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NJPW ‘Lion’s Gate Project 13’ 6.13.18 Results & Review

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Shota Umino is tasked with defending the New Japan ring from K-DOJO’s rising star, Ayato Yoshida. Tomoyuki Oka receives an uptick in opponent as he faces off against Yuji Nagata. And finally, Toa Henare returns to Lion’s Gate for the first time since Project 3.

Yota Tsuji vs Yuya Uemura – 10 Minute Draw – **
A rematch of their Project 11 opener, which was both of their debut matches. I thoughts Uemura outshined Tsuji a lot the first time around but in just two months, Tsuji has improved greatly and now is the standout performer. The story here was both men’s struggle to apply the Boston Crab. Tsuji was finally able to secure the hold but just as he turned, the bell rang, signaling a time limit draw. Uemura is a good, scrappy fighter and that should be his role in his matches against Tsuji. On their debut match, he swallowed Tsuji up with his amateur style and it wasn’t the best dynamic but they’ve found something that works here with him fighting from underneath against the bigger man. Uemura started off aggressive only to be swallowed up early and forced to take a lot of punishment to his knee before finding his opportunity to strike. He cut off Tsuji’s momentum with a back elbow, followed by a dropkick, an elbow in the corner and a big slam before attempting the Boston Crab. They traded forearms and a charging Uemura was caught into a Boston Crab when the time limit was reached. Nice dynamic between these two. They have another match coming up Sunday that I’m excited to see.

Ren Narita def. Shunsuke Sayama @ 8:13 via Boston Crab – **
Asuka Project’s Sayama made his first appearance in a New Japan ring. Like the young lions, he is another young wrestler looking to improve. Not the fanciest wrestler but definitely has a more exciting offense than the young lions are allowed to display. He and Narita traded holds early on but quickly broke down into chop and slap exchanges. Narita caught a kick but ate an enziguri for his accomplishment. Sayama laid some boots in before hitting the ropes but was laid out with a dropkick. Narita returned the favor with stomps to the chest before applying the Boston Crab. Sayama has some nice flair to him and matched up nicely with Narita. They were intense and had a nice, fiery battle that I’d have no problem seeing again.

Manabu Nakanishi & Toa Henare def. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Dinosaur Takuma @ 10:34 via Henare Uranage on Takuma – **1/4
You see this match on paper and feel like you can immediately write it off. That’s not necessarily the case because this was a lot more fun than you’d expect. Yes, Takuma is dressed like a Dinosaur and yes it’s extremely goofy. The guy has a fun offense though that really helps bring life into these bare bones shows. His 180 degree legdrop and running senton were just what this match needed to keep it from feeling too long. Nakanishi had some fun too, disrespecting Tenzan by hitting some Mongolian chops on Takuma and then biting his tail. The closing stretch saw Takuma hit a big spinebuster followed by a Death Valley Driver and a corner splash. Henare caught the second splash into a spear and finished Takuma with an Uranage. Good match with a nice mix of comedy and big moves. Certainly exceeded my expectations.

Yuji Nagata def. Tomoyuki Oka @ 12:38 via Back Drop Hold – **1/2
Finally, Oka in a match against a veteran who is able to help showcase his talents. Oka is a good wrestler, as proved by this match, but rarely is able to showcase much because he’s regularly matched up with Nakanishi. He took it to Nagata early on with a relentless attack in the corner, laying in dozens upon dozens of boots to the neck and head of Nagata. His fire was put out soon after and when forearms were exchanged, Nagata seemed displeased that Oka had no more fire left in him. There were flickers of the flame when Oka applied a Camel Clutch but Nagata was able to work his way out. Nagata landed a huge Exploder Suplex and they exchanged more strikes until a spin kick and back drop suplex from Nagata ended the match. Great fire early on from Oka. He was able to be more dynamic with Nagata, who should be his opponent more moving forward.

Ayato Yoshida def. Shota Umino @ 16:47 via Back Drop Hold – ***
The two standouts of the last few Lion’s Gate shows squaring off in the main event with Umino tasked to defend New Japan from K-DOJO. Huge overhand chops back and forth to start off the match but Yoshida took things to the mat and swallowed Umino up easily. Yoshida would keep Umino grounded with various submissions, get up and show Umino disrespect by stomping his head. At one point, Yoshida even stood on Umino’s head to try to fire him back up. Umino got a couple of good comebacks, once hitting a dropkick after another great overhand chop battle but couldn’t apply a Boston Crab at full strength. He came back again later with a huge spinebuster followed by a top rope dropkick for two and immediately transitioned into a German suplex hold for another two. Yoshida was just too much for the young lion. He urged Umino to give him all he’s got in their final strike exchange before applying a crossface chickenwing. Umino got to the rope but was met with a PK, managing a kick out before a count could even be made. Yoshida followed with a second PK and finished with the back drop hold. Umino is a great underdog babyface and Yoshida is a very good wrestler in all aspects. His aggression was strong, he made Umino’s comebacks look good and can chop with the absolute best of them. Both definitely have a bright future ahead of them. This was a great showcase for Yoshida. I can see people wanting to check out more K-DOJO matches after seeing this match. He tries to shake Umino’s hand afterwards but his hand is slapped away and Umino stomps off to the back. Yoshida bows to the crowd before heading to the back himself.

As far as Lion’s Gate shows go, this was well above average. I thoroughly enjoyed each match because they all had their own unique story to tell and none of them blended together. Definitely seek out that main event and if you like what you see from Yoshida, he main evented Kenta Kobashi’s Fortune Dream 5 on Monday and that show will be available on the internet tomorrow. I will be checking that match out for sure so if you’re having troubles finding it let me know and I’ll help you out.

Recommended Match
Ayato Yoshida 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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