New Japan draw 1,513 on the second of a three night run at Korakuen Hall, main evented by an IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match between Hiromu Takahashi and El Desperado. The blocks have officially been announced as we gear up for G1 season! The most exciting time to be a New Japan fan has nearly arrived. Who else is ready?
Yota Tsuji vs Yuya Uemura – 10 Minute Draw – **
Tonight, Tsuji and Uemura focused more on their strikes as opposed to their previous submission-based match. They laid into each other really good until Tsuji had enough and went back to the leg game he worked on the night before. Uemura tried to win off some flash pins in the closing stretch before Tsuji grounded him with a slap to the face and was finally able to lock in the Boston Crab. This was the moment Tsuji had been looking forward to but Uemura managed to get to the ropes and the time limit was reached before Tsuji could follow up. Post-match, Uemura levels Tsuji with a big boy slap and heads to the back. These two are awesome young lions and they’re progressing so fast.
Yujiro Takahashi & Taiji Ishimori def. Shota Umino & Ren Narita @ 7:45 via Yujiro Pimp Juice on Umino – **1/4
Narita was looking for revenge from last night on Ishimori, targeting him despite Yujiro being the legal man. Ishimori was quick to make Narita regret that decision but still showed nice fire and never looked defeated. Hot tag Umino came at Yujiro with great forearm strikes and a top rope dropkick but Yujiro recovered quickly and Narita had to come make the save. Umino resorted to flash pin attempts which got him caught with Tokyo Pimps. Big kick out from Umino but Yujiro immediately followed with Pimp Juice. Great fire from the young lions and Ishimori’s short bursts of energy kept the match going at a nice pace.
Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tomoyuki Oka @ 9:09 via Nagata Back Drop Hold on Oka – *3/4
I can do without seeing Tenzan and Nakanishi mixing it up together. They brought the show to a screeching halt but the finishing sequence with Nagata and Oka ended the match on a good note. Oka hit a couple of suplexes, locked in a Boston Crab and stayed on Nagata after he made it to the ropes. Nagata came right back at him with a knee lift and back drop suplex to take the win. We don’t need Nakanishi and Tenzan trading shots in 2018. We just don’t.
Yano, Y-H, SHO & YOH def. Makabe, Finlay, Henare & Taguchi @ 9:59 via Y-H Butterfly Lock on Henare – **1/2
Like the last night, this served as a nice buffer by showing a more comedic side. Early on, Makabe got the best of Yano, who bails to the outside and throws the non-participant, Rocky Romero, in the ring. SHO and YOH launch Finlay into the oblivious butt of Taguchi four times until the coach realizes what happened. In the closing stretch, Y-H and Henare trade forearms, Makabe hits a double lariat and both Taguchi and Finlay launch themselves over the top with a pair of planchas. Henare can’t keep his momentum on Y-H and winds up trapped in the Butterfly Lock. Nice goofy match to help bring the energy back up.
The G1 Climax blocks are announced.
A Block: Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, YOSHI-HASHI, Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page, EVIL, Minoru Suzuki
B Block: Juice Robinson, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Tama Tonga, SANADA, Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr., Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi
Naito, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI def. Iizuka, Taichi, Kanemaru & TAKA @ 10:13 via BUSHI MX on TAKA – **1/2
On his way to the ring, Naito does the LIJ fist bump with a young fan. Taichi, the man everyone wants to go home, chokes Naito with his microphone stand before the bell. A lot of goofy pose stealing throughout the match. Suzuki-Gun did all their signature brawling spots and SANADA had enough. After being bit multiple times by Iizuka, he bit back! Hot tag EVIL came in with some shoulder tackles, chops and a senton but is turned inside out by a lariat from Taichi. Every member of Suzuki-Gun runs train on BUSHI and TAKA counters his desperation Hurricanrana into a crossface. LIJ make the save and each hit TAKA before he’s finished for the second night in a row with an MX. Post-match, Naito does his standard raising of the fist but SANADA refuses to join. The two will have their first ever singles match in this year’s G1 Climax.
Tanahashi, Juice, Cobb, Elgin & KUSHIDA def. Okada, White, Goto, Ishii & Gedo @ 12:16 via KUSHIDA Hoverboard Lock on Gedo – ***
Before the bell, Juice tosses his hat up in the air and it gets caught in the lights. Unfortunately, his night didn’t get any better. His team tried to calm him down by making him wait for the tag but White adds fuel to the fire by charging at Juice on the apron. Okada too was fired up early on. He threw Tanahashi over his shoulder and let out a shriek before ramming him into the turnbuckle pad and repeated this action two more times. Chaos spent several minutes wearing down Tanahashi before Elgin got the tag. Okada and White attempt to save Ishii from Elgin but both eat a lariat for their troubles. Cobbs get the tag and makes quick work of Goto and pops Milani by giving Okada an Athletic-Plex. Goto drives Cobb’s head into his knee and both tag out. Everyone rushes the ring, all hitting their big moves until it’s KUSHIDA and Gedo who remain standing. KUSHIDA secures the win via Hoverboard Lock but is instantly jumped from behind by White who delivers a Bladerunner. White gives Elgin a back drop suplex and a half-and-half suplex to Tanahashi before going after Juice. He drives Juice into the railing and they trade counters to each other’s finishers until White goes low and gives repeated elbows to Juice’s neck. He wasn’t done there. White then broke the fingers of Juice via a chair and taunted Juice before heading to the back. These two are going to go all out at the Cow Palace.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Hiromu Takahashi (c) def. El Desperado @ 28:16 via Time Bomb – ***3/4
Hiromu got his wish! A video montage of all the previous junior champions played before the ring introductions. The equality of the division is rightly deserved and good on New Japan for finally fixing the situation. Hiromu came to the ring with a guitar case which is a callback to Desperado’s old gimmick where he’d come to the ring and play guitar before his matches. Once Hiromu opened the box, he revealed dead flowers. He presented them to Desperado, who became enraged and proceeded to whip Hiromu with said flowers. This was a heated match, just like last month’s BOSJ encounter. Desperado spent the first ten minutes beating down Hiromu both inside and outside the ring. Throwing him into the rails, the crowd, the exposed buckle, the whole nine yards. Hiromu evaded a spear and Desperado instead went hurling into the ring post and out to the floor where Hiromu saw his opportunity and hit a Sunset Bomb to the outside. He called off the referee’s count and climbed to the top for a successful senton to the floor. Desperado seems spent, possibly going too hard too early. He tries a desperation low blow but Hiromu evades and levels Desperado with a lariat. Kanemaru makes his way to the ring to distract the referee, giving Desperado the chance to land five chair shots to the back. Hiromu fires up and Dynamite Plungers Desperado on top of the chair. BUSHI makes the save by misting Kanemaru and taking him to the back. Desperado counters the Time Bomb by grabbing the referee and throwing him down, taking the opportunity to low blow Hiromu. Pissed, Hiromu unmasks Desperado, full face exposed, but Desperado doesn’t waiver. He levels Hiromu with the belt before slipping the mask back on and hitting Angel de Rojo. Hiromu fights out of an attempted Guitarra de Angel by hitting a Hurricanrana which he transitions into the triangle choke. Desperado fails to powerbomb his way out of the triangle and instead gets out via El Es Culero for a two count. Hiromu cuts off a lariat by applying the triangle again but Desperado powerbombs him into the exposed buckle. With Desperado charging, Hiromu ducks and sends Desperado flying back first into the exposed buckle and follows with Time Bomb to secure his first defense of his second reign. Post-match, Hiromu thanks New Japan for the junior video package and lays the challenge to Dragon Lee, the other man who defeated him during the BOSJ tournament. Hiromu will have vindicated both tournament losses once Dragon Lee is defeated.
Just like the night before, this was a really fun show. The G1 blocks have been announced and there are several matches that really jump off the screen. Once again, I enjoyed pretty much everything on the show with the exception of Nakanishi and Tenzan which was short and no big deal. Everything was maybe a half step down from the previous night but overall there isn’t much to complain about as we inch closer to G1 season. Jay White’s character work continues to progress as he grows into the biggest heel on the company’s roster. The junior title is seeing an increase in stature within New Japan thanks to the incredible year by the juniors. Thumbs up show. Definitely check out the last two matches.
Hiromu vs Desperado
Tana, Cobb, Elgin, Juice, KUSHIDA vs Okada, Goto, Ishii, White, Gedo
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