Another house show on the path towards NJPW “Road to Tokyo Dome” is a show I can only recommend for the most avid of New Japan fans. There were a few fun matches, some storyline advancement and a watchable main event but little else to sink your teeth into.

We’re at Super No Vacancy Full House with 2,015 fans inside Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall. The show starts with a cool recap video showcasing the major feuds and events of the year. This was a nice touch, I hope they make this video public.

Sho Tanaka vs. Yohei Komatsu: The young guns start us off. They start with some basic groundwork, lots of rolling. Tanaka locks Komatsu in a rear naked choke; it’s quickly reversed and the two stand up to a decent reaction. The two trade submissions for a few minutes, Tanaka shows some solid fire and they’ve moved onto more brawling, crowd starting to get more into it. Tanaka puts Komatsu in a single-leg crab, this became a theme quickly, as in, and there was a LOT of single-leg crabs by Tanaka in the final few minutes. Eventually Komatsu taps; I counted at least four single-leg/Boston Crabs. Decent match though, crowd got into these guys. Simple, by the numbers but not bad at all. **

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask vs. Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, KUSHIDA & BUSHI: BUSHI and Liger start us off, both men starts quick, BUSHI hits a nice looking huricanrana, goes for a suicide dive but is cut off by Tiger Mask. KUSHIDA comes in for the save, tosses Tiger Mask to the outside and they hit a double suicide dive. Cool spot. Action back in the ring, Liger locks in a surfboard, Nakanishi breaks it up and Liger rises up and immediately challenges Nakanishi, challenging him to come into the ring. Tenzan eventually gets in and he is not looking healthy, super slow on the irish whip, getting around very gingerly these days. He still all of his power moves in a nice sequence but the man cannot run anymore. Nakanishi and Liger continued to jaw at one another. The crowd pops huge when Liger hits Nakanishi with a lariat in the corner. Kojima gets in, hits a HUGE clothesline on BUSHI and pins him for the win. This match was a mess and never really had a flow. * ½

Togi Makabe & Kota Ibushi vs. Takashi Iizuka & Yujiro Takahashi: Iizuka did his usual run through the crowd and scare everyone. Thank god, the announcer he torments wasn’t there, so instead he just ran through rows of people screaming. Yujiro entertained himself by finding a babe to talk to in the front row. Both men storm the ring to attack Makabe and Ibushi. Ibushi gets the momentum on his side and hits a few picture perfect dropkicks, he’s so good. It’s going to be an absolute pleasure to watch him more often in New Japan. Iizuka gets the momentum back; the people are brawling on the outside. Iizuka finds a random security guard, beats him up and starts hitting him in the back with a chair. Action returns to the ring, Iizuka grabs a mic and starts choking Ibushi. During this murder attempt, Makabe respects tag team wrestling rules and stays in his corner. Iizuka released Ibushi and tries to show off his strength but eventually starts choking himself with the microphone, the crowd laughed. Another awesome Ibushi dropkick, hot tag to Makabe who cleans house. Ibushi hits his running moonsault to the outside, doubly impressive, as he has to climb over Iizuka to do it. Makabe hits the King Kong kneedrop on Takahashi and gets the pin. Fun match. **

Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Jado vs. Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku & Taichi: In case you were wondering, Yano is still hocking his DVD. Suzuki challenges him to get into the ring; Yano laughs it off and continues pacing on the outside. Ishii starts up against Suzuki who wants Yano and no one else, he tags Taka and we begin. Action spilled outside right away. Yano is running literally everywhere around the arena to avoid Suzuki. He’s up in the nosebleeds, row 19, concession stand; he’s doing whatever to avoid Suzuki. Yano gets to the ring finally, rips off the turnbuckle pad but is reversed into the exposed corner by Suzuki. Taichi and Taka hit a double superkick; Yano sneaks up, hits a low blow and rolls Taka up. Oye, this one was a mess. *

Yano grabs a mic and points to the video board. The lights dim and a video plays announcing Yano’s mystery partner for WrestleKingdom…. THE GREAT MUTA! Yano spits some water in the air in honor of his partner. Suzuki is not happy so he does the only logical thing, finds a ring boy and hits him with chairs.


Road to TOKYO DOME I – Tetsuya Naito vs. Gedo: Crowd was mildly into Naito at the beginning, there was a segment of fans chanting for Gedo though. Mostly male chant. Arm drag/dropkick combo to start by Naito. He plays to the crowd and receives crickets. Gedo begs for mercy in the corner then kicks Naito and wraps his knees around the post. Annnnnd now we’re working the knee, the Naito “specialty”. Longtime VOW fans know our hatred for Naito’s poor knee selling; let’s see if he’s gotten any better. Few cheers for Gedo as he works the leg, small Gedo chant again. Naito gets back on offense, hits a few kicks and follows up by bending the knee and rubbing after he does the move. Can’t teach an old dog new tricks it seems.

Gedo keeps working the leg, follows with a figure four. Naito gets to the ropes, little bit of a crowd buzz. Naito hits an enzuigiri with the hurt knee, I don’t know. Naito attempts a flying forearm; Gedo dropkicks him into the knee, huge pop, goes for the pin and only gets a two count. Crowd was super into this. Naito on the comeback, sequence of moves, Stardust Press and it’s over. Hmm, very quick sequence at the end. Not bad, not good. **

Road to TOKYO DOME II – Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. YOSHI-HASHI: YOSHI mocks Tanahashi’s air guitar at the beginning, they brawl outside. YOSHI hits Tanahashi with a chair, man this has to be the most chair shots I’ve seen in a New Japan show in quite some time. Tanahashi is working the legs with a Walls of Jericho/Liontamer. Sequence of chops, strikes, Tanahashi hits a huge german suplex but only gets a two. High Fly Flo…no YOSHI gets his legs up and immediately goes for the pin, only gets a two. YOSHI german of his own. They are moving slow but it’s a fun match nonetheless. YOSHI senton, Tanahashi gets his legs up, puts on the Walls of Jericho and YOSIH taps. This was a super slow match but they hit all their spots and it had a few nice sequences. ** ¼

Road to TOKYO DOME III – Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Captain New Japan: Nakamura is super over, crowd is so into him. Capitan New Japan grabs the quick advantage, knocking Nakamura down on consecutive lock ups. Nakamura puts him in a headlock and tries to unmask the Captain. Running shoulder block and hip toss by Captain New Japan, Nakamura slides out of the ring. Captain attempts a dive from the apron but Nakamura hits him in the stomach. Nakamura on the offense now, whips him into the rails and he starts beating on him back in the ring. Reverse suplex. Nakamura hits a quick running knee, but Captain New Japan kicks out and reverses for a spinebuster! Nakamura recovers and hits a Boma Ye, 1…2….! NO! The Captain kicks out. Nakamura hits another and finally it’s over. Fun match, good effort from Captain. ***

Road to TOKYO DOME IV – Kazuchika Okada beat Tomoaki Honma: Naito ringside with Honma, the crowd is super into Okada, Okada chants, phones out, this man is over. Back and forth to start us off, action spills to the outside. Big boot puts Honma into the crowd and Okada rolls back in. Nice sequence by Honma capped off by a running bulldog. He’s had the clear momentum so far. Okada turns the tables and nails an elbow drop. Hints at a Rainmaker, Honma reverses into an irish whip and a lariat of his own. Honma attempts a crazy sunset flip to the floor. Okada fights him off and tosses Honma into the post. Honma gets the momentum back; jumps back into the ring, climbs to the top rope and hits a diving headbutt, HOLY SHIT. Honma rolls him into the ring, hits another one, picks him up brainbuster and rolls Okada up and gets a near fall. Crowd is super into it.

Okada wakes up and starts going on the offense. Honma tries a tombstone, Okada reverses is Rainmake…NO! Honma reverses with a headbutt, crowd is super into it. Okada pops right back up, hits a huge dropkick, Rainmaker and we’re done! Not great but a lot of fun, closing stretch was solid. ***

Post-match Naito enters ring, noticeable Okada chants. I’ll let our good friend @puro_yottsume translate.





Naito slaps Okada, HUGE boos. Okada chants, Naito rolls out of the ring to more boos. Seems like they are positioning him as the heel. Okada plays to the crowd.

Meh show, definitely skippable and outside of Honma/Okada everything else was super by the numbers and generic. Guys are taking it easy before Dome but I don’t blame them. That should be their focus and we had a special year in 2013 including a G1 Climax that people are still recovering from.

Thanks to @SenorLARIATO for the gifs.