NJPW returned this morning (September 4) with their first show after the G1 Climax as they kicked off the Road to Destruction Tour from Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.
David Finlay defeated Jay White. This was absolutely awesome! These two young lions showed exactly how much they have improved over the last few months and beat the crap out of each other. The great thing about this young lion matches is that there are no frills, it’s just back to basics with simple moves and holds. These two laid into each other as hard as they possibly could. Finlay hit stiff uppercuts, White hit really hard forearms. They attacked body parts and had some incredible counters for one another, given how well they know each other it was no surprise the match was to good. There were some great near falls and submission attempts, with both getting to the rope just as it looked like they would tap out. Finlay got the win with a sick looking Stretch Muffler as he stomped White’s head to lock the hold in. These young lion matches are always great, but this one was something extra.
Yuji Nagata & Sho Tanaka defeated Yohei Komatsu & Manabu Nakanishi. This was very good and would have been better with less Nakanishi. The veterans seemed to be hitting the young lions as hard as they possibly could, particularly Nakanishi. As usual the young lions put up a huge fight and looked great. There were some really nice exchanges between Komatsu & Nagata with Komatsu getting in some good near falls. Nagata pinned Komatsu with a Back Drop Hold.
Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Kazushi Sakuraba defeated Captain New Japan, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tomoaki Honma. This was a lot of fun. Liger was worked over and had some interactions with Ishii & Sakuraba, two combinations you don’t see too often surprisingly. Honma & Ishii yet again tore into each other and Honma got in some desperation Kokeshi’s. This was given a good amount of time. Liger hit a Shotei on Ishii, followed by a Kokeshi and a diving headbutt by Captain, but Ishii kicked out. CHAOS triple teamed Captain, but Captain kicked out of that. The finish came when Ishii hit a Brainbuster on Captain. This was a lot better than it looked on paper.
Tiger Mask IV, Katsuyori Shibata & Togi Makabe defeated Juice Robinson, Tetsuya Naito & Kota Ibushi. This match saw the NJPW debut of the former CJ Parker, Juice Robinson. He didn’t really get a huge amount of time in the ring here, so it’s hard to judge what he will offer NJPW based on this. He’s not a guy I ever expected NJPW to ever give a spot to, but we’ll see how he does. We had more brilliance from Naito as he wouldn’t interact with his partners or tag in and out. He antagonised Shibata, who eventually got a hold of him and beat him down viciously. The best part was that Naito had a smile on his face as Shibata tore into him. Ibushi matched Makabe strike for strike, which seems to be the story of their feud. Their title match looks like it will be a hell of a brawl. Tiger Mask pinned Robinson with a Crucifix style pin. After the match all hell broke lose with ALL of the young lions having to pull Shibata off Naito. Once they did that, Makabe & Ibushi had to be held back from each other, while Naito & Shibata went at it again on the outside. This was fun stuff to advance the feuds, but we didn’t get to see much from Robinson.
Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano defeated Cody Hall & Tama Tonga. This was what you’d expect really. Tonga & Yano have incredible chemistry together. Yano ran scared as Tonga slithered around the ring, with Yano climbing the turnbuckle to escape. Hall looks to have put on weight since the last tour. Him and Tonga were decked out in blue gear. Bullet Club got in a good bit with Tonga carrying his team. In the end Okada pinned Hall after a dropkick, diving elbow and Rainmaker.
Beretta, Rocky Romero & Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi & Hirooki Goto. This was fantastic. The big story here was Nakamura vs Goto ahead of their title match, but a funny side story was Taguchi trying to interrupt Nakamura as he battled Goto, with Nakamura shrugging him off and going back to Goto. Romero & Taguchi did some great stuff together, but the highlight of this was RPG Vice vs Dorada. Dorada fought off the former junior tag champions with some incredible sequences, including a suicide dive that looked like it killed Romero. In the end Beretta pinned Dorada after RPG hit the Strong Zero. Nakamura looked good here too, as he continues to recover from his elbow injury. It was good to see Beretta get a pin for once. This is well worth checking out.
Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, KUSHIDA & Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson, Kenny Omega & Bad Luck Fale. This was a really fun main event. It got to the point where there was so much going on that it became impossible to keep up with, just great stuff all round. A lot of this was built around TenKoji vs Gallows & Anderson. The four brawled through the crowd at one point. Anderson mocked Kojima’s chops, but later ate them and sold them hilariously, screaming as if someone turned on the cold water in the shower. Omega was fantastic in his first match back in NJPW in what seems like forever. He and KUSHIDA as usual were incredible together. Tanahashi had his briefcase with him. He defends it against Tenzan at Destruction. After lots of nice exchanges between the two tag teams, Kojima pinned Gallows after a Lariat. After the match Kojima got on the mic and made a challenge for a title match. The teams are set to clash in a non-title match at Destruction, but that might be changed to a title match.
This was a fun show. Nothing majorly newsworthy happened, but every match was entertaining and it is a good show to sit back and enjoy without having to think too much. The show is available on NJPW World now without commentary.