Wednesday, February 19, 2020

NJPW is in a bit of a lull period just now with this year’s brilliant Best of the Super Juniors tournament finished and still a few days to go before the big Southern Showdown events and the upcoming G1 Climax 29 tournament. To keep us going, though, we have the annual Kizuna Road tour. Not all of the events will be broadcast, but the ones that were have had some interesting moments.

Night 3 – 16 June 2019

This night featured an IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship match between the reigning Champions Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh), facing off against El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori representing Bullet Club. Overall, it was a decent match with Ishimori sticking to more ground-based offence and ELP doing most of the heavy lifting. Sho and Yoh continue to be one of the best teams in the world and their increasingly contrasting styles complement each other well, Sho is the powerhouse and Yoh is the more athletic of the two, they’re experts in the division. That made it all the more disappointing when the Bullet Club pair won the match by knocking out the referee, with ELP hitting a low blow on Yoh, Ishimori taking him down with a lung blower and ELP finishing it with the CR2. The ending just felt really flat for a title change and I’m not sure there was much point in taking the belts off of the superior team of Roppongi 3K.

After the match, Ishimori and ELP beat down Sho and Yoh until Taguchi, who will be facing ELP for the RevPro British Cruiserweight Championship on Tuesday, made the save.

Night 4 – 17 June 2019

Night 4 featured a NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship match and was headlined by Chaos and Suzuki-Gun in a ten-man elimination tag.

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship match – Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano, and Togi Makabe (c) v Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Yujiro Takahashi, and Chase Owens)

After a fun spot with the turnbuckle pad, the match broke down with Bullet Club taking the fight to the outside. Yujiro mocked Taguchi by calling the forever clotheslines on Yano, but Chase had to stop when he got out of breath.

Bullet Club isolated Yano, with Chase throwing Yano’s curry away into the crowd and raking the box across Yano’s eyes. Chase threw Yano into the exposed turnbuckle and tagged in Yujiro who hit a big boot. Yano reversed an Irish whip but Yujiro stopped himself hitting the turnbuckle.

Yano finally tagged in Makabe who took down Chase then Yujiro. He hit the 10 punch on Yujiro in the corner, but Yujiro came back with a basement dropkick and went for a Fisherman Buster that Makabe was able to counter. Taguchi came in and hit Yujiro with hip attacks. ELP tagged in and hit Taguchi with big chops but Taguchi hit him with a hip attack and multiple B-triggers. ELP came back and hits a spinning reverse DDT and tagged Chase in. Chase and Yujiro once again isolated Yano with some good double team moves. Yano hit a low blow and took off another turnbuckle pad but ended up getting hit with it by Chase who followed up with Jewel Heist for 2, he went for a piledriver but Makabe took him down.

Chase got a schoolboy on Yano for 2, then Yano hits a double low blow on Chase and Yujiro before he and Makabe hit big clotheslines for the win!

I was glad to see these three retaining and it gave Taguchi more momentum going into his Championship match against ELP.

Winners by pinfall and STILL NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions – Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano, and Togi Makabe

Elimination tag match – Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Lance Archer, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) v Chaos (Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Yoh & Sho)

This was a great match that quickly descended into chaos (no pun intended). Suzuki is irate at not being included in this year’s G1 tournament and went after everyone, but ended up focusing on Okada and getting himself eliminated first when he refused to break a submission when Okada got to the ropes.

The two stars of the match were, surprisingly, Lance Archer and YOSHI-HASHI. Archer was presented as an absolute monster in the ring, eliminating Okada, Sho and Yoh before Ishii was barely able to put him out of the match. YOSHI-HASHI ended up being the last remaining Chaos member while Taichi and ZSJ were still in for Suzuki-Gun. The two took it to YOSHI-HASHI, along with an interfering Douki, before he was able to eliminate Taichi after a superkick. He and ZSJ then battled it out, with ZSJ using multiple submission holds. YOSHI-HASHI was able to get him onto the apron and then dropping him on the rope to break the hold and chop him off for the victory!

This was the best Yoshi-Hashi’s looked in a while, he’s getting better and better going into his match against ZSJ for the RevPro British Heavyweight Championship on Tuesday. He looks like a legitimate threat to ZSJ now.

Winners – Chaos (Kazuchika Okada, YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, Yoh & Sho)

This week, NJPW also announced the blocks for the G1, which you can see below. With the inclusions of Jon Moxley and KENTA, it’s shaping up to be an excellent tournament!

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I've been a wrestling fan for 20 years, mainly watching WWE. I only discovered the wonders of New Japan Pro-Wrestling a few years ago and got hooked after Wrestle Kingdom 11. Check out the rest of my reviews and articles!

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