Thursday, June 21, 2018

NJPW Kizuna Road Night Two Review

NJPW Kizuna Road Night Two
June 18th, 2018 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,513

Technically, it’s the third night of Kizuna Road, but only the second to air on NJPW World, so whatever. This time, things are headlined by a much more interesting sounding match as El Desperado and Hiromu Takahashi rematch their banger from the Best of the Super Juniors,

Yota Tsuji vs. Yuya Uemura
The rivalry continues. These two continue to wrestle to time limit draws. Unlike the old Young Lions rivalry between Jay White and David Finlay (where White dominated), this one is much more even. Neither man seems a step ahead of the other. Again, they were evenly matched in terms of strikes and submission attempts. Where this topped their match yesterday was in terms of urgency. As the match progressed, you got the feeling they were dying to prove who the better man was. In fact when Tsuji couldn’t get a submission on in the end, he desperately covered Uemura, only for the time to expire again at 10:00. An improvement on their last match and another chapter in the rivalry. [***]

Ren Narita and Shota Umino vs. Taiji Ishimori and Yujiro Takahashi
Almost another rematch from yesterday, but Umino is in instead of Tenzan. Like in his tag yesterday, Umino impressed. He brings a lot of energy into everything he does. By the way, I miss Hirai Kawato. He was the ultimate fiery Lion. Anyway, Narita got isolated by the Bullet Club duo with quick tags. Umino’s hot tag worked well and his interactions with Ishimori made me wish for a singles match involving them. Even if it’s just on some “Road to” show. It was Yujiro who got the win here, though, besting Umino with Pimp Juice after he survived a Fisherman buster in 7:44. Solid little match made interesting by the Ishimori/Umino interactions. [**½]

Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Tomoyuki Oka vs. Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata
Again, Satoshi Kojima looks different. I see they basically just swapped Umino and Tenzan on today’s show. It’s easy to forget that Oka is a Young Lion, because he has the face and bald spot of a much older man. He went right at the Dads, including managing to knock Nakanishi down on a shoulder block. I got a kick out of the bump Tenzan took off the apron, seemingly falling in slow motion. Oka tried his best, but eventually fell to a Backdrop Driver in 9:09. Nothing new from these guys. Oka looked good again and the Dads are always a pleasure to watch. [**¼]

David Finlay, Ryusuke Taguchi, Toa Henare, and Togi Makabe vs. Roppongi 3K, Toru Yano, and YOSHI-HASHI
CHAOS against Taguchi Japan. This was one of the more lighthearted matches you’ll get involving these guys. Yano was up to his usual tricks, while Taguchi guided his team to some fun moments. Finlay became the Taguchi Japan guy to take the heat segment. Poor guy always is in that spot. Yesterday’s tag like this had SHO battling KUSHIDA in a highlight. This didn’t have that but some of the other exchanges were strong. The hot tag to Taguchi was okay. Near the end, it became clear that the idea here was to give YOSHI-HASHI some shine and make him feel less like a pity pick for the G1. He is the least interesting guy in the field. It broke down into a big kerfuffle near the end, before YOSHI made Henare tap to the Butterfly Lock at 9:57. A notch under the tag yesterday with Jeff Cobb. It had a few fun moments. [**¾]

The G1 Climax Blocks were announced. They line up like this:

A Block: Togi Makabe, Michael Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, YOSHI-HASHI, Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page, EVIL, Minoru Suzuki

B Block: Juice Robinson, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Tama Tonga, SANADA, Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr., Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi

The B Block is clearly the superior one. All 19 shows will have English commentary.

BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA, and Tetsuya Naito vs. Taichi, Takashi Iizuka, TAKA Michinoku, and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Basically, this same match was run yesterday except the guys in our main event were removed. Naito had a nice moment where he fist bumped a nervous kid in the crowd. What a good man he is. Suzuki-Gun jumped LIDJ before the match to the surprise of no one. Most of this match featured the usual Suzuki-Gun nonsense, which is beyond tired by this point. It picked up a bit in the final minute or so, which led to BUSHI hitting MX on TAKA for the win in 10:13. Probably the worst match I’ve seen LIDJ involved in for as long as I can remember. Too much Suzuki-Gun stuff and not enough of what makes LIDJ so much fun. [**]

Post-match, SANADA refused to fist bump Naito, teasing some tension ahead of their eventual G1 matchup.

Gedo, NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto, IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion jay White, Kazuchika Okada, and RevPro British Heavyweight Champion Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jeff Cobb, Juice Robinson, KUSHIDA, and Michael Elgin
This is the quite the loaded tag. Again, I really like Cobb being in Taguchi Japan. Poor Elgin is not only facing the man who took his title yesterday, but is also teaming with the guy who wants the next shot. Interestingly, CHAOS came out to Goto’s theme. We still have sad Okada with no title. Watching him in this match was interesting. He’s going through the motions, in an almost robotic state due to being without his title. CHAOS jumped before the bell and played heels throughout. From Okada’s attitude and happiness at picking apart Tanahashi ahead of the G1, to Ishii and Gedo talking smack, to Jay White just being Jay White. Down the stretch, we got the wild barrage of offense from everyone. It made for some cool interactions and good action. It all setup Gedo tapping to KUSHIDA’s Hoverboard Lock in 12:16. A good match with some strong interactions and build for what’s coming down the line. [***¼]

Jay White wasn’t happy with the loss and planted KUSHIDA with Blade Runner. He also hit other guys with big moves, leaving Juice as his victim. Juice fought back with right hands, only to have Pulp Friction countered with a low blow, putting Jay back in control.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi [c] vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion El Desperado
Their BOTSJ match was a banger (****½), which Desperado won. Hiromu brought out a guitar case, which had flowers inside. It played off their strange interaction after Dominion. Desperado threw them at Hiromu, kick starting a brawl in the same vein as their BOTSJ match. They called back to a spot in the crowd were Hiromu hit a big dropkick, only this time he was cut off by Desperado hitting him with the guitar case. Making this a brawl like their last match was a great move. It allows them to play off the wild nature that fits both guys. Kanemaru attempted to run-in, but was thwarted and taken away by BUSHI. Hiromu succeeded in removing Desperado’s mask, and instead of cowering to hide his face, Desperado whacked Hiromu with the title, showing that the title was more important than his exposed face. Hiromu survived Guitarra de Angel, setting up a great finishing stretch. It ended when Hiromu hit the Time Bomb at 28:16. It was a bit long, but they delivered another awesome match. The interference spot wasn’t overdone and didn’t hurt the match, though I did prefer their BOTSJ match. [****¼]

Overall: 6.5/10. Better than the previous night, partially due to the main event being fantastic. Most of the undercard is just there and an easy skip, but they did some things to build future shows. Hiromu/Desperado is something to seek out, though.