The Road to Invasion Attack has been a fun-filled one, with two great shows (3/19 and 3/20), as we now approach one of the final stops on the tour; a Bullet Club vs. NJPW themed one. Multiple special singles matches are booked to coincide with said theme, Elgin vs. Hall, White vs. Omega, Tanahashi vs. Takahashi, Honma vs. Fale, and lastly Makabe vs. Tonga. Also typical multi-man tags fill out the rest of the card. Without further ado, let’s get into the show.
This shall be classified as a better than usual opener. This mutli-man was awesome, and emphasized on two great things: Liger being a face in peril, especially at his age now, and Tomohiro Ishii mixing it up with junior heavyweights! Finlay, Roppongi Vice, as well as Yano all worked We Are Suzuki-gun 2 so this was their second match of the night. Liger was beat down by CHAOS and worked over until the hot tag was given to KUSHIDA, but, it all came down to young lion Finlay trying to overcome the odds. There was a hilarious bit where Ishii fell down because of all the momentum he built up for a lariat on KUSHIDA, and the two worked around the bit like pros. Finlay was able to get uppercuts in and turn the tide, only for the match to turn into a sprint, only for Yano to hit a few guys with a pad and Finlay got rid of him to massive reaction. Roppongi Vice pinned Finlay with Strong Zero.
It was three mix around the card guys and NEVER Champ Shibata taking on the oldest generation of active competitors that have been vying to win gold this year. Watch that Kojima and Shibata match if you haven’t yet and read my review. No problems with this one either. Albeit not as good as the more workhorse type of opener, this combined comedy and the fantastic Shibata vs. older generation feud going on. It was very fun to see all four of them tag together, and it got to the point where I forgot Captain New Japan was even in the match…which was a good thing. Juice showed up and delivered some good work, he felt more natural here than per usual. Shibata was the star of the show and lit up Korakuen with his Kojima and Tenzan interactions. Tenzan was booted on more than one occasion. Captain New Japan was the obvious fall guy, and was pinned by Nagata after a backdrop. Also, Nakanishi did a double suplex to Captain New Japan and Taguchi. Insanity!
This was a milestone for Cody’s career as this is his first ever singles match in New Japan. I don’t think you could have chosen a better opponent than Elgin for this. This was alright. It must be so hard to work a hoss pace like that with a Cody, who’s green, and who is awkward still in his movements. He always shows potential and is a modern big man with moves like a slingshot splash. The story that was constantly told was that Cody would try to go for big time moves and one up Elgin, only to be out wrestled and out strengthened. This made for some ridiculously feats of strength like an Elgin deadlift German to Hall. Hall slipped out of that and was hit with a dropping powerbomb and pinned. This was like a half young lion half hoss battle with Cody slipping through the cracks at times and Elgin bringing him back as the ring general.
This was a good match. The opening minutes where Omega took control, and the finishing sequence were both fantastic, but the middle parts of the match with White in control and Omega playing bottom felt unneeded and quite bore-ous. None the less, the match still delivered, and Kenny Omega is even more entertaining on shows with no commentary because you hear all the banter, including him calling Jay White a jobber and asking Tiger Hattori why he’s getting these matches. Omega did the same spot he did with Juice which was the mat wrap stomp. The finishing sequence was insane with Omega attempting the One Winged Angel, not hitting, hitting a knee but Jay kicking out and locking in both a crab and a crossface. Omega got out of that and hit one last knee that knocked Jay out, and pinned him to win. After the match more banter occurred with Omega explaining it’s too hard when the Bucks aren’t in Japan, he’s blown up, and he needed the first taxi home.
This was house show Tanahashi vs. house show Yujiro, which on the scale of Yujiro’s talent, still is at an all time low. This was maybe not even OK, but I’ll call it OK because the fans always get behind Tanahashi in whatever he does. Yujiro jumped on Tanahashi during his ring introduction and the match morphed into a brawl until it was brought back into the ring. It was a big blur all from there, with the finish being a Yujiro low-blow roll-up near fall being countered with the exact same thing except a Cross Rhodes and High Fly Flow combo as Tanahashi went over in the most unpredictable result of all time. You already know you can skip this without any consequence. Unless if you’re somehow a fan of this matchup, and Yujiro with no valet, watch this(?)
This was a decent match that really picked up for the finish. Nothing miserable to sit through, although at times I was twiddling my thumbs a bit. Honma and Fale being stiff was great, as I also think Honma has an underrated working punch. They played up the underdog dynamic as expected, with Kokeshis being landed and Fale fighting through to overpower Honma. We had some outside brawling segments, we had the crowd get behind Honma and all was right. The finish was a hoot with Fale going for Bad Luck Fall, but being reversed into a landslide in which the weight was too much to keep in tact. Fale dismantled Honma with a lariat that flipped him inside out, and hit Bad Luck Fall for the win. A decent outing with fun hope spots, a little bit of brawling, and a suburb ending.
After a stretch of indifferent and alright matches, this was a nice mix-up, as the two had a solid match as expected, that nearly became great if it wasn’t for the disqualification finish. Makabe and Tonga are nitty gritty and like to fight, and in all of their interactions it’s clear they have good chemistry. We had lariats, Germans, whips into barricades, and tons of enjoyable back and forth. Makabe finally got in control and hit the tree of woe German suplex. As he went up for the King Kong Knee Drop, Tanga Roa, Tama’s brother and new tag partner interfered for the DQ. The two beat on Makabe and no one made the save. After such, Tama got in the mic and briefly put themselves over. An effective match and angle to setup the tag title match at Invasion Attack.
This has been the same rotating main event on a lot of New Japan’s recent shows, as Tomohiro Ishii was inserted in some instead of YOSHI-HASHI which was a much more intriguing combination. This was a really solid main event, although the 3/19 tag was so much more fun than this and did a better job. This was not too memorable sans Naito being AWESOME (even more awesome than usual), throwing Gedo back through the curtain, spitting on Okada multiple times, looking as slick as ever in the ring, etc. There was a loooonnnnggg heat segment on YOSHI-HASHI which automatically brought the match down because it was YOSHI-HASHI and there’s no believably in him as a babyface. However, the closing stretch at least made sense and played to the fans, but still looked off because YOSHI-HASHI survived multiple near falls even on his own, but a lot due in part to Hirooki Goto. The Okada and Naito sections were brilliant. There was so much Ingobernables merch in the crowd you’d think it was a produce show. The chants were exactly 50/50 down the line, blurring the lines which added to the mood. The finishing sequence after HASHI was saved multiple times saw a ref bump, EVIL hitting an STO on Goto, Okada coming back in only to be misted, and smashed in the balls (there was a huge echo). YOSHI-HASHI was pinned by Naito after a Destino.
CHAOS was laid to waste post-match, with Gedo eating a Codebreaker and already misted Okada getting a special Destino.
That was the show. It wasn’t a bad show, but is completely skippable. The opener might have even been match of the night. Go out of your way to only watch that, White vs. Omega, the tag angle if you really wanted to, and the main event if you want to see Naito be Naito. Other than that, the 3/19 show with Shibata and Kojima on top destroyed this show and made it look amateur. Still though, the Road to Invasion Attack has been a fantastic tour with many different iterations of matches and feuds that makes New Japan refreshing. Until next time.