Dick Togo wrestles in a NJPW ring for the first time in three years as LIJ face BULLET CLUB
July 11 and 12 saw the entire landscape in New Japan Pro-Wrestling shift, as EVIL captured double IWGP championships and shunned Los Ingobernables De Japon for BULLET CLUB. New Japan Road on July 20 sees action return to Korakuen Hall with a limited crowd, and sees the new champion in action, along with his ‘pareja’ Dick Togo.
Main event: Los Ingobernables De Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI) vs BULLET CLUB (EVIL, Taiji Ishimori & Dick Togo)
Our main event is a six man tag team match that would have been inconceivable less than 72 hours before its announcement. Brand new IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Champion EVIL will be teaming with BULLET CLUB members Taiji Ishimori and ‘pareja’ Dick Togo to take on EVIL’s next challenger Hiromu Takahashi, former champion Tetsuya Naito and BUSHI, who, it should be mentioned, is still one third of the NEVER 6-Man Tag Team Champions along with the King of Darkness.
At the New Japan Cup final on July 11, EVIL completed a dark and controversial cup campaign by taking the trophy and immediately laying out Tetsuya Naito, joining BULLET CLUB in the process. What should have been a competitive and hard fought Dominion main event took on a bitter and darker feel, as Naito sought to forcibly pull answers from EVIL, who would do anything it took to get results. That included the presence of a man in BUSHI gear choking the life out of Naito en route to a new champion being crowned; that man was revealed to be Dick Togo.
A 29 year veteran and one of the best regarded figures of the independent scene, Togo has not wrestled in a New Japan ring since 2017 at Lion’s Gate Project; his last NJPW event proper was way back in 2011. Nevertheless, Togo is a vicious and feared competitor all around the world having wrestled in Bolivia, Chile, Mexico, and of course Japan. That history in Japan gave birth to ties with Jado and Gedo in the past, but ultimately what has brought him to EVIL’s side is a question still yet to be answered.
Another question yet to be answered is just why EVIL acted the way he did. Hiromu Takahashi rushed to the ring to confront EVIL after Dominion’s main event, laying down a challenge to the new champion before breaking down in the ring. His long held dream to wrestle Tetsuya Naito with the double gold at stake was ripped away from Hiromu, along with a close personal bond that had been in place for years.
Takahashi is rushing into a championship match with little time to prepare before Sengoku Lord on July 25, New Japan Road will be a chance for some valuable answers to be found beforehand.
5th match: Master Wato, Yuji Nagata, Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Junior & Taichi)
The fifth match of the evening sees new IWGP Tag Team Champions Dangerous Tekkers team up with Suzuki-Gun’s King Minoru Suzuki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru to take on the former champions Golden☆Ace, Yuji Nagata and Master Wato.
At Dominion, Zack Sabre Junior and Taichi not only walked away with the tag team gold, but left Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi in little position to walk at all. Taichi’s Iron Finger From Hell to Ibushi was followed by a relentless assault on both legs to Tanahashi, and the Holy Zack Driver giving rise to a new and fearsome set of champions. The big question looming before Korakuen Hall is the physical status of Ibushi and Tanahashi, and whether they’ll have any answer after a crushing defeat over the weekend.
Meanwhile Master Wato is set to tangle with Yoshinobu Kanemaru. After defeating DOUKI in impressive form at the New japan Cup final, Kanemaru showed up to assault Wato, and it appears as if the two are on a collision course for a future singles encounter. For now, could it be the young Grand Master teaching a few lessons to Suzuki-Gun’s Heel Master?
Plus Nagata and Suzuki pick up where they left off during the New Japan Cup. Their opening round matchup during the tournament was as intense as they come, and hands down one of the matches of the entire tournament. With Suzuki returning after missing Osaka due to a precautionary measure, he’ll be eager to make up for lost time.
4th Match: CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & Kazuchika Okada) vs BULLET CLUB (Gedo & Yujiro Takahashi)
Tag team action in the fourth match of the night sees Kazuchika Okada and Hirooki Goto team up against Yujiro Takahashi and Gedo.
This weekend in Osaka Jo Hall, Takahashi first intervened in the New Japan Cup final between Okada and EVIL, before pinning Goto in tag action the very next night; all as Gedo threw a literal spanner in the works by attacking Okada at ringside. Reminding Okada that he not only cost the Rainmaker this year’s Cup, but the IWGP Heavyweight Championship all the way back in 2013 when leaving CHAOS for BULLET CLUB in the first place, Yujiro demands a singles match that’s seven years in the making.
That match will come at Sengoku Lord in Nagoya on July 25, but for the time being, tag team action will see an enraged Okada team with Goto to take on each man’s respective first round New Japan Cup opponents. the CHAOS team may be favourites on paper, but BULLET CLUB’s disregard for the rule book is proof that paper means little to Gedo and Yujiro.
3rd Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (Shingo Takagi & SANADA) vs Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & DOUKI)
Less than two weeks after defending the NEVER Openweight Championship in a war at Dominion with SHO, Shingo Takagi must defend it against El Desperado at Sengoku Lord, after ‘Despe’ attacked the Dragon from behind and made off with the gold. Takagi will be looking to get revenge for that humiliation in Korakuen Hall.
Meanwhile, EVIL’s defection and subsequent championship glory will have eaten at SANADA most of all. His place in the New Japan Cup final was taken from him with low blows and chairshots in the semi final, before his tag team with the King of Darkness was deleted forever as EVIL joined BULLET CLUB. Left out in the cold, Cold Skull seeks answers and some desperately needed momentum.
2nd Match: Gabriel Kidd, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs CHAOS (SHO, YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii)
In the second match of the night, Gabriel Kidd joins veteran mentors in Taguchi and GBH to face formidable foes from CHAOS. Kidd impressed crowds in Osaka with his ability and fighting spirit, and will not back down from difficult competition in Korakuen. On the CHAOS side, a chance to recover from a difficult weekend in Osaka, with SHO coming up short in his NEVER Openweight Championship chase at Dominion. Without a tag team partner for now as YOH recovers from injury, what’s next for the ‘High and Mighty’?
1st Match: TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura
In the opener, Tencozy seek to show the Young Lion team of Tsuji and Uemura the benefit of their decades of tag team experience. Both Tsuji and Uemura are improving by leaps and bounds; could they surprise the six time IWGP Tag Team Champions with what they’ve learned?