Hiromu retains as Lio’s Rush is halted

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Takahashi moves to V2

The semi main event in Nagaoka on March 21 would see the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship defended when Hiromu takahashi faced the challenge of Lio Rush.

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The pair charged around the ring at the sound of the bell, dodging and ducking each other’s offence as they bounced off the ropes at top speed, however Lio Rush would gain the first advantage of the match as the quicker man with a dive through the bottom rope. When the action returned to the ring Hiromu was able to regain his footing and nastily dump his opponent over the rope to the outside. Rush was forced to meet the unforgiving ring apron courtesy of a Hiromu powerbomb, and an inventive but deadly running Death Valley Driver into the steel barrier put the champion firmly in control. Hiromu continued to assert his dominance as champion, focusing on the now damaged back of Rush with suplexes both in and outside the ring.

Lio finally gained some momentum with a huge lariat and another dive to the outside before dazzling with a twisting senton from the bottom rope to the outside, the flurry of offence almost earning Rush the win, but Hiromu barely managed to return to the ring at the referee’s count of 19. In a stunning sequence of rapid back-and-forth action, Lio Rush unleashed a stunner but was equalled by Hiromu’s pop-up powerbomb, before Rush returned with Rush Hour for the closest pin fall attempt of the match so far.

After a struggle on the top rope Lio was able to hit Final Hour to Hiromu’s back, but his second attempt was met by Hiromu’s raised knees and the quick-thinking champion transitioned into Time Bomb, the crowd certain the champion had now retained as the referee began his count but Lio Rush stayed alive. With both men back on their feet they clashed with two heavy lariats, on the lariat third attempt Rush hitting a gravity-defying Spanish Fly for another close call. Hiromu’s quick-thinking came into play again as he trapped Rush with his Hiromu Roll, but Rush again kicked out and was able to land a huge spinning buster, but again the champion refused to quit.

Hiromu levelled the playing field with his signature throw into the corner pad, both men exhausted in this battle for junior supremacy. Victory Royal could only earn Hiromu another two count, and as he sought to follow up with a Hiromu Bomber he instead fell victim to Direct Drive, Rush pulling from his tag partner YOH’s playbook. With the stage set and the lights shining bright, Rush headed to the top again for another Final Hour, only for Takahashi to roll out of the way at the last second. Hiromu’s desperate Dynamite Plunger gave him the space needed to finally hit the Hiromu-Chan Bomber and it would be the final hour for Rush as Hiromu landed Time Bomb II to secure the win and retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.


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