NJPW Dominion Recap w/ The Chairman
New Japan Pro Wrestling has been on all cylinders for quite some time now. I started watching the product regularly since they had the G1 Special last July and it’s been quite the ride. Between watching every G1 Climax show to Wrestle Kingdom to today’s Dominion, NJPW has become a force in professional wrestling. The roster of NJPW is filled with wrestlers of many backgrounds and every big match feels important. If you haven’t watched NJPW Dominion yet, STOP READING and GO WATCH IT!!!! This is a review of the show and there will be spoilers of course.
The show kicked off with El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru of Suzuki-Gun defending the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against Sho and Yoh (Roppongi 3K) accompanied by Rocky Romero. Roppongi 3K have only been back in NJPW a few months since their excursion, but they’ve already managed to have two reigns as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Champions. The titles definitely haven’t had permanent placeholders since there has been several different champions the past few months and it was noted that Desperado and Kanemaru are the longest reigning champs in two years. The match was alright, though I question how much importance this division will have now since the Young Bucks graduated to the heavyweight division. Desperado and Kanemaru used their typical Suzuki-Gun heel tactics to successfully retain when Kanemaru used his whiskey bottle as a weapon when the ref was distracted.
The next match was Juice Robinson and David Finlay against Yoshi-Hashi and IWGP United States Champion Jay White of Chaos. I was surprised there wasn’t a US title match at Dominion, needless to say the title has lost value since Kenny Omega dropped it. I don’t know it is, but something about Jay White just isn’t connecting. The match wasn’t anything special. Basically all it really did is progress a possible Juice Robinson vs Jay White match in the near future with Juice scoring the decisive pin over White. There was an interesting point brought up during this match is if Yoshi-Hashi would make the cut for the G1 Climax this year. I personally think they should leave him out. There’s nothing special to him in my opinion and he definitely wouldn’t be someone I see as a potential threat of winning.
The next match was Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr of Suzuki-Gun vs Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano of Chaos. While it was strange not seeing Suzuki in a big featured match, there was some enjoyable moments in this match. Suzuki and Ishii are two of the toughest dudes in NJPW and I always enjoy seeing these two test their chops against one another. Sabre and Suzuki of course constantly made Yano a victim of their submission attacks. The finish of this was pretty good. Yano of course went for his patented low blow, but Sabre blocked it with his legs. Sabre then quickly turned it into a crazy submission and had Yano give up. Of course after the match, Ishii didn’t like the thought of losing so he engaged Suzuki and brawled with him some more. From chair combat to face slapping, these two didn’t hold back. I’m sure we will be seeing these two go at it one on one soon and I’d be okay with that.
Hirooki Goto put his NEVER Openweight Championship on the line against Michael Elgin and Taichi. One thing I’ll never understand is Taichi’s entrance. Match was okay, definitely wasn’t one I was interested in personally. The finish was pretty good though. Taichi used his valet to distract the ref and he used his microphone stand to take out both Elgin and Taichi. Instead of going for the win though he started laughing like a madman. Sure enough his pin attempt failed and when he tried again, Elgin grabbed him and buckle bombed him. Elgin then buckle bombed Taichi into the other corner and hitting Goto as well. Elgin then finished the match off with the Elgin Bomb to win the NEVER Openweight title. After the match Elgin and Goto had a brief show of respect. Being Goto didn’t get involved in the decision, I would assume Elgin will be giving him the first crack at his newly won title. As for Taichi, who knows where he’ll end up next. Probably hanging around Suzuki-Gun doing heelish things and lip synching.
Evil and Sanada of Los Ingobernables de Japon put their IWGP Tag Team Championship on the line against the newest heavyweights The Young Bucks. I was excited for this match and it delivered. Two of my favorite tag teams going at it and I didn’t know who to root for. I just sat back and enjoyed what I witnessed. It was noted that the tag titles have changed hands at Dominion three years straight so definitely didn’t look good for the current champs. One point in the match Nick Jackson went for a kick and missed injuring his right foot on the turnbuckle post. With that and the well known back injuries of Matt Jackson, things didn’t look good for the Young Bucks. They tried the Indytaker at one point and Nick fell off the rope because of his injury. There was definitely alot of close finishes and there were some moments I thought the Young Bucks were done, but they showed their resiliency in this one. Just when it looked like they were done, the Young Bucks started taking care of business and finished off Sanada with More Bang For Your Buck to win their first IWGP Tag Team Championship in the heavyweight division.
Jushin Thunder Liger, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Rey Mysterio Jr teamed up to take on Marty Scrull, Cody, and Hangman Page. The legends have had some encounters with Marty Scrull the past few weeks so it was only fitting this match was booked. Mysterio finally made his in ring NJPW debut after a setback from a bicep tear when he was originally scheduled to face Liger a few months ago. There was alot of taunting and tags in the early going. I will say Rey Mysterio Jr looked good all things considered. When it was all said and done though, Cody managed to hit the Cross Rhodes on Liger to get the win.
Will Ospreay put his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship on the line against Hiromu Takahashi. These two are no strangers to each other, but this time all the cat games were tossed aside. This was all business! Hiromu was coming off an impressive five and half star match against Taiji Ishimori in the longest match in Best of the Super Juniors history. The match started quick and fierce on the outside. This was a different Will Ospreay than I’ve usually seen. They were going at it on the outside and Ospreay even dug into his submission repetitor. There were alot of moments where it looked like Ospreay was going to retain, but Takahashi kept fighting. In the end, he managed to hit the Time Bomb to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and he couldn’t have been happier. It was a long year trying to get back to the title for Takahashi when he lost it last year at Dominion, but now he will have to be ready. There are definitely some major players in the junior heavyweight division looking to get that title.
Tetsuya Naito vs Chris Jericho was just an absolutely brutal street fight. This version of Chris Jericho is sadistic and vile. Definitely a version of Jericho we’ll never EVER see in WWE. Jericho came out to the ring in a very cool Clockwork Orange inspired attire. He then jumped Naito and absolutely brutalized him before the match started. They were brawling in the crowd and Jericho even took the timekeeper table and powerbombed Naito thru it. This is before the bell remember! Jericho wasn’t done though as he put Naito on top of another table and hit a DDT. Naito was losing blood around his eye and the match finally started. Jericho was persistent in getting the bell rang and was giving Red Shoes one hell of a night. Naito though didn’t go down without a fight. Naito finally got back into the match and went after Jericho and spat at him several times. At one moment Naito hit a piledriver on top of a table. Jericho one a few occasions locked in the Walls of Jericho, but Naito wasn’t tapping out. One moment Red Shoes was debating on stopping the match, but with a final burst Naito grabbed the rope. Eventually though Naito was victim of a Codebreaker and Jericho shocks the wrestling world and wins the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Jericho of course wasn’t done as he attacked Naito with the title belt and then started whipping him with his leather belt. Evil seen enough and ran down to the ringside to make the save. While it was definitely a shock to see Jericho win a title in NJPW, I don’t see him keeping it very long. More than likely he drops the title back to Naito or perhaps a match with Evil is in the cards. This story is far from over and as a wrestling fan I’m excited to see where this goes.
Finally the match we’ve all been waiting for. The match I circled my calendar for! Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega in a two out of three falls match with no time limit. I mentally prepared myself for this to go over an hour and sure enough it did just that. There was plenty of offense from both superstars in the early going. Both of course attempting One Winged Angels and Rainmakers, but of course counter after counter when it came to the finishers. Both men ended up on the outside many times. Okada would keep going to the Rainmaker, but every time Omega would find a way to counter. One time though he ducked the Rainmaker and went to pull Okada down, but Okada trapped him in a cradle pin to steal the first bout. Things weren’t looking good for Omega. How does he beat a man who has barely lost, let alone twice? The two went back at it and one time it appeared Omega was going to finish Okada off for good with the table setup on the floor and looked to suplex Okada into it. Sure enough it didn’t happen and both men were still countering finishes on the outside. After how many V-Triggers, Omega finally got the One Winged Angel to even the series. With one bout left, Omega went right on the attack quickly. This is where the match got really good and I was on the edge of my seat. Most wrestling fans know whenever there’s a two out of three falls match, it usually ends up going to the third and decisive fall. Both of these men gave everything they had and whenever one had a burst of energy they would try any signature move they could. I never seen so many V-Triggers and Tombstones. How many attempts of One Winged Angel and Rainmaker and there was some successful blows even in the final sequences. But both men were so spent they couldn’t’t make the covers. One time Okada went for a Rainmaker and passed out mid move. It literally looked like either man could’ve won this match at any time. Both of these men have been built up so well that any finisher could’ve been the end. The chase though was finally over. Kenny Omega finally overcame his biggest adversary in NJPW and defeated Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship with his One Winged Angel. Kota Ibushi and the Young Bucks celebrated the moment and sure enough Cody had to make an appearance.
As a pro wrestling fan, it’s always an incredible feeling to see a wrestler you cheered for finally win the big one. I had this feeling a few years ago when Seth Rollins won the WWE Championship. After seeing Omega get so close to defeating Okada for the title, but always coming up short. Assuming we were going to see Omega win the G1 Climax last year and go to Wrestle Kingdom only to see Naito win it instead. Today was one of those moments I will remember as a wrestling fan forever. Dominion 2018 is where Kenny Omega immortalized himself with the legends of NJPW and won the biggest prize in the game. It was one hell of a road for Omega to get there, but now how long can he stay on top? You know damn well Okada is going to want his belt back. You know damn well Cody’s jealousy is at an ALL IN time high now. I’m very excited to see what happens next with Kenny Omega as IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
All in all this was a fantastic show. Many new champions as NJPW heads towards G1 Climax season here in July. If you haven’t seen this show, definitely check it out. With that what did you think of Dominion? Tweet me @ChairmanSV and thanks for reading.