TJP, Akira move to V4
Night one of New Beginning in Sapporo saw the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships defended, the Catch 2/2 combination of Francesco Akira and TJP seeking their fourth defence against Yoshinobu Kanemaru and DOUKI.
The story of the road to Sapporo was all about DOUKI with Akira and Kanemaru with TJP; indeed it was ‘Nobu that started with the Public Enemy with a skilful display of mat wrestling while Akira wanted to explode into DOUKI. Instead though, Kanemaru was able to call the play that sent DOUKI diving onto his Italian rival, while the Heel Master set to brutal work on TJP’s hurt knee.
The challengers kept up the pressure on the Public Enemy, who seemed more intent to go to his normal offensive well, even if it meant putting his bad wheel to further stress. TJP grimaced in pain with every high paced combination and double team, and stayed in ring as DOUKI shook off an Akira Tarantula to hit a basement drop kick. As Akira saw victory slip through his team’s fingers, he would be there to make the save with a wild offensive that took out DOUKI outside, but his partner still suffered within.
When TJP missed an ill advised Mamba Splash, Kanemaru sensed blood in the water, and went into the Figure Four Leglock. Again, as the Public Enemy made the ropes, Akira tried to create opportunity for the champion side, but the Leaning Tower was stopped by TJ’s wobbly knee and then Kanemaru interference. Needing flash strikes to win, Akira used a stack from the Fireplex to gain two on DOUKI; an attempt at the 2×2 saw TJP recoil in pain, but created the space for Akira to finally make himself legal. That didn’t make things easy though, as DOUKI raised his game to the Italian; the Italian Stretch was followed by Dotson no Jutsu and it’s fearsome Kai variant.
Yet though Daybreak was set to bring Suplex De La Luna for a DOUKI win, Akira flipped onto his feet. As the roars from the crowd grew ever louder, DOUKI withstood hit after hit, but not an emphatic Fireball knee that finally ended a stunning bout.