Ren Narita & Shota Umino v Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji
This was a good match to open the show, these young lions all have great potential. While a lot of the focus right now is on Umino and Narita, who should really be going on excursion soon, Tsuji continues to impress as a powerhouse. He and Umino were trading elbows at one point and it was a sequence that wouldn’t look out of place in an Ishii match. Uemura too had some nice spots, including escaping a submission by jumping along the ring on his fists to the ropes. The match ended when Umino hit a great fisherman suplex on Tsuji for the pin.
Winners by pinfall – Ren Narita & Shota Umino
Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki) v Toa Henare, Tiger Mask & Jyushin Thunder Liger
YOSHI-HASHI went straight after Suzuki, which was either brave or stupid, he ended up getting beat up in the crowd for his efforts. Suzuki-gun concentrated a lot of their offence on Tiger Mask, likely sending a message to Liger as the rivalry between he and Suzuki continues to heat up. This included triple teams, an armbar against the ropes and attempts to take his mask off throughout the match. Near the end, Tiger Mask did manage to hit a brilliant tilt-a-whirl backbreaker that showed he can still really go in the ring. Liger, Tiger Mask and Henare managed to get in a triple team on Suzuki himself, but Kanemaru broke up the resulting pin. Suzuki was able to take the win after a Gotch style piledriver to Henare.
Winners by pinfall – Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki)
Bullet Club (Jado, Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, IWGP and ROH Tag Champions Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga) v Tomoaki Honma, Mikey Nicholls, IWGP US Champion Juice Robinson, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe
Bullet Club continue to rival Suzuki-gun as the least honourable team in NJPW, with Jado hitting the announcer with his kendo stick before the match (maybe Fale encouraged that, he’s not been a fan of the announcers for a while now). Yano tried his usual trick of taking the turnbuckle pad off and hitting Tama with it, but it backfired later in the match when Bullet Club took it in turns to ram Yano into the now-exposed turnbuckle. After that, Tama mocked Honma and hit a kokeshi on Yano. Yano finally managed to recover, throw Tama into the turnbuckle and tag in Robinson. Robinson and Nicholls hit some really good double-team moves, they work really well together and I wouldn’t mind seeing them tag more often. Jado tried to hit Yano with the kendo stick, but Yano ended up hitting low blows on him and Tama. Honma came in with a kokeshi, and Makabe with a King Kong Kneedrop on Jado for the win.
Following the match, Yano ran away with Bullet Club’s belts with Tama in hot pursuit!
Winners by pinfall – Tomoaki Honma, Mikey Nicholls, Juice Robinson, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe
Ryusuke Taguchi & NEVER Openweight Champion Jeff Cobb v Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku & Taichi)
The match started with Cobb and Taichi in the ring, but Taichi tagged in Taka and rolled out immediately. Taguchi also tagged in and Taka hit him with strikes, Taguchi got in some forearms before Taka poked him in the eyes. Taguchi started calling the play for Cobb to hit forever clotheslines on Taka, then Cobb called the play for Taguchi. Taguchi signalled for Cobb to throw Taichi into his ass in the corner, Cobb took a few seconds to realise what he was asking for, then when he went to do it, Taichi reversed it and threw Cobb into the Funky Weapon instead. On the outside, Taichi started brutalising Cobb with a chair and choking him with it. Later in the match, Taichi missed a buzz saw kick, allowing Cobb to go for a German suplex, but Taichi grabbed the ref. Cobb didn’t realise and both went up, but once Cobb noticed the ref, he put them back down.
Taka and Taichi showed their experience as a team, hitting a combination of strikes for 2. Cobb made a comeback with Tour of the Islands on Taka for the win.
Taichi attacked with a mic stand after the match, and stood over Cobb with the Openweight Championship belt.
Winners by pinfall – Ryusuke Taguchi & NEVER Openweight Champion Jeff Cobb
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Dragon Lee, Will Ospreay & Hirooki Goto v Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori, Hikuleo & Jay White) w/Gedo
Ospreay started the match against Hikuleo while there was a brawl between the other competitors on the outside. At one point, White slammed an unfortunate young lion onto Goto on the floor. In the ring, Bullet Club kept up the pressure on Ospreay preventing him from getting a tag. Hikuleo isn’t my favourite, but he is constantly improving, and hit Ospreay with a great vertical suplex here. We got previews of Ishimori v Dragon Lee and Goto v White at carious points in the match. While Goto v White could be interesting, Ishimori v Lee is going to be gold! Goto dismantled Hikuleo, before hitting him with the GTR for the win. This must have sent a message to White for their singles match on Monday.
Winners by pinfall – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Dragon Lee, Will Ospreay & Hirooki Goto
IWGP IC Champion Kota Ibushi, Tomohiro Ishii & IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada v Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL & SANADA)
Ibushi and Naito started the match with a great sequence of reversals ending in them posing.
EVIL and Ishii tagged in, hitting dueling strikes in the middle of the ring, the commentary team said it was relentless and that’s the best description of these two men. EVIL staggered Ishii and tried a shoulder charge, but Ishii ended up knocking EVIL down. Ishii tagged Okada and EVIL kicked Ishii on his way out.
SANADA tagged in too. He and Okada traded wristlocks, testing each other out. SANADA took control of Okada’s arm. Okada escaped and put SANADA into a side headlock, then put him on the mat with a charge. Both tried to hit their finishers but failed, and Okada got a roll-up for a 2-count. EVIL tripped Okada and SANADA hit him with a dropkick. While they were in the ring, a brawl broke out on the outside.
Later on, EVIL and SANADA double-teamed Okada, it was a nice reminder of how well they work as a tag team, they’re incredibly versatile performers.
Ibushi and Naito tagged back in and the pace sped up immediately. Ibushi was in control until Naito took over and dropped him with a second rope neckbreaker followed by a top rope hurricanrana.
Naito went for a a flying forearm but Ibushi reversed it into a German suplex!
The match ended when EVIL hit Ishii with Everything is EVIL for the pin. That was a shocker for me, as I see Ishii as the stronger competitor of the two.
After the match, Naito got up close to look at Ibushi’s IC title.
This was a great match with a good mix of styles. It constantly went back to the main 3 pairings for previews of the big Dontaku shows next weekend. LIJ also showed off their team working skills, with all 3 working perfectly together.
Winners by pinfall – Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL & SANADA)
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match – Roppongi 3K (c) v Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
The match started with Shingo and Sho, a great rivalry in the making. Shingo hit Sho with some hard chops, and then they hit a series of shoulder charges on each other with Sho eventually being the one to knock Shingo to the mat. He followed up with some stiff kicks and forearms to Shingo. After Sho tagged in Yoh, they hit some double teamed Shingo and then hit stereo dropkicks on Bushi. Shingo and Bushi got back in the ring to stop Sho and Yoh hitting suicide dives, then took the action to the outside. Shingo dropped Sho on a barrier throat first. Then, back in the ring, Bushi choked Yoh with a t-shirt. LIJ were very much the heels of this match.
Shingo really had it in for Sho, and started stalking him around the ring, then threw him out again after he broke up an STF on Yoh. Shingo ended up being thrown into the barrier. Later, Shingo rammed Sho off the apron to prevent a pin. Yoh hit dragon screws on both opponents and finally got the tag to Sho. Sho double speared Bushi and Shingo, hit a vertical suplex to Shingo, and attempted a deadlift German suplex, but Shingo got out. Sho hit a big spear on Shingo. Shingo came back with a powerbomb to Sho. They hit each other with hard strikes,headbutts and clotheslines. Bushi and Yoh tagged back in, and the pace picked up.
Further into the match, Bushi hit a suicide dive to Sho on the outside and Shingo hit a big pumping bomber to Yoh inside followed by Rebellion for 2. Bushi went for MX but was kicked out of the air. Shingo went for pumping bomber on Yoh, but Sho took it instead. 3K hit stereo knees to Shingo followed by a double team to Bushi. Bushi hit a low blow to Yoh, then covered for a 2-count. Bushi hit a slow looking codebreaker for another 2. He tried for MX again, Yoh rolled out of the way, then Sho ran in and they hit the 3K,but Shingo broke up the pin. A Dragon suplex by Yoh on Bushi ended the match and wrapped up Roppongi 3K’s first successful title defence of their 3 reigns.
This was another great match, both teams are excellent and work brilliantly together. Hopefully this isn’t the last time we see them fighting for the Championships.
Winners by pinfall – Roppongi 3K 3K 3K!