By Ryan Clingman
New Japan Road to Wrestling Dontaku April 20th 2013
Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium 2nd Arena, Osaka, Japan
On occasion, you get a real stand out match on one of these New Japan house shows, but for the most part they are kept simple and too much isn't given away. This set of rules was very much observed on this house show, and that's fine, because honestly I wasn't expecting much else. As a whole it was a fun show, with lots of recycled content on the undercard, and mainevent tags that gave small samples of what to expect on the iPPV away. So, as a whole this was a fun show building to Wrestling Dontaku 2013, but it really wasn't anything to right home about.
1. TAKA Michinoku & Taichi vs. Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu
This is the first time that I've seen Taichi back in the ring in quite some time, as he has been off with a knee injury for a while. Given the fact that they seem to be moving Watanabe and Takahashi up the card, it really isn't that good of an idea to have Tanaka and Komatsu team up, as now you have another team where not only do the partners look the same, but they now look the same as another team. Apart from their attire Takashi and Watanabe have very distinct looks and are easy to distinguish from one another - that is not the case with Tanaka and Komatsu however. Taichi pinned Komatsu after removing his tights to reveal a golden knee brace, which he used to strike Komatsu in the face with.
2. Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV & Maximo vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiromu Takahashi & Takaaki Watanabe
Speaking of young lions, Watanabe and Takahashi were in the next match, which I wasn't necessarily okay with, but Watanabe and Takahashi have really developed into unique performers so they are in a different class right now to the guys in the opener. Maximo did some comedy with Taguchi to kick off the match, obviously the humor was of a slightly homosexual nature. Takahashi landed a big dropkick off of the apron on Liger before his partner, Watanabe, was immobilized by a backbreaker, targeting the back, which Team Liger worked over. Watanabe made the hit tag to Taguchi off of a backbreaker on Tiger Mask. Takahashi came in landing a big dropkick on Maximo, setting up flying forearms for all three men in the corner before he landed a clothesline spine buster double team, before Liger broke it up. Maximo kissed Takahashi for the nearfall and garnered a rollup with a bridge for the win in. This match was way more fun than expected, there was some comedy, but it wasn't overpowering, and I enjoyed the segment where Watanabe was having his back worked over.
3. Gedo, Rocky Romero & Alex Koslov vs. Alex Shelley, KUSHIDA & BUSHI
Despite the fact that they have done this match numerous times on many a house show, for the most part they worked a different match from normal, as there was no hugging spot between CHAOS members, nor did the match follow the usual formula. BUSHI pinned Gedo with a BUSHI cradle for the win. After the match the Forever Hooligans stole the belts and The Time Splitters made the chase and retrieved their titles.
4. Yuji Nagata & Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
Ishii and Goto started off with a fiery forearm exchange, with Ishii getting the better of it and making the tag to HASHI. Ishii and HASHI got the advantage with HASHI landing a pole shot from behind the back of the referee and working over Goto on the floor. When the hot tag was finally made Nagata ran wild, which led to a slap exchange between he and Ishii, with Nagata knocking Ishii straight to the match with a stiff slap. They followed that with a kick and chop exchange with Ishii landing a big power slam, and Nagata firing back with an exploder. Nagata attempted to pin Ishii with his own brain buster in the Undertaker pinning position for some reason, but Ishii kicked out. Goto and HASHI were tagged in, and Ishii and HASHI landed a couple of double teams before Ishii decided to take Nagata out on the floor. Goto finally grabbed the win with the Goto special on HASHI. After the match Ishii and Nagata went at it with elbows again, and I wouldn't complain at all if Nagata and Ishii have a program while Sakuraba is out.
5. Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Super Strong Man
Looking at this match as a precursor for the four way at the next iPPV, I really don't have high hopes for that match. As you have five not so able workers in there that are going to have to be carried by three and I don't see that working out all too well. Yano grabbed a low blow and rollup on Nakanishi while he had Kojima up in the torture rack for the win.
6. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Yujiro Takahashi & Jado
From what I heard of it it sounded as though Masato Tanaka was on commentary, and boy I wish I knew what was going on there. Togi Makabe went brawling with Takahashi through the stands while Jado threw furniture in Honma's direction as well. Once things settled back in the ring Honma did a great job at selling Takahashi's offense, and landed a tremendous delayed vertical suplex holding Takahashi half way in the lift. Makabe was tagged in and he ran wild on Takahashi. Honma and Jado came in and Jado actually locked in a cross face countering from a Honma lariat. Makabe took Takahashi to the floor and Honma pinned Jado with a diving headbutt in. This was one of those matches that you really expected not to deliver, but it did and was a lot of fun. After the match Yujiro stomped Honma and went for a chain shot, but Makabe made the save with Yujiro sliding to the floor.
7. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Captain New Japan vs. Karl Anderson & Tama Tonga
Tanahashi came out in a Captain New Japan mask; however, in quite the hellish manner Anderson screamed for him to take it off. Originally when listing to Alan4L and Joe Gagne talk about a mass Gaijin heel turn I was skeptical, but after thinking about it and now seeing this it seems like more and more of a possibility. New Japan did his usual gimmick of explicitly asking for the tag when going up against Tonga. Providing more fuel to the fire, Tonga refused to shake New Japan's hand, and instead landed a kick to the gut - Anderson then landed a cheap shot from the outside. Tanahashi landed a plancha onto both Tonga and Anderson on the floor. Anderson acted very aggressive calling for Tanahashi to get up and knocking New Japan off of the apron. However, Tanahashi landed a dragon screw and made the tag. Anderson landed his spinout fireman's carry gun stun, but New Japan kicked out and landed his chokeslam and diving headbutt. Anderson however landed a gun stun on New Japan and Tanahashi for the win. Great booking leading up to the heel turn right here.
8. Kazuchika Okada & Shinsuke Nakamura w/Gedo vs. Minoru Suzuki & Shelton Benjamin w/ Taichi
Suzuki came out with Taichi who had a towel over his head. He made the X signs with his hands, which played off of the fact that Suzuki's opponent was built as 'X'. Gedo called him out as Taichi and he tore off the towel before Benjamin ran in for a Suzuki-gun beatdown. In some ways I am quite surprised that they didn't leave the X reveal for a bigger show, but then on the other hand Benjamin wasn't he biggest reveal in the world. Suzuki and Benjamin worked over Nakamura for the early portion of the match, as Okada had been attacked by Taichi and Suzuki at the start of the match. There was one point where Benjamin and Suzuki grabbed double ankle locks. There was a unique spot where Suzuki grabbed a leg lock, Okada went to go stomp his way out of it, but he was trapped in an ankle lock by Suzuki. Okada was tagged in soon after however, and they had a forearm exchange. Okada mimicked a lot of Suzuki's fire and they both fired up before Okada was knocked down with a slap. Okada was out maneuvered, but landed his over the shoulder belly to back over the knee neckbreaker for two. He signaled for the rainmaker after landing a top rope elbow, but Suzuki made his way back up and dragged Okada to his corner. Okada landed one of his big dropkicks setting up the tag to Nakamura, who of course ran wild. Suzuki, Benjamin and even TAKA Michinoku ran in with knees with Okada on the outside. Okada and Suzuki were busy out on the floor, Nakamura went for the Boma Ye, Taichi distracted him and Benjamin dropped Okada into a low blow before landing Pay Dirt for the win. This was a fun match to set up the two top title matches at Wrestling Dontaku with the only real obvious finish for this tag. After the match Suzuki cut a promo making Nakamura very mad and eventually sending him back onto the apron, but he cooled off and walked away. Okada went back, which led to Suzuki locking in a Fujiwara armbar with the mic near his mouth to properly capture Okada's screams.
- Ryan Clingman, Cubedcirclewrestling.com