IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships, culmination of Young Lion gauntlets highlight Korakuen card
Wednesday June 23 sees night seven of the Kizuna Road tour, as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships will be defended in the main event, and Yota Tsuji and Yuya Uemura have big name opponents to close their challenge gauntlets.
Main event- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo)
Direct tag record: 2-1 Roppongi 3K
Wednesday’s main event sees Roppongi 3K look to make their second defence of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships against BULLET CLUB’s Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo. The circumstances of BULLET CLUB challengers going after RPG3K champions are eerily similar to Kizuna Road two years ago and ELP and Ishimori’s first tag title win, a reign that lasted until Wrestle Kingdom 14 when SHO and YOH seized the titles back.
That Tokyo Dome encounter was the last time these two teams faced off directly, but the challengers, and Ishimori especially have had reason to site superiority over the champions, SHO especially. At Dominion in Osaka Jo Hall, and then again in elimination tag action last week in Korakuen, Ishimori pinned SHO with the Bloody Cross, and has been vocally critical of Roppongi 3K’s ‘lack of fire’.
The challengers may be the favourites heading into this one then, but there are some concerns to be had over tensions and conflicting aspirations between Phantasmo and Ishimori. Just as ELP moved to challenge IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion El Desperado at Dominion, Ishimori jumped ahead instead, and it seemed as if Phantasmo was just a little envious of his partner. Still envy could drive the team to even greater things; could the self professed ‘cutest team in professional wrestling’ grab tag gold for the third time this Wednesday?
4th Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi) vs Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
After Tetsuya Naito and SANADA ‘acquired’ a signed ‘contract’ from the champions, the IWGP Tag Team Championship bout between Tetsuya Naito & SANADA and Dangerous Tekkers is now set for July 11 and night two of Summer Struggle in Sapporo. This first official perliminary skirmish before championship action in just a few weeks will see champions and challengers seek to gain an advantage, while El Desperado and Shingo Takagi, junior and world Heavyweight title opponents for July 10 and 25 respectively in absentia in other matchups, will seek to show their dominance over their respective divisions.
3rd Match: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & Toru Yano) vs BULLET CLUB (EVIL, Dick Togo, Yujiro Takahashi, Jado & Gedo)
The third match of the evening will see championship opponents from one night prior meet again in non title, ten man action. NEVER 6-Man champions will seek to press their advantage, while whoever comes out on the losing side will be gunning for revenge in Korakuen. Meanwhile, with Wrestle Grand Slam now set for the Tokyo Dome on July 25, how will Kazuchika Okada, once in line for the Tokyo Dome main event, carve a new narrative for himself?
2nd Match: Yuya Uemura vs Kota Ibushi
Yuya Uemura’s singles gauntlet comes to an end in the second match of the evening as he faces Kota Ibushi. Uemura has long held respect for the Golden Star and will seek to show his worth in this final challenge tonight. Yet Ibushi has bigger battles on the horizon in the form of Shingo Takagi, the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship and the Tokyo Dome. Will Uemura get a chance to shine tonight, or could he be shut out by the number one contender?
1st Match: Yota Tsuji vs Great-O-Khan
Starting off the evening, Yota Tsuji finishes his singles gauntlet against the returning Great-O-Khan. When O-Khan was battling for the NEVER Openweight Championship back in February, Tsuji’s loyalty to the Ace was tested when it appeared the Young Lion may have had a seat at the United Empire table.Having rejected the offer however, O-Khan will be in no mood for kindness. Can Tsuji step up in this last bout, or will he be Dominated by O-Khan?