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NJPW ‘Road to Tokyo Dome’ 12.18.17 Results & Review (Final Show Until WK12)

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The Final New Japan show of 2017! Excluding the Lion’s Gate show later this week, this is the final show NJPW will be putting on this year. As they set the stage to prepare for Wrestle Kingdom 12 we are presented with a show down between Okada and Naito, Suzuki and Goto, the Young Lions Cup semifinals and whatever other surprises end up coming out way. LIVE from Korakuen Hall, the 2017 New Japan finale.

Shota Umino def. Ren Narita @ 6:08
Kicking off another show with Young Lions Cup tournament matches. Like yesterday’s show, Umino was beaten down and tested by his opponent, this time Narita, who was attacking his injured knee. Just like the previous match, Umino overcame and forced Narita to be the one to tap to the Boston Crab. Good spirit between the two but I think Yagi and Umino had the better match.

Tomoyuki Oka def. Tetsuhiro Yagi @ 7:13
Thanks to Minoru Suzuki on the show prior, Yagi now has a shaved head. Despite being extra motivated, Yagi couldn’t bring enough to defeat Oka. His energy was high but ultimately doesn’t have the strength that Oka possesses. Another match with good spirit but Oka gave up way too much offense that it was tough to buy into. Once he locked in the Boston Crab, it was over.

Katsuya Kitamura def. Hirai Kawato @ 4:13
The most experienced young lion versus the most beloved. Kawato was beaten down and forced to find creative ways to defeat the monster, Kitamura. He transitioned Kitamura from an armbar to a triangle but the strength advantage of Kitamura allowed him to muscle out, hit a Jackhammer and remain undefeated in the tournament. Short but solid story. People love Kitamura is tag matches but at this point is easily exposed in singles matches.

Kushida, Liger, Masked Horse (Taguchi) & Tiger def. Deperado, Taka, Kanemaru & Taichi @ 8:44
We start off with Taguchi on all fours, asking to be spanked by Taichi. So that’s what we’re getting. Once Taguchi isn’t involved the match picks up. All these guys have good chemistry which is why we’ve seen this combination as much as we have this year. The babyfaces all got a good highspot and it was short enough to where it didn’t overstay its welcome. What did overstay was Taguchi’s post-match celebration. He and Tiger spanked Taka and pretended to ride around the ring on a horse, everything I can do without. Thanks guys. Oh, Taguchi won with his take on the Bomaye.

Ishii & Yano def. Makabe & Henare @ 6:49
Henare looked to pick a fight with Ishii right off the bat. What a beautiful mistake that was. These two brawled around and beat each other up inside the ring for the vast majority of the match and it was great! When New Japan gives Ishii a direction to go with he excels 100% of the time. I could watch him beat up everybody everyday. There were forearms, slaps of disrespect and a nasty brainbuster to end things for Henare. This was a complete surprise of a moment. Who doesn’t love when Ishii is turned up to a hundred? These are the moments you hope for when you watch road shows that have a tendency to be mundane.

Evil & Sanada def. Fale & Yujiro @ 8:08
Pretty standard work. Fale and Yujiro isolated Evil as long as they could until Sanada got the hot tag. Fale went to break up a pin with a splash but Sanada moved and Fale lands on Yujiro. Evil dumped Fale to the outside and they pinned Yujiro after a Magic Killer. Fine match and a good finish.

Ibushi, Tenzan & Kojima def. Tama, Tanga & Leo @ 10:34
Always fun to see Tama Tonga do his super athletic or comedy work and here we got both. He and Ibushi started the match off hot which after the last match, was appreciated. Always fun to see a fired up Kojima as well. All around this was fun. Leo attempted to dump Ibushi to the outside but he hopped over and hit a Golden Triangle onto Tama. Really nice to be seeing a motivated Ibushi these last two nights. He hit Leo with Kamigoye and winning the match. Post-match he celebrates with the veterans. All around fun.

Goto & Yoshi-Hashi def. Suzuki & Iizuka @ 16:33
Suzuki charged at Goto with clippers before he could enter the ring. The two brawled into the crowd for a few minutes before the match began inside the ring. They began to heat up about twelve minutes in and Goto appeared to have the win via cross armbreaker but the entire crew of Suzuki-Gun ran in and caused the DQ win for Goto and Y-H. I’m ecstatic that this was the last match between the two until Wrestle Kingdom. I’m tired of seeing the build, I just want the match. Post-match Suzuki finally agrees to a match at Wrestle Kingdom. The winner receives the NEVER Openweight Championship. The loser gets their head shaved. Hair versus title at Wrestle Kingdom.

Tanahashi comes limping to the ring and apologizes that he cannot wrestle tonight. Just as his speech is about to end, Jay White comes out. The two have a striking battle before White attacks the injured knee of Tanahashi and leaves him laying.

Naito, Hiromu @ Bushi def. Okada, Sho & Yoh @ 15:07
The last time Okada and Naito will touch until Wrestle Kingdom and the vision we’re left with is Naito kicking Okada in the dick and planting him with Destino. Snow falls into the ring as Okada is assisted to the back by young lions. Strong finale in the build to the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. These two are bound to have an absolute classic on January 4th. Tonight’s match, as expected, was good. You can see clearly how much better Sho is than Yoh at this point in their carriers. Sho ate up the opportunity to wrestle these three and excelled. I’m very excited for his future. Good ending to not only the show but 2017 for New Japan.

While nothing was game changing and must-see, the main event, the showdown between Ishii and Henare and watching Kota Ibushi truly enjoy himself were all positive highlights to the show. Suzuki and Goto was made official, both man’s hair is now on the line as is the championship. Jay White made an appearance, laying out Tanahashi and looking like a credibly threat. The young lions matches were all less than yesterday’s quality, unfortunately, but overall a pretty good ending with three WK12 championship matches highlighted to end the show.

Robert McCauley watches and enjoys giving his take on Japanese professional wrestling.

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