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NJPW ‘Road to Wrestling Dontaku 2018’ 4.14.18 Results & Review

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The returning Naito helps sell out Korakuen after yesterday’s low turnout without him. Meanwhile, the absence of both Tanahashi and Okada didn’t seem to affect tonight’s attendance. Another main event elimination match, this time between LIJ and SZKG as we head closer into Wrestling Dontaku!

Ren Narita def. Yota Tsuji @ 8:47 via Boston Crab – *3/4
Unlike fellow young lion, Uemura, Tsuji hasn’t been matching up to his opponets. Instead he plays the role of underdog and did it very well against Narita. His selling, especially facially, was really great and his fiery comeback was as good as you could expect considering his experience. I’ve been a Narita supporter since his debut but for the second straight time I feel he’s been outclassed by the newer young lions.

Yuji Nagata def. Shota Umino @ 6:58 via Nagata Lock II – **
Umino took it to Nagata from the jump but at about a minute in, Nagata took over. There were some nice comeback spots from Umino near the end with a huge release German suplex and top rope dropkick. Right now Umino seems to be the top prospect out of all the young lions. He continues to show good promise but these new young lions will be on his heels soon.

Nakanishi, Taguchi & Oka def. Tenzan, Tiger & Yagi @ 10:07 via Oka Boston Crab on Yagi – *3/4
Yagi’s fire the last two nights has been stand-out. He looks very motivated to not be outshined by the new young lions. Oka hit a tremendous belly-to-belly suplex on Yagi in the closing stretch that highlighted the match. Both young lions put in impressive work to make up for the moments with Tenzan and Nakanishi.

Taichi, TAKA & Iizuka def. Romero, YOH & SHO @ 11:02 via Taichi Tensho Jujihou on SHO – *3/4
A seven minute beat down, three minute comeback that ended in Suzuki-Gun shenanigans. Not the most exciting match but it was nice to hear the crowd rally behind 3K. Their crowd reactions have been so inconsistent but against Suzuki-Gun they tend to receive fan support. SHO’s suplexes are always the highlight of a 3K match for me. I cannot wait to see more from him in BOSJ next month.

Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano def. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare @ 10:37 via Ishii Brainbuster on Henare – **
Sometimes it’s absolutely brutal to hear the crickets when Henare gets the hot tag. Tonight he managed to get a good reaction in the closing stretch but the guy has to work so hard to get anything. The chemistry between Ishii and Henare is great and has been fun every time they square off I just wish the crowd bought into Henare more because the lack of reaction is brutal.

Juice, Finlay, KUSHIDA & Elgin def. Goto, White, Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI @ 12:20 via Elgin Bomb on Y-H – ***
Best match of the two shows by a good margin. Finlay’s win yesterday has gotten under White’s skin and caused him to be more erratic tonight. Ospreay’s selling of the neck was nearly half of this match but it was done really well. Each member of the New Japan Army attacked Ospreay’s neck in a different way, highlighted by KUSHIDA saying to Ospreay “you want to be champ, right?”. Everyone looked really motivated and all eight stood out in their moments. If you were to watch one match this weekend, make it this one.
Post-match, White hit Finlay from behind with a Blade Runner.

Elimination Match
Suzuki, Archer, Smith, Kanemaru & Desperado def. Naito, EVIL, SANADA Hiromu & BUSHI @ 22:05 via Desperado pin Hiromu – **1/2

Order of Eliminations:
BUSHI eliminated @ 8:35 via Pin by Kanemaru
Kanemaru eliminated @ 9:12 via Pin by Naito
Naito eliminated @ 11:47 via Over the Top
Suzuki eliminated @ 11:47 via Over the Top
Smith eliminated @ 14:00 via Over the Top by SANADA
SANADA eliminated @ 14:56 via Over the Top by Archer
EVIL eliminated @ 17:01 via Over the Top by Archer
Archer eliminated @ 19:19 via Over the Top by Hiromu
Hiromu eliminated @ 22:05 via Pin by Desperado

A different style elimination match than yesterday. While yesterday featured no eliminations by pin, today’s ended with one, thanks in part to Suzuki-Gun shenanigans. Yesterday’s LIJ versus SZKG match ended with BUSHI getting one over on Kanemaru so this match opened with the reverse happening. Kanemaru’s celebration was short-lived as LIJ once again returned the favor. Naito decided getting under Suzuki’s skin was more important than the match. He pulled both Suzuki and himself off the apron in order to eliminate Suzuki. This caused a brawl to the back between the two, never to be seen again. K.E.S. beat down EVIL, who continued to milk the selling for a great babyface reaction from Korakuen. The match came don to Archer and Desperado having the numbers advantage over Hiromu. Hiromu was able to outwit the big man to even the numbers but when you’re facing SZKG, the numbers are never on your side. The previously eliminated Kanemaru injected himself back into the match and sprayed Hiromu the whiskey mist and Desperado rolled him up for the match.
Post-match the SZKG juniors continued their beat down of the LIJ juniors to end the show.

When compared to yesterday’s Korakuen show, there were key differences. The main event between Chaos and New Japan Army was all about pride and wanting to prove yourself. Tonight’s was about shenanigans and doing whatever underhanded tactics to get under your opponent’s skin. A big contrast between the two styles. I think both worked in baby facing EVIL, Hiromu and Finlay. Other than that everything was about the same. There were some small moments in the undercard but like yesterday the key moments were in the main event. I thought today’s semi-main between Chaos and New Japan Army was great and should be the match to watch. The main event had a lot of shenanigans and other than the interaction between Suzuki and Naito, nothing felt like a big deal. There were some nice moments but not enough to justify recommending you take twenty minutes to watch.

Recommended Matches
Juice, Finlay, KUSHIDA & Elgin vs Goto, White, Ospreay & Y-H

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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