New Japan begins the Road to Destruction as the United Empire’s Callum Newman makes his debut in Korakuen Hall.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI pinned Ryusuke Taguchi & YOH in 11:17 (**¾)
Ren Narita, Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado & Tomoaki Honma submitted Oskar Leube, Shota Umino, Yuji Nagata & Master Wato in 13:08 (***¼)
Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls & Bad Dude Tito pinned Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI in 13:55 (***)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Tiger Mask & Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada & Yuto Nakashima ended in a no-contest in 14:08 (***¼)
Yota Tsuji, Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi pinned Callum Newman, Jeff Cobb, HENARE & Great O-Khan in 13:06 (***¼)
Zack Sabre Jr. submitted Ryohei Oiwa to retain the NJPW World TV Championship in 11:34 (***½)
EVIL & SHO pinned SANADA & Taichi in 17:06 (***)
It feels like it’s been ages since the G1 – 26 days, in fact – and we’re back at the grindstone as the Road to Destruction tour kicks off in Korakuen Hall. This one’s a little notable as it’s the New Japan debut of Callum Newman – who’s been touted as the United Empire’s Young Lion for the last few months.
With speculation surrounding the future of the wearers of the headsets… English commentary comes from Chris Charlton… but there’s a late change to the card as Boltin Oleg has been forced to withdraw from his NJPW World TV title match due to an infection. Ryohei Oiwa’s filling in for him instead.
Just 5 Guys (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & YOH
DOUKI and YOH start us off, trading wristlocks and side headlocks before DOUKI charged down YOH, who was sporting a Terry Funk tee on this night. Forever.
An armdrag and a dropkick has DOUKI in trouble, so Kanemaru wanders in to try and assist… but he’s made to run the ropes to the point of exhaustion with the help of Taguchi, who added a Kokeshi after Kanemaru fell to the mat. DOUKI’s taken to the corner for a barrage of running elbows from YOH, before things went awry for Taguchi in the corner who… I can only phrase it like this, virtually got sodomised with DOUKI’s pipe.
Kanemaru’s back to try and get a pin on Taguchi, but Taguchi’s able to withstand and get free to tag in YOH, who clears house ahead of a Vader Bomb Elbow on DOUKI for a two-count. An enziguiri from DOUKI buys him some time as we buffer… Kanemaru tags in… but Taguchi’s not too far behind him as running hip attacks caught Taguchi by the ropes.
The Three Amigos from Taguchi almost came off, but Kanemaru goes for the eyes before a pair of hip attacks with YOH floors Kanemaru. DOUKI pulls YOH to the outside, then evaded a hip attack as the turnaround leads to a slam and an aborted Kanemaru moonsault. That sparks a Parade of Moves, leading to the Bummer Ye for a near-fall, then Oh My & Garankle… before a spinning toe hold from Taguchi was countered into a cradle.
Another hip attack’s countered from Kanemaru, who rolls up Taguchi instead for the win in what felt like a scrappy climax. **¾
Yuji Nagata, Shota Umino, Master Wato & Oskar Leube vs. Strong Style (Minoru Suzuki, Ren Narita & El Desperado) & Tomoaki Honma
We’ve got a best-of-seven series between these teams – minus Oskar and Honma – on this tour… so why not have a preview tag?
Of course, there’s a lot of tension as we start with Suzuki and Nagata laying into each other with palm strikes. Ah, that takes me back to the rare part of the pandemic-era I remember fondly. A big boot from Nagata took Suzuki down, as those two continued to scrap despite Master Wato and El Desperado tagging in.
Wato’s front kick similarly has Desperado down, leading up to some more kicks before Honma came in to throw some chops. That led to a Kokeshi, which of course, misses, as Oskar tagged in and began to put the boots to Honma. An overhand chop stung Honma in the corner as Nagata tagged in to keep it going, as did Shota… but all of a sudden a wild Suzuki rams the ring to boot Nagata off the apron as those two picked up once more.
We’ve a dropkick through the ropes from Shota as he proceeded to hurl Narita into the guard rails… that leaves Honma on his lonesome as Oskar tagged in to presumably finish things off, but instead we keep it going as everyone had their go on the downed Honma. Shota almost laughs off Honma’s attempt to fight back.
Eventually Honma breaks free and tagged in Narita, who homed in on Umino as a half-hatch bridging suplex drew a two-count. Shota’s back with the slam facebuster and a diving uppercut, before a Fisherman suplex drew a near-fall. The pair go back to strikes from there, with Narita finding a way in with a modified Cobra twist… it’s broken out of as a release Exploder threw Narita aside.
Oskar’s back to charge through Narita with shoulder tackles, before a front kick took Ren down. A bodyslam’s next for a two-count, before Suzuki headbutted away a Boston crab on his teammate. Things break down a little from there into a Parade of Moves, before another Oskar powerslam almost put Narita away. Oskar misses a legdrop from there, as it came crashing down from there with Narita’s spinning heel kick and T-Bone suplex almost getting the win before the Cobra Twist forced Oskar to submit. If this is any indicator, that best-of-seven series is going to be tasty – but you probably knew that anyway… ***¼
TMDK (Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls & Bad Dude Tito) vs. Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) & Toru Yano
Some of the G1’s surprise packages on show here – as Shane Haste spent some time swinging on the gate as part of his entrance…
Haste was taunted by Yano because of the whole bucket-head stuff in the G1, as we start with Nicholls chopping YOSHI-HASHI ahead of an exchange of elbows. A retort from YOSHI-HASHI has Nicholls staggering into the ropes, but he’s able to return with a shoulder tackle before Goto helped YOSHI-HASHI out… by hiptossing him onto Nicholls.
Yano gets the tag in next, against Bad Dude Tito… Tito tries to stop Yano removing the corner pad, but to no avail as Yano just ended up bopping him on the head. Yano runs out to tag in Goto, who just got dumped to the mat with a shoulder with a shoulder tackle.
Nicholls tags back in on Goto, grounding him with some face-raking, before Haste returned to help on a neckbreaker/back suplex combo for a two-count. Goto gets to the ropes to stop a submission attempt, but he struggled to get out of the TMDK corner… until Tito charged him into a neutral corner for some forearms and chops.
Tito’s clothesline keeps Goto down ahead of an overhead wristlock, as Goto was having a bad time of it in the TMDK corner. Nicholls misses a clothesline, which gave Goto time to clear the TMDK corner… then hit a lariat of his own before he made the tag out to YOSHI-HASHI. The pair trade elbows, but a neckbreaker and shoulder tackle puts YOSHI-HASHI in front ahead of a dropkick to the back after Nicholls had been hung up in the ropes.
A spinebuster gives Nicholls time as Haste returned to dropkick YOSHI-HASHI into the corner. That’s added to with a leg lariat and a cannonball, before a Falcon arrow almost got Haste the win. YOSHI-HASHI buys himself some time with a low dropkick to Haste, as Yano tagged in and… sent Haste into the exposed corner.
Yano comes close from a roll-up, but TMDK swarm and isolate Yano with charges into the corner… a similar response with YOSHI-HASHI and Goto helped Yano to another roll-up, before a double-team death valley bomb from Haste and Nicholls ended up putting away Yano. ***
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Togi Makabe & Tiger Mask vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomohiro Ishii & Yuto Nakashima
Tenzan, Tiger Mask and Makabe have a shot at the NEVER trios titles tomorrow – so the dads get a warm-up here…
Everyone fights before the bell as we start with Ishii and Tenzan before Togi Makabe had even taken off his chain. Mongolian chops from Tenzan have Ishii down to his knees, but a brainbuster’s telegraphed and fought out of by Ishii, before Tenzan found form on the second attempt.
Tiger Mask, Kojima and Makabe come in as Ishii’s left isolated for some triple-teaming while Tenzan recovered… leading to a powerslam from Makabe. Tiger Mask’s in against Tanahashi, throwing kicks to keep the Ace down before Tanahashi found himself caught in a Dragon screw.
Tanahashi tries to return the favour, but gets slapped down and thrown back into the corner as Makabe returned. Okada’s in next, offering his chin up to the veteran, who gladly took him up on the offer as Makabe followed up with mounted punches in the corner. Okada blocks a follow-up Northern Lights as the pair go back to throwing elbows, as Yuto Nakashima came in to hit a hiptoss… then struggle on a bodyslam attempt.
The bodyslam lands as Nakashima’s attempt to clear the opposite apron just pissed off Kojima, who’s eventually knocked down. Nakashima refocused on Makabe, taking him to the corner as a tag brings Tanahashi back in to hit a slam and an elbow drop… Ishii’s in too, diverting his attention to knock Tenzan off the apron as things begin to fall apart with Tiger Mask now trading shots with Ishii.
Okada just watches on as the referee eventually separated the pair… my feed gives out, recovering with Kojima machine gun chopping Okada in the corner. Nakashima stops the follow-up trip up top, but a DDT stops the Young Lion in his tracks before Kojima took down Okada with a Koji Cutter.
A neckbreaker slam from Okada drops Kojima as we follow up with a Money Clip… Tenzan’s headbutts stop those, while an Anaconda Buster dropped Ishii as he came in for a fight. Okada tries to dispatch Tenzan, but instead it’s an Ishii lariat that took care of him as Okada and Tanahashi had to separate Ishii from Tenzan. Things break down again as the pull-apart fails, with Tenzan throwing aside the referee to keep stomping on Ishii… and Tenzan’s even going after his own partners before the referee threw this one out. This was a wild way to build up to tomorrow’s title match, and got me hyped up, but I got the feeling that the crowd’s love of Tenzan in the later stages of the G1 didn’t quite carry over here. ***¼
United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Great O-Khan, HENARE & Callum Newman) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Yota Tsuji & Hiromu Takahashi)
This was Newman’s debut for New Japan, having relocated to be a part of the dojo system…
We eventually get going with O-Khan and Shingo trying out a Test of Strength, before some back-and-forth ended with Shingo getting charged down off the ropes. O-Khan goes for the ear as he took Shingo into the corner, but Shingo’s able to recover with a hiptoss as Hiromu tagged in to help charge down O-Khan.
A clothesline into the corner from Hiromu led to O-Khan just picking up and dumping the junior champion to the outside as all hell broke loose on the floor… Hiromu’s taken up into the crowd as O-Khan just sits on him on the bleachers. Back inside, Hiromu’s launched into the corner by O-Khan, as Callum Newman tagged in for the first time, wowing the Korakuen crowd with some rope running ahead of a kick to Hiromu.
Cobb’s in for a one-armed stalling suplex on Hiromu, while HENARE comes in to send Hiromu back to the corner with forearms and body blows. A snapmare and a back senton squashes Hiromu for a two-count, before a Dragon screw took Henare down. Cobb’s in first as Hiromu eventually fought free and tagged in Naito… who lands a neckbreaker and a low dropkick to Cobb.
A grounded cravat keeps Cobb on the deck, but he powers up and tried to throw Naito aside before he caught Naito off the ropes… and returned with a dropkick. Naito tries a swinging DDT, but Cobb blocks it… my feed goes south again as we’re back with Callum Newman hitting a ‘rana to Tsuji, following with a springboard clothesline for a two-count.
Tsuji ducks a rebound hook kick, then slammed Newman ahead of an attempted Falcon arrow… it’s stopped as a Parade of Moves broke out, ending with Tsuji booting Cobb. Newman’s waiting, but gets caught with a gutshot from Cobb. The rebound hook kick lands at the second attempt for Newman, who almost got the win there.
A roundhouse kick lands, but Newman gets wrecked with a Gene Blaster spear from Tsuji seconds later for the win. A promising debut for Callum, but the expected result as he’s left counting the bulbs in the Korakuen Hall ceiling. ***¼
NJPW World TV Championship: Ryohei Oiwa vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (c)
Oiwa’s briefly back from his excursion with Pro Wrestling NOAH (where he’s had just one match) to fill in for the sidelined Boltin Oleg here… along with Kaito Kiyomiya in his corner.
This was Sabre’s 12th title defence, and a win would break the record for the most defences of titles in New Japan’s modern history. Something tells me the stage was set for an Oleg upset…
Oiwa took the fight to Sabre early on, charging down the champion off the ropes before things headed outside with Sabre being introduced to the guard rails. A shoulder tackle on the floor follows, as Oiwa continued to dominate in the ring, throwing forearms as Sabre was backed into the corner.
A deadlift gutwrench suplex looked to follow, but Sabre wriggled out onto the apron as Oiwa tried to bring him back in… only for Zack to drag him down into a cross armbar on the side of the ring. An apron PK followed after Sabre let go of the hold, with Zack keeping focus on that arm before heading back in to try and claim a count-out win.
Sabre pounced on Oiwa with a stomp to the elbow after a beaten count… and it’s more of the same from there. Oiwa tries to fire back, but his arm’s caught and pulled over Sabre’s shoulder again, before a double-leg takedown finally bought Oiwa some time. A back elbow off the ropes drops Sabre ahead of a bridging suplex for a near-fall…
Oiwa stays ahead with a bridging German suplex for a near-fall, before an overhead kick to the arm and a guillotine choke dragged Oiwa down to the mat. Zack rotates around holds as he’s want to do, but Oiwa withstands it all before he got folded in half with a German suplex. Popping up, Oiwa takes Sabre down with a Dragon screw, then trapped him with a Figure Four in the middle of the ring, slapping Sabre down as we crossed the ten minute mark…
Sabre tries to slap his way free, but Oiwa held on before Sabre got to the ropes… only for a teardrop suplex from Oiwa to land for a near-fall. A front kick from Sabre’s caught, but he spins out of a Dragon screw and eventually found his way in with triangle headscissors, moving into a version of the old Young Boy Killer to force the stoppage. Oiwa looked good here, but save for that Figure Four, didn’t look to threaten Sabre’s record-breaking reign too much. ***½
Post-match, Kaito Kiyomiya gets in Sabre’s face… then had a suggestion for what he was going to do at the Copperbox. Except he’s not telling us until Kobe. Wait, I thought he already challenged Will Ospreay?
House of Torture (EVIL & SHO) vs. Just 5 Guys (SANADA & Taichi)
The House of Torture have the stolen belts of their opponents here…
SANADA and EVIL start us off… but EVIL tags out to SHO before they even touched. SANADA returns the favour, but SHO bailed as Taichi came in… playing keepaway as Taichi didn’t exactly sprint to chase him. Eventually Taichi got his hands on SHO and hurled him into the guard rails, before SANADA tagged in and kept on SHO.
Things spill to the outside as Taichi’s thrown into the EAST sign, while SHO tried to take SANADA out to the WEST… before he instead opted to try and reinjure SANADA’s bicep over a hand rail. Back inside, SANADA’s thrown into the exposed corner as EVIL came in… and took SANADA back to the corner.
Taichi’s had enough and tries to hit the ring with a chair, but that’s stopped as SHO then had his turn on SANADA, raking the eyes. SANADA eventually fights back and tagged in Taichi… Kawada-ish kicks looked to lead to a Dangerous backdrop driver, but instead a hook kick drops SHO ahead of an enziguiri to EVIL.
Off come the trousers as Taichi proceeded to catch a spear from SHO… who went to the fingers before landing a misdirection spear took down Taichi. EVIL’s back to help stomp over Taichi, who manages to break free and bring in SANADA who hits some dropkicks to take EVIL outside for a plancha. Back inside, EVIL goes to the eyes to avoid a TKO, then used the ref to help with a thrust kick on SANADA. A Fisherman buster from EVIL drew a two-count on SANADA… Taichi’s in to help a turnaround, which led to a Skull End on EVIL. Dick Togo tries to interfere, but TAKA Michinoku stops him, only for Dick to suplex TAKA into SANADA in the ropes.
EVIL capitalises with Darkness Falls for a two-count, before Taichi hit the ring to subdue SHO with a Stretch Plum… SANADA’s got EVIL trapped in a Skull End. My feed gives out again as we’re back with EVIL wriggling out of a Dead Fall… there’s a ref bump to mask Dick Togo throwing a chair at SANADA… Taichi’s in to stop EVIL using the IWGP title, but a low blow and a spanner shot stops him in his tracks, before EVIL’s belt shot laid out SANADA. The ref comes to just as Everything is EVIL lands… and that’s the win. ***
Post-match, Taichi’s laid out with a Shock Arrow, while EVIL jabbed SANADA with a chair as commentary was sounding as bored of this as I was. DOUKI and Yoshinobu Kanemaru run out to make the save after Dick Togo had gotten involved…
The Road to Destruction tour is back in Korakuen Hall tomorrow, with Tiger Mask, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Togi Makabe going after the NEVER trios titles. This opening night of the Road to Destruction tour was a solid outing – although one to just whet the appetite rather than deliver anything must-see.