It’s the last time on what has been an excellent tour for New Japan Pro Wrestling. These strings of shows don’t typically deliver on “really good” type of levels, but a lot of these Road to shows, more specifically, the 3/19 kickoff show, was what set the pace for a bunch of fun, easy to take in, and hyper active events. Now it’s time for the final Road to Invasion Attack, with two young lion matches, a bunch of multi-man tag chaos as per usual, and an Elimination Tag co-main event which sees Team NJPW vs. Team Bullet Club. Without further ado, let’s get into the show.
NJPW Road to Invasion Attack – 4/1/16
These two went from getting no reaction from the crowd to having a lot of crowd excited for the finish of the match. Kanemitsu looked unreal here, for a guy I knew nothing about aside a few basic facts in December; I pretty much predicted what his style was going to be. To my happiness, he DOES work like a brawler! He slapped Kawato around like no tomorrow, put him in treacherous holds, and really set the intense and desperation-esque pace for them match. This was one of the best young lion prelim matches I’ve seen in a long time. Kawato makes for a great face in peril even at this stage, because when Kanemitsu beats the shit out of you and applies all these holds to a smaller guy; it automatically is magic. There were so many cool spots like Kanemitsu going for another shoulder tackle only to be countered into a roll-up sequence, and smart Teruaki automatically grabbed the rope he was next to ecscape the pin. The finish saw an epic Crab submission from Kanemitsu that Kawato almost got out of twice, but was reeled back in to stomps and a final winning grip of the hold. Fantastic young lion work!
These two always have decent-great matches, and this one was more towards the decent toned down side. However, it was refreshing to see a different dynamic within the match, as David Finlay was the one to control a lot of the match. White seemingly fell for almost all of Finlay’s tricks, getting put in Crabs, uppercutted to appease those who put up Finlay’s “King of Uppercut Style” banner in Korakuen, and more European offense. However, the story told is that Jay White always manages to beat Finlay. He did again…and again with a Crab was the result. The finish was spectacular, with a sequence that saw Finlay put White in the Finlay roll position, only for White to slip out in a roll-up position; turning it into a Styles Clash position, then locking in the Crab for the victory.
Short match but alright. CHAOS as a unit worked over all three guys at a time, with Liger not doing much in the match, Tiger Mask not being grumpy again and hitting a mean Tiger Driver, and KUSHIDA playing the hot tag/junior ace roll, coming into the match when it mattered, saving his team. Gedo was in the ring a lot and was still very solid. Romero was entertaining per usual, even almost completely unmasking Tiger Mask after coming to the ring as Black Tiger to toy with him. Stuff like that gives more meaning to these tags. The finish saw a Gedo Clutch reversed into a Hoverboard Lock, which was turned into momentum roll-ups; however, KUSHIDA used the ropes as leverage for the tornado Hoverboard Lock, hitting Tiger Mask off the apron in the process (yes, they’re on the same team). Faces and junior ace win. CHAOS worked very heel-ish.
This was a fun no frills tag as expected from someone like Toru Yano being in the tag. It brought out a few laughs from myself as well as “WTF was that?” reaction to whatever YOSHI-HASHI was trying to do, aka hit an axe-inspired attack that whiffed. He was indeed the worst worker in this match. Nagata and Yano bantered each other the whole way through and found their ways out of each others’ tricks tons of times to everyone’s entertainment; more particularly Nagata managing to evade Yano. However, he was Irish whipped into the exposed turnbuckle more than once, and his sell was hilariously amazing! Nakanishi is never bad in these tags, he just moves slow, which to some critics means he’s unable to perform. The finish saw Nagata hold YOSHI-HASHI back whilst Yano held the ref whilst he was being German’d, allowing for the ref to be distracted, which led to a low-blow roll-up of Nakanishi for the cheap CHAOS win. Fun, short, simple stuff.
Great tag match! At first I was skeptical and thought we’d be getting too much Taguchi, but Taguchi turned into a transitional near fall man that the crowd ate up, and Katsuyori Shibata and Hiroyoshi Tenzan made my SO much more hyped for their Invasion Attack than I already was, somehow. Shibata and Tenzan continued to battle the whole way through, with Taguchi working his unique parody style, but also getting some really effective offense in. We got two excellent near falls with hip attack galore, including a stolen elbow drop signature! Shibata was hit with the 3D after fending off both TenKoji members for a bit, and Taguchi ran back in to steal the show, only to be lariated to hell by Kojima for the victory. A post-match brawl broke out, and my lord was it incredible. There were so many teases, and Shibata locked in a sleeper on Tenzan whilst all the young lions tried to separate them. Once again, let me reiterate … I’M STOKED!
The last time an Elimination Match happened on a Road to, Tomoaki Honma nearly survived and won the match! Speaking of great ideas and great matches, this repeated the trend of such. This was so much fun to watch, and you could tell the guys were having fun with the match stipulation too. Takahashi was Elgin Bombed for the first elimination after Kenny tried to save him but was fallaway slammed. Omega got booted off the apron but Bullet Club caught him, so the result was Elgin doing a suicide Death Valley Driver with Omega onto Bullet Club to eliminate himself and Kenny. Spot of the match. Tonga made Juice slip off the top rope, which led to a momentum shift and an assisted Headshrinker DDT for the elimination. Roa eliminated Honma after Tonga distracted him. Makabe eliminated Roa and Makabe and Tonga took themselves over the rope for another double elimination. This came down to Fale and Tanahashi, and maybe at the time I groaned a bit, but it became an awesome final stretch. Fale threw Tanahashi over the ropes but Mr. Ace did the HBK comeback complete with his moves, but, when he went for a High Fly Flow it was reversed into a chokehold which led to a Samoan Spike for a kick out, then a spear from Fale, and the second Bad Luck Fall attempt was countered into a roll-up for the Team NJPW victory. It’s weird how this wasn’t the main event, and in the co-main slot, but it was so much fun to take in. Tanga Roa had a successful in-ring debut, everybody played their roles perfectly, Elgin vs. Omega was alluded to, the tag feud balanced itself out, and the finish with Fale and Tanahashi was the best work they’ve done together. Watch this when you can for sure.
This was the standard 6 man tag done on this tour with some final twists. We got lots more Okada and Naito, as this was the broadcasted go-home show for Invasion Attack essentially. BUSHI bled from his mouth, which in turn made for some warrior-like images with him bubbling in the mouth and Goto and Ishii having blood stains on some of their body – nothing too intense though. Goto got tons of in ring time and is starting to look like a natural fit in CHAOS (my prediction says otherwise anyways as we’ll find out at Invasion Attack). Okada finally getting into the ring for the finishing stretch was awesome, and so was the typical get your shit in sequence where Ishii lariated the hell out of EVIL, nearly flipping him as per usual. We had an excellent lariat near fall after Goto and Ishii were taking out, Okada had to power out of the EVIL lariat. Goto was Irish whipped into Red Shoes. He went for the STO, but Goto reversed it into the GTR! Ushigoroshi from Goto to Naito, a neckbreaker and elbow drop put EVIL down and a Rainmaker was given to BUSHI. A dropkick to the back of the head, a tombstone, and finally a Rainmaker put away EVIL for the CHAOS victory heading into Invasion Attack.
The end of the show saw Naito sit in a chair outside, only to sneak attack Gedo, who he toyed with all this time, taking Gedo’s scarf which he wanted from the get go. Okada fended him off and cut a promo to send the fans home happy.
Another fun and fairly easy to sit through, albeit almost 3 hours, Road to Invasion Attack. This sent the tour off on a high note, and we got fun stuff including two good young lions matches, multi-man fun all the way through, and a killer Elimination tag that was even better than expected. For all your NJPW coverage, as well as Invasion Attack coverage; you’re already in the right place – Wrestling With Words!