NJPW New Japan Road
February 20, 2020
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. I normally don’t watch these shows but the main event here is Shingo vs. Ishii so here we are.
Yota Tsuji vs. Gabriel Kidd
I am so pleased for Gabe Kidd for seeing a route into the very elite of pro-wrestling and taking it. His transformation as a wrestler as well as physically is just tremendous work. Learning the New Japan way is all about ironing out every little flaw in the basics and Kidd looks so polished now.
They have the standard tremendous rookie fight full of heart. Tsuji wins with the Boston crab after Yota had powered out of a Boston crab of his own.
Final Rating: ***
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Hirooki Goto, Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI & Yuya Uemura
Uemura goes right after Suzuki! Oh my god! He beats the shit out of Suzuki and YOSHI-HASHI has to drag him away. All those shots Suzuki took at young lions have clearly upset Uemura and I love it. After YOSHI-HASHI has blown Uemura’s advantage the king comes after Uemura and beats him senseless. Suzuki leaves him lying outside but Uemura is back and he goes after Suzuki again! Holy shit, this fucking rules. Deep Impact puts Uemura away but for a while there he looked incredible. The most fire I’ve seen from a young lion in a long, long time. Brilliant.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Great Bash Heel & Toa Henare vs. Kazuchika Okada, Toru Yano & Colt Cabana
Okada has new pants.
As a strong supporter of Okada’s bold changes in gear before I can’t say I dig this one. It looks like all the bits he’s cut off to make his other better gear. Yano and Cabana are a fun team. Yano nut shots Honma and Colt hits the Superman pin for the duke.
Final Rating: **1/2
Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, TenKoji & Tiger Mask IV vs. LIJ (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, EVIL, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)
The best bit of this is when Hiromu starts doing Mongolian chops for a laugh and accidentally smacks Naito with one. Nakanishi’s retirement run has been good fun but he’s clearly fucked. His attempt at a dive here sums up how completely immobile he is. Lariat from Kojima puts EVIL away and it’s another win for Team Nak!
Final Rating: ***
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & FinJuice vs. Bullet Club
I find Bullet Club very hard to care about. I completely zoned out at the start of this. Tanahashi and Ibushi take it pretty easy. The focus is on Juice getting unfairly taken out by the GOD boys who win with a belt shot after Jado strolled in there. They finish was quite well executed. GOD have Tana & Ibushi tomorrow so Tama belt shots both of them too.
Final Rating: **1/4
IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship
Roppongi 3K (c) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero
I like this situation with Romero and Taguchi having coached R3K to where they are and now are here to test their mettle as champions. Taguchi is out here to lull R3K into a false sense of security. He’s looking to have a daft time and yet there’s follow through. He appears to be doing a silly drop downs sequence but nails YOH with a dropkick instead. It’s a Best of Both Worlds for Gooch fans. Part of the drama stems from Rocky really pushing his charges. He doesn’t have to slap YOH but he feels he needs to so they know they’re in a fight here. It’s a tremendous combination of banter and generational battles.
They have some very good near falls that almost all surround cheeky roll ups. They have a lot of breaking up of pins as they go past the 20-25 minute mark. R3K end up taking it via double teams, which shows the difference between the two.
While the mega-coaches were a good team, they weren’t a regular team and therefore came up short. Fantastic match though.
Final Rating: ****
IWGP NEVER Openweight Championship
Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Tomohiro Ishii
You know what you’re getting here. Two smashmouth, in your face wrestlers.
They spend the first ten minutes walloping each other and then Shingo lands one really stiff kick to the spine and it’s fucking on! Ishii tries to kill Shingo with forearms across the throat. It’s brutal. We’re going to war baby! This has powerful G1 main event overtones. Lots of no selling and manning up.
It’s exhausting to watch. Because they start so hard it’s tough to find another gear and while they do at times the whole thing exists at a higher plain. They almost pay the price for working so hard from the bell.
Things get serious towards the end as Ishii kicks out of the Pumping Bomber at one. The testosterone is flowing freely. Shingo lands all the big shots down the stretch with Ishii only getting to show his manliness by kicking out. Last of the Dragon finishes and this was tremendous wrestling. Two guys just beating the absolute fuck out of each other.
Final Rating: ****1/2