Taguchi defeats Ishimori through foul but fair means as Rocky and ELP go the distance
The Summer Struggle tour continued on July 17 before a sold out Korakuen to witness a pair of singles main events, Ryusuke Taguchi vs Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo versus Rocky Romero previewing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag team Championship opener at Wrestle Grand Slam on July 25.
First to the ring on the night were Taguchi and Ishimori. Taguchi tried to shoot in at the bell, but Ishimori sprawled to a standoff before Ishimori scored the first take down, but Taguchi worked into a head scissors with ease, indicating that he was not to be toyed with.
Indeed, Big Match Taguch scored a big shoulder knockdown and dropkick to follow before an old school taunt to Ishimori out on the floor showed the Funky Weapon’s confidence. Yet Taguchi would take a kick to the confidence and vital regions when Ishimori punted the middle rope between his opponent’s legs, and took control on the floor.
Back inside, a cravate and neck twist made Ishimori’s gameplan painfully clear. Still, Phantasmo like insult would be added to evident and growing injury as well, with Taguchi tied in the Tree of Woe, and a groin tread following. While the groin was tortured however, the rear still rang true, and B Triggers scored for the Coach to pick up a nearfall.
Two of the Three Amigos followed for Taguchi, and though Ishimori turned the tide with an Atomic Drop, a pump fake into a Hip Attack bowled Ishimori to the floor where a plancha scored. As momentum built, Taguchi went for the Bummer Ye, but was countered with a schoolboy for a nearfall; Ishimori kept the pressure up, and landed a handspring overhead kick.
Ishimori brought pace and power with a sliding German suplex for two that brought more damage to Taguchi’s neck and shoulders. A neckbreaker was the follow up, and Ishimori wanted the Yes Lock, but Taguchi proved his danger on the mat, working free before finding an Ankle Lock in return. Both competitors traded holds, but it appeared Taguchi had the upper hand, torturing Ishimori before looking for Dodon.
Ishimori would counter, leading to a sequence of rollups. Ishimori tried yanking the tights of Taguchi to gain an advantage, but the move backfired in spectacular fashion, a reversal putting the exposed backside of Taguchi in Ishimori’s face as he scored the three count.
Angered at the result, El Phantasmo hit the ring for a two on one beating on Taguchi, but Romero made the save, laying out ELP with a tope con giro as the main event got started without pre-match entrances. Romero was in full control as a frustrated Phantasmo bailed to the floor, and even when trying to get the jump with forearms back inside, Mr. Azucar had the match in his pocket.
Romero further piled on the pressure with a suplex on the floor to ELP, who could not get out of the blocks after five minutes of action. An attempt at a big momentum swinging suplex into the ring was stopped by Rocky, who snapped Phantasmo’s arm across the top rope, but the Headbanger would finally gain an advantage with a massive backbreaker over the top turnbuckle.
Now with a weakness established, Phantasmo stayed on Rocky’s back with a shot to the corner and stinging kicks to the spine, all with his allegedly loaded right boot. Mocking backrakes would be followed by a punishing backbreaker, but Romero stayed in the hunt, and was able to power his opponent out to the floor.
Romero followed with a diving knee to the floor, before going back to the arm, hoisting Phantasmo for shoulder charge into the ringpost. After a brutal kick to the arm, Romero went for his diving dropkick through the ropes, but instead punished ELP with his own back rake. Yet confidence after scoring the dropkick was misplaced. ELP drove Romero back first into the apron, before sending his opponent into the ringpost and then behind the guardrails, wanting a countout win.
Rocky pulled himself back inside, but was met with a flying rake from Phantasmo. Both men badly damaged, Romero and ELP were spaghetti legged after slaps and forearm shivers were exchanged, but a big Romero satellite DDT would shift the momentum back to the CHAOS member. As the match passed 20 minutes, Phantasmo tried to force an Ankle Lock submission, countered with a Rewind Kick, and Romero went for the kill off the top.
Romero wanted a top rope armbreaker, but was stopped by another scratch of the back. Both men balanced precariously on the top rope before a Super Frankensteiner and a Sliced Rocky got two for Romero, but ELP would respond in similarly powerful kind, finding Ishimori’s Cipher Utaki after desperate open hand slaps.
The crowd was alive as the match neared its time limit, and Romero paid his own tribute to his teammate, with the Bummer Ye scoring after Thunder Kiss ’86 missed. Romero then called back to another tag partner, Baretta’s Dude Buster getting another two count, and a pair of lariats followed, the 25 minute mark being passed, but the referee still yet to count three.
Determined to end the match, Romero tried for Sliced Rocky from the top rope, but fell instead to ELP’s sharp fingernails and a spinning Torture Rack neckbreaker for two. With three minutes left, ELP loaded up his boot and tried for Sudden Death, but a frantic Romero would counter with all he had, nearly stealing a pin. A Nomisugi knee connected, as did a right hand before the Sliced Rocky out of the corner, but even this didn’t lead to a victory.
Romero cinched ELP for a brainbuster that would lead to the Diablo Armbar, but ELP countered, stomping Romero’s foot and then kicking his opponent in the gut. A CRII was almost countered into a hurricanrana, the same move that scored success for Romero in Sapporo, but ELP reacted with a Styles Clash for another two. ELP looked again for Sudden Death, but would be delayed by Taguchi showing up at ringside and threatening to throw in the towel. Phantasmo’s subsequent hesitation meant a slight slip in the follow up boot; the sole of the foot and not the heel of the shoe made contact with Romero’s chin and as a result the blow was just weak enough for a Romero kickout as the time limit expired.
Ending the night at 1-0-1, Mega Coaches scored precious momentum for the Tokyo Dome, albeit as Romero was in a knocked out state. As Taguchi forced ishimori and ELP out of the ring post match, he vowed that the Mega Coaches would not only take the tag titles at the Tokyo Dome, but expose Phantasmo’s loaded boot; we’ll find out on July 25.