Tsuji elevated, Ospreay on another plain in Kobe stunner

Will Ospreay retains in stunning Kobe main event

The main event of Destruction in Kobe on September 24 saw the IWGP UK Championship on the line, Will Ospreay defending the red and gold against Yota Tsuji.

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Neither man looking to put a foot wrong in the opening moments saw a strategic exchange of holds and locks, but following a series of rapid counters Yota Tsuji gained the first advantage with a slick topé suicida to the outside. Back in the ring Tsuji slowed things down, a leg lock across the ribs forcing the air out of Ospreay. 

Tsuji would sting Ospreay with a wicked chop to the chest, but the champion quickly fired back with his own before flying with an impressive plancha to the outside. Continuing the fight on the outside, Ospreay avoided disaster by soaring over the steel barricade and gliding back with a springboard forearm. Ospreay continued his assault, doing his best to chop the soul out of the challenger and honing in on the back with a heavy backbreaker and forearm shots to Tsuji’s lower back. Smartly, Tsuji used Ospreay’s own momentum against him to fire back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker at the ten minute mark.

The pace increasing, Tsuji stunned the crowd with a modified tijeras and fosbury flop flattening the champion. Ospreay retaliated with his signature handstand flip-kick and flying forearm for a nearfall, only for Tsuji to execute his own combo culminating in a curb stomp and Ospreay finally getting the last word with the Stundog Millionaire. A decapitating big boot on the corner left Tsuji dazed, Ospreay able to leap from the top rope with a forearm to the back of Tsuji’s head and set up Hidden Blade. Tsuji was able to dodge the danger and strike with his falcon arrow variant as the action became too quick to call; both men seeking to land big shots on the other as they dodged and weaved, Ospreay finally able to hit the Spanish fly. 

At a stalemate, champion and challenger met in the centre of the ring to test their spirit in a heated forearm exchange that would be won by Tsuji, but it only sought to fire Ospreay up who landed a flush hook kick. Tsuji now vulnerable on the outside, Ospreay amazed with an OsCutter from the second rope to the floor to shatter his opponent. Tsuji valiantly managed to get back in the ring before the twenty count and unleashed a sickening curb stomp to the front of the champion’s face. Heading to the top rope, Ospreay once again showcased his aerial expertise, immediately following up with a devastating Liger Bomb and ultimately hitting the OsCutter; but somehow his challenger kicked out before the three count.

Attempting to end proceedings, Ospreay looked to hit Stormbreaker but Tsuji defied gravity to hit a stunner and then nearly spear the Aerial Assassin out of his boots with Gene Blast. The three count now an apparent formality, Tsuji covered Ospreay, only for the savvy champion to get his foot on the rope. An innovative step-up springboard stomp continued the damage and Tsuji shocked everyone by hitting his own Stormbreaker, but as Tsuji rushed in to land a second Gene Blast he only found the concussive Hidden Blade. Looking to return the favour, Ospreay hit his own spear and delivered the rare Storm Driver ‘93, but the fiery Tsuji refused to stay down for three yet again.

A smile on Tsuji’s face temporarily unnerved the champion, but that smile was wiped away by another Hidden Blade; Ospreay was finally able to hit the Stormbreaker to pick up the victory and retain the IWGP UK Heavyweight Championship.