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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Road Review 7.5.22

July 7, 2022 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW New Japan Road - NEVER Openweight titles Image Credit: NJPW
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Pantoja’s NJPW New Japan Road Review 7.5.22  

NJPW New Japan Road

July 5th, 2022 | Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan

I didn’t even realize there was another installment of New Japan Road today. And this one features a pretty interesting card.

Kosei Fujita and Ryohei Oiwa vs. Team Six or Nine

The former Jr. Heavyweight Tag Champions against a pair of Young Lions. Sounds like a fun bit wrestling. Although this didn’t really feature any hot tags for too much tag formula, it does seems like Fujita was the isolated one here. Team Six or Nine used quick tags as they wrenched on his arm relentlessly. I kind of like that they didn’t resort to normal tag formula because one team is, theoretically far superior to the other. Team Six or Nine should be leagues ahead and this was booked that way. Wato found himself in some trouble and needed the ropes to survive a Boston Crab. Interestingly, Wato only won with a rollup of sorts after 10:43. Like I said, a fine way to start things. [**¼]

Great Bash Heel vs. TenKoji

A battle between two veteran teams, with TenKoji likely being the best in company history. Despite their accolades, there was almost no chance for this to be good. Kojima can still go but Tenzan can barely move, Honma hasn’t been good in years, and Makabe barely wrestles anymore. While I enjoyed Kojima’s signature spots and the battle of lariats he had with Honma, I didn’t like all that much else. It was inoffensive and not poorly laid out but that’s the best I can say for it. Kojima shrugged off Kokeshi and won with the Cozy Lariat in 10:23. Honestly, that’s probably as good as you can get from these guys. [**]

Alex Zayne, Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii vs. Clark Connors, The DKC and Yuji Nagata

This looks like it can be a lot of fun. The Nagata team did well the night before and the Okada squad is fantastic. The DKC went right after Ishii proving that he has more guts than brains. He also stood up to Okada and fired away endless shots on him that Okada totally no sold. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but Okada is at his best when he’s being an arrogant prick. Watching him ignore what his opposition was doing was so good. The Nagata/Okada exchanges were also fun as I remember them having a G1 banger years ago. Plus, I love seeing random pairings like Zayne/Nagata. The closing stretch saw stuff really pick up with some fantastic back and forth, ended by Ishii planting The DKC with a Brainbuster in 10:57. Maybe I’m in a generous mood but that was fun as hell. Connors is quickly become a favorite of mine. [***½]

Gedo, KENTA and Taiji Ishimori vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jado and KUSHIDA

How does KUSHIDA rebound from tapping out to Ishimori on the previous show? Jado walking out before Tanahashi as “Go Ace” plays was hilarious. KENTA has one of the best themes in New Japan. This was a lot less interesting than the previous match though it wasn’t bad. The three feuds (Gedo/Jado, KENTA/Tanahashi, and Ishimori/KUSHIDA) were all furthered and we got just enough of them all interacting without overdoing it. The heels made sure to do a lot of their stuff on the outside for a cheap upper hand. Tanahashi avoided a shot with a crutch and beat Jado with the Texas Cloverleaf after 10:31. It did just what it needed to and I’m good with that. [**¾]

BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito vs. El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

SANADA and Taichi started this to continue their tension. Taichi played mind games with him, frustrating SANADA until he did it back to him. Other than that, a lot of this was kept relatively simple. There aren’t many other angles/matches to tease and build to, so this was just guys who have had thousands of multi-man tags having another multi-man tag. That doesn’t mean it was bad but it means that it capped out at just being pretty good. The highlight was probably Suzuki’s hanging kneebar off the apron on BUSHI. I’m a sucker for that shit. I did get some Shingo/Suzuki here and now I’m really mad at Gedo for putting ELP in the G1 and not Suzuki because Suzuki/Shingo in D Block would be sick. The finish saw Hiromu choke out TAKA at the 15:15 mark. A good little match here though it could’ve been better given who was involved. [***]

Dog Cage Match: Dick Togo vs. Toru Yano

Yes, in order to win you must lock your opponent in the goofy ringside cage gimmick. They did a lot of brawling around the ring as is typical from these two. It’s weird that I love Yano when he brings his antics to regular matches but when it’s done in a gimmick match like this, it’s bad. They did a spot where Togo grabbed Yano’s leg from under the ring and when Yano went to do it back, Togo tricked him and still had the upper hand. The lights went out and we got a case of everyone showing up from House of Torture and Chaos. Yano monkey flipped Togo in the cage and locked in, winning in 7:20. This was as bad as I expected. [*]

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship: EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi [c] vs. Hirooki Goto, YOH & YOSHI-HASHI

This is why these titles were made. Give some semblance of importance to a show like this. The match got started quickly since everyone was already at ringside. YOH and SHO went at it in the ring as everyone else fought on the outside. Of course, YOH ended up placing the face in peril, getting beaten down for the first 10 or so minutes before Yujiro turned into the heel who took most of the offense. The back half of this match was more evened out, with everyone hitting some of their signature stuff. We also got a moment where Togo was freed from the cage. EVIL and Goto had some solid back and forth, reminding me of their fun hoss battles in 2016. SHO and YOH got back into it, picking up the pace of the match. I appreciate that they can change things up so quickly. After a referee got yanked out of the ring, we got more antics with the cage including the faces being thrown in. YOH was left alone due to that until Yano freed his buddies. Then, they turned the tide and the heels ended up in the cage, leaving SHO to fall to a double underhook suplex in 19:17. That was good at the start but the cage stuff was goofy and dragged it down late. [***]

The final score: review Average
The 411
I was hoping for something more from this show on paper. The Yano/Togo match was a mess and the main event was only good, with the best thing on the show being a midcard tag. It was fine enough overall but nothing special.