New Japan Pro Wrestling
Road to Wrestling Dontaku
April 17, 2015
New Japan is back on the road, and this time they’re on the trail to Wrestling Dontaku, headlined by Shinsuke Nakamura defending the Intercontinental Championship against Hirooki Goto, perennial non-champion. Tonight, they’re the headliners in a big tag team battle involving Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii and Togi Makabe. Lots of heated tension will be in the main event as archrivals square off with one another. The undercard is includes forever youngboys Yohei Komatsu and Sho Tanaka, as well as the new IWGP Jr. Tag Team champions Roppongi Vice. Road to Wrestling Dontaku may not the most loaded card of all time, but there’s some interesting things going on here and there. Let’s take a look!
Sho Tanaka vs. Tiger Mask: Tiger Mask worked on Tanaka’s arm early. He made a comeback then put him in the boston crab but Tiger Mask grabbed the ropes. Tiger Mask came back and kicked him in the head for a nearfall, then followed with the Tiger Driver for the nearfall. Work was short, but this was short and rather uninteresting. *3/4
Tiger Mask showed him a sign of respect after as he headed out the ring and shook hands with fans. He might be the least interesting Tiger Mask ever but doggone it he’s gonna be the friendliest.
Yohei Komatsu and Mascara Dorada vs.Roppongi Vice: This turned into a solid match. A lot of it was Roppongi Vice working over Komatsu, with him occasionally coming back with some great offense, including hitting a half-hatch suplex on Beretta for a nearfall. Good thing Senor Lariato knew what that was because I sure didn’t. Dorada was in and looked phenomenal, hitting all of his big spots. It would be really, really wise for New Japan to keep him for more than just a year. The guy’s clearly special and a notch above the other guys they’ve brought in. Crowd really got into Komatsu’s comebacks. Roppongi Vice hit him with a double knee, however, and then pin him with the Omori Driver/dropkick combo. **3/4
Yuji Nagata and Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Captain New Japan and Manabu Nakanishi: Taguchi came in wearing a headscarf of some sort. Taguchi is such a weird figure. For me, he has X-Pac heat — he’s a guy who comes off as having charisma, but really isn’t and is pretty dull in the ring. A lot of this was comedy, especially when Taguchi was in. Nagata was stiff with Nakanishi whenever he was in. Captain New Japan comes in and actually hits his uranage for a nearfall. Eventually with Taguchi’s butt offense help, Nagata pins CNJ after a side suplex. Completely forgettable. *
Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, Cody Hall, and Yujiro Takahashi) vs. KUSHIDA, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima: Bullet Club jumped them at the bell, but Tencozy immediately went back on the offensive. Kenny and KUSHIDA worked over one another for a while before Cody was tagged in. People reacted big time when he tagged in. He’s green, but has presence few have there. He was in towards the end when Tencozy started to mount a comeback. KUSHIDA wiped out Omega with a tope suicida then Kojima pins Hall with a lariat. It was a pretty solid bout. **1/2
Tetsuya Naito and Tomoaki Honma vs. Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows: Most of the match were the heels working over Honma. He gets a Kokeshi in, but gets walloped by a big boot by Anderson. The finish was really cool: Naito was taken out by Gallows, Honma had Anderson out and was to hit the Kokeshi off the top rope. Anderson gets up and counters the Kokeshi with a stun gun in mid air, then Guns & Gallows hit the Magic Killer for the win. **1/2
Anderson yells for Maria after the match, so I guess their feud with the Kingdom isn’t over.
Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga vs. Gedo and Kazuchika Okada: Fale takes Okada to the outside, introducing him to the barricade while Tonga works over Gedo in the ring. Okada and Fale are in as Okada wipes him out with moves but he keeps getting back up. Tama Tonga is in and is on offense for a while, but Okada comes back and pins him easily with the Rainmaker. Okada’s back on a roll, baby, so buckle in as he’s getting what was taken from him. **1/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata & Kota Ibushi & Hirooki Goto & Togi Makabe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba & Yoshi-Hashi: Nakamura dismisses Goto, mocking him. Goto responds by jumping him as the bell rings. Everyone that you would expect to pair off did (Ishii/Makabe, Yano/Tanahashi, Goto/Nakamura, etc.). The big barricade spots followed as Yano and Tanahashi were going at it. When you think about it, Tanahashi and Yano has been one of the more interesting feuds so far this year. You want to see Tanahashi give it to Yano but he’s managed to avoid Tanahashi’s wrath very frequently. The focus of the match shifted to Goto and Nakamura frequently since they’re due for a bit title match soon. Goto hits the neckbreaker on the knee and tries to follow with the Shouten Kai but it’s broken up. It boils down to Kota Ibushi and Yoshi Hashi. The latter looks strong, avoiding Ibushi’s flurry of offense with a big lariat and holding his own. but Ibushi comes back, lays him out and hits the Phoenix Splash for the win. Pretty fun main event. ***1/2
Goto calls out Nakamura after the match, but he bails, holding up the title. Makabe also has words to Ishii, but he seems unimpressed by them and leaves as they all pose.
Final Thoughts: A pretty uneventful show, but it didn’t drag and there were some fun moments. And…that’s it! Wrestling Dontaku has the least interesting big card lineup in ages, but it won’t suck, especially with the big NEVER and Intercontinental title defenses.