wrestling / TV Reports

Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Road 6.21.22 Review

June 21, 2022 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Japan Road - 6-21-22 - Hiromu vs. Ishimori Image Credit: NJPW Twitter
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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Road 6.21.22 Review  

NJPW New Japan Road

June 21st, 2022 |  Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

DOUKI vs. Yuto Nakashima

After his BOSJ run, New Japan knows that more DOUKI singles matches is the way to my heart. I’m legit surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed him lately. I dig Nakashima’s look too. The guy has cool hair and I respect that. He brought the usual energy and I like that DOUKI kind of matched it. You get the sense that DOUKI is still out to really prove himself. He also bumped well on things like a Nakashima kick off the ropes. DOUKI survived a Young Lion Crab attempt and won with the DOUKI CHOUKI KEVIN. Only Japanese commentary here so I didn’t get to hear it. This went 6:23 and was a spirited little sprint. [**½]

Ryohei Oiwa vs. Taichi

Taichi is getting in a quick match before the G1. Unlike DOUKI, Taichi wasn’t here to bump much for his smaller Young Lion opposition. He even had fun toying with him, doing things like stomping on Oiwa’s head before applying an elevated single leg crab. I always appreciate when Taichi is just a total jerk. It’s why I love him against Jay White so much from a couple of years back. Oiwa did fire up and apply the Young Lion Crab but that just seemed to piss off Taichi. He tossed him aside and won with a kick to the face in 4:39. I liked that. It was to the point and showcased an aggressive Taichi, which we might get in the G1. [**]

Dick Togo, EVIL, SHO and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, YOH and YOSHI-HASHI

A rematch from yesterday. That match was better than expected since it didn’t overdo the shenanigans. This opened with a brawl around the ring and toward the back. Togo even got trapped in a cage like the Yano/Suzuki gimmick from a bit ago. That allowed the faces to actually turn things around and jump the heels individually. Once Togo was freed, the House of Torture guys took control and isolated YOSHI-HASHI for a bit. The closing stretch was solid and we got a visual win for YOH as SHO tapped to his submission but the referee was distracted. YOH then got laid out with a weapon after 9:09. That had some good moments but was a little too much House of Torture for my taste. [**¼]

Aaron Henare, Francesco Akira and TJP vs. Jado and Team Six Or Nine

Jado teaming with Taguchi and Wato feels super random. Like, his beef is with the Bullet Club, not the United Empire. Regardless, this got off to a strong start with a lot of action. Guys were flying around the ring and hitting dives in the opening minutes. Six or Nine tried some tandem offense but their timing wasn’t as crisp as you get from a top-tier duo. Hell, Akira and TJP are a new team and their timing was better here and yesterday. Jado was clearly here to eat the fall, losing to Henare’s Full Nelson after 8:19. This was a solid tag where the United Empire looked really good. I think Henare has impressed and I dig the full nelson finisher. Hopefully, he gets a few G1 wins. [***]

BUSHI, SANADA, Shingo Takagi and Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kazuchika Okada, Kosei Fujita and Togi Makabe

I always forget that Togi Makabe exists. Anyway, I loved that this was so short. More seven minute matches, please. Everyone got a moment or two to shine which was welcome but it was clear that the G1 guys (SANADA, Shingo, Okada, Naito) were taking the night off (rightfully so) and the old men (Makabe, Tenzan) weren’t going to do much. That left a lot of this to be BUSHI against Fujita, which was pretty fun. Near the end, Fujita got left alone with BUSHI and nearly stole the match with an inside cradle but BUSHI beat him with the Boston Crab in 7:24. Interestingly, LIJ kept up the assault after the match, with Naito and Shingo putting Fujita in more submissions while holding back the other team. [**¾]

G1 Schedule!

7/16 – Okada vs. Cobb/White vs. SANADA/Tanahashi vs. Henare/Ospreay vs. ELP (all should at least be good)

7/17 – Yano vs. Jonah/Taichi vs. Ishii/KENTA vs. ZSJ/Shingo vs. Juice (KENTA/ZSJ typically rules, as does Taichi/Ishii, and Juice/Shingo sounds awesome)

7/20 – Archer vs. Fale/Tonga vs. Owens/Goto vs. Naito/Finlay vs. Yujiro (Eww)

7/23 – Okada vs. Yano/Ishii vs. White/ZSJ vs. Henare/Shingo vs. HASHI (Ishii/White and ZSJ/Henare should rule)

7/24 – Cobb vs. Fale/SANADA vs. Taichi/Tanahashi vs. Naito/ELP vs. Yujiro (I almost always love Tana/Naito)

7/26 – Lawlor vs. Archer/O-Khan vs. Owens/KENTA vs. EVIL/Finlay vs. Juice (D Block is the only interesting match here)

7/27 – Yano vs. Fale/Ishii vs. Tama/Goto vs. Henare/Ospreay vs. Yujiro (pls, no)

7/30 – Lawlor vs. Jonah/SANADA vs. O-Khan/Tanahashi vs. ZSJ/Shingo vs. Finlay (hey, this is a good batch)

7/31 – Okada vs. Fale & Cobb vs. Archer/White vs. Owens/Naito vs. EVIL/HASHI vs. Juice (oof)

8/2 – Yano vs. Lawlor/Ishii vs. O-Khan & SANADA vs. Tama/KENTA vs. Goto/Finlay vs. Ospreay (Ishii/GOK and Willy/Finlay should be good)

8/5 – Jonah vs. Cobb/Taichi vs. Owens/Tanahashi vs. EVIL & Henare vs. Naito/Finlay vs. Yujiro (Jonah/Cobb is one of my most anticipated matches and Henare/Naito is cool)

8/6 – Yano vs. Archer/O-Khan vs. White/Goto vs. ZSJ/HASHI vs. ELP & Shingo vs. Ospreay (inject O-Khan vs. White into my veins)

8/7 – Fale vs. Lawlor & Jonah vs. Okada/Ishii vs. Owens/Henare vs. EVIL/ELP vs. Juice (I’m all about Okada/Jonah)

8/9 – Jonah vs. Archer/Tama vs. Taichi & SANADA vs. Owens/Naito vs. KENTA/Yujiro vs. YOSHI (that D Block match is laughable but KENTA/Naito rules.

8/10 – Okada vs. Lawlor/Tama vs. O-Khan/Tanahashi vs. Goto and ZSJ vs. EVIL/Finlay vs. ELP (A Block match sounds cool)

8/13 – Cobb vs. Yano/Taichi vs. White/Henare vs. KENTA/YOSHI vs. Ospreay & Shingo vs. Yujiro (all but D Block matches sound good)

8/14 – Lawlor vs. Cobb/Taichi vs. O-Khan/Tanahashi vs. KENTA/YOSHI vs. Finlay (stop hyping YOSHI matches!)

8/16 – Jonah vs. Fale & Okada vs. Archer/Ishii vs. SANADA & White vs. Tama/EVIL vs. Goto & Naito vs. ZSJ/Shingo vs. ELP & Juice vs. Ospreay (White/Tama has intrigue)

AEW All Atlantic Title Tournament Qualifying Match: Clark Connors vs. Tomohiro Ishii

The winner joins PAC, Miro, and Malakai Black or Penta Oscuro (likely Black) at Forbidden Door. One has to wonder what role Ishii’s leg will play given how it was a focus yesterday. I loved that early on, Connors ran over Ishii. This isn’t a typical junior heavyweight like Kanemaru. Connors is a beefy boy. He was able to go toe to toe with Ishii on some shots. Of course, Ishii still managed to run through him at one point, showing he is still the bigger guy. That kind of ended up being the crux of the match. Connors could hang with Ishii and prove his toughness but Ishii is the veteran who remained a step ahead. Some of the chops Connors threw sounded more vicious than Ishii’s which is no easy task. Down the stretch, Ishii really got going, seemingly having weathered the storm of his upstart opponent. Even when Connors got out of the Brainbuster, Ishii knocked him back with a headbutt. I did slightly pop for the Connors inside cradle counter soon after and his deadlift German was dope. Ishii finally put down a game Connors with the Brainbuster after 13:22. Other than one inside cradle, I never felt like the outcome was in doubt. Still, Ishii is in G1 form with two bangers in two nights and Connors should be a future NEVER Openweight Champion with performances like this. [***¾]

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Taiji Ishimori [c] vs. Hiromu Takahashi

As noted, this happening on this card feels like the G1 winner getting their IWGP Title shot at Power Struggle instead of Wrestle Kingdom. Anyway, these two have a fantastic history. They met in the BOSJ Finals in 2018 (****¾), Summer Struggle in Jingu 2020 (****¼), BOSJ 2020 (****), Wrestle Kingdom 15 (****½), BOSJ, 2021 (***¾), and BOSJ 2022 (***¾). I believe that’s all that I’ve seen. Ishimori did a bit of stalling early to prevent Hiromu from gaining momentum and then he took out his arm with a chair shot behind the referee’s back. I was surprised to see that as I fully expected leg work given Hiromu’s story during the BOSJ. Hiromu continued the trend of throwing caution to the wind, further damaging his arm on a dive outside mere minutes after having it attacked. One thing I appreciated in this match was that it felt much different from their 2018 BOSJ classic. That was an absurd match filled with wild moments. This had those but it also incorporated mat work a bit more and played into how many times they have since. Ishimori would grab the upper hand and seemingly be in control but then Hiromu would bust out something to stop him. For example, Ishimori hit a sweet looking Destroyer but he then ran into a corner belly to belly that put both men on the mat. Ishimori had a counter of Time Bomb that looked really cool because he like, sprang off of Hiromu in a way that felt like he used all of his momentum to do so. The shoulder work paid off since it plays into Ishimori’s submission finisher. The final third of this match was ridiculous from submission close calls to piledrivers on the apron and a great Air Raid Crash near fall about 30 minutes in. The crowd was totally into this and had this happened in a bigger venue like where Dominionis, I feel it could’ve been special. Ishimori kept escaping Time Bomb and the inverted DDT from Bret’s Rope was a spectacular near fall. He finished it soon after with a Lungblower, retaining after an epic 36:20. Once again disproving the dumb theory that I don’t like long matches, I loved this. If you’re going to go 30+, you just have to make it work and have it make sense. If a 12 minute match could’ve been done in 7, then I say do that as well. This was meant to feel like two guys who have thrown everything at each other in the past having to throw even more this time around. Two of the best in the world, now please move Hiromu to the heavyweight division. How ELP is in the G1 and not Hiromu or Desperado is beyond me. [****½]

Ishimori cut the show closing promo and seemed to say something toward Desperado who was on commentary. Then, KUSHIDA’s music hit and the junior heavyweight icon made his return to NJPW. I like having him back though he should’ve moved up out of the division before he left too. He went face to face with Ishimori but nothing more came of it here.

The final score: review Good
The 411
I feel like these shows can never really get higher than this rating because they are, by design, basically one or two match events. Still, this one did exactly what it had to. The undercard was fine and didn’t overstay its welcome before Ishii/Connors was very good and the main event was tremendous.