Night two in Korakuen Hall
July 27 sees the second night of a Korakuen hall double header. As all entrants now have their campaigns underway, some runners reach the midway point tonight, putting key figures on the bubble as the tour continues.
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Main event: B Block- Tama Tonga (1-0) vs Tomohiro Ishii (0-2)
Singles record: 2-0 Tonga
The main event of the evening sees Tomohiro Ishii face Tama Tonga in the B Block. After painful losses to Taichi and Jay White, Ishii is already effectively on the bubble as he faces Tama in the Good Bad Guy’s second bout. Tama heads into the Hall with a confidence boosting win over Chase Owens having started his campaign, as well as the knowledge that he has beaten the Stone Pitbull in both their prior G1 outings.
Tama has only one recorded singles win in Korakuen hall, but if he can secure a second, he would put Ishii at 0-3 against him, and 0-3 in the B Block. After vowing to produce results in this tournament, Ishii could be effectively eliminated tonight; will he fire back, or be Gunstunned out of contention?
8th Match: C Block- Hirooki Goto (1-0) vs Aaron Henare (1-1)
Singles record: 1-0 Goto
C Block action sees Hirooki Goto look to build on an impressive start against Tetsuya Naito, as he tries to reach four points against Aaron Henare. The Ultimate Weapon is on the same two point score as Goto, but with two matches wrestled, and with two bouts worth of damage as a result. In Ota, an impressive performance against Zack Sabre Jr. ended in defeat when the Briton targeted Henare’s surgically repaired Achille’s for the tapout.
Henare would state afterward that he expected Goto to ‘stand and bang’ in Korakuen Hall, something which may be as much a statement of hope as intent. Indeed, Goto can stand and throw strikes with the best of them, but would be playing to Henare’s wheelhouse in the process. As fans saw against Tetsuya Naito though, it seems as if the Fierce Warrior is unafraid to tap into his submission playbook during his league campaign.
An even matchup on paper between two men even on scores, this will be one to watch from C Block; can Henare end the first half of his campaign with a positive win:loss record, or will Goto stay unbeaten?
7th Match: A Block- Toru Yano (1-1) vs Bad Luck Fale (1-1)
Singles record: 5-1 Yano
Bad Luck Fale and Toru Yano hit the midway points of their A Block campaigns looking to tip the scales in their favour. That’s something Yano was able to memorably do at the end of 2020, when he sandbagged himself to prevent tasting defeat in a bodyslam/corner removal match that secured his KOPW 2020 trophy in Korakuen Hall. Indeed the Hall has seen both the mopst recent of Yano’s five victories against the Rogue general in a record that is very lopsided indeed.
With both men having their losses meted out in the ring at the hands of Jeff Cobb and Kazuchika Okada, but finding success out on the floor, Yano and Fale’s two points apiece have both come about via countout. Could the secret to their Korakuen hall encounter be in maximising the referee’s 20 count? Or might some other factor be at play?
6th Match: D Block- Will Ospreay (1-0) vs Yujiro Takahashi (1-1)
Singles record: 1-0 Ospreay
We are starting to become accustomed to IWGP United States heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay not having the title in his possession thanks to the actions of one Juice Robinson. The question is whether Yujiro Takahashi will be with his customary companion in Korakuen Hall tonight, and how that may affect his performance. Sunday in Ota, Yujiro’s interpretive dancer and spiritual muse Pieter elected to leave the building with El Phantasmo rather than the Tokyo Pimp, and only time before Wednesday night will tell whether reconciliation has taken place or whether this is a permanent move. Either way, Yujiro’s head might be elsewhere tonight, and should that be the case, Ospreay is sure to take advantage just as he did on his first night in wiping El Phantasmo out with the Hidden Blade. Couldthe uncrowned US champ move to four points tonight?
5th Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, SANADA & Shingo Takagi) vs Suzuki-Gun (Lance Archer, Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & TAKA Michinoku)
LIJ and Suzuki-Gun meet in eight man action on the eve of a key weekend for Tetsuya Naito in particular. Two matches down in C Block, he needs a victory over EVIL Sunday in Aichi to have any chance of making the final four in August. To go back to classic LIJ rivals in Suzuki-Gun may be fitting motivation then, while Naito will also tie up with his last league match opponent Zack Sabre Jr. Meanwhile fallout from Ota is sure to dominate exchanges between SANADA and Taichi, and Shingo Takagi’s collisions with Lance Archer are sure to be worthy of attention in the fifth match of the night.
4th Match: Ryohei Oiwa, David Finlay, YOSHI-HASHI & Kazuchika Okada vs BULLET CLUB (Gedo, Chase Owens, Juice Robinson & Jay White)
In a change from the originally announced card, Ryohei Oiwa will be taking Kosei Fujita’s place in eight man tag team action that is sure to have fallout from Finlay and Juice’s collision on Tuesday. With YOSHI-HASHI also set to take on Juice Sunday in Aichi, can he make a statement tonight?
3rd Match: K-9 Connection (JONAH & Bad Dude Tito) vs United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan)
The third match of the evening sees a preview of the Friday, August 5 clash of titans in Ehime between Jeff Cobb and JONAH. TMDK’s K-9 Connection of JONAH and Tito will want to make a statement at the United Empire’s expense tonight, but Cobb and O-Khan’s tag team experience may make that a difficult mission for the Dude and the Dog.
2nd Match: Team Filthy (Royce Isaacs & Tom Lawlor) vs BULLET CLUB (KENTA & El Phantasmo)
Team Filthy do battle with BULLET CLUB in the second match of the evening when Tom Lawlor and Royce Isaacs take on KENTA and El Phantasmo. Lawlor and KENTA may be in separate blocks, but their meeting in Ota this past weekend was enough to make an impression on the recently published (but never self aggrandizing) KENTA. They will lock horns once more tonight, and Phantasmo will be added to the mix to boot in what should be a tag team match to keep a keen eye on.
1st Match: Yuto Nakashima & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (SHO & EVIL)
Another change to the originally scheduled card, with Ryohei Oiwa moving up to replace Kosei Fujita in the fourth match of the evening, Yuto Nakashima and Hiroshi Tanahashi will face SHO and EVIL. While a three man team shrinks to two on the Hontai side, HOUSE OF TORTURE will still be able to lean on the resources Dick Togo ably provides in the rudo corner tonight; can the combination of youth and experience from Nakashima and Tanahashi find a way to prevail?