NJPW SOUL IN FUKUSHIMA REPORT (6/22) – Lansdell’s report on Newman vs. Takahashi, Owens vs. Yoshi-Hashi, and LIJ vs House of Torture!

by Chris Lansdell, PWTorch.com contributor


JUNE 22, 2024

No English commentary today, so ya boi is on his own.


I believe this was the second match for each of these Young Lions. They looked to be ahead of where you would typically expect them to be, showing more than the basic body slams and strikes. It’s possible the dojo training has changed slightly, or they may be taking more time before putting the students on shows, but the real test will be how they develop once they start facing veterans. Then of course the return from excursion is the make-or-break.

Predictably the match ended in a draw with Nakai having Yasuda in the Boston Crab as time expired.

WINNER: Time limit draw in 10:00 (*1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: It’s a Young Lion showcase. It did what it had to do. Better than expected but this match was on the card for the wrestlers, not the viewers.)

(2) SHOMA KATO & KATSUYA MURASHIMA vs. UNITED EMPIRE (Great-O-Khan & Francesco Akira)

Kato and Murashima have a rivalry with each other, so it was strange to see them team up. They lost of course, but the match here was always going to be about what the Young Lions had learned and could show off.

They both put on a good show here considering the short time they have been on cards. Both men are likely to end up as junior heavyweights, but were able to look reasonably effective against O-Khan. Murashima showed good energy on the hot tag, and Kato sold well. The junior heavyweight division badly needs some new names so hopefully these two continue to improve.

By the way, Akira is so quick. Ridiculously fast. It’s a shame we are unlikely to see Callum Newman take him on because that would be something else. Akira got the pin on Murashima following the Nova Knees.

WINNERS: United Empire via pinfall in 9:00 (**1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Young Lions go splat.)


United Empire were dripping in gold, with both Cobb and Henare carrying titles right now. TJP and Kojima are both in contention for the final slot in B block, which also contains Henare and Cobb. Three members of the same faction in one block would make for some fascinating booking decisions.

TJP and Kojima started off, as they would be opponents the next night in the G1 play-in tournament. It was an interesting clash of styles which could lead to an awkward singles match, unfortunately. Henare and Honma barely factored in the match, only coming in long enough for the finishing sequence. Henare planted him with Streets of Rage for the win.

Somehow, Kojima is six years older than Honma. He certainly doesn’t move like it.

WINNERS: United Empire via pinfall in 10:00. (**)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Didn’t really care for this. Kojima and TJP wrestled the majority of the match, and as a preview it did the opposite of getting me hyped to see them against each other. Henare seems to make everyone want to fight him the same way, and Honma fell into the trap here too. Not that Honma is usually a master technician, but still.)

(4) HIROSHI TANAHASHI & HIROOKI GOTO & TORU YANO & EL DESPERADO & BOLTIN OLEG vs. JUST FIVE GUYS (Sanada & Douki & Taichi & Taka Michinoku & Yuya Uemura)

Four people in this match (Tanahashi, Taichi, Yano, and Oleg) were in the mix for the final B block slot in the G1. Yes, that is the entirety of the current six-man tag champions all competing for one spot. Yes, they did just win back the belts. No, I don’t get it either. Douki and El Desperado are scheduled to face off for the junior heavyweight title, so that’s another layer.

If you were to sit down and script out the beats of this match based on the B block play in and expected block matches, you would likely get most of it right. I am almost positive you would not have predicted Taichi and Tanahashi going for abdominal claws that ended up looking like they were trying to measure each other’s body fat percentage. We never need to see that again, thanks. Tanahashi actually just looked off here, putting nothing into his strikes and seeming several steps slow. Goto made up for that with an unusually high energy level, so we’ll call it a draw.

Naturally, Taka took the fall here. Oleg was the one to beat him with Kamikaze.

WINNERS: Oleg, Tanahashi, Yano, Goto, and Desperado via pinfall in 9:00. (**)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Aside from the weird belly-grabbing spot this was all standard fare. I’m curious how the play-in matches play out, but this did nothing to change or heighten that.)


Yujiro caught a charging Newman with a boot at the bell, but his upper hand was short-lived as Newman ducked three attacks and hit a running boot of his own at high speed. He followed with a gorgeous dropkick that sent Yujiro to the floor, but his attempted slingshot found nothing but air. Newman landed awkwardly, and Yujiro went right on the attack with the worst, softest reverse DDT on the outside I have ever seen. They basically fell backwards in a gentle embrace together.

Yujiro threw Newman into the barricade, then went back into the ring. Newman made it back in as the ref counted 13, but rolled right into more brawling offence. Yujiro hit some back elbows and a running boot in the corner, and covered for a two-count. He dropped three legs, only one of which looked like it connected, for another two-count. A snap mare and low dropkick got another two-count.

At the five-minute mark, Yujiro trapped Newman in the ropes and charged…into Newman’s feet. Newman used his speed to slide under a boot and trip Yujiro, then landed a double stomp on his back. A corner dropkick and a PK got a two-count for Newman. He sold the damage to his back, then tried for what seemed to be a tiger suplex. Yujiro grabbed the ropes, so Newman cleaned his clock with a forearm and dropkicked him while he was still in the ropes. Newman tried the tiger suplex again but Yujiro blocked and stomped on his foot.

Yujiro lifted a charging Newman and dropped him with a Stun Gun. He followed up with a fisherman’s buster for a two-count. An Angle Slam got a near fall. Yujiro lifted Newman for a Death Valley driver, but Newman wriggled free and planted a kick on Yujiro’s temple. Newman called to the crowd and measured an Os-cutter, but Yujiro bit his hand to escape. Yujiro pulled the ref in front of him as a shield, then used the distraction to grab his pimp cane. Newman blocked the shot, but the ref caught him holding the cane. Yujiro used THAT distraction to uppercut Newman in the groinal region at the ten-minute mark.

Yujiro landed Pimp Juice for a near fall. One bonus to Japanese commentary is hearing Milano Collection A.T. say “Pimp Juice” . Truly a treat. Yujiro attempted Big Juice, Newman countered and finally hit the tiger suplex for a near fall. Newman ran across the ring with a dropkick, then hit a double stomp to a doubled-over Yujiro. Os-cutter connected! 1…2…3!

WINNER: Callum Newman via pinfall in 12:00. (**1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Newman was always going to carry the weight of creating the movement in this match, but I was not expecting Yujiro to be this bad. That DDT on the outside must be seen to be believed, it really was that bad. At least there was no interference I guess? I’m glad Newman got the win, he is precisely the kind of young talent who should get a chance to show off in the G1 even if he does very little winning.)

(6) YOSHI-HASHI vs. CHASE OWENS – G1 A Block Qualifier

I assume in a past life I must have been very mean to some puppies or something. It is the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-four, and Chase Owens is taking on Yoshi-Hashi in the semi-main event. Not a soul asked for this.

Owens tried to rile up Yoshi-Hashi from the get-go, which led to both men going to the floor. Yoshi-Hashi whipped Owens into the barricade, then took him around the ring and did it again.Owens blocked a running chop and threw Yoshi-Hashi backwards into the barricade. He might have been trying to make it look like a Russian leg sweep into the barricade but…no dice. Owens stole a Yoshi-Hashi banner from the crowd and wrapped it around Yoshi-Hashi’s neck, using it to toss him into the barricade. He hit HARD.

Back in the ring, Owens hit a running knee trembler for a near fall. He stole a page from the Pete Dunn playbook and snapped Yoshi-Hashi’s fingers. Owens whipped Yoshi-Hashi to the opposite corner, then posed to the crowd at the five-minute mark. They were unimpressed. Yoshi-Hashi tried to fire up with a chop but ate a pump kick. He quickly recovered and reversed a suplex, leaving both men down.

Yoshi-Hashi recovered first and hit a barrage of chops and clotheslines in the corner. He connected with a Headhunter for a two-count. He invited Owens to hit him, and fired back with a VERY stiff elbow strike that sent Owens reeling. Yoshi-Hashi tried to follow up but Owens blocked and hit a back leg trip into a senton to take back control. A clothesline followed by a gutbuster got a two-count.

Owens went for the package piledriver, Yoshi-Hashi backdropped out of it. Owens ran through the back of Yoshi-Hashi-s head with a C-Trigger and hit a Jewel Heist for a near fall. Yoshi-Hashi again escaped the piledriver, this time countering with a Codebreaker for a near fall. He followed with a low dropkick at the ten-minute mark, and both men were down. They ran into each other with clotheslines a couple of times, but Owens sidestepped the third to send Yoshi-Hashi into the corner pad. Owens schoolboyed him with his feet on the ropes! 1…2…no!

Owens went for C-Trigger, Yoshi-Hashi blocked it and hit a superkick and a dragon suplex. Owens popped right up and staggered Yoshi-Hashi with a back elbow. Yoshi-Hashi kept coming, so Owens dropped him on his head with a half-hatch suplex. Again Yoshi-Hashi popped up, and he got dropped again with a C-Trigger. A second C-Trigger got a near fall. Owens lined up a very stiff standing C-Trigger, then set up for the package piledriver…Yoshi-Hashi fought it off again! Rollup by Yoshi-Hashi! 1…2…no!

Yoshi-Hashi avoided yet another C-Trigger and hit a pair of superkicks. Canadian Destroyer! 1…2…still no! A lariat got another near fall for Yoshi-Hashi. He folded Owens up…Karma! 1…2…3!

WINNER: Yoshi-Hashi via pinfall in 14:00. (***1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: OK that was actually pretty good. They didn’t do anything special, but it was smooth and they worked well together. Still not a match I would ever pay to see, but also not offensive.)

(7) LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPÓN (Tetsuya Naito & Yota Tsuji & Bushi & Titan vs. HOUSE OF TORTURE (Evil & Ren Narita & Sho & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

I was entirely unsure why this was the main event. Naito, Shingo, and Evil are all in A block for the G1, which explains why the match happened, but was it just the main event because of the names involved?

Sho took the mic and insulted Naito on his birthday, saying how much it must suck having to spend it here. That led to House of Torture jumping LIJ before the bell. The whole match felt like fan service, a typical house show main event. There was one funny spot where Evil went for a cover, the ref counted two, and Togo rang the bell and got on the mic to announce Evil as the winner. Needless to say it was not the official result.

Naito spent a lot of time in the ring, to be expected for a smaller show. He picked up the win over Kanemaru with Destino.

WINNERS: LIJ via pinfall in 12:00. (**1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Once I realised this was essentially a house show with two relevant matches tacked on, the main event and result made more sense. The comedy spots did too. This wasn’t meant to do anything but entertain, and it did a passable job of that while allowing Naito to do his curtain call on his birthday.)

Final thoughts: This was a strange card to be broadcast, but without the qualifier matches it might not even have been on NJPW World. With the two qualifier matches though, there was a reason to watch and broadcast the show. As such I cannot be too harsh on it. Neither qualifier was anything special, although Owens and Yoshi-Hashi did manage to exceed (the albeit low) expectations. I can’t really say there’s anything here to go back and watch in full.

You can contact me at lansdellicious@gmail.com or on Twitter @lansdellicious . Thanks for joining us!

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