4/30 NJPW “Road to Wrestling Dontaku 2023” results: Vetter’s review of Sanada, Taichi, Douki, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi and Bushi in an elimination match, Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, Ren Narita, and Oskar Leube vs. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, and Tomoaki Honma

By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Road to Wrestling Dontaku 2023”
April 30, 2023 in Kumamoto, Japan at Grand Messe Kumamoto
Streamed on New Japan World

This is another large room with no second level, so maybe 600-800 all seated on the floor or bleachers on one side of the room; this might be a sellout as those bleachers sure look packed. There was Japanese-only commentary…

1. “House of Torture” EVIL, Dick Togo, Sho, and Yujiro Takahashi defeated Yoh and Ryohei Oiwa and “Bishamon” Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi at 9:19. The HoT attacked at the bell, and all eight brawled in and out of the ring. Former partners Yoh and Sho started off in the ring. Yujiro and Goto brawled on the floor at ringside, while EVIL and Yoshi-Hashi brawled near the entrance. In the ring, Sho grabbed Yoh’s groin as Yoh was being held upside down. EVIL entered at 4:30 and choked Yoh with a shirt and got a nearfall.

Yoshi-Hashi entered and hit his Headhunter flipping faceplant. Goto hit a suplex on Yujiro. Oiwa tagged in at 7:00 and hit a shoulder tackle on Yujiro, then a dropkick and a gutwrench suplex for a nearfall. EVIL hopped in the ring and distracted the ref, allowing Sho to hit Oiwa with his wrench. Yujiro then hit his Pimp Juice jumping DDT to pin Oiwa. Basic, but Oiwa continues to show so much promise.

2. “United Empire” Great-O-Khan, TJP, and Francesco Akira defeated Kevin Knight, Kushida, and Yuto Nakashima at 11:21. O-Khan has a short sword on his belt that looks far too dangerous. Knight and Akira started, with Akira hitting a flying leg lariat. TJP entered at 2:00, but Knight hit an incredible dropkick on Akira seated on TJP’s shoulders. Kushida’s team took turns working over TJP’s left arm. TJP hit a European Uppercut on Yuto, and the UE began working over Yuto.

Knight finally made the hot tag at 6:30 and he hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker over his knee on Akira, then a leaping slam on Akira for a nearfall. TJP and Kushida hit simultaneous clotheslines and were down. O-Khan entered at 8:30 and battled Yuto. Yuto hit some Yes Kicks to the chest and he applied a leglock, but Akira and TJP made the save. O-Khan bent Yuto backward and applied the Sheep Killer submission hold, and Yuto tapped out. Solid match.

3. “United Empire” Jeff Cobb, Aaron Henare, Mark Davis, and Kyl Fletcher vs. “The Mighty Don’t Kneel” Zack Sabre Jr., Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls, and Kosei Fujita at 10:51. Sabre and Cobb will square off Wednesday, and they started here with a knuckle lock and Cobb overpowered Zack. Fletcher and Davis passed an upside-down Sabre to each other. Haste entered at 3:00; he and Nicholls began beating on Davis at ringside, focusing on an injured (taped-up) left shoulder.

Fletcher entered at 6:30 and hit some Tiger Suplexes and was fired up, then a brainbuster on Haste for a nearfall. Fujita and Henare tagged in, with Fujita hitting a dropkick and a series of forearms in the corner. He went for a German Suplex but Henare escaped. Cobb and Sabre got back in and hit more forearm shots, then Cobb hit a Spin Cycle, sending Sabre to the floor. Meanwhile, Henare got a Full Nelson on Fujita, and Fujita tapped out.

* The lights went out while Davis and Fletcher were in the ring, celebrating their victory!! When the lights came back on, EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi were beating up Davis and Fletcher. Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi hit the ring to make the save. It is unclear where Cobb and Henare went; why are they not out here helping their teammates?

4. “The Bullet Club” Kenta and Taiji Ishimori defeated Hikuleo and Jado at 6:46. Again, Kenta and Hikuleo will square off on Wednesday for the NJPW Strong title, and they brawled on the floor to open, and Hikuleo accidentally chopped the ring post. The BC began working over Jado in their corner. Hikuleo made the hot tag at 4:00 and he cleared the ring. Ishimori applied an STF on Jado, and Jado tapped out.

* Immediately after the bell, Kenta repeatedly hit Hikuleo with a kendo stick across his back. David Finlay and Gedo ran to ringside and assisted in the beat down. That brought out Tama Tonga and Master Wato to make the save! Thus, our next match is immediately under way.

5. Tama Tonga and Master Wato defeated “The Bullet Club” David Finlay and Gedo at 6:25. Tama and Finlay brawled on the floor. The ref was busy sending the competitors from the prior match to the back. They finally returned to ringside, with the BC working over Wato in the ring. Tama hit some Stinger Splashes at 5:00. Tama hit a backbody drop on Finlay and ripped off his vest and he was fired up, and they brawled again to the floor. Meanwhile, Wato hit a top-rope flying elbow and a spin kick to Gedo’s head, then a top-rope corkscrew press on Gedo for the pin. Fun and short.

* Quick backstory: Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii are tagging on Strong Style for the six-man titles on Wednesday, but Okada needs to find a third for his team…

6. Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, and Tomoaki Honma defeated Oskar Leube and “Strong Style” Minoru Suzuki, Desperado, and Ren Narita at 11:21. Ishii and Desperado have been at odds for weeks now, going back to their match in the U.S., and they opened against each other. Suzuki tagged in and traded stiff forearm shots with Ishii. Yano tagged in brawled with Suzuki at 2:30, and Yano looked terrified. He almost immediately tagged out to Honma. Funny. Honma missed the Kokeshi falling headbutt on Suzuki. The Strong Style team began working over Honma.

Okada made the hot tag at 5:00 and he battled Narita, and Okada applied the Money Clip submission hold. Narita hit an overhead release suplex, then a Northern Lights Suplex. Desperado hit a Spinebuster on Okada, and Narita hit a T-Bone suplex on Okada for a nearfall at 7:30. Ishii entered and hit a German Suplex on Narita, and he went back to brawling with Desperado, with Ishii hitting a brainbuster. Okada hit a neckbreaker over his knee on Narita.

Narita went for his mid-ring Octopus, but Okada escaped, and Okada hit his picture-perfect dropkick. He set up for the Rainmaker clothesline, but Narita turned it into an armdrag. Really good sequence here. Oskar tagged back in and fought Yano. Leube hit his Hogan Legdrop for a nearfall at 10:00. Honma hit a headbutt on Oskar, and Yano immediately got a rollup for a nearfall. Moments later, Yano did get a rollup on Leube for the pin. The Okada-Narita and Ishii-Desperado exchanges were exceptional here.

* Okada got on the mic and announced that Hiroshi Tanahashi has been added to his team for Wednesday’s title match. Hiroshi has been cleared to wrestle. However, an angry Tomohiro Ishii stormed to the back. On his Twitter feed, commentator Chris Charlton explained to me that Ishii doesn’t want anything to do with Tanahashi or his faction. So … how is Okada going to make this team work??

7. “Just Five Guys” Sanada, Taichi, Douki, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru (w/Taka Michinoku) vs. “Los Ingobernobles de Japon” Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi, Bushi, and Hiromu Takahashi in an elimination match at 20:41. In NJPW rules, you can be eliminated by being tossed over the top rope to the floor. Hiromu Takahashi defeated Kanemaru and will now get a title shot Wednesday against Sanada. All eight brawled at the bell, but Sanada and Hiromu started in the ring, with Hiromu hitting a head-scissors takedown. J5G beat up Hiromu in and out of the ring. Taichi hit a hard kick to the spine at 4:00. Hiromu finally hit a dragon screw leg whip on Taichi.

Shingo made the hot tag at 7:00 and he hip-tossed Douki half-way across the ring. Shingo and Taichi renewed their rivalry, with Taichi hitting some spin kicks to the thighs. They fought on the ring apron, where Shingo hit a DDT, and they both crashed to the floor at 10:00, and both were eliminated. Douki got in the ring and he taunted Naito to come in; these two had a singles match a few days ago. Naito took his time, which just irked Douki. (Neither Bushi nor Naito have even been in the ring yet; Naito is still wearing his t-shirt.) Naito finally got in and brawled with Douki.

Douki hit a springboard-double elbow. Naito hit a basement dropkick to Douki’s back. Bushi finally got in at 13:30 and hit a basement dropkick on Sanada’s left knee. Douki hit a thrust to Bushi’s throat. Bushi went to climb the ropes, but Kanemaru tripped him and eliminated him. Naito then tossed Douki, leaving just Naito and Hiromu vs. Kanemaru and Sanada. Kanemaru tossed Naito. Hiromu and Kanemaru brawled on the apron, and Hiromu shoved him off, leaving us with just Hiromu vs. Sanada at 17:00.

They traded chops; Sanada tossed Hiromu over the top rope, but Hiromu held on. In the center of the ring, Sanada hit a TKO stunner for a nearfall at 19:30. Sanada applied the Skull End and swung Hiromu. Sanada climbed the top rope to set up for a moonsault. However, Hiromu hopped to his feet and pushed Sanada’s butt and sent him flying to the floor to be the sole survivor for his team. Good NJPW-style elimination match.

* Hiromu got on the mic and taunted Sanada.

Final Thoughts: Not a must-see show, but it continues to set the table for what looks like a really good show on Wednesday featuring Sanada vs. Hiromu Takahashi, Kenta vs. Hikuleo, Zack Sabre vs. Jeff Cobb, Tama Tonga vs. David Finlay, and a Never Openweight Six-Man Tag Title match.


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