NEW JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
ROAD TO POWER STRUGGLE
OCTOBER 30, 2017
KORAKUEN HALL – TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: NJPW World

New Japan returned to Korakuen Hall for the second consecutive night for the semi-finals of the Super Jr. Tag Tournament. This show would also be the last to air before Power Struggle on Sunday November, 5th.

JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER & TIGER MASK DEF. TAICHI & TAKA MICHINOKU

Tonight’s opener paired the two losing teams from last night’s tournament matches. TAKA and Taichi hid in the crowd to ambush the babyfaces to start the match. Taichi forced Tiger under the ring, but lost track of him. Tiger reappeared to sneak up on TAKA with a crucifix for the win at  5:16. Angry Liger is the best Liger. **

TORU YANO & HIROOKI GOTO DEF. MINORU SUZUKI & TAKASHI IIZUKA

This is the third time this week that Korakuen is getting this tag match. Tonight’s match started off where last night’s ended: Minoru hooked Yano up to the bull rope and started dragging him around ringside. Minoru attached the other end to his own wrist and they brawled up to the middle of the orange seats on the south side of Korakuen. Back in the ring, Minoru sent referee Kenta Sato flying with a front high kick. Goto came to Yano’s rescue, but got the Iron Finger from Hell. Tiger Hattori came out and called the match off. NR

YOSHI-HASHI, BERETTA & WILL OSPREAY DEF. KENNY OMEGA, CHASE OWENS & MARTY SCURLL

This is another rematch from last night. Marty, Chase, and Kenny came out dressed as Aladdin, the Genie, and Princess Jasmine for Halloween.

CHAOS came out to US title challenger Beretta’s new theme. This obviously had lots of comedy, but it didn’t detract from the match. They did a better job tonight of creating interest in the title matches. Trent beat Chase again with the Dudebuster in 10:47. Beretta attacked Kenny after the match with a flying knee and an apron piledriver. Unfortunately, he didn’t get much of a reaction. I would have liked to see Marty and Ospreay mix it up a little more before their title match. **3/4

KOTA IBUSHI, JUICE ROBINSON, DAVID FINLAY, DRAGON LEE & TITAN DEF. HIROSHI TANAHASHI, TOGI MAKABE, KUSHIDA, HIRAI KAWATO & KATSUYA KITAMURA

Finlay showed great aggression, particularly when he was in the ring with Kitamura or Kawato. Tanahashi and Ibushi re-used a lot of the same spots as their previous tags on the tour, but I’m really looking forward to see what they do in the big-show main event.

Kitamura didn’t quite get the same support that he did on Monday, but the crowd really got behind Kawato. He got some great near falls on Finlay, but ultimately lost to Finlay’s Prima Nocta at 14:08. ***1/4

TETSUYA NAITO, EVIL, SANADA DEF. KAZUCHIKA OKADA, TOMOHIRO ISHII & GEDO

This really started to pick up with Ishii getting isolated by LIJ. EVIL was very explosive on offense. Once Ishii got a hot tag to Okada, the pace picked up and didn’t really slow down for the rest of the match.

We got more great Naito/Okada exchanges here. SANADA beat Gedo with Skull End at 11:58. ***1/4

SUPER JR. TAG TOURNAMENT – SEMI-FINAL
RYUSUKE TAGUCHI & ACH DEF. YOSHINOBU KANEMARU & EL DESPERADO

Suzuki-gun focused their attack on ACH’s taped ribs and ACH’s selling was great. Once ACH finally made the hot tag, Taguchi flew all around the building with dives and flying hip attacks.

ACH continued to sell for the remainder of the match, and it really added to the story. The Korakuen crowd really loves ACH, and this was a good opportunity of him to deepen that connection with his selling. He ripped of his taping before hitting another beautiful Firebird splash. ACH and Taguchi won with their Dodon/facebuster combo at 17:06. ACH and Taguchi are quickly developing some great, quirky chemistry. This wasn’t quite big-match Taguchi, but ACH has improved his stock drastically over this tour. ***3/4

SUPER JR. TAG TOURNAMENT – SEMI-FINAL
ROPPONGI 3K DEF. BUSHI & HIROMU TAKAHASHI

RPG3K’s entrance got a better reaction tonight. Hiromu welcomed YOH back to the main roster by quickly blistering his chest with slaps.

YOH showed off lots of new offense, and he didn’t really rely on the base of spots he used as a young lion. Unsurprisingly, it seems like he’s growing more comfortable with each match. SHO continued to show more kicks and suplexes. RPG3K did their tandem tope con giro into the third row and SHO followed it up with his rolling Germans for a near fall.

The LIJ tandem is an excellent tag team. It’s a shame that we’re probably not going to see them in a 2-on-2 tag again until Fantasticamania. In particular, BUSHI may be better suited to tags than singles; he doesn’t have to rely on as many heel tactics with less in-ring time. Hiromu took a crazy German from YOH right before the 20-minute mark. RPG3K showed off their creative tandem offense down the stretch. YOH pinned BUSHI after 3K at 20:34. This was the best we’ve seen of RPG3K so far, but they will continue to improve as they get more comfortable. They also showed more personality in their short post-match promo. ****

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was right on par with last Monday’s outing. Both of the tournament matches were great; the main event is a highlight of the tournament so far.