NJPW SOUL TOKYO BUDOKAN REPORT (7/5) – Lansdell’s report and analysis on Douki vs Desperado, LIJ Civil War, and the G1 Qualifier Finals!

by Chris Lansdell, PWTorch contributor


JULY 5, 2024

Chris Charlton was on commentary.

(1) TMDK (Zack Sabre Jr & Kosei Fujita) vs. KENTA & GEDO

We all knew that Gedo would be the one eating the fall here. The only question was who would be the one to beat him. The Bullet Club jumped TMDK before the bell, just for a change. Kenta tried to rip Fujita’s ear off at one point, but was interrupted by ZSJ trying to rip his nose off. Not a sentence I expected to type in my life.

The answer to “who will beat Gedo” turned out to be Fujita, following the Abandon Hope. I don’t think ZSJ was in the match for more than two minutes.

WINNERS: TMDK via pinfall in 7:00. (*1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Nothing to see here. Not every match has to be monumental, but there didn’t seem to be any reason for this one to happen. When half the card of each show is essentially space filler, it is hard to recommend the show to others.)

(2) JUST FIVE GUYS (Sanada & Yuya Uemura & Taka Michinoku) vs. UNITED EMPIRE (TJP & Great-O-Khan & Francesco Akira)

O-Khan and Sanada are both in A block, while Uemura is in B block with Henare and Jeff Cobb. O-Khan and Uemura just had a feud where the traded the KOPW title back and forth, so there is at least some logic behind this match.

The best part of this match was the spot where TJP fought off the Paradise Lock, tried to apply it himself, and asked Sanada how to do it. Shockingly, Sanada did not share the knowledge. In what might be an even bigger shock, Taka ate the pin here, succumbing to the Nova Knees.

WINNERS: United Empire via pinfall in 9:00 (**1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: This was fun. They all seemed up for the match, and the chemistry was there with all the pairings. The match never felt like it dragged, they threw in some light-hearted spots, and basically everyone looked good. We got a minor tease between Sanada and TJP but I doubt it will lead to anything.)

(3) HIROSHI TANAHASHI & YUJI NAGATA & TOMOAKI HONMA & TIGER MASK & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI vs. HOUSE OF TORTURE (Ren Narita & Sho & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Evil & Yujiro Takahashi)

This was billed as Taguchi’s comeback match, as he had a bad bicycle accident right before Best of the Super Juniors. The whole team came out to Taguchi’s theme, including Tanahashi who used to have his theme cut in for his intro when he was teaming with Okada and Ishii.

As has become his wont, Sho got on the mic before the bell and trash-talked Taguchi. House of Torture jumped their opponents before the bell, a totally original move we had not seen before. The match unfolded pretty much exactly as you would expect, including the timekeeper being taken out at ringside. Tanahashi took the majority of the HoT offence, which perhaps was a bit surprising, but Evil pinning Honma after a shot with the push-up bar and Everything is Evil was anything but a shock.

WINNERS: House of Torture via in 12:00. (*1/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: You might have expected Taguchi to win his comeback match, but having seen the teams that was never going to happen. A weird choice for the match, and nothing worth watching throughout. This did not need twelve minutes.)

(4) YOSHI-HASHI vs. CALLUM NEWMAN – G1 A Block Qualifier Final

Newman came out with TJP, Akira, and O-Khan. He looked incredibly nervous and was walking very gingerly, selling the kendo stick shots he endured from Kenta in his previous match. If he was putting on that nervous look, he is a very good actor.

TJP joined Chris Charlton for commentary as Yoshi-Hashi made his entrance. Given his last couple of singles performances, I should maybe give Yoshi-Hashi a bit more credit. He is now solidly medium instead of in the Yujiro tier.

The men shook hands to start the match. Newman got the first takedown with a top wristlock, quickly reversed by Yoshi-Hashi into a side headlock. They ran the ropes and Yoshi-Hashi flattened Newman with a shoulder. Newman sold his injuries, but ducked a wild clothesline and sped up to hit a running boot. They exchanged counters and blocks, ending up on the outside where Yoshi-Hashi shrugged off being whipped into a barricade and ran through Newman with another tackle.

Back in the ring, Yoshi-Hashi pressed his advantage with shots in the corner. There was a bit of an awkward moment where Yoshi-Hashi wanted Newman to hit him, and Newman put his chest out for Yoshi-Hashi to chop, and then they kind of stood there. Yoshi-Hashi chopped Newman, hung him over the top rope, then hit a sliding dropkick to the back. A cover only got a two-count. Again Newman called Yoshi-Hashi on, absorbing a chop and unleashing a flurry of forearms. At the five-minute mark, Yoshi-Hashi stopped the rally with one stiff chop.

Newman slid under a clothesline and tripped Yoshi-Hashi, then double-stomped his back. He hit a running corner dropkick, a PK and a standing moonsault for a two-count. He called to the crowd for support, which was forthcoming, and tried for the Os-cutter which was easily avoided by Yoshi-Hashi. Newman’s follow-up clothesline was similarly unsuccessful, and Yoshi-Hashi came off the ropes with a Headhunter to leave both men down. With both men in opposite corners, Yoshi-Hashi charged and connected with a heavy clothesline in the corner. From the top, Yoshi-Hashi connected with a blockbuster for another two-count. Newman escaped a suplex attempt with a knee to the head and hit a Spanish Fly for a two-count. Both men were down as the crowd got behind Newman again.

Newman was first to his feet but showed signs of dizziness. He tried a tiger suplex but Yoshi-Hashi blocked it. A back elbow broke Newman’s grip, but he fired back with a boot. Newman went for the Os-cutter again but Yoshi-Hashi blocked it and connected with a dragon suplex. Newman shrugged it off! They traded shots, a chop from Yoshi-Hashi dropped Newman but he bounced right up with a head kick. Newman ran into a superkick, fired up, and ran into a second one. Fisherman’s buster by Yoshi-Hashi! 1…2…no!

At the ten-minute mark, Newman blocked a Karma attempt and rolled out. Yoshi-Hashi ducked a big roundhouse kick and hit a backbreaker and a meteora for another near fall. Yoshi-Hashi measured Newman and cleaned his clock with a lariat for a very near fall. Karma attempt…countered into a stunner! O’connor roll by Newman! 1…2…3!!!

WINNER: Callum Newman via pinfall in 12:00. (**3/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: I didn’t enjoy most of the match, it was awkward and too slow in many places. That said, this was a perfect example of how to do a surprise win out of nowhere. A counter and a tight rollup. That sort of finish makes every rollup more believable as a finish, because we know it CAN happen.)

TJP jumped up from commentary to celebrate with Newman, quickly joined in the ring by Akira. Yoshi-Hashi shook Newman’s hand before leaving the ring. Great-O-Khan, who is also in A block, was a little slower to join the festivities.

(5) BOLTIN OLEG vs. TAICHI – G1 B Block Qualifier Final

Oleg is STILL coming out to the Young Lion theme and sprinting to the ring. Bless his giant muscled heart. Taichi once again sang himself to the ring, so I am a happy recapper.

Oleg’s forearms traded with Taichi’s leg kicks to start the match, an exchange which Oleg would lose after a high boot to the face. The momentary loss did not faze the big man as he came charging with a big shoulder tackle. He tried for the Boltin Shake, Taichi blocked it, so Oleg clubbed his back with axehandles. Taichi absorbed the blows, and a big chop, and kicked Oleg right in the face with a gamengiri.

Taichi tossed Oleg to the outside, followed him out, and whipped him into a barricade.They went out into the fans, where Taichi shoved Oleg into some chairs. He followed up with a snappy kick to the chest before dragging Oleg back to ringside. At the five-minute mark, Taichi toyed with Oleg back in the ring. He laid in a few kicks to the chest of a kneeling Oleg, then went back to just shoving Oleg’s head with his foot. Oleg managed to get to his feet and laid in some elbows, then tried to grapple up Taichi for a suplex. Taichi turned that into a hook kick for a two-count.

Taichi lifted a knee into the jaw of Oleg, but his attempted whip to the ropes was reversed and turned into a waistlock takedown. Oleg continued his elbow assault, whipped Taichi to the corner and connected with a Stinger splash. He ran through Taichi with a tackle and hit a running splash for a two-count. Taichi tried to fight off the Boltin Shake, but the big man was too strong and powered him up anyway. Oleg nipped up and charged…into a superkick. Oops.

Taichi took a minute to gather himself, as Chris Charlton pointed out that he had never had a winning record in the G1. Taichi locked in a stretch plum as we passed the ten-minute mark, and Oleg looked to be fading. Taichi released the hold before the referee called the match off, which of course will definitely not come back to haunt him. He kicked a kneeling Oleg in the head and… the pants came off! Taichi measured a superkick…dropkick by Oleg! Another superkick…caught by Oleg! Kamikaze!!! 1…2…no!

Taichi writhed on the mat clutching his ribs and gasping for air. The referee checked on him as Oleg recovered, but seemed OK with letting Taichi continue. Stinger splash by Oleg! He went for Kamikaze again…Taichi slipped out the back! Stretch plum applied! Oleg broke Taichi’s grip and lifted him for Kamikaze…Samoan drop instead! He’s not even Samoan! Oleg again went for Kamikaze, and again Taichi escaped. Gedo clutch! 1…2…no! Oleg ran into a Taichi boot, and Taichi managed to follow up with a back drop suplex for a near fall.

Both men were slow to recover as the crowd chanted for Taichi. He would oblige them, connecting with a lariat, and lifted Oleg for Black Mephisto! Oleg escaped and hit a gutbuster at the 15-minute mark, then just ran into Taichi with a tackle for a near fall. He tried once more for the Kamikaze, Taichi tried to fight free with chops to the head…F5 connected for Oleg! That was new! Again on the shoulders…Kamikaze! He did it again!

WINNER: Boltin Oleg via pinfall in 17:00. (***1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: That was a massive surprise, and I am not sure I liked it. Taichi carried Oleg to probably his best match so far, but still Oleg seemed very one-note in his offence. He is still adding moves to his repertoire, but then do we want that person in a G1 where he will be exposed? So much for Taichi’s resurgence I guess. A good match nonetheless, with a story being told of Taichi’s hubris and one big move from Oleg turning the tide.)

Taichi and Oleg embraced after the match, and Oleg left Taichi in the corner looking dejected. Taichi left the ring seemingly sobbing. That could lead somewhere.


An LIJ civil war in the semi-main event? This was billed as a homecoming match for both Bushi and Naito, which seemed to be because they are both from this area of Tokyo. It was their first time wrestling in the area, as NJPW had not run an event in this arena since 2002. That would explain the fact that Bushi actually got a pop. He apparently owns a fried chicken shop in the area. Shingo and Naito will face off on night one of the G1, but teamed up tonight. Naito got a monstrous reception, still rare in Japan.

This was more of a novelty than anything else. We got to see Shingo and Tsuji square off, and that only served to whet my appetite for a full match between them. We got Hiromu and Naito finally facing off, after their 2020 singles match at the Anniversary Show got canceled due to the pandemic.

The problem is, the match just went too long. And for the most part, it was not good. Yes, we got to see interactions we would never usually see. There’s value in that. But not enough value to go for 30 MINUTES. The match ended with Hiromu countering Destino into Time Bomb, leaving both men on their backs. As the last few seconds ticked down, Naito tried to roll Hiromu up but time expired.

WINNER: Time limit draw in 30:00. (**1/2)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: Too long, clunky in spots, fun in others, but ultimately not worth it in my mind.)

(7) EL DESPERADO (C) vs. DOUKI – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match

The crowd was firmly behind Douki as the bell rang. Douki got an early headscissors, Desperado escaped into a deathlock. He laced Douki’s legs and reclined on top of him. Cheeky! Both men got to their feet and traded hammerlocks, until Douki used a leverage arm drag to escape. Douki applied a cravate, holding on to it as Desperado tried to arm drag his way free. Desperado resorted to slapping away Douki’s arms to break the hold, but Douki reapplied it instantly. A shot to the midsection finally broke the hold, Douki tried to apply the Douki Chokie but Desperado fought it off and dropkicked Douki’s knees.

Douki ducked a back elbow and hit a flying headscissors and a lucha arm drag, but after a couple of dodges Desperado landed another basement dropkick to the knee. Doukli rolled to the outside, and Desperado followed. He rammed Douki’s back into the barricade, but his attempt to throw Douki back into the ring led to a handstand and a tornado DDT off the apron on the outside. That was pretty.

Back in the ring, Douki tried a slingshot move but got caught. Desperado dropped him straight south, both Douki’s knees landing hard on the mat. Desperado went to work on the leg of Douki, hitting a DDT on the knee and a splash across the leg. Douki tried to fire in some chops but Desperado went right back to the leg. He wrapped Douki’s legs around the ring post for good measure. Desperado cycled through leg holds, taunting Douki with a Naito-esque pose while doing so.

At the five-minute mark Douki escaped a kneebreaker attempt but his spinning neckbreaker was countered with a kick to the kneecap. Douki managed to reverse a whip to the ropes and connected with a flying headbutt, leaving both men down. Desperado charged into an arm drag, and Douki followed up with a springboard back elbow for a two-count. Douki went to the second rope but Desperado pulled him down and hit a back suplex and a brainbuster for a two-count.

Desperado tried for Guitarra de Angel, Douki slipped out the back but hurt his leg on the landing. Desperado held the ropes to avoid a dropkick, and immediately went for Numero Dos. Douki was able to make the ropes before the hold was fully applied. Desperado went for Pinche Loco, Douki blocked it and ran Desperado back into a corner. He landed a tornado DDT to take control, trying to get some feeling into his knee. Desperado rolled to the outside, and Douki went for the dive…tope suicida DDT on the outside! That’s a new one on me.

Still selling the damage to his leg, Douki hit Daybreak for a two-count. He rolled through the kickout and locked on the Douki Chokie at the 15-minute mark. Desperado tried to escape using the ropes but Douki rolled him back to the middle of the ring. Desperado looked to be fading, but found a burst of energy to make it to the ropes after what seemed like forever to be in a choke hold. Douki pulled Desperado back to the middle of the ring and went for Suplex de la Luna, but his leg would not allow it. He tried again, Desperado escaped, they traded escapes and counters…Douki Chokie! No, Desperado turned it into a cloverleaf!

Douki crawled towards the ropes, but it was Desperado’s turn to drag him back to the middle. Desperado transitioned to Numero Dos, but Douki made it back to the ropes. Desperado went back to the leg but Douki kicked him off. Desperado kicked the knee again, Douki managed a kick and a pair of stiff forearms to take him down. They traded shots mid-ring, Douki getting the advantage and dropping Desperado. It would not last as Desperado punched Douki’s knee, then his face, then hit a bridging German suplex for a near fall.

At the 20-minute mark, Douki escaped a Pinche Loco attempt and flattened Desperado with a lariat. Suplex de la Luna…Desperado fought free. Douki took two stiff rights to the chin, but countered the third into a dragon suplex bridge for a near fall. Suplex de la Luna by Douki! 1…2…3! New champ!

WINNER: Douki via pinfall in 21:00 to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship. (***3/4)
(Lansdell’s Analysis: There’s always a danger when you work the leg early that the rest of the match will have to forget the leg work. I think they managed to avoid the trap here, delivering a fun match that showed each man’s familiarity with the other. This was Douki’s first win over Desperado in five tries. Given the crowd’s reaction, it was a good decision. I’m not sure where Desperado goes next, but Douki has steadily build support since his debut, and deserves this.)

Final thoughts: This was a surprising card. I expected Newman to win, but the Oleg and Douki wins were not on my radar. Neither was a 30-minute LIJ Civil War. The G1 looks solid, with really only Taichi missing from the upper ranks. I hope they resist the urge to make Newman and Oleg into everyone’s fall boys, though they will have to lose most of their matches. Douki as Junior champ is an interesting decision, he certainly has the popularity to carry it. Watch three of the last four matches, skipping the 6-man tag.

You can contact me at lansdellicious@gmail.com or on Twitter @lansdellicious. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks when we kick off our G1 coverage rotation. Thanks for joining us!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply