Korakuen Hall is a magical place. I am finally heading out to Japan over New Year, and while I can’t wait for the Dome show and the crowning of Naito Two Belts (please, Gedo-san), I can’t imagine even that will overshadow the moment I sit in Korakuen Hall for the first time. Something about that place brings the best out of wrestlers, and the previous day’s Tag League show was a perfect example of that. Could that magic linger for another night? I’m not going to bet against it.
GBH (Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma) (2-1) defeated Hirooki Goto and Karl Fredericks (1-2)
Talking of magic, Goto becomes a different man during Dome season. On the previous show, he had an intense back and forth with KENTA while on this one he managed to get a decent interaction out of the shrivelled husk of Honma. The Master of Kokeshi will never be great again, but Goto at least made him look acceptable.
I’m not sure what it is, but I’m struggling to connect with Fredericks on this tour. The GBH heat section wasn’t particularly interesting, and he doesn’t have the fire I want from my Young Lions. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t feel like a Young Lion, but he’s still being made to wrestle like one? While I don’t know how excursion is going to work with the LA Dojo kids, he should be heading out on it ASAP.
Outside of that, this was a solid wee opener with Makabe putting in a decent shift by his standards (which means he did some stuff). It’s an easy skip if you’re in a rush, but not something that’s going to offend you if you’re not.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
Post-match, KENTA attacked Goto to continue their feud.
Mad Muscle Men (Jeff Cobb and Mikey Nicholls) (2-1) defeated Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (0-3)
Nakanishi plus Cobb is a lot of beef. Sure, they conducted every face-off at one-tenth speed because of the broken body of Nakanishi, but it was still fun to watch those two big boys go face to face.
I’ve been harsh on Nicholls in my reviews, but to be honest, Mad Mikey is not having an awful tournament. He’s a solid wrestler. It’s the other stuff I don’t buy. Still, he had some nice interactions with Nagata, and he’s a good foil for Cobb.
The beefy boys saw us home, Cobb impressively getting Nakanishi up for Tour of the Islands for the three. If you can accept Nakanishi’s weaknesses, this was a fun wee match.
Verdict: Three Stars
Tencozy (Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) (2-1) defeated HenerAce (Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toa Henare) (1-2)
Tanahashi semes to enjoy wrestling the Dads. He’s been working remarkably hard all tour, but he brought it here, even heeling it up at one point by using Tenzan’s Mongolian Chops against him, drawing boos from Korakuen. The Ace seems to be enjoying teaming with Henare, which can only be a good thing for my pleas to push the Kiwi.
Despite that, the real highlight was said Kiwi facing-off with Kojima. They were laying into each other, exchanging chops and having all the fun. If you’re looking for a feud to push Henare to that next level then having him face the likes of Kojima and Nagata would be the perfect way to do it. Look, Gedo, I’m even writing the damn thing for you.
Sadly, the start of said push will have to wait for another day as Kojima took the victory here, seeing off a great closing stretch with a Western Lariat. Korakuen’s magic is working, folks.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Colt Cabana and Toru Yano (2-1) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Lance Archer) (1-2)
Yano and Colt have been the most disappointing part of the tournament for me so far. Something seems to be causing them to hold back on the comedy, as they’ve replaced it with pretty standard (and boring) matches.
And despite Yano and Suzuki having a history of producing nonsense, this wasn’t the moment the laughs came flooding back. Suzuki-gun attacked before the bell and dominated this action, giving Colt and Yano a bit of a beating.
At least they did for most of it, right up until the final seconds when Suzuki ran into an exposed turnbuckle leaving Archer alone with the tricksters. Somehow, that ended with The Master Thief low-blowing him and sneaking away with the roll-up victory, leaving MiSu in a rather foul mood. They might not be producing the laughs, but they’re performing the Yano G1 role well.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
The Bullet Club (KENTA and Yujiro Takahashi) (2-1) defeated The Bullet Club (Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale) (1-2)
The first half of this had a lot in common with the classic Taichi vs Taka Michinoku match from the 2017 BOSJ. Bullet Club was unwilling to fight, going for roll-ups and Pietr distractions instead.
Then, they all agreed to leave together, accepting the draw in the spirit of teamwork. Except, Chase wasn’t quite as willing as the others, waiting till they got a bit away and sprinting back to the ring in an attempt to get the points.
Unfortunately for him, KENTA made it back, leaving him open to make short work of his teammate, as he got the win with the Game Over. It was a fun match, though, something a bit different that got a few laughs.
Verdict: Three Stars
CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI) (3-0) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi and El Terrible) (0-3)
I consider every moment that Terrible and YOSHI-HASHI tagged into this match a personal attack on me as they kept me from Shingo vs Ishii goodness. It’s very quickly becoming apparent that the only good thing about Terrible is his slaps, and he may know this as they seem to make up 95% of his offence. By the end, Shingo was telling what to do, directing his rather useless partner.
Thankfully, those were just the buffers in between the real genius of this match, which was every time Shingo and Ishii were unleashed on each other. Those two hard bastards flew into each other again and again, leaving me with a massive smile on my face. They’re the fucking best.
Ishii would end-up getting the win, hitting a Brainbuster on Terrible for the three, but I don’t care about these tag-teams any more. Give us another Shingo vs Ishii match sooner rather than later, please.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Dangerous Tekkers (Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi) (2-1) defeated FinJuice (Juice Robinson and David Finlay) (2-1)
Poor Finlay chose the wrong team to face-off against with a recently recovered shoulder. You’ve got Zack to twist it and Taichi to kick it, neither of which is fun.
And with Dangerous Tekkers coming off a great match against the boss man and Archer, they were once again on top form. There has been no bullshit from them this tournament, and they have fantastic chemistry together. I don’t think I could have ever imagined Taichi and Sabre would make such a natural pairing, but it just works. The twisty socialist and the flamboyant kicker.
There was some brilliant work in the final act, Finlay hitting a Spear on Zack only for the damage to his shoulder to prevent him from following up. That gave Taichi time to recover, and the two of them stiffed it out before exchanging flash pins, the highlight of which was Finlay grabbing one just after Taichi’s trousers went bye-bye. Eventually, Dangerous Tekkers hit a combo Zack Driver/Black Mephisto and continued their role as the MVPs of this tournament.
Verdict: Four Stars
Korakuen’s magic remains strong, as I’m starting to wonder whether Tag League might actually be good now? Surely not? They’re heading out on the road, which will be the real test of whether these shows are the theme or the exception to it.
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