Last year, New Japan Pro Wrestling aired it’s Invasion Attack pay per view the morning of WrestleMania and it was a great show.This year, instead of the actual Invasion Attack show (which is next Sunday morning) we get a Road to Invasion Attack show. One would think we’d see the NWA titles defended here on the show that’ll air on New Japan World…but nope! Instead, we get a bevy of tag matches. Not that it’s the end of the world, but New Japan tags are so formulaic it bores me out. But I’m sure there’s something here that’ll be pretty interesting. Let’s get to it!
Young Bucks vs. Sho Tanaka and Tiger Mask: Pretty solid tag team bout. The usual story played out with the young lions, but this was solid. Tanaka wanted to take most of the match, and he did, but eventually got worked over by the Bucks. He made a comeback, but got isolated and pinned with the Indytaker. Nothing more beyond that. **1/2
Cody Hall and Kenny Omega vs. Captain New Japan and Mascara Dorada: Hall did his dad’s old toothpick routine and flicked it at Dorada, who sold it like he got stabbed in the eye. Things were a bit hesitant first between Omega and Dorada, but the latter did a lot of impressive stuff during the match, including a big tope to the outside. Hall looked off in places, but there’s a presence there. A long way to go, though. He poses, then goes to pick up Captain New Japan but CNJ flash cradles him up for the win. People popped huge for that. **
Omega and Dorada exchange some back and forth, building to their big Invasion Attack title match.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima and Yohei Komatsu vs. Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi and Ryuskue Taguchi: Taguchi looked a lot better with a haircut, but now the hair is growing back, making him look like his old geeky self. Young Lion Komatsu was in here, and sure enough he was the brunt of a lot of offense, including a big chop from Nakanishi off the top rope. He tags in Kojima who makes his comeback. Nakanishi and Nagata come back with their respective submission finishers but but Tenzan interrupts things. Eventually, it settled down to Taguchi and Komatsu. People were going wil but Komatsu’s kickouts, but eventually he fell to the Dodon. good match with some good heat. ***1/4
Karl Anderson, Tama Tonga and Doc Gallows, vs.Hirooki Goto, Katsuyori Shibata, and Tomoaki Honma: People were into Anderson during this match and of course, Honma as well. Honma worked a lot of the match taking a beating until making the tag to the former tag team champions who cleaned house, and the ending (which was Goto and Shibata cleaning house, with Tonga eating the Penalty Kick for the win) was pretty fun. Beyond that, not much more. **1/2
Tomoaki Honma and Shibata had a heated exchange after, probably having something to do with Honma missing the top rope kokeshi after Goto and Shibata helped him, but Goto settled the situation before it could escalate into anything.
Timesplitters, Tetsuya Naito, Togi Makabe, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. RPG Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero), Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura. This was your standard multi-man New Japan tag. Not super great, but not bad either. Tanahashi and Yano had their big back and forth that resulted in a hair pull and tag by Tanahashi. Ishii and Makabe do their back and forth. RPG Vice did stuff with the Timesplitters. Maybe because I’ve seen these kind of tag matches so often that I’m kinda bored with them, but this felt like a total by the numbers match at the end. But hey, then again the Timesplitters doing their usual stuff is pretty great. They end up isolating Shelly and pinning him with what looks like an Omori driver/dropkick combo. ***
Ishii and Makabe have a big pull apart after the match, so it’s obvious there are unsettled issues here.
Kazuchika Okada, Gedo & Yoshi-Hashi vs. AJ Styles, Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi. Felt this was more of the same as the previous match, with the formulaic tag structure happening. Okada and Fale went at it but Okada escaped Fale with a dropkick, only for Styles to work him over. Gedo went after Styles, but eventually he gets laid out and pinned by the IWGP champion. More good, but not great. ***
AJ takes the mic after the match and says that Okada will be destroyed on April 5 against Bad Luck Fale and Kota Ibushi will meet the same fate. His mic drops twice during the promo, which was pretty funny. Oops!
Final Thoughts: Solid show that went by fast. If you want to kill time before WrestleMania, there’s nothing outright bad here. Just nothing I’d consider going out of your way to see here. Not that I expected that from a show with just one camera, but still, it wasn’t the most engaging New Japan show I’ve seen in a while.