New Japan Pro Wrestling
KIZUNA ROAD 2019
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
Mavs Gillis and Chris Charlton on commentary.
This continues their Young Lion rivalry, first trading draws and now trading wins, currently at 3-3-21. They go to the mat to start. Arm work by Yuya, Tsuji takes control with his leverage so Yuya uses speed to get Tsuji grounded. They keep working the mat. Tsuji drops Yuya with a solid as hell tackle. Big shots from Tsuji, running corner shot and a big hiptoss connect, cover by Tsuji but only 2. Tsuji focuses on the back, stomping hard and hitting a big splash to the back for another 2. Yuya fires back and they trade, big chop by Yuya and he hits a HUGE dropkick and both are down. Yuya with shots and chops to Tsuji, nice running elbow in the corner and a followup running corner dropkick. Slam by Yuya gets 2. Heavy shots traded, the crowd gets into it, Tsuji fires up hard and hits a running dropkick. Spinning powerslam by Tsuji connects, but Yuya kicks out at 2. Tsuji looks for the Crab but Yuya gets a rollup for 2. Big tackle by Tsuji cuts down Yuya, Tsuji gets the Boston Crab and sits down deep. Yuya fights hard but ultimately has to tap.
Yota Tusji defeats Yuya Uemura by submission via the Boston Crab
JAY’S RATING: 3 out of 5
That was a super enjoyable match between the Lions. Their history together has served them well, each of them is showing distinct and continued evolution, they held on to the crowd and the final stretch was genuinely compelling. Well done!
(Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI)
TOMOHIRO ISHII, TOMOAKI HONMA & REN NARITA
Continued tension right away between Ishii and Taichi. Taichi with some crowd love tonight. It looks like Suzuki-Gun attacks before the bell, BUT THIS TIME its actually Narita who goes right for DOUKI. WHAT A TWIST! Narita now goes for Taichi but YK cuts him off and he gets beaten down. Narita fires back nicely though, allowing Honma to come in and clean house. Narita with a pescado onto DOUKI at ringside, and now Narita and DOUKI square off. Tackle by Narita drops DOUKI, but DOUKI is able to dump Narita, and YK follows with a legdrop to a draped Narita on the railing. Taichi with a chair shot to Ishii, and things have broken down with Taichi choking Ishii with a camera cable. Narita is still legal and the ref starts counting him out, with Taichi holding him to the outside, but DOUKI asks for him to be rolled back in instead. Tag to YK who works over Narita. Narita gets draped over the apron and YK hits a running dropkick to the head and Narita rolls to the outside. DOUKI works Narita while Taichi goads Ishii into distracting the ref. Taichi now legal as Narita is rolled in, and he continues the work. Tag to DOUKI who hits the running double stomp, cover but only 2. Chants for Narita, tag to YK. Narita hits a knee but misses the dropkick as YK moves out of the way. YK hits the ropes but eats the next dropkick and Narita tags in Honma, who hits chops on YK.
Nice running facebuster by Honma but Taichi cuts off kokeshi, but gets dropped and eats kokeshi instead. Slam to YK and another kokeshi. YK fires back and hits an enziguri, but then eats a flying kokeshi! KOKESHI MAKES YOU HAPPY! Tag to Ishii and tag to Taichi and they go at it fast, with Taichi landing stiff kicks. Chants are split! Kicks to the face fire Ishii up and he fires off hard chops, eats a boot to the face and then runs through Taichi with a tackle. Nice. Backdrop is blocked by Taichi who gets a rope-held gamengiri, they trade strike counters and evasions and Ishii finally lands a Saito suplex. Tag to Narita but YK is able to pull him outside, but YK gets sent to the railing. Narita back in and runs through Taichi, hits a great vertical suplex and the crowd is fired up. Narita looks for the clutch belly to belly but DOUKI cuts it off before getting thrown by Narita. Narita with a great way to pull Taichi from the ropes looks for a leg lace Boston Crab but YK cuts it off and Taichi hits a buzzsaw kick, covers but Honma breaks it up. The pants go flying but Narita ducks the superkick into a rollup for 2, then gets a backslide for 2, but Taichi hits the axe bomber lariat for 2. Chants for Narita but the Taichi superkick connects, cover and thats all.
Suzuki-Gun defeats Ren Narita, Tomohiro Ishii & Tomoaki Honma by pinfall via superkick
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
A pretty good match overall that continues things with Taichi and Ishii over the NEVER title. Ishii is so much fun in the ring, and Taichi continues to show that he is interested in growing as a performer, with Ishii proving a great partner for that journey. Narita also deserves another shoutout for a great Young Lion showing – dude is going to go far.
After the match, Taichi and Ishii go forehead to forehead.
JUICE ROBINSON, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI & MIKEY NICHOLLS
(Guerrillas of Destiny & Jado)
BC attacks before the bell and the action spills to ringside as BC conducts the beatdown. Tama is on Juice, and finally throws him back in the ring. Nice double team by GoD ends in a neckbreaker. Loa drives Juice into the corner but Tama misses the Stinger Splash, Mikey in with a Big Ending on Loa and combos a fist drop and vertical senton from Juice on Loa, and a double back suplex on Tama. Tag to Taguchi who puts the rugby helmet on and Juice/Miket drop toe hold Taguchi into Tama’s crotch. Nice combo sequence gets 2 from Taguchi, who then calls for Tama to be whipped into his bum, but Tama reverses and Juice hits instead, and then Mikey, but Taguchi has his back turned so thinks its his opponents, until Jado cracks him with a kendo stick shot. Jado is now legal, and… spanks Taguchi. This is Jado wrestling in 2019. Tag to Loa, who kicks Taguchi in the bum. Tag to Tama, who lines up and lands a bum-kick of his own. Chants for Taguchi. Slam by Tama, and another, tag to Loa who hits a big tope atomico and covers but only gets 2. Loa drives Taguchi into the corner, tag to Tama who gets a headbutt to Taguchi’s bum before taking Juice and Mikey off the apron. Tag to Jado, BC gets a triple team with Loa holding Taguchi up before dropping into the atomic drop, cover by Jado but Mikey and Juice break it up. Jado with the stick and he looks to cane Taguchi’s bared bum, but Juice cuts it off and hits jabs on Jado. Loa and Tama in and they eat jabs as well but GoD is able to dump Juice before eating a double clothesline from Mikey. Pescado by Mikey drops Loa at ringside, Taguchi in with Jado who gets a rollup but Taguchi reverses it for 2 and then goes for the ankle lock with his ass still exposed, and Jado has no choice but to tap.
Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls defeat Bullet Club by submission via the ankle lock
JAY’S RATING: 2.25 out of 5
This was fine, but really lacked any meaning whatsoever, and was carried by charisma from Juice, Taguchi and GoD rather than any real sense of stakes or fire. Jado is useless, why was he in this match? Also, Mikey Nicholls needs something more specific soon because he’s generic af right now, and its not gonna last if he doesnt evolve.
KOTA IBUSHI, YUJI NAGATA, JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER, TIGER MASK IV &
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON
Big response for Naito. Staredown right away between Ibushi and Naito, giving the sense that this rivalry is NOT over. Which is both fantastic, and more than a little terrifying. Tiger and BUSHI start off. Tiger gets a leg sweep and back heel kick, lands a chest kick that drops BUSHI. Tag to Liger, BUSHI fights back and opens Liger up for a low dropkick from SANADA and LIJ strikes, the match breaks down and spills to ringside as BUSHI keeps on Liger. Tag to EVIL who hits Liger with a running Bronco Buster and covers but only gets 2. Tag to SANADA, Liger fires back but SANADA goes for the knee. SANADA looks for the Paradise Lock but Umino breaks it up and trades heavy blows with Shingo and looks decent doing it before EVIL interferes and Shingo runs through Umino. SANADA now ties up Liger around the bottom rope, Naito holds Liger and SANADA gets a dropkick. Tag to BUSHI who gets the shirt choke. Liger fires back with a tilt a whirl backbreaker. Tag to Naito who knocks Ibushi to the floor and keeps on Liger, but Liger turns him inside out with a palm strike and tags Nagata. Nagata goes after all of LIJ, Shingo in but gets thrown across the ring, and Nagata lays kicks into Naito. Corner running boot and exploder suplex connect, cover but only 2 for Nagata.
Naito fires back but Nagata gets a great fakeout to dropkick the knee and he locks in the eye-roll Fujiwara, but it gets broken up. Tag to Ibushi who drills Naito with a spring dropkick, dumping him and follows with a pescado that wipes out Naito and EVIL as well. Ibushi brings Naito back inside, gets a flurry and a chest kick drops Naito, but Naito gets the knees up to block a standing moonsault and follows with a basement dropkick. Tag to Shingo who comes in with SANADA for a double team but Ibushi counters with a double Pele. Tag to Umino who comes in hot, missile dropkick taking out Shingo and following with a corner elbow. Stiff punch from Shingo connects but Umino fires back and gets a nice suplex. Cover, but only 2 and Umino transitions into a cross armbreaker as his team clears the LIJ apron. Shingo gets the ropes, Umino looks for a suplex but Shingo overpowers him, evades a corner shot and LIJ is in with the team effort on Umino, cover but the opponents break it up and they all spill to ringside. Shingo hits Noshigami on Umino, cover but only 2. Pumping Bomber decapitates Umino, cover and thats that.
LIJ defeats Shota Umino, Kota Ibushi, Yuji Nagata, Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask IV by pinfall via Pumping Bomber
JAY’S RATING: 3.5 out of 5
This was a fun and action-packed 10-man tag, with LIJ delivering the goods as usual and hints at future clashes between Ibushi and Naito. Nagata showed in particular that he can still go, and Shingo continues to be the explosive force within LIJ. One wonders if that is at all a part of EVIL’s brewing issues, as that had been his own space… and by EVIL’s brewing issues I mean this:
After the match, Naito calls in the LIJ salute, Shingo is right there, the others hesitate a bit with BUSHI joining next… AND THEN EVIL WALKS AWAY. Wow. That is a hell of a statement in advance of the G1. Watch this space. SANADA still hasnt thrown it up… but finally does.
Taichi now comes back down to the ring and joins commentary.
The G1 Climax Brackets are announced next! Here’s what we’ve got this year:
Zack Sabre, Jr.
Bad Luck Fale
This is a FASCINATING list this year. In A-Block you’ve got a bunch of directions it could go, with Ibushi as the fresh-blood potential block winner if they choose that route, and thats before you even get to Tana and Okada. Plus, EVIL and SANADA being in the same block is now that much more interesting. This is also a very compelling block for KENTA to debut against, as he will have many opportunities to show what he’s going to be bringing to the NJPW table following his WWE fizzle. B-Block for me is all about watching Naito and White, though I see Moxley going reasonably deep. Shingo also has the potential for great showings throughout (Cobb/Takagi has me already shitting myself with excitement). Also, NO MINORU SUZUKI. HM… I dont have a favorite yet, but there’s some good stuff to watch for. This looks to be a fun year.
(Jay White, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens)
HIROSHI TANAHASHI & MOST VIOLENT PLAYERS
Yujiro and Togi start off with Togi absorbing and Yujiro resorting to biting. Togi evades the low dropkick, Yujiro fires back but eats a tackle and gets dropped. Togi tries for the 10-punches on both Yujiro and Chase but they each break each others up, and Togi drops Chase before tagging in Yano who takes off the corner pad. He tries to use it as a weapon but Chase and Yujiro get it and use it to take Yano down instead. Yano to the outside and Yujiro chokes him with a cane. Chase whips Togi into the rail while Jay chokes out Tana on the floor. Yano and Yujiro back inside and Yano gets sent into the exposed corner. Tag to Chase who keep the pressure on. Tag to Jay who grabs Yano’s ears and hits a neckbreaker for 2. Jay grounds Yano who fights up but gets sent into the exposed buckle again, and again. Tana comes in but Jay dumps him, Yano grabs Jay’s hair and is able to take Jay down with a hair pull. Tag to Tana who goes right for Jay and drops him, hits a flying forearm and a dragon screw, then another dragon screw on the ground.
Tana looks for the Cloverleaf but Yujiro breaks it up before getting a dragon screw. Sling Blade is blocked into a Blade Runner attempt which is also blocked. Tana absorbs chops from Jay, but eats a flatliner and deadlift German combo. Jay calls for Blade Runner but Tana counters it seamlessly into Twist and Shout. Tags to Togi and Chase, Togi runs through him and gets the corner 10 punch and bridging Northern Lights for 2. Chase blocks a German, he and Yujiro get a double team and Yujiro lands a Fisherman Buster, sharp knee from Owens follows and gets 2. Yujiro dumps Yano and Chase gets Helms Street for 2. Chase looks for the Package Piledriver on Togi who fights out but eats an elbow, then floors Chase with a lariat. Front slam by Togi who climbs for the diving knee but Yujiro throws him off. Yano in and sends Yujiro into the exposed corner, Jay fakes out Yano and Tana into colliding and gets Tana with the snap Saito suplex. Togi fights both Jay and Chase but Yujiro gets a knee to the back and that allows Chase to snatch a rollup with the tights and gets the 3 count to steal the WIN.
Bullet Club defeats Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano by pinfall via a rollup with tights
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
This was a fairly good outing but didnt really evolve for me, the storytelling of Tana/Jay White was all but nonexistant and there wasnt much else to watch in this match beyond that. The work was pretty good though.
(Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr. & Lance Archer)
KAZUCHIKA OKADA, YOSHI-HASHI & TOA HENARE
HASHI and ZSJ talk shit, feeding into the road to their upcoming title match. They start off, go to the mat with ZSJ getting the advantage there and showing great counter work. HASHI gets a shot to the knee and looks for the Butterfly Lock but ZSJ slips out of it. ZSJ plays the cocky shit and lays in Euros, with HASHI asking for more and firing back with a big chop. Tackle drops ZSJ, running corner chop connects and the draped dropkick to the back is countered as ZSJ ties HASHI’s legs up in the ropes while Archer and Suzuki pounce on his teammates. Suzuki goes right after Okada with a chair and beats him down, taking him all the way to the backstage area. ZSJ now toys with HASHI at ringside. The ref starts counting but HASHI makes it back inside at 19 and ZSJ pounces, Suzuki joins in and they dismantle HASHI while Archer occupies the ref. Okada back in and he squares off with Suzuki who is BRUTAL and forces Okada back outside. Archer is legal now and crushes HASHI in the corner, then runs through him with a tackle. Tag to ZSJ who goes back to toying with HASHI, laying in kicks but HASHI catches one and hits a shortarm clothesline. Tag to Suzuki but HASHI gets the rewind kick and tags in Okada who comes in hot taking Archer off the apron.
Okada with a big running elbow to drop Suzuki, and the crowd chants for Okada. DDT connects by Okada, cover but only 2. Okada looks to climb but Suzuki cuts it off and beats down Okada, kicks away the ref and just keeps laying in kicks and knees. Suzuki with a running corner boot and PK, and just keeps beating on Okada. Okada fires back, Suzuki absorbs elbows and asks for more before cracking off his own. They trade shots, but Okada is loopy and goes down. Okada back up with more but Suzuki gets a great flurry and drops Okada, then goes for a Kimura and works over the wrist, Okada gets the ropes but Suzuki won’t let go as the ref is pulled outside. Suzuki now works the wrist brutally, Okada is in the ropes but the ref is down. Suzuki with the cross armbreaker now but the ref is back in and calls to break. Suzuki is in full-on Godzilla mode and goes right back to taking apart the arm. Archer asks for the tag but Suzuki hesitates, so Archer tags himself in. Okada fires back and knocks Suzuki to ringside, Archer looks to chokeslam Okada but Okada lands a dropkick and tags in Henare.
Henare in hot with shots to Archer, Archer comes back but Henare rocks Archer with a running tackle. Archer blocks the Samoan but eats one on the second attempt. Big vertical suplex by Henare connects, cover but only 2. Triple team on Archer now but Archer pounces through Henare as Suzuki-Gun comes back in, Suzuki chokes out Okada as ZSJ locks HASHI in a kneebar, and Archer chokeslams Henare. Archer lands Blackout, cover by Archer but then he pulls Henare up, and locks in THE BRAIN CLAW! Henare fades and taps out! After the bell, Archer won’t let go and has to be pulled off.
Suzuki-Gun defeats Toa Henare, Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI by submission via a BRAIN CLAW!
JAY’S RATING: 3 out of 5
I wanted to like this more than I did, especially with Suzuki in full on I’m-gonna-kill-fools mode. I think with him not being in the G1 this could have had even more fire behind it, and the fire he brought sort of nonetheless carried the match for me. I didnt get much more of a reason to care about HASHI/ZSJ coming up, and honestly I find the brain claw to be a pretty silly finisher in 2019. So yeah, som solid work here overall, but it just didnt quite click into the level I thought it could for me.
Post-match, Suzuki-Gun kills a bunch of Young Boys. Suzuki grabs a mic and says this is New Japan – WHY AM I NOT IN THE G1 CLIMAX? He says he’s pissed, dangerous, and brutal. He can tear through those people, and the people want to see him in that mix. So New Japan, what the hell! He tells them to put him in. I wonder if they will go anywhere with this.
IWGP World Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
(El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori)
ROPPONGI 3K (c)
R3K stretch out, and Taiji starts with Yoh at the bell. Nice love for Yoh. Feeling out and mat work to begin, with Taiji grounding Yoh with a headscissors. Yoh out of it and back to the mat. Arm drags by Yoh and a dropkick puts down Taiji, tag to Sho and R3K gets the drop toehold/sliding kick combo, ELP with a blind tag but eats a double dropkick, both BC members head outside and eat a PK and pescado respectively. Yoh is busted open above or behind his left ear, but seems ok. Back in and ELP and Sho work fast, Sho evades a spring, ELP evades a dropkick and hits a lionsault for 2. ELP keeps on Sho, tag to Taiji who keeps pressure on. Taiji sends Sho headfirst into the corner in a cravate, cover but only 2. Tag to ELP who climbs and gets a super back rake. Sho gets put in the corner and ELP does another back rake before laying in boots and mocking kicks. Tag to Taiji who knocks Yoh off the apron and BC looks for a double team, double knees from Taiji connect, Sho gets put in the tree of woe and ELP steps on the crotch. Sho reaches out and hits a spider German to come back, Taiji is on him but Sho reverses into a suplex.
Tag to Yoh who comes in hot at ELP, hitting a nice corkscrew forearm, and follows with a backbreaker and dragon screw. ELP escapes the Figure Four and dumps Yoh with Taiji’s help, and Taiji attacks Yoh on the outside after dropping Sho. The ref starts the count on Yoh, who is back in at 17 but ELP follows up with a tope atomico for 2. Chants for Yoh. Tag to Taiji who keeps on Yoh. Nice sliding German from Taiji, cover but only 2. Taiji grounds Yoh and slows things down. Yoh with a jawbreaker but ELP cuts off the tag to Sho, pulling Yoh back to Taiji. Tag to ELP and they get the double team going, Yoh is in the tree of woe and ELP again steps on the crotch, Yoh with a spider but ELP lands on his feet this time and gets the low dropkick. Yoh escapes a suplex and drops Taiji, almost gets the tag and hits ELP with an enziguri, jumps for the tag but Taiji pulls Sho off the apron from behind to cut off the tag again. Nice tag work. Tag to Taiji, Yoh evades the double team and hits a double dropkick, suplexes Taiji into ELP and looks for the tag again. Sho finally gets the tag and comes in hot with corner clotheslines for both, sends ELP into Taiji and hits a big double spear to take control.
Deadlift German is countered by Taiji, Sho sort of evades the double stomp but ends up eating the handspring enziguri. Shots traded, Sho gets a flurry and hits a left arm short lariat to drop Taiji. Chants for Sho. BIG LARIAT turns Taiji inside out, Sho looks for Shock Arrow to follow but Taiji counters for Bloody Cross, Sho escapes and looks for a Lawn Dart but Taiji escapes and gets a double stomp to Sho’s back before eating a lariat. Tags to Yoh and ELP, kicks by ELP connect and he looks for the cutthroat airplane slam, Yoh escapes and looks for a suplex but gets a rollup for 2, ELP gets a rollup for 2, they trade shots and Yoh gets Helms Street. Cover, but only 2. Nice sequence. Chants for Yoh. Yoh sits ELP backwards in the corner and looks for an avalanche dragon suplex, ELP fights out and gets a sitout sunset powerbomb, then fucks up a climb but ends up landing a big splash off the top, cover but only 2. ELP with BME but Yoh moves and locks in the Stargazer (his Calf Crusher), and keeps ELP from the ropes. Taiji in but Sho intercepts with the armbar, ELP looks to tap but Taiji grabs his hand, and ELP is able to make the ropes.
Roppongi chants, nice double team by R3K, backstabber into a running dropkick connect and they call for 3K but ELP reverses into a DDT and Taiji takes out Sho. Cover by ELP but the ref is distracted. ELP now grabs the RevPro Cruiserweight belt and hits Yoh in the back with it, then hoists Yoh and hits the cutthroat tornado slam! Cover, but Yoh kicks out at 2. ELP now looks for CR2, takes his time and Sho interrupts, ELP gets hoisted onto Sho’s shoulders and they get the Dominator/sliding cutter combo as Taiji gets taken out. R3K gets 3K, cover by Yoh but Taiji breaks the count at 2. R3K chants. Sho with a knee that dumps Taiji and he takes out Taiji HARD with a tope con giro! German suplex by Yoh on ELP but only gets 2, and Yoh is frustrated and showing great babyface fire. Chants for Yoh, dragon suplex is attempted by ELP escapes, Sho with a Lumbar Check, superkick by Yoh but the dragon suplex is cut off by Taiji who then throws Sho into Red Shoes, low blow by ELP is followed by the tombstone lungblower by Taiji, ELP follows with CR2 and covers and we have new champs!
El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori defeat Roppongi 3K by pinfall after CR2 to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles for the first time
JAY’S RATING: 3.75 out of 5
This was a fun main event and we get new champs out of the deal, though overall the junior tag division needs more expansion and investment. ELP continues to tighten his game and that on top of his utter prickishness is getting pretty compelling. Taiji was used smartly here, as it seems like he’s still hurting but was able to hit some explosive moments and really keep the dots connected. R3K looked good as usual, but I wonder what is left for them after this title loss, especially with both showing good singles potential in BOSJ. But then again, who else is there to challenge the new champs right now? Hm…
After the match they look to continue punishment with the belts, but Taguchi runs down to run BC off. ELP grabs a mic and says guess who is the new champs? He gives us a Bullet Club Too Sweet, and calls out Taguchi and the NEVER 6-Man Champs, saying he will be a triple champ. Chants for Taguchi, who grabs a mic and says thank you for his easy to understand English. He speaks in Japanese and ELP says he doesnt understand. Taguchi says he will defend the NEVER belts, and in Sendai take the British Cruiserweight championship and have a couple of belts himself. He tells R3K not to go home yet, he wants them to send the fans home happy. They come back inside, Taguchi hands Yoh the mic who wails because of his defeat, he says he cant go on so Sho needs to take it home but Sho urges on Yoh, then reluctantly takes the mic and talks about how he lost and now still needs to cut a promo. There’s so much on his mind after taking the loss. The crowd chants, and Sho says that today they lost, but puts R3K over with a great attitude and the crowd pops. Taichi and Yoh then square off and Taichi slips some money into Yoh’s pants, but Yoh totally owns it. Great stuff at the end there.
A decent if unspectacular event for NJPW. The main event delivered a fun outing and some new champs, and with it some new questions for a division. Besides that it was pretty middle of the road, with the biggest takeaways the G1 Blocks announcement, and EVIL walking away from the LIJ salute going into the G1. This feels like the beginning of ramping things up for the G1 now that the list is announced, so I can sort of understand this event being a tad more low impact. Looking forward to seeing how things evolve from here.