NJPW Reviews

NJPW Road to Tokyo Dome 12/19/15 Review

So, this is actually the first New Japan show I have watched in full since the Best of the Super Juniors Final, but needless to say I am pretty pumped for this show. This show not only features Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata teaming up against Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii, we also have Mascara Dorada in probably his last singles match before returning to CMLL, battling local Los Ingobernable, BUSHI. So enough of my rambling, let’s get to this good looking Korakuen card!

Jushin Liger, KUSHIDA, & Jay White vs. Tiger Mask IV, Ryusuke Taguchi & David Finlay Jr.**3/4

This match had a lot of things I like, such as Liger, KUSHIDA and the Young Lions. However, my goodness Taguchi leaves an irk that no other wrestler can give me. I can’t stand the guy, it would be different if his entire offense was not ass based, but his ENTIRE offense is ass based. This match was pretty decent considering Taguchi was in for a large portion of the match, I’m talking like six of the nine minutes. I could watch White/Finlay do the graps with each other forever, both of those guys are so good and Finlay especially has improved a ton since Best of the Super Juniors. KUSHIDA and Liger were good as usual, and even Tiger Mask did nothing to offend me, so overall real solid opener with KUSHIDA pinning Finlay via a moonsault.

Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Yohei Komatsu vs. Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi & Sho Tanaka**1/4

This match was not on the level of the opener, granted the opener did not have the Nakanishi and unmotivated Tenzan hill to climb. I am real excited for the vets in this tag match to make their way to All Japan in the new year, simply because I think New Japan has gotten all of their use out of them and hopefully this lights a fire in the four of them. This match had its good stuff when Tanaka/Komatsu were in the ring together and I really enjoyed the finishing stretch with Tanaka versus Kojima. Going to be sad when these two Young Lions go on excursion next year (is everyone leaving New Japan!?) but of course it is necessary in the end. Team TenCozy get the win after Kojima hits a patented Cozy Lariat on Tanaka, nothing too exciting here but I enjoyed it for what it was.

Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Kazushi Sakuraba & YOSHI-HASHI**1/2

This is the last match for the tag title contenders (Makabe/Honma) until Wrestle Kingdom, so it went just about as expected. I guess I have not seen as much YOSHI-HASHI this year has I did last year, but he has added a good bit to hit moveset from what I can tell and I think he was easily the most exciting guy in this match to watch. Honma at one point hit Sakuraba with a Kokeshi while he had Makabe in a cross armbreaker which was PRETTY OK. Otherwise, this tag match was just kind of there, even though the Doomsday Kokeshi is great and YOSHI-HASHI took it like a champ. That followed by a King Kong Knee Drop give the number one contenders a needed win before Wrestle Kingdom.

Hirooki Goto & Juice Robinson vs. Tetsuya Naito & EVIL***

This match was the first really solid match of the night, which is surprising as I am not the biggest Goto fan in the world. This is my first time seeing Robinson since this year’s Best of the Best in CZW, but from this match alone he looks like he has improved a good bit. Naito and EVIL make a real solid tag team, as I have always liked Naito and the few matches that made tape from EVIL during his excursion was enough to make me a fan (all it takes are some sweet looking STO’s and German Suplexes). Naito acted like a proper dickhead in this match heading into his match with Goto at Wrestle Kingdom and EVIL/Robinson carried most of the match, and that was some good stuff. Naito popped me whenever he attacked Captain New Japan, because that shit was great and there is no way anyone can disagree with that, it is impossible. EVIL pinned Robinson after one of his beautiful STO’s as Naito attempted to take a nap in the ring. Los Ingobernables de Japon es tranquilo, tranquilo es Los Ingobernables de Japon.

CMLL World Welterweight Championship: Mascara Dorada (c) vs. BUSHI***3/4

Oh man, this lived up to expectations and then some. Before the match even begins we get Naito being great and BUSHI of all people bullying Goto around, it is exceptional. They work this match like a typical lightning match except the big spots actually mean something because this is a title match! I love how in 2015 I can still pop for some of the crazy shit luchadors bust out, like BUSHI hits an all time great DDT in this match and oh man. People forget how great Dorada is, and it sucks that he did not get more chances to shine in singles matches in New Japan outside of a few (The Omega title match from Invasion Attack is great if you have not seen it). This match had a ton of great stuff plus you had Naito and Goto brawling at ringside, which is always a plus in my eyes. This match never had any lulls in it and was just a great lucha title match contested in the confines of lightning rules and in New Japan at that! BUSHI winning the title from Dorada I thought was a bit surprising as well considering Dorada is going back to CMLL next month, and I can only hope BUSHI gets the chance to defend it a few times in the new year. Very good match that you should go out of your way to watch.

Shinsuke Nakamura & Toru Yano vs. Cody Hall & Yujiro Takahashi**3/4

This match did its job, in theory, but I can only sigh at the fact this was the semi main event. Nakamura actually looked surprisingly motivated for a year end house show, but I guess he is asking for a big present from Santa Claus this year. Also, did the New Japan locker room share the same bottle of hair dye or something? Last time I saw both Yano and Takahashi they had blonde hair, and now it is some generic dark color? Ok fine, oh yea this match was decent besides the fact Cody Hall botched a huge transition spot, but he is still young and his discus lariat is good so I’ll let it slide THIS TIME. Nakamure and Yano going over was expected and Yano shows that the Briscoe Brothers will be his partners at Wrestle Kingdom (something I predicted weeks ago!), which just makes 2016 the most magical year in pro wrestling history already and we are still two weeks out from it.

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii****

Oh man was this match good. Like every New Japan tag main event, they of course started with the slow feeling out process before going absolutely crazy with it. That last few Korakuen year end tags have been great and this was no exception, as all four guys gave a great performance. Tanahashi legit looked great here, he didn’t try to do too much but at the same time knew when to do his stuff, and the result of that mixed with the Shibata versus Okada/Ishii interactions great. The last ten to fifteen minutes in particular are just straight fire, and this crowd ate up every single second of it. Shibata came off looking like a champ and I can only hope that Gedo decides to finally give him a singles title and not lose it in a month back to Ishii because that would get me FIRED UP. Great tag team main event to close out New Japan’s 2015 with, with Shibata/Tanahashi getting the win after a High Fly Flow and Penalty Kick combo on Ishii, giving both men the upperhand as they head to the Tokyo Dome.

Overall, this was a really fun watch, and clocking in at just over two hours makes it real easy to sit through as well. I am super hyped up about Wrestle Kingdom this year and this show actually built up my excitement for it. Even though all the matches were not the best, they all did the job intended and none of them were outlandishly bad. Take that with the awesome BUSHI/Dorada match and the hot main event and you have a show I recommend checking out. Thanks for checking out the review and remember, tranquilo.

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