New Japan visits Korakuen Hall for the second night in a row, coming off the much talked about main event featuring the Golden Lovers. Much less hyped show on this night but a fair amount for the diehard New Japan fans to sink their teeth into. Let’s gets into this second stop on the Road to Destruction.
Shota Umino & Yuya Uemura def. Ren Narita & Yota Tsuji @ 8:58 via Umino Boston Crab on Tsuji – **1/4
What I loved about Narita early on in his training was his facials. He has a face similar to Taichi’s, always sour and disapproving. I see Uemura in the same way, only he feels more real. That Shibata spirit seems to flow through Uemura. All four young lions are good but my eyes always wander to the newest prospects and right now both Uemura and Tsuji are jumping off the page. Tsuji had some great rope break spots where the crowd was giving up on him but he won them back by getting the ropes time and time again. He tapped after the four Boston Crab but he showed great heart and was the highlight of the match.
Chase Owens def. Ayato Yoshida @ 8:34 via Package Piledriver – **
I’ve been talking up Yoshida for a while and this was his first chance to showcase in a singles match on the main roster. The results were positive. He focused in on the arm and forced Owens to grind him down to keep him away from further attack. Owens was insanely smooth, everything looked good from him. He took control in veteran fashion and pushed them both into a perfectly fine match. Nothing jumps out but there wasn’t any glaring negatives either so it’s an upvote both Yoshida.
Fale, Tama, Tanga & Ishimori def. Makabe, Elgin, Finlay & Henare @ 9:10 via Tama Gun Stun on Henare – **1/4
Elgin took care of both Tanga and Ishimori singlehandedly so they brought their attention to Finlay instead. The highlight came when Henare and Tama touched. Those two had some smooth exchanges that I hope we continue to see. I know some are expecting Henare to join the Firing Squad and while I’m not against it, I hope for more back and forth between Tama and Henare instead. Perfectly fine match with a nice finishing sequence.
Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI def. Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru @ 10:02 via Disqualification – **
More pre-match attacks from Taichi. He wasn’t having any of this from Goto. He constantly took it to him, even having a great strike exchange around the mid-way point. I have no doubts that their match will be perfectly fine. I’m not the highest on Taichi but he’s delivered well-enough in his heavyweight singles matches and I expect this to be no different. Kanemaru tried the mist but Y-H ducked and Goto set up for GTR but Taichi hit him in the throat with the microphone stand. He posed with the NEVER Openweight title and spent the rest of the night on commentary. The crowds definitely seem more in favor of Taichi sine his heavyweight jump and even though I try to fight it, I have little problem with Taichi in this position.
Naito, EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI def. Suzuki, Iizuka, Desperado & TAKA @ 12:36 via BUSHI MX on TAKA – **3/4
Naito refused to enter the ring so Suzuki went on the chase. He threw Naito into the rails, took him to the commentary tables and choked him with the chairs. Suzuki-Gun followed suit, demolishing LIJ on the outside. Back in the ring, they focused on EVIL, wearing him down with more chairs until SANADA got the hot tag and cleaned house. He tagged the recovered Naito back in, leading to a slap exchange between him and Suzuki. LIJ cleaned house for BUSHI to take advantage of TAKA and pick up the win for his team. Post-match Naito continued the attack on Suzuki and let Suzuki come back after him but the young lions pulled Suzuki back. Naito wasn’t done there. He baited (literally) Suzuki with the microphone. Throwing it out like fishing line and pulling it back in. Suzuki got a hold of the microphone and smashed it with a chair before heading to the back. Without a doubt the highlight of the night. These two are going to murder each other next weekend, no titles on the line, just 100% ego.
Ishii, Yano & Ospreay def. Omega, Ibushi & Yujiro @ 9:15 via Yano Roll Up on Yujiro – **1/4
Ospreay calls for Ibushi early and they trade Shooting Stars, trying to one-up the other. Ishii called for Omega to bring it but instead we see that goofball side that Ishii has no interest in. Everyone pulls each other’s hair in centipede fashion but when Omega attempts to include Ishii, he realizes Ishii doesn’t have any hair to grab and is tackled to the mat. Yano distracts the referee and low blows Yujiro, rolls him up and gets the win. Goofball match from Omega. It was fine. Ishii and Omega meet face to face after the match but Ibushi pulls Omega away.
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson def. Kazuchika Okada & Beretta @ 21:15 via Juice Pulp Friction on Beretta – **1/2
Okada gets the crowd behind Beretta the loudest I can recall. The majority of the match was everyone flexing on each other. Okada has this new spot where he kicking people low but promising it’s the inner thigh. After the third time the referee threatens a DQ and Beretta throws Okada under the bus by saying he probably should be DQ’d. The action finally started piking up around the twelve minute mark where Beretta ducked Juice’s punch, turned it into a Half & Half suplex, goes for a Satellite DDT but Juice puts the breaks on, attempts a Brainbuster but Beretta fights out of position so Juice holds him up for a Tanahashi Slingblade. Juice climbs to the top but Beretta cuts it off with a Belly-to-Belly suplex, looks for a running knee but Juice catches him and drops Beretta with a Powerbomb. Beretta hooks Juice on an attempted Pulp Friction, rolls him up, follows with a Piledriver but Tanahashi makes the save. Juice recovers, ducks Beretta’s Enziguri and plants him with Pulp Friction for the win. Okada sarcastically claps in Tanahashi’s face when he poses with the briefcase. Like the last match, there was a lot of goofiness here but the last eight minutes were high energy and a lot of fun and I’ve not hidden my love for these guys in the past.
Post-match Juice encourages Tanahashi to pull out the air guitar. He refuses but the two still celebrate with the fans as the night closes out. Juice says backstage that he must beat Cody at Long Beach to prove that he’s not a joke.
This is the type of show that makes people skip over the ‘Road to’ series and I get understand completely. There wasn’t anything great here so if you weren’t already planning to watch then I wouldn’t change those plans. That said, for the completionists and New Japan diehards, this was a perfectly solid show. Nothing great but nothing bad either, it was perfectly acceptable considering the show type. I’m not going to recommend taking time for anything but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the show.