SANADA, KENTA advance to round two
October 16 saw Battle Autumn continue, with a vocal crowd in Nagaoka selling out the Ao-re Nagaoka building for Taichi and SANADA, and KENTA and Hirooki Goto’s first round matchups in the NJPW World TV Championship tournament.
The raucous crowd saw Goto and KENTA compete first, with Goto setting an aggressive pace, landing Ushigoroshi for two early, but KENTA would get 19 from the ring out count after sending his man into the guardrails. Keeping control, KENTA dictated the pace with a DDT to shut Goto off, but the CHAOS member would create distance with a series of overhand strikes and a lariat.
Forced onto the back foot, KENTA would as much target the referee as his opponent in a collision, and was quick to grab a chair. The weapon assault backfired as Goto sent a lariat through the steel to KENTA’s face, but a lariat and two feet on the ropes nearly saw the BULLET CLUB member steal one. As KENTA was bleeding from the early chair shot, he still landed a flurry of overhand strikes, before sending Goto into an exposed buckle, before Go2Sleep for three.
The main event saw Taichi return to the site of his debut, while former mentor Toshiaki Kawada was at ringside to call his first round bout against the Nagaoka hometown boy SANADA. Despite the tight time limit on tournament matches, the two men agreed to a pushup contest, though it turned out to be a ploy for Taichi into the Gedo Clutch. SANADA would respond with an O’Connor Roll and then went for a moonsault. As Taichi evaded contact, he would use the legendary Triple Crown Bomb to nearly end the match in under five minutes.
SANADA managed to recover and throw elbows in response to the Holy Emperor, and used his own version of the Ax Bomber to gain control of the match. As Nagaoka rallied behind its favourite son, a plancha landed flush, but it would be a jumping high kick from Taichi that awaited SANADA in response. Taichi landed Nodo Otoshi for just one; SANADA responded with a TKO for another one count. The two men traded backdrops and Tiger suplexes, before SANADA cracked Taichi with a Rolling Elbow, the momentum taking him outside the ring.
Both men having absorbed a lot of punishment, the match passed the ten minute mark. SANADA and Taichi again traded strikes, before Taichi landed a Last Ride for a very near two. The Suzuki-Gun member wanted the move one more time, but was met with a Tiger Driver instead. With time running out, SANADA caught Taichi with Skull End, and a Moonsault followed for 2.9. One more try at the move was met by Taichi’s knees, and in a frantic series of pinfalls, an O’Connor Bridge saw SANADA get three with just three seconds remaining on the clock.
SANADA will face KENTA in the second round on October 30 in Makuhari. The tournament continues with first round action on October 26 in Korakuen, where Ren Narita faces Tomohiro Ishii, and Toru Yano meets Great-O-Khan.