In a special show, NJPW said goodbye to Takashi Iizuka, giving him a retirement match at Korakuen Hall. Along with the match was a full card of other contests. Let’s look at the event.
Yuya Uemura & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Robby Eagles & Taiji Ishimori
The show started with a video package showing the past between Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Takashi Iizuka. The first match on the show was Yuya Uemura and Jushin Liger versus Robby Eagles and Taiji Ishimori. Liger got a hot tag in this match, doing a combo of moves on Ishimori which culminated with a Romero Special. Later on, Uemura gave Eagles a Boston Crab, but he eventually made it to the ropes. Eagles did a great looking 450 Splash onto Uemura to end the match while Ishimori beat up Liger outside the ring. After the bell Ishimori continued to fight, taking Liger into the seats. I’ll admit I haven’t seen a ton of Eagles, but he seems pretty good.
Yota Tsuji, Ren Narita, Manabu Nakanishi & Satoshi Kojima vs. Toa Henare, Tiger Mask, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe
The next match was a big matchup between Young Lions and veterans. Satoshi Kojima was on a roll against Tomoaki Honma, doing an elbow drop off the top for a two count. He landed a Cutter but then got a Brainbuster reversed. Honma landed a Kokeshi after Makabe and Tsuji ran in to help their teams. Toa Henare and Tsuji were the next entrants in the match. Tsuji put on a Boston Crab, but it was undone by Tiger Mask who kicked him a few times. Henare and Tsuji traded strikes, ending with Henare landing a headbutt. Henare did a Clothesline and then a Rock Bottom to win the match.
YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Shota Umino & Yuji Nagata
Tomohiro Ishii had his first match since New Years Dash on this show. Throughout this match, Nagata and Ishii would trade strikes. Umino fought really well in this match. YOSHI-HASHI won the match with the Butterfly Lock. Ishii and Nagata continued fighting after the bell but were separated.
El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. SHO & YOH
The next match was El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru versus RPG3K. Kanemaru did a nice move where he hung up SHO on a barricade and then gave him a curb stomp, jumping off the same barricade. Kanemaru and Desperado brought the fight into the floor seating. Desperado threw SHO into a table at ringside. This brawl outside the ring is what gave the Suzuki-gun team the advantage for a while. SHO was hit with a Deep Impact from Kanemaru, but YOH broke it up. Kanemaru tried for a Moonsault but SHO escaped. SHO landed a German Suplex and then a double team combo of moves with YOH. Desperado stopped a big move that they were planning for until he was dropkicked out of the ring and then given a Crossbody. Kanemaru missed a Satori Surprise on SHO and then was given a lariat. Kanemaru escaped a Powerbomb but was given a 3K when going off the ropes to end the match. This was definitely one of my favourite matches on the show. After the match, Shingo Takagi and BUSHI faced off with RPG3K. YOH said that they will go after the belts on the Anniversary show. Looks like that will be the next IWGP Jr. Tag Team Title match. The two teams brawled after that. The Los Ingobernables duo got the better part of the fight, with both of them cutting a promo afterwards. I forgot that this is one of the last shows where NJPW has the chance to shoot angles for the Anniversary show.
TAKA Michinoku & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Hirooki Goto
TAKA Michinoku and ZSJ fought Taguchi and Goto in the next match. Early in the match, there was some comedy that revolved around Taguchi. He was struck by his own teammate, and then, later on, he was given some uppercuts to his behind. Goto gave ZSJ a slam onto TAKA at one point. When Taguchi got a hot tag he did his hip attack to Michinoku. They retried their double team spot that messed up earlier and succeeded. Taguchi did a roll-up which got double reversed, giving him the win. It’s nice to see Taguchi rebound after he failed at chasing Ishimori’s belt. I liked the comedy in the match. English commentator Kevin Kelly did a good job at portraying how the team had trouble at the start but eventually got it figured out.
Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer vs. Will Ospreay & Hiroshi Tanahashi
Hiroshi Tanahashi made his first in-ring appearance after losing his title in this match. In this match, Archer did a shoulder tackle on Ospreay which he sold amazingly. As ZSJ was trying for a tag he was nearly caught in a Chokeslam but found his way out. Tanahashi got the hot tag on Archer. His momentum was stopped when given a Black Hole Slam. DBS Jr. did a leg drop for a two count. Tanahashi reversed a Vertical Suplex into a Twist and Shout.
Ospreay got tagged back in and did a top rope 619. He did a forearm strike off the top rope. Ospreay was selling one of his legs heavily. He tried for a Hammerlock move on DBS but he escaped. Smith landed a German Suplex and then Hammerlock German Suplex, but Ospreay escaped it and did a Robinson Special. He tried for a Os-Cutter but it got reversed. When going off the ropes he was given a double team slam, but kicked out at two. DBS gave Ospreay a Powerslam off the second rope but Tanahashi broke it up. They tried for a Killer Bomb but it was escaped by Ospreay. Tanahashi landed a Swingblade on Archer and Ospreay gave DBS a Spanish Fly. Ospreay hit an Os-Cutter off the second rope to end the match. Ospreay was heavily carrying the matchup for his team. Nonetheless, a fun bout.
Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka vs. Toru Yano, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Kazuchika Okada
Before the main event, veteran commentator Shinpei Nogami made a special appearance to call this match. Takashi Iizuka made his walk through the crowd one last time. When he made it to ringside he ripped off the tops of Nogami, leaving him just in a tie. Taichi and Minoru Suzuki made their entrances under Iizuka’s music. Suzuki-gun did their world famous jump start to the match. Tenzan was beat up by Iizuka with chairs and did a near count out spot. Iizuka got his mask taken off and bit Tenzan when in the ring. While Taichi tried to undo a corner pad (and failed at it because he took too long), Yano hit Taichi from behind with a corner pad of his own. Yano tore off Taichi’s long pants. Suzuki attempted to give Okada a Gotch Style Piledriver but Okada reversed it into a Backbody Drop. Iizuka got a hot tag onto Okada and bit him in the head. He bit his boot as well. Okada gave him a Neckbreaker after he tried using a chain. Okada went to the top rope and gave him and Elbow Drop and then called for a Rainmaker. Iizuka escaped the Rainmaker and then dodged a dropkick. After a good combo, Okada did two dropkicks and then tried for another Rainmaker but it was reversed into a leg lock by Iizuka. The crowd was very behind Iizuka. Okada picked up Iizuka and did a Death Valley Driver.
Tenzan got tagged in. Tenzan found himself in a sleeper hold but escaped because Taichi broke it up. While the ref was distracted by Taichi, Iizuka brought out his iron glove. Tenzan pleaded him to not use it. Iizuka fought his own hand, trying to fight it. He eventually tried but missed Tenzan. Goto hit him with a low blow, and then Okada did a Tombstone Piledriver. Tenzan went to the top rope for a headbutt and then put a shirt on Iizuka from when they were a tag team. With the shirt was on him, Tenzan did a Moonsault off the top to end the match.
Tenzan cried on Iizuka as his music played. When Iizuka got up, Tenzan tried to bring Iizuka back to his old self. The crowd chanted his name too. Iizuka finally found the power to shake Tenzan’s hand. When Tenzan tried to hug him however, he was bit, and the old Iizuka was back. He grabbed a chair and hit Tenzan with it. Iizuka got to use his iron glove on Tenzan. All of Suzuki-gun came out to be with him. Iizuka started to leave through the crowd. Minoru Suzuki did a ten bell count, and Iizuka’s iron glove was left in the middle of the ring. Taichi was in the ring alone and picked up the iron glove. He teased that he would put it on, but then just left with it. Afterwards the crowd chanted for Iizuka in hopes that he would come back out (presumably). I didn’t follow Iizuka’s career or even have much knowledge about his past, but this felt like a great sendoff for him. I enjoyed this match and this show was pretty good overall.
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