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Hamilton’s New Japan Road to Dominion – Night One 06.01.2021 Review

June 1, 2021 | Posted by Ian Hamilton
NJPW Road to Dominion
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Hamilton’s New Japan Road to Dominion – Night One 06.01.2021 Review  

Quick Results
El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki pinned Yuya Uemura, SHO & YOH in 11:36 (***)
Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo, Chase Owens & EVIL pinned Tiger Mask, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomoaki Honma & Ryusuke Taguchi in 12:48 (**½)
Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb pinned Yota Tsuji & Kota Ibushi in 12:232 (***)
Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada pinned SANADA, BUSHI, Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi in 14:30 (***¼)
Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi pinned Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa in 26:03 to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships (***½)

— If you’re on Twitter, give me a follow over on @IanWrestling – and check out the GoFundMe that’s still open for Larry’s family.

After last week’s rather odd Road to Wrestle Grand Slam tour, New Japan’s back for a “tour” with some purpose. Sure, the Road to Dominion is down to just two stops after the cancellation of Friday’s scheduled show at the Ota City General Gymnasium, but we’ve got two sets of tag titles being defended on the two Korakuen shows this week. Then we’ve got Dominion 6.6 in Osaka-Jo Hall which is now being held on Monday June 7. Just to confuse everyone who’ll be looking back at these shows in the future!

As for this week’s pair of shows at Korakuen, well, we’ve got a slightly meatier roster as names come out of quarantine and back into the ring.

Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) & Yuya Uemura vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki)
We’ve got the delayed YOH vs. Desperado junior title match taking place at Dominion, so we’re going back to the warm-up tags we had before Dontaku last month.

YOH and Desperado start us off, but YOH’s forced to defend quickly as Kanemaru ran in… and took a back body drop for his troubles. SHO’s in to help as Desperado’s tripped into a low dropkick, before some right hands had the junior champion in the ropes. SHO’s sent into the ropes, where he’s kicked by Minoru Suzuki, who dragged him down for a hanging leglock of the apron, as all hell breaks loose

One prolonged bout of rearranging the ringside barriers later, things head back inside as Desperado picked up a two-count on SHO. Suzuki tagged in to trap SHO in another leglock, dragging him away from the ropes as Uemura came in to break up a half crab. Except Suzuki just pulls him into a leg lock as he’d tied up both SHO and Uemura at the same time.

After letting go, SHO and Suzuki trade elbows. Yep, there’s the CLONKER. Kanemaru’s in next, but his suplex gets reversed before SHO took down Kanemaru and Desperado with a spear. YOH tags back in to try and take advantage, landing a series of dropkicks to clear the ring before he took Desperado into the corner for a neckbreaker.

Desperado’s out at two after that as the match descended into back-and-forth elbows. An eye rake from Desperado stops that, before the pair exchanged slaps on the way to an overhead kick from YOH. Uemura tags in as he tried to put away Desperado… SHO’s in to help as Desperado’s cornered, leading to a back suplex for a two-count.

Uemura looks for a Kanuki suplex, but Desperado breaks out and returned fire with a spinebuster, before Uemura blocked a Pinche Loco. YOH’s superkick nearly led to the mother of all upsets via a roll-up, but normal service resumes as Desperado blocks another Kanuki suplex before unsighting the referee… punching out Uemura en route to Pinche Loco for the win. A decent enough opener, which got time and enough interaction between Desperado and YOH after the best part of a month away. ***

Bullet Club (EVIL, Chase Owens, Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomoaki Honma, Tiger Mask & Ryusuke Taguchi
A rather throwaway tag, given that there’s no obvious match-ups coming out of this, unless we’re getting EVIL vs. Tanahashi at Dominion?

This was ELP’s first match in Japan since February’s Castle Attack, having worked Impact, NJPW Strong and PWX during his time back in North America… also, have you noticed how much Taguchi’s given up sport given how contentious the Olympics are in Japan right now?

Honma and Owens start us off, with Honma elbowing down Owens early on before he made the tag out. Taguchi’s in to hit some hip attacks, while Tanahashi rushed a tag in so he could try some of his own. Go Ass? Everyone gangs up on Chase, but it backfires as Honma’s whipped into Taguchi’s arse in the corner, sending Taguchi to the outside as the Bullet Club decided to ape the whole thing for themselves.

Back rakes follow, including a cartwheeling, flipping one from ELP, which gets a two-count as the pace looked to slow down. EVIL’s in, but throws Honma outside for a mugging, before ELP came back in to chop away on Honma. A front chancery turns into a whirlibird neckbreaker attempt, but Honma elbowed free before ELP went for the nipples.

A leaping Kokeshi takes down the Canadian, as Taguchi got the tag in to clear house with a whole load of hip attacks. One for each side of the ring. From there, a springboard hip attack dropped Phantasmo for a two-count, before Taguchi set up for a Bummer-ye… but ELP rolled him up for a tow-count. A backslide’s next from Taguchi for a near-fall, before he sidestepped a charge, with EVIL hitting the exposed corner ahead of another hip attack.

Tanahashi tags in to go after EVIL, landing a leaping forearm before Tanahashi countered a ref-assisted superkick by taking down EVIL with a Dragon screw. Dick Togo drips Tanahashi in the ropes, allowing EVIL to capitalise with a release Fisherman buster, as tags take us to Ishimori and Tiger Mask. A Tiger Driver attempt is blocked, as Tiger Mask hits a tiltawhirl backbreaker instead for a two-count as my feed crapped out.

It recovered just in time for the finish, as ELP’s Whirlibird neckbreaker on Tiger Mask leads to a Bloody Cross from Ishimori for the win. This dragged a little to start, and only really got going by the end as I suspect we may be teasing an Ishimori/ELP tag title challenge after Monday? **½

United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan) vs. Kota Ibushi & Yota Tsuji
We’re building to Cobb vs. Ibushi at Dominion, and of course, we’ve a jump start…

When things calm down, Cobb tagged out, as we got O-Khan charging down Tsuji before a slam dumped the Young Lion in the middle of the ring. Mongolian chops stagger Tsuji, with Cobb then stomping away on him in the corner ahead of a gutwrench suplex. Cobb sets up Tsuji for his Cobbi-goye, but Ibushi comes in to stop it… so we get O-Khan back to hit some more Mongolian chops.

O-Khan takes Tsuji to the corner for a seat, before Cobb’s stalling, squatting suplex kept Tsuji in trouble. Tsuji kicked out at two as the assault remained one-sided, at least until he found a way in with a dropkick as Ibushi flew in with a missile dropkick following his tag. Cobb’s outside and clattered with a plancha, before a standing moonsault back inside gets Ibushi a two-count.

Ibushi looks for a Kamigoye, but O-Khan breaks it up as Cobb leapt back in with a pop-up Oklahoma Stampede for a near-fall. A leaping knee from Ibushi stuns Cobb, who struck back, allowing O-Khan to stretch Ibushi with that modified cravat. Ibushi escapes and hit a leg lariat on O-Khan, before Tsuji returned to try his luck.

Shoulder tackles from Tsuji led to him taking an O-Khan chop, which he shrugged off on the way to the Mount Tsuji splash for a two-count as we passed the ten-minute mark. O-Khan surprises Tsuji by pulling him into a triangle choke, but Tsuji slips out and nailed O-Khan with a spear for a two-count.

Tsuji’s offence ends with interference from Cobb, who took him into the corner to start some double-teaming, leading to a facebuster from O-Khan for a two-count. Ibushi breaks it up, but got thrown outside as O-Khan looked to put Tsuji away, only to endure a scare as a series of roll-ups get near-falls. In the end though, O-Khan countered a sunset flip by pulling Tsuji up for the Eliminator, and that’s the win. A solid tag, with Tsuji taking the expected pasting before showing some of the fire he could really have done with in last week’s trial series! ***

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI) vs. Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
With Okada vs. Shingo on Monday being for the vacant IWGP title, it kinda makes sense to smash together LIJ vs. CHAOS for this undercard offering…

Okada and Shingo eventually get us going, tying up into the ropes as Shingo managed to sneak in a chop. After a brief flare-up on the outside, tags take us to BUSHI and YOSHI-HASHI, with the former getting taken into the ropes before he fired YOSHI-HASHI into the corner. SANADA’s in to punch YOSHI-HASHI in the head, before the rest of LIJ hit the ring to clear the apron.

YOSHI-HASHI gets hiptossed by Naito and SANADA, with a low dropkick following for a two-count, before Naito’s Kimura took YOSHI-HASHI into the corner. My feed drops out again, recovering as Okada and the rest of the CHAOS team had flattened Naito, leading to YOSHI-HASHI ripping off Naito’s t-shirt to spark some chopping. Ishii tags in and just shrugs off elbows from Naito before battering the former champion into the corner with chops and forearms… stopping to pull him back to his feet for some more.

Naito fought back with some elbows of his own, but an Ishii headbutt offered some response before SANADA leapt in to try and stem the tide. A dropkick from SANADA takes care of Goto, before Naito came back in with a neckbreaker to Ishii. Tags take us back to Shingo and Okada, with the former going for a death valley driver before settling for a suplex for a near-fall.

Okada manages to turn it around, but had to block a powerbomb attempt as the pair traded right hands, Okada misses a dropkick, but avoids the Shingo combination before he finally landed that dropkick on the former Best of the Super Junior finalist. Tags get us to Goto and BUSHI, with BUSHI’s missile dropkick putting him ahead against a man who’s recently lost a few times to a junior.

A DDT has Goto down for a two-count, but YOSHI-HASHI and Ishii come in to help… only for BUSHI to hit back with a back cracker. SANADA tags in as Goto’s triple-teamed in the corner, leading to a Pumping Bomber from Shingo and a TKO from SANADA, before Goto needed Okada to help him get free of a Dragon sleeper.

The Parade of Moves continues, with Shingo eating a Saito suplex, and Naito taking a Western Lariat from YOSHI-HASHI, before a Head Hunter/side Russian legsweep combo led to Goto rolling up SANADA for the win. A nice final flurry that got the CHAOS lads over the line, but there’s some questions over Goto’s vulnerability ahead of tomorrow’s match, given his form this year… ***¼

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (c)
Sabre and Taichi won the right to challenge for the titles again at Wrestling Dontaku… and we’ve the return of Miho Abe, who’d been off of the New Japan shows since the start of the pandemic. She looked positively overwhelmed to be back.

DOUKI and Jado leave ringside before the match starts, as we start with Taichi and his choking before a sumo throw led to Tama Tonga getting taken outside. Tama then tries to kidnap Miho Abe, which distracted Taichi for Tanga Loa to attack him from behind as Miho found herself in trouble fairly early on her return.

Zack Sabre Jr. tried to make a save, but just got charged into the guard rails as the challengers were being torn apart on the floor. Finally the referee started a count-out as Tanga Loa dumped Taichi onto the edge of the ring with a back suplex. He’s taken back inside as Tama Tonga lands a senton atomico, then grounded Taichi with a side chinlock as the champions looked to be firmly in control.

Taichi manages to break free, dropping Tama with an Axe bomber before tags brought in Tanga Loa and Zack Sabre Jr. Tanga instantly drops Sabre, who recovered with a guillotine choke as the feed buffered again. Tanga Loa charges him into the corner though, then had to block an Octopus stretch, biting his way free… only for Sabre to roll down into a leg lock.

My feed drops out horribly again, recovering as Taichi fights back on Tanga Loa with a series of mid kicks, before a leaping enziguiri in the corner on Tanga Loa led to Tama Tonga’s Flatliner as we had a mini Parade of Moves. A Dangerous backdrop driver from Tama dropped Tanga Loa as both men needed to pull themselves back up to their feet… and now off come the trousers as we go back to Taichi’s past again.

A superkick from Taichi is sidestepped as Tanga pulled him into the OJK crossface, which eventually ended in the ropes. Tama’s quickly in with a neckbreaker as the Guerrillas continued to target Taichi, but once again Taichi fought back with an elbow strike as both he and Tama were left on the mat.

Sabre makes the tag in, with Tanga Loa nowhere in sight, so he traps Tama in a Cobra twist… that’s quickly escaped, but Tama’s quickly got to deal with a mounted armbar as Sabre continued to make lemonade out of the lemons Tama gave him. That prompted Jado to run out to distract, with Gedo sneaking in with the brass knuckles… DOUKI slips on a springboard as he cleared Gedo away, while Tama Tonga stayed in that levering armbar, which turned into a version of the old Young Boy Killer that Tanga Loa broke up.

Guerrilla Warfare dropped Sabre for a near-fall, before a powerbomb/leaping neckbreaker pushed the champions slightly further ahead. Taichi breaks up the pin, but can’t do much else but watch and take a Magic Killer, before he’s dumped back outside. That left Sabre in by himself as a swandive headbutt from Tanga, and a frog splash from Tama gets another near-fall… but still the champions push on as they looked for a Super Powerbomb on Sabre.

Except Zack ‘rana’s free, as Taichi’s double Axe bomber looked to turn the tables. A buzzsaw kick drops Tama, before a Sabre PK blasted through for a near-fall. Tanga Loa breaks up a Zack Mephisto attempt, but ends up taking a series of kicks en route to a Zack Mephisto on him. From there, Taichi measures up Tama Tonga for a Last Ride, but Tama hits a low blow before he nearly won with a roll-up.

A Gun Stun from Tama’s countered into a rear naked choke by Sabre, who clings on for grim life. He lets go so Taichi can clock Tama with another jumping enziguiri, before a superkick-assisted Zack Driver gets the win. This one very much followed the house style, in that I couldn’t get into this whatsoever until the telegraphed run-ins had been and gone – but after so many goes around of this match on undercards of the past, I was left feeling numb until the finishing stretches. ***½

We’re back tomorrow for the final show of the week, featuring Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & SANADA challenging for the NEVER trios championship in the main event.

The final score: review Good
The 411
After last week’s cards, today’s show was a little souped up as we curiously remain without a full card for Monday’s Dominion - a card that I’d have thought could have done with the tag title match, rather than it being stuck on yet-another-Korakuen card. Still, we close out with new tag team champions, but no sight of fresh challengers means this is kinda like trying to do spring cleaning by just moving a few things around…