NJPW Road To The New Beginning 5/2/18 Review

So cool… Credit: NJPW

You can usually skip past Road To… events without worrying too much about it. However, New Japan has gone all out with this show and the one that followed. We’re getting singles matches and an English commentary team! Guess we better see if it’s worth tuning in. Let’s dish out some stars.

Jushin Thunder Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi and Tiger Mask defeated Ren Narita, Shota Umino and Tetsuhiro Yagi

A grumpy puss in boots. Credit: NJPW

Narita made the mistake of pissing off the New Japan Dads by slapping Liger. It meant he spent the next five minutes being beaten up by the Thunder God and his grumpy kitty pal.

Unsurprisingly, this was a classic Young Lion encounter. The wee cubs got a runout, showed off their beautiful dropkicks and got beat up. Nothing spectacular happened, but it’s another step in their careers.

With Henare, Kawato and Kitamura being moved away from Young Lionhood, these three (and Oka) are your top rookies. You can see their confidence growing with every match and the blossoming of personalities. With the base they have already, there’s every chance they’ll be even better than the trio that came before.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

The Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi and HIKULEO) defeated Manabu Nakanishi and Tomoyuki Oka

If you can’t beat them, bite them. Credit: NJPW

Talking about Young Lions, you’ve got to think Oka is next in line to be sent on his travels. He has dropped a tonne of weight and is already a competent wrestler. Compare him to someone like HIKULEO and it’s night and day.

Performances like this won’t do Oka any harm either. When you take into account Nakanishi barely being able to walk, he was the best wrestler involved. That suplex on ‘LEO was particularly impressive.

While it wasn’t enough to raise anything above average, Oka made it an enjoyable average.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Hiroyoshi Tenzan defeated Katsuya Kitamura

Sadly not the start of a streak. Credit: NJPW

Tenzan might have been the biggest test of Kitamura’s trial series so far. While the legend has the in-ring brain, his body can’t do it anymore, and this is a rare singles match for him. Kitamura was going to have to carry him physically.

Which, he managed to a certain extent. They were smart enough to limit the action to two big boys duking it out. Kitamura was able to provide all the movement while Tenzan mainly stood in the centre of the ring and either bumped or attacked as he needed to.

Unfortunately, for spectacular wrestling, you need a bit more than that. Tenzan’s body just can’t do it anymore. I’m sure it was a pleasant learning experience for Young Kit, but he will have much better contests in the future.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Roppongi 3K (SHO, YOH and Rocky Romero) defeated Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Taichi and Taka Michinoku)

All the knees. Credit: NJPW

Miho Abe is being highlighted a lot more by New Japan. That scares me because I don’t trust them to have an angle involving her be anything but creepy.

I’m trying to think of a new way to tell you that Suzuki-gun attacked before the bell. I think I just found it.

All signs point towards Despy and Kanemaru vs Roppongi 3K which I’m alright with. It gives Roppongi 3K an easy win while keeping them away from The Bucks for a bit. Although it means the poor lads will be getting chucked into all sorts of barriers and hit with ring hammers for a few weeks, that’s the price they pay for success.

I like watching Roppongi 3K wrestle, so I enjoyed this. It was the usual Suzuki-gun beatdown, yet SHO and YOH bounce around like madmen. The Voices of Wrestling Twitter account pointed out that they still bump like Young Lions and they’ve nailed it there. There’s no ego to the way they move in the ring which makes their matches a lot of fun.

Verdict: Three Stars

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) defeated Juice Robinson and Toa Henare

Feud of the year. Credit: NJPW

Ishii and Henare love beating each other up, which is perfect, because I love watching them beat each other up. The day Henare hulks up and beats Ishii at his own game will be magical.

This was full of my favourites. Ishii, Juice, Henare and you know what, I don’t mind Yano either. At least I don’t at the moment. Ask me again around G1 time. It’s the kind of combos that make for a decent match as they continue building Ishii and Yano towards a title shot.

It has to all come back to Ishii and Henare, though. Ishii just loves smacking that young man around. Long may it continue.

Verdict: Three Stars

KUSHIDA, Togi Makabe and a piece of shit defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka and Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

Let’s hope Makabe gets his working boots on. Credit: NJPW

Suzuki vs Makabe does nothing for me match wise. However, it’s a nice little placeholder feud for the grumpy old bastard, (don’t tell him I said that).

Another standard Suzuki-gun multi-man. Shenanigans for everyone and poor KUSHIDA got the bulk of it. It’s just a shame it wasn’t the piece of shit.

And as usual with the piece of shit, I’m not going to waste too much time on his matches.

Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin

Afterwards, Makabe dished out the official challenge to Suzuki. Minoru responded by beating up some Young Lions and even having a go at Kevin Kelly. Fuck knows whether that’s a yes or a no.

Jay White defeated David Finlay

Here comes Davey. Credit: NJPW

Finlay and White’s Young Lion days were before my time as a New Japan fan. I do know that while they were friends, White was given the edge in the ring. In fact, he has an 8-0 record against his old buddy.

All of which made it a bit personal. Since those days, White has gone away and come back a star. Finlay has stayed in the same place. What better way to kickstart his career than a win over his old sparring buddy?

That story played into this. We got a more aggressive Finlay here as he was desperate to win. He wasn’t his usual happy go lucky self, he was here for a fight.

And initially, that seemed to catch White off-guard. There was a touch of complacency to the way he started. Why try? Jay White knows that he’s better than Finlay. However, when push came to shove, White isn’t only better than Finlay, he’s smarter too. He needed one second to hit that Bladerunner, and when he got it, he took it.

Then, to add injury to insult, White proceeded to drive his elbow repeatedly into Finlay’s face. All of this worked as lovely character progression for White. Jay doesn’t give a shit about friends or great showings. He wants to win wrestling matches, and so far that’s what he’s doing.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Evil, Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi) defeated CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Will Ospreay and Gedo)

Everything is Evil. Credit: NJPW

Every time we have a CHAOS vs LIJ ten person tag I have to come up with a new way to say we’ve seen it a million times. I am almost as bored of that as I am the match.

Thankfully, this one has the elimination stip which adds something a little bit special to it.  Sometimes a change in the structure is all you need.

It also helps that everyone involved was building a feud. Even Bushi and Gedo are involved in some weird beard related fight which saw Gedo get disqualified here when he stole Bushi’s mask. It all works to add a bit more of a stake to something that too often feels like filler.

What I’m trying to say is that while we’ve seen it before, this was an entertaining version of something we’ve seen before.

We got more from the constant delight that is Ospreay vs Hiromu. Takahashi eliminating both of them with that sunset flip bomb to the floor was perfectly in character for him. There was also a big moment for YOSHI-HASHI when he dumped Naito out of the ring after that incredible spot where Naito clung on with his toes. Naito will win the feud, but they’re doing everything in their power to make sure YOSHI-HASHI doesn’t look like a chump.

The final big surprise was that it was Evil who got put over strong. He eliminated Okada, Goto and YOSHI-HASHI to pick up the win for LIJ. That’s a huge push going into his NEVER title shot and for the first time I’m wondering whether he could win? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Overall Show

9-0. Credit: NJPW

What an incredibly watchable couple of hours of wrestling. Nothing here was outstanding by any stretch of the imagination. However, I enjoyed every second of it. It built stories and it entertained. You can’t complain about that

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