NJPW’s Road to the New Beginning tour continued today in front of a reported overflow crowd in Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall.
The main event saw one of the most decorated junior heavyweights in NJPW history, KUSHIDA, say farewell to the promotion in a memorable non-title main event match with IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The WWE-bound KUSHIDA is a six-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, as well as a two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion.
KUSHIDA also captured the Best of the Super Juniors crown twice, won the Super J-Cup, and won the Super Junior Tag Team Tournament.
Full results and match recaps are below:
REN NARITA DEFEATED YUYA UEMURA (6:25)
A nice opening contest. I think this is the best I’ve seen Uemura look. He showed great intensity, and sold great frustration at taking the loss.
They exchanged holds, backdrops, and dropkicks in the early going. Uemura took a good portion of the match, working over Narita’s lower back and selling his own.
Uemura hit a double underhook suplex for a near fall. Narita hit a belly-to-belly into a bridge for the pinfall win.
MANABU NAKANISHI & HIROYOSHI TENZAN DEFEATED SHOTA UMINO & AYATO YOSHIDA (7:31)
Solid match here, with the Young Lions looking good in defeat.
The teams engaged in some pushing and shoving before the opening bell. Once the action started, Nakanishi and Umino locked up. Umino refused to break cleanly against the ropes. He went for a slam, but Nakanishi turned it into a slam of his own.
Yoshida and Tenzan tagged in. They traded strikes, and Tenzan hit some Mongolian chops. Tenzan and Nakanishi hit a double shoulder block. Tenzan hit a Kokeshi, then Nakanishi hit a splash. He covered, but Umino broke up the pin attempt.
Nakanishi chopped away at Yoshida and knocked Umino from the apron. Yoshida fired back with chops and an enzuigiri, then tagged Umino. Umino hit running back elbows in the corner on both Nakanishi and Tenzan, then hit Nakanishi with a slam and got a two count.
Nakanishi hit a spear, and Tenzan and Yoshida tagged in. Yoshida knocked down Tenzan, then kicked Nakanishi off the apron. Yoshida hit a neckbreaker for a two count. Yoshida hit a mid kick, but ran into a Mountain Bomb.
Yoshida hit big boots on Nakanishi and Tenzan. The match broke down and all four jumped in. Nakanishi and Tenzan hit a combination facebuster for a near fall. Nakanishi racked Umino, while Tenzan used an Anaconda Vice on Yoshida for the submission.
TAIJI ISHIMORI & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI DEFEATED RYUSUKE TAGUCHI & TOA HENARE (8:51)
Taguchi had his serious working boots on tonight. He saved his comedy for the pre-match, for the most part.
Ishimori and Taguchi kicked things off. They traded arm drags. Taguchi hit a hip attack, sending Ishimori outside. Both tagged out. A nice opening sequence.
Henare and Yujiro came in and the pace slowed considerably. Henare hit a tackle. Yujiro and Ishimori used an illegal double team, allowing Yujiro to hit a low dropkick. They traded chops. Yujiro hit a yakuza kick and covered, but Taguchi broke up the pin attempt.
Ishimori tagged in and hit some knee strikes. Henare hit a clothesline in the corner, then hit a Samoan drop. Taguchi got a tag and hit hip attacks on Ishimori and Yujiro. Taguchi hit a springboard plancha to the floor, then a springboard hip attack in the ring.
Ishimori came back with a seated senton. Taguchi used a standing switch and rolled into an ankle lock. Ishimori broke the hold, then hit a handspring enzuigiri.
Henare and Yujiro tagged back in. Henare hit a diving shoulder block, then a sloppy Samoan drop for a two count.
The match broke down. Taguchi jumped in with a rugby ball. Ishimori hit a pump kick. Taguchi hit a hip attack. Henare hit a spear for a near fall on Yujiro. Yujiro reversed a brainbuster attempt into a fisherman buster for a near fall, then used a DDT for the pin on Henare.
TOGI MAKABE, TORU YANO & TOMOAKI HONMA DEFEATED TAMA TONGA, TANGA LOA & CHASE OWENS (10:24)
Loa and Makabe brawled to a stalemate at the outset. Tonga and Honma entered, and they did some comedy based on Tonga’s pretending to be a good guy now. Tonga would hit a move and then apologize to Honma. This was pretty funny and the crowd loved the shtick.
They got the heat on Honma, which is pretty much the blueprint for all Honma matches now. Honma and Loa traded clotheslines, and Yano and Tonga got tags. Yano untied a corner pad. Tonga tried to put it back on, while Yano untied another pad. Yano hit a back elbow and tagged Makabe.
Tonga missed a splash in the corner, allowing Makabe to hit ten punches in the corner. Makabe hit a northern lights suplex, bridging into a pinfall attempt. Owens and Loa jumped in for the illegal triple team. Honma and Owens jumped in to even the odds.
Owens went for a package piledriver on Makabe, but Makabe escaped. Makabe got sent into the referee, who took a bump. The Bullet Club triple-teamed Makabe with the ref down. Yano and Honma jumped in. Honma went for a Kokeshi on Owens, but Jado hit him with a kendo stick.
Makabe hit a double lariat on Tonga and Loa. Honma hit a Kokeshi on Owens, and Makabe hit Owens with the King Kong Knee Drop for the upset win.
SWITCHBLADE JAY WHITE & BAD LUCK FALE DEFEATED KAZUCHIKA OKADA & YOSHI-HASHI (11:53)
A good match with a lot of heat.
Bullet Club jumped Okada and YH before the bell. Fale and Okada brawled on the floor. White joined them, and he attacked Okada with chops. Okada got sent into the barricade, allowing White and Fale to focus on YH in the ring.
White repeatedly sent YH into the barricade and into the ring frame. Okada made it back to the apron, while White hit a back elbow on YH for a two count. Fale tagged in and worked over YH near the ropes. Okada jumped in for the save, but Fale fought him off, then tagged White.
White used a chinlock. YH missed an enzuigiri, then finally hit a spin kick and was able to make a tag. Okada hit a running back elbow on White. Fale jumped in, and Okada nailed him with a DDT. Okada hit a flapjack on White, picking up a two count.
Okada went to the top for an elbow, but White popped up. White used a Saito suplex, then tagged Fale. Okada sold his neck. Okada and Fale exchanged strikes. Okada fired up and hit a series of strikes, but Fale hit him with a backdrop.
Okada went for a hangman’s DDT or a guillotine, but Fale turned it into a slam. Fale went for the Bad Luck Fall, but Okada backdropped out of it and tagged YH. YH hit a headhunter, a corner lariat, and a superkick. He hit a blockbuster off the top.
White jumped in and teased a blade runner, but Okada hit him with a dropkick. Fale used the distraction to hit a splash, but YH kicked out.
Fale went for a grenade, but YH hit a codebreaker. YH hit two lariats. He went for a third, but Fale countered with a lariat. Fale hit a Grenade and got the pin.
Okada jumped in after the bell, but Fale hit him with a Grenade as well. Fale went for a Bad Luck Fall on Okada, but the ringside Young Lions jumped in for the save.
TETSUYA NAITO, EVIL, SANADA, BUSHI & SHINGO TAKAGI DEFEATED MINORU SUZUKI, ZACK SABRE JR., TAICHI, YOSHINOBU KANEMARU & EL DESPERADO (16:43)
This was really good. Lots of crazy brawling, and the crowd was into it from beginning to end.
LIJ attacked Suzuki-gun before the bell, in a nice break from tradition. There was a wild brawl around ringside, while Sabre and EVIL grappled in the ring. Sabre used a wristlock, but EVIL slipped out and hit some strikes.
Sabre and EVIL used a flurry of reversals and counters, then tagged Suzuki and SANADA. SANADA went for the paradise lock, but Suzuki would not allow it. They traded forearms. SANADA took the Flair corner bump and went for a springboard, but Suzuki cut him off and used an armbar over the ropes.
The match broke down into a crazy brawl, with Taichi going after Naito. He hit him with a chair, then dragged him into the crowd. Suzuki attacked SANADA with a sign and a guardrail, leaving him laying in the crowd. They teased a countout, but SANADA made it back in at 19.
Desperado got a tag. He made an immediate cover, but SANADA kicked out. SANADA got sent back outside, and Suzuki and Sabre worked over his left arm. Back inside, Desperado hit a back elbow for a two count.
Kanemaru tagged in and continued working over SANADA, focusing on the left arm. Sabre got a tag and torqued on the arm. Suzuki got a tag and did the same. The guys not in the match continued to brawl on the outside.
Suzuki and SANADA traded forearm strikes. SANADA hit a dragon screw, then a second rope dropkick. Naito and Taichi tagged in. Naito hit a dropkick in the middle, then another in the corner. Taichi grabbed the referee, and they teased a ref bump. Naito hit a tornado DDT.
Shingo and Kanemaru got tags. Desperado jumped in for a double team, but Shingo fought him off. Kanemaru went for a DDT, but Shingo escaped. Shingo teased the pumping bomber, but he had to settle for a brainbuster.
BUSHI tagged in, and Shingo and BUSHI hit a double team backstabber. Desperado speared BUSHI, while Kanemaru hit a dropkick to Shingo’s knee. Kanemaru hit BUSHI with Deep Impact, but SANADA and Naito came in for the save. BUSHI hit a swinging neckbreaker, then tagged EVIL.
EVIL knocked Sabre off the apron, then hit a lariat. EVIL hit Darkness Falls on Kanemaru for a near fall. Everyone jumped in and delivered a move. Taichi took his pants off. Naito hit Taichi with a low blow, then a Destino.
Shingo hit a pumping bomber on Kanemaru, and EVIL hit him with Everything is EVIL for the pin.
Naito attacked Taichi after the match. He sent him into the barricade. He teased hitting him with the microphone stand but backed off.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION HIROSHI TANAHASHI DEFEATED KUSHIDA IN A NON-TITLE MATCH (23:35)
KUSHIDA got a hero’s welcome. They passed out thank you signs to the crowd, everyone held them high. A KUSHIDA chant broke out before Tana’s music played.
KUSHIDA shot for a takedown, but Tana backed off. He went for a low kick, but Tana evaded that as well. KUSHIDA shot again, but Tana grabbed a front facelock. KUSHIDA slipped out. They locked up with a knuckle lock. Tana had the power edge, but KUSHIDA was able to bridge, avoiding a pinfall attempt.
KUSHIDA slipped to a front facelock of his own. He tied up Tana’s leg, but Tana slipped back to a front facelock. KUSHIDA slid out of the hold and rolled to the floor to collect himself.
They tied up in the center of the ring. Tana drove KUSHIDA to the mat, maintaining the tie-up. KUSHIDA powered up and sent Tana to the ropes. KUSHIDA broke cleanly, but quickly grabbed a single-leg takedown. Tana hooked an arm, but KUSHIDA tied him up, floated over, and hooked an arm. Tana kept his hands together, blocking an armbar attempt.
Tana floated over and tied up KUSHIDA’s legs. He used an inverted leglock and cranked on the legs, but KUSHIDA reached the ropes, forcing a break. KUSHIDA went after Tana’s legs, but Tana quickly took control again, and went after KUSHIDA’s left leg. Tana hooked the leg over the ropes, and he attacked it with kicks.
KUSHIDA fired back with slaps, and used a sliding kick to go after Tana’s legs again. Tana came back and posted KUSHIDA’s legs, which actually elicited some boos from the crowd.
Tana went for a dragon screw, but KUSHIDA fought it off, and hit a Pele kick. KUSHIDA hit a series of kicks, then hit a handspring back elbow. KUSHIDA missed a Buzzsaw Kick, but grabbed a waistlock. KUSHIDA bounced out and hit a cartwheel dropkick.
Tana blocked a DDT attempt. He went for a cloverleaf, but KUSHIDA turned it into a small package for a near fall. KUSHIDA hit a German suplex, then followed with a Buzzsaw Kick for a two count.
KUSHIDA went for a slam, but his leg gave out. Tana hit an inverted dragon screw, then another. They traded strikes from a kneeling position. Back on their feet, they exchanged short elbows. KUSHIDA hit a series of kicks to the back of Tana’s left leg.
KUSHIDA hit a running dropkick to the left arm, hoping to soften it up for a Hoverboard Lock. KUSHIDA hooked the left arm, but Tana grabbed the damaged left leg and hit a dragon screw.
Tana missed a charge into the corner. KUSHIDA hit an enzuigiri, then applied the Hoverboard Lock. KUSHIDA transitioned to an armbar on Tana’s right arm. Tana was in the hold briefly, but was able to clasp his hands together. He used the position to attempt a cloverleaf, but KUSHIDA prevented it and again slipped to the Hoverboard. Tana was able to keep his hands clasped, preventing the hold from full effect.
Tana turned a back to the future attempt into a twist and shout, then hit a slingblade. Tana hit a standing High Fly Flow. He went to the top for another, but KUSHIDA got his knees up. KUSHIDA hit Back to the Future for a near fall.
KUSHIDA kicked at the left arm. He again went for the Hoverboard Lock. Tana kept his hands together, but KUSHIDA kept the hold locked in. Tana finally powered out, then used a straightjacket German into a bridge for a near fall.
Tana hooked on the cloverleaf in the center of the ring, and KUSHIDA tapped.
Tana embraced KUSHIDA after the bell.
As they were down on the mat, Jay White ran in with a chair and attacked Tanahashi. He hit a chair shot to the back. He placed a chair around the right leg of Tanahashi, then Pillmanized it with another chair. White posed with Tanahashi’s title before leaving.
Tana was helped out, but again embraced KUSHIDA on his way to the back.
KUSHIDA then cut a promo, thanking Tanahashi for showing him what wrestling was. KUSHIDA thanked the fans for the last eight years in NJPW, and he said he’ll never forget this night. He said his new journey is beginning and thanked the fans. He bowed to the crowd, then slapped hands and hugged fans on his way to the back.