New Japan Pro Wrestling
KIZUNA ROAD 2019
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo
Mavs Gillis and Chris Charlton on commentary.
Tsuji now leads 4-3-21 in the series of matches between these two. They take it to the mat quick to start. Good counter work from both. Yuya gets an armbar but Tsuji makes the ropes. Tsuji puts his power into a headlock but eats an elbow and a tackle by Yuya off the ropes. Running dropkick by Yuya connects, knockdown and a cover for 2. Yuya grounds Tsuji with a Fujiwara, Tsuji tries to roll out but Yuya rolls with it to hold on. Tsuji makes the ropes to break. Yuya with some ferocity, they trade shots, Yuya blocks a slam, Tsuji also blocks a slam and hits one on Yuya. Corner elbow by Tsuji lands, spinning powerslam follows and a cover gets 2. Tsuji looks for the Boston Crab which brought him victory on Day 1, Yuya fights but Tsuji gets the turn and sits down. Yuya looks for the ropes but Tsuji walks it back before Yuya makes a scramble and reaches the ropes. Shots by Tsuji but he eats a dropkick from Yuya. They both trade shots, Tsuji gets the advantage but Yuya gets an armdrag, traps the arms and gets a bridging double arm-lock suplex into the cover for the 3 count!
Yuya Uemura defeats Yota Tsuji by pinfall via a bridging arm-lock suplex
JAY’S RATING: 2.5 out of 5
This was a good and solid match to open the show, with the series tying up once again to 4-4-21. The striking lost momentum for me for a moment, but the finish was strong, with a nice suplex finish for Uemura. These two have some potential – I think Narita and Shota Umino are a step ahead, but the Lion class is compelling right now.
TOMOAKI HONMA & TOA HENARE
YUJI NAGATA & SHOTA UMINO
Shota and Henare begin, with Shota absorbing tackles well and putting Henare down hard. Tag to Nagata, tag to Honma. Lock up and hold trading, Honma fires Nagata up who drops Honma with a tackle and puts the boots to him. Honma fires back and they are looking pissed. Honma catches a kick and hits a tackle of his own, gets a slam but misses Kokeshi, which allows Nagata to follow with the Nagata Lock II. Nagata releases and hits kicks, then tags in Shota. Honma evades Shota’s dropkick and hits an elbow drop, then tags in Henare who drops Nagata from the apron, and Nagata comes right back in and is now certainly pissed. Henare keeps on Shota, crushing him in the corner and hitting a snap Samoan Drop for 2. Tag to Honma, they trade shots and Honma gets the strike advantage but eats a dropkick. Tag to Nagata who drops Henare, then goes back to the classic kicks. Running corner boot and exploder suplex connect, cover but Honma is out at 2.
Shots traded, Nagata looks to get the arm but Honma fights out, hitting chops. Nagata responds with thudding kicks but eats a flying Kokeshi from Honma! KOKESHI MAKES YOU HAPPY! Tag to Henare who hits chops and calls Nagata “old man”, Nagata hits a knee and gets Henare in the eye-roll Fujiwara which Honma breaks up with a running Kokeshi (which gets booed because people wanted the eye roll). Tag to Shota who takes out Honma, keeps on Henare and looks for the German, Henare fights out but eats an elbow before taking Shota’s head off with a lariat. Honma and Henare line Shota up and hit sandwich lariats and a double Kokeshi! Cover but Nagata breaks it up at 2. Henare tries the uranage, Shota fights out, shots traded and Shota gets the bridging German for a cover but only gets 2! Nice bridge. Shota looks for the Fisherman but Henare fights out and hits a nice headbutt, lines Shota up and hits the lifting spear, covers but only gets 2. The uranage connects and thats the WIN.
Toa Henare & Tomoaki Honma defeat Shota Umino & Yuji Nagata by pinfall via a uranage
JAY’S RATING: 2.75 out of 5
Another good match to open the event, with Umino looking fantastic as he continues his Young Lion climb, and Henare also continuing to show greater and greater explosiveness and fluidity. Honma does Honma well enough, but Nagata continues to show that he can still go – and go aggressive – if and when provoked and I love it. Good work all around.
After the match Henare complains on the mic about not being in the G1.
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON
KOTA IBUSHI, TEN-KOJI, JUSHIN THUNDER LIGER & TIGER MASK IV
The crowd is alive for Tenzan’s return. EVIL does feel a little disconnected from the group in the opening bit. Chants for Tenzan. Naito calls for the salute, and EVIL steps out to the floor refusing the salute, and with that we get the bell. Naito uses a jacket to taunt “the bull” Tenzan, and starts with some evasion mind-games. Tenzan gets baited in and Naito goes to work, but Tenzan absorbs tackles. Naito then hits Mongolian Chops in disrespect of Tenzan, and spits in his face! The crowd reacts, and Tenzan puts Naito down with a tackle before hitting his own signature Mongolian Chops. Tenzan now beats on Naito who spits in his face, and Tenzan answers with headbutts. Corner clothesline and suplex connect by Tenzan, cover but only 2. More chants for Tenzan. Tag to Koji, and Ten-Koji goes to work with doublt team strikes and an elbow drop/falling headbutt combo. Koji hits the machinegun chops on Naito, EVIL tries to intervene but gets the chops as well. Corner forearm connects, everyone chants and Koji climbs but LIJ cuts off the elbow drop, with Shingo dumping Koji and BUSHI joining him in taking out the rest of his team on the floor.
Naito is back on Koji, locking in a cravate and Shingo is back up for the tag and takes control. Shingo hits a BIG lariat and Koji just ABSORBS IT and shouts back at Shingo! GREAT moment. Shingo fires off shots and hits a suplex, cover on Koji but gets 2. Chants for Koji. Tag to SANADA who keeps the pressure on, Koji fires back but SANADA puts him down with a Euro, then tags EVIL. Shots traded, Koji blocks a lariat and hits a nice Koji Cutter. Tag to Ibushi who springs in and takes out LIJ, gets a flurry on EVIL and hitting a nice chest kick and standing moonsault into a cover for 2. EVIL hits a double chop and a standing senton, covers but gets 2. Chants for Ibushi. EVIL looks for a Fisherman, Ibushi counters but EVIL gets it on the next attempt and tags BUSHI who lands the missile dropkick into the BUSH-a-roonie. But then Ibushi just KICKS HIS FUCKING HEAD OFF. Tag to Liger, BUSHI evades SHOTEI! but gets a tilt a whirl backbreaker, looks for the Romero but Shingo breaks it up to a chorus of boos.
Tags to Tiger and SANADA and Tiger hits a high cross body, fights off Naito and gets a nice crucifix for 2. Tiger’s team drops LIJ and they all gets shots in on SANADA with Tenzan finishing with a Mountain Bomb, Tiger covers but LIJ is back in to break it up. Tiger Suplex is blocked and LIJ gets team shots and a triple basement dropkick on Tiger. Tiger counters Skull End into a cradle for 2, but SANADA looks for Skull End again, drops down with it and Tiger has no choice but to TAP. SANADA holds onto the hold WELL after the bell.
LIJ defeats Tiger Mask IV, Ibushi, Ten-Koji & Liger by submission via Skull End
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
This was a very good, action-packed multi-man tag match, which LIJ is so dang consistent with. Tenzan is looking good in his return and played his role here well, and his chemistry with Kojima is still there. The story is in SANADA’s aggressive showing at the end and LIJ starting to split a bit in advance of the G1, with EVIL making some clear statements. Looking forward to this subplot of the G1.
After the match, Liger comes in to tend to Tiger and Naito shoves an ice bag in his face, which prompts Liger to back Naito into the corner and they get pulled apart. Liger keeps after Naito and has to be pulled back again. Team Ibushi leavs and Naito takes down the ref. EVIL keeps his distance from the fray. SANADA initiates the salute, Naito is next, BUSHI is hesitating but then joins, Shingo follows next… and EVIL points at his G1 competitors and leaves the ring by himself.
We now get some G1 Matchups for the beginning of the tournament, with some special attention to the semi-mains and mains. There are some SUPER interesting pairings to look forward to here, and I very much am.
(Jay White, Guerrillas of Destiny & Taiji Ishimori w/ Jado)
HIROSHI TANAHASHI, JUICE ROBINSON, MIKEY NICHOLLS & REN NARITA
Tana and Jay White do a pose-down of sorts with the crowd, which is fun. Narita offers to begin against Taiji and we get the bell, and chants for Narita. Tackle moves no one but Narita fires off shots and drops Taiji with a running elbow. Tag to Tana and they hit a double dropkick on Taiji, Tana with shots but Taiji distracts the ref and Jado hits a cane shot to Tana as the match breaks down and spills to the outside in chaos. Taiji keeps hold of the ref as Tana is sent into the rail. The ref now begins to count out Tana, with Tama throwing Tana back in for a Taiji cover, which gets 2. Tag to Jay who keeps the pressure on, Tana fires back but Jay goes for the knee and tags in Loa, who does likewise. Tag to Tama who hits a nice tope atomico elbow and knocks the faces off the apron. Tama on the knee as well, tag to Jay who beats on Tana on the ground. Chants for Tana. Jay grounds Tana with a chinlock but Narita in to break it up and then out just as quickly. Jay again with the hold, and again Narita strikes! Jay fakes him out this time and hits a chop, but Tana is up and fires back before eating a nice dragon screw from Jay. Tana comes back with a dragon screw of his own, tag to Tama and tag to Juice who lands the jabs and hits a nice spinebuster to put Tama down.
Juice takes out the BC corner, flips off Gedo and looks to climb, Tama evades the crossbody and Loa drives Juice hard into the corner. Tama hits a Stinger Splash but Mikey hits a double clothesline and then hits a series of clotheslines in the corner on GoD, and Juice hits a cannonball on Tama as Mikey hits a Big Ending on Loa. Senton by Juice but Loa gets the knees up, but gets dumped by Mikey who takes him out with a pescado. Juice looks for a tag and backdrops Tama but Tana is pulled off the apron before the tag can be made, so Narita blind tags himself in. Tag to Taiji who fires off on Narita, Narita gets a kick to Jado and reverses Taiji into a suplex of his own and covers for 2. Chants for Narita. The High Gable Belly to Belly is broken by Jay who dumps Narita, but Narita evades Jay by sliding back in and takes out Jay with a dropkick! Taiji fights off the High Gable but eats a release belly to belly, cover by Narita but only 2. The crowd is loving it, Narita laces the legs and gets a cross legged Boston Crab as Tana gets Jay in a Cloverleaf, Juice gets Tama in a crab and Mikey gets Loa in a single leg crab before Taiji gets the ropes. The ring gets cleared as Taiji hits the handspring enziguri but Narita gets a rollup for 2, then a schoolboy for 2 but Taiji counters it right into the LeBell Lock. Narita fights but Taiji rolls center with it and Narita TAPS.
Bullet Club defeats Ren Narita, Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls by submission via the LeBell Lock
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
This was a solid 8-man tag match, with Mikey still being vague af to me even if his ring work is solid enough. Narita was the shining star of this match, which was cool to see – for this dude, the sky is the limit, I really feel that. Tana/White looks to continue as an undercurrent, and maybe we are seeing a GoD/Mikey & Juice match brewing? (If so, cool… but come on we need some evolution of this tag division STAT.)
After the match, we get more chants for Narita. Cool.
NEVER 6-Man Tag Team Championship
(El Phantasmo, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi)
MOST VIOLENT PLAYERS & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI (c)
“BC’s Biggest Asshole” ELP is easily my favorite ELP. ELP and Taguchi begin, with big chants for Taguchi at the bell. Lock up, they trade holds and counters in a nice and smooth sequence into a standoff. Taguchi gets ELP running the ropes, ELP then does the same, does a “red light” bit but Taguchi ducks the enziguri and hits a shining wizard to the back of the head. ELP flips over Taguchi to evade and hits a spring crossbody into a lionsault, covers but only gets 2. Hip attacks by ELP get boos, Taguchi counters a running one into a rollup for 2, backslide gets another 2 but ELP gets a magistral for 2, they trade quick cover attempts and we get another standoff, with Taguchi ready to go. The crowd LOVES Taguchi tonight. Tag to Yujiro, tag to Yano. The crowd is now SUPER behind Yano. Yujiro bites Yano’s hand, then Chase does the same and Yujiro and Yano grab each others hair and Yano breaks at the ref’s count but Yujiro does not. Yano gets a corner whip and takes a corner pad off, Chase in to take the pad away but gets run over by Yujiro and Chase using the pad as a weapon.
The action now spills outside as Yujiro keeps on Yano. Yujiro uses the cane to beat down Yano as ELP whips Taguchi to the barricade. Yano now sent back inside, Yujiro calls his team in and mocks Taguchi Japan’s coaching, but ELP and Chase dont seem to understand. They finally get the base-running clothelines but Chase runs out of breath, so he sets Yano up for a Yujiro basement dropkick that gets 2. Tag to Chase who keeps the pressure on, and keeps the other champs at bay before taking Yano’s curry and throwing it to the crowd, then uses it as a weapon to scrape across the face of Yano. Tag to ELP who boots Yano in a tree of woe, then steps on the crotch as Yujiro and Chase beat on Yano as well. Tag to Yujiro, basement single dropkick connects, tag to Chase who keeps on. Chase whips Yano to the exposed corner and tags in Yujiro, who hits a corner boot. Yujiro evades a whip to the corner steel, but Yano comes back and uses the hair to drop Yujiro and tags in Togi who comes in hot. He takes down Chase and ELP and gets a scoop powerslam on Yujiro. 10-Count Punches in the corner connect but Yujiro blocks the Northern Lights and gets a basement dropkick to Togi’s head. Togi reverses a Fisherman but Yujiro keeps coming before eating a Togi lariat. Chants for Togi.
Tag to Taguchi who gets corner hip attacks on Yujiro, who catchs a flying one and hits a reverse DDT. Tag to ELP who goes right after Taguchi, and Taguchi hits a flying hip attack, the B-Trigger and a draped hip attack. Spring hip attack by Taguchi takes down ELP for 2. Dodon is reversed into a rollup for a close 2 by ELP, who gets Taguchi with the cutthroat tornado slam, but cant follow up. Tags to Yano and Chase, flurry by Chase but Yujiro comes in for the double team and gets Yano with the Fisherman Buster, knee strike by Chase and a cover but Togi breaks it at 2. Double team on Yano but Yano counters and unwraps another corner, the ref gets knocked down and Yano looks for the low blow but Chase blocks it with the corner pad and takes Yano down with it. Jewel Heist connects, cover but Yano is out at 2. Chase calls for the Package Piledriver but Togi is in and runs over Chase, enziguri by ELP connects but Taguchi takes out ELP. Yujiro takes out Taguchi and goes after Yano but Chase is legal and gets a rollup for a close 2. Yano sends Yujiro into Chase and gets a double low blow, double lariat by Togi and Yano rolls up Chase for the 3!
Most Violent Players & Taguchi defeat Bullet Club by pinfall after a low blow and rollup
JAY’S RATING: 3.25 out of 5
This was a fun little title match, it didnt have very far to go but there were some fun spots, the action was fast-paced and well-constructed, everyone got a chance to shine, ELP continues to be a glorious asshole, Taguchi is an icon and Yano gets a title-retaining fall in advance of the G1. Well done.
After the match, ELP spits water on the English announce team. What an asshole.
Elimination Tag Team Match
SUZUKI-GUN w/ Douki
(Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Lance Archer, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
(Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI & Roppongi 3K)
NOTE: In this kind of NJPW Elimination match, if you are the legal competitor and you get thrown over the top rope and your feet hit the floor, you are eliminated (along with pin, submission, etc). Tension between HASHI and ZSJ, mixed reaction for Taichi who starts off, and that makes Ishii want to take the lead for CHAOS. Taichi begs off right away though and tags in Archer, who is super tall especially next to Ishii. Archer asks for Okada, and he tags in. Okada shows no fear, Archer strikes but Okada drops Archer across the middle rope and follows with the low dropkick. Tombstone is countered and Archer uses his strength for a big slam, and YK tags himself in off of Archer and beats on Okada. Okada fires up and hits a big elbow drop and tags in Sho, Yoh in as well and R3K gets a nice double team low dropkick. YK fights off Sho, they trade but YK grabs the hair and ZSJ tags in, as does HASHI. ZSJ pie faces HASHI, HASHI fires back, a tackle moves no one, HASHI catches a kick and then runs through ZSJ. HASHI keeps on ZSJ who targets the arm, he pulls HASHI outside as Suzuki-Gun attacks en masse and brings the action into the crowd as the announcer warns the crowd. Suzuki is on Okada with a chair and then brings Okada all the way backstage, ZSJ keeps on HASHI as YK throws Yoh into HASHI. Archer gets on the mic and says Suzuki-Gun is killing everyone, and thats what he is going to do in the G1.
The ref is counting, HASHI is legal but Taichi throws HASHI in at 19 where ZSJ is waiting to just step on him. Taichi pulls HASHI back out and sends him into the railing, and YK follows with a legdrop to the back of the head and Suzuki works him over with ZSJ. Archer now sends Okada into a camera. The ref starts to count again, HASHI back in and Taichi covers but the ref will not count. I think I missed Taichi being legal but he now tags in Archer who slaps HASHI. HASHI fires back but Archer just KOs him, then hits a short arm clothelines and stands tall. Tag to YK who keeps on HASHI on the taped shoulder, cover but only 2. Tag to Suzuki who looks like he gives no shits as he hits a thudding PK, then wrenches the knee. Sho with boots to break it up, but Suzuki shows no reaction to the blows, then hits a LOUD forearm that drops Sho in one. HASHI tries to fire back and gets a loud chop to Suzuki’s chest, follows with a rewind kick and tags in Okada. Okada with shots and a running elbow, Suzuki-Gun in but Okada evades the team work and plants YK with a flapjack before eating a boot by Suzuki. Corner boot by Suzuki connects followed by a HARD PK, cover but only 2. Okada is back up and they trade, with Suzuki just CONSUMING each shot and firing off his own. Suzuki evades the dropkick and hits another PK.
More shots traded, Suzuki smiles and keeps coming at Okada with forearm after forearm, and hits a big headbutt. Suzuki looks for the choke but Okada falls into the ropes and chases off the ref. GREAT heel hook by Suzuki, Okada reaches for the ropes and gets them, Suzuki wont break SO RED SHOES KICKS AND SLAPS AT SUZUKI! OH NOOOO! The crowd pops and Suzuki looks PISSED and just TOSSES Red Shoes. Red Shoes rolls outside, the bell rings, and Red Shoes has DISQUALIFIED MINORU SUZUKI! Suzuki is eliminated. Suzuki heads outside and the Lions have to keep Suzuki away from Red Shoes as he gets rolled back into the ring. Suzuki loses it and decks a Lion. In the ring, YK is on Okada with Taichi’s help as Red Shoes gets back into it. YK with a dropkick to the knee of Okada, but Okada gets YK seated on top in the corner and dropkicks YK out of the ring and to the floor, which means Kanemaru is eliminated. Archer now in on Okada, just running into Okada in the corner again and again. Archer looks to dump Okada but Okada dropkicks Archer in the back and tries to dump him, but Archer doesnt touch the floor. Throttle by Archer who comes back in, Okada breaks away but eats an Archer Pounce, and Archer follows with a throttle that pushes Okada over the top and to the floor, eliminating Okada!
R3K look to double team Archer and get him over the top to the apron, but Archer fights them off and heads back inside. Archer looks for the corner splash, R3K moves but Archer is able to chokeslam Yoh and hits Sho with the Blackout. Yoh gets dumped by Archer and is eliminated. We are now at 3 on 3. Archer gets the Claw, which he calls EBD (Everybody Dies), and the ref counts the cover for 3, eliminating Sho. Ishii comes right after Archer who absorbs every shot and staggers Ishii with one of his own, absorbs the Ishii chops and hits a HUGE open hand strike of his own. Ishii gets fired up but gets dropped by an Archer tackle, and the crowd is stunned. Ishii looks for a suplex but cant quite lift Archer, who deadlifts Ishii and just drops him in a slam. Archer calls for the EBD Claw again, Ishii catches the hand and sends him into a HASHI shot and Ishii is able to get Archer over in a nice suplex! Chants for Ishii, who looks to lariat Archer over the top but Archer doesnt budge and puts Ishii over the top to the apron, looks for the boot but Ishii catches it and brings Archer to the apron, Archer looks for Blackout but Ishii drops back into the ring and knocks Archer off for the elimination. Taichi now in to put Ishii on the apron but Ishii fights back, but DOUKI interferes, Taichi hits a gamengiri and Ishii falls to the floor, eliminated.
Its now HASHI vs Taichi and ZSJ. Taichi and HASHI pick up the pace and trade shots, running rana by HASHI connects and he catches ZSJ in a slam. DOUKI distracts the ref as Taichi gets eliminated, but the ref didnt see it so Taichi rolls back inside. Suzuki-Gun back to the double team on HASHI, both toying with him. HASHI fires up and hits forearms, but then falls to the numbers game, Buzzsaw Kick by Taichi connects and he covers but only gets 2. The pants go flying but HASHI evades the superkick and counters into the butterfly lock, ZSJ in with kicks, HASHI eats them but then floors ZSJ with a lariat. HASHI tries Karma, Taichi grabs the ref as DOUKI is in with a mic-stand shot but HASHI takes him out with a superkick. HASHI ducks a Taichi lariat, looks to dump Taichi and does for the elimination. ZSJ in fast but HASHI puts him on the apron and tries to knock him off, then HASHI decides to pull ZSJ back into the ring and keeps the pressure on. HASHI beats down ZSJ in the corner, tries a suplex but ZSJ counters it into a hanging wristlock, but HASHI counters that back into a suplex. ZSJ counters a bomb into a submission targeting the arm and looking for the cross armbreaker, HASHI rolls it over into Karma but ZSJ counters that into a triangle and squeezes down. HASHI lifts ZSJ but then falls as ZSJ wrenches, and HASHI’s foot barely makes a rope break.
ZSJ thought it was over and rips the tape off of HASHI’s shoulder, mocks HASHI, lays in kicks like a cocky prick but HASHI starts powering up and firing off chops, dropping ZSJ down and getting the crowd fired up. Backslide by HASHI gets a close 2, ZSJ follows with a flying octopus hold, HASHI moves close to the ropes for ZSJ wrenches the arm but HASHI is able to escape and sit ZSJ on the ropes, over the top and to the apron. HASHI tries to knock ZSJ off but ZSJ gets HASHI’s head and tries to pull HASHI over, HASHI drops ZSJ’s throat over the top rope and hits a big chop that knocks ZSJ off and to the floor for the final elimination, giving CHAOS the WIN!
CHAOS defeats Suzuki-Gun with YOSHI-HASHI last eliminating Zack Sabre Jr.
JAY’S RATING: 4 out of 5
This was a very good main event that had a lot of layers of action and storytelling to play with. They front-loaded it well to give everyone time to shine and advance the story, the choice to eliminate Suzuki first in the way they did was a GREAT dramatic choice, and I am now for the first time interested in the HASHI/ZSJ title match. HASHI has been trying to prove that he can bring big-match energy for a long time now, and I am one of many who has consistently struggled to see him reach it. But this closing stretch was REALLY strong, as was the post-match aggressiveness he showed. Meanwhile Ishii/Taichi continues, Okada just looks great and that was sort of enough, and Archer starts to establish himself as a new singles threat. Interesting stuff, well executed.
After the match, chants for HASHI who gets the mic to send everyone home. HASHI says ZSJ has made him damned pissed off. He asks if ZSJ is that confident now for their title match? Maybe he takes his title in Sendai, and maybe he takes his spot in the G1? Zack is pissed by the suggestion and goes after HASHI, and they have to be pulled apart. Everything breaks down in the ring. ZSJ breaks away and HASHI does as well and floors ZSJ with a lariat, as HASHI stands tall and chops Taichi, dumps DOUKI and HASHI cleans house, and gets the last word. This is the best HASHI I’ve ever seen… please keep this HASHI coming.
This was another solid Kizuna Road show, if it again didnt feel like it quite reached great with the exception of the final match. However, lots was still advanced ahead of the G1, the talent from top to bottom really showed well, and the crowd was on board for all of it which added a ton to the experience of the event. And I’m not complaining about more reasons to be excited about the potential of this year’s G1.