Sunday, July 3, 2016

NJPW Kizuna Road Review

NJPW Kizuna Road 2016
July 3rd, 2016 | Iwate Industrial & Culture Center APIO in Iwate, Japan

With Dominion behind us and the G1 Climax rapidly approaching, NJPW has been holding their Kizuna Road shows. I missed most of the 6/27 show due to being tied up with work and school, but am free enough to review this show. I will also be reviewing all of the G1 Climax when the time comes.

Chase Owens def. David Finlay in 6:55
Both guys were replacements for the Young Bucks in the Best of the Super Juniors and I think the tournament turned out to be far better this way. Owens performed well, while Finlay was having good to great matches with everyone. Since the Bullet Club is seemingly never dying, can’t Adam Cole be their junior and not Owens? I mean, I’m not a huge Cole fan but he’s the lesser of two evils. Owens targeted Finlay’s back, including a nice backbreaker that got zero reaction from the fans. Finlay went after the leg to set up the Stretch Muffler. Finlay came close a few times near the finish before falling to the Package Piledriver. I wish the back work came into play a bit more. This was decent at best but the crowd just doesn’t care at all about Owens. **½

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jushin Thunder Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi & Tiger Mask IV def. Kazushi Sakuraba, Roppongi Vice and Tomohiro Ishii in 11:46
This felt a bit random, though I won’t complain since Ishii and Tenzan went at it in tags during the BOTSJ. These guys seemed to just go out there and have some fun for the most part. Liger did some taunting and posting, Roppongi Vice played scared and Sakuraba tried to literally kick Taguchi’s ass. Taguchi took the heat for a bit before his team started to rally. Tenzan, pissed about not being included in the G1 this year, was on fire. He and Ishii were really good together again. Tenzan would go on to win with a moonsault in a fun little match. I think something will happen that will see him replace someone in the G1. **½

Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi def. Captain New Japan and Yoshitatsu in 10:40
Considering their attack on the Briscoes at Dominion, it seems like Page and Takahashi are next in line for a Tag Team Title shot. That and Captain New Japan being in this match, made the outcome obvious. The Bullet Club members attacked before the bell and did their typical stuff. They did a mildly funny spot where CNJ went for a tag but Takahashi took out Yoshitatsu and cheered him on to tag still. Obviously the Captain took the heat for a bit. The problem with this match is that Page is the best guy involved and I’ve never really been interested in him. He’s just okay from what I’ve seen. Yoshitatsu got the hot tag and did Triple H stuff as I groaned in my seat. It didn’t work so he tagged back in the Captain, which was doomed to fail miserably. Finally, after an eternity, Page won with Last Rites. Look, I don’t like them at all but if you’re trying to build them as viable contenders, a 10 minute match against these two is not the way to do it. They have won this in quick fashion. Instead, this dragged on and was horseshit. ¼*

Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata def. Juice Robinson and Togi Makabe in 10:09
With his regular partner, Tomoaki Honma, set for the main event, Togi Makabe turned to Juice Robinson to be his teammate tonight. This followed the script you’d expect. Makabe started with Nagata so they could beat each other up until it was time for the NEW JAPAN DADS to work over Juice. It was clear that Juice was here to take the heat and eventually, the pin. Nakanishi looked more motivated than usual and his interactions with Juice are surprisingly fun. Nagata pinned Juice after the Backdrop Driver for the win. Basic stuff that was certainly better than the previous tag. **¼

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: Matt Sydal, Ricochet & Satoshi Kojima def. Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks (c) in 15:22
“The Elite” came out sporting New Day shirts. I think the tandem of Sydal, Ricochet and Kojima is really random and strange. I liked Cozy’s role in this as everyone else did their fast paced flippy shit and he just came in to scare the shit out of the champions. Ricochet was on fire here, taking out both Bucks with some innovative offense. Kojima coming in and chopping the shit out of all three “Elite” members was the highlight of the match for me though. Everyone did a good job building to some near falls and I wasn’t nearly as annoyed by the Bucks as I usually am. They’re easily at their worst in ROH. Kojima ate multiple superkicks from the Bucks only to shrug them off and hit double lariats on them. That set up Sydal and Ricochet to win the belts with stereo shooting star presses. One thing I disliked about the finish was that Omega stood outside and kind of just watched the pin. He should have been on the ground out there or something. The match was fun, especially to see Kojima kick ass. Of course, these belts change hands once again but I expect it now. ***½

Post-match, Satoshi Kojima got on the microphone. He thanked Ricochet and Sydal, shook their hands and they left. He called out Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Apparently, Kojima gave up his spot in the G1 to Tenzan. It will most likely be Tenzan’s final G1 and a record 20th straight for him. While I prefer Kojima, this was a cool gesture. I would rather Tenzan replace Fale or even a Tama Tonga, but this worked. I’ll just miss Kojima.

Elimination Match: Chaos (Hirooki Goto, IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito) in 20:03
The pop for Naito stepping through the curtain was top notch. For those unaware, one can be eliminated via pinfall, submission or being thrown over the top rope. I suspect disqualifications are possible but they’re rare in NJPW. We were treated to the continuations of the obvious feuds (SANADA/YOSHI, EVIL/Goto and Naito/Okada) and got really fun work from the juniors. BUSHI and Ospreay (along with O’Reilly & KUSHIDA) are the best juniors in the company. I liked that Naito and Okada went over together and first. It allowed for the spotlight to shine on the other members of each stable. EVIL eliminated Goto over the top before getting superkicked out by YOSHI-HASHI. It was down to YOSHI & Ospreay against BUSHI and SANADA. SANADA sent YOSHI out around 15 minutes before falling to Ospreay and it came down to the juniors. Things broke down following SANADA interference and everyone got involved. Chaos took out LIDJ, leaving Ospreay free to hit the Oscutter and survive for his guys. A really fun match as is always the case with these two stables. I love the inclusion of Ospreay into things. They made the eliminations smart and put some shine on Ospreay, regaining some momentum after Dominion. I wish LIDJ won though since they were swept at Dominion. ***¾

NEVER Openweight Championship: Katsuyori Shibata (c) def. Tomoaki Honma in 16:28
These two had a killer match in the G1 two years ago that was probably my third favorite of the entire tournament. Honma was sporting a HONMAMANIA shirt in yellow and pink, which is too perfect. Shibata and Honma are part of the reason the NEVER Title has kind of become the belt for the tough guys in the company. They just beat the shit out of each other and it’s glorious. For the first chunk of the match, it looked like Shibata was too much for Honma and had control. Honma might be the best underdog in wrestling, so this strategy worked. He started to rally but Shibata had the Kokeshi well scouted and managed to avoid it several times. He got in some big offensive moves though I bought that he was going to win, which he usually is able to make me believe. The final exchange of chops and headbutts features some great stuff. Shibata won in a creative way, catching a Kokeshi into the sleeper hold before hitting the Penalty Kick. Strong main event and arguably the best thing on the show. It never reached the levels of their old G1 match and the outcome never seemed in doubt but they had a really strong hard hitting match and that’s all I could ask for. ***¾

After the match, Shibata helped Honma up, only to throw him outside.

Overall: 6/10. A pretty run of the mill event for NJPW. The first two matches are decent before things get dragged way down by a shitty Page & Yujiro tag match. The final three matches are the three worth checking out. You get a fun six man tag match, another top notch chapter in the Chaos/Ingobernables rivalry and a really good main event to cap things off.