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NJPW ‘Super Jr. Tag Tournament Night 1’ 10.23.17 Results & Review

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Here are your results from night one of this year’s Super Jr. Tag Tournament leading up to the finals on November 5th at Power Struggle

Yujiro & Leo Tonga def. Oka & Umino @ 6:25
Another variation of a team of young lions taking on Yujiro and Leo. The Korakuen Hall crowd is one of the more hardcore crowds in all of Japan and always support wrestlers with much louder reactions than elsewhere. They were fully behind the young lions, especially Oka, who took an incredible Lariat from Leo. Umino managed to slam Leo, which received a massive reaction, but seconds later took the fall via Yujiro’s Pimp Juice. Leo and Oka fought post-match, possibly setting up a singles match sometime down the line. This was a solid opener with great reactions to a couple spots.

Kanemaru, Taichi, Desperado & Taka def. Liger, Tiger, Taguchi & ACH @ 8:10
Each man will take part in the Super Jr. Tag Tournament later in the week. Everyone played their hits, Tiger with a Tiger Driver, Liger a Romero Special, Hip Attacks from Taguchi, Hurricanrana and Plancha from ACH. One of Taguchi’s Hip Attacks went wrong, taking a microphone stand up his Funky Weapon from Taichi before being rolled into the Gedo Clutch for the pinfall. Kanemaru rips the mask off Tiger but his identity is kept hidden thanks to the referee. The crowd stayed loud which helped propel this otherwise run of the mill match along.

Goto & Yano def. Suzuki & Iizuka @ 9:40
The crowd claps along enthusiastically to Suzuki’s theme while Iizuka enters from the second level. Suzuki looks to inflict maximum damage to Yano with near double-digit chair shots to the body on the outside before rolling him back in and stretching him. Goto is able to help out his friend by winning the match with a GTR to Iizuka but post-match the two are beaten down thanks to the numbers game applied by Suzuki-Gun. Let’s not forget, they don’t call Yano the Sublime Master Thief for nothing. He slips out of Suzuki’s grasp and chokes him with the bull rope before scurrying to the back. An enraged Suzuki whips the rope all around ringside before heading backstage. More fun and wrinkles to this feud has helped elevate interest in their upcoming Power Struggle match.

Ibushi, Juice & Finlay def. Tanahashi, Makabe & Kitamura @ 13:11
80-20 split in favor of Tanahashi over Ibushi as the two start off the match. Ibushi kips up after two shoulder blocks delivered by Tanahashi but the ace’s ground game puts him back in control. Korakuen is red-hot for Kitamura’s comeback after being beaten down 3-to-1. He hits a massive Brainbuster to a thunderous applause. Firing back at Tanahashi, Ibushi connects with a comboination of a standing Frankensteiner, PK and standing Moonsault. Tanahashi helps Kitamura out of a Pulp Friction and along with Makabe, clear the ring for the young lion. Kitamura nails Juice with a huge Spear for a great nearfall and follows up by attempting a Jackhammer but Juice fights out. Finlay aids Juice in grounding the massive young lion but he continues showing fighting spirit. On his own fire up, Juice receives no love from the crowd but instead they roar for Kitamura. All is for not though, Pulp Friction is hit and Kitamura cannot muster the power to kick out. The match was red-hot for nearly the entire time. Korakuen loves Kitamura and were rewarded by one of his best showings to date. Easily the best thing on the show to this point.

Switchblade promo is played prior to the beginning of the second half.

Naito, Evil & Sanada def. Okada, Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi @ 12:58
The Wrestle Kingdom 12 main event of Okada and Naito stand face to face to start off but Naito decides to tag out to Sanada rather than engaging with the newly crowned, longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion of all time. Early on, LIJ’s mission is to wear down Ishii. He eventually makes his comeback and brings Okada in as the legal man. Okada has exchanges with both Naito and Evil, coming out on top over both. When he tags Yoshi-Hashi in, Sanada receives his loudest reaction of the night with the crowd rallying behind him. Ishii helps his stablemate take control of Sanada but it’s short-lived when Naito runs in before Okada clears him back out and the two brawl on the outside. Yoshi-Hashi is forced to submit as soon as Sanada locks in the Skull End and LIJ hold their fists up in the middle of the ring. Naito leaves behind his WK12 briefcase in the middle for everyone to take notice. Perfectly fine match but nothing to be remembered five minutes later.

Super Jr. Tag Tournament Quarter Final
Roppongi 3K def. Kushida & Kawato @ 12:39

An eager Kawato delivers forearm strikes to both Sho and Yoh before the bell and fires up with a huge Hurricanrana but is quickly cut down by the numbers game. They keep grinding on Kawato until he can make his comeback and tag Kushida. They attempt the numbers advantage on him but aren’t successful. Kawato flies from out of nowhere with a huge Dropkick, followed by a Topé con Hilo. With the numbers even, Kushida works over the arm of Sho, using various submissions. He decides to make Kawato the legal man rather than finishing the match himself. In the spirit of his partner, Kawato attempts a Cross Armbreaker and a Triangle Choke. He hits the Roundhouse Kick, which won him the match at Lions Project 8 but Sho kicks out. The young lion grinded back down to the mat with a Single-Leg Crab before taking the 3K and the loss. Another solid match, nothing truly great. Korakuen wasn’t as hot as they had been previously. Hopefully Sho and Yoh find their groove with more time back in New Japan. Something about this didn’t click like you’d hope.

Super Jr. Tag Tournament Quarter Final
Hiromu & Bushi def. Dragon Lee & Titan @ 20:20

Hiromu and Lee have a long-standing rivalry dating back to Hiromu’s CMLL excursion. Lee wants to start the match off with Hiromu but the latter refuses. After Titan makes quick work of Bushi, the two rivals find their way into the match. They exchange lucha chops across the chest and when Hiromu bails to the outside, both Lee and Titan fly over the top with Topé con Hilos onto the members of LIJ and follow it up with another dive. LIJ take the match to the outside, bringing the CMLL luchadors into the crowd and beat them down. Dragging them back into the ring, they attempt ripping the masks off to big gasps from Korakuen. Bushi keeps Titan isolated with the assistance of Hiromu, who beats Lee down on the outside. After a desperation Dragon Screw Legwhip, Titan is able to make the tag to Lee where he and Hiromu trade German Suplexes until Lee manages a standing Spanish Fly. Then the action gets too fast to call. You honestly have to see the pace both teams were moving at and their pinpoint precession, it was unbelievable. Truly a masterful work of art from all four men. With Titan on Hiromu’s shoulders, Bushi climbed to the top rope and hit a Super MX to move into the semifinals against Roppongi 3K. They call out Sho and Yoh from the back. Rocky Romero comes out with them as their manager and does all the talking. The running gag of Hiromu being unable to claim the microphone continues as Bushi grabs it before him and speaks his peace on the matter of the semifinal match. Hiromu stomps off upset with Bushi and the show ends.

With the help of the super hot crowd, this was a very easy show to watch. Korakuen ate up everything, making all the wrestlers feel like rockstars. The main event and the six-man before intermission were the high points but pretty much everything hit its mark. Roppongi 3K still have a bit to prove to me before I can buy into them. They’re by no means bad but they have some fine-tuning they must go through if they want my nod. Extremely fun night of wrestling start to finish but if pressed for time, the main event is the must-see match. Shoutout to Korakuen for the great environment.

Robert McCauley is an NJPW enthusiast who has seen every show live since Jan. 4, 2015.

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