing them was not an option, and as you know these titles do not stay with their owners for long so it was unusual to see yet another successful title defence with Sanada forcing Robinson to submit to ‘Skull End’ after he had taken a chair from Evil. Good main event that not only focused on Bushi & Kushida but also saw Robinson & Sanada getting a lot of ring time together.
This was an easy show to watch, harmless matches, some we have seen many times before with the focus upon setting up rivalries for next week’s two title matches. During the interval the participants for this tears G1 tournament were announced, the following is a list of those names.
Hiroshi Tanahashi – Togi Makabe – Michael Elgin – Kazuchika Okada – Hirooki Goto – Tomohiro Ishii – Toru Yano – Yoshi Hashi – Juice Robinson – Zack Sabre
Jr – Kenny Omega – Bad Luck Fale – Toma Tonga – Tetsuyo Naito – Sanada – Evil – Satoshi Kojima – Yuji Nagata – Minoru Suzuki – Kota Ibushi.