By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Road”
June 18, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Esforta Arena Hachioji
Streamed live on New Japan World
The attendance was an estimated 800-1,000, as the upper deck was fairly open, but the seating on the floor was full. With numerous talents already in the United States, this show was missing a lot of star power. No English commentary today. Luckily, I am up-to-date on the storylines.
1. Taka Michinoku defeated Kosei Fujita at 8:13. Young Lions never win, but Taka also never seems to win anymore, so this could be interesting. Basic mat reversals, as expected. Fujita hit a nice dropkick, and he applied a Boston Crab. He hit a belly-to-belly suplex for a believable nearfall. Taka applied a Crippler Crossface move on the mat, and Fujita tapped out. As basic as expected.
2. Tiger Mask and Tomoaki Honma defeated Clark Connors and Yuto Nakashima at 10:11. Yuto is thick, not fat. He has the overall size to someday be an upper mid-card guy here. Tiger Mask worked over the larger Yuto. Honma hit his Kokeshi falling headbutt on Clark at 6:30, then a face wash in the corner. Connors nailed his Monty Brown Pounce. Yuto entered and hit some spin kicks to Honma’s chest. Honma nailed a second-rope Kokeshi on Yuto for the pin. More basic action. After a good showing at BOS, Connors deserves better than this at this point.
3. Minoru Suzuki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Ryohei Oiwa and Tomohiro Ishii at 10:58. Ishii and Kanemaru started, with each avoiding each others big moves. Minoru and Oiwa squared off, with Suzuki no-selling Oiwa’s forearm shots. Suddenly, Minoru and Oiwa were fighting on the floor, while Ishii and Kanemaru also are brawling on the floor. Back in the ring, the heels worked over Oiwa. Minoru twisted Oiwa’s arm into a keylock and twisted Oiwa’s fingers at 5:00.
Ishii made the hot tag and he beat up Kanemaru with chops. Kanemaru kicked the back of Ishii’s knee and began working over the left leg. Suzuki entered at 8:00 and touched Ishii for the first time in the match. Oiwa made the hot tag and unloaded more forearm shots on Suzuki. Oiwa hit a nice gut-wrench suplex, and he applied a Boston Crab. Oiwa avoided a Gotch-style piledriver.
Suzuki applied a Divorce Court armbreaker, but Oiwa reached the ropes. Suzuki applied a half-crab on Oiwa, and Oiwa tapped out. Unfortunately, Ishii and Suzuki only touched for a few seconds here. Kanemaru grabbed a chair and beat Ishii on the knee after the match; these two have a singles match in the AEW mini-tournament.
4. Toru Yano, Yoh, Hirooki Goto, and Yoshi-Hoshi defeated Gedo, Dick Togo, EVIL, and Yujiro Takahashi at 9:00. All eight brawled at the bell. EVIL choked Goto with a shirt, and the heels worked over Goto extensively. Yano made the hot tag at 5:00, but he immediately removed a ring post cover and whipped it at the heels.
Yoshi-Hoshi tagged in for the first time, and he hit some team moves with Goto on the heels. Gedo nailed a kick to Yoh’s jaw for a nearfall at 8:30. Gedo got brass knuckles from the corner, and he punched Yoh in the gut with it. However, Yoh hit a superkick and pinned Gedo. Passable match. The Chaos team grabbed the NEVER six-man tag titles and held them above their heads, but eventually gave them back to the heels, and the heels scampered to the back.
5. TJP, Francesco Akira, and Aaron Henare defeated Master Wato, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Jado at 8:05. The heels jumped the faces from behind before the bell. Akira hit a plancha to the floor on Wato. In the ring, Akira hit a senton splash on Wato for a nearfall at 2:30, as the United Empire worked him over. Taguchi entered at 5:00 and hit his flying butt attacks on the UE. Jado hit a (hilariously weak) clothesline on Henare for a nearfall. However, Henare applied a Full Nelson, and Jado tapped out. I’ll be blunt, this didn’t live up to my expectations. Akira and TJP continued to jaw at Wato and Taguchi, as we eventually head toward them getting a tag title shot.
6. Sanada, Shingo Takagi, and Tetsuya Naito defeated Kazuchika Okada, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Togi Makabe at 13:21. Naito taunted Tenzan like he was a matador and Tenzan is a bull. Tenzan responded by hitting his Mongolian Chops. Shingo entered and traded stiff forearms with Togi Makabe. Okada then squared off with Sanada at 2:30, and they traded some good offense. The Chaos team began working over Sanada, with Togi applying a Boston Crab.
Naito made the hot tag at 7:30 and he hit a basement dropkick on Okada. Okada hit a running boot, and they were both down. Naito hit a standing neckbreaker on Makabe. Shingo tagged in and he worked over Togi. They traded forearm shots. Sanada hit a basement dropkick to Okada’s face. Shingo and Togi hit simultaneous clotheslines. Shingo nailed the Pumping Bomber clothesline on Togi for a believable nearfall. Shingo then nailed the Made In Japan sit-out powerbomb on Togi for the pin.
7. Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi defeated Sho and Taiji Ishimori at 14:37. Sho spoke on the mic before the match, then they all brawled on the floor. In the ring, Bushi hit a huracanrana on both opponents. The heels ripped the T-shirts off the LIJ guys and choked them with the shirts, and they extensively worked over Bushi. Hiromu finally made the hot tag at 6:00, and he hit a huracanrana on Ishimori.
On the floor, Hiromu hit a shotgun dropkick on both heels. Back in the ring, Hiromu and Ishimori traded mid-ring blows, and Ishimori hit a jumping knee strike to the jaw. Bushi made the hot tag at 9:00 and hit a missile dropkick on Sho, then a DDT for a nearfall. Bushi hit a Lungblower to the back and a high belly-to-back suplex for a nearfall at 11:00. Sho hit a German Suplex on Bushi, then a hard clothesline. Hiromu made the hot tag, and he nailed a jumping DDT move on Sho for a nearfall.
Hiromu put Sho on his shoulders and slammed him into the turnbuckles. Sho shoved Hiromu into the referee. Sho immediately went to his corner and got his wrench. However, Hiromu avoided being hit with it. Hiromu and Bushi hit simultaneous superkicks, and Bushi dove through the ropes onto Ishimori. In the ring, Hiromu hit his Time Bomb/modified Air Raid Crash on Sho for the pin. Good match and easily best of the show. Hiromu and Ishimori jawed at each other some more after the match.
Hiromu grabbed the mic and fired up the crowd with a speech to conclude the show.
Final Thoughts: New Japan’s June 12 “Dominion” was a really good show. This was not a good show. Not only were several top wrestlers missing, they spread out the three current Young Lions over the first three matches, making it clear who was losing those first three matches. I love TJP & Akira together, but they didn’t get to show off much here. I did find it interesting how long-time nemeses Ishii and Suzuki barely touched each other during that match, as they tried to put a focus on Ishii’s upcoming match against Kanemaru instead. The show clocked in at just under two-and-a-half hours.