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NJPW Road to Tokyo Dome results: Tanahashi & KENTA face off

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NJPW continued their year-end tour today with the second of four consecutive nights in Korakuen Hall. 

Report --

Jado, Chase Owens, and Bad Luck Fale (Bullet Club) defeated Kosei Fujita, Ryohei Oiwa, and Yuto Nakashima 

Was the referee’s lack of general awareness infuriating? Sure, but I can’t lie—I seldom dislike a young lion match, and this was no exception. Something about the absolute focus on the fundamentals speaks to me.  

Fujita opted to start the match and held his own against Owens in early chain wrestling. The success continued after Nakashima tagged into the match, landing heavy strikes on the Texas Heavyweight champion. Unfortunately for Nakashima, Jado involved himself, beating the young lion across the back with his cane. Fale continued the onslaught with a barrage of strikes while Owens and Jado piled their bodyweight on Nakashima.

Nakashima finally got the tag, allowing Oiwa to lock Owens in a Boston crab. The young lions then coordinated in clearing the ring of Bullet Club, scoring a near fall following a gut wrench suplex. A brawl ensued after the pin attempt. The chaos allowed Owens to land a C-trigger and package piledriver and secure the pin over Oiwa. 

DOUKI, Minoru Suzuki, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-Gun) defeated Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Toru Yano

This was far from great. 

This match opened with a brawl. Almost immediately, Yano and Kanemaru were alone in the ring allowing Yano to cold spray Kanemaru without consequence. Kanemaru returned the favor by pouring his liquor into Yano’s eyes shortly after. 

Eventually, the antics slowed down. Suzuki and Tenzan had a nice back and forth sequence before Kojima entered the fray. Kojima fought off DOUKI and Kanemaru before another brawl developed. From the fog, Suzuki and Kojima emerged, trading strikes. A cutter sent Suzuki to the outside, allowing Kojima to focus in on Kanemaru; before he could act, Kojima was spayed by a mouth full of liquor. Kanemaru kicked Yano below the belt and poured additional booze across the face of Kojima before pinning him. 

SHO, Dick Togo, Yujiro Takahashi, and EVIL (House of Torture) defeated YOH, Tomoaki Honma, Togi Makabe, and Tomohiro Ishii 

This was better than the HoT/CHAOS match from last night, but I’m still left hoping for a clean-cut SHO/YOH match come the 4th. 

This match opened with a brawl. SHO focused YOH and EVIL focused Ishii on the outside while Makabe and Honma struggled with Yujiro and Togo inside the ring. This structure didn’t last long, as House of Torture gained complete control. YOH was isolated in the ring, leaving him subject to the mercy of HoT; in other words, he was whipped into an exposed corner, choked with a shirt, and assaulted with a chair. After a prolonged struggle, YOH tagged out. 

Ishii, now legal, ran through his opponents with particular attention paid to EVIL. Ishii forced EVIL to the outside, where EVIL slammed Ishii into the barricade; this allowed HoT to retake control until Honma tagged in. Honma landed everything for some time before being thrown into an exposed corner. Yujiro distracted the referee, allowing SHO to hit Honma with a pipe. Yujiro landed pimp juice and pinned Honma to close the match. 

After the match, HoT beat down YOH and Ishii.

Master Wato, YOSHI-HASHI, and Hirooki Goto defeated Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr, and TAKA Michinoku (Suzuki-Gun)

This was fine, but nothing worth going out of your way to see. 

This match opened with a brawl. Eventually, Suzuki-Gun was able to isolate Wato. After being contorted for a while, Wato escaped, and YH stepped up to the plate. YH had a short rally before being worked on the mat himself. Goto tagged in and also fell to ZSJ grappling. TAKA and Taichi continued the beatdown forcing Wato to make the save. 

Goto, with help from YH, led the first significant offensive rally for his team. The pair cleared the ring, and Wato hit a dive to make sure it saved that way. Goto and Wato hit TAKA with Naraku and pinned him to bring this match to an end. 

Aaron Henare, Great-O-Khan, and Jeff Cobb (United Empire) defeated BUSHI, SANADA, and Tetsuya Naito (Los Ingobernables de Japon) 

Cobb and Naito weren’t quite as electric in their interaction as compared to last night, but they still were the highlights of this match. 

This match opened with a brawl. Naito immediately engaged Cobb tonight, with particular attention paid to his leg. UE hit the ring to save Cobb while securing match control; this allowed Cobb to deal some damage to Naito before SANADA tagged in. 

SANADA and O-Khan had an exchange, generally favoring the latter. SANADA managed to turn things around, however, delivering a top rope dropkick before a double tag out. UE tried rushing down BUSHI but failed. In retort, LIJ triple-teamed Henare. 

Cobb caught Naito, slamming him into the corner to create separation. Now, UE singled out BUSHI. Henare landed Toa Bottom and pinned BUSHI to score a UE victory. 

Hiromu Takahashi and Shingo Takagi (Los Ingobernables de Japon) defeated Kazuchika Okada and Ryusuke Taguchi
This match wasn’t standout contents wise, but it wasn’t bad either. It existed to serve a purpose, and it did just that—build for the dome. 

Okada and Shingo opened the match with change wrestling. Much like last night, the pair were equals initially; after this was proved, they tagged out. 

Taguchi nearly got the better of Hiromu in their first interaction, causing him to retreat to the outside. Back in the ring, Hiromu teased Taguchi before dodging a hip attack to gain offensive footing. This played out again after Shingo re-entered the match. It wasn’t long before Taguchi was desperate for a tag. 

After taking out Shingo and Hiromu simultaneously with a hip attack, Taguchi was able to tag out. Okada gained the upper hand on Hiromu but failed in maintaining it. Hiromu left Okada prone for Shingo, but Shingo fell short in follow-up. Okada landed an air raid crash neckbreaker and facebuster before tagging Taguchi back in. 

Taguchi had a quite successful stint of offense against Shingo, all things considered, but could not close out the champion. Shingo landed a top rope elbow, prompting Okada to hit the ring. Hiromu followed in short order, helping Shingo clear the ring. Shingo then hit Taguchi with the last of the dragon and pinned him while staring down Okada -- a powerful closing shot. 

Tiger Mask, Robbie Eagles, and Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated El Phantasmo, Taji Ishimori, and KENTA (Bullet Club)

A lot of this was a bore. I’m not sure how much this match would be improved with an audible crowd, but the prolonged isolation segments were definitely hurt due to that absence. Regardless of the match contents, the final visual was powerful and ads to the upcoming US title match. 

KENTA started the match by bringing a chair into the ring; unsurprisingly, the referee took the chair immediately. KENTA then tagged out. Eagles and ELP then had a fairly typical exchange high in athleticism before TM tagged into the match. TM was immediately isolated and triple-teamed by Bullet Club. 

Following the hot tag to Eagles, the match began to fall into disarray. Eagles was pulled to the outside and beat down. Bullet Club then cornered Eagles, trading tags to keep control. Eventually, Tanahashi tagged in for a short offensive sequence. A scoop slam from KENTA ended the rally early. TM had a slightly longer rally, but a GTS ended TM's offense and the match.

After the match, Bullet Club beat down TM before powerbombing Tanahashi onto a pile of chairs. KENTA then cut a promo over Tanahashi’s broken body to close the show.