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NJPW ‘Road to Tokyo Dome’ 12.17.17 Results & Review

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LIVE from Korakuen Hall, New Japan returns! This is the second to last show before the main guys head home and wait until Wrestle Kingdom 12, January 4th, at the Tokyo Dome.

Shota Umino def. Tetsuhiro Yagi @ 7:59
We start off the show with Young Lions Cup tournament matches. Both lions excelled in their roles. I think they both are best in the roles given in this match. Yagi is great as the pissy heel and Umino shines in the face position. Umino was beat down and his leg was targeted the entire match but made his comeback and got the win with a Boston Crab. Very, very good match when you consider where these two are in their experience as professional wrestlers. With this victory, Umino eliminated Yagi from potentially winning the tournament.

Katsuya Kitamura def. Ren Narita @ 5:35
Narita can try and try all he wants, Kitamura wasn’t going to allow himself to be beaten. The strength of your heart doesn’t matter when matched up against the strength of Kitamura. This was a test of Narita’s heart and he unfortunately wasn’t able to get it done. Kitamura picked up the win with a Jackhammer. Fine, solid match, more typical of what you’d expect from young lions. With the loss, Narita is now eliminated from the possibility of winning the cup. Kitamura now sits at 4-0 which eliminates Umino’s chances of tournament glory.

Hirai Kawato def. Tomoyuki Oka @ 5:24
The two most experienced of the young lions faced off in what featured several good moments and a surprise finish. These two are a step beyond the rest of the class and it’s apparent here. Kawato landed some good strikes, Oka a beautiful belly-to-belly but Kawato traps the legs and rolls Oka up for the win. Kitamura and Kawato remain undefeated and Oka takes his first loss. Very crisp and fun all throughout this one.

Taka, Desperado & Kanemaru def. Liger, Tiger & Henare @ 8:04
The legends are able to out wrestle the heels but in typical Suzuki-Gun fashion, they take it to the outside to gain the advantage. Once back in, the legends again take care of business. Suzuki-Gun do their best to cause chaos and get under their skin. The strategy works as Liger goes to spit Kanemaru’s whisky into Desperado’s face but Desperado ducks and the spit hits Tiger. Desperado rolls Tiger up for the win. Creative/shocking finish to what otherwise felt typical up until that moment.

Ibushi & Makabe def. Yujiro & Leo @ 10:10
This is the Kota Ibushi we all crave to see on a regular basis. Tis man was on absolute fire from the jump. He flew all over the place getting huge babyface reactions, this was all sorts of exciting. He wins the match by pinning Leo after a Kamigoye, no surprise. Post-match Ibushi celebrates like a child but Makabe is quick to put him in his place, reminding him he’s an adult. Once Makabe leaves the ring Ibushi goes back to acting like a child over this win. Very silly dynamic between the two. The match was pretty fun all throughout.

Goto, Ishii & Yano def. Suzuki, Iizuka & Taichi @ 11:48
Suzuki comes on bearing clippers, threatening to cut Goto’s hair. Ishii’s arm is in a brace, hopefully it’s not too serious. This was the typical Suzuki-Gun nonsense. Goto and Suzuki shared some nice strike exchanges, Goto gained the upper hand and hit Taichi with the GTR for the win. Fairly standard but post-match things heat up between Goto and Suzuki. The two have to be pulled apart, but come back together and have another strike exchange. An enraged Suzuki shaves Yagi’s head on the outside after being tossed out of the ring by Goto. Nice heat to cap off the match but as for the match itself, pretty standard.

Kojima, Kushida & Masked Horse (Taguchi) def. Sho, Yoh & Romero @ 11:59
Taguchi is revealed as the Masked Horse, a promotion for a new app…or something. Both Sho and Yoh were able to get a good amount of time in the ring with Kushida. Those three with be staples in the company’s junior division for years to come. It’ll be exciting to see their chemistry grow and evolve. This turned into a chaotic mess of a tag match. Bodies flying everywhere and a bunch of goofy spots. The Masked Horse did a celebration dance post-match to the crowd’s approval. Silly, harmless fun. Never my thing but some people love this stuff so I hope those people were entertained.

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Fale & G.O.D. def. Evil, Sanada & Bushi (c) @ 15:21

We started off with about ten minutes of Bullet Club’s slow, plodding offense until things picked up and got chaotic. They ended up getting creative in the closing stretch with a few good near falls so I can’t bury this match but the first half or so was brutal. In a bad way. Bushi eats Fale’s Gernade to lose the titles for LIJ, ending their record-setting reign. Evil and Sanada are on to greater things anyway. This couldn’t have felt any more like a time filler until the finish. But again, fortunately the finish was creative and fun.

Okada & Yoshi-Hashi def. Naito & Hiromu @ 16:44
This was not the Naito we’re used to seeing. Gone were the fun and games, he was serious. He locked Yoshi-Hashi into a Figure 4 and stared him dead in the eyes. Intense. The intensity didn’t change the result. Okada locked in the Cobra Clutch on Hiromu, forcing him to submit. Post-match Okada keeps the hold locked in, no sells Naito’s stomps to the face, pops up and after a few counters, hits the Tombstone and Rainmaker onto Naito. Intense. How anyone could not be into this feud is beyond me. Once again they change up enough to make this a lot of fun. Hiromu at one point hit Okada with a German suplex and followed up with a Time Bomb which Yoshi-Hashi had to break up, it was not kicked out of. Hot finish to the night.

New Champions and a fun main event on this edition of New Japan from Korakuen. These road shows are never something necessary. Feuds are given heat which adds context to the big matches. That helps but to say you must go out of your way would be a lie. The young lions matches were all fun, Ibushi’s tear through Bullet Club and the main event, all stuff I thoroughly enjoyed. You can manage nit to watch any of this but it was a few show for what it set out to accomplish. Tomorrow is the final show for the main card before
Wrestle Kingdom 12, January 4th, at the Tokyo Dome.

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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