It’s time for another New Japan tournament which means it’s time to write a shitload of reviews. Much like my G1 coverage, I’m only going to be doing tournament matches. Partly because there’s a lot of shows where that’s all their taping and partly because life is too short. Time to dig into that Junior action.
The Firing Squad (Taiji Ishimori and Robbie Eagles) (1-0) defeated Jushin Thunder Liger and Tiger Mask (0-1)
Robbie Eagles competed during New Japan’s tour of Australia, so this was only his debut for the company in Japan. What better way to start than standing across the ring from Jushin Thunder Liger in Korakuen? He and Ishimori are doing the cool heel thing, but he must have been smiling inside?
Ishimori and Eagles built their offence around the leg of said Thunder God. That proved the perfect way to establish them as technical flyers. Just as capable on the ground as they are in the air. It played nicely into the crowd’s adoration of the two legends. They were rabid whenever Tiger and Liger had the chance to string some moves together, desperate for them to build momentum.
It wasn’t to be enough, as said injury proved pivotal in the finish. Robbie Eagles hit a 450 Splash directly onto Liger’s leg before tying him up in the Ron Miller Special (an Inverted Figure Four). Eagles not only started off across from Liger. He got to beat him too. Nicely done by all involved.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Volador Jr. and Soberano Jr. (1-0) defeated Super 69 (Ryusuke Taguchi and ACH) (0-1)
Volador Jr. has competed in Best Of The Super Juniors while this is the first time Soberano Jr. has done New Japan outside out of the yearly delight that is FantasticaMania. Volador’s also looking a bit light up top having lost his hair at CMLL’s Anniversary show.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, ACH and Taguchi introduced a bit of silliness to the ring. Those two make so much more sense as a team than Taguchi and Ricochet ever did. You just know they’re annoying everyone else in the locker room by making dick jokes. They got in plenty of glute based offence here.
Thankfully, when this got serious, it was a box full of puppies fun. Put ACH in with either of those Luchadors, and we’re onto a good thing. Volador and he, in particular, were fantastic. It felt like they pushed each other to go to the next level, right up until Volador took ACH off the top rope with a Super Frankensteiner for the win.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Rocky Romero had to go do managerial duties for SHO and YOH, so Beretta has joined Double K on commentary. He took that opportunity to challenge Cody for the US Title. Figured that was worth mentioning.
Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (1-0) defeated Time Machine (KUSHIDA and Chris Sabin) (0-1)
The friends of Alex Shelley are going under the name of Time Machine. I said recently that I didn’t expect to see Sabin back on New Japan shows outside of the US. It appears that I was wrong.
In a display of shocking sportsmanship, Suzuki-gun attacked before the bell. They really are dastardly, aren’t they? As usual, it was only the first move in a tactical blast of cheating. Sabin and KUSHIDA would look like they were on their way to building some momentum then the trolls would throw a spanner at their heads. They even pulled out one of my favourite Suzuki-gun tricks and used poor Uemura as a weapon. Got to love that Young Lion abuse.
Not that KUSHIDA and Sabin were utterly useless. They got the occasional burst of offence, with KUSHIDA always being protected. At the moment they’re almost working as a Timesplitters/Motor City Machine Gun tribute act (the McBusted of the wrestling world if you like) so it will be interesting to see if they can develop their own dynamic by the end of the tournament.
Things eventually broke down to Sabin and Desperado who had an excellent back and forth with Sabin hitting Hail Sabin only for Kanemaru to pull the ref out of the ring. A Santori Surprise followed by Pinche Loco saw Suzuki-gun march out winners once again. I should be bored of the shenanigans by now. Weirdly, I’m not.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI and Shingo Takagi) (1-0) defeated Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH)
Greg is self-conscious about his commentary skills. You’re the best, Greg!
These two teams are clear favourites for the tournament, and it won’t be a surprise if they end up competing in the final.
At the start, SHO wanted a bit of Shingo as the two monsters of the tournament got the chance to go straight at each other. Screw tag teams, let’s get these two feuding over the Junior title.
Although, let’s take a second to appreciate YOH. We all know SHO’s great, but YOH isn’t that far behind. There’s a wildness to the way he wrestles which I love. He seems happy to go out there and let people slap his chest until its raw and bloody while he always looks like he’s having the time of his life. Even if his ceiling isn’t as high as SHO’s, he’s certainly not far behind.
Everyone knows those two are great, though. The real question is how Shingo got on. Well, our man already looks at home. There’s an effortless cool to everything he does which is what makes him fit into LIJ. He never looks like he’s trying, or at least that’s what you think right up until the moment he takes your head off with a Pumping Bomber.
These four men were given a shitload of time, so they went out and used it. Quickly throwing the match into chaos and never really leaving that zone as they bounced back and forth, swapping control of the action and raising the intensity. By the end, it was just a slugfest. A battle to see who could take the most damage and keep coming back for more.
The answer turned out to be Shingo. At one point, it took both of Roppongi 3K to take him down and even then it wasn’t permanent. As they set up for 3K BUSHI fought out, and Shingo was there, ready to receive the tag. With a grin on his face, he entered the ring, kicking off a fantastic final sequence with YOH which the crowd lapped up before Shingo got the win with The Last Of The Dragon. Outstanding stuff.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
After Shingo and BUSHI cut their post-match promo, the rest of LIJ made their way down to the ring as Kevin Kelly pointed out that Sanada rocks a suit. He really does. Somehow it makes him even hotter. We got a team fist bump for the close, and despite all the fans’ worries, our LIJ boys look like they’re doing just fine.
That show delivered exactly what I want from this tournament. Every match was a shitload of fun while Shingo Takagi confirmed his starhood with a stunning performance in the main event. If everyone involved keeps going at this level, we’re in for a good month.