NJPW “Soul” results (6/22): Vetter’s review of Yoshi-Hashi vs. Chase Owens and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Callum Newman in G1 Climax tournament qualifiers

By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Soul”
June 22, 2024 in Fukushima, Japan at Toyota Crown Arena
Streamed live on New Japan World

This show has Japanese-only commentary. Worth pointing out a lot of the NJPW roster is in North America this week, as several (Zack Sabre Jr., Taiji Ishimori, Hiromu Takahashi) were wrestling in Mexico and others (Shingo Takagi, Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls) in AEW, and as I noted in a recent review, Kenta was in Canada. Plus, Shota Umino is out of action until the G1 with a hip injury. This is a large gym and we do have fans seated in a second tier.

* Last week, NJPW announced 18 competitors in the 20-man G1 Climax tournament, and also announced 12 wrestlers will compete for the final two slots. So, we have two first-round matches here; those winners will advance to face a wrestler who got a first-round bye.

1. Daiki Nagai vs. Masatora Yasuda ended in a time-limit draw at 10:00. My first time seeing these Young Lions. Nagai is shaved nearly bald and he’s small, similar to Taka Michinoku. Yasuda has a thinner face and appears a bit taller. Pretty basic mat holds; these first few matches they have as Young Lions always focus on the fundamentals. Nagai hit a dropkick and applied a Boston Crab, but the time limit expired as Yasuda was still in the hold.

2. “United Empire” Francesco Akira and Great-O-Khan defeated Shoma Kato and Katsuya Murashima at 8:31. Kato and Murashima shoved each other before the bell as they both wanted to open against O-Khan; not a great way for a team to start out! O-Khan tied up Kato’s left ankle as they fought on the mat. Akira entered and hit a basement dropkick to Kato’s head at 4:30. The Young Lions hit stereo dropkicks on Akira. Murashima applied a Boston Crab at 7:30 but Akira reached the ropes. Akira hit the Fireball running double knees to the back of Katsuya’s head for the pin.

3. “United Empire” Jeff Cobb, TJP, and Henare defeated Tomoaki Honma, Tomohiro Ishii, and Satoshi Kojima at 9:29. TJPIshii and Kojima are all in the G1 Climax tournament qualifier. TJP and Satoshi opened, with TJP hitting a dropkick, and Kojima hitting a shoulder tackle. Cobb and Ishii battled, with Jeff hitting a standing moonsault for a nearfall at 2:00. Ishii hit a flying shoulder tackle on TJP. Satoshi tagged back in at 4:30 and hit his rapid-fire chops on TJP. He hit a DDT. Henare and Honma finally entered at 6:30 and immediately traded forearm strikes. Henare hit a running penalty kick to the chest for a nearfall. Honma hit a Kokeshi falling headbutt. Henare hit a hard running knee in the corner, then a fisherman’s brainbuster for the pin on Honma.

4. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Boltin Oleg, Toru Yano, El Desperado, and Hirooki Goto defeated “Just 5 Guys” Sanada, Taka Michinoku, Douki, Taichi, and Yuya Uemura at 9:12. Tanahashi, Oleg and Yano are in the Q1 Climax tournament qualifier, but must face each other! Taichi also is in the Q1 Climax qualifier tournament. Worth reiterating that Sanada just returned to action after missing a couple months while in concussion protocol. Douki and Desperado opened. Sanada entered and tied up Yano’s legs. Taichi and Hiroshi battled at 3:30. Goto entered and hit a double bulldog at 6:30. Uemura hit a deep armdrago on Goto, then a dropkick on Oleg.

Taka tagged in and hit a running kick on Oleg, but then Oleg nailed a shoulder tackle. He picked up Taka and flipped him around in his arms before hitting a gut-wrench suplex. Taka hit a running knee to the chest and he tied up Oleg’s head on the mat, but Desperado made the save. This has been fast-paced and easily best match so far. Taka couldn’t bodyslam Oleg. Oleg hit a Kamikaze/forward Finlay Roll to pin Taka. Desperado put his Junior Title on his shoulder and jawed at future opponent Douki. Taichi and Oleg began brawling.

5. Callum Newman defeated Yujiro Takahashi in a G1 Climax tournament qualifier match at 12:12. Yujiro was in charge early on. They brawled to the floor, where he hit an inverted DDT onto the thin mat at ringside at 1:30. They got in the ring, where Yujiro kept him grounded and Callum clutched at his neck, selling that DDT. Newman hit a doublestomp on the back and they were both down at 6:00. They got up and traded forearm strikes.

Yujiro dropped him throat-first on the top rope at 7:30 then hit a fisherman’s brainbuster for a nearfall. Yujiro got his staff but Newman blocked him from using it. Yujiro hit a low blow uppercut, then the Pimp Juice leaping DDT for a believable nearfall at 10:30. Newman hit a Tiger Suplex for a believable nearfall. Newman hit a springboard stunner for the pin! I expected Newman to win this one, particularly after the pep-talk TJP gave him in the ring a few weeks ago, but yet I am somehow surprised he actually did it.

6. Yoshi-Hashi defeated Chase Owens in a G1 Climax tournament qualifier match at 14:00 even. They brawled to the floor at 1:00, where Yoshi-Hashi whipped Owens into a guardrail. In the ring, Chase hit a running knee to the jaw at 3:00 and was in charge. He snapped Yoshi-Hashi’s fingers. Yoshi-Hashi hit a suplex. Yoshi-Hashi hit his Headhunter flipping neckbreaker at 7:00. Owens hit a senton, then a gutbuster over his knee. He hit a short-arm clothesline for a nearfall at 9:00.

They hit simultaneous clotheslines, and Owens put his feet on the ropes and got a nearfall on a rollup. Yoshi-Hashi hit a superkick and a Dragon Suplex. Owens fired back with a German Suplex and a jumping knee to the jaw, and they both collapsed at 11:30. Chase went for his package piledriver but Yoshi-Hashi escaped. Yoshi-Hashi hit some more superkicks and a Canadian Destroyer for a nearfall at 13:30. He nailed a pump-handle powerbomb move for the pin. Good action; on the high end of what you would expect from these two.

7. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Tetsuya Naito, Bushi, Titan, and Yota Tsuji defeated “House of Torture” EVIL, Ren Narita, Sho, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (w/Dick Togo) at 12:11. A reminder that Shingo is in the U.S. and Hiromu is in Mexico. Sho spoke on the mic before the bell, then the HoT attacked before the bell, with action spilling to the floor. Titan hit a Pele Kick and a springboard dropkick. LIJ began working over Sho’s left arm. The HoT backed Bushi into their corner and worked him over. EVIL hit a suplex for a nearfall and the bell rang at 4:30, but of course, it was just Dick Togo ringing the bell, and the match continued.

Yota got a hot tag and began hitting tilt-a-whirl backbreakers over his knee on several of the heels. Yota was whipped into an exposed corner at 7:30. Yota hit a Flatliner on EVIL. Naito entered, still wearing his T-shirt and he fought EVIL. EVIL applied a Sharpshooter, but Naito reached the ropes at 10:00. Togo hit his knife-edge chop to Naito’s groin. Kanemaru grabbed his whiskey bottle but Naito avoided being hit by it. Yota and Bushi hit stereo stunners. Naito hit a Destino to pin Kanemaru. Merely okay. Naito spoke to the crowd before the show closed.

Final Thoughts: I have previously explained that I prefer the 32-man tournament format, but only if you have enough wrestlers fans want to see fill all 32 slots. So, I think this “play-in format” works. Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens both delivered about as good of matches as they will have, but yet I am relieved that neither are advancing to the G1. I’ll go with Yoshi-Hashi-Owens for best match, the Tanahashi 10-man tag for second, and Newman-Yujiro for third. The main event didn’t feel like it was main-event worthy.

NJPW is back in action on Sunday with two more G1 Climax tournament qualifier matches, as teammates Boltin Oleg and Toru Yano square off, while Satoshi Kojima faces TJP.


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