New Japan Road 2020 – July 20th, 2020

Howdy!

Tonight, it’s our lead-up to this weekend’s Sengoku Lord! Multi-man tag action abounds, which is always one of New Japan’s specialties!

So without further adieu, let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?

Okay, so I’ll be straight up – I wasn’t going to do this show. It’s a build show with all tags, no singles matches, no title matches, because all of those are being saved for the Sengoku Lord this weekend, so I figured it wasn’t really worth the time, etc. 

On the other hand, I desperately want to finish higher than 3rd in the Doomies this year, so I’m gonna review shit until my fingers bleed and I catch Tommy Hall. And hopefully we both finish behind Jabroniville, who has been so absolutely killing it with his Joshi spotlight stuff that in a just world, we’re all playing for second place anyway. Seriously, his stuff is so tremendous, you should read it; it doesn’t matter if you know Joshi or not, you’ll learn something. But come back here afterwards and read this. 

Also, DICK MOTHERFUCKING TOGO is in the main event tonight, so there’s a reason to review it right there.

Anyway, let’s watch some tag matches! 

Yota Tsuji/Yuya Uemura vs Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima

Yeah, I think we all know how this one is gonna play out, don’t we? I assume the Lions play Rock/Paper/Scissors backstage to see who gets the honor of doing the job. Uemura has got IT, man. He’s got all the skill and fire that a guy needs to make it. Tsuji is fine, but Yuya is the guy to watch out of the current crop of Lions. He gets the closest near-fall with the overhead suplex, but alas, the upset is not to be as Kojima clobbers him with a lariat for the pin. (Tenzan/Kojima over Tsuji/Uemura, pinfall, 10:27)

THOUGHTS: **

CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii, SHO, Toru Yano) vs Togi Makabe/Gabriel Kidd/Ryusuke Taguchi/Tomoaki Honma

Kidd is our designated victim here. I’m actually glad to see YOSHI out here, as it was a sprain of the knee and not a tear, so now that I know he isn’t injured I don’t have to feel bad about mercilessly making fun of his bland ass. I know that it’s stupid and all, but I don’t care; I always mark out for the ‘Taguchi calls the play’ spot where he waves everyone into the corner like a 3rd base coach. And I get double the fun in this one, as Yano steals the spot from him and the CHAOS guys just tee off on Honma in the corner while Taguchi thinks everything’s going according to plan. Tremendous. Kidd goes for a crab on Yano but gets sent into the exposed buckle (shocker, I know), and Yano whacks him in the nuts with the ref’s back turned and rolls him up for the pin. (CHAOS over Makabe/Kidd/Taguchi/Honma, pinfall, 11:59)

THOUGHTS: **1/4

Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado/DOUKI) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi/SANADA)

This should liven things up. I think that Desperado and Shingo is going to surprise some folks this weekend – Despy can go, as witnessed by his match with Ishii in the first round of the Cup. I don’t expect Shingo/SHO level stuff, but there’s no reason they can’t get pretty close. Desperado’s new black/gold mask is the SHIT. He’s also still got Shingo’s belt with him, so I’m sure that Takagi will want that back. In fact, he does, as Despy taunts him with it, so Shingo punches him in the mouth before the bell. He beats up both guys for awhile, just looking great. I hope he’s next up for EVIL, assuming that Hiromu doesn’t get the job done. 

Desperado takes a cheap shot with a chair to the knee of Shingo on the floor, then they go to work on SANADA. DOUKI with the choking as I’m reminded that I don’t particularly care for Mr. DOUKI all that much. SANADA finally makes his escape and it’s a hot tag to Shingo, who comes in, albeit slightly hobbled due to his knee having been, you know, hit by a chair. He’s a house afire, but Despy goes to the knee and goes for the Stretch Muffler, but Shingo escapes. Second try and he’s got Takagi, but Shingo escapes again. Shingo to his feet and they have an awesome striking battle, ending with Shingo wiping Despy out with a lariat. Tags on both sides, and we get a pretty decent little back-and-forth between SANADA and DOUKI before SANADA slaps on the Skull End for the submission. (LIJ over Suzuki-Gun, submission, 12:40)

THOUGHTS: ***. Fun match, although with Desperado having the title shot, I probably would have had him go over SANADA – yes, I know that that’s probably crazy, but DOUKI could have whacked SANADA with the staff or something. I still would have had Desperado end the match getting the pin. Either way, this was more about Despy trying to injure Shingo before the title match. 

Post-match, Desperado lays Shingo out from behind with a right and steals the NEVER belt again. Shingo limps to the back.

Intermission to clean the ring. 

Bullet Club (GEDO/Yujiro Takahashi) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada/Hirooki Goto)

Oy. This may be a bit rough. For the record, GEDO is still wearing a Switchblade shirt, holding a Switchblade necklace, and carrying a Switchblade towel. I’m just saying, EVIL – don’t turn your back for very long, lest you get a proverbial knife in it. I’m willing to give the EVIL thing a shot, but I dunno about a renewed push of any type for Yujiro. I feel like that’s a ship that sailed long ago. 

Anyway, there isn’t much to the match, to be perfectly frank, but I’m still hoping for a decent singles match from Okada and Yujiro without GEDO in there to drag it down. Hey, I’m an eternal optimist. Bullet Club cheats like nuts, but GEDO gets his hand stomped on by Goto when he puts on brass knucks, and Goto finishes him with the GTR. (CHAOS over Bullet Club, pinfall, 11:48)

THOUGHTS: **1/4. They better have either A) a lot of smoke and mirrors ready for Okada/Takahashi, or B) Okada just goes out and proves he’s the best wrestler in the world and carries Yujiro on his back. We’ll find out. 

Post-match, Okada and Yujiro jaw back and forth. 

Master Wato/Hiroshi Tanahashi/Yuji Nagata/Kota Ibushi (w/ Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki/Taichi/Zack Sabre Jr/Yoshinobu Kanemaru)

WATO TIME~!!

Suzuki-Gun is done with their playing nice bullshit and attack before the bell. Warms my heart to see proper villains again. The Murder Dads start, but that quickly gives way to Sabre and Tanahashi. Sabre tortures the knee of Tana as Hiroshi screams in agony. In other words, it’s glorious to watch. Tana plays face-in-peril as Suzuki-Gun uses him as a personal stretch partner, just wailing on him as Suzuki laughs at Tana’s pathetic comeback. Finally, Tana manages to hit a desperation dragon-screw on Taichi and makes the tag to Ibushi, who comes in and kills everyone. 

Ibushi works over Taichi, but gets hit with a Saito suplex on his head. Both guys crawl for the tag, and it’s now Wato and Kanemaru. They do some stuff with Wato hitting a nice flying elbow off the top. Wato puts Kanemaru on the mat and goes for what LOOKS like a standing moonsault that got botched, but maybe it was a standing senton instead? That gets two, for what it’s worth. Wato goes up, but Suzuki comes in and eats the kid’s lunch, yanking him off the top into a choke, then a double-team with Kanemaru. Inverted DDT gets two. That proves to be the last gasp of Wato, as Kanemaru hits him with Deep Impact, pulls him up at two, then hits him with a brainbuster for the pin. Wato LOSES? What’s left for any of us to believe in now?? (Suzuki-Gun over Master Wato/Hiroshi Tanahashi/Kota Ibushi/Yuji Nagata, pinfall, 12:07)

THOUGHTS: ***. They kind of buried Wato a bit there, what with him taking Kanemaru’s finisher, then Kanemaru toying with him to hit another move and then getting the pin anyway. But this is New Japan, so I’m sure that’s not the intention – Wato probably goes over in the rematch. Regardless, this was what you would expect with mostly good work, albeit a bit on the shorter side. 

Post-match, Sabre and Taichi taunt Tanahashi and Ibushi with the tag belts, while Suzuki and Nagata beat the shit out of each other behind them. I love that everyone just ignores the Murder Dads beating each other up, like it’s something that just kind of happens all the time and they shrug their shoulders at it, not even trying to break it up. Although, if given the choice of trying to break up a fight between Suzuki and Nagata or doing, say, ANYTHING ELSE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, I choose anything else. Sabre tells Ibushi that he needs to find a new partner, as Tanahashi is done and they already beat him. 

But the Young Lions come in to break the fight up, so Suzuki beats up a Young Lion. You know, as he does. And then, in what is probably my favorite part of the show so far, everyone leaves the ringside area to go back to the dressing room…..and Suzuki and Nagata roll back into the ring and start fighting AGAIN. The Murder Dads RULE. More Young Lions are beaten up before Suzuki finally has enough and heads to the back. 

Main event time!

Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI/Hiromu Takahashi/Tetsuya Naito) vs Bullet Club (EVIL/Dick Togo/Taiji Ishimori)

EVIL’s new music SLAPS. I like creepy shit, and it fulfills that requirement. Hiromu Takahashi has sold how much this is ripping him apart in almost every action he has taken since the turn. He’s so good, it’s insane. The raw emotion that man displays ensures that he can get across what needs to be done without understanding a single word; he bows his head, glares, looks away, he’s near tears at various times. Togo is introduced as ‘the Spoiler’. Sure. He can call himself whatever the fuck he wants, he’s DICK TOGO. 

Sorry, but this is totally a markout moment for me. While I was not a huge Puro guy back in my tape-trading days, in addition to the BOSJs and J-Cups I did have, I had this one tape of nothing but random Michinoku Pro stuff that Togo was all over. I watched that thing into oblivion, and seeing Togo out there now just takes me back. 

Takahashi takes off his jacket to reveal…..a Bullet Club shirt! No! Naw, he was just faking it and he attacks EVIL to start us off, ripping the shirt off and choking him on the floor. We start proper in the ring and LIJ goes to work on Ishimori, triple-teaming him with Naito putting him in the Tequila Sunrise and forcing EVIL to come in to break it up. Naito makes the mistake of going after EVIL, allowing EVIL to necksnap him and destroy him on the floor. 

Back in and they cut the ring in half on Naito, beating him mercilessly and sending him into the exposed buckles. Naito comes back with a Boston Crab on Togo, but EVIL rakes his eyes to break that up. Tags on both sides, and here comes EVIL and Takahashi. Hiromu runs wild on Bullet Club, clearing the ring and then hitting a Falcon Arrow on EVIL for two. Death Valley Driver attempt by Hiromu is countered with a Greco-Roman hair pull from EVIL, and the King of Darkness goes to work now, sending Takahashi into the exposed buckles. 

Takhashi makes the comeback and drops EVIL with a lariat, tag to BUSHI. He comes in with kicks and sends EVIL to the floor, tope suicida by BUSHI sends EVIL to the barricade! Back in and LIJ hits a Doomsday Device, but Togo and Ishimori break up the pin. Everything breaks down and Togo chokes BUSHI out with the garrote, allowing Everything is Evil to hit and pick up the win for EVIL and the Bullet Club. (Bullet Club over LIJ, pinfall, 14:02)

THOUGHTS: ***1/4. I want to give EVIL a chance here. He’s got the perfect opponent this weekend, as there’s no one working better than Hiromu right now. My concern is that what we’re likely to get is more of a pure storyline match, where there will be a ton of Bullet Club interference to make sure that EVIL keeps the strap. This match had a decent arc to it with the right guy going over, but I would have rather just seen EVIL win clean. What, we need to protect BUSHI now? EVIL needs to cheat to beat BUSHI? C’mon. If he’s just doing it because he’s a sadist, i.e. he wanted Togo to choke BUSHI out, that’s one thing, but I’m not getting that from the match I just watched. I think EVIL probably should have just gone over clean here, to be honest. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: A medicore, if decent show with some fun tags. No matches went more than 15 minutes and the show breezed by, making it a good lead-in for Sengoku Lord, so mission accomplished on that front. Since there’s no way that I can possibly see it happening at all, I’ll just say it here: the absolute balliest thing they could POSSIBLY do ever would be to put Takahashi over. Will it happen? No, I don’t think so, but my goodness, there would be some ripe stories to tell if it did. Regardless, I expect a quiet show with some good matches this weekend and a successful first title defense for EVIL. 

I’ll be back this weekend for Sengoku Lord! See you all then. 

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote, 

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter