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NJPW ‘Road to Destruction’ (9.9.17) Event Recap

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We’re on the Road to Destruction and the first stop is September 10th in Fukushima! Tonight’s show in Tokyo featured matches that will help build the intensity for Fukushima and beyond.

Nagata, Kawato & Oka def. Nakanishi, Kitamura & Umino @ 8:53
Yuji Nagata and Nakanishi pick up where they left off yesterday with high intensity. Both veterans have a team of young lions behind them. They tag in a young lion each, Kawato and Kitamura. Nakanishi’s team isolates Kawato, using power moves on the much smaller man to keep him grounded. Kawato fires up and tags in Nagata who cleans house. Again both veterans tag in the lions, this time Oka and Umino. With a top rope dropkick, Kawato gets his revenge on Kitamura. Oka uses the isolation on Umino to lock in the Boston Crab for the win.

Goto, Yoshi-Hashi, Beretta & Jado def. Fale, G.O.D. & Yujiro @ 9:40
In these opening tags at Korakuen Hall, Tama Tonga always comes off very relaxed and comfortable. He’s able to be more comedic to the crowd and that’s where he excels. The Bullet Club teams gets the heat on Yoshi-Hashi before making the tag to Goto who cleans house. He tags in Beretta who fought for his revenge from the previous night when he was defeated by Yujiro. Beretta locks Yujiro’s legs into a Figure Four and rolls him up to score the victory. Post-match Bullet Club beat down Chaos, isolate Beretta, mocking him by welcoming him to the heavyweight division.

War Machine & Makabe def. K.E.S. & Taka @ 7:40
In the third match two of the three teams competing for the IWGP Tag Team Championship matches scheduled to take place on the 10th, 16th and 24th respectively, were involved in a six-man tag.

Makabe comes out wearing the War Machine face paint. I always really enjoy these ‘Road to’ shows because the wrestlers who usually are super serious lay back a bit more and have some fun. As per usual, Suzuki-Gun take advantage from the start and the team brawl on the outside. Lance Archer’s many years wrestling in Japan have made him such a pro at getting positive crowd reaction. Very underrated guy. The intensity by both War Machine and K.E.S. hyped me up for their three-way match tomorrow. Makabe hit the King Kong Knee Drop on Taka to score the pin.

Ospreay & Romero def. Hiromu & Bushi @ 11:15
Both Hiromu and Bushi come out sporting masks, Bushi’s poking fun at Romero’s old Black Tiger gimmick. Romero himself comes out in the Black Tiger mask while Ospreay has his face painting like a cat. Himoru and Bushi both felt like total stars on their way to the ring. The LIJ team isolate Romero who eventually gives the hot tag to Ospreay. The action between Romero and Bushi was very heated. Romero counters Bushi’s MX into a dropkick and Ospreay counters Hiromu’s Sunset Flip powerbomb into a Rana before Romero hits the Nomisugi Knee on Bushi to end the match. Both Ospreay and Romero put on the masks that Hiromu & Bushi came out with and do their poses before heading to intermission.

During intermission the Switchblade package from G1 plays again, reminiscent of Hiromu’s Time Bomb package from this time last year. The most notable rumor is that this is Sami Callihan.

Robinson & Finlay def. Owens & Leo Tonga @ 9:30
Coming back from intermission is this tag team match where Bullet Club’s goal is to weaken Juice before his match on the 24th against Omega for the IWGP US Championship. Just before Leo is about to finish off Juice, Owens stops him and says he has a message from Kenny. Owens then attempts the One-Winged Angel but is countered into a Pulp Friction. Juice does the same to Leo and gets the pin. The chemistry between Leo and Juice is already very solid which makes me wonder if they wrestle in the dojo a lot. Post-match Juice is given a Taguchi-Japan towel to wipe himself down. The custom is the fan gives the towel and the wrestler wipes down and hands it back in appreciation. Juice’s charisma is off the charts recently, really endearing himself to the New Japan faithful.

Naito, Evil, Sanada def. Okada, Ishii & Yano @ 10:52
The semi-main event featured four of the six competitors that will face off for the NEVER 6-Man Championships on Sunday.

This isn’t news but Naito is truly oozing with the ‘it’ factor. The young kids come up to him and he acknowledges them to the older fan’s delight. Very smart move, even as a “heel”. We’ve been seeing this transition into a face from Naito for about a year now. Evil and Okada start off the match. Right off the bat Okada gains the upper hand and insults Evil by talking him his birth name, Wantanabe. Naito and Ishii are tagged in and immediately, all members of LIJ attack the knee of Ishii. This knee was legitimately injured at the hands of Zack Sabre Jr. during the G1 and with Ishii having a match against Naito next month for the right to main event WK12, LIJ are taking advantage of the injury. As Okada and Evil have more matches against one another, their chemistry increases and right now it feels like their IWGP Heavyweight Championship match on October 9th will be incredible despite the predictable outcome. Sanada gets his revenge on Yano from the previous night by low-blow and rolls him up to gain victory. Naito taunts Ishii and Okada taunts Evil before heading to the back.

Elgin, Tanahashi, Kushida, Taguchi & Ricochet def. Suzuki, Iizuka, Desperado, Kanemaru & Taichi @ 25:10
Like Thursday, today’s main event was another 5-on-5 elimination rules match. On opposite sides were Suzuki and Elgin, the latter challenging the former for the NEVER Openweight Championship in tomorrow’s main event. This match also served the purpose of giving us a taste of Kushida and El Desperado, who have a match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship on the 16th. Funky Future (Taguchi & Ricochet’s tag team name) and Taichi & Kanemaru too had the opportunity to feel each other out before their match on the 16th when they battle over the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships.

The typical Suzuki-Gun brawls opens up this match with each guy going through the second rope to the outside in order to not be eliminated. When returning back to the ring, Ricochet nearly dives over the top but is cutoff by Taguchi who reminds him of the rules. Suzuki targets Tanahashi’s arm in the first half of the match with the goal to soften the arm up for Sabre who is challenging Tanahashi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship on the 16th. Elgin and Suzuki have a heated strike exchange, neither guy backing down. Kanemaru gains the first elimination by swinging Ricochet into a roll up @ 12:07. Taguchi is quick to avenge his partner, countering Kanemaru and rolling him up himself @ 13:13. With his back turned, Taguchi is locked into the Gedo Cluth by Taichi and is eliminated @ 14:00. While Taichi is on the apron, Kushida picks up an elimination with a handspring kick into the ropes @ 15:40. Iizuka comes rushing in with the Iron Claw, jabbing Kushida in the throat and is rolled up by Desperado @ 17:40. Both Tanahashi and Desperado are sent over the top but hang onto the ropes. They kick at each other, trying to score an elimination. Tanahashi succeeds and Desperado is out @ 18:34. The celebration for the ace is cut short though when Iizuka pushes him over the top @ 18:47. With the referee distracted, all of Suzuki-Gun hit the ring to gang up on the last remaining man, Elgin.

The entire team is not enough for Big Mike. He lifts Iizuka up for an Elgin Bomb, eliminating him @ 19:59. The two remaining men, Suzuki and Elgin, who have a match tomorrow night start littering one another with strikes. When Elgin begins gaining the upper hand, Suzuki pulls the referee in between them and all members from both teams hit the ring. Once the chaos ends, Elgin dumps Suzuki over the top to the apron and eliminates Suzuki with a gamengiri @ 25:10. An irate Suzuki beats down the young lions at ringside with a chair before stomping off to the back. Elgin celebrates the victory with his team before heading to the back. He returns shortly after stating that Suzuki has already left the building so he can’t get revenge right now. Backstage each Taguchi-Japan member has a message for the Suzuki-Gun members they face in the coming week and that’s how the show ends.

Another eventful show as we’re now about to enter Destruction. They’ve done good at hyping Suzuki/Elgin and especially Okada/Evil, which I fully expect to be an incredible match even if the outcome is obvious. Tomorrow’s title matches are Bushi, Evil & Sanada (c) vs Okada, Yano & Romero War Machines (c) vs G.O.D. vs K.E.S., and Suzuki (c) vs Elgin. The start time is 12am PST/3am EST/8am BST.

Robert McCauley is an NJPW enthusiast who has seen every show live since Jan. 4, 2015.

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