We are on the road to Dominion, taking place one week from today on July 5. Tonight we’ll see the Young Lions in singles action, a few tag matches, and in the main event we’ll see a ten man tag team match that we’ve seen ELEVEN BILLION TIMES ALREADY. Now, I will admit, this is an elimination match, and that piqued my interest. They hardly do these type of matches, and elimination matches are usually fun anyway, so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. This ten man tag thing has been done to death, but at least they’re doing something relatively new here.
New Japan Pro Wrestling
Road to Dominion – Night 3
June 28, 2015
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Jay White
White played the subtle heel, at one point using Taguchi’s famed hip attacks. The bulk of the match saw Taguchi doing the hip attacks with White making his presence felt occasionally. They exchanged some good near falls toward the end until Taguchi locked in the ankle lock and White tapped. Good on these two as they had a solid opener with a hot ending. **1/2
Tiger Mask vs. Sho Tanaka
Tanaka came at Tiger Mask immediately once the bell rang, but Tiger Mask slowed him down with some leg work. Tanaka had some nice comebacks but in the end Tiger Mask laid him out with a butterfly suplex from the top rope and submitted him with a Chickenwing. **
After the match, Tiger Mask cut a brief promo wishing Tanaka well as he’s due to wrestle in NOAH’s upcoming junior heavyweight league.
Jushin Thunder Liger vs. David Finlay
Liger dominated at the start but Finlay made a comeback and hit his father’s famous rolling senton. Finlay continued his tribute act locking in the Stretch Muffler. Liger came back with the palm strike/Liger bomb for a nearfall, but Finlay reversed into a small package for one of his own. Finlay went for what looked like a brainbuster, but Liger transitioned quickly into an armbar which got Finlay to tap. The theme of tonight is all the young lions are losing by submission. **1/2
Mascara Dorada vs. Yohei Komatsu
Dorada, of course, pulled out all the crazy moves early, including a big crossbody from the top rope that wiped Komatsu out on the outside. Komatsu had a brief comeback, but Dorada cut him off and hit a senton followed by the Dorada Driver for the win.
I know the role of a young lion is to lose, but it was weird seeing them all lose, four in a row like this. At this point, something needs to be done with both Komatsu and Tanaka as they’re just coming off as stagnant being in the same position for almost three years now when they’re way more over than their push. **
This has me thinking, if all the young lions losing by submission wasn’t the theme for tonight, why did Liger win tonight with, of all things, an armbar?
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Yuji Nagata & Captain New Japan
As one would expect, Captain New Japan got worked on for the bulk of the match. Why do people voluntarily team with him if he never wins and is almost always the one pinned? Nagata got the hot tag, put Kojima in the armbar submission but Tenzan saved him. Nagata blocked a TenKoji Cutter attempt but was wiped out by a lariat from Kojima. CNJ then walks into a TenKoji Cutter which Tenzan follows ups with the Anaconda Vise for the victory. Good, solid tag action. **¼
Tetsuya Naito & Manabu Nakanishi & Kushida vs. Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga & Kenny Omega
Big story here (at least on this show, which has felt really bland so far) is Naito sauntered down to the ring with a new attitude, arrived to the ring long after his partners had arrived and came to the ring with a black shirt and cap, as well as a beard. His hair has also gotten noticeably longer.
Naito paired off with Tama Tonga, Nakanishi with Fale (who did big guy spots against one another) and Omega faced off with Kushida. Tonga was going for his finish when Naito mounted a comeback and got a quick win out of nowhere with a flash bridge. He entered the ring, got his hand raised then bolted, totally coming off as a heel as Kushida had a confrontation with Omega which resulted in the latter party taking Kushida’s Best of the Super Junior trophy. This reminded me a bit too much of the Dean Ambrose title stealing stuff, but at least here it doesn’t feel completely overplayed. Match was fine but the real story was Naito’s new attitude. **1/2
Kazuchika Okada & Rocky Romero & Berreta vs. Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows & Yujiro Takahashi
The bulk of this match was Beretta being worked on by Anderson and Gallows. Romero made a great comeback, teasing getting laid out with the Outsider’s Edge by Anderson but he managed to counter into a Hurricanrana onto the turnbuckle. Okada made a hot tag to a huge reaction. Yujiro tagged in as well as they went at it. Anderson and Gallows interfered and went for the Magic Killer on Okada but Roppongi Vice stormed the ring with the save. With Anderson and Gallows out of the way, Okada hit his trademark spots, pinning Yujiro with the Rainmaker. Good match with some good heat. ***1/4
Elimination Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi & Hirooki Goto & Togi Makabe & Katsuyori Shibata & Tomoaki Honma vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba & Yoshi-Hashi
Everyone paired off like usual, except Yano, who wanted no part of Tanahashi and instead tagged in Yoshi-Hashi. Over-the-top eliminations are in play as they teased Tanahashi going over early to a big reaction. Ishii and Makabe went at it and it was pretty great, including Makabe hitting a big deadlift suplex.
Makabe and Ishii were the first ones eliminated after they both got on the apron and gave each other a lariat. Tanahashi and Toru Yano were in, and after Tanahashi skinned the cat, Yano got thrown over-the-top rope. Yano then tried to skin the cat, but Tanahashi dropkicked out to the floor, eliminating him.
After his elimination Yano distracts Tanahashi, threatening to cut New Japan Pro Wrestling owner Kidani’s hair, allowing Sakuraba to get a flash pinfall. This brings in Shibata, and they go at it as Sakuraba is shoved to the apron. Sakuraba locks in a sleeper and manages to eliminate both himself and Shibata from the match as they both fall to the floor.
Goto and Nakamura come back in and they have a good back and forth until Goto gets caught on the ropes and shoved to the floor for an elimination. It’s Honma time as he and Yoshi-Hashi have some great back and forth to start out. Honma hits the top rope Kokeshi and eliminates Yoshi-Hashi…yay!
It’s down to Honma and Nakamura. The latter misses the Boma Ye and walks into a sitout piledriver by Honma for a near fall. He tries for the top rope Kokeshi again, but it misses this time. Nakamura wipes him out with a Boma Ye to the back of the head then hits another for good measure. Terrific match with great heat. I was so ready to hate on this match since I’ve seen it ten million times already, but this was great, and hopefully it’s the last time I’ll ever have to see it. ****
Final Thoughts: A fun show with a great main event that’s worth watching if you have time this week. The key for tonight was building anticipation for the next major event NJPW Dominion (taking place on the morning of July 5), which they did well. We have a lot of questions going into Dominion which is obviously a great thing: Will we see new champions crowned? Will they finally do something with the young lions? What the hell is up with Naito? Hopefully we’ll have answers to these questions this time next week!