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NJPW Road To Dontaku

The Beer & Coffee Rant for NJPW’s “Road To Dontaku” PPV

Live from KĊrakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan – 4/19/14

Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask IV & BUSHI vs. Mascara Dorada, El Desperado & “The Funky Weapon” Ryusuke Taguchi

Taguchi and Tiger Mask start with a tight, crisp sequence as the announcers recap Taguchi’s defeat of Prince Devitt at Invasion Attack. Mask looking more invested than normal here. BUSHI and Dorada enter and the Lucha begins as this match leans more towards a Fantasticamania feel by the minute. Dorada tags into Desperado and they get off a mainy looking Reverse Sunset Flip into a Basement Dropkick. Liger in now, perhaps tuning up for his ROH World title match against Adam Cole in May, withsome world class showboating. BUSHI regains control and locks in the Indigenous Peoples Death Lock but Liger makes the ropes. Taguchi interferes which riles up Liger. Dorada does his pirouette-on-the-middle-rope-from-one-side-of-the-ring-to-the-other-side thingy on Tiger Mask and he’s a fuego de casa but misses a moonsault off the top. Hot tags and BUSHI sends Taguchi flying with a missile dropkick, spinaroonie and an Asai Moonsault to the floor, called a quebrada on commentary. Tope suicida from Desperado, tope suicida from Tiger Mask, and a double rotation corkscrew from Dorada. Taguchi attempts the Dodon, but BUSHI reverses for a close nearfall. Gourdbuster hits for Taguchi, followed by the Dodon @ 9:21 for the pin. *** Same guys they always throw out there for the “low card masks” match, but the addition of Dorada kept it fresh. All 6 guys raise their hands in unison after the match, and Liger wishes Taguchi luck on May 3rd challenging for the Jr. Heavyweight championship.

NWA World Tag Team Champions Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Manabu Nakanishi & Yohei Komatsu

NWA World Champ Kojima looking closer to 100% and healthier by the day, Tenzan not so much. Komatsu moving his way up the card, rightfully so. The champs attempt a double suplex early on but Nakanishi (the former Kurasawa) reverses by suplexing both at once. Yohei tags in and he’s immediately cut in half by a chop from Kojima. More double teaming from the champs until Komatsu finally hits a dropkick and tags in Nakanishi who gets his shit in. Nakanishi to the TOP ROPE for the missile dropkick. Hooks the leg for 2, and throws Tenzan in a torture rack. Kojima goes to break, but Nakanishi is the proverbial immovable object. Kojima off the ropes, and Nakanishi throws Ten onto Koji. Komatsu back in. Huge forearm from the kid. Rolling heel kick from Tenzan drills him. Kojima in with 184 chops in the corner. Icchauzo, Bakayaro! Flying elbow gets 2. Nakanishi in to break it up but he eats a 3D. Kojima rips off the elbow pad and sets up for the Cozy Lariat, but Komatsu slaps the old man right across the face and hits a bridging German for 3 but Nooooooo… Kojima kicks out. Crowd Going Banana. The incredulous look on Komatsu’s face is just awesome. The kid hits the ropes but gets murder death killed by a Cozy Lariat @ 11:05 to give the champs the win. *** ¼ Komatsu was great holding his own with three former IWGP Champs. Building almost came unglued for that German.

Minoru Suzuki, Shelton X Benjamin, TAKA Michinoku & Taichi vs. Gedo, Jado, Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka

No Shinpei Nogami on commentary tonight so we are deprived of Iizuka’s passionate art until the next show. This super pumped Saturday night crowd screams Kaze Ni Nare for Suzuki’s entrance. Such a different crowd than the weekday shows that didn’t sell out earlier this month. Pier Six brawl to start. X and Iizuka brawl up the stairs of the aisle in a strange combination. Back in the ring right before the 20 count as this settles into a wrestling match. Delayed butterfly suplex by X on Iizuka. Gedo in, but he gets Oklahoma Stampeded by Shelton from one side of the ring to the other. X looking way more motivated than normal, I don’t think I’d be the first to say he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire since signing. Everybody in, they brawl outside again, and settle back into a wrestling match. TAKA & Taichi do the quick 3-count spot! Crowd pumped as Gedo makes the tag to Jado. Chops and Woos. Feigns a Flair Flop but stays on his feet for a big pop. Yano tags in, takes off the turnbuckle padding and fights with Suzuki for the RVD thumbs spot. They kinda fuck up the last one but the crowd still loves it. X hits a spinebuster on Yano for a close two. Suzuki grabs a chair but is foiled as Iizuka hits the Iron Fingers to the throat of Taichi allowing Yano to get the roll up @ 11:06 to give CHAOS the win. ** Fun match that kept the line moving.

Tomohiro Ishii, Yujiro Takahashi & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Tetsuya Naito, Tomoaki Honma & KUSHIDA

The guy in the front row who pushes Yujiro off his girl is the best. KUSHIDA tells Ishii he’s coming for the title, a program I assumed they blew off at Wrestle World ’14 already. We start with KUSHIDA & Yujiro trading athletic counters back and forth. A duck under/leapfrog/armdrag turns into a handspring heel kick knocking Ishii & YOSHI off the apron, and then he nails Ishii with a dropkick on the floor. Naito in as he and Honma hit a slingshot into a headbutt on the knees. Fishermanbuster gets two for Yujiro. KUSHIDA gets thrown to the outside where he’s met by Ishii who crushes him with a whip into the guardrail and chairshots as they brawl backstage. Back in, Ishii headbutts KUSHIDA into oblivion in the corner. Ishii is done fucking around and wants to see how hard KUSHIDA can bring the slaps. Ishii no-sells the hands of KUSHIDA and cuts him in two with a chop that floors him. HASHI in with a sleeper to bring the crowd to a unified clap and KUSHIDA comes back with a twisting DDT. Tag into Naito. Sweet ass dropkick and rolling senton for two. HASHI changes the tide with a neckbreaker. Hangman’s neckbreaker gets two. He gets a huge lariat off the ropes, tags into Ishii, and now we finally get some motherfucking ISHII vs. NAITO~! Ishii pounds him in the corner like a carpenter but Naito gets a DDT off the ropes and tags out. Already? Honma with some killer chops but Ishii just rams his head into Honma’s. Powerslam follows and Ishii sets up the superbuster from the 2nd rope and nails it for two. Powerbomb on Honma for a close two. Ishii sets up for a fatal brainbuster but gets triple teamed with a series of kicks leading to a big lariat for two, shadowed by stereo planchas. Crowd way into this. Kokeshi headbutt off the top to finish but Ishii out of the way. Ishii wins a contest of lariats and goes for the brainbuster to win but Honma kills him first with a Kokeshi Driver out of nowhere for the mega upset @ 12:26 before putting his foot on Ishii’s chest and telling him he’s coming for the title now. Crowd chants Honma! *** ¾ Not enough Ishii vs. Naito but still a killer little six-man with a finish that made the building come unglued.

We hit the intermission and they pimp some stuff. Nothing like a 2CW intermission however.

Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Yuji Nagata & Captain New Japan

GHC Champ Nagata trades kicks and lariats with Goto in a stalemate. CNJ tags in and now we get some Shibata. This can’t end up well, but a wrestling sequence is surprisingly more even than one would think. Shibata works quite the lengthy headlock, and throws him out of the ring a couple times. He drills him with some trademark Shibatas to the chest, but nothing major. Just a lot of posturing. Captain tags out and we go back to the GHC title dream matches. Shibata pounds Nagata into the corner to set up for a big stiff hesitation dropkick but Nagata pops up, trails him and nails an exploder for two. Shibata bows up and they trade blows until Nagata hits the deck. Goto in to hit the big spin kick in the corner and a back suplex gets two. CNJ bringing it to Goto now. An enziguri and a cross body set up a flying headbutt off the top that misses, but he recovers and hits a rock bottom for two on Goto. Captain sets up but Shibata just smacks him in the back of the head; think Full Force in House Party. Goto hits Captain with a lariat, but CNJ completely no sells it (hahaha) and digs in with the Caribbean Death Grip. Goto headbutts out and hits a discus clothesline. Shoten Kai (sitout hellavator) gets the three @ 10:53 ** ½ Action was good and the point was to make Goto & Shibata an established act and not a novelty, but tagging them rarely (in killer matches) worked better unless they were planning on giving them the straps, which has apparently been dropped as a plan. That’s the second time this year that Shibata’s had title programs dropped out of nowhere when it appeared he was on his way to some gold. He’s become a verb at this point.

Shinsuke Nakamura & The Forever Hooligans vs. Bad Luck Fale & The Young Bucks

This marks the first time Nakamura & Fale have squared off since their instant classic bloodbath from the NJ Cup finals last month. Fale attacks from behind to start, Nakamura gains the advantage and fakes a kick to the chest to hit a kick to the face. Shinsuke chants. Matt Jackson in, gets taken down and Nakamura teases a boot to the nuts before sparing the kid and tags in Alex Koslov. This crowd hates the American Bucks so much that they chant “Russia! Russia!” for Koslov. Some fancy footwork from the Russian and he offers a handshake (w/ Jackson’s non-broken hand). Jackson tries to attack but gets flipped and a tag into Romero who gets a boot and tags back into Koslov, who gets a boot and tags into Romero, who gets a boot and tags Nakamura, who gets a boot and tags Romero back in and so on. Crowd loves it. They double team for a bit and Koslov grabs the ushanka hat and hits the kicks. Bucks to the outside and Koslov hits a corkscrew plancha. Fale attacks him and the Bucks take control back in the ring. Unfortunately it seems Matt has ditched my favorite new addition to his moveset, the “Smell My Cast” facelock. Handspring backrake from Nick, which the crowd is now in on. Corkscrew neckbreaker by Matt onto Nick's knee. Fale comes in and drills CHAOS in the corner, he goes for Koslov in the other corner but drills the Bucks off the apron by accident. Some additional Bucks miscommunication leads to the big tag to Nakamura. Strikes to Fale in the corner. Shinsuke dances on his face in the corner and connects with the big knee. Fale back up and they brawl mid-ring. Bucks and the Hooligans back in and Romero going crazy with clotheslines from corner to corner. Too much tag team action to call and it’s all non-stop perpetual motion. Nakamura breaks up a two and Fale throws him out. Bucks go to hit more Bang for your Buck, which is broken up and followed by a Romero tope suicida. The Hooligans set up for the Contract Killer, Fale breaks it but eats a backstabber and a Boma Ye to the back of the head. Contract Killer finishes Nick Jackson @ 12:20 **** Everyone looked strong here and the Hooligans/Bucks stuff in the middle was top shelf. Romero cuts a promo after the match vowing to take the titles when they collide in Fukuoka.

IWGP Heavyweight Champion "The Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada vs. Tama Tonga (non-title)

The champ doesn’t even have time to hit the pose on the turnbuckle before Tonga attacks from behind. Okada gets whipped into the guardrail. Tonga goes to F5 him onto the commentary, but drops him throat first onto the guardrail instead. Back in, Tonga misses a Stinger splash at about 140 mph. Okada hits a flapjack (with the kip-up to match) and a DDT gets two. Body slam, to the top and the BEST Flying Elbow in the business. Rainmaker attempt but Tonga grabs the ref to break and hits a fireman’s carry into a flapjack; called facebuster on commentary. That gets two and Tonga does some more coiling. He connects with the splash this time. He locks on a choke but gets countered into a “neckbreaker dropu”. Okada hits the Top 3 Ever dropkick, and then straight to the Rainmaker for a quick three @ 6:16 ** ¾ Okada’s “Are you fucking kidding me?” facials are the shit. Gedo cuts the requisite killer promo.So CHAOS goes 3-1 on the night, only losing on a gigantic upset.

IWGP World Tag Team Champions Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe (non-title)

Machine Gun Karl starts with Tanahashi and he gives a clean break but Gallows hangs onto to the Ace’s hair from the apron. Makabe & Gallows in now. Doc with the double bird and a big, hearty “Fuck You Japanese”. That’s a quote. Makabe gets a lariato and tags Tanahashi back in. Anderson with some heel tactics from the outside so Tanahashi drills him to the floor and now everybody’s brawling. Chairshots ensue. Gallows choking Makabe with the man’s own chain. They barely break the 20 count and spill right back to the outside. Tanahashi just barely gets in by 20 again. Some double teaming from the champs, standard stuff. Anderson back in and hooks a chinlock, as the crowd builds itself back up. Hiroshi misses a dropkick and Anderson lands a senton, but gets caught with a dragon screw while attempting a modified gun stun. Finally makes the tag to Makabe who connects with 10 fists in the corner, but Gallows lays him out with the 12th Step and tags out. Some quality shit talk from Karl leads to him eating a lariat and Tanahashi back in now with a flying forearm. Gallows obliterates Makabe into the guardrail on the outside, while Tanahashi hits knees on a High Fly Flow attempt. He catches a huge Anderson boot to the face off a Gallows fireman’s carry and they hit the 3D II for two. Magic Killer set up but Makabe breaks it up until he catches another 12th Step and Anderson impales Tanahashi with a Bernard Driver for a close two. Awesome. Crowd is rallying their hero who evades a couple gun stun attempts and gets a backslide for two but catches a boot from Gallows. Makabe gets involved and double clotheslines the champs into next week. Tanahashi hits the slingblade, Makabe hits the King Kong knee drop, and Tanahashi wraps it up with the High Fly Flow on Anderson @ 14:47 to send the crowd home happy. *** ½ Gallows just isn’t the guy to throw out there in the main event picture. Totally different crowd though, compared to the weeknight shows that led to Invasion Attack, and this weekend crowd totally ate up that main event.

Tanahashi goes to leave but the crowd screams no. He teases that he’ll stay, then teases that he’ll leave and finally decides to stay in the ring to the crowd’s delight. He does the air guitar routine a half dozen times. They chant this fucker’s name seemingly forever as the crowd begs with tears in their eyes for encore after encore. They won’t even leave until they touch him on his way back to the dressing room, as he shakes hands with everybody in the crowd. It’s really the only thing you could evercompare to Hogan’s famous pose downs in the 80’s. It's something else.

So now the tag team of Makabe & Tanahashi will be further known as "King Ace", and they want the belts. Name may take some getting used to, but a summer feud with them defending against Goto & Shibata (who Nagata says he wants another match with as well) should fill out the months leading up to the G1. Plus the AJ Styles thingand a couple months of Ishii & Honma beating the living shit out of each other.

Really breezy, fast paced show with a slew of fun 10 minute matches that didn’t overstay their welcome and set up a couple feuds for the summer. No match of the year type stuff, but a definite thumbs up, recommended show.

-- Drunksuke Muraco