NJPW Road To Wrestling Dontaku 27/4/18 Review

Not Goto’s best look. Credit: NJPW

I understand New Japan splitting up their big matches onto multiple cards from a business point of view. More shows = more tickets = more money. However, when it comes to valuing my time, it’s an awful decision. Particularly when it means I have to sit through another card packed with nothing multi-man tags and Suzuki-gun antics. It’s a good thing I have Goto and Juice to enjoy.

Ren Narita defeated Yuyu Uemura

It didn’t all go Ren’s way. Credit: NJPW

Ren Narita loved this. He spends most of his time in a New Japan ring getting the shit kicked out of him, so when he was handed the opportunity to be the more experienced head, he took advantage. He took advantage by bringing some heavy hands right down onto Uemura’s chest.

In among the onslaught, Uemura got a couple of moments to shine. His dropkick already stands out even among a group of Young Lions who almost to a man throw impressive dropkicks. However, at the moment his role is to learn the lessons taught to him, a position he fulfils admirably.

Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars

Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Yuji Nagata, Tomoyuki Oka and Shota Umino

Here comes Shota. Credit: NJPW

Oka played the role of Nakanishi in Nagata’s pre-match ritual which I imagine was a cool moment for the young man. Something to grasp onto when he was left in the ring with a grumpy kitty who likes to kick people. I groaned when I saw Tiger Mask was in the Super Juniors again, but he is good at dishing out kickings to the cubs.

Even when they were on the same team, the focus quickly shifted to Nagata and Umino. Liger, Tiger and Taguchi controlled the majority of the action, isolating the Young Lions and preventing Nagata coming in. Right up until the moment where they couldn’t do that anymore. Old Yuji had been on the apron for a while, and he came in fiery. He seemed to have things wrapped up when a voice piped up from the background. Umino wanted in.

While it’s a tactic he’s picked up from Kawato, it’s one that works. People get behind him when he comes charging in bursting with passion and perhaps not enough skill. It doesn’t matter that he ultimately ends up losing, it just makes them cheer him on all the more next time in the hope that he finally gets the win.

Verdict: Three Stars

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

Sorry, I’m not reviewing this again. It’s an atrocious mini-feud, and I want nothing more to do with it.

Roppongi 3K got the win and in the process hit Iizuka with his own papier-mache claw. Fingers crossed that’s the end of it.

Verdict: NA

Michael Elgin, Toa Henare, Togi Makabe and David Finlay defeated CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Jay White, YOSHI-HASHI and Toru Yano)

Rather than spending time watching a shit wrestle, I suggest you 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 which 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

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, Evil, Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi) defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr, El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanamaru)

Another match that we’ve seen far too often. Rather than boring you by talking about it again I’m going to blabber on about Naito for a bit.

Tetsuya Naito fascinates me. His character is a living contradiction. On the one hand, he’s the lead Ingobernable. The man who doesn’t give a shit about anything and who will wind you up just by sending that crooked grin in your direction. On the other, he’s the man who gives too much of the shit. He acts nonchalant, but when push comes to shove it, all means something to him. Naito keeps fighting because he wants everyone to know he’s the best.

All of which worked when he was a heel. Naito’s arrogance makes him the perfect foil to pure of heart babyfaces like Tanahashi or Juice Robinson. However, now he’s a babyface himself, he’s got a lot more work to do with his character. He can’t keep acting like he doesn’t care, at some point, something has to cause him to give everything he has to a feud.

Thankfully, I think he already has that something. He has LIJ, that motley crew which Naito is very fund of. You only need to watch him crawl back to the apron – having been murdered by Suzuki – desperate to save Takahashi from the beating he was getting. Naito is beginning to show he cares and the world’s coolest gang is the way to get it out of him.

The match was fine.

Verdict: Three Stars

Hirooki Goto defeated Juice Robinson to retain the NEVER Openweight Title

Around a year ago Juice Robinson received his first title shot in New Japan. He went up against Hirooki Goto for the NEVER belt and came out the clear loser even as he showed a lot of heart. A year on the result hasn’t changed, but the man with heart has come a long way.

While Juice Robinson came into last year’s fight as a clear underdog, that wasn’t the case this time around. Since then he’s wrestled Omega and Okada, even beating Omega. He’s competed for more than just the NEVER Title, proving himself in a hundred different ways. Right from the start, it was apparent we had an older Juice Robinson on our hands. This was a confident man one who knows he belongs in that ring.

Goto, meanwhile, needed someone to wake him up. Since his incredible war with Suzuki at the Dome, Goto’s reign has struggled to get into the higher gears. His best performance may have been against Beer City Bruiser. Even this one started slowly, as Hirooki perhaps underestimated his opponent and went for a count out victory.

As they got further in things really picked up. Juice was excellent throughout it all. Fighting from underneath Robinson seemed to find an extra wind after every sequence, throwing huge fists and battling back against the champion.

Then there was the closing stretch where counter after counter saw both men struggle to hit the big move that was needed to end this. It even forced Goto to go back into the archives, pulling out a Shouken Kai in his desperate need to get the win. Juice, meanwhile, dropped Goto with one of the meanest looking Brainbusters I’ve ever seen. Both men sold it to perfection, and it looked beautiful.

In the end, the GTR would get the win and once again Juice would fall short. On this day, though, he didn’t lose because of a lack of experience. He lost because Goto was the better man. Next time he comes around, I would put your money on Young Juice reaching the stars.

Verdict: Four Stars

Hiroshi Tanahashi and KUSHIDA defeated CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay

Two of the greatest heavyweight wrestlers on the planet backed up by two of the greatest juniors, you’d be mental to think that the match was anything except good.

It seems almost silly to talk about how perfect Ospreay and KUSHIDA’s chemistry is, they’ve shown it a million times. I have no doubt that they’ll blow the house down when they go one on one. They’re two outstanding wrestlers who even when they’re competing to what was basically a stalemate – as they did here-  are a joy to watch.

The real story continues to be Okada and Tanahashi. Okada is embracing his inner prick going full Suzuki on Tanahashi, dragging him into the crowd, beating him up and leaving him slumped over a chair. It felt like we were watching the death of the Ace in front of our very eyes. Okada just seemed to have his number.

However, right at the end, Tanahashi found a little bit of that magic in his pocket. Okada went for the Tombstone on the floor only for Tana’ to escape, make his way back to the ring and defeat Ospreay with the High Fly Flow. It was Okada’s turn to look up at The Ace, and it’s possible Tanahashi still has something more to give.

The faith I have in KUSHIDA and Ospreay tearing the house down can be trebled with those two. They don’t know how not to. With Tanahashi’s days of competing at the top getting shorter and shorter, I can’t wait to see what they come up with for the next chapter of this incredible feud.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Overall Show

You can skip a lot of this. I’ll always suggest checking out the Young Lions, while Juice vs Goto was great. The only other thing I’d recommend investing any time into is the main event. It’s not a classic by any sense of the imagination, but it was fun and continued to set-up the battle between the faces of the company.

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