Saturday, June 4, 2016
Unlike 2015, shows in Korakuen Hall feel important this year. With just a few days left in the Best of the Super Juniors, there are some big implications entering this show. It’s the third and final Korakuen show of this tournament and the first two saw KUSHIDA vs. O’Reilly and Ospreay vs. Ricochet in the two best tourney matches so far. Though the whole show is available, I’ll just be reviewing the tournament matches here.
Young Finlay attempted his stretch muffler within the first minute or so. Though O’Reilly slipped free, you could tell that he was feeling the effects of it. I love the fire from Finlay. Despite his win/loss record, the dude shows no fear. He went toe to toe with O’Reilly in a battle of uppercuts that was great and his addition of saying “I’M GONNA KILL YOU” before hitting a final running one was the cherry on top. O’Reilly held nothing back either and their slap exchange while O’Reilly tried for the Sharpshooter might have been my favorite part of the match. After a late enziguri, Finlay held onto Kyle’s leg and locked in the stretch muffler. O’Reilly nearly countered into the armbar, but Finlay rolled through right into a German that got the crowd chanting his name. O’Reilly fired back with a Brainbuster for two before proceeding to kick Finlay’s head in Bryan Danielson style. He applied a triangle choke that made Finlay give up. I enjoyed the hell out of this match. I might be biased since I like Finlay and love O’Reilly but it was badass. It felt like a fight where both guys wanted to badly win. The best Finlay match I’ve ever seen and I’m so happy he got an opportunity as it has made the tournament so much better. They shook hands post-match. ***¾
A battle of Chaos members. Romero had Beretta in his corner, marking the first time either man has done that in the tournament so far. Gedo questioned this and it led to a hilarious shoving match before they all hugged. Gedo then promised to lay down for Rocky only to roll him up for two. There were all kinds of shenanigans from eye pokes to Beretta saying sorry in between cheap stomps on Gedo to Gedo doing Rocky’s “FOREVER” clotheslines. Despite a low blow from Gedo, Romero pulled out the win after some running knees. Post-match, Romero iced his balls and all three men hugged. There are certainly better matches in the tournament, but you might not find one that was more fun. It was full of fun antics and worked as a nice change of pace.
After a horrible 0-3 start, BUSHI entered this on a two match winning streak. Taguchi has managed to be one of the top performers from a record standpoint for some reason. Just like on night one, there were tons of BUSHI masks in the crowd. Taguchi showed up in a sparkly green suit and Tetsuya Naito mask, walking to the ring exactly like a member of LIDJ. He even had his lips painted green, poking fun at BUSHI. Taguchi used his ass for offense early and then BUSHI seemed to target his groin. Not only did he crotch him on the ropes, but then worked that area with the ring post for a while. The finish was rather creative as Taguchi kicked out of a rollup and while falling back, BUSHI knocked the referee out of the ring. It allowed him to sneak in a mist spit before racking up two more points with the leaping Codebreaker. Not the best of matches, but mostly fine.
As far as I know, it’s the first New Japan main event for Sydal. They began with mat work and though Sydal did his best to keep up, it was clear that KUSHIDA had the advantage there. When they started exchanging moves it was pretty great, highlighted by Sydal handstand walking out of a KUSHIDA rana attempt. I dug KUSHIDA being brash and doing a Namaste taunt (Sydal trademark) before trying the Hoverboard Lock. There were more than a few moments that stood out, including KUSHIDA reversing a rana into a sick looking Boston crab. This entire match was much more grounded than I expected. Sydal went after the leg, which made things tough for KUSHIDA, though he came back with arm work of his own. It was when Sydal decided to go up top that it cost him as he missed the Shooting Sydal Press. KUSHIDA locked in the Hoverboard Lock and Sydal tapped. Really good match that felt important, which was key considering it was a battle for first place.
Overall: Four mostly strong matches tonight. BUSHI and Taguchi had the worst of the bunch, but it was still solid. Romero and Gedo was one of the most highly entertaining outings of the tournament. KUSHIDA and Sydal put on a worthy main event, but my favorite match of the evening was O’Reilly vs. Finlay. Check out that and the main event if pressed for time, but the whole thing is good.