By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Road”
June 20, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Streamed live on New Japan World
There was no English commentary.. This event features the two semi-final matches to compete at AEW’s Forbidden Door, as well as a junior tag team title matchup. ALSO, the four seven-man blocks for the G1 Climax tournament were revealed.
1. Aaron Henare defeated Kosei Fujita at 5:05. Henare is much larger than this Young Lion. Fujita hit a nice powerslam for a nearfall. Henare applied a Full Nelson (Masterlock!) and Fujita tapped out. Very basic and short.
2. EVIL, Sho, Yujiri Takahashi, and Dick Togo defeated Toru Yano, Yoh, Hirooki Goto, and Yoshi Hoshi at 9:49. They did a humorous spot again where the Chaos guys pile the heels on top of each other and try to convince the ref to make the three-count. Yoh and EVIL traded good offense late in the match. Yoh got an O’Connor rollup on EVIL for a nearfall, but someone stopped the ref from making the count. EVIL then hit his Everything is EVIL rock bottom on Yoh for the pin. This was a good match with lots of quick tags, and no extended beatdown, so more action than typical eight-man tags.
3. Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, and Sanada defeated Ryohei Oiwa, Yuto Nakashima, and Kazuchika Okada at 8:44. Sanada traded offense with Nakashima. Oiwa may be more polished, but with his size, Yuto could be a bigger player long-term of these three current Young Lions. Shingo and Oiwa traded stiff forearms at 6:30, and Oiwa hit a nice gut-wrench suplex, then he put Shingo in a Boston Crab. Shingo hit a top-rope elbow drop for a nearfall. However, Shingo hit his Pumping Bomber decapitating clothesline on Oiwa for the pin. While the winner here was never in doubt, it was really good to see the Young Lions get a chance to mix it up with LIJ. Okada was barely in the match, which was fine, as this was more about getting his teammates some experience.
4. Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi defeated Taiji Ishimori and Gedo at 9:23. Hiromu and Ishimori jawed at each other before the bell. Bushi and Gedo started. Early in the match, Gedo and Bushi were brawling on the floor, while Takashi and Ishimori fought in a different spot on the floor. There was a lengthy beatdown of Bushi with basic offense. Hiromu made the hot tag at 6:00 to enter the match for the first time, and he hit a basement dropkick on Ishimori, then a shotgun dropkick from the ring apron the floor.
Back in the ring, they traded stiff forearm shots. Ishimori hit a handspring-back-enzuigri, and they were both down at 8:30. Bushi hit a Lungblower to Gedo’s chest, and Hiromu immediately applied his modified Triangle Choke on Gedo until he tapped out. Hiromu got on the mic afterward and continued to jaw at Ishimori, heading into their singles match Tuesday.
Intermission, and the blocks of the G1 tournament were revealed.
A Block: Kazuchika Okada, Jeff Cobb, Lance Archer, Jonah, Bad Luck Fale, Tom Lawlor, Toru Yano. That is a lot of beef in one block! Cobb and Jonah have had two really good matches against each other in recent weeks. Okada and Yano, loosely aligned, also will have to wrestle each other.
B Block : Jay White, Tama Tonga, Tomohiro Ishii, Taichi, Great-O-Khan, Chase Owens, Sanada. White gets to square off with his new nemesis Tama Tonga, and his Achilles Heel, Ishii. Tama also will get some revenge on former stable mate Chase Owens.
C Block: Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr., Kenta, EVIL, Hirooki Goto, Aaron Henare, Hiroshi Tanahashi. Stable mates EVIL and Kenta will have to square off. Sabre and Kenta had a GREAT heel-heel match last year, where they just kicked the heck out of each other, with neither of them being babyface for the night, so let’s see that happen again.
D Block: Will Ospreay, El Phantasmo, Juice Robinson, David Finlay, Yujiro Takahashi, Yoshi-Hoshi, Shingo Takagi. Juice will not only have to face his long-time partner Finlay, he will square off against fellow Bullet Club member El Phantasmo.
As one would expect, the four United Empire members in the tournament are spread out in four different blocks. Likewise, the three LIJ members (Sanada, Naito, Shingo), won’t meet in block action. With eight Bullet Club/House of Torture members in the tournament, it isn’t a surprise that they will have to face each other. Two notables not in this year’s field are Minoru Suzuki and Tanga Loa.
5. Clark Connors defeated Tomoaki Honma at 11:24 in a semi-final tournament match for a spot in the four-way for the AEW All Atlantic Title at Forbidden Door. Honma missed his first Kokeshi falling headbutt attempt at 2:30. Connors nailed his Monty Brown Pounce. He went for a spear, but Honma cut him off. Honma hit a Facewash running boot in the corner at 6:30, but he missed another Kokeshi.
Honma went for a powerbomb out of the corner, but Connors blocked it. Honma hit a headbutt and a clothesline for a believable nearfall at 10:30. Honma hit a flying headbutt to the back of Connor’s head. However, Connors nailed a spear and a powerslam for a believable nearfall. Conmors then nailed his one-armed powerbomb for the clean pin. Really good decision to give this recent Young Lion graduate a big singles win. This might be his biggest singles win in Japan. The action was what you’d expect with Honma’s limitations.
6. Tomohiro Ishii defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru at 19:08 for in a semi-final tournament match a spot in the four-way for the AEW All Atlantic Title at Forbidden Door. Kanemaru kicked Ishii in the face as he climbed in the ring, and they immediately traded some stiff reversals, with Kanemaru getting some early nearfalls. They brawled on the floor. In the ring, Ishii hit an overhead release suplex, and they were both down at 2:30. Ishii unloaded some stiff chops. Ishii hit a belly-to-back suplex. Kanemaru tried a couple European Uppercuts, but Ishii no-sold them.
Kanemaru hit a dropkick on Ishii’s left knee at 7:00, and Ishii sold the pain. Kanemaru began to target the injured knee. Kanemaru hit a moonsault for a nearfall, then he applied a Figure Four leglock at 11:00, but Ishii eventually reached the ropes. Ishii hit a shoulder tackle, and they were both down, with Ishii clutching his injured knee, at 13:00.
Ishimori hit a second-rope brainbuster for a nearfall. Kanemaru shoved the ref into Ishii, then he hit a DDT. Kanemaru took a swig of his alcohol, but Ishii avoided it being spit in his face. Ishii hit an enziguri, then a hard clothesline for a nearfall at 16:30. Kanemaru hit a low blow and got a rollup for a believable nearfall. Kanemaru leapt off the second rope and nailed a DDT for another believable nearfall. Ishii nailed a lunging headbutt that was SICK, and they were both down. Ishii hit a basement clothesline for a nearfall. Kanemaru hit another dropkick to the knee. However, Ishii hit another brainbuster to score the pin. Very, very good match.
7. “United Empire” TJP and Francesco Akira defeated Ryusuke Taguchi and Master Wato to win the IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles at 24:05. Wato unloaded stiff kicks to Akira’s back early. Taguchi rubbed his butt in his opponents’ faces. TJP tied up Taguchi’s legs, and he leaned back for a Muta Lock at 7:30. Akira hit a senton off TJP’s shoulders on Taguchi for a nearfall. The UE extensively worked over Taguchi. Master Wato finally made the hot tag at 12:00, and he hit a hurricanrana on Akira, then a flip dive to the floor on both UE members. Wato hit a top-rope flying elbow for a nearfall. Wato hit an impressive German Suplex with a high bridge for a believable nearfall at 14:00.
Taguchi accidentally hit Wato with a butt attack. Akira hit a German Suplex on Wato for a nearfall. TJP hit a forward Finlay Roll. Akira nailed a top-rope Spanish Fly on Wato, and TJP followed that up with a frogsplash on Wato for a nearfall, but Taguchi made the save, at 16:00. Wato hit a flipping slam on TJP for a believable nearfall. Taguchi made the hot tag and hit a springboard butt attack on TJP.
Taguchi hit an Implant Buster on TJP for a nearfall, then he applied an anke lock at 19:00. TJP was able to escape and he applied an STF, but Wato broke it up. Wato hit a top-rope missile dropkick on Akira. Akira hit a double stomp to Wato’s chest at 22:30. Akira missed his flying double knee strike. TJP hit another frogsplash on Wato, and Akira got a nearfall on Wato. Akira hit a moonsault to the floor on Taguchi. Akira then went to the top rope and hit a Doomsday Stunner on Wato to score the pin. TJP and Akira celebrated the title change.
* TJP got on the mic and spoke in Japanese! It wasn’t just two words either, it was several sentences. Akira also spoke in Japanese.
Final Thoughts: Two really good matches to headline this show. I’ll give Ishii-Kanemaru the slight nod for best match, but I wouldn’t argue with anyone who liked the main event more. While I fully expected Ishii to win, Kanemaru brought quite a fight. Heck, this match was better than any of Kanemaru’s nine Best of the Super Juniors tournament matches. While the main event was really good, I couldn’t help but think, during the match, how none of these four had a winning record in the recently completed BOSJ tournament.
I have said this before — the Young Lion matches against each other, or against the lower tier (Taguchi, Honma, Makabe, Tiger Mask, etc.), don’t keep my attention. I like the matches when they face the upper tier, like here with them getting to mix it up with Naito, Sanada and Shingo.
The G1 Climax block reveal was intriguing, and the A Block has some fascinating matches, especially with so many big men in it. The show clocked in at about two-and-a-half hours. Tuesday’s show will feature Ishii vs. Connors for a slot in the AEW tournament, plus Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori.