Night four and we’re back to the full production. We also have a big main event as we finally get a Hiromu Takahashi vs El Desperado singles match. Those two have been teeing off on each other for a while and have developed a bit of a blood feud. Let’s see what they go do one on one.
The Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori and Chase Owens) defeated Flip Gordon and Tomoyuki Oka
Chase Owens is the kind of friend that everyone wants. Whenever a Bullet Club member needs a tag-team partner, it’s Chase that steps up. Ishimori, Marty, Omega and even Kota Ibushi. They’ve all teamed with Owens in recent months. Sure, he won’t always guarantee you the win (although he did on this occasion), but you know Chase Owens will work hard for you and that he’ll take the bumps for you. He threw himself into a Flip Gordon plancha here, so desperate was he to get Ishimori out of the way. I hope Bullet Club appreciates our boy, Chase.
They also had a fun match which I’m sure you can read about that elsewhere. I’m going to stick to praising The World’s Greatest Undercard Wrestler and Best Friend Chase Owens.
Verdict: Three Stars
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) defeated ACH and Shota Umino
I’m so used to Suzuki-gun undercard tags being a bit shit that I groan whenever they come up. However, Suzuki was fantastic here. He played the big bad, sneering as both ACH and Umino tried to bring it to him. Those nutters kept charging towards him, though, stupidly attempting to chop Murder Grandpa done to size. Time after time he would take their biggest shots, smile and then smack them right back before walking away, satisfied with a job well done.
All of which not only serves to make MiSu look like a badass but ACH and Shota too. While they lost the war, the very fact that they started it is enough to gain your respect.
Verdict: Three Stars
CHAOS (YOH and YOSHI-HASHI) defeated CHAOS (Will Ospreay and Gedo)
Will Ospreay has been learning from Okada. He slipped into the patronising veteran role when facing off with YOH. All chummy on the outside but with a sneer to it, as if he didn’t believe his opponent was in his league. He also regularly went for the cheap shots, showing no respect for his CHAOS partner. On this evidence, they’ll have a great match.
It was also all part of an entertaining contest. You won’t get great wrestling from 2018 Gedo. What you will get is sneaky, and teamed with prick Will, sneaky was good. He and Ospreay made a fun team, with Ospreay tagging in by slapping Gedo’s bald head proving a particular highlight. It’s just a shame that the charisma curse that is YOSHI-HASHI was in there to reign everything back. Still, more fun from the undercard.
Verdict: Three Stars
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito and Bushi) defeated Tiger Mask and Toa Henare
With the benefit of hindsight, Naito being here was a big flashing warning sign that something was going down. He’s not been on the rest of the tour, with Evil and Sanada filling the LIJ heavyweight role.
Before we get there, we got probably the weakest bout so far. Tiger and Bushi set-up that their encounter is going to be very mask focused with Bushi starting that game and Tiger getting dragged into it. While Tiger Mask still seems fired up, I worry that ten minutes of face-grappling is going to be about eight minutes too many.
Thankfully, we got to see Toa Henare bring it to another star as he went after Naito. When we get to end of year awards, there is no way that most improved does not go to that young man. He still loses nearly every time (going down to Destino here), but he’s become a total stud. If New Japan has any sense, they’ll have big plans for him.
Anyway, post-match the lights went down, and the screen came one to reveal Chris Jericho swearing at a turtle. It was a fun promo from Y2J as he continues to prove he is unhinged and that he loves having the freedom to say fuck. Sadly for him, Naito stole his thunder by choosing to have a nap while it was all going on. You’ve got to love him.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
SHO (1-1) defeated Chris Sabin (1-1)
Can Chris Sabin stay in New Japan, please? He is fucking killing it on this tour, man. It’s a joy to watch. Plus, he brings something different to the Juniors. His matches start slowly, with a focus on chain wrestling before exploding in the second act. Against SHO, we saw the two of them going for limb work early on, SHO focusing on the arm and Sabin on the leg.
However, as they got deeper into the action, they moved away from that. Not due to anyone forgetting to sell but because this became a fight. Suddenly, they were fired up, going for big moves and huge slaps. It became a question of who could stay on their feet after taking a beating.
Then, in the final minutes suddenly the damage done to Sabin’s arm came around again, as SHO went for a Kimura before transitioning into an Armbar. It was a lovely piece of storytelling, as the early portion of the tale set-up the final act. Despite Sabin trying every trick in the book, the damage was done with SHO eventually hitting Shock Arrow for the win.
Verdict: Four Stars
Dragon Lee (2-0) defeated Ryusuke Taguchi (0-2)
Taguchi became the most relatable man in the room as he sadly admired Dragon Lee’s abs from afar as Red Shoes poked his own slightly flabby gut. Don’t worry, Ryusuke, I feel the same way.
That set up what appeared to be a friendly atmosphere. However (and there’s a chance I’m reading too much into things), I think it was an atmosphere with a tinge of condescension. Dragon Lee was very chummy towards Taguchi. Joining in on his jokes and mocking his belly. It all left me with the feeling that Lee liked his opponent, but perhaps didn’t respect him. That in his mind, this was an easy win.
A fact that couldn’t have been further from the truth. This was big match Taguchi with the Funky Weapon only being used for the Ass Attack and not much else. He was looking to floor Dragon Lee, going for that Ankle Lock and attempting to make him tap out. Unfortunately, even with one leg Dragon Lee is dangerous. He caught a flying Taguchi out of the air with a German Suplex and followed it up with Desnucadora for the win.
Still, if my suspicion about Lee’s feelings towards Taguchi at the start were correct, they shouldn’t have been by the end.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
KUSHIDA (1-1) defeated Marty Scurll (0-2)
We started on the mat, with Scurll and KUSHIDA giving us a smidgen of that World of Sport style as they slipt from hold to hold. It was all pretty straightforward stuff, it was just done with a flair which meant it never stopped being entertaining.
With that not providing an avenue to victory, KUSHIDA tried to pick up the pace only to be cut off when Scurll started doing his usual and working the fingers/arm. KUSHIDA came back by doing the same, leaping from the top rope with a grip on Scurll’s arm, looking to set him up for the Hoverboard Lock. No matter what KUSHI did, though, Scurll seemed to have a counter for it. He was building momentum and hit a Reverse Superplex in a big spot.
It even looked like he’d managed to find a counter to the Hoverboard Lock, snapping KUSHIDA’s fingers right before he went for the Rolling DDT from the second rope. When he tried to transition into the hold, the injury took effect, and he couldn’t get it on. Unfortunately, Scurll was to learn a similar lesson to Taguchi. One injured body part doesn’t stop a lot of these guys. Instead of going for the submission, KUSHIDA hit Back To The Future and got the three.
Once again I find myself being the high man for a Scurll match. A lot of people have dismissed this one, but I thought it was great. I’m generally down on Marty and his antics. However, he’s working for me at the moment and playing to the strengths of his opponent. I guess you’ll have to watch it and make up your mind.
Verdict: Four Stars
El Desperado (2-0) defeated Hiromu Takahashi (1-1)
Wow, these two really don’t like each other, do they? Forget the flips and tricks, this was a brawl and a damn good one at that. Right from the start, Hiromu proved that he would fit into Suzuki-gun by attacking before the bell and dragging Despy into the crowd. Although, you are unlikely to ever see Iizuka run the length of Korakuen Hall to hit a John Woo on the concrete.
If wrestling were a professional sport, these officials would no longer have a job. These two brawled around the arena, throwing chairs at each other and using every dirty trick they could think of. They had no interest in actual wrestling, their focus was on trying to kill each other, a goal they got very close to achieving. When you have two men with such little regard for their bodies working this style, you just know that everything they’re doing hurts.
Unsurprisingly, the finish was slightly screwy. It started with Desperado taking the belt in, before getting it Superkicked into his own face. He did then take advantage of the ref removing the belt to hit a low blow and set up Pinche Loco (I think, I get all his finishers muddled up) which Hiromu somehow kicked out of. Despite the crowd going wild, it was merely a temporary reprieve as Guitarra de Angel saw El Desperado pick up the win. Watch this match, words only can partly capture the madness of it.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
And Best Of The Super Juniors goes 4-0. This has been a genuinely fantastic tour so far with the Juniors bringing it every single night. It’s been a pleasure to watch and let’s hope it stays that way.