NJPW Road to Wrestling Dontaku 2019: Day 1

NJPW Road to Wrestling Dontaku 2019: Day 1

By Big Red Machine
From April 13, 2019

NJPW Road to Wrestling Dontaku 2019: Day 1


The standard solid Young Lion fare. Tsuji picks up his first ever win. Good for him.


More of the usual solid stuff, but shorter. The excellence of the false finishes Narita got on those roll-ups has inspired me to use this space to once again advocate for every Young Lion's last match before going on excursion to end with him pinning a member of the main roster. Not only would that be a cool thing to do and something that would allow the fans to celebrate that Young Lion's "graduation" from the dojo with him, but it would also give some actual meaning and excitement to the nearfalls the Young Lions get against the veterans in all of their matches.

YUJI NAGATA, SATOSHI KOJIMA, & SHOTA UMINO vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) - 6.75/10

Suzuki-Gun jump the bell on their opponents and we immediately spill to the outside... and holy sh*t the babyfaces actually came out of this on top! Now Umino is dealing with both Kanemaru and El Desperado on his own!

Oh. Wait. There is Suzuki's hanging armbar and now we're back to the usual Suzuki-Gun undercard tag. Cue fighting on the outside forever, cheating right in front of the referee without getting DQed, the Count-Out Tease That No One Ever Buys(TM) etc. etc. Well... the change was nice while it lasted.

That being said, the parts of this match that weren't that boring crap were GREAT, and the only person I want to see Suzuki have a big singles match with on the NJPW roster right now is Shota Umino because this match convinced me that that match would be FANTASTIC. It would be New Japan's version of Tim Donst's vs. Eddie Kingston where Kingston is getting angrier and more sadistic and just keeps beating on this kid but the kid doesn't want to stay down, but it hits the point where you're sitting there and shouting "just stay down, kid! You've already proved your toughness to us! It's not worth it anymore!" but then every time he gets back up and gets some offense in you still go nuts for him.

TOGI MAKABE, TORU YANO, & TOMOAKI HONMA vs. BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori & the Guerrillas of Destiny) (w/Jado) - 3.5/10

The heels jumped the bell on the babyfaces, although in this case they had an actual reason to do so other than just to be heels. Things immediately spilled to the outside, where the heels beat on the babyfaces for a long time while the referee just stood there twiddling his thumbs instead of counting everyone out. Tama Tonga beat Yano up and took the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Title belts that Yano stole back and gave them to the timekeeper for safe keeping. It's always nice to see someone get back property that was stolen from them, but usually it's the heel doing the stealing and the babyface doing the retrieving, not the other way around.

Yano cheated a bunch and got beaten up. Jado got involved several times. Tanga Loa eventually pinned Honma, but Yano stole the titles back, so what was the point of this match? A good chunk of the reason I chose to watch this show was to see how NJPW would deal with Yano stealing the belts, and the answers is... they didn't. No one from the company made Yano give the belts back because they're not his, and although Tama got them back temporarily, Yano just stole them after the match again, which actually makes this whole thing even worse because Yano has no reason to be stealing them back. People steal belts in wrestling to get the champion's attention if that person/team feels like the champions are ducking him/her/them. At this point, though, a title match has already been booked by NJPW for April 29th, so what does Yano gain from stealing the belts again? Nothing. He's just a dick.

And if I had to guess, we're going to get this same "Guerrillas get the belts back during the match but Yano steals them at the end" bullsh*t on every show this tour until the title match, even though it serves no purpose. Throw in the fact that New Japan will do nothing to make him give them back and this whole thing just makes New Japan look like they don't care what happens on their shows or what rules or laws their wrestlers break, and for zero gain.

Throw in the fact that Yano and Makabe have done nothing to actually earn a title shot and NJPW didn't even make returning the titles to their rightful owners part of the condition of giving them a title match and the challengers' team losing here, then I don't see how anyone can possibly say this is anything but poor booking.

JUICE ROBINSON, RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, MIKEY NICHOLLS, & HIROOKI GOTO vs. BULLET CLUB (Hikuleo, Jay White, Chase Owens, & Bad Luck Fale) (w/Gedo) - 7/10

A fun, action-packed eight-man tag. Juice picks up the pin for some reason or another. Fale is the one getting a shot at Juice's title, so why didn't Fale pin Mike Nicholls? Isn't that the whole reason Nicholls is even in this company?

KOTA IBUSHI, YOSHI-HASHI, & JUSHIN "THUNDER" LIGER vs. SUZUKI-GUN (Zack Sabre Jr., TAKA Michinoku, & Taichi) - 4.5/10

We do the usual Suzuki-Gun bullsh*t to kill time. Now Taichi is going after Liger's mask, too. I think we've hit lazy Suzuki-Gun cheap it bingo!

This was a rather boring match aside from Liger making his brief comeback and the Zack vs. Ibushi stuff... but holy crap was that Zack vs. Ibushi stuff great.

POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Great. The heels jumped the babyfaces after the match and Zack laid Ibushi out with a Michinoku Driver. This attack was extremely dastardly and did a great job of making me want to see Kota get his revenge.

LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Rocky Romero, Roppongi 3K, & Tomohiro Ishii) - 8/10

We start off with some nice clean wrestling between Okada and Sanada. Then Ishii and EVIL got tagged in and they went right to the big shoulder tackles and the hitting each other in the face. It was quite the transition. The match was fast-paced and quite awesome.

POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Interesting. LIJ go full heel, attacking CHAOS after the match for absolutely no reason... aside from Sanada, who just kind of stood there giving Okada a sideways look. The attack happened fast enough that it was pretty much over by the time Okada would have been able to jump in and help his stablemates, but it was still off-putting to see him standing there and not doing anything, just like it was off-putting to see Sanada, a member of the "all for one and one for all" LIJ not helping his buddies in their attack.

Final Thoughts
This was a decent show from New Japan. Until the main event I was definitely feeling that this show was not worth the time, but after the main event, I'll call it a wash, which I guess actually technically makes it positive for NJPW as I spent time watching their show and didn't come out of it with a negative feeling. This did get me excited for some of the big matches on the tour, but those are matches I was already looking forward to anyway. New Japan... continues to be New Japan. The storylines are shoddy, the action delivers on the big shows, and on the smaller shows, it's a total crap-shoot. I just got luck this time that the main event was on the better end of the spectrum this particular time.

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