New Japan come to Kumamoto with a heavy focus on Los Ingobernables de Japon versus Suzuki-Gun. Both the Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships are on the line and the Golden Lovers make their return. Let’s see what happened at Wrestling Hinokuni!
Yuji Nagata & Ren Narita def. Tomoyuki Oka & Shota Umino @ 9:42 via Nagata Lock II on Umino – **
Both Oka and Umino established themselves as above Narita and ready to take on Nagata. They dominated Narita on the mat and threw him into his corner so he could tag out. Unfortunately for them, they’re still not ready for Nagata. Umino landed some impressive strikes on the veteran but was still taken down with relative ease. Fun little story between the young lions as they climb up the ranks.
Liger, Tiger, Taguchi & Finlay def. White, Rocky, SHO & YOH @ 7:15 via Finlay Prima Nocta on Rocky – *3/4
Decent showcase for the juniors as we’re only a couple weeks away from BOSJ. Finlay continues to look strong even after his loss to White just a few days ago. He scored the win on Rocky with a Prima Nocta out of nowhere. Fine match but nothing much of note.
Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano def. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare @ 7:57 via Ishii Brainbuster on Henare – *3/4
Real nice exchange between Ishii and Henare in the closing stretch. What stood out most was how timid Henare continues to be in the ring. He was in there with three guys who have established themselves while he’s still on the path of doing so himself. Not much here but it was easy enough to watch.
Sabre, Taichi, Iizuka & TAKA def. Omega, Ibushi, Owens & Yujiro @ 8:54 via Sabre Grounded Octopus on Owens – **1/4
Nice to see Omega and Ibushi back for the first time in four weeks. They looked happy to be back as well. The big spot was a four-way dive with Golden Lovers hitting the Cross Slash while Yujiro and Owens hit a pair of suicide dives. Ibushi and Taichi had an exchange that warrants them having a G1 Climax match. Sabre established his Cup win wasn’t a fluke by being the one to pick up the win.
Tanahashi, Juice, Elgin & KUSHIDA def. Okada, Goto, HASHI & Ospreay @ 10:13 via Tanahashi High Fly Flow on HASHI – **1/2
We get a taste of Okada and Tanahashi to open the match but for the second straight show, Tanahashi hit Okada with a Slingblade on the outside. Okada opted to stay out of the match afterwards. Ospreay debuted a new move he calls ‘The Storm Breaker’ which essentially is a neckbreaker where he spins his opponent before driving him down. He landed this on KUSHIDA and like Okada, KUSHIDA decided not to come back in the ring. Goto and Elgin had some nice, meaty exchanges but after the match Taichi came in and attacked Elgin. Real fast-paced and fun match. Never let up and ended in a pull apart brawl between Okada and Tanahashi. Good stuff all around.
BUSHI def. El Desperado @ 9:59 via DQ caused by Kanemaru interference – **1/2
BUSHI came out on fire with a diving hurricanrana to the outside. Desperado spent the rest of the match cutting off BUSHI and attempting to unmask him. After nailing Desperado with a second rana and setting up for a finishing MX, Kanemaru came out to save Desperado but resulted in a disqualification. Hiromu rushed out to even the numbers for BUSHI and immediately the next match started.
Hiromu Takahashi def. Yoshinobu Kanemaru @ 11:29 via Time Bomb – **1/2
Hiromu sprinted to the ring to save BUSHI and landed an apron dropkick to Desperado. He attempted the same to Kanemaru but the veteran evaded and Hiromu landed on his back on the outside. This became the focus of the match. Kanemaru relentlessly attacked Hiromu’s back but couldn’t manage to keep him down. Once again, Suzuki-Gun resort to tricks but it fails them as Kanemaru’s mist hits Desperado instead and BUSHI followed up with mist of his own on Kanemaru. Once Hiromu hit Time Bomb, the match was over.
These two matches back-to-back worked really well together. Both members of LIJ come out with a win in the record books and Suzuki-Gun are sent to the back with their tails between their legs. Hiromu stared into the camera and repeatedly said “Super Juniors” alluding to next month’s tournament which he plans on winning.
IWGP Tag Team Championship
EVIL & SANADA (c) def. Killer Elite Squad @ 17:59 via EVIL Everything is Evil on Smith – ***1/4
This worked really well which isn’t surprising but it’s nice to see the crowds care about these titles once again. Having EVIL and SANADA as champions has helped generate interest for the tag titles which hasn’t been seen in several years. K.E.S. did great at cutting the champions off at every stop and the champions excelled in their fiery comebacks. SANADA was given a Killer Bomb through a table early on but ended up making the save and allowing EVIL a chance to win a one-on-one match up and did so by pinning Smith with Everything is Evil. I’m pleasantly surprised by this result. It would have been easy enough to have the established tag team pick the titles back up but instead they’re allowing EVIL and SANADA a significant reign. Really good stuff from both teams. It’s nice to have tag titles matches to care about.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Tetsuya Naito def. Minoru Suzuki (c) @ 30:23 via Destino – ***3/4
Once again, Naito’s mind games worked. He got under Suzuki’s skin and was able to dictate the opening pace of the match. That’s not to say Suzuki didn’t get in his licks. For the majority of the match, Naito was locked into either a knee bar or heel hook. Naito is too stubborn to tap and Suzuki’s persistence to make that happen was his downfall. He flat-out refused to give up to Suzuki and even waved off Red Shoes trying to call for a stoppage. After a few well placed slaps to the face, one of which busting Suzuki’s nose open, Naito was able to have the champion reeling and drove him into the mat with a Destino for the win. Once Naito is under your skin, the match is over. He used Suzuki’s temper against him and had enough heart to not give up. When the opportunity arose, Naito was able to strike with a Destino.
As a pissed off Suzuki hobbled to the back, the rest of LIJ came out to celebrate with Naito to close out the show. Naito refused to take the title with him. This match wasn’t about the championship, he has no interest and finds it meaningless. That’s how we end the show.
By far the best show of the tour so far and likely not a surprise to anyone. Each member of LIJ came out on top and created a nice happy atmosphere to close out the show. Everything I’ve given two or more stars to is worth watching if you have the time but from the Okada match and on, I recommended making the time to watch.
Naito vs Suzuki
LIJ vs K.E.S.
Hiromu vs Kanemaru
BUSHI vs Desperado
Team Tana vs Team Okada
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