By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “New Japan Road”
July 3, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall
Streamed live on New Japan World
This show had Japanese-only commentary. Four undercard wrestlers missed the show due to COVID-19 or injuries: Yoh, Douki, Yuto Nakashima, Alex Coughlin. The good news, though, is that Tomohiro Ishii (leg injury) and Hiromu Takahashi (fever) were back in action after missing the AEW/NJPW Open Door PPV.
1. Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabi defeated Ryohei Oiwa and Tiger Mask at 10:52. Just another chance for the Young Lion to get some ring work. Togi put Oiwa in a half-crab, then he hit a powerslam on Tiger Mask. Homna hit his Kokeshi falling headbutt on Tiger Mask. Oiwa hit a nice gut-wrench suplex on Honma for a nearfall, then he applied a half-crab, but Honma reached the ropes. Honma applied a Boston Crab, sat down for added pressure, and Oiwa tapped out. Passable action.
2. Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Kosei Fujita, Master Wato, and Hiroyoshi Tenzan at 9:44. Suzuki beat up Fujita on the floor while Kanemaru beat up Tenzan in the ring. Master Wato tagged in at 5:00 and hit dropkicks on Desperado and a top-rope flying forearm on Kanemaru. Suzuki and Fujita traded forearm shots. Fujita applied a Boston Crab on Suzuki, but Minoru reached the ropes at 9:00. Suzuki leveled Fujita with a devastating forearm, then nailed the Gotch-Style Piledriver to pin Fujita.
3. Great-O-Khan and Aaron Henare defeated Bushi and Hiromu Takahashi at 10:34. I think O-Khan wanted Hiromu to kiss his foot; Hiromu pretended like he was going to, but then he attacked. Hiromu hit his shotgun dropkick in the corner. GOK hit his Mongolian Chops on both opponents. Henare got in and worked over Hiromu. Bushi got in and hit a missile dropkick at 8:00. Henare applied a Full Nelson on Bushi, who tapped out. It is clear that Henare has switched to the Masterlock as a finisher, moving away from a flying shoulder tackle maneuver he had been using over the winter months.
4. Sanada, Shingo Takagi, and Tetsuya Naito defeated Yuji Nagata, Clark Connors, and The DKC at 12:02. Naito and DKC started with standing reversals and DKC hit a spin kick. Connors entered at 2:30 and faced Shingo, and they traded chops. Team LIJ began working over Connors. Naito hit a Rude Awakening standing neckbreaker. Shingo hit a suplex for a nearfall at 6:00. Connors hit a spear and he made the hot tag to Nagata. Yuji hit a double-underhook suplex on Shingo, and they traded stiff forearm shots.
DKC entered at 9:30 and traded blows with Sanada, and DKC hit a missile dropkick. Naito hit an enzuigiri on DKC, and Shingo immediately hit a Pumping Bomber clothesline. DKC got a surprise rollup on Sanada for a nearfall. However, Sanada applied the Skull End, locking DKC’s head under his armpit then a body-scissors lock on the mat, and DKC tapped out. Best match so far.
5. EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, and Dick Togo defeated Hirooki Goto, Yoshi-Hoshi, and Toru Yano at 10:50. The heels attacked before the bell, and all six brawled on the floor. Goto and EVIL traded blows in the ring. The babyfaces did the silly gang-pile spot. The heels worked over Goto. Yano entered, took off a corner pad, and hit Togo with it at 6:00. Yano and Goto fought on the floor and back over to a large dog kennel we’ve seen at other recent shows. However, they returned to the ring.
Yoshi-Hoshi entered and hit a basement dropkick on Yujiro. Suddenly all six were brawling in the ring. Goto hit his neckbreaker over his knee on Yujiro. However, Yujiro nailed his Pimp Juice jumping DDT on Yoshi-Hoshi for the pin. I didn’t expect that; I presumed looking at these six, that Togo would eat the pin. Yano’s time in the ring was blessedly kept short.
6. Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii defeated Taichi and Taka Michinoku at 11:08. No wraps or leg braces or knee pads on Ishii. Ishii and Taka started, with Ishii laying in his hard chops. Taka hit a Mafia Kick on Okada at 3:00. The heels began working over Okada. Okada finally made the hot tag to Ishii at 6:30, and he hit a running shoulder tackle on Taichi. Taichi hit his hard kick to Ishii’s back, which of course, just ticked Ishii off. Taichi hit an enzuigiri on Ishii.
Ishii hit a running shoulder tackle on Taka. Taka nailed a superkick on Okada for a nearfall at 10:00, and he applied a Crippler Crossface. Ishii hit a German Suplex on Naito. Okada nailed his dropkick to Taka’s face, then he applied the Money Clip sleeper hold, and Taka quickly tapped out. Good match, and best part was Ishii seemed entirely healthy after missing Forbidden Door a week ago.
7. Kushida, Alex Zayne, and Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kenta, Taiji Ishimori, and Gedo at 12:55. This is Kushida’s first New Japan match in several years. Kushida and Ishimori started with mat reversals. Zayne and Gedo tagged in at 2:00, with Zayne hitting his corkscrew senton. Zayne hit a double huracanrana on two opponents. Suddenly, all six were brawling on the floor. The heels began working over Zayne in the ring.
Tanahashi made the hot tag to enter the ring for the first time at 9:00, and he hit a second-rope 450 Splash on Kenta. Kenta nailed a powerslam on Tanahashi. Kushida tagged back in and traded much quicker offense with Ishimori. They traded stiff forearms. Ishimori hit his handspring-back-spin kick and they were both down at 11:30. Kushida hit a handspring-back-double elbow on two opponents. Suddenly everyone was down on the ground, leaving just Kushida and Gedo in the ring. Kushida nailed a hammerlock suplex with a high bridge to score the pin. Very good match. Kushida spoke on the mic.
Final Thoughts: The main event was great. After the last New Japan show, I wrote that while we all knew Kushida was coming back, it still felt like a fresh surprise when he finally appeared. This main event stood out with the return of Kushida and Kenta (who has missed most of this year with injuries), and the use of rising star Zayne.
The LIJ match with Shingo gets second-best match of the night, and Okada and Ishii teaming up gets third-best. This was the first of three consecutive nights for New Japan. The show clocked in at two-and-a-half hours.