One of the main stories here are the NEVER 6 Man being a bit of a proving ground for SHO and the first few inklings of Okada’s new direction. He seems to enjoy being a part of a tag team and especially tagging with SHO. The other story being the Vacant Jr Tag titles.
After a mini tournament, the Suzuki-Gun duo of El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru tied things up with Hiromu and BUSHI to qualify them for this Grand Finals. I’ve been firmly on the train of Hiromu and BUSHI getting the belts, but you never know. Both teams are established, so on paper it’s anyone’s game; but Suzuki-Gun does have the psychological advantage with the win 2 days ago to create this rematch of sorts.
Now let’s get to the show!
- Yota Tsuji, Gabriel Kidd & Yuya Uemura vs Tomoaki Honma, Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima: Kojima wins via Cozy Lariat @8:44 – ***
- Ass Masters (Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato) & Golden Ace (Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi) vs Suzuki-Gun (ZSJ, Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI): Taichi wins via Stretch Plum @11:09 – ** ½
- Darkness Club (Yujiro Takahashi, Dick Togo & EVIL) vs LIJ (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito): SANADA wins via Skull End @9:50 – ***
- NEVER 6 Man Championship: CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto) (c) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano): Ishii retains via Vertical Drop Brainbuster @18:55 – *** ¾
- Vacant IWGP Jr Tag Championship: Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs LIJ (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI): Despy wins via Pinche Loco @17:12 – *** ¾ – TITLE CHANGE!!
Yota Tsuji, Gabriel Kidd & Yuya Uemura vs Tomoaki Honma, Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima
So we’ve all been to this dance before right? Young Lion team, means Young Lions lose to veterans. Thankfully for the Lions, Honma isn’t on the same level as Nagata and Kojima, so there were some believable moments there and a few entertaining spots with Kojima.
Kojima hit the machine gun chops on each Lion piled in the corner, then when he was going to go for his signature Elbow Drop, the Lions jumped him in the corner before he could start his ascent. So it was a nice moment of the Young Lions learning, but effectively just pissing off Kojima. Kojima hit the Rolling Elbow, Koji Cutter and Cozy Lariat on Kidd, and the match was over.
Competitive, but 98% of the time, we know the outcome.
Ass Masters (Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato) & Golden Ace (Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi) vs Suzuki-Gun (ZSJ, Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & DOUKI)
So if I told you this started off immediately after Suzuki got introduced; would you be surprised? Aside from that, this was mostly the same match we’ve seen all tour, just with a few new players. The most interesting change is that Ibushi and Suzuki had a nice exchange together, which is really cool. They are both in A Block, so that gave us a small G1 glimpse and all things considered, a NEVER match between the two would be awesome.
Really not much to expand upon in this match. Normal multiman stuff, a few gang spots, Taichi ends up picking up the win over Taguchi with the Stretch Plum. So I suppose that helps Taichi look strong going into G1.
Darkness Club (Yujiro Takahashi, Dick Togo & EVIL) vs LIJ (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)
Oh look the heels get a fast start before introductions are done. Where has we seen that before? In an idle thought while the match is still building, The Tokyo Pimps EVIL Dick To-Go, really sounds like a fast service bordello in Roppongi.
This went mostly the same way as every other match between them has gone this tour. They try to isolate Naito, Naito gets beat to hell for a while, and gets the hot tag and then LIJ starts showing their superiority. Yujiro and Shingo did get a little more time together, which is good for Yujiro. Both he and Shingo are in A Block, and Yujiro definitely looks like the fall guy of the block. But I anticipate 1 or 2 spoiler style wins to probably screw Suzuki and maybe Shingo out of winning the block.
Dick Togo does most of the work toward the end, but EVIL does try to interfere against SANADA for a twofold reason. SANADA and EVIL are in the same block, so it’s a small tease AND it’s more personal; especially when EVIL tries to hit the Magic Killer on SANADA. Shingo slides in to help calm things down, Naito swings the tide. LIJ gang up on Dick Togo a bit, rock him with locomotion corner shots and then SANADA locks in Skull End while Shingo and Naito guard.
The LIJ members all do the fist bump, not without some tension between SANADA and Naito; but it’s a much more unified dynamic then two years ago.
NEVER 6 Man Championship: CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto) (c) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano)
We started the same way we ended, SHO going right after Ishii. This was a really great trios match, especially given that the NEVER 6 Man belts have been the joke of NJPW for years. Yano tried to inject some of his clever cheating to allow for some levity, in a match that was pretty tough generally speaking.
All of the threads before came to a nice head, Yano’s outside the ring tripping actually was perfectly timed in the match, allowing SHO to avoid some damage and Okada to run in and hit the Million Dollar Dropkick on Ishii. We saw small glimpses of how some G1 matches may go with Ishii and Okada sharing a block, and Yano being in the B block with HASHI and Goto.
Hard fought til the end, tandem moves, signature moves and a lot of SHO proving himself against Ishii. SHO tried Shock Arrow a few times, but Ishii fought out, Headbutted SHO and then took him down with a lariat. Vertical Drop Brainbuster allowed Ishii’s team to retain, but this was really good.
Ishii also showed a new side of himself, since he was the first one to go to SHO and offer him a hand up, then called Okada and Yano into the ring for a group moment. CHAOS proved they’re still a unit, just one that won’t take it easy on each other. But it was really nice to see Ishii embrace SHO and even Goto and HASHI patted him on the back or basically gave him their approval on how he performed. If the match didn’t make SHO into a legit wrestler, if the Shingo match still hasn’t convinced you, the fact that everyone in CHAOS supports him; that should get the point across.
Vacant IWGP Jr Tag Championship: Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs LIJ (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)
This match was a little cleaner than the round robin match. Hiromu and BUSHI hit some flashy single and tandem moves, they even hit LAT; but Kanemaru pulled Red Shoes out of the ring to break up the pin. Kanemaru really set the pace of this match, and that helped to bail out Desperado when the LIJ duo isolated him at different points.
Between the Satori Surprise ‘Quarantine Version’ and the Pop-Up Manhattan Drop, Kanemaru really knew what needed to be done. This was one of those matches that helps remind everyone why he is the most decorated Junior in NOAH history, and just how good he is at his craft. Then we get the rub that Hiromu ate the pinfall after not only 1, but 2 Pinche Locos.
So the Suzuki-Gun team wins the vacant titles and Hiromu gets a storyline to help build towards a future challenge for Ishimori’s Junior title.
Overall Score: 7/10
The final two matches paid off the tour very well. SHO was the show stopper today, and that was very hard for the Junior Tag match to follow. But, Suzuki-Gun wrestling mostly clean (for Suzuki-Gun), helped to make that match much more enjoyable than some may have figured. Plus I’m a little surprised that Suzuki-Gun won, but I suppose now isn’t a bad time to start building Hiromu back up. He over extended himself because of the EVIL betrayal, and he still has to be fighting through shoulder issues. Next year will probably be pretty big for Hiromu, but we have to see how this year ends. Could still possibly see a Junior Tag league or a normal Tag League. This truncated year leaves a few question marks, but also interesting angles that could be tackled.
Definitely a solid show. The last show before the G1 Climax 30 starts, and now we just get to be hype for Japanese tournament season!