Ren Narita, Shota Umino & Tomoaki Honma v Yuya Uemura, Yota Tsuji & Toa Henare
This was a fun match to open the show. There was a lot of aggression on show from the competitors, even Honma got in a couple of stomps to Tsuji’s head before he locked in a half crab.
In the end, one of the more experienced young lions, Narita, pinned Uemura with a great bridging suplex pin.
Winners by pinfall Ren Narita, Shota Umino & Tomoaki Honma
Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki) v Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask, Jyushin Thunder Liger & YOSHI-HASHI
This was another good match, there were some comedy moments from Taguchi, who tried to get Suzuki to wear his rugby helmet (check out Suzuki’s social media accounts, the man can rock a hat!), but he wasn’t having it and Taguchi got beat down by the Suzuki-Gun team.
Suzuki had his own agenda, and went after Liger as much as possible, continuing to build this feud. At one point, he locked in an armbar on Liger in the ropes, the referee had to get physical to get him to break the hold. Suzuki and Liger are great in the ring together, I hope this is leading to a one on one match and won’t end with a tag.
In one of the most surprising moments of the tour, Taka kicked out of a Tiger Bomb from Tiger Mask and hit the Michinoku Driver for the win! I don’t think I’ve heard Taka’s music before, that’s how unusual it was! Looks like his inclusion in Best of the Super juniors might be a threat for the other participants after all.
After the match, Suzuki wasn’t done and hooked in an arm lock on Liger on the outside. Liger slammed a chair in front of Suzuki rather than hitting him, Suzuki hit a young lion with it instead.
Winners by pinfall – Suzuki-gun
Bullet Club (Hikuleo, Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga) v Will Ospreay, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe
Bullet Club came to the ring in new kimonos, celebrating the 6th Anniversary of the group.
Yano got a hard time in this match, with Bullet Club isolating him from his teammates for much of the match. Even taking off the turnbuckle pad backfired, when he got hit hard with it and thrown into the exposed turnbuckle, this was followed by three huge chops from Hikuleo.
Yano finally managed to get away and tag in Makabe, who held his own against the massive (but still green) Hikuleo, taking him down with a big clothesline.
Ospreay came in to pick up the pace, but got caught by Jado with a huge kendo stick shot to Ospreay’s leg. Hikuleo turned him inside out with a clothesline for 2. In the end, Ospreay used his speed to hit the OsCutter on Hikuleo, scoring the pinfall.
This wasn’t a good start to the Bullet Club anniversary show.
Winners by pinfall – Will Ospreay, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, Bushi & Tetsuya Naito) v Roppongi 3K (Yoh & Sho) and Kota Ibushi
These are some of the top wrestlers on the planet right now, I could watch them go all day.
The focal point of this match for me was seeing more of the build to two of the most anticipated matches of the summer tours, Takagi v Sho which we’ll see at Best of the Super Juniors, and Ibushi v Naito which we should see in the not too distant future.
Sho will have his hands full with Shingo, who showed off his power by blocking a 3K and then suplexing both Sho and Yoh at the same time!
Sho’s no slouch either, and went toe to toe with Takagi when they started hammering each other with strikes, Sho won that exchange with a vertical suplex.
Naito put Ibushi on notice with a new addition to his arsenal, a submission move that appears to be a full-nelson locked on using his legs.
However, Ibushi has his own new move, the Boma-ye, which he used to level Bushi before putting him away with the Kamagoye.
Winners by pinfall – Roppongi 3K (Yoh & Sho) and Kota Ibushi
Afterwards, Ibushi asked Naito to tell him when he wants the Intercontinental title match by Night 2.
Naito says maybe they could have it tomorrow? But the card was already decided for tomorrow…
Bullet Club (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) w/Gedo v Hirooki Goto, Mikey Nicholls & Juice Robinson
This was a decent match. My main takeaway was that Mikey Nicholls and Juice Robinson work extremely well together, I think they would be a great addition to the tag team division or at least World Tag League later in the year.
The match ended with Juice hitting Pulp Friction on Owens for the pinfall. Bullet Club were 0-2 for their Anniversary.
Winners by pinfall – Hirooki Goto, Mikey Nicholls & Juice Robinson
After the match, a promo aired for someone coming on 5 June. It looks like they intend to be the next contender for Juice’s US Championship. Top conjecture so far is that this will be the debuting UK talent Chris Brookes, but David Finlay’s name’s being thrown about too. We’ll see in a few weeks!
Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL and SANADA) v CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and Kazuchika Okada)
Okada asked to start the match with Sanada, and the two proceeded to put on a great sequence of moves with neither man being able to get the upper hand.
They both tagged out and Ishii and EVIL came in with a very different style when they proceeded to ram each other, with Ishii eventually knocking EVIL down. They then bttered each other with dueling strikes before the EVIL took Ishii down with a sidewalk slam.
The match had a fantastic finish. Ishii tried for a brainbuster but EVIL and SANADA hit him with a magic killer. EVIL locked in the Scorpion Deathlock on Ishii, Okada tried to break it but SANADA stopped him and locked in Skull End. The referee had no choice but to call it for EVIL with the match ending in a stoppage.
Winners by referee stoppage – EVIL and SANADA
NEVER Openweight Championship match – Jeff Cobb (c) v Taichi w/Taka and Kanemaru
Kanemaru and Taka being at ringside for this match isn’t a good omen…
The match started with all the dirty tricksd in the book from Taichi, including distracting Cobb with Himo, interference from Kanemaru, Taichi attacking Cobb with a mic stand and choking him with a cable.
The match continued back and forth after this, but a notable spot was Cobb hitting Taichi with a deadlift superplex from the top, a thing of beauty!
Taichi hit some great kicks and managed to get out of Tour of the Islands. He got Cobb in the stretch plum but Cobb wouldn’t submit, so he switched to a pin for a 2-count.
Cobb hit a sickening piledriver on Taichi but couldn’t capitalise. The two had a series of reversals ending with Taichi hitting a jumping face kick.
Taichi countered Tour of the Islands again but took a clothesline and standing moonsault. Taichi hit then hit a low blow but only got a 2 count with the Gedo clutch. He ended the match with a superkick followed by Black Mephisto for the win. Boo.
Suzuki-Gun came out to celebrate with him.
Winner by pinfall and NEW NEVER Openweight Champion – Taichi
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match – Dragon Lee (c) v Taiji Ishimori
This was just two of the best Junior Heavyweights in the world going at it and they absolutely lived up to the main event spot.
The start of the match was a flurry of reversals with neither being able to get the upper hand.
Ishimori caught Lee with headscissors and twisted his neck. After getting back to his feet, Lee knocked Ishimori out of the ring with a huricanrana then dove over the ropes on top of him.
Lee threw Ishimori back into the ring then hit a dropkick, elbows in the corner and a running dropkick, before ramming his knee into the mat.
Ishimori was able to take over and slowed the pace with strikes to Lee, put him on the top turnbuckle and tried to take the mask off. He then dropped Lee into a tree of woe and hit a dropkick. He kept the pressure up on lee with a backbreaker and knee to the back of his head.
Ishimori locked in a sleeper, Lee fought out but Ishimori took him back down into a rear chin lock, Lee grabbed the rope for a break. Ishimori hit the sliding German suplex but Lee rolled to the outside before he could capitalise. Ishimori hit him with a springboard moonsault to the outside. He rolled Lee back in and got a 2-count. Lee managed a quick wheelbarrow for 2, Ishimori responded with a shotgun dropkick and double knees in the corner then hit a straitjacket suplex to Lee for 2.
Lee got back up and hit stomps to Ishimori. Ishimori leapt at Lee from the rope, got caught, but he managed to hit a crucifix bomb for another 2!
Lee battled back and hit a huricanrana to Ishimori over the top rope and to the floor.
He threw Ishimori into the barrier, then tried to roll him in the ring but Ishimori reversed into an arm drag to the barrier! Both got back to the ring at 19 and a half.
They started dueling forearms while on their knees, and continued while getting back to their feet. Lee got the upper hand but Ishimori came back, Lee hit him with a kick to the gut. We then saw a series of big moves including the fastest snap German suplex I’ve seen to Ishimori and Lee hit the falcon arrow for a 2-count.
Lee got Ishimori to the top turnbuckle and hits a double stomp for 2. Lee looked like he was going for a big move but Ishimori reversed it into a pin for 2. Ishimori locked in a crossface, stopping Lee getting to the rope for a long time, but he eventually gets his foot on the rope for the break.
Ishimori went for Bloody Cross but Lee got out and hit the knee then a snap German and another knee strike for 2.
Lee finally hit Desnucadora to win the match and retain his Championship. This was a fantastic main event for night 1!
Winner by pinfall and STILL IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion – Dragon Lee