NJPW Lion’s Gate Project 4 on April 13, 2017
Watch: NJPW World
Shinjuku FACE – Tokyo, Japan
Precursor: When reviewing I try to give the overall story, feel, and important moments of a match. I try not to veer off into move descriptions. This keeps it fairly short and sweet. I always put the result of the match in italics as well if the champion(s) defended or if there’s a new champion. I don’t use star ratings or any scale because the system doesn’t work for me. I spew out what I think of the match and articulate my thoughts that way. (Evil laugh…) — you’re forced to read my writing and not glance at the stars! Got it? Enjoy.
Matches are categorized under four sub-categories: don’t watch it; you may enjoy it; highly recommended; you need to see it. These are guidelines to help you pick out matches if you’re not watching the full show.
Shota Umimo vs. TAKA Michinokuyou may enjoy it
This was a solid opener that could do no wrong. TAKA is technically sound beyond belief, he could wrestle a mop and get a compelling match out of it. There was an emotional flair beyond this as Shota was making his debut in front of his dad, Red Shoes Unno, aka one of the best/most popular referees in the world! We got a few minutes of TAKA stretching Shota out, Shota finding his first bit of fighting spirit, and dropping a huge elbow drop. That’s the only offense he’d get in for the most part. As he feet were wiggling, trying not to tap — Shota was forced to submit in front of his dad. TAKA won after a Just Facelock.
Hirai Kawato vs. El Desperadohighly recommended
We’re only two matches in but I already feel like this is one of the most comforting shows of the year. All these extended young lion showcases are so easy to take in and are equally as rewarding. Kawato jumped the gun from the bell and paid right away, being dragged through the crowd — and being subjected to LIMBWORK!!! Desperado knows how to pop me as not only did he do a great job working over the leg of Kawato (stretch muffler as the cherry on top), but served as a damn good base for the comeback with tons of roll up near falls that got more intense each time. Desperado won after a Yoshi-tonic.
This was approaching great status for a few minute match. They were able to go all out more so than an NJPW opener, which is the goal here. Kawato looked amazing. Despy stays underrated.
Yuma Aoyagi & Koji Iwamato vs. Jado & Gedoyou may enjoy it
Aoyagi and Iwamoto came to the ring in “Fuck You We Are Jado Gedo” shirts. Just kidding. I wish. This wasn’t just “get more time than NJPW openers” status. This was bookers asserting themselves in a 10+ minute tag with two of the finest youngins on the AJPW roster. Aoyagi was dragged through hell as the face in peril only for Sportiva Dojo’s own Iwamoto to hit a BOSS ASS judo throw that always looks ridiculous. What I found to be the coolest thing about the tag is that it was worked traditionally with Jado and Gedo playing as biggest “dick heels” as possible in order to teach the two how to babyface it up. It already works well, but they can continue to learn in this formula. Jado and Gedo won after a Jado crossface on Aoyagi. Another great Lion’s Gate type of match.
Toru Suigura vs. YOSHI-HASHIhighly recommended
What’s funny is that if you’d show this match to someone who didn’t know who these two were and what company they work for — then you told them one is contracted to NJPW, I’d assume they’d say Sugiura. They’d also be likely to comment that it looks like the high school jock vs. geek back of the class boy. The match elevated itself to fire emojis status quickly, as Sugiura didn’t take his time to channel his inner-FREEDOMS. Before you knew it Sugiura was hitting a big boy senton on a stack of chairs, and also taking a suplex onto them. HASHI gave Sugiura tons of offense, which looked great in the process. This was a breeze to take in; being super enjoyable on every level, no matter what was going on. HASHI won after a butterfly lock. Best match on the show thus far.
Ayato Yoshida & Dinosaur Takuma vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojimadon't watch it
Tenzan touched Takuma’s tail. That’s all that matters. This was a fun tag, but nothing too memorable. The Yoshida in ring portions were limited, but he made me want to check out tons of his other work (I’ve been slacking on quality K-DOJO content). Takuma was the star of the match, having his tail abused, but managing to stay on the comeback only until he was decimated by TenCozy in depressing fashion. Easily the “weakest” match on the show up to this point, but it was still an incredibly easy watch with a few highlights. TenCozy won after a Kojima lariat on Takyuma.
Manabu Nakanishi & Katsuya Kitamura vs. Tomoyuki Oka & Yuji Nagatayou may enjoy it
I can hear the jackpot alarm going off when Oka and Kitamura were grappling, exchanging intricate holds they learned at practice — smashing their stout bulky figures into each other a la Nakanishi and other hosses. There was a lot to like regardless of the in ring work during the main event. It had a special dynamic of the apprentices and their assigned veteran, but not only that, I love everyone in this match. It got close to legitimate main event time at 14-15 minutes and was a drawn out well put together tag that blended everyone in interactions. Aside from Oka and Kitamura taking it to each other, my favorite parts were when Nakanishi would chop Nagata on the head when he had Kitamura in submissions, a little bit of nuanced comedy there too. Everyone was able to get shine and hit their signature moves, and the young lions got a ton of experience from working in this slot with whom they trust. Nagata won after a backdrop suplex on Kitamura. Very enjoyable.
NJPW LION'S GATE PROJECT 4 ON APRIL 13, 2017
Decent - 6.5/10
Not a single complaint. Lion's Gate Project 4 flew by in the blink of an eye, already under 2 hours with an intermission on the VOD. Every match had something different, whether it was the debut of Red Shoes son vs. TAKA, Desperado and Kawato being able to have a good sprint, FREEDOMS vs. Loose Explosion somehow happening, Dinosaur Takuma's tail being worked over, and all our favorite NJPW big boys colliding in an intimate environment. Lion's Gate was productive, the best one yet, and a decent quick show that's enjoyable as anything else you could think of watching.