NJPW Kizuna Road
July 3, 2016
Tonight’s show is headlined by Shibata defending the NEVER Openweight Championship against Honma in a rematch from their Match of the Year candidate performance in 2014. Plus Okada and his Chaos stable take on Naito and Los Ingobernales de Japon in an 8-man elimination tag match, and the Bullet Club defends the NEVER 6-man titles.
***Due to technical difficulties we missed out on the first hour of coverage. Results are as follows, and will be updated with more complete coverage later.
CHASE OWENS def. DAVID FINLAY
RYUSUKE TAGUCHI, TIGER MASK, JUSHIN LIGER & HIROYOSHI TENZAN def. BERETTA, ROCKY ROMERO, KAZUSHI SAKURABA & TOMOHIRO ISHII
YUJIRO TAKAHASHI & HANGMAN PAGE def. YOSHITATSU & CAPTAIN NEW JAPAN
YUJI NAGATA & MANABU NAKANISHI def. TOGI MAKABE & JUICE ROBINSON
NEVER OPENWEIGHT 6-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
THE ELITE (KENNY OMEGA & THE YOUNG BUCKS) (c) vs. MATT SYDAL, RICOCHET & SATOSHI KOJIMA
The Elite came out wearing WWE brand New Day t-shirts with Kenny Omega using his broom as a trombone. They chanted “The-E-LITE” to the tune of “New-Day-Rocks” on their way down. Seriously.
This match was a lot of fun, with all six guys getting time and spots to do their thing. Ricochet is the undisputed king of 2-on-1 handicap moves and is just so incredibly creative in the ring. Even Kojima got a great spot where he did his corner chops on Nick, then Matt, and then Kenny all stacked together in the corner. Great finish sequence – Kojima blocked a double Meltzer Driver attempt, ate stereo superkicks and took out the Bucks with lariats, setting up Sydal and Ricochet for the tandem Shooting Star Presses to win. NEW CHAMPIONS!
After the match, Kojima thanked Sydal and Ricochet in English, but had something to do, and called out Tenzan (I had a brief heart attack because it sounded like he called out KENTA, and Hideo Itami is in Japan right now with the WWE tour going on). He said that if Tenzan was going to compete in the G1 for the last time, he would be happy to give up his spot for his friend. He made Tenzan promise that he was going to win the whole thing, and they made it official.
8-MAN ELIMINATION TAG TEAM MATCH
CHAOS (OKADA, WILL OSPREAY, YOSHI-HASHI & HIROOKI GOTO) vs. LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (NAITO, BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA)
Eliminations can occur by pinfall or submission, or if you go over the top rope and your feet touch the floor, Royal Rumble style. Okada and Naito took each other out. Evil took out Goto. Yoshi-Hashi took out Evil. As expected Sanada and Yoshi-Hashi got to continue their incredibly underrated program here; if you look closely they’ve been adding one more counter to the finishing sequence in every match they’ve had together so far, and this was no different just with Sanada getting the pin this time. Ospreay and BUSHI were the last remaining and worked great together. All of LIJ rushed the ring after BUSHI misses the green mist and accidentally tags Sanada with it. Chaos clears the ring after a brawl. Ospreay does the Rainmaker pose and finishes off BUSHI with the Rainham Maker (into a Spanish Fly instead of a short-arm lariat) and an Oscutter. This was a good match with a lot of intensity and build for all the different programs going on, and everyone looked great, but Ospreay really came off looking like like the star.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
KATSUYORI SHIBATA (c) vs. TOMOAKI HONMA
This was a great match for sure, but not as good as their instant classic G1 match in 2014. It was the kind of main event where both guys delivered and Honma worked really hard and did some huge moves he maybe shouldn’t have (diving headbutt off the top rope to the floor) and if this were another time, it may have been a Match of the Year candidate, but everyone knew Shibata was retaining. There wasn’t really even that “what if” feel that a lot of the big Honma main events have had in recent years. As expected, a ton of hard-hitting stuff. They were straight up throat chopping each other later into the match, which looked brutal. Shibata won countering a headbutt attempt into a choke, weakened him, then finished him off with a penalty kick.
After the match Shibata picked him up and it looked like he was going to shake his hand, but ended up tossing him out of the ring. They can’t make nice just yet, as this rematch is already scheduled for this year’s G1.
That’s the show, and the last one before G1. It was pretty good overall, with the three major matches all offering something very different and entertaining in their own ways, while still being very good wrestling matches. Kizuna Road’s job is to do the final set-up into the G1, and we got that. Tenzan got his spot, a lot of the mid card guys look great going into their tournament matches, Naito and Okada continues, more from Yoshi-Hashi and Kushida, plus they started to set up the non-tournament stuff for the G1 finals dates as well. We’ll see you in a few weeks for the start of the tournament!
Don’t forget, we’re working on a HUGE beginner’s guide to the G1 Climax tournament and this year’s brackets for potential new fans looking to get into the biggest and best event of the pro wrestling year. We’ll be breaking down every competitor, the history of G1, current rivalries, and everything else you need to know before the tournament begins later this month. Stay tuned!