It’s time for another two night event from New Japan Pro Wrestling! This post covers the undercard matches from tonight’s show, which include a two part preview of tomorrow’s match over the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Hirooki Goto takes on Tama Tonga, while YOSHI-HASHI takes on Tanga Loa. For coverage of the main event matches, check here!
Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs United Empire (Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan)
Starting the night off is a preview of tomorrow night’s NEVER Openweight Championship match. Great O-Khan will challenge Hiroshi Tanahashi, but first teams with the rest of the United Empire to face Tanahashi & TenCozy, who recently clashed with O-Khan & Ospreay. United Empire is undefeated as a unit, which bodes poorly for their veteran opponents.
O-Khan would call to start alongside Tanahashi, and get his wish granted. However. This was a ruse and just set up a three on one attack from UE on Tanahashi, who managed to overcome the odds before tagging in Kojima. Kojima unloaded his signature Machine Gun Chops on O-Khan in the corner, before wanting that elbow drop. Instead. Cobb picked him up and slammed him down! O-Khan nearly choked Kojima out, before raining down Mongolion Chops onto him as a way to mock Tenzan.
Kojima hit the cutter, and tagged in Tanahashi who handed out free samples of Dragon Screws. Tanahashi would stand off with O-Khan, trading forearms but when he went for the Slingblade, O-Khan countered and hit a back suplex. Cobb tagged in, missed a corner splash but Tanahashi failed to get the German Suplex, instead moving to Twist & Shout. Tenzan finally got legal in this match, but struggled to not throw Mongolion Chops, instead setting up a brainbuster. He’d apply the Anaconda Vice, but Cobb fought free.
Ospreay got a tag but couldn’t set up Stormbreaker, instead being hit with a Samoan Drop. Tenzan would almost use the Mongolion Chops on Ospreay, before Ospreay slapped him and had O-Khan beat him down. Tanahashi & Kojima were taken out, and Tenzan was hit with the elevated Oscutter to close this one out.
An action packed six man tag team match, and one that built up the momentum of The United Empire. The storyline of Tenzan still figuring out how to survive without the Mongolion Chops is great, and led to the downfall of his team in this one. Match Rating: 3.75/5 (*** ¾)
YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tanga Loa
At New Beginning in Hiroshima, YOSHI-HASHI was the one to retain the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Belts when he rolled up Tanga Loa. This only makes it fitting that tonight for the first time ever, he meets Loa one on one before Loa & Tama Tonga defend their IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships tomorrow night.
Loa doesn’t get many singles matches, but his size potentially puts him over someone like YOSHI-HASHI. However, YOSHI-HASHI would quickly show that he is the better wrestler as he quickly grabbed an armbar. Loa broke free using the ropes, but threw a slow punch and got in another submission.
YOSHI-HASHI was rocked with a short arm lariat, and then got thrown around the ring. Jado tripped him up as he got moving again, allowing Loa to hit a series of suplexes for a two count. YOSHI-HASHI came back with a low dropkick, and some big chops which Loa just absorbed. Loa asked YOSHI-HASHI to get up and fight him, which fired him up before he’d hit a neckbreaker before setting Loa up in the corner and bringing him down with a powerbomb.
YOSHI-HASHI applied the Butterfly Lock in the middle of the ring, but Tanga Loa used his power to break free. Loa hit big spinebuster, but only got a two count. YOSHI-HASHI avoided Ape Shit and nailed four superkicks before Loa even showed pain. A backstabber set up the Loose Explosion which landed flush, before YOSHI-HASHI applied the Butterfly Lock again. Loa resisted, but YOSHI-HASHI moved into a double wrist lock.
Jado snuck in to break the submission up, YOSHI-HASHI had Loa accidentally punch his manager out before hitting the double knee strike and Karma. Tama Tonga came to ringside, distracting YOSHI-HASHI and allowing Loa to hit apeshit for the win.
The heart of YOSHI-HASHI can make a good match great, or in this case made a bad match good. Loa sticks to tag team matches for a reason, but filled his role fine.YOSHI-HASHI really made this one worth watching, as he always shows up in singles matches now. Match Rating: 3.25/5 (*** 1/4)
After the bell, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Jado would beat down YOSHI-HASHI, prompting Hirooki Goto to rush the ring to save his partner.
Hirooki Goto vs. Tama Tonga
Another preview bout for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match tomorrow night. However, Tama Tonga & Hirooki Goto have singles match history coming into this one, with Tonga being 0-5 against his opponent Hirooki Goto. A win tonight both gets extra momentum, and potentially breaks a losing streak at the same time.
As both men were already in the ring after Goto made the save, the bell rang and this one started up. Tama went for a quick roll up trying to end this one early, but Goto kicked out. They’d move to the outside and brawl it out, Tama used the barricade and ringpost as weapons to weaken Goto. Jado also got a lazy whack with his kendo stick in, before Goto took some suplexes back in the ring.
Goto finally found a pace that worked for him, hitting a big suplex in the middle of the ring after dodging a stinger splash from Tama in the corner. He’d hit the running wheel kick into a bulldog, getting a two count. Goto set up the Ushigoroshi, but ended up being hit with the Tongan Twist. Tama went for Gun Stun, but Goto blocked it, before he hit a big leaping DDT. He’d miss a frog splash, and took an elbow to the back of the head.
Jado distracted the referee and Loa got involved briefly, giving Tama a chance to recover. Tama got moving, hitting the ropes and gaining speed before going for the Gun Stun. Goto countered and nailed the GTR for the win. That’s 6 singles wins over Tama Tonga, and zero losses.
After a rough start due to how this match got going, these two showed their fast chemistry. It was a short match, but the final stretch was thrilling like usual. Hirooki Goto is among the best undercard talents, and even shines in short matches. A strong story told between this and the previous match, setting up a big tag team championship match tomorrow. Match Rating: 3/5 (***)
What was your favorite match on the undercard of night one of Castle Attack? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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