By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Road”
June 21, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Streamed live on New Japan World
This show has no English commentary. The two featured matches were Taiji Ishimori defending his IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title against Hiromu Takahashi, who earned the tile shot by winning the Best of Super Juniors tournament. The other big match was Tomohiro Ishii vs. Clark Connors, with the winner heading to Chicago to compete at the AEW PPV for the newly created All Atlantic Championship.
1. Douki defeated Yuto Nakashima at 6:21. I mentioned this in my Monday review, but Yuto is tall and thick, not heavy, but thick like a football player, and he’s bigger than Douki. Yuto overpowered him with forearms and spin kicks to the chest, then he applied a Boston Crab at 5:00, but Douki reached the ropes. Douki fired back with a clothesline for a nearfall, and he applied his modified Triangle Choke to get the tapout. I think you’ll see a different result if these two square off again in three to five years.
2. Taichi defeated Ryohei Oiwa at 4:38. Taichi dominated early and applied a half-crab. Oiwa hit a dropkick in the corner and a nice gutwrench suplex. Oiwa applied a Boston Crab. Taichi caught him with a spin kick to the face to score the pin. Short and basic.
3. Dick Togo & EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi & Sho defeated Yoh & Yoshi-Hoshi & Hirooki Goto & Toru Yano at 9:17. Seconds into the match, Yano dragged a huge dog kennel cage from the back, with Togo already inside it. Eye-roll stupid Yano stuff. In the ring, the heels worked over Yoshi-Hoshi. Goto made the hot tag at 6:00 and brawled with EVIL.
Yoh entered and hit a flying forearm on Sho, then a neckbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. Yoh applied an ankle lock at 8:30, and Sho tapped out, but the ref was distracted by Togo. Sho nailed Yoh with his wrench, the ref turned around, and counted the pin. This was on the low end of my expectations. Luckily, I don’t think Yano was ever tagged into the match, so that’s good at least. Yano was thrown into the dog kennel after the match. The heels continued to beat down the babyfaces after the match. EVIL spoke on the mic in Japanese, and the heels celebrated before leaving.
4. “The United Empire” Aaron Henare, TJP, and Francesco Akira defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Jado, and Master Wato at 8:26. Akira and TJP showed off their newly-won tag titles. The UE attacked before the bell. Wato hit a huracanrana on Akira. Akira hit a plancha on Wato. In the ring, Akira hit a senton off TJP’s shoulders onto Wato at 2:30 for a nearfall. Henare entered and helped beat down Wato. Taguchi entered at 5:00 and hit his flying butt attacks on Henare. Taguchi hit a double DDT on two opponents. Jado entered at 7:00 and squared off with Henare, but he couldn’t knock Henare down with shoulder tackle attempts. Henare applied the Full Nelson, and Jado tapped out. The UE stays on a winning streak.
5. Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, and Bushi defeated Kazuchika Okada, Togi Makabe, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Kosei Fujita at 7:26. Okada’s quest to find quality tag partners continues. All eight brawled at the bell. Shingo and Fujita went one-on-one, with Shingo overpowering him with a hard shoulder tackle. Naito entered and continued the beatdown on Fujita. Bushi entered and applied a Boston Crab at 6:00. Makabe and Tenzan ran in the ring and tried to help but were pushed out. Fujita tapped out. I don’t think any of his partners were ever legally in the match.
* Intermission. All matches for the G1 Climax tournament were announced.
6. Tomohiro Ishii defeated Clark Connors to earn a spot at AEW’s Forbidden Door at 13:18. Stiff forearm exchange immediately. Connors hit the Monty Brown Pounce at 3:30 and they were both down. Connors hit a spear in the corner. The crowd is hot for this match. Ishii fired up and unloaded his forearms and chops as Connors was trapped in the corner. This became a chop-fest, with them standing mid-ring and exchanging blows. Connors finally dropped Ishii with a clothesline at 7:00.
Connors nailed his top-rope elbow drop for a nearfall. Connors leapt off the second rope and hit a spear for a nearfall. Ishii caught Connors with a knee to the gut, and they were both down at 8:30. Ishii nailed a release German Suplex and Connors was wobbly. They traded more forearm shots. Ishii hit a standing powerbomb for a nearfall at 10:00. Ishii hit a headbutt that dropped Connors.
Connors got an inside cradle for a two-count, then a German Suplex, but Ishii popped to his feet. Connors hit another spear! He set up in the corner and hit a running spear for a nearfall as Ishii got back to his feet. Connors hit a powerslam at 12:30. However, Ishii fired back with a hard clothesline for a nearfall. Ishii then nailed a brainbuster for the pin. Good match, but there was never any doubt in my mind that Ishii was winning this four-man mini-tournament.
7. Taiji Ishimori defeated Hiromu Takahashi to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title at 36:19. An intense lockup to start the match. Ishimori stalled on the floor. When Hiromu went to the floor, Ishimori grabbed the left arm and slammed it against the wood floor at 3:00. In the ring, Ishimori wrapped Hiromu’s arm around the ring post, and he slammed a chair against the arm. Hiromu writhed in pain on the floor; this has been slower-paced than expected, and an indication this is going long.
In the ring, Ishimori twisted Hiromu’s head at 7:00, and he kept Hiromu grounded. Hiromu hit a huracanrana. Hiromu tied up Ishimori’s neck while they were tied in the ropes. He then hit his shotgun dropkick from the apron the floor on Ishimori, and they were both down at 10:30. In the ring, Ishimori hit his sliding German Suplex as Hiromu was in the ropes. Ishimori hit a Lungblower move onto the damaged left arm and got a nearfall at 13:00.
They brawled to the floor, where Ishimori put Hiromu on his shoulder, and he rammed Hiromu shoulder-first into the ring post! Ishimori hit a moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Ishimori hit a standing powerbomb at 16:30. Hiromu hit a shotgun dropkick in the corner. Ishimori countered with a Canadian Destroyer. Hiromu immediately nailed an overhead release suplex, tossing Ishimori into the turnbuckle, and they were both down at 17:30.
They traded several, several stiff forearm shots mid-ring, and Ishimori got a jackknife rollup for a nearfall at 21:00. Hiromu hit his running Death Valley Driver into the turnbuckles. When he went for another, Ishimori escaped and he shoved Hiromu shoulder-first into the corner. Ishimori immediately hit a shoulderbreaker over his knee. Ishimori applied a Fujiwara Armbar, and he applied a crossface. Hiromu reached the ropes at 25:00 to cause a break.
They fought on the ring apron, where Ishimori nailed a piledriver. The crowd was going nuts. In the ring, Ishimori nailed a Lungblower to the chest for a nearfall at 27:30. Hiromu countered a move and locked in his modified Triangle Choke. Hiromu hit another Death Valley Driver into a turnbuckle, then an Air Raid Crash for a nearfall at 30:30. (The camera panned the crowd, who were clapping in unison, and it showed the building is packed.) Ishimori re-applied the Crossface. Hiromu got to his feet and hit a stunner to escape and they were both down.
They finally got up and hit simultaneous clotheslines. Hiromu hit a superkick and a stunner at 34:00. Hiromu went for his Time Bomb/modified Air Raid Crash, but Ishimori managed to reach the ropes to escape. They fought in the corner, and Ishimori hit a second-rope inverted DDT (OUCH!) for a believable nearfall. Ishimori immediately hit a Lungblower to the chest and scored the pin. Really good match, and I am surprised at the outcome.
* Ishimori spoke in Japanese. Suddenly, a video package played, showing Kushida! Kushida then walked to ringside in street clothes, and the crowd was going NUTS at seeing him for the first time in years. Kushida got in the ring and spoke on the mic while looking at Ishimori. They stood toe-to-toe and argued, before Kushida rolled out of the ring and headed to the back. Ishimori slammed his ice pack on the mat. The camera panned over to El Desperado, who was apparently on Japanese commentary. Ishimori then put on his belt and left, to conclude the show.
Final Thoughts: This show was built around one match, and it delivered. Yes, it started a bit on the slow side, but the last 15 minutes were fantastic. Everyone expected the Kushida return at some point, but it was a great surprise nonetheless. The Ishii-Connors match was good, and earns second-best here, but it really shouldn’t take Ishii that long to put Connors away.
Dear Tomohiro: Please get on a plane right now, so I can see you Wednesday in Milwaukee. Thank you!
The rest of the show was simply there; I wouldn’t describe anything in the first half as a “good match.” The show ran about two-and-a-half hours.