NJPW Lion’s Gate Project 5 on May 9, 2017
Watch: NJPW World
Shinjuku FACE – Tokyo, Japan
Sidebar: I’ve tried so many times to do something NOT STARZ. It’s been two years doing this, and I still haven’t found anything nearly as effective as sticking to the industry standard. Star ratings always have flaws, but so have the other things I’ve tried. Your boy just conformed back to stars. No hate please.
Hirai Kawato vs. Tetsuhiro Yagi**1/4
This is the debut match for Yagi. Fun fact: This is the second straight Lion’s Gate show to feature a debut in the opener, as last show (4) saw the debut of Red Shoes’ son, Shota Umino. This was a great debut of Yagi, who has some large shoes to fit into when it comes to matching the early-on talent of the current crop he’s a part of. Kawato was able to unleash a viciousness not on a vet this time, but someone lower in the chain of command. We got solid limb work, a control portion to test out Yagi, and finally, three bodyslams followed by a Boston Crab as Yagi has to submit. Solid opener, solid debut, plus a solid outing for both.
El Desperado vs. Shota Umino**
Umino finds himself in the wild west after a blissful debut alongside his dad. Red Shoes ain’t refereeing this one, as Shota would go on to take the most punishment of his career thus far. He’d be worked on in multiple ways — limb, slams, brawling on the outside; it felt like a test for him as to how he plays defense rather than offense. Though he was able to get a few bursts of offense in (including some damn fine chops), Umino fell to the Guitarra de Angel. A neat follow-up undercard match to show the range of what Umino can do right now. Despy isn’t bad, people.
Dinosaur Takuma & Toru Sugiura vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Tiger Mask**1/2
FREEDOMS and K-DOJO team up to take on two NJPW mainstay veterans. Sugiura had my favorite match at the last Lion’s Gate Project against YOSHI-HASHI. These combinations are always going to be fun, I just wish we had more of an emphasis on tag wrestling rather than Toru/Takuma trying to face a test in 1-on-1 exchanges. They still put together a decent tag match. Everything clicked, as Tiger would come in and out as Tenzan took the brunt of offense/defense. Sugiura shined with bundles of offense, on the contrary Takuma would be the more vulnerable one, tapping out to the Anaconda Vice. Both got kick out/hope spots to continue learning.
Daisuke Kanehira vs. YOSHI-HASHI***
Lion’s Gate MVP HASHI is back in the house to take on a HEAT-UP star in Kanehira. It’s odd, but YOSHI-HASHI feels like the final boss of Lion’s Gate. He’s battering dudes in all of these singles matches; the crowd is a little bit more excited for these matches than other ones. It comes off as a big test to me, and it’s always what I’m looking forward to on the shows. As described, Kanehira was inserted into this formula — running the gauntlet of HASHI’s offense only to try and get him in a tight armbar a handful of times. This led to exciting hope spots only for HASHI to cut him off with the powerbomb (for a hoot of a near fall), a beautiful lariat and then locking Daisuke into the Butterfly Lock for the victory.
Ayato Yoshida vs. Satoshi Kojima***1/2
Yoshida repping K-DOJO takes on Kojima who could hold the IWGP Heavyweight title right now and do no harm in my book. Kojima may not have had any bread on 5/9 as he was grumpy as all hell facing Ayato. He even dumped him on the apron with a DDT. I love the balance within this match – Kojima was so fired up that he went for the Cozy lariat too early, so Yoshida fired back with chops that made Kojima’s chest red and also hit two PKs alongside putting ALL OF HIS WEIGHT on a cover. This bridged into next level shit with Kojima hitting a brainbuster/lariat only for Yoshida to kick out. FIRED ALL THE WAY UP only to be put away with another lariat. Borderline great match. I just put over YOSHI-HASHI. Dammit! Lion’s Gate MOTY so far.
Katsuya Kitamura & Tomoyuki Oka vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata***
The main event of the last show pit Kitamura and Nakanishi vs. Oka and Nagata, and now we’ve got the lions having to fend for themselves against their seniors. Literally 10 seconds into the match, Nakanishi cranks on a headlock better than anyone I’ve ever seen this year. #WDKW100 cases aside, this is worked in a frantic pace a lot of the time, just boatloads of fun interactions that weren’t as possible in the last tag. As much as I enjoy Oka thus far, I think NJPW know what they have in Kitamura. He already looks like a star; standing out like one in this tag. In the best spot of the match, Kitamura had Nagata in a Boston Crab, only for Nakanishi to slap him, as Kitamura immediately spiked his head because of the damage. Nagata pinned Kitamura after a backdrop. This was solid, but nothing memorable, and I wish we got *incoming regurgitated take* more TEAMWORK from Kitamura-Oka rather than individual wrestling.
Nagata and Nakanishi close out the show with a promo.
NJPW LION'S GATE PROJECT 5 ON MAY 9, 2017
Decent - 6.5/10
I think that Lion's Gate Project 5 coasts around where the last show ended up. It's a decent show that's incredibly breezy to sit through. It was a one match show in terms of quality in Kojima-Yoshida (watch it), much like Sugiura-YOSHI-HASHI (watch it) was for last time. Although the undercard was possibly a little weaker, we got another good YOSHI-HASHI final boss type of match, alongside a similar as last show main event.