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NJPW ‘Lion’s Gate Project 12’ Results & Review

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Welcome to another edition of New Japan’s Lion’s Gate! Tonight features an appearance by independent wrestling star, Daisuke Sekimoto and a main event which sees Yuji Nagata take on K-DOJO rookie, Ayato Yoshida.

Yota Tsuji vs Yuya Uemura – 10 Minute Draw – *3/4
Uemura’s mat wrestling continues to be prominently on display as are Tsuji’s powerful strikes. They went back and forth throughout the draw, showcasing their opposite styles. In the end, it was Uemura who was locked in the Boston Crab but refused to tap out, waiting instead for the bell to signal the time limit had been reached. Tsuji refused to let go of the hold after the bell had sounded and they both traded forearms to end the segement. This was a fun encounter, both showing a lot of hostility towards the other.

Manabu Nakanishi def. Tomoyuki Oka @ 9:05 via Argentine Back Rack – *1/2
The majority of the match saw Nakanishi bully around the young lion in ways that were less than exciting or noteworthy. At around the six minute mark, Oka hit an incredible brainbuster, showing off an impressive feat of strength. Ultimately, Oka didn’t deliver enough power to keep Nakanishi down and aside from the insane brainbuster, there wasn’t much here to get anyone excited.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Hiro Sato def. Ryusuke Taguchi & Ren Narita @ 12:13 via Tenzan Anaconda Vice on Narita – *1/2
Like the previous match, most of the time was spent cutting down the young lion until he got his comeback. In Narita’s case, a dropkick, and he tagged out to Taguchi quickly thereafter. The closing stretch saw Narita catch some fire and roll up Tenzan for several near falls but Tenzan knows all the tricks and rolled the young lion into an Anaconda Vice to score the win. Not much here, everyone looked fine but nothing stood out.

Daisuke Sekimoto def. Shota Umino @ 14:38 via Lariat – **3/4
The match everyone came to see. Aside from possibly Nagata, the biggest reaction tonight was for Sekimoto. One of the most popular wrestlers on the Japanese independent circuit made a rare appearance to New Japan and received a very warm reaction. Possibly the strongest wrestler pound for pound that Japan has to offer, Sekimoto made sure to showcase his power advantage over the young lion. When the crowd rallied behind their guy, Sekimoto hit three consecutive scoop slams to the young lion and gave the fans the finger. Sekimoto challenged the young lion to fire back at him and each time Sekimoto showed everyone that he’s the man. Umino hit the outsider with several slaps across the face and managed to hoist Sekimoto up for a bridging German but only received a two count. He followed up with a dropkick from the top rope but couldn’t keep the monster down long enough for three. In retaliation, Sekimoto hit a top rope dropkick of his own before beheading Umino with a huge lariat to finish him off. This was a strong showing from Umino, who had to dig down deep to keep up with Sekimoto and lasted longer than anyone could have hoped. If you were to watch any match from this show, make it this one.

Yuji Nagata def. Ayato Yoshida @ 12:47 via Backdrop Hold – **1/4
The last Lion’s Gate show ended with Yoshida challenging Nagata to a singles match. Before his injury during the summer of last year, Yoshida scored a victory over Nagata’s team at Project 6 and delivered the same result upon his return at Project 11. The K-DOJO rookie just last month received a shot at the promotion’s top title. Although he wasn’t victorious, there’s no doubt that the company sees him as the next big thing and as proof, they want him to be the one to showcase himself against Nagata. The two are near-mirror images of one another. Both men’s offenses include heavy doses of kicks and suplexes, of which they traded back and forth before ending up in a great slap exchange. They slapped the taste out of the other’s mouth but it was Nagata who came out on top when he slammed Yoshida with the Backdrop Hold and ended the night with New Japan standing victorious.

After the match, Nagata takes the microphone and thanks the fans for coming to the show. He tells them that the young lions are the future but right now Lion’s Gate is all about him.

This was better than the average Lion’s Gate show. The appearance by Sekimoto felt special and he gave Umino more offense than the average veteran would be willing to give a young lion. Those two definitely had the standout match but the main event was good in its own right. Uemura continues to impress me with his mat wrestling and Oka’s brainbuster on Nakanishi was nothing less than incredible. Narita had a pretty forgettable outing in a match that was easily the most skippable of the night. The Sekimoto match is the one to focus on but if you’re a Nagata fan you’ll enjoy the main event.

Recommended Match
Daisuke Sekimoto vs Shota Umino

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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