Uemura, Tsuji make bold advances against Championship competition in gauntlets

Young Lions impress against Dangerous Tekkers in fourth gauntlet matches

Yota Tsuji and Yuya Uemura’s singles gauntlets continued in Korakuen Hall on June 22 as Uemura faced Taichi while Yota Tsuji took on Zack Sabre Jr. 

Uemura, aware of Tsuji’s defeat to Taichi at 14minutes and 14 seconds, looked to outlast his training partner, if not defeat his opponent outright. That said, Uemura was not about to wait out the clock, exploding out of the gates to hit a dropkick and forearm, before sending Taichi into the barricades. A cross body off the apron would follow as Uemura kept up the pressure against the IWGP Tag Team Champion on the floor, bringing him back inside for a lateral press and count of two. 

Uemura kept up the pressure in the ring, but Taichi proved the old adage of having game plans before being hit in the mouth, a gamengiri rocking the Young Lion and completely changing the direction of the match. A round house to the gut and soccer ball kick to the back of Uemura reverberated through the Hall before a modified Cobra Twist wrenched at the midsection of the young man. 

Uemura fired back in the face of punishment however, and hit a dropkick to stun Taichi as the fans got behind the underdog. A corner charging version followed, and Uemura even landed a backdrop suplex against the move’s master, gaining two from the referee before a Boston Crab was locked in center ring. As Taichi made the ropes, Uemura followed up with the Deadbolt Suplex, getting another near two as he continued to control the match. 

Control couldn’t last forever, as a cross body off the top led to Taichi faceplanting his young opponent before hitting an Ax Bomber. Taichi tried tried to finish the Young Lion with a Last Ride, only to nearly fall victim to a Hurricanrana; an enzuigiri scored with authority however, and the Last Ride put an exclamation point on the match in 10:12. 

Next was Yota Tsuji’s turn, taking on Zack Sabre Jr after his defeat of Uemura in 12:34 last week. Both men tried to clinch an advantage in the early moments, with Tsuji gamely evading Sabre’s clutches and overpowering the Briton’s wrist control with a hard takedown. Tsuji’s power continued in a knuckle lock and an innovative reverse Romero Lock, but Sabre would counter into a punishing groin stretch.

Now firmly in his element, ZSJ set to stretching Tsuji, but the game Young Lion did all he could to improve his position and find an advantage. A series of flash pins was followed by a heavy hitting dropkick, Sabre bailing to the floor as Tsuji had the confidence to beckon his senior opponent back into the ring. Once back inside, the two would trade strikes, with Tsuji’s chops having clear effect, but not as much as a European uppercut that led to a Sabre neck snap and some incredible torque on an Indian Deathlock. 

Now there was considerably less bite to Tsuji’s forearms in riposte as the Briton took his young Lion to the mat with a cravate. A body slam did buy the young man time however, and a shoulder tackle gave chance for the adrenaline to flow in the Yokohama native’s bloodstream. A powerslam was followed by a Camel Clutch, and El Santo body sausage to the back before a standing surfboard that did its damage before being countered into a knee bar. 

Now Tsuji had more confidence, a right forearm dropping Zack but being punished for with biting British blows. Sabre would hop into a front choke on Tsuji, but was almost caught out with a flash pin and then a spear out of the corner that got two from the referee. Tsuji went for the kill on ZSJ, getting a Gory Special on the tag champion, but Sabre would sit up into a triangle choke, and with consciousness faded, the referee called for the bell. 

Tsuji and Uemura’s gauntlets end on June 23 against Great-O-Khan and Kota Ibushi.