Semi-finalists set in NEVER 6-Man tournament

Top two matches set for August 8 in Korakuen

The first round of the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship tournament concluded Friday night in Korakuen Hall in the sixth event of the Summer Struggle series. Semi-finals are now set for Saturday August 8, with the CHAOS trio of Kazuchika Okada, SHO and Toru Yano facing the Los Ingobernables De Japon team of BUSHI, Shingo Takagi and SANADA, and Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI=HASHI and Hirooki Goto set to take on Master Wato, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi. 

Tomohiro Ishii started CHAOS’ matchup with Tomoaki Honma, the two men evoking classic NEVER singles clashes as they collided center ring, before Makabe and Taguchi joined the mix, taking the Stone Pitbull down before Taguchi and Honma connected with a stereo Kokeshi. Taguchi then prepared a string of attacks into the corner, but CHAOS stopped the train as it was leaving the station, leaving Makabe in the wrong corner.

When Makabe created space though it was big match Taguchi flying in with hip attacks to all three of his opponents and a dive to the floor. A fired up Honma continued the assault, with simultaneous attacks to both Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI as the crowd clapped approval. YOSHI-HASHI and Goto eventually teamed up to swing the momentum back in CHAOS’ corner however, a Russian legsweep and Headhunter combination finding the mark. 

Makabe would enter the ring unheeded and clean house for the hontai team, allowing for a Honma Kokeshi and a Rocket variant. Too much time from the top rope however, and Goto and Ishii would make the save, an assisted GTR followed by a Butterfly Lock giving YOSHI-HASHI the win. 

Tanahashi, Ibushi and Wato’s battle with Suzuki-Gun had a lot of speculation surrounding it, not least because of Tanahashi and Ibushi’s ongoing struggles with one another and Tanahashi with his form. Those questions would only continue to build in the early going; Tanahashi insisted he start the match and was quickly worked over by Suzuki-Gun, who found The Ace’s most prominent weakness in his left knee. 

Even as Tanahashi fought back he would be quickly cut off by a Dangerous Backdrop from Taichi, and Dangerous Tekkers would then invite Ibushi to ‘do what he needed to’ and finish Tanahashi off himself. Still believing in his partner though, Ibushi fought off all the IWGP Tag Team Champions and, fighting out of a rear naked choke by ZSJ, continued to throw strikes. 

A Last Ride attempt was countered however, and Sabre went to ground with a front chancerie, and then triangle which Ibushi was able to power out of to spike his British foe. That brought Wato in, the Young Master flying at Heel Master Kanemaru as Hiroyoshi Tenzan cheered him on from ringside. 

As Tanahashi came back in, it appeared he and Ibushi finally had their flow back, The Ace firing in offense on Kanemaru as he and Ibushi combined to hit the Golden Blade. A High Fly Flow attempt failed however, and Taichi again went on the assault, landing a Last Ride to Tanahashi with his partners just barely breaking up the pin. 

In a repeat of Dominion, Dangerous Tekkers once again double teamed Tanahashi with relentless Dragon Screws. Ibushi would break up a Zack Mephisto attempt however, and Tanahashi would roll up Taichi for the barest of three counts. 

Post match, however, it was Dangerous Tekkers standing in the ring, having further punished Tanahashi for his pin and Ibushi for his interference. With Ibushi tending to a laid out Tanahashi on the floor, Taichi again offered the Golden Star ‘one last chance, to ditch (Tanahashi) and come with us’. Saying that he’d ‘already made up his mind’, Ibushi left with the Ace, his ties to the man he still reveres too strong.