NJPW Road To New Beginning Day 5 (2/2/17): The Final Stop Before Sapporo

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s first half of its Road To New Beginning tour came to end on February 2, 2017.

Held at the  Akita Kenritsu Taiikukan, the show drew an announced crowd of 1,529

The war between the CHAOS and Suzuki-Gun factions continued as well as several other previews of key matches to be held on 2/5’s PPV.

Photo: NJPW

1st Match: Yoshinobu Kanemarue defeated Hirai Kawato via submission in 6:37

Mostly a showcase for Kanemaru who is fundamentally sound but seems to be lacking a spark as a singles star.

Kanemaru powered Kawato into the corner off a tie up and feigned offering a clean break; instead he a buried an elbow into the side of the head and snapmared Kawato onto the mat.

He followed with a kick to the back and covered for a one count.  Kanemaru caught a kick and executed a corkscrew dragon leg whip.

Kanemaru got a nearfall off a nicely executed fisherman’s suplex.  Frustrated he dropped several elbows across the damaged leg.

Kawato screamed in pain as Kanemaru contorted the leg and applied a half crab. Kawato fought to the ropes to force the break.

Kawato avoided a clothesline and threw a pair of dropkicks with his good leg. He swept Kanemaru and hit a splash off the ropes for a nearfall.

Kawato went for an ill-advised missile dropkick from the middle rope and was caught for the effort.

Kanemaru locked in a Texas Cloverleaf forcing  Kawato to submit very quickly.

2nd Match: Yuji Nagata defeated Tomoyuki Oka via submission in 5:13

Oka looked pretty good in the short time he was on offense.  I fully believe he will be the star they envision him to be one day.

Nagata got the better of the opening tie up and forced Oka down to one knee. Oka stayed with though and reversed momentum then pulled Nagata in for a short arm clothesline.

He went for a second but Nagata ducked and caught him with a pair of forearms to the jaw. Nagata got ahold of the arm and cranked on a hammerlock.

Oka threw elbows to force a break but Nagata simply dumped him on his head with a backdrop driver.  Nagata then went back to the right arm, dropping several elbows and knees onto it.

Nagata locked in a Fujiwara armbar but Oka made it to the ropes.  Oka fought to his feet and chopped away at Nagata’s chest.

Oka got a nearfall with a crossbody block after ducking an attempted kick. Unfortunately he didn’t avoid a second attempt and ate one upside the head.

Nagata hit a second backdrop driver then trapped Oka in the Nagata Lock II forcing him to submit.

3rd Match: CHAOS (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii & Gedo) defeated TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) & Jushin Liger in 7:45

Yano taunted Liger for having lost to him the previous two shows.  Liger went after him but he ducked between the ropes and spewed his water in his face from the apron.

Yano immediately stepped back in and nearly won it with a school boy.

Liger rolled to his feet and lit up Yano with chops.  Liger hit a rolling Liger Kick for another nearfall.

Tenzan and Ishii met mid-ring for their standard face off.  Tenzan threw Mongolian chops that Ishii withstood and threw a headbutt that put Tenzan on his ass.  Ishii sent Tenzan into the ropes and hit a powerslam for a nearfall.

Ishii missed a falling headbutt allowing Kojima to get the tag.  Kojima threw chops at Ishii and the incoming Gedo and Yano.

Kojima connected with a roaring elbow that dropped Isii, then came off the top with an elbow for a nearfall.  TenCozy hit 3D on Ishii but Yano double low blowed them before a cover could be made.  Liger came off the top rope with a dropkick.

Liger measured Yano for  an palm exploder but was distracted by Gedo attempting a sneak attack.  Yano doubled Liger over with a low blow then pinned him with the Akakiri

4th Match: Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) & Tiger Mask IV defeated Suzuki-Gun (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr & El Desperado) in 10:30

Really physical, solid match.

Makabe and Archer went after each other as soon as the bell rang kick off a wild brawl.

Makabe threw forearms to the chest, Archer backed up and hit a big boot to the face. Neither would budge until Archer impressively muscled Makabe up for snake eyes as he came off the ropes.

As they went at it,  Smith threw Honma into the guardrail while Desperado hit  a flipping senton off the apron onto Tiger.  Smith grabbed a chair and nailed both Honma and Tiger in the ribs with it.

Smith hit his delayed vertical suplex on Tiger for a nearfall.  He followed with a backbreaker with Archer coming off the middle rope with a stomp to the chest.

Archer back Tiger into the corner for several elbows to the ribs.  Desperado got the tag and missed a diving splash.   Tiger nailed him with  a spin kick then got the hot tag to Honma.

Honma hit a flying headbutt and a  neckbreaker for a nearfall.  He went for  the Kokeshi but Desperado avoided it and connected with a Falcon’s Arrow for a nearfall.

Smith got the tag,  ran in, and leveled Honma with a lariat then hit a running powerslam.

He locked in a Sharpshooter but Tiger broke it up with a running knee strike directly to the face.

Near the end KES had Honma up for a Killer Bomb but Makabe broke it up with a Pounce on Archer.

When the action spilled to the floor, Makabe got some revenge nailing both Archer and Smith with his chain, Smith bleeding a bit from the forehead.

Desperado was left alone and fell prey to a triple attack sequence.

Tiger hit a Tiger Driver, Makabe following with the King Kong Kneedrop, and Honma finishing with a top rope Kokeshi for the pinfall.

5th Match: CHAOS (Never Openweight Champion Hirooki Goto & Will Ospreay & Jado) defeated Katsuyori Shibata & Juice Robinson & Yoshitatu in 9:15

Much of the match was CHAOS getting heat on Tatsu though it picked up greatly the last several minutes.

Ospreay and Juice started off hot.  Robinson hit two stinger splashes in the corner off a pair of Irish whips followed by a palm strike.

Ospreay  used momentum off a third whip to send Robinson through the ropes with a headscissors. He followed with a running kick from the apron and a moonsault.

Robinson nailed Jado as he tagged in and he did his delayed Flair face flop.  Jado caught Robinson with a lariat for a nearfall.

Tatsu got the tag and applied a wrist lock that he maintained while taking Jado down with multiple chops.  Tatsu got a nearfall with a springboard crossbody.

Jado avoided a second attempt and tagged in Goto.  Goto delivered knee strikes to the rib area and took Tatsu to the mat with a snapmare.

Tatsu fought to his feet out of a neck crank but Goto hit a Saito suplex for a nearfall.

Ospreay trapped Tatsu in the Octopus but surprisingly Tatsu escaped and dropkicked him in the back to create space.

Shibata got the hot tag and went wild with kicks to all three of CHAOS.  He tackled Ospreay to the mat and peppered him with rights and lefts.  He went for  a suplex but Ospreay countered into a stunner.

Ospreay tagged in Goto while Tatsu unwisely tagged himself back in.

Goto caught Tatsu with the Ushigoroshi followed by the GTR for the pinfall.

6th Match: Los Ingobernables de Japon (IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito & IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi & EVIL & SANADA & BUSHI) defeated Michael Elgin & Never Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champions Hiroshi Tanahashi & Ryusuke Taguchi & Manabu Nakanishi & Kushida  in 13:45

Though the bout was very similar to the previous ones on this tour, it was still a great showcase and preview for the PPVs.

Taguchi annoyed LIJ with his dancing once the bell rang so they all charged at him. He was ready and sent him scurrying to the floor with a flying ass attack.

Elgin pressed Taguchi over his head and threw him onto LIJ which the crowd loved.

Taguchi hit a top rope hip attack on Takahashi for a nearfall.  He followed with a sliding elbow and a running senton for another nearfall.

Takahashi leveraged Taguchi into the middle turnbuckle and delivered a quick release german suplex.

Kushida tagged in and exchanged rapid fire armdrags with Takahashi.  Takahashi turned Kushida around as they both hit the ropes and sent him to the floor with a dropkick.

Takahashi hit a dropkick off the apron, rolled Kushida back in, and tagged in Naito.

Naito slapped Kushida around before hitting an inverted atomic drop. He quickly followed with a somersault senton for a nearfall.

SANADA spiked Kushida with a piledriver and tried to put him in Skull End but Kushida got to the ropes.  SANADA threw Kushida over the top rope but he stayed on the apron to deliver a rope grip Enzuigiri.

Naito grinded on Kushia with a reverse chinlock, Kushida breaking free with a jawbreaker.  Kushida nailed a rolling elbow then dove to tag in Tanahashi.

Tanahashi took Naito down with the Sling Blade for a nearfall. Naito elbowed out of a waistlock and rocked Tanahashi with a Tornado DDT for a nearfall.

BUSHI got the tag and hit a back flipping death drop on Tanahashi.  Tanahashi caught Bushi going for the MX and hit a Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall.

EVIL finally saw some action as the match broke down into a brawl. He hit a running knee on Nakanishi to the side of the head.  He and SANADA tried to  suplex Nakanishi but as usual he wouldn’t budge and took them over with a suplex of his own.

Elgin hit a Doctor Bomb on Naito but Takahashi made the save with a flying leg drop to the back of his head.  Elgin power bombed Takahashi onto Naito then splashed them both in a cool sequence.

In the end Bushi blew mist into Taguchi’s eyes as he readied for another hip attack and EVIL delivered the EVIL for the pinfall.

Main Event: Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka & TAKA Michinoku & Taichi) defeated CHAOS (IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada & IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Roppongi Vice & Yoshi-Hashi) in 17:50

Great match with a new level of aggression from SZG.

The big story was the attack on Okada’s leg.  SZG jumped CHAOS before the bell rang and threw them to the floor.

Iizuka slammed Okada then attacked his leg leg with a chair.  Taichi also attacked the leg with his mic stand.  The champion remained on the floor in agony for a bit once the action kicked off.

Michinoku got a nearfall with a rolling cradle on Romero. Taichi low blowed Romero and TAKA counted their own pinfall.  As they celebrated, Baretta hit a springboard dropkick to take ten both out.

Iizuka and Yoshi had some exchanges ahead of their singles match.  Iizuka mainly raked the back and threw some chops to the chest.  Yoshi caught him with an uppercut and a powerslam.  He went up for the Swanton Bomb but TAKA pushed him off.

Iizuka slipped on his iron claw and jabbed Yoshi in the throat with it followed by a prolonged nerve hold.

By this time Okada had crawled back onto the apron, not willing to go to the bac at the behest of Gedo.

Yoshi escaped the hold and tagged in Romero. He went wild with the Forever Clotheslines including hitting a pair at once on TAKA and Taichi.

RPG Vice  hit stereo flying knee strikes to TAKA and Taichi.  They followed with their trademark soccer kick/standing moonsault combination on Taichi for a nearfall.

Suzuki got involved and just slapped the taste out of Romero’s mouth and drilled Baretta with a boot to the face.  He dragged Romero over to where Okada was and taunted him as he pounded on his chest.

Romero slipped out and hit a leaping knee to Suzuki’s jaw then tagged in Okada.

Although in pain, Okada still managed to hit a float over DDT on Suzuki for a nearfall.  Suzuki landed a leg kick and applied a heel hook that had Okada screaming in pain.  Suzuki stood up and converted it into a half crab.

Okada looked as if he were going to tap when Yoshi came off the ropes and bulldogged Suzuki for the save.

Okada caught Suzuki with a dropkick but couldn’t follow through with the Rainmaker.  Suzuki trapped Okada in the rear naked choke but Okada used a backdrop to escape the Gotch Piledriver.

Baretta tagged in and actually took it Suzuki. At one point he almost connected with the Dude Buster but Suzuki countered with a spinning back fist.  Suzuki locked in the choke then spun Baretta around to hit the Gotch Piledriver for the pinfall.

Afterward, SZG kept up the attack on Okada’s leg; Suzuki locked back on the heel hook while his stablemates beat down the rest of CHAOS.

Photo: NJPW

Final Thoughts:

This show was very enjoyable, perhaps the strongest of the four that followed an excellent opening night on 1/27.

The undercard was typically short but there were enough interactions between PPV opponents to whet fans’ appetites for both Sapporo and Osaka.

Strapped for time: Watch SZG vs CHAOS main event and Team Elgin vs Team LIJ. And if you can fit it in, Team Shibata vs. CHAOS.

Photo: NJPW

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