A week on from headlining Madison Square Garden, it was back to the grind for New Japan as they began the road to Wrestling Dontaku.
The tour starts in Ibaraki’s Tsukuba Capio, and we’re just looking at Japanese commentary here. Even not understanding the language, it’ll probably be better than some of the stuff from last weekend…
Yuya Uemura vs. Yota Tsuji
These two have drawn every time they’ve wrestled each other in singles matches – today, they’re getting five more minutes from the off to see if that helps.
Uemura and Tsuji started how you’d expect given their even records, swapping holds at the like, with a little bit of urgency behind it all. Tsuji’s legs were targeted from the off as he was forced into the ropes from a grapevine before he tried to fight back, eventually doing so with a huge shoulder tackle, only for Uemura to take him back down with a slam. Another leg lock has Tsuji in trouble, before a nice back body drop got him back in it. Now Tsuji goes for a Boston crab, and can hold it in much longer than before, even dragging Uemura back into the ring before we got the submission! Finally we have a victor, and despite being on the defensive for most of the match, it’s Yota Tsuji who broke the deadlock. Decent stuff for the Young Lions, with their usual urgency making this a really easy watch. ***
Ren Narita vs. Toa Henare
Toa Henare’s back in with the Young Lions, albeit this time in the search for what ought to be an easy win.
Narita’s the early aggressor, which seemed to catch Henare off guard before he responded with a headlock takedown. Henare eases into an advantage as he chopped away at Narita, who offered some resistance, only to get caught in a full nelson which he broke away with some neat headbutts. A brainbuster nearly gets Narita the upset, before my feed died briefly… It’s back as Henare runs through Narita with a clothesline for a near-fall, before he had to resist some pinning attempts from the Young Lion until a headbutt and a uranage got the win. By the numbers stuff as this went as expected – Narita offered some resistance, but Henare’s still spinning his wheels around here. **½
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado) vs. Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Shota Umino
Unlike MSG, we get the real theme here as Suzuki’s back to bullying the locals.
Of course, there’s a jump start, as the match instantly headed outside. Desperado and Umino take it to the ring for slightly less chaos, with the Young Lion looking for a Boston crab early, only to release it as Kanemaru threatened to break it up. Umino’s reward for that? To get thrown to the outside as we have more bedlam in the crowd… Back inside, Umino throws forearms at Suzuki, who laughs him off before giving him one of those horrid elbows. Umino gets tied up in a single leg Boston crab that was almost like a Lion Tamer, before Kanemaru damn near killed Umino with a guillotine legdrop on the guard rails.
Bravely, Umino again fought back, landing a dropkick to take down Kanemaru as Nagata came in… and quickly got stomped on as he had Kanemaru in a Nagata lock. Kojima’s in too with Machine Gun chops to Suzuki, who neatly scuttles across the ring to stop the follow-up elbow drop. We’re back to Umino trying his luck with Suzuki, scoring with a missile dropkick for a two-count, before he got caught in a double armbar from Suzuki that ended with a real struggle to get to the bottom rope. Despite trying to shock with small packages and roll-ups though, it’s elementary as Suzuki slipped into a rear naked choke and a Gotch piledriver as Suzuki finally ended the resistance. Wonderful heart from Umino, whose partners somehow were being restrained for the final minute or so of this… ***¼
Togi Makabe, Toru Yano & Tomoaki Honma vs. Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Taiji Ishimori)
We’ve got a thread from MSG here as Toru Yano’s holding the Guerrillas’ IWGP titles captive… so they’re being humiliated as they have to wear the ROH tag titles they won.
Tama Tonga manages to retrieve the belts while Toru Yano was being choked on… but rather than take them to the back, he leaves them with the rest of the hardware that the timekeeper was looking after. That may be a mistake… Yano removes a turnbuckle pad, because of course he does, but he doesn’t get to use it as the Guerrillas remained in control. Tama whips Yano into the exposed corner before the favour was returned, giving Yano an opening as he finally fought out to make the tag to Makabe. There’s a scoop slam from Makabe to Tama, who returned with a spear before Tanga Loa found himself triple-teamed.
A diving Kokeshi from Honma hits the mark for a near-fall, before Tanga Loa fought out of a sit-out piledriver. There’s a Kendo stick shot from Jado that led to a near-fall on Honma, before Tanga landed Apeshit for the win. Solid, but you probably knew what sort of match you were getting here… and yeah, Yano made an exit with the IWGP tag titles after the match. At least he had taste, leaving the ROH straps behind… **¾
Bullet Club (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Hikuleo) vs. Hirooki Goto, Juice Robinson, Mikey Nicholls & Ryusuke Taguchi
Jay looks a little lighter since the Garden…
Owens and Nicholls started out, largely trading chops before he found himself triple-teamed as Taguchi was shot-calling. Things “settle down” as Juice got taken to the back of the room as Fale threw boxes of merch at him, meaning the ref was distracted while Taguchi got choked out with a towel. There’s, erm, chops to Taguchi’s arse from White, who then countered a hip attack before Taguchi finally landed it. The ring fills up as Goto lands an ushigoroshi to White, then a Saito suplex for a near-fall. Another dodgy feed means I miss a chunk of the match, returning as Juice cannonballed into Hikuleo, before he had to fight out of Fale’s Grenade.
A clothesline takes Fale to the outside, before Hikuleo landed a Flatliner for a near-fall. Juice is back quickly with a falling DDT, the Left Hand of God, and a Pulp Friction for the win. This was fine, but never really got going for my tastes as we wait to see what’s next for Jay White after losing the big one. **¾
Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Kota Ibushi, YOSHI-HASHI & Jushin Thunder Liger
This was Ibushi’s first outing since winning the Intercontinental title at the Garden, and with all the combos we have here… of course they threaten us with Taichi against YOSHI-HASHI.
YOSHI playfully slapped Taichi after taking him into the corner, following up with a Bunker Buster before the crowd roared for Liger’s appearance. Sabre’s in to tie up everyone, as the match spilled outside like they’re want to do, as Liger gets hurled into the guard rails… then taken into the crowd by Taichi. The focus on Liger remained in the ring, as he was able to come back with a superplex to TAKA before getting the tag out. Ibushi turns it up a notch as he lit up Sabre with kicks and a standing moonsault for a near-fall, only for Zack to tie him up in a STF/Muta lock combo. Ibushi got to the ropes and eventually brings in YOSHI-HASHI like a lamb to the slaughter, but TAKA’s back too as he ended up running through YOSHI with a knee for a near-fall.
Off come Taichi’s pants, but Liger’s in with Shoteis to start a Parade of Moves, ending with a hanging Ibushi missile dropkick to take Sabre outside. In the end, a Western Lariat and a Kumagoroshi from YOSHI-HASHI gets the win over TAKA. Decent, but like most of this show, nothing that you’ll feel the need to come back to… ***
Post-match, Sabre attacked Ibushi and spiked him with a Zack Driver. Yep, we’re getting Sabre/Ibushi later on the Dontaku tour…
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Rocky Romero & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
The return of the champion Rainmaker, and his multi-coloured ring robe that makes it annoying as hell to screencrap without getting too much pixelation…
Okada and SANADA start us off, a rematch from the New Japan Cup final, before we switched up to EVIL and Ishii pelting each other with elbows. Lovely. An attempted Edgucator from EVIL ends quickly in the ropes, before Shingo and YOH traded blows, with SHO and Rocky coming in to help as Roppongi 3K edged ahead.
LIJ turn it around, largely because they threw everyone into the guard rails, which continued back in the ring as Shingo and Naito worked over YOH. BUSHI tries to block a Dragon screw, only to get taken down at the second attempt, before we got the glorious sight of SHO and Shingo exchanging clotheslines. Shingo’s quickly out and replaced by BUSHI, who too eats a lariat, before tags took us back to Okada and SANADA. SANADA takes a back elbow before blocking some strikes as he took down Okada for a Paradise Lock… which is easily pushed away. A neckbreaker slam works for the champion, who then got to flapjack Naito with ease.
Rocky’s in to ‘rana away Shingo, leading to Forever lariats on poor Naito, then a trio of leaping knees from Rocky and Roppongi 3K as a running Sliced Bread nearly put Naito away. Lariats from EVIL turn it back around, before he trapped Ishii in a Sharpshooter… leaving nobody free as Rocky eats a Destino for the pin. A solid main event, with Naito – who’s not really got much going on on this tour – taking the win for his side. ***½
A show over in a little over two hours? After all the wrestling last week, I heartily approve – the opening night of the Dontaku tour was a very easy watch, but unless you’re looking for the germlings of build for the bigger shows, there’s not much here you need to rush to see.