Recently I was asked if I would do a mix of some of the bigger NJPW matches this week leading up to the Dontaku shows in early May. The matches looked pretty fun so I figured why not. Also, I have no life, so…Anyway, the matches we have are:
-Aaron Henare vs SANADA (4/26)
-Tetsuya Naito vs Great-O-Khan (4/26)
-Toru Yano vs. EVIL (4/28)
-Rappongi 3K vs Suzuki-gun (4/28)
Away we go.
From: Road To Wrestling Dontaku – 4/26/21
Hiroshima Sun Plaza Hall, Hiroshima
Commentators: Kevin Kelly
Aaron Henare vs. SANADA
I feel like Aaron is not a common wrestling name. Points for anyone who can name 5 wrestlers named Aaron, because I only came up with 3. First big singles spot for Henare as part of the United Empire. Henare attacks before the bell outside and sends SANADA into the barricade on all sides. Back inside, SANADA manages to get an atomic drop and quickly gets the Paradise Lock. He gets the crowd riled up before hitting a low dropkick and Henare bails to the outside. He quickly avoids an attack and kicks SANADA down to the floor. Henare wraps SANADA’s leg around the barricade and kicks it, as Ospreay comes out to ringside. Back in, Henare maintains control with some strikes and gets a deadlift vertical suplex for two. More work on the left leg of SANADA ensues leading to a leglock but SANADA eventually makes the ropes. SANADA tries to fight back and hits a low dropkick to Henare’s leg and then hits a proper dropkick to send Henare outside. SANADA follows with a plancha and rolls Henare back in. Springboard attempt is avoided and Henare catches him with a knee in the corner. Some front kicks to the chest knock SANADA down and gets two. PK attempt is missed by Henare but he catches a Berserker Bomb for two. SANADA tries to use his quickness to get the advantage and eventually gets a springboard dropkick which has both men down. Back suplex by SANADA gets a two count. He lays Henare’s legs on the top rope and hits a twisting suplex for two. Top rope moonsault but Henare rolls out of the way. Spear attempt is blocked and SANADA locks in Skull End, but Henare locks in a leg grapevine/neck crank hold to counter but SANADA won’t submit. To the top, Henare can’t get a superplex as SANADA knocks him off. SANADA tries a cross body but Henare rolls through and gets a fall away slam, followed by a PK. Rampage by Henare gets two. SANADA ducks a clothesline and catches Skull End again, which is quickly reversed by Henare into his own Skull End. Series of reversals lead to SANADA locking in Skull End again. Moonsault attempt is blocked by Henare with the knees up. They exchange strikes from their knees and then go toe to toe standing up, which is won by Henare with a spinning back kick. Streets of Rage attempt is countered by SANADA and a Tiger Suplex only gets one. TKO by SANADA followed by two top rope moonsaults for the win at 23:28. This was pretty ok but felt a bit long. *** I’m a SANADA fan but was surprised they didn’t put Henare over here to establish him more as a single.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Great-O-Khan
I will be referring to Great-O-Khan as GOK for this recap. GOK beat Naito in the New Japan Cup earlier this year. Naito enters in full suit attire, so you know he’s taking this one seriously. Cobb and Ospreay are at ringside to support GOK. Bit of a stalemate to start and they eventually lock up. To the ground after a clean break and they grapple there. GOK eventually grabs a leglock but Naito gets to the ropes. Naito grabs the advantage with a hurricanrana and grabs the ponytail of GOK, pulling back on it in a surfboard type hold, then chokes him with his own ponytail. They roll to the outside, where it’s back to the ponytail punishment. That’s some new type of psychology I’ll give them that much. GOK turns the tide with a slam on the floor and tosses him into the barricade. Naito beats the count at 19 and kicks out of a pin attempt at two. GOK then sits on Naito in the corner and puts Naito down with a shoulderblock for two. Naito comes back with an inverted atomic drop and neckbreaker to even things up. Combinacion in the corner gets two for Naito and he starts to work on the neck of GOK to set up Destino. Gloria attempted is countered by GOK with a biel, and a clothesline to the back of the neck. Naito is hung in the tree of woe in the corner and GOK hits him with a low dropkick for two. Dragon Sleeper attempt by GOK is reversed, followed by Naito getting a dropkick to put both guys down. Inverted DDT on the back of the knee by Naito, further going after the neck. Naito with a top rope hurricanrana for a two count. Naito charges but gets caught with a flapjack and both men are down. Again. Inverted vertical suplex by GOK gets two. Chops from GOK but Naito gets a swing DDT and Ospreay yells some instructions at GOK from ringside. Hopefully those instructions were to move faster. Naito with elbows and Esperanza, followed by Destino for only two. Enzuigiri and lariat by Naito. He slugs away but GOK catches him going for a flying forearm and slams him down. Big boot gets two for GOK. Backbreaker into a neck vice of sorts. Tenzan Tombstone Driver gets a close two for GOK. Eliminator attempt by GOK is countered into a modified Destino for two. Naito hits a full throttle Destino for the win at 27:05. Do all Naito matches need to go 20+ minutes or is he like Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and needs 15 minutes just to get warmed up? Anyway, this was a bit slow and longer that it should have been. **½
From: Wrestling Satsuma no Kuni – 4/28/21
Nishihara Shokai Arena (Kagoshima Arena), Kagoshima
KOPW 2021 Provisional/Creation of Darkness Blindfold Match: Toru Yano vs EVIL
Yep. I much prefer LIJ-EVIL to Bullet Club-EVIL. Yano is the REIGNING AND DEFENDING KOPW. I’m going with Japanese commentary here so bear with me. They try to put the blindfolds on each other to start but that leads to a stalemate and Yano undoes the turnbuckle pad. He puts the blindfold on EVIL and schoolboys him for two. If only that were the finish. EVIL gets the hood on Yano now and Togo gets in a shot from the outside. To the floor now Evil grabs a chair and swings for a homerun as both men are hoodless now. EVIL ties Yano to the barricade with wrist tape and covers him with the hood again. EVIL stomps and chokes away as the young boys untie Yano. The hood goes on the ring announcer now and he gets knocked over. In the ring now EVIL gets a two count and stomps away. Yano is hooded once more and EVIL applies an abdominal stretch with assistance from Togo on the outside. Another two count on Yano as the hood comes off once more. Yano tries to fight back but that fails and he’s put to the outside where Togo goes to work. Yano (w/ hood) manages to beat the count back in where EVIL maintains control. EVIL tries a lariat but Yano has made EYEHOLES in the hood and ducks, sending EVIL into the exposed corner then into Togo on the apron. EVIL charges into the exposed buckle again, but the ref blocks a low blow attempt from Yano, so Yano puts the hood on him. That allows Togo to run in and attack Yano, followed by a low blow from EVIL. Low blow from Yano and now both men have the hoods on. Togo staggers to the back, apparently having enough of this malfeasance. Both men de-hood as Yano gets an inverted atomic drop, a slingshot into the exposed turnbuckle and then places the hood on EVIL. The lights now go out, and when they come back on, EVIL has the hood on Yano and is choking him out. Lariato! from EVIL gets two and he applies a Sharpshooter. Yano won’t submit however so EVIL breaks. The ref gets put down and Togo is back for some interference. Yano gets a double low blow, covers up EVIL with the hood and pushes Togo into him. EVIL then hits Everything is EVIL on Togo. Another low blow from Yano, and a schoolboy gets the pin at 14:58. * Well, the right man won is all I can say.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Rappongi 3K (Sho & Yoh) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
Yoh and Kanemaru start. They trade arm wringers and Yoh does some flips to counter out. Desperado attacks from behind and we get some double team attempts but Yoh is able to fight them off and hit Kanemaru with a dropkick. Sho in for a double team move which gets foiled and Kanemaru goes to work on the left knee of Yoh. Tag to Desperado and he continues to work on the knee. Kanemaru tags back in, attacking the knee himself using the corner post. Yoh manages to beat the count at 17 and tries to fight back which is quickly cut off by Kanemaru once more. Desperado back in and covers for a two count. Kneebreaker attempt is reversed into a sunset flip for two. Pele kick from Yoh puts Desperado down and he’s able to tag in Sho. He dropkicks Kanemaru out. Shoulderblock sends Desperado down. Corner clothesline followed by some front kicks get two. Desperado blocks a deadlift German attempt. Kanemaru pulls Sho out and stomps him on the railing outside. Dropkick to Sho while on the apron gets a two count. Camel clutch is applied but Sho is able to get to the ropes to break. Desperado tags out to Kanemaru as the punishment to Sho continues. Sho is able to turn the tide with a kneelift but can’t get the tag as Desperado cuts him off. Sho manages to get a double spear and tags Yoh in. Forearm and kip up, as I wait for him to tune up the band next, but only a neckbreaker follows. To the top for a missile dropkick on Desperado for two. They trade strikes with Desperado getting a spinebuster for two. Yoh backdrops out of a double underhook suplex try and gets a Falcon Arrow. He hits what kind of looked like a Better End, but Desperado manages to grab the knee as Kanemaru comes in for a dropkick and Desperado applies a Stretch Muffler on Yoh. Sho jumps in to break that up and now all four men are in. Desperado his a pumphandle for two. Yoh counters out of another suplex attempt and gets a Final Cut. Both men are able to tag out with Kanamaru taking an early advantage over Sho. Scorpion Death Drop by Kanemaru gets two. Spear from Sho gets two and he applies a Kimura lock. Sho with a wristlock and armbreaker, but Kanamaru gets a tornado DDT to counter. Kanemaru hits a top rope moonsault for two. Back to the top, he attempts..something but misses and all four men are in trading moves. Sho gets the three amigos and applies an armbar on Kanemaru. Backcracker and a dropkick from Yoh send Kanemaru down. Double knee followed by the 3K. Pin attempt is broken up by Desperado but he gets a double superkick for his troubles. Yoh with a tope con hilo onto Desperado, leaving Sho with Kanemaru. Kanemaru gets several pin attempts for two, but then lariated down. Shock Arrow by Sho gets a two count. Rappongi 3k then gets the Strong X for the win at 27:10. ***¾ I liked this a little better than their last match at Genesis.
Overall Thoughts: The tag title match was very good, and I enjoyed the Henare/SANADA match. The others weren’t for me but if you are a Naito completist then have at it.
Final Rating: 6.5 out of 10.
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