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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Road Review 7.4.22

July 4, 2022 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Japan Road Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Road Review 7.4.22  

NJPW New Japan Road

July 4th, 2022 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

I missed reviewing yesterday’s show as I had family plans and Money in the Bank to cover but I’m back. The main focus here is to tease the G1 Climax but also to promote the return of KUSHIDA. He won in a main event tag yesterday by pinning Gedo and is back in a similar spot here.

Kosei Fujita vs. Minoru Suzuki

I love undercard singles matches in New Japan. Especially when they deal with Suzuki murdering a Young Lion. In a lot of ways, this was a typical Young Lion vs. veteran match in that Suzuki dominated and Fujita had a few hope spots filled with the fire. The main difference was that it’s Suzuki and he makes everything better. At times, he looked like he was trying to kill this poor young wrestler and he got serious enjoyment out of torturing him. Of course, the result was never in doubt and Suzuki won with a Fujiwara armbar in 8:20. That was an entertaining and fun start to the show. [***]

Satoshi Kojima vs. TAKA Michinoku

This was advertised as TAKA vs. X and Kojima feels like a weird call for a mystery. Like, I’m not saying bring in someone big for a match like this but why not just advertise Kojima in the first place? Maybe I’m missing something. This was a case of two veterans playing to the hits. TAKA did some of his usual stuff and Kojima added a little something to his machine gun corner chops, hitting more than he typically does. It seemed to really tire him out, which I get given his age and how he doesn’t wrestle as consistently anymore. Hearing him do his taunt alone without the crowd shouting with him was so weird. It felt wrong. Kojima won with the lariat in a fine 6:54. [**¼]

Great Bash Heel vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Ryohei Oiwa

Whenever I see Makabe, I’m like “Oh, yeah, Togi Makabe was a thing.” Again, you know what to expect from this match. Makabe and Honma played to the crowd and got their shit in, with Tenzan doing the same. Oiwa was there to eat the pin and bring some actual energy to the proceedings. It was largely fine though likely went a bit long for what it was at 10:51. Makabe beat Oiwa with a Boston Crab. [**¼]

Clark Connors, The DKC and Yuji Nagata vs. El Desperado, Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere again. I like four of the six guys in here and even the ones I don’t (DKC is someone I haven’t seen enough of and Kanemaru can impress on occasion) aren’t so bad. This had some hard hitting stuff, including the DKC just straight up no selling/standing up to Taichi’s shots. Nagata is always a delight to see in there and Connors is excelling at the role of the junior heavyweight powerhouse. Some of the stuff he did came off really well here. They even seemed to be hinting at the idea of Connors vs. Desperado down the line, which sounds awesome. DKC tried pulling off the upset a few times, getting a near fall on Taichi with a missile dropkick and kicking out of some offense. Alas, Taichi ended him soon after with a Backdrop Driver in 11:24. A spirited tag boosted by Connors, DKC, and Desperado. [***]

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

SHO was out with his NEVER Title teammates so maybe Togo is in over him so this doesn’t feel like some random non-title match. It’ll likely set up the CHAOS boys for another shot. They started this with a big brawl around ringside, including Yano trying to trap Togo in his cage gimmick. It eventually calmed down into a more traditional tag though it never really picked up in terms of being interesting. The House of Torture boys got going to gain the upper hand and isolate YOSHI-HASHI. I did like the finish here as SHO’s interference attempt was caught by the referee and EVIL and Togo went for low blows on Goto and HASHI. However, the CHAOS guys blocked the shots and Yano hit low blows on Togo and EVIL, leaving Yujiro to fall to whatever Goto and HASHI’s finisher is called. It went 9:41 and was bland outside of the finish. [**]

Alex Zayne, Kazuchika Okada, Team Six Or Nine & Tomohiro Ishii vs. BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito

There’s a LOT of potential in this one. Eww, they gave SANADA/Okada interactions. Please, stop. Oh no, it was followed by Naito/Okada, which while better, is still beyond tired. You know what I want? Okada/Hiromu. Someone get Gedo on the phone. We got some fun interactions between Shingo and Taguchi, which is the kind of stuff I want from these tags. Guys who won’t face off outside of it having weird battles. Like, Shingo is a serious dude and Taguchi is like, LOOK AT MY ASS. Damn, AEW should bring in Taguchi for the Gunn Club as Uncle Ass. The match also seemed to focus on a potential Ishii/SANADA program coming up. They are in the same G1 block. Alex Zayne was a blast in here and I could do with more between him and Hiromu going forward. He had the best moments of the match and is a breath of fresh air in this company. Shingo WRECKED Wato when they were alone, destroying him with some lariats. Wato fought back with some impressive stuff of his own but Shingo put him down with Made in Japan at the 15:53 mark. A really good semi-main event with lots of fun interactions and solid action. [***¼]

Hiroshi Tanahashi and KUSHIDA vs. KENTA and Taiji Ishimori

With no Gedo here, figuring out who eats the fall is interesting. It’s good to see KUSHIDA back in his regular gear and with his old theme. Do you guys remember KUSHIDA’s last New Japan match before going to WWE? It was a singles banger with Tanahashi. The juniors opened things with some entertaining back and forth before KENTA and Tanahashi took center stage. This was one of those tags where everything that happened was good because no matter who was matched up, they worked well together. KUSHDIA against KENTA was dope, as was Ishimori vs. Tanahashi. KUSHIDA got isolated for a bit and then Tanahashi’s hot tag run was cut short as the heels interrupted his skin the cat spot.  KENTA took things to the next level, bringing a crutch into play but Tanahashi fought him off. We got a stereo submission spot with the Hoverboard Lock and the Texas Cloverleaf. The heels got past that and we got the ending a bit after, with Ishimori making KUSHIDA submit to the Bone Lock after 20:51. That was a really good main event that did exactly what it needed to. I like KUSHIDA losing here as it further cements Ishimori as the top dog right now and gives KUSHIDA something to work toward. [***½]

The final score: review Average
The 411
It’ll always be hard for these shows to score high as they aren’t really designed for that. They’re meant to set things up and act as stopgaps between more important shows. This worked in that way, giving us a really good main event with four entertaining guys and featuring several other intriguing matches that set up stuff for the down the road.