From the Shinjuku Face in Tokyo, Japan was Lions Gate Project 3 which showcased various young boys from both New Japan and Pro Wrestling Noah. Today’s card also featured a multi-man tag continuing the ongoing feud between Shibata and Noah superstars.
Tomoyuki Oka vs. Katsuya Kitamura fought to a draw [*3/4]
Quiet Storm def. Henare [**]
Hajime Ohara def. Hirai Kawato [**]
Kenoh def. Teruaki Kanemitsu [**3/4]
Tomoaki Honma def. Shiro Tomoyose [**3/4]David Finlay def. GO Asakawa [**3/4]
Juice Robinson def. Ayato Yoshida [**3/4]
Ryusuke Taguchi def. Hitoshi Kumano [***]
Katsuyori Shibata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi def. Go Shiozaki, Maybach Taniguchi, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Masa Kitamiya & Kaito Kiyomiya [***]
Exhibition: Tomoyuki Oka vs. Katsuya Kitamura
More or less an exhibition before the start of the main card, this was an overall boring match that featured some mat based wrestling. The two grappled on the mat for some time. It felt more like an amateur wrestling contest than a New Japan match. The two fought to a five-minute time limit draw.
Match 1: Quiet Storm vs. Henare
The two jostled for position early on; Storm gained the upper hand throwing Henare to the mat then applying a headlock. Storm has one of the weirdest body types I’ve seen on a wrestler; he looks like a smaller more compacted version of rhino. They traded knife edge chops for a significant duration of the match; Henare hit a football tackle sending Storm to the mat for a two count. Henare positioned Storm in the corner but was reversed into the opposite corner where he was met with a splash. Storm hit a cross-body block for a two count, then followed up with a lariat for the win.
Match 2: Hajime Ohara vs. Hirai Kawato
Ohara went for a series of submission maneuvers, a variation of the Mexican surfboard followed by an arm bar neither of which seemed to do much damage. Ohara continued to mount the offense placing Kawato between the ropes, then hitting him with a dropkick for a near fall. The crowd was clearly behind the underdog Kawato as they were chanting his name throughout the match. Kawato, however, mounted little to no offense; Ohara applied the stretch muffler which forced Kawato to tap gaining him the victory via submission.
Match 3: Kenoh vs. Teruaki Kanemitsu
The two went back and forth early on, but Kenoh seemed the most dominant of the two. The crowd loved the underdogs tonight as they cheered on Kanemitsu the entire way. Kenoh applied the half crab, but Kanemitsu was able to get the break. Kenoh hit the ropes looking to continue on the offensive but was caught by a dropkick. Kenoh quickly recovered applying the ankle lock; Kanemitsu again got the rope break sending the crowd into a frenzy. Kenoh went to the top rope hit a double stomp, followed up with a kick to the chest for the pinfall.
Match 4: Tomoaki Honma vs. Shiro Tomoyose
Next up was everyone’s favorite jobber, Honma. A battle of two guys who have little to no regard for the safety of their heads. The offense went back and forth, the two traded clubbing blows, Honma hit a bulldog followed by his signature diving headbutt for a near fall. Tomoyose made the comeback hitting a cross-body block for a two count, but Honma quickly thwarted any momentum Tomoyose may have had. Honma went to the top rope hit the diving headbutt, gaining him the pinfall victory.
Match 5: David Finlay vs. GO Asakawa
One of the more exciting new Japan young boys is the son of former pro wrestler Fit Finlay, David Finlay. Finlay hit a series of European uppercuts sending Asakawa to the mat. Finally continued to look dominant hitting a splash in the corner, followed by a double knee stomp for a near fall. Asakawa made the comeback after a roll up pin attempt, the two traded forearm shots, Finlay picked up Asakawa drove him to the mat and finished him off with what looked to be a stunner for the pinfall victory.
Match 6: Juice Robinson vs. Ayato Yoshida
Juice Robinson formally CJ Parker of NXT looks to be quickly garnering the respect of the New Japan crowd who seemed genuinely excited as he made his way to the ring. I’ve never been a huge fan Robinson who continues to make those loud screams as if he’s a female tennis player. They traded shots in the center of the ring; Parker controlled most of the offense early on. Yoshida applied a headlock, but that was just about it for his offensive attack. Robinson hit a leg lariat followed up with a powerbomb for a two count. Robinson hit a lariat, finishing Yoshida off with the un-prettier for the pinfall victory.
Match 7: Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Hitoshi Kumano
It’s been a while since I’ve seen the funky weapon in action and I can safely say I have not missed him one bit. To no surprise at all this match featured a vast array of comedy spots from hip attacks to spanking. I’m not going to go through the whole match because all of Taguchi’s comedy matches are the same. Taguchi got Kumano down in the center where he hit him with a series of hip attacks. Kumano made the comeback hit Taguchi with a splash in the corner followed up with a vertical suplex for a near fall. Taguchi made a comeback of his own, locking in the ankle lock only for Kumano to get the rope break. Taguchi hit an Enzuguiri followed up with the Dodon for the victory.
Match 8: Team NJPW vs. Team NOAH
The veterans of New Japan along with Shibata were set to face off against Team NOAH in the main event of tonight’s card. The two teams met in the center of the ring where of course all hell broke loose. The fighting went throughout the building; the teams fought out into the crowd which felt more like a 1997 episode of RAW rather than a New Japan show. Each member slowly started to return to the ring, and the match settled into a regular multi-man tag. This match was a rather long one; Nagata hit a belly to belly followed by a knee in the corner getting his team the victory by hitting the backdrop hold. The teams continued to brawl following the end of the match, so it looks like this NOAH vs. New Japan feud will continue past today.
Show Grade: C-
Final Thoughts: If you’re a hardcore fan who enjoys watching up and coming talent then this is the card for you. If you’re a more casual fan, I would suggest skipping this show altogether.