New Japan Pro Wrestling Dominion
June 19th, 2016
Osaka-jō Hall – Osaka, Japan
FUCK IT! WE DID IT LIVE. This review is an archive of a live review that was done as the show took place by Trask and Rex.
Jay White Farewell Match: Jay White, David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Manabu Nakanishi
Juice Robinson has the “smirk” emoji on his attire. As a millennial I approve. This felt more than a run of the mill opener/dark match. It was worked in the light-hearted six man tone as per usual, but felt more special due to the circumstances. Jay White was kept on the apron for a lot of the time. Whether it was Juice screaming “MOTHERFUCKER” at Nakanishi before being delayed speared at the rate of a turtle to Finlay’s balls being worked over, to Nakanishi doing a damn crossbody; this was a hoot. Then came the final challenge for White. He had to take on Tenzan one-on-one. He failed but gave a valiant effort. He taunted with a boatload of charisma as per usual, stealing the Mongolian Chops. He eventually had to tap to a vintage Tenzan Anaconda.
Post-match, as expected, White got promo time. He showed off some of the Japanese he’s learned over these last two years. He said thank you to everyone and to keep up the support. White will do great in ROH no matter they drop the ball or not. The future is VERY bright for this New Zealand lad. He’s full of charisma and he will not let you down in any situation. I cannot wait for this excursion and I am beyond excited for when he gets back.
A fantastic big show video package plays highlighting all the matches and feuds. The more I watch the more I realize just how INSANE this card is. Like…it’s ridiculous. I also forgot the junior tag title match was an elimination match which is automatically fantastic. Naito got a huge pop on his match graphic.
Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Hangman Page vs. Captain New Japan, YOSHI-TATSU & Togi Makabe
Add Adam Page in New Japan to the book of bizarre wrestling instances in 2016. Not only did Adam Page sneeze but he also used his rope and hanged YOSHI-TATSU before the bell even rang. THE DAMN CAMERA MISSED THE SHOOTING STAR HEADBUTT, a stable of The Hangman’s offense. It panned to Fale instead. Priorities, set them straight NJPW production. Whenever a mere useless six man transitions to Makabe saying fuck you to Fale and taking it to him takes the match to the next best average level. Page struggling with Captain New Japan of all people in his debut does more harm than revitalization to the Bullet Club brand (dead anyway). I did bite on the CNJ Kokeshi near fall, but that led to Page pinning him with the Rite of Passage. Alright.
Page and co hung CNJ by the ropes post-match until the other two came in to run them off. At least that was a squash element to throw in the mix.
SANADA & BUSHI vs. Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
A stacked second match on paper. I have ended the feud with HASHI much like those in the Southern U.S. and U.K. have ended theirs. I may talk to KAI soon as well. YOSHI-HASHI is a good brother now. He took the heat like a great wrestler. I legitimately felt bad for him this time around! This was a fun short match. Not only is my feud with HASHI over, but I thought he was fantastic here. The near falls were built to beautifully and with Ishii in and out of the mix, it did the best for the match. YOSHI was saved multiple times in different situations. SANADA’s chemistry with him was undeniable, dominating the match portions and getting the crowd HOT. Ishii saved HASHI from the Skull End which lead to double submissions. YOSHI-HASHI TAPPED OUT SANADA IN THE MIDDLE OF OSAKA-JO HALL TO A THUNDEROUS POP! Everything went well in this match and every choice was made right. I enjoyed the hell out of this. What a time to be alive.
EVIL vs. Hirooki Goto
These two have had tremendous chemistry, whether singles, tags or trios. I expected nothing below solid from these two. I’m always down to two dudes clobbering each other, even if it means Goto in the mix. I enjoy Goto’s in ring work for the majority of the times I see him, but as everyone knows it is just so hard to care about him at this point. He keeps getting lapped only to catch up, to be brought back down. EVIL is a new hot name still with tremendous wrestling ability. It’s no surprise that this match delivered. Goto reversed the STO into a head on knee and that’s when it got “lit” as us kids say. Goto put EVIL through his paces and managed to keep reversing the STO attempts, fighting through the pain. An Ushigoroshi and GTR put away EVIL. EVIL doesn’t lose his career because of the loss, and I understand the booking patterns here, but really, we’re never going to believe anything past failed title challenge for Goto. This was more “CHAOS attempts to get even with Ingobernables” than anything. Real solid stuff between the two.
The Young Bucks eliminated Roppongi Vice by throwing them over the top rope. Matt Sydal and Ricochet eliminated reDRagon by throwing them over the top rope. The match then transitioned to pinfalls being allowed. The Young Bucks pinned Matt Sydal to become new IWGP Junior Tag Team champs aka the put ’em in the bin belts. This whole match caused mass confusion, but thanks to VOW, I realized that every elimination match really does have over the top rope rules in New Japan, dating way back. Some of the best matches ever followed this format. You’d be shocked to hear this isn’t a match of the century candidate. These four teams went outside of the box which I commend them for, but it didn’t fully click. After the two fairly quick eliminations it transitioned into a one on one tag that was completely good. Lots of counters and high tempo offense completely limited to just in ring, which at least was different from the typical course. Ricochet did a good job of teasing and playing worried partner in peril. He got superkicked to death and Sydal ate the pin. Not a damper on the show or anything, just weird.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: KUSHIDA (c) vs. Will Ospreay
The Best of the Super Juniors 2016 winner came into Osaka Jo-hall to do what he couldn’t do in his debut match, defeat the ace of the junior division and one of the best wrestlers on planet earth: KUSHIDA. All I can say is…HOLY SHIT. Gedo absolutely did the right thing. To boot, it wouldn’t have looked too great if Ospreay won the title off of his worst performance in a wrestling ring this year. I’m not sure if Vader’s comments still has him gotten to, or he was off his game or what. It was NOT a good match at all for the lad. From his butchered aerial moves to an incredibly awkward spot in which he flipped and KUSHIDA had to lariat the leg on the fly – Ospreay shouldn’t be proud of this performance. It wasn’t a carry job but if it was ever a complete positive – negative balance to a match, this could be used as a good example. KUSHIDA was fantastic as per usual. Even though the match wasn’t as good as the first, this is proof that Gedo did the right thing. I was worried that KUSHIDA’s reign would be cut short yet again. I am so glad NJPW continue to run with him as the ace. Bring on Sydal, O’Reilly again, Romero, BUSHI, etc. A sigh of relief and a slacking Ospreay made this a decent title defense complete with no booking errors.
Note: Since people are already getting hot and heavy about the Ospreay comments. I LOVE THE DUDE. I want him to succeed. He’s one of my favorite guys to watch. That doesn’t stop me from digging into a performance.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Guerrilas of Destiny (c) vs. The Briscoes
If you didn’t watch the Briscoes’ lead-up promo from their farm, you did it wrong. I’m going to fess up as per usual. G.O.D. are near unwatchable. Just so brutally average. Not go-away heat from them, but a sense of we’re getting nothing special or anything worth paying full attention to. My eyes make me gravitate away a lot of the time; even if they’re in the ring with one of the best teams ever.
This arena is really complicated to navigate, and I just saw the longest line for a men's bathroom I've ever seen.
— KoreaKonas (@dynamic_jonas) June 19, 2016
Case in point. The most notable thing about this match is the fact that Shinya Aoki is sitting next to president Kidani! UNTIL THE BRISCOES BECAME HEAVYWEIGHT TAG CHAMPS! YES! Another correct call made by Gedo. Loa kicked out of the Jay Driller which was just…what? However a doomsday device was hit which led to the title switch. Freaking awesome to see. Nothing better than seeing Yujiro Takahashi assist in hanging The Briscoes after curtain jerking. At least Adam Page is going to beef it up with The Briscoes(?) Yujiro better bring Mao for the title challenge.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Yuji Nagata (c) vs. Katsuyori Shibata
What better way to spend Father’s Day than kicking the shit out of a da? This was a great match. It slowly built to an all out battle that lasted multiple minutes. I love when matches base themselves heavily on the last ones. This did such. My favorite spot of the whole match was when Shibata used a backdrop and the crowd went insane, thinking it was over. It wasn’t over for multiple minutes after that. Everything felt perfectly paced and fit for the Shibata/3rd Generation feud. PKs were missed, backdrops were hit, slaps, kicks and knees were exchanged with lengthy echos. This match wasn’t the best of the feud (Shibata vs. Kojima), but it is something that everybody should watch. Shibata beating Nagata for the first time ever, popping the crowd with every kickout. Nogami shedding tears seeing his hero’s run come to a halt so quickly. This was a nice back and forth title switch and feud closure. I’m pissed Aoki didn’t hit the ring! None the less a match done 100% right with no bullshit involved. Just two guys settling a score in deadly ways with a belt on the line. Post-match Nagata put Shibata ever. It was only fitting to see that type of scenario play out.
A hilarious package played highlighting the Tanahashi pullout and Elgin/Omega feud with ladder match hype geared towards NJPW fans/Japanese fans that have never experienced a ladder match or needed to be reminded of such.
As you may have saw on Twitter, Trask had to dip out and it’s Rex here to take over for the main events. I’ve been into NJPW for a few months now and I’ve been enjoying the show a lot so far so let’s get right back into it.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Michael Elgin
Man, I love Red Shoes. Right off the bat justice is served and the Bucks are sent from ringside to the back. Gotta love it. Kenny Omega is one of my favorite wrestlers in this crazy year of 2016. He’s a great worker and his charisma is off the charts. He really gets facial expressions too and knows how far they can take him. Big Mike is just a freak of nature. He proves that here, catching Omega out of mid air, launching him into ladders, doing flips over the rope. The bottom line, the dude is impressive. Plus The Elite are a gimmick I enjoy, they pop me a lot, whatever. And seeing ladders set up around the ring is just nuts. It’s crazy cool to see a ladder match in a New Japan setting.
This match felt like a WWE PPV match. As expected, Bullet Club got involved again. Babyfaces came out to save Big Mike and they got superkicked but eventually got their revenge. What didn’t feel like a WWE match though, was that it wasn’t built around the chase to the belt as much as most WWE ladder matches are but more so around just beating the shit out of each other with steel ladders. This made the anticipation that much greater whenever they clashed atop the ladder. Whenever Big Mike got him up for the superplex I stood out of my chair. Of course, ladders were broken in half. Would it even be a ladder match now a days if they weren’t? This time it involved trashcans though so that was refreshing. Oh, of course Omega and company introduced more foreign objects than just ladders. Street signs, trashcans, Kenny’s broom, etc. As expected the Bucks eventually came back out and handcuffed Big Mike to the ropes. I’m not a fan of the handcuff spot so this was sour for me. It was awesome whenever Big Mike just ripped the handcuffs apart with his brute strength and ascended the ladder to achieve his destiny as the NEW IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION. This match felt like it went on for a good while but I was engaged throughout. I wouldn’t call this a MOTYC or anything but I would call it a great match and my favorite match of the night thus far. It really felt like Omega and Elgin left a lot out there in the ring tonight.
A video package played for the main event but I wasn’t paying too much attention because I may or may not have accidentally erased everything I wrote about the ladder match and had to go back and re-write while having a panic attack. Anyways, you know the story. Naito is the coolest dude on the planet.
(I want to make something clear, I missed the first five to ten minutes or so of this match due to connection issues, but I got those fixed as soon as I could and got right back to the match. If I missed something crucial that I don’t address here, I’m sorry.)
Both of these guys have money entrances and the presentation aspect of both wrestlers is crucial. Naito coming down in his suit with the rest of his boys, Los Ingobernables de Japon, with him does wonders for him before the match even starts. With an angle as hot as Naito taking the belt off of the new ace Okada and treating it with the disrespect that he has been and with Okada being one of the best big match workers in the world today this has big shoes to fill.
This crowd was a lot more hostile towards Naito then the Invasion Attack crowd was. It’s always good to see the crowd boo the bad guy and cheer the good guy. Okada and Naito have proven to have good chemistry during this program and that was no different here. Each men had a counter for their opponent’s signature moves, some really swift transitions from move to move, and believable near falls. The back and forth action here was really good and the execution of everything was on point. The submissions had me glued to the screen and I thought Okada was going to tap once or twice. They told a story here of course where Okada looked to reclaim his position as ace of the company while Naito fought not to have his spotlight stolen yet again by Okada. Speaking of that, that’s exactly what happened. Okada reclaimed his title as ace and IWGP Heavyweight Champion after 2 devastating lariats followed up by a Rainmaker.
I’m still pretty new to New Japan Pro Wrestling and I have to admit I’m a little disappointed to see Naito drop the belt so soon. Los Ingobernables de Japon have really captivated me since I’ve started following the product and I’d love to see them rule the promotion. However, as far too many people fail to realize sometimes, this decision can’t be properly judged until the whole story is told. This was merely just a chapter. A wonderful and incredibly enjoyable chapter at that. Hopefully, Naito goes on to win G1 and reclaim his title at Wrestle Kingdom and this will just be a hard fought battle in an incredible war.
Well, I didn’t expect to be discussing my thoughts on Dominion in this format but here we are. This was a fun show. On the undercard, YOSHI-HASHI killed it in a solid tag with a hot finish and EVIL and Goto put on a damn fine match. I was hoping KUSHIDA and Ospreay would go above and beyond what they did in April and sadly, they didn’t. They still put on a good match in which the right guy came out champ. The NEVER title match was really good, the ladder match was great and the main event was incredible! If you’re gonna watch this show I would say skip the opening tag match, and definitely stay away from the heavyweight tag match, or just skip to the end and watch the Briscoes win because frankly, that rules. Maybe skip the juniors tag too, it was a weird match. Anyways, watch everything else! It was certainly a surprise to have to get in on this review, but I had a lot of fun. I hope you all did too. For more NJPW coverage, Trask (and me, Rex, during emergencies, I guess.) will have you covered here at WWW.
Until next time, folks.