NJPW Road To Wrestling Dontaku 23/4/18 Review

I like this move. Credit: NJPW

After a short break, New Japan is back with a long old tour. With business being up, those in charge have realised that rather than selling out one super card, they can instead sell out multiple decent ones. That’s how we end up with the Junior Tag Titles main eventing. Not that we should complain too much, we all love wrestling, right? More of it can only be a good thing.

Yota Tsuji and Yuya Uemura fought to a time limit draw

Fresh Blood. Credit: NJPW

I didn’t bother with the first two Road To shows of the tour, so it’s my first time seeing Tsuji and Uemura. I love being introduced to new Young Lions. We’re about to embark on a journey with them that could see them go right to the top. If it does, you can look back fondly at the time they jerked the curtain with a ten-minute draw.

It was a damn good ten-minute draw too. At the start, Tsuji and Uemura were keeping things simple. Most of the work was happening on the mat as Uemura went after the arm and Tsuji responded by attacking the leg. Tsuji had the clear power advantage while Uemura was the better wrestler.

As time went on, they moved away from the mat and began to show off some of the skills they’ve picked up. Uemura hit a beautiful dropkick as I have to question, once again, who teaches the cubs how to throw those. It’s one of the first things they seem to perfect. Tsuji, meanwhile, managed to get Uemura up and over for a Flapjack and got the dreaded Boston Crab on.

The final minute saw Uemura nearly stealing the win with a series of roll-ups before he locked on an armbar as the seconds ticked down. Before Tsuji could tap, though, the bell was rung. This fight will have to continue on another day.

There is no denying that this was sloppy at times. Both men stopped selling the early limb work in the later stages, while Tsuji needs to sit down more in his Boston Crab as the big man didn’t exert enough pressure for it to look painful.

However, for two lads right at the start of their training, it was impressive. That New Japan already feels comfortable sending them out to work a time limit draw speaks wonders. We might have another pair of gems.

Verdict: Three Stars

Yuji Nagata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Manabu Nakanishi defeated Shota Umino, Tomoyuki Oka and Ren Narita

The youngsters hunt in packs. Credit: NJPW

The school is in session.

There’s an intriguing dynamic building between the more experienced Young Lions. These three have built up a bit of a pack mentality, especially when they are facing their dads. On more than one occasion, Oka would call for his pals to come charging into the ring and they’d go to work isolating one of the legends and beating on them.

It’s a dangerous game to play when you’re facing three grumpy old bastards who like hitting you. Poor Narita got a bit of a kicking, as he made the mistake of stiffing it out with Nagata. He had to eat a Nakanishi Splash in revenge, although it has to be mentioned that old Manabu didn’t get much height on it. It was more of a Fall.

As is becoming the norm with these outings, it was Nagata and Umino who stole the show. Those two have great chemistry, so I hope they go down the Ishii Henare route of allowing them to have a mini-feud. Nagata gives Umino a lot, letting him wail away with those heavy hands. Although, I’m sure he gets a measure of revenge when it’s his turn. He’d eventually put the unruly trainee to bed with an Exploder into a Crossface.

Afterwards, Umino and Nagata had a staredown in the ring. The question is whether Nagata’s eyes showed respect or were telling the little shit that next time he’s dead.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Roppongi 3K (Rocky Romero, SHO and YOH) defeated Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Takashi Iizuka and Taka Michinoku) by DQ

The papier-mache brings things to a close. Credit: NJPW

A little peek behind the curtain here, but halfway through my notes for this, they tail off with a fuck off.

I love Roppongi 3K, I even quite enjoy Rocky’s comedy. It didn’t matter how hard they worked, though, they were in there with Iizuka and having a match where 90% of the action was him biting people. Once again, fuck this.

I’m sure there are some people out there who find Iizuka hilarious. If you’re one of them, tuck in.

Verdict: Two Stars

CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, Toru Yano and YOSHI-HASHI) defeated Juice Robinson, Toa Henare, KUSHIDA, Togi Makabe and a piece of shit

Looking forward to this at least. Credit: NJPW

Rather than spending time watching a shit wrestle, I suggest you instead contribute to Mo’s GoFundMe which is helping her raise money to face the lawsuit that Elgin has brought against her.

Or, perhaps you could look up a local shelter or charity that helps sufferers of abuse and either donate to them or offer your services in some way?

If you’re unaware of why I am suggesting this, please consider taking the time to read this article.

Verdict: Fuck Michael Elgin

Hiroshi Tanahashi, David Finlay and Rysuke Taguchi defeated CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Jay White and Gedo)

Got your belt. Credit: NJPW

In a sweet visual moment, Finlay and White had separate entrances from their partners, leading to a staredown in the ring before everyone else arrived.

Two stories were colliding here. Firstly, Okada vs Tanahashi which they kept to a minimum. We built to both men getting tagged in which saw them go at it for a minute or so, with Okada easily coming out on top. The champion put Tanahashi down with a Tombstone and barely broke a sweat while doing so. It is worth noting that Okada is also now leaping over audience members during his entrance. His descent into full-blown dork is beautiful.

The more enthralling story is White vs Finlay as Finlay seems to be getting into Jay’s head. White gained the advantage through skullduggery, using the ref as a shield, but when it came down to a straight fight Young David was getting the upper hand. He even came close to hitting a Stunner post-match, having already used one to pin Gedo and pick-up the win. By the time you read this, their fight will have happened, and I am very excited about it.

Elsewhere, Taguchi did some stuff with his ass. You know the deal.

Verdict: Three Stars

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Evil and Sanada)

You’re going to regret that. Credit: NJPW

Guess what? Suzuki-gun attacked before the bell and Murder Grandpa is still angry with Naito. Those two took centre stage as even the moments where they weren’t in the ring saw them vanishing into the crowd to beat on each other. It was a tough task for KES and the other LIJ guys, as the charisma of Suzuki and Naito was always going to put them centre stage.

However, I am cautiously optimistic about the match between those teams. I was one of the few who wasn’t into their Wrestle Kingdom encounter, but I think since then they’ve done a better job of establishing Sanada and Evil as babyfaces. Davey Boy and Archer have been dominant in this feud, winning this by Killer Bombing both men before adding insult to injury by having the final move be a Magic Killer of their own to Evil. Sanada and Evil are coming in on the back-foot, and I think that plays to both team’s strengths.

Suzuki, meanwhile, continues to attempt to murder Naito. He was focusing on the lead Ingobernable’s leg, which you can bet is going to be a factor in the rest of their feud. The vicious old bugger has been desperately trying to get a reaction out of Naito, and he is starting to get his wish. It got to the point where Naito had to stand up for himself – or he might never have stood up again.

This was another enjoyable showing. New Japan is building all of these feuds and doing a decent job of it, even if it doesn’t always lead to the highest quality in-ring work.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi)

Classic Suzuki-gun. Credit: NJPW

There was a period where I was worried about this. Suzuki-gun had isolated Takahashi and were pulling out every dirty trick in the book to make sure that remained the case. It was getting close to going too far and becoming another overbooked troll fest from Suzuki’s minions.

However, it turned out that was only the first act in a multi-part play and when they returned to the ring business picked up. Mainly, because they seemed to figure out that the best way to make it great was to have Hiromu and Despy go at it. Bushi and Kanemaru still played their parts, running interference or jumping in for double team moves, but there was a significant period of this where it essentially became Takahashi vs Desperado.

And I was more than happy with that. Those two have sneakily good chemistry and seem to take pleasure in laying into each other. They were going all out here, and by the final few minutes, it was a slugfest as they battled to see who would survive. While it almost seems silly to point it out, Takahashi was particularly excellent. His willingness to put his body on the line is outstanding, and whether he’s being dropped on his head or hitting John Woos from the apron to the floor, the man earns my eternal love every time I watch him wrestle.

In the end, Suzuki-gun’s cheating would prove the difference maker. Takahashi seemed to be in line to pick up the victory having hit a Dynamite Plunger following by the Running Death Valley Driver into the corner. He was setting up for the Time Bomb when Desperado pulled out his desperation move, grabbing hold of Red Shoes he was able to block it and at the same time open up an opportunity. A belt shot followed by a Pinche Loco on to the same belt was enough for the three.

This was great. They built from the slow cheating filled shenanigans to an action-packed closing section that had several near falls that both me and the crowd in attendance bit for. I also have exactly zero issues with the result. Takahashi is above these belts and with the Best Of The Super Juniors coming up, I think there is a bigger prize in his future.

Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars

Overall Show

Dominance. Credit: NJPW

If you’re looking to save time, you can skip most of this. The Young Lion matches and the main event are the only essentials. It’s not a bad show – although the Iizuka stuff is awful – it’s just a house show with a title shot main eventing.

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