Now I know what everyone’s thinking…why wasn’t Day 3 the final Round 1 Day. That’s a great question. Since most of these matches should be solid, none of them ring nearly as sexy as three of the four Day 3 matches did.
With that being said. YOSHI-HASHI should easily make it to round 3 given his opponent today and prospective round 2 opponents. I’m not totally sure why New Japan insist on giving him tiny pushes, but maybe this is just because of travel restrictions and this was supposed to be Juice or David Finlay getting a little shine.
The best match will probably be EVIL versus Kojima…but I guess there’s always a chance for a surprise. Maybe?
Let’s find out!
- BUSHI vs YOH: BUSHI wins via MX @15:40 – ** ½
- YOSHI-HASHI vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan: HASHI wins via Butterfly Lock @17:35 – ***
- Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & SHO vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito): Double Count Out @12:30 – *** ½
- Yujiro Takahashi w/Jado vs Hirooki Goto: Goto wins via GTR @16:40 – *** ¼
- EVIL vs Satoshi Kojima: EVIL wins via Everything is Evil @20:10 – ****
BUSHI vs YOH
This match lacked any real build. Partially due to quarantine, and partially due to BUSHI being the generally perceived weak link of LIJ. BUSHI and YOH have had matches and threads during Junior tournaments and during Jr Tag Title arcs, but BUSHI being a hot and cold wrestler, makes it hard to really invest in his angles.
While the work was decent, a bunch of moves didn’t quite land flush and seemed lacking. Even commentary seemed to enjoy more tangent stories than commenting on the match. BUSHI did pick up a quality win and unveiled a Spinout Codebreaker that I haven’t seen him use before. But this really did nothing beyond being a serviceable tournament match.
I suppose BUSHI winning might lend credence to a Jr Tag Title challenge. But will Hiromu be willing to team with BUSHI for double gold?
YOSHI-HASHI vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan
This is an odd pairing. Tenzan is in the twilight of his career, as highlighted by his G1 retirement tournament a few years ago. YOSHI-HASHI however, looks to have finally gained a little momentum in the tag division with Ishii, but it still YOSHI-HASHI. Tenzan could use this to prove he’s not completely washed up, while HASHI needs this to appear relevant to the current Heavyweights.
Playing out, much like I framed, we saw HASHI take an early advantage using his speed and youth, but never being believably in control. The match turned into a slugfest of big moves, strikes, headbutts from Tenzan and solid resolve. For all the big moves that were thrown at one another, we ended with submission attempts and counters. Anaconda Vice, into Anaconda Buster, back to Anaconda Vice gave Tenzan the control; but the fatigue was apparent on his face. HASHI took advantage of Tenzan’s fading cardio, rolled him into a pinning attempt to get a break and then re-applied the Butterfly Lock, this time Tenzan couldn’t break it.
HASHI barely escaped that match with a win. So I’m not sure if it was really a statement or just dumb luck. We’ll have to see where his story goes from here.
Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & SHO vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)
This is beautiful, for the fact that during introduction Hiromu comes out first on the verge of tears and literally falling down and shaking because of Toru Yano. Vietnam level flashbacks to his Young Lion days, seem to be haunting Hiromu’s every step. Now if Yano brings a pair of clippers to their Cup match, I will snicker. OH HE PULLED CLIPPERS OUT OF HIS TIGHTS AND CHASED HIROMU WITH THEM! Now that’s comedy.
We saw great personality from everyone in this match, and Yano getting to be a tormentor. Shingo and Ishii had a brief moment to remind us of their encounters earlier this year, but that wasn’t the highlight. Yano pulled out ANOTHER pair of clippers when Hiromu tried the Apron Sunset Bomb. Shingo tried to hold Yano so the referee could take the clippers, but Ishii clocked Shingo and the chase began. Hiromu was running like a dog from the vacuum cleaner and Yano was taunting and laughing all the time.
This culminates in them spilling out to the walkway as the 20 count begins. A brief cut to the ring, shows everyone else more like “WTF is going on” aside from fighting. Yano tapes Hiromu’s feet together, and tries to shave his head. Okada comes out saying what I can only assume is “What are you doing, you’re getting counted out!” – and then they get counted out. So Okada being concerned about the match, Yano just wanting to ruin Hiromu’s life, Hiromu crying and the rest of LIJ acting like older brothers in the respect of “let’s see how this goes…” was great. Hiromu tries to hop back to the ring, falls and yells a bunch, at some point the rest of LIJ grabs him to carry him and it’s just silly.
Yujiro Takahashi w/Jado vs Hirooki Goto
The battle of two of the best entrance themes in New Japan. Oh, was there supposed to be more here? Sorry to disappoint, but Yujiro is mostly lower card and we all know Goto as the perennial bridesmaid when it matters. So Goto is the favorite by a landslide, but there is no strong thread to pull at here.
We saw a similar enough layout to the Desperado and Ishii match. The lower card heel, used an assortment of heel tactics to get some chances at the big upset. Yujiro did put in some solid work, and there were glimpses of decent exchanges, but this was working against logic. The predictability leant this match to feel a little uninteresting, even though this wasn’t a bad showing for Yujiro.
Hey, we got to see Miami Shine, for the first time in a while. So that’s always nice.
EVIL vs Satoshi Kojima
I suppose the table setting on this match is more, a decorated veteran that could believably still get a run at a title, faces the man who is hard stuck in the mid card. EVIL seems to choke at bigger opportunities, so he needs a breakout moment. This match is one of those that EVIL should win, and then probably lose next round. Let’s see if formulas hold up.
Kojima came to play in this match. EVIL did have an early advantage when he took it outside quickly and did a few spots with the chair (not the Home Run though). But once it got back in the ring, and EVIL was starting to feel himself, Kojima remembered who he was. Great hard strikes, EVIL tried to mock Kojima’s lariat mannerisms a few different times, causing Kojima to have to put him in his place. A great moment was when Kojima just stands up, extends and arm and has EVIL run into him…and EVIL slumps over.
The lariat was a big key in this match since it seemed to be Kojima’s biggest equalizer. So the finish was appropriate with Kojima going for one more Cozy Lariat, and EVIL hits the Everything is Evil as a counter, for a bit of a flash pin.
Really fun, took a little time to get moving, but it was great once it picked up.
Overall Score: 8.25/10
This score is driven purely off of how amusing/fantastic/character driven the tag match was. Day 3 was the best wrestling quality day, but this day brought really good wrestling with a great change of pace match.
Kojima definitely proved he’s still at least a mid-card threat, EVIL got out of the first round, YOSHI-HASHI is still a question mark, and Goto is still alive but possibly being set up for a big loss. Let’s look at the Round 2 matchups.
BUSH vs YOSHI-HASHI (HASHI gets the easiest first two rounds in the history of tournaments. If HASHI loses, he should have to retire in shame)
Hirooki Goto vs EVIL (There was a lot of story involving these guys before quarantine. They also have stigmas of failing in bigger moments. So one will lose, but it should be a great match, and since it’s most likely YOSHI-HASHI in the next round…don’t be surprised if EVIL wins just so there’s no internal faction strife)