Geto introduces the show. “We have for you today the matches held at Korakuen Hall on May 22. You’re watching Pro Wrestling Returns.” After the intro video package, Jim Ross welcomes us to AXS TV. He says “time permitting” we have 3 matches scheduled this hour featuring action from the 22nd ever Best of the Super Juniors tournament.
Yohei Komatsu vs Jushin Thunder Liger
Both men make their way to the ring. As soon as the bell sounds, Komatsu takes the advantage with an early dropkick, Liger to the outside. Komatsu follow after him and throws Liger back in the ring. Komatsu climbs to the top rope, as Liger gets up, Komatsu hits a flipping hit block, cover, 1-2, Liger kicks out. JR talks about the long career of Liger saying Komatsu has probably watched Liger most his life. Shotei palm strike to the face by Liger. Liger picks him up and delivers a powerbomb. Liger is back to his feet, trying to shake off the initial blows. Liger throws Komatsu to the outside, delivers a brainbuster on the floor to Komatsu, and we have our first commercial.
When we return Komatsu is still on the floor. The referee has started the 20 count. Komatsu crawls towards the ring, tries to dive in but collides with the ring apron, nearly getting himself counted out, but gets back up and slides in just before 20. Liger sets him up for a surfboard, then brings him back down for a reverse front sleeper. The referee checks his arm, Komatsu gets some forearm shots and Liger breaks the hold. Liger picks him up for another Liger bomb, 1-2, Komatsu kicks out. Barnett tells us “Komatsu is wrestling one of his idols. Could work in his favor, or if it gets in your head, it’ll bury you. Kill your hero is an honorable thing, but you have to do it with respect.” Liger locks in a camel clutch, then switches to a half Boston Crab. JR says “Iron Sheik would want royalties.” Komatsu gets to the ropes and breaks the hold. Liger throws him to the corner, but Komatsu meets him with kick, then forearms. Komatsu hits the ropes, but Liger hits a dropkick. Next Liger hits the ropes, but Komatsu hits a dropkick. Komatsu connects with half-hatch bridging suplex, then locks in a half Boston crab. Liger finds the ropes and breaks the hold. They lock up and both try for suplexes, but both block. Liger hits some short arm shots to the ribs, then locks him from behind. Komatsu hits some reverse elbows, but Liger hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Liger picks him up for another powerbomb, but Komatsu reverses into a pin attempt 1-2, Liger kicks out. Komatsu picks him up for a Falcon Arrow suplex, but Liger kicks out. Komatsu climbs the ropes but Liger is up and hooks him for a suplex off the ropes. However, Komatsu bounces right back to his feet and runs the ropes, until he runs into a Liger clothesline, cover 1-2, kick out. Liger to his feet, Komatsu struggling to get to his feet, another clothesline from Liger, cover again, but Komatsu gets his right shoulder up. Liger hits some more Shotei palm strikes to the head of Komatsu before Liger connects a vertical brainbuster. 1-2-3 and this one is over.
Winner: Jushin Thunder Liger (8:36)
Backstage, Liger says “He has some nice stuff, he’s flexible too. He has enough speed all he needs is experience. It’s straightforward. It’s too easy for me to read his next move. I’m excited to see his league matches. How much he will take in new moves. I’m eager to see how he’ll incorporate them in the match.” Komatsu is helped to the back and we go to commercial.
Mascara Dorada vs Kushida
After the break, Dorada is out first. JR tells us he is very accomplished luchador, former CCML World Welterweight Champion. Dorada hits the ring apron and spit sprays some water, ala Triple H. Next is Kushida in his Marty McFly outfit, making his way to the ring and flipping over the top rope. They shake hands and we begin this 30 minute, one fall match.
Both competitors start off with some mat wrestling, exchanging positions back-and-forth. Kushida does some nice spins around Dorada’s back. They lock fingers again, Dorada with a drop toe hold, goes for the STF. Again they exchange some chain wrestling maneuvers, before both men get back to a vertical base, and the fans cheer. Dorada drops Kushida, they hit the ropes, exchange flips until Kushida catches him in an armbar submission. More blows from Kushida while the armbar is in and then we get a clean break. Kushida rolls to the outside apron, dragging Dorada by the arm, and delivers an armrake using the rope. Kushida picks him up again, and another armrake on the other rope. Kushida throws Dorada off the ropes, atomic drop, then low dropkick, then another dropkick to the head, cover, 1-2, kickout. Kushida locks in a short arm scissor, Dorada goes to reverse, but Kushida transitions into omoplata. Kushida is still working on Dorada’s arm, wrenching it, stepping on it. Kushida picks up Dorada, delivers some knife-edge chops, and sends him to the corner. Kushida follows him in but meets a boot, Dorada goes for a flip, but misses, Kushida goes for backflip but Dorada gets the knees up and we’re off to commercial.
When we return, both men are on the mat, struggling to get to their feet, Dorada hits a chop, but Kushida sends him to rope, Dorada jumps from one rope to another and knocks Kushida to outside. Dorada climbs the turnbuckle and delivers a moonsault to the floor on Kushida. Dorada gives Kushida another chop, picks him up and throws him back into the ring. The fans applaud and show their respect. Dorada springboards off the ropes into a crossbody and pin attempt, but Kushida kicks out. Dorada climbs up top for another moonsault, but Kushida gets the knees up. JR says, “That move was rather advertised. You know what they say ‘Telephone, telegraph, tell-a-wrestler!'” Kushida to the top and hits a swan dive onto Kushida, both men crashing to the floor. The ref starts the count, Dorada gets back in at 15, but is immediately met with a running dropkick from Kushida. Arm ringer, then Kushida sends Dorada off the ropes, but a low dropkick from Dorada, and another near fall. Dorada picks him up, climbs to the top, walks the ropes, then a senton onto Kushida. Dorada picks him up into a fireman’s carry, sets him up for a backdrop but Kushida wiggles out. Dorada gets in some elbows and knees, but Kushida catches him coming off ropes, and hits the Hoverboard Lock floating double wrist takeover, locks in the arm behind his back, and before long Dorada taps out.
Winner: Kushida (8:53)
Kushida checks on Dorada after the match. They shake hands and embrace, showing mutual respect. After the match, Kushida comments in the back. “I debuted in Mexico 10 years ago. 10 long years actually. I finally had Lucha Libre eat out of my hand. This whole past year, I have been fighting against heavyweights. I’d like someday to make Super Jr go beyond Climax 1. I must do one thing for that. I have to win the Super Jr. Watch me climb up that ladder.”
After the commercial, we get a backstage interview with Gedo:
It was your first appearance in 3 years? “That’s right it was decided abruptly. Kenny Omega cancelled at the last minute. I didn’t think I had any business in the ring this year. Then all of the sudden they put me in.”
What was your impression of Taguchi? “My impression of him? If I allowed myself to be overwrought I felt that he was going to take the rhythm, my rhythm, so i was careful not to let him get the upper hand. I went at my usual pace. I always kept him in my mind, to take initiative of the match. That’s what is important. I won’t let the opponent have control.”
About your fans expectations? “Well you know when I went to the ring, the people seemed surprised. I somewhat felt the pressure. I didn’t think about it til I got on the ring. I was like really the main event. I had even been complaining about it. I went on the ring like there’s nothing I can do now, but the crowd reacted with a certain level of expectation for me. I was a bit relieved.”
Did it help that Okada was in the commentator seats? “I think so for sure. It makes a big difference where Okada was there or not. What was real exciting about it was that Okada was sitting there and I was fighting in the main event. It made a big difference.”
Ryusuke Taguchi vs Gedo
Okada joins on commentary. Gedo is out first with the bandanna pulled down low over eyes. Gives Okada the Rainmaker money hand gesture. Next is the “Funky Weapon” Ryusuke Taguchi wearing some goofy shades. When he takes off the shades, he is wearing his bandanna over his eyes as well, mocking Godo. JR says “Must be a run on headbands this week.” Godo superkicks Taguchi to start the match. Gedo picks him up and back down into pinning combination but Taguchi kicks out. Gedo with kicks, positions Taguchi vertical on the apron, and delivers a sick DDT that Taguchi sells well. Funky Weapon is back in ring, but Gedo throws him right back out. Gedo grabs the ring mallet and smashes Taguchi multiple times. Jr says, “I guess everything is legal, even a ring mallet?” Barnett agrees, “I didn’t realize this was a falls count anywhere hardcore match!” Next Gedo takes off the turnbuckle padding and yells for the ref to count. JR says “Gedo’s asking the ref to count. See how good my Japanese is Josh?” Taguchi slides back in at 18. Geto rips Taguchi’s shirt off and sends him into the exposed turnbuckle with Irish whip. JR is amused at his own commentary, “A Japanese wrestler with an Irish whip? Sort of an international flavor!” Gedo is making fun of the Funky Weapon, playing to the crowd. Gedo with stomps to the back of the head, Gedo is establishing the pace. Picks up Taguchi by his hair, sends him into the unpadded turnbuckle again, slamming him into it repeatedly, then holds a knee to the face, but the referee makes him break it. Elbow to the back of the head, Gedo is really working over Taguchi’s neck. Now a hair pull into a front facelock with the knee being driven into back of Taguchi for extra leverage. Kick, picks him up, snapmare takeover, reverse chin lock, knee into the spine. Taguchi is in a lot of pain. The referee asking if he wants to give it up but Taguchi is trying to get to his feet. Taguchi lands an elbow to the stomach, but Gedo connects with another blow to the spine. Taguchi reverses, but Gedo gives him punches, dancing punches ala Road Dogg, then winds up for a big punch sending Taguchi to the mat. Gedo picks him up, snapmare take over again, then a superkick to the face while Taguchi is still on his knees. Gedo goes for a lax pin attempt, but Taguchi gets his left shoulder up. Gedo is very methodical with this, operating at as JR calls it a “sadistic, cruel pace.” Another chin lock, Taguchi reaches for the hair, but Gedo doesn’t have any hair. Back to their feet, Irish whip but a reversal, into another reversal, and Gedo avoids the exposed turnbuckle. Then a flip by Taguchi, he tries for some offense, but Gedo gets out. Gedo hits the rope and meets a jumping hip block by Taguchi, then another one. Taguchi now with another running hip block off the apron to the outside. JR tells us Taguchi is really using his “assets” and we go to commercial.
After the break, both men are still on the floor. Taguchi to his feet first, picks up Gedo, throws him into the ring, and connects with another hip block into the side of Gedo’s head. Taguchi goes to the rope, another hip block, another one, another one! With all these hip blocks, JR says Taguchi is “a hipster, if you will.” Lateral press and Gedo kicks out weakly. Taguchi locks Gedo, but Gedo reverses into a double chicken wing. Taguchi trying to get to the ropes, but he’s in a lot of pain. Gedo transitions into Gedo clutch cross face, but Taguchi reverses into an ankle lock on Gedo. Now another toe hold, Gedo tries for the ropes but can’t get there. Taguchi drags him to the center of the ring, but Gedo counters, flips into rollup, but the Funky Weapon kicks out. Both men in opposite corners, jumping hip attack by Taguchi, then pick up face first suplex. Taguchi ascends to the top rope and connects with another hip block off from up high. JR says Taguchi is “putting his best face forward.” Taguchi hooks the leg, but Gedo kicks out at 2. Taguchi picks up Gedo and locks in his own double chicken wing, but Gedo sends Taguchi into referee. They hit the ropes, Taguchi gets in a nice high kick, baseball slide low dropkick, near fall. Taguchi is back up with another toe hold ankle lock, dropping Gedo to the mat. Taguchi is really locking in the toe hold now, Gedo might tap. Gedo inching towards the ropes, Taguchi gets him back to the center of the ring, front face suplex, near fall. Okada is celebrating the fact his mentor is living to fight another day. The crowd is chanting Gedo’s name. Taguchi picks him up Gedo, but Gedo fights out and rolls to the outside. Gedo picks up the hammer again, Taguchi takes the hammer from him, swings and misses, connecting with the announce table. Taguchi carries the hammer back into the ring, but the ref wrestles it away from him and it throws it out. While the ref’s back is turned, Gedo hits a low blow, then Flatliner into the Gedo Clutch pin. Gedo wins.
Winner: Gedo (14:00)
Taguchi grabs an ice packs for his nether regions. The ref asks Gedo, Gedo denies, and the ref raises Gedo’s hand. Barnett says “If tree falls in forest and nobody is there to see it, did Taguchi get his balls wrapped?”
Backstage after the match, Taguchi is writhing in pain. “Oh my. Oh my. Oh my penny. Oh my penny. Oh my and Garfunk. It’s the most ultimate oh my and Garfunkel. I hope that… I hope my son feels better by tonight. I sincerely hope so.”
Outside the ring, Gedo and Okada celebrate. Okada has a mic in his hand. “Can I interview him?” A loud cheer from the fans. “You just won. How do you feel?” Gedo says, “Wait before that i just heard something. You said that I couldn’t win.” Okada tells him, “I said you can’t win the championship.” Gedo responds, “That’s cold man.” Okada explains, “No it’s not. No, no, I think you’ll win back-to-back, that’s what I meant.” Gedo says, “I earned confidence today” and the fans cheer. Okada plays to the crowd, “Isn’t Gedo considered a favorite to win our block?” Gedo says, “I won against him today. I would fight in a double title match in Osaka. I will face Kenny Omega in the Super Jr.” Okada replies, “Wow you’re fired up! Should we do it?” The fans are loudly chanting “Gedo!” They remind Gedo it was his first singles match for New Japan this year. Gedo responds, “Did you really just say that? To tell you the truth, it was my first time. As for the singles main event, it was my first in 2 years, since my match against Prince Devitt.” Continuing praise of Gedo, “You displayed a fantastic fight today, but the league matches will continue. You mentioned early the July 5 match at Osaka-jo Hall. Will you tell us your goal again?” Gedo says, “Rainmaker won’t just challenge for IWGP Championship that AJ holds, there’s no doubt he’ll get it. As for me? I’ll challenge thru Super Jr and Omega. Obviously money will rain. Thank you very much.” Gedo and Okada both get in ring, rainmaker pose, celebrate, and exchange congratulations.
Backstage interview with Gedo. “At first I thought he was acting strange, but if I get overwrought, he would get into rhythm. I pulled a surprise attack so he won’t get into a rhythm. Everything was hard to predict but in a good way. Looking back against bigger opponents. For example by winning, people think I might advance. In the end, it was Kushida and O’Reilly, those 2 advance. But anyone could advance, makes it interesting. Wrestlers that belong to Super Jr, they get most attention. There isn’t a Jr Heavyweight category elsewhere so they’re forced to match up against bigger opponents. Difficult class. Best stage for them to shine might be the matches here at New Japan. That’s what makes it interesting.”
JR thanks us for watching and we’re out.