Saturday, June 23, 2018

NJPW Kizuna Road Night Three Review

NJPW Kizuna Road Night Three: Super Strong Machine Retirement Ceremony
June 19th, 2018 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan | Attendance: 1,569

The final night of the Kizuna Road trilogy of events is here. It doubles as a special retirement ceremony for Super Strong Machine, who spawned the group of Machines you saw in the WWF in 1980s.

KUSHIDA and Ren Narita vs. Taiji Ishimori and Yujiro Takahashi
It’s not a major show, so Yujiro had a non-Tokyo Latina girl with him. She’s his equivalent to “suit Naito” or “black pants Kenny.” This match went exactly the way you’d expect. Ishimori and Yujiro continued to grow as a team, showing off some solid tandem offense. KUSHIDA was great when he came in, while Narita was there to take the brunt of the beating. KUSHIDA’s hot tag led to a battle with Ishimori, which is a match I want. I haven’t seen it since the Super J-Cup in 2016. Narita against Ishimori was fun, too. Yujiro put Narita down with Pimp Juice in 8:35. That was kind of fun. Ishimori against both guys was great, while Yujiro wasn’t bad either. [**½]

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, and Togi Makabe vs. Shota Umino, Toa Henare, and Tomoyuki Oka
Is Makabe a New Japan Dad yet? This reminded me that Henare spent a short time as a Young Lion. Umino went after Tiger Mask at the bell, continuing to look to prove himself. It’ll never be wild man Kawato going after guys, but it’s still fun. The best part of this match involved Henare, as his battle with Liger was really good. It came down to Oka against Makabe. Oka threw everything he had at Makabe, even scoring a near fall with a lariat. But, the King Kong Knee Drop got Togi a win heading into the G1 at 7:57. Fine enough for an undercard tag, with fire from the Lions. [**½]

Rocky Romero and Roppongi 3K vs. TAKA Michinoku and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Surprisingly, Suzuki-Gun didn’t attack before the bell. Instead, they waited to jump SHO as soon as the bell hit. VARIETY. I don’t want to spend too much time on this match. It was your usual Suzuki-Gun thing. They used underhanded tactics and Desperado cradled SHO for the win in 6:50. It happened. [*¾]

Time for some G1 Climax match announcements. Here’s the highlights..

7/14 in Tokyo: Okada vs. White/Tanahashi vs. Suzuki (Nice)
7/15 in Tokyo: Ibushi vs. Sabre/Omega vs. Naito (Wow)
7/16 in Hokkaido: Makabe vs. Suzuki/Tanahashi vs. White (Not bad)
7/19 in Tokyo: Ishii vs. Naito/Goto vs. Omega (Sounds good)
7/20 in Tokyo: EVIL vs. Makabe/Page vs. Okada (Intriguing)
7/21 in Tokyo: Omega vs. Tonga/Goto vs. Ishii (Meh)
7/22 in Tokyo: EVIL vs. Fale/Makabe vs. Okada (Okay)
7/26 in Niigata: Omega vs. Robinson/Ibushi vs. SANADA (Hype)
7/27 in Shizuoka: Makabe vs. Tanahashi/Okada vs. YOSHI-HASHI (Meh)
7/28 in Aichi: Omega vs. SANADA/Ibushi vs. Ishii (Awesome)
7/30 in Kagawa: EVIL vs. Suzuki/Elgin vs. Okada (Okay)
8/1 in Kagoshima: Omega vs. Sabre/Goto vs. Ibushi (Sexy)
8/2 in Fukuoka: EVIL vs. Tanahashi/Okada vs. Suzuki (Cool)
8/4 in Osaka: Ibushi vs. Naito/Ishii vs. Omega (Incredible)
8/5 in Osaka: Elgin vs. Tanahashi/EVIL vs. Okada (Not bad)
8/8 in Kanagawa: Omega vs. Yano/Naito vs. SANADA (LIDJ match is great)
8/9 in Tokyo: EVIL vs. White/Okada vs. Tanahashi (Nice)
8/10 in Tokyo: Naito vs. Sabre/Ibushi vs. Omega (Sweet)

Taichi and Takashi Iizuka vs. Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano
This match happened in the New Japan Cup and it was one of the worst of the year, getting a DUD rating from me. This was better, but not by much. It involved the usual Suzuki-Gun antics and again, I’m not going to waste time on much of it. Yano hit a low blow and beat Taichi with a rollup in 9:35. Moving on. [¾*]

David Finlay, Jeff Cobb, Juice Robinson, and Michael Elgin vs. NEVER Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto, IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Jay White, Kazuchika Okada, and YOSHI-HASHI
We got some build for Cobb/Goto and White/Juice in this one. Plus, there was the extended story of sad Okada since he lost his title. Cobb and Goto had a nice back and forth to start, while the personal feud between Juice and White continued as they brawled outside for a while. Juice was competing with a broken hand, by the way. Other than the focal point on those rivalries, I got a kick out of Okada’s exchanges with Cobb. Cobb threw him around like a rag doll and it was great. Juice’s hand kept coming into play, with the referee stopping him from using it and Jay attacking it. Surprisingly, that led to Jay pinning Juice with Blade Runner in 14:51. I didn’t expect that result as Finlay is the kind of guy to take pins, especially with Juice/Jay coming up. Good match with energy that had further built stuff.[***¼]

BUSHI, EVIL, IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, and Tetsuya Naito vs. Super Strong Machine Ace (Hiroshi Tanahashi), Super Strong Machine Buffalo (Hiroyoshi Tenzan), Super Strong Machine Justice (Yuji Nagata), Super Strong Machine Don (Manabu Nakanishi), and Super Strong Machine 69 (Ryusuke Taguchi)
The Super Strong Machine stuff done to honor the man himself. This was meant to be a lighthearted main event to pay tribute. Getting to see Tanahashi in Super Strong Machine gear going at it with Hiromu Takahashi was a lot of fun. LIDJ have mostly portrayed babyfaces lately, but they worked heel here as they attempted to unmask all the Machines. For the most part, there were several comedy spots that kept this at the light tone you’d expect. This ended when 69 (Taguchi) hit the Majin Fusha Gatame (bridging hammerlock suplex) at 15:33 to honor the Machine. Good old fashioned fun. [***]
The show ended with the retirement ceremony.

Overall: 5/10. A middle of the pack ending to Kizuna Road. Without a major title match at the top of the card, it lacked the big match feel that the first two shows had. However, I understand why as it was meant to honor a legend. Nothing wrong with that. Now, get me ready for that G1 Climax.