NJPW New Japan Road Day 1 Results & Match Ratings 2/20/2020

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New Japan Road is a bit of an unprecedented situation. Due to Tiger Hattori retiring February 19th and Manabu Nakanishi retiring on the 22nd; NJPW decided to make it a small tour.

Some days are just a normal “Road to” style show; but then we’ve got pretty great days like today.

Roppongi 3k defends the Junior Tag titles against the Mega Coaches; while Shingo Takagi will apply his force against Tomohiro Ishii, last one to die keeps the NEVER belt.

Let’s check out the New Japan Road!


New Japan Road Results:

  • Gabriel Kidd vs Yota Tsuji: Tsuji wins via Boston Crab @7:10 – **
  • Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado, Taichi & Minoru Suzuki) vs Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI, Yuya Uemura & Hirooki Goto: Kanemaru wins via Deep Impact @11:20 – *** 1/4
  • Tomoaki Honma, Toa Henare & Togi Makabe vs Toru Yano, Colt Cabana & Kazuchika Okada: Cabana wins via Superman Pin @9:00 – ** 1/2
  • Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tiger Mask, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs BUSHI, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito: Kojima wins via Cozy Lariat @20:40 – ***
  • Kota Ibushi, David Finlay, Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Guerrillas of Destiny, Bad Luck Fale & Jay White: Loa wins via Title Belt Shot @11:20 – ***
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Mega Coaches (Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi) vs Roppongi 3k (SHO & YOH) (c): 3k retain via Strong X @26:45 – ****
  • NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii: Takagi retains via Last of the Dragon @27:05 – **** 1/2

New Japan Road Analysis: 

Gabriel Kidd vs Yota Tsuji –  LA Dojo Young Lion faces off against New Japan Dojo Young Lion. The little bit of east coast/west coast rivalry has been a nice touch with the newer LA Dojo.
Gabriel Kidd looked a bit better than that awful ELP match from The New Beginning Osaka. They seemed fairly even since Tsuji is nursing a shoulder injury; but it made Tsuji appear to have more grit. Fighting out of the Single Leg Boston Crab and catching him in a Traditional Boston Crab; was just enough for Tsuji. He had to pull Kidd back to the middle 3 or 4 times; but Tsuji’s will held out over Kidd’s.
Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado, Taichi & Minoru Suzuki) vs Will Ospreay, YOSHI-HASHI, Yuya Uemura & Hirooki Goto – Suzuki comes out doing his usual thing, and when the mostly CHAOS team comes out, Yuya rushes the ring; goes right after Suzuki and we see the Young Lion really cutting his teeth. A good bit of this match is Yuya and Suzuki going throughout the building and crowd; taking it to one another.
Eventually the action focuses back to the ring, and it’s a fairly normal eight man match; until Yuya gets back in. He was just really fired up and that made this match more exciting than usual. A few possible new matches were hinted at, but no one really split off decisively. Fun match, Yuya eats the pin; then Suzuki taunts Yuya by putting him up for the Gotch Style Piledriver and then just dismissing him.
Tomoaki Honma, Toa Henare & Togi Makabe vs Toru Yano, Colt Cabana & Kazuchika Okada  – Yano and Colt start the old “You go, no you go” skit for who will start off the match. And in a style reminiscent of Abbott and Costello, Okada just screams “I GO!” and walks through the bickering pranksters. Okada always seems to enjoy his time without the belt. We get to see a little more personality; and a few interesting interactions with wrestlers outside of the main event scene.
Good comedy from Cabana. He had one spot where he went for multiple covers after screaming “COVER”; and then on the fourth attempt he stopped and watched the referee go down for a count in Pavlovian fashion; causing laughter from the crowd and Cabana. Makabe still showed to be a veteran presence and got his hands on Okada for a little bit. Okada and Makabe could probably still be a decent match…make that happen for the G1 New Japan! Yano hits a low blow on Honma, while distracting the referee, and then Cabana Superman’s in for the pinfall.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tiger Mask, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi vs BUSHI, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi, EVIL & Tetsuya Naito – The Third Generation faces LIJ. It appears that they are facing the stables as we build towards Nakanishi’s retirement on the 22nd. They beat Suzuki-Gun yesterday and now it’s LIJ’s turn.
Hiromu and BUSHI had interesting roles in this match; where they really just played hit and run. They’d buzz in to break up pins or holds and then get dismissed more often than not. Naito wasn’t really a big factor in the match. EVIL decided to mock Kojima a little, as he tried his own Cozy Lariat…to no effect. Nakanishi hit the Hercules Cutter on EVIL and then did a plancha into the rest of LIJ (ugly but effective). Kojima hit the Cozy Lariat on EVIL, and the veterans get the win.
Biggest take away here is…how much of a dork does EVIL look like? He can’t beat a banged up Ishii and loses to the 3rd Generation Veterans. Something needs to break for him. 
Kota Ibushi, David Finlay, Juice Robinson & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Guerrillas of Destiny, Bad Luck Fale & Jay White – FinJuice and the Golden Aces showed a decent amount of teamwork; even though this match could’ve had awkward ramifications. Golden Aces have the title match tomorrow regardless, but do we get any new wrinkles?
Bullet Club actually wrestled a somewhat clean match, and that gave the face squad nice moments of teamwork and shining spots. However, towards the end Tanga Loa wasn’t fairing too well against Juice. Jado interfered, but Marty Asami stopped it. Gedo tried to get involved, but David Finlay stopped it. Then Tama Tonga slides in and knocks Juice out with the title belt. So it ended in heel tactic fashion, but still gave fans plenty to mull over and take in for the tag team scene.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Mega Coaches (Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi) vs Roppongi 3k (SHO & YOH) (c) – After dropping a couple singles losses and a tag loss during the Junior Tag tournament; the Mega Coaches recombined to challenge the young champions. Roppongi 3k are trying to establish themselves as a team that can defend the titles; as well as win them. Romero and Taguchi are two of the most decorated Junior tag wrestlers; so this is a bigger challenge than newer fans may be aware of.
The early match showed the coaches personality with a few more signature comedic spots. Rocky proved to be the wily teacher as had counters for most of the moves; or knew what to expect in a sequence, so he had a wrinkle. Multiple moments in this match built the suspense; the crowd rallied harder and harder behind the beloved coaches; but the young champions dug their heels in.
After wiping out Taguchi with a 3k, SHO hit Shock Arrow on Rocky, but he kicked out. So as a homage to Roppongi Vice’s Strong Zero, the youngsters beat their teacher with Strong X.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii – Okay, English commentary tried to remind fans that NEVER is an acronym, with the original idea of it being a title for younger wrestlers to propel them. NEVER stands for: New blood Evolution Valiantly Eternal Radical – like most Japanese applications of English words…it’s a little goofy. But it’s really no different than people that get Kanji tattoos; assuming it says “courage” when we all know it’s probably closer to saying “soup”.
Surprisingly, they start with a lock up like two bulls locking horns. From that point on, it was exactly what you would expect. Both men demonstrated their Tenryu influence with their chops and corner combinations. Shingo also proved himself as a champion in one specific moment. After a Death Valley Driver on the apron, Red Shoes was counting out Ishii; and Shingo stopped Red Shoes, and went to go collect his opponent.
Even though the acronym really means nothing anymore, and the initial idea for the belt has mutated; when a brawler holds the title, these matches are special. Ishii fought out of most moves, they had a no sell Backdrop Driver spot, but Shingo broke out a few tricks. Noshigami, Made in Japan…hell, he even pulled off an Emerald Flowsion.
Both men peppered in classic moves, influences from their teachers; all while keeping the violence turned to 11. Fantastic match, punctuated with the Shingo Style GTR and Last of the Dragon. Great stuff, as expected.
Post match interview, Shingo is the first participant confirmed in the New Japan Cup; even as a defending champion. 
New Japan Road

Overall Score: 8/10

New Japan Road was actually quite good. A show that wasn’t too bloated, with great wrestling and two great end cap matches. Everything about this was an easy watch; with story threads that were very easy to follow.


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