Wednesday, March 1, 2017

NJPW New Japan Road Review

NJPW New Japan Road
March 1st, 2016 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,401

Yujiro Takahashi def. Tomoyuki Oka in 5:18
Oka is an impressive young lion, while Takahashi is among the worst performers in NJPW. At least his gimmick is cool. He doesn’t have his cool theme anymore, which is sad. Oka came out firing and used his power for an early upper hand. Takahashi turned it around and works some generic stuff. It’s really all he’s got. Oka fought back hard and locked in the Boston crab, but Takahashi reached the ropes. Yujiro then hit the pimp juice DDT for his first singles win since 2015. This was standard. Oka brought some fun fire and Yujiro got a win before his upcoming early exit in the New Japan Cup. 

CHAOS (Jado, IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Roppongi Vice and YOSHI-HASHI) def. Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) in 10:08
Man, CHAOS has beef with everyone huh? Jado and Desperado began, which almost instantly put me to sleep. Jado is so bad. Everybody ended up brawling outside, with Suzuki-Gun using their trademark underhanded tactics. Jado continued to take a beating, even with the ring bell hammer, but I just can’t muster up sympathy for him. He made the tag to Beretta, so RPG Vice came in to save the match. Kanemaru bumped their stuff horribly. YOSHI then got the tag and he came in hot. The match broke down and he was left alone with TAKA. YOSHI made him submit to the butterfly lock. So, Suzuki-Gun returned and has looked like complete losers. I would be more upset but I’d like the Jr. Tag Title picture to move away from the unit. With guys like Sabre and Dragon Lee bolstering the Jr. ranks, there’s no excuse to waste the division on the likes of Taichi. Also, Jado sucks. **

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, The Guerillas of Destiny and Kenny Omega) def. Manabu Nakanishi, TenKoji and Yuji Nagata in 10:20
THE NEW JAPAN DADS! This started quickly, with everyone going at it. Omega sold the Kojima chops, with his shirt over his head, in hilarious fashion. As the match calmed down, Kojima took the heat, including a series of chops from Tonga that kind of mimicked his. He took all sorts of tandem offense. Nagata got the hot tag and ran wild over everyone. Judging by the way he suplexed GOD around, you’d think he had a rivalry with them. Nakanishi got the tag, which the crowd loved. Omega saved his guys and hit Nakanishi with v-trigger, leading Tonga winning with the Gun Stun. I found this to be fun. The New Japan Dads brought energy, while the Bullet Club played their roles well. It was a clear night off for Omega but even had some fun. **¾

CHAOS (NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto and IWGP Tag Team Champions Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) def. Great Bash Heel and Jushin Thunder Liger in 10:26
This was here to help build to Yano and Ishii vs. GBH for the Tag Titles. Goto and Liger were kind of just there. Surprisingly, Honma hit Kokeshi in the first few minutes and the crowd ate it up. Yano did Yano things for a bit. Honma took a bit of a beating from the three CHAOS members. Ishii no sold some of his chops as they called back their old rivalry. They seemed to tease Goto/Liger, which would be a fun NEVER Title match if we got it. I don’t see it on a big event but still. Liger came close to beating Yano with a rollup before Yano returned the favor and got the three. About on par with the last match. Goto and Liger had fun interactions, while the tag guys did what you’d expect. **¾

Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Minoru Suzuki def. David Finlay and Katsuyori Shibata in 14:37
The New Japan Cup brackets were released the other day and one of the matches that excites is between Shibata and Suzuki. It’ll be their first singles match since 2004. They had some back and forth at the start before Finlay took on the larger Davey Boy Smith. This went the Suzuki-Gun route you’d expect with outside brawling. Finlay got caught in an armbar over the ropes, while Shibata got destroyed in the crowd. That included having his arm wrenched while wrapped in a chair. That led to Finlay taking a beating from the heels. Shibata’s eventual hot tag still led to him getting put in an arm submission. The fans loved their exchanges. Finlay ended up going against Smith in the end and fell to a sitout powerbomb while Shibata and Suzuki fought outside. Best thing on the show so far. Finlay and Smith looked great out there, while this added to my existing excitement for Shibata/Suzuki. ***¼

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, KUSHIDA, Michael Elgin and Ryusuke Taguchi def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champions BUSHI, EVIL and SANADA, IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi and IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito) in 12:57
This was here to build Takahashi/Taguchi but also now helps set up EVIL/Tanahashi during the New Japan Cup. I’ve seen it a lot in these multi-man tags but the interactions between Naito and KUSHIDA are always awesome. Naito got taken out by a five man dropkick from all his opponents. We also got a preview of a potential KUSHIDA/Takahashi rematch down the line. KUSHIDA took a short heat but then Tanahashi and Elgin got their time to shine. EVIL got his knees up on a double team attempt and Juice got the tag along with BUSHI. Juice brought his usual fire but got hit with tandem offense by LIDJ. The final stretch saw a barrage of everyone getting their stuff in. Tanahashi took out EVIL with a dragon screw, leaving BUSHI alone to lose to Pulp Friction. Another solid win for Juice on the way to the New Japan Cup. This worked to continue the existing feuds and setup some upcoming matches, while being full of action. I continue to say it because it remains true but LIDJ have mastered the multi-man tag. ***½

Tiger Mask IV and Tiger Mask W def. Gedo and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada in 17:11
IT’S BRING YOUR KID TO WORK DAY! Seeing Ibushi vs. Okada was admittedly interesting, though not quite as fun as it would be if it weren’t under these circumstances. Their match in 2014 was great. After the Tiger Mask team held serve, the CHAOS buddies went after the masks. Tiger Mask IV took the heat for a while and W kept getting knocked off the apron or thrown outside. He finally got the hot tag and did trademark Ibushi spots. I miss Ibushi. He and Okada exchanged some counters of their signature moves, including W turning a Rainmaker into a great German suplex. They brawled outside, giving us Gedo and IV for a bit. Gedo was rather entertaining here. He took a bit of a beating on a tombstone, dropkicks and head butts. W took out Okada with a moonsault, while IV beat Gedo with a tiger driver. This was a fun main event highlighted by Ibushi vs. Okada with some Gedo entertainment sprinkled in. ***¼

Overall: 6/10. Like most of the smaller NJPW shows, this was filled with tags and mostly entertaining but not blow away. The main event was fun, while the two matches before it were also really good. The show also clocks in at under 2.5 hours, making it a very easy watch.