The first of a two night run at Korakuen Hall to cap off the year leading up to Wrestle Kingdom 13. The show sees two special singles matches as Okada gets his hands on Gedo and Umino receives an opportunity to showcase against Shingo Takagi. Let’s get started!
Honma, Liger, Tiger & KUSHIDA def. Henare, Yoshida, Narita & Uemura @ 11:18 via Tiger Driver to Uemura – **1/2
With Umino and Yoshida being the young lions given the World Tag League opportunity, this was Narita and Uemura’s chance to comeback and showcase. Uemura started off by challenging Liger. The two mat wrestled for a couple of minutes, Uemura landing a couple of big overhand chops. Narita landed a brainbuster on Honma but had to battle from underneath after the vets used the numbers to ground him. He caught KUSHIDA with a belly-to-belly and worked with Uemura to drop Tiger with a double team brainbuster. Uemura locked Tiger in a Boston Crab and refused to let go even with Liger peppering him with overhands. He transitioned Tiger into a bridging O’Connor Roll, the veteran escaped, dropped the young lion with some kicks, Honma got the Kokeshi and Tiger ended the match with the Tiger Driver.
Shingo Takagi def. Shota Umino @ 10:45 via Last of the Dragon – ***1/4
After a strong showing in World Tag League, Umino was rewarded with his first Korakuen Hall singles match since May. This was Shingo’s first singles match since making his NJPW debut in October. They started off by trading headlocks until Umino escaped, landed an overhand, ducked one from Shingo and hit him with another. Shingo took control again with another headlock, forcing Umino to dig deep, get free and land a low dropkick. He climbed to the second for another dropkick but Shingo evaded and took the match to the outside where he threw Umino into the rails and apron before taking him back in and grinding him back down. Umino landed a couple fiery overhands but was caught into a Brainbuster leading to a forearm exchange which Umino won and afforded him time to hit the dropkick off the top. Shingo DDT’d himself free out of a waistlock, scoop slammed Umino and dropped an elbow off the top. They trade forearms for slaps and Umino catches Shingo with a bridging German suplex. Umino rolls through a Last of the Dragon but Shingo is quick to respond with Blood Fall, Pumping Bomber and finishes with Last of the Dragon. Post-match he offers his hand to the young lion but Umino slaps it away. Fiery performance from Umino, coming up big and delivering his best match to date.
Hirooki Goto & Rocky Romero def. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka @ 11:25 via Romero Schoolboy on Iizuka – **
Big surprise win for Romero, rolling up Iizuka to take the match for Chaos. This was a lot of what we saw on the last tour. Brawling, biting, a big Romero comeback and it paid off this time with a win. After watching thirteen Suzuki and Iizuka tags this month this wasn’t exactly exciting but the surorise result was cool. We’ll see if it leads to anything big for Romero in the near future.
Tomohiro Ishii, YOH & SHO def. Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado @ 13:13 via Ishii Brainbuster on Kanemaru – ***
Ishii helps 3K pick up another win over the junior tag champs. One fan tried the ‘go home Taichi’ chant and was immediately drowned out. I think it’s save to say he’s won the majority over. His interactions with Ishii were once again stellar. Their chemistry is growing and seems to be leading to something big in the near future. New Japan Cup, maybe? Kanemaru had a chance to get Ishii and didn’t give up even when SHO broke up the Deep Impact. Ishii ducked the mist, ate two Kanemaru lariats, collapsed on the third, nailed Kanemaru with one of his own and managed to muscle him up for a Brainbuster but Kanemaru kicked out. A second one put Kanemaru out for the count. Ishii had to pull YOH away from Desperado after the match.
Fale, Tama, Tanga & Ishimori def. Naito, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI @ 11:57 via Super Powerbomb on BUSHI – **3/4
Naito goofed at Fale’s attempt to come off strong, spit in his face and used the LIJ numbers to take him down. Jado was the equalizer on multiple occasions by using the cane but once EVIL was tagged in, LIJ were able to rally and SANADA took the time to land a planhca onto Jado. BUSHI couldn’t get the finishing blow for his team. He missed the MX, Loa powered out of the Codebreaker and Jado helped slow BUSHI down with the cane and allowed G.O.D. to finish with the Super Powerbomb. Lighthearted Naito goofing on Bullet Club was fun and stole the match.
Kazuchika Okada def. Gedo @ 12:34 via Rainmaker – **1/2
Gedo made his entrance first, coming out in a sling and a crutch. Okada wasn’t having any of his excuses. He came out looking for a fight, making his entrance via the old school Rainmaker theme. He kicked the crutch out from under Gedo and made him flinch, proving he could move his arm. Gedo pepper sprayed Okada, nailed him with the brass knuckles, bt only got a two. He took the match outside and threw Okada into the rails, dropping him with Okada’s signature draping DDT. Romero is at commentary and the two jaw jack while Gedo is smashing chairs over Okada. Finally making his comeback, Okada flurries with a back elbow and DDT. Gedo tries to escape the arena but Okada brings him back into the ring. Gedo apologizes but Okada isn’t having it. Jado makes a distraction, allowing Gedo a low blow and Gedo Clutch but Okada is able to escape. This time it’s Gedo who distracts the ref which allows Jado the chance to attack with the cane. Okada ducks the attack but White is quick to come out. Romero comes to even the score, eats a Blade Runner, Okada manages to fight out of the Blade Runner, hits the dropkick, Tombstones Gedo and finishes him with the Rainmaker. Post-match White stays on the attack and drops Okada with a Sleeper suplex.
Tanahashi, Makabe, Yano & Ospreay def. Omega, Ibushi, Yujiro & Owens @ 14:57 via Ospreay Stormbreaker on Owens – ***
Ibushi and Ospreay start off with a stalemate after Ospreay cartwheels out of a rana. Yano takes care of both Yujiro and Page by pulling their hair and makes the tag to Makabe. The Elite manage to grind down Makabe and while Yano tried to help, it backfired and got him busted off the apron inadvertently. Omega and Tanahashi had a fun exchange, Tanahashi skinning the cat into position for the One-Winged Anel but escaped into a Twist & Shout. With Omega locked in the Texas Cloverhold, Ibushi drilled Tanahashi with a springboard dropkick. Ospreay had a flurry on Omega that looked like it had ended when Omega got the knees up on a standing shooting star press, but Ospreay hit the Stundog Millionaire. His Oscutter was cut off by a Dragon suplex by Omega. Ibushi got the standing moonsault on Ospreay but he fired back with the wallflip enziguri. Omega Doctor Bombed Ospreay on Owens’ knees and Tanahashi’s save was cutoff by a highkick + V-Trigger combo by the Lovers. Owens drops Ospreay with a DVD and sets him up for the Package Piledriver but Ospreay changes position on the wrist control and muscles Owens up and drops him with the Stormbreaker. Post-match Ospreay explains his absence and states his goal is to become NEVER Openweight Champion.
Overall this was a fine preview show. Coming in I was most excited to see how Umino would look in a singles match with Shingo. What we saw was a show stealing performance. There’s little doubt that Umino has a bright future ahead of him. The preview match for tomorrow’s tag team main event was nice but it’ll be much better without the extras who found themselves in there today.
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