New Japan Pro Wrestling
Lion’s Gate 6
June 15, 2017
Shinjuku FACE – Tokyo, Japan
Watch: NJPW World
El Desperado Def. Tetsuhiro Yagi
Tetsuhiro Yagi, who debuted on the last Lion’s Gate show, continues to improve and continues to show, along with his contemporaries, that the next two or three years are in good hands when it comes to young lions and their quality output. All of these guys have something special about them. Umino and Kawato have the heart, Oka has perfected the basics, Kitamura has the look, the charisma, and the star aura, and Yagi has the aggression. All of them have potential to be great workers, and some have potential to be superstars. As for this match – very simple, very easy, very basic but both looked good and it was enjoyable for what it was. Yagi is already super impressive for a guy who’s only a month into his career, and is it just me or does he look a bit like Akira Tozawa? **1/4
Gedo & Jado Def. Hirai Kawato & Shota Umino
Gedo and Jado heeling it up and messing around with a couple of young boys for ten minutes as Kawato and Umino scrambled to get ahead. Matches like these really play towards Umino and Kawato’s strengths as babyfaces, and Gedo and Jado are the exact type of guys they should be wrestling on a regular basis. It’s like watching two nerdy kids get bullied, you want nothing more than to see them get their comeback over the two assholes, it’s hard to not root for them and be invested. All four guys were excellent here, Jado especially stepping his game up for a change, which was nice. Gedo and Jado eventually put them out of their misery and walked away with an easy victory, though I expect this story to continue. ***
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask IV Def. Dinosaur Takuma & Takuya Nomura
Takuya Nomura is one year into his career and has worked every somewhat relevant promotion in Japan outside of Dragon Gate. BJW, NOAH, All Japan, DDT, WRESTLE-1, K-DOJO, New Japan, you name it. He’s one of the hottest freelancers in the country, everyone is tripping over themselves to get their hands on him, and if I were him, I would continue doing what he’s doing. No need to sign anywhere or lock yourself down, just keep making a name in all these promotions and keep growing as a wrestler.
He’s only 23, the opportunities are endless. He already has a foot in the door in New Japan, so if I had to guess I’d say they will eventually sign him, but for right now, I think what he’s doing is perfect. He was over like crazy and once again delivered a quality performance like he always does, and as a result something occurred to me while watching him here. With both being as over as they are, Nomura vs. Kawato is the money match New Japan needs to be building towards on these shows. Will they do it? Who knows. Should they do it? I’d say it’s the best thing they could possibly do. Another solid tag bout. **3/4
Manabu Nakanishi Def. Katsuya Kitamura
New Japan’s booking of Kitamura reminds me a lot of Dragon Gate’s booking of Ben-K when Ben-K was at the same stage Kitamura is at. It is extremely rare you see young boys go head-to-head with veterans of the roster such as Gamma, CIMA, Mochizuki, etc. in Dragon Gate or Kojima, Nakanishi, Nagata, etc. in New Japan. While Nakanishi is not any sort of megastar within the promotion, he’s still Nakanishi and he’s still been around forever, so for Kitamura, who made his debut three months ago, to stand up to him the way he did in this match and the way he’s done for months, says a lot about what New Japan thinks of him. Something tells me he’s moving up from the young lion thing sooner than anyone else.
He’s 31 years old and I think they’re smart enough to realize they have to do what they can with him as quickly as possible, so he may not spend three years as a young lion and then two years on excursion because he’s 36 years old by then. He already has the look and the charisma, his work is solid enough, I would get the ball rolling on him as soon as possible. He’s not the average young boy, no need to treat him as such. Good showcase for him against Nakanishi here. **1/2
YOSHI-HASHI Def. Yuma Aoyagi
YOSHI-HASHI is the guy New Japan puts the outsiders against on these shows between Toru Sugiura in April, Daisuke Kanehira in May and now Aoyagi. He never gets singles matches on the main shows so is always motivated to deliver when put in the spot, all of these matches being of similar quality. Aoyagi, like Kawato, is another guy who is hard to not be invested in as he always shows a ton of heart. He’s a traditional pro wrestling babyface, he has that underdog charisma, and he’s always fun to watch as a result. It helps that he’s a good wrestler too. With some nice back-and-forth throughout and some real nice near-falls towards the end, this was the best thing on the show up to this point. ***1/4
Ayato Yoshida & Satoshi Kojima Def. Tomoyuki Oka & Yuji Nagata
Yes there is a loyalty thing in Japan so it may cause issues should he leave, and he himself may not even want to, but man, Yoshida is way too talented for the wasteland that is K-DOJO. He’s able to hang with guys like Kojima and Nagata, he’s two years younger than Oka, has only been wrestling for about a year longer and came across as a much bigger star in this match, which is not a knock on Oka but is more so a testament to how good Yoshida is. New Japan has been using him for a few months now and seem to like him. Whether or not they have actual plans for him outside of these shows is tough to call because of the potential loyalty and commitment he has to K-DOJO, but he’s perfect for their roster. In a match where all four guys were excellent, he was unquestionably the MVP between his work and his presence.
I admittedly skipped some matches on the previous shows, but judging by what I’ve seen, this was the best Lion’s Gate match ever. Non-stop action from bell-to-bell, great performances by all participants, a good crowd, some excellent heat, everything you could ask for out of a main event of this caliber. Although the rest of the show was fun, this is the match you have to seek out. ****
As someone who enjoys watching young lions progress, I tend to enjoy these, but if you’re short on time or have other things you can do, it’s not something you necessarily have to see aside from the main event. Regardless, the show as a whole gets a thumbs up for being fun, light-hearted and easy to watch.