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NJPW ‘Road to Wrestling Dontaku 2018’ 4.27.18 Results & Review



New Japan comes to Hiroshima where they announce an honorary LIJ member. Goto and Juice have their second battle for the NEVER Openweight Championship and the show is main evented by the company’s best wrestlers at their respective divisions. Let’s talk about what happened!

Ren Narita def. Yuya Uemura @ 4:44 via Boston Crab – *3/4
Great energy from both but especially Uemura. He really took it to Narita with his strikes. Narita didn’t let the younger of the lions bully him around, he had the control for the majority of the match. This is their second televised singles match together and both caught my eye.

Liger, Tiger & Taguchi def. Nagata, Oka & Umino @ 8:07 via Taguchi Dodon on Umino – *1/2
Hiroshima is Liger’s hometown so the fans were very vocal for him. The first five minutes were all Oka getting beat down and really slowed down the energy of the match. Once Umino came in, things picked up for a good closing sequence with Taguchi and Liger but the majority left a lot to be desired.

Romero, YOH & SHO def. Iizuka, Taichi & TAKA @ 9:07 via 3K on TAKA – *1/2
They started hot but Suzuki-Gun slowed the pace down and to make matters worse, things got rather sloppy in the closing minutes. There was another really interesting finish in this feud. SHO, with a crazed look in his eyes, put on and hit Iizuka with his own Iron Finger from Hell. After the match he looked conflicted with the means at which he took to win.

Makabe, Elgin, Finlay & Henare def. Ishii, White, Yano & HASHI @ 7:51 via Elgin Bomb on HASHI – **
The standard stuff we’ve been seeing between these guys on the tour but Elgin hit a huge Topé con Hilo on everyone but Y-H, instead isolating him to pick up the win. Solid, just like all their other matches, this time with Elgin on top which would come into play later in the night.

Naito, EVIL, SANADA, Hiromu & BUSHI def. Suzuki, Archer, Smith, Kanemaru & Desperado @ 15:49 via Naito Destino on Kanemaru – **3/4
Each member of LIJ received his own entrance, all garnering a huge reaction. After Naito came through the curtain, a man masked in an LIJ mask made an appearance. It turned out to be Jay Jackson, a pitcher for the local baseball team, the Hiroshima Carp. Hiromu continues to take the most punishment on the tour. Crowds get behind everyone in LIJ but they really get behind him. There was a great atmosphere during the entire match as LIJ could do no wrong as far as Hiroshima was concerned. Suzuki-Gun tried their best to isolate Naito but LIJ weren’t having it and used their numbers to isolate Kanemaru and score the victory. They celebrated with Jackson after the match and named him an honorary member.

NEVER Openweight Championship
Hirooki Goto (c) def. Juice Robinson @ 26:37 via GTR – ***1/2

This felt like a true, prototypical NEVER Openweight match. Both guys threw bombs at each other, trying to take the other’s head off with crazy attacks to the neck. Juice did absolutely everything right tonight, this being his best performance from start to finish in any match of his New Japan career. His selling was as good as you could have wanted, his comebacks were fiery and his focus on Goto’s neck was solid.

The same can’t be said for Goto. He continues to be the most frustrating man in New Japan because he refused to have a cohesive match. About thirteen minutes in, he hits an Ushigoroshi. Typical Goto, that’s and well and good. He decided to sell the knee, using the pain as an excuse not to pin Juice. Unless I missed something, the knee hadn’t been touched all match. For the sake of argument, let’s say I missed something. Later on, his hits another Ushigoroshi and this time doesn’t sell it, instead using it as a nearfall. Swap the positioning of those two spots and I’d have no complaints.

Alright, enough complaining. Overall this was a great match, especially from Juice, who continues putting together a great run of championship challenges. I believe it’s fair to predict he’ll win the US title at some point in the next twelve months.

After the match, Elgin makes his way to the ring and issues a challenge to Goto. Taichi comes out after Elgin and believes the title should be handed to him instead.

Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA def. Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay @ 18:16 via Tanahashi High Fly Flow on Ospreay – **1/2
We continue being teased by these two huge matches coming up next week. Both rivalries are the best in the company in their respective weight divisions. They gave enough without giving too much, perfectly executed for the mission they set out to accomplish. In response to Okada’s Tombstone Piledriver to Tanahashi on the outside at Korakuen, Tanahashi hit a Slingblade to Okada on the outside. The finish was creative as KUSHIDA had Ospreay tied up with the Hoverboard Lock and released the hold just as Tanahashi jumped off the top with a High Fly Flow. This was a great little taste of what’s to come, making you want to see more.
The show ends with Tanahashi stating that it’s been two years and fourth months since his last challenge for the title. He’s been preparing and is ready. He air guitars for Hiroshima as they chant his name and ask for hugs from the Ace as he makes his way to the back.

Solid show with a great NEVER title match. While it wasn’t without faults, Juice continues to grow as a wrestler and put on yet another great championship challenge. LIJ bringing out local star, Jay Jackson, was really cool for the fans and their reaction made for a great atmosphere. The main event was a solid match and having Tanahashi close out shows with his air guitar is always a nice way to wrap things up. SHO using the Iron Finger from Hell is an interesting wrinkle that’ll be fun to keep an eye on as we move on into BOSJ next month.

Recommended Match
Hirooki Goto vs Juice Robinson

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.