Wrestling Review: NJPW Dominion (2018)

No time limit. Best two-out-of-three falls. Champion versus Challenger. As New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) presents it’s annual Dominion event live from Osaka-jo Hall, the reigning, defending, record-breaking IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada will defend one last time against the thorn in his side known as Kenny Omega. The two have faced off three times before, and each hold a 1-1-1 record, so this will be the tie breaker to end all tie breakers. Tetsuya Naito will also be in for one of the biggest fights of his life, as he does battle with WCW, ECW and WWE legend Chris Jericho. Jericho has been sneak attacking and delivering expletive filled rants towards Naito for months, and this match has all the potential to be a violent affair. Not to be outdone, the Junior Heavyweight Championship is on the line, as the winner of the Best of the Super Juniors 25, Hiromu Takahashi, will go up against the Aerial Assassin, current champion Will Ospreay. After Takahashi’s finals match against Ishimori it is unclear how much the BOSJ winner has left, but he will need to bring his best if he wants to claim the championship he needs and loves. Botht he junior heavyweight and heavyweight tag team titles are on the line, the NEVER Openweight championship will be contested for in a three-way, and as always the undercard is filled with some of New Japan’s top talent as they attempt to build momentum for their own desires. All of this, and the New Japan Pro Wrestling debut of the King of Lucha Libre, Rey Mysterio Jr at NJPW Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall!

+ Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Kenny Omega (No Time Limit Two Out of Three Falls Match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship): as epic as the situation, and match itself was, it still fell into the same problem all multi-finish matches have, in that the first fall absolutely did not matter, and considering the first one is usually the longest, that was a bit of a problem. The crowd made noise for big chops, hard elbows or a frantic sequence, but for the most part all the reaction came after the match had already been going for some time (but considering this was a long match, as we all knew it would be going in, that wasn’t much of an issue). Once these two got into a good rhythm, no matter what the score may have been, they put on a hell of a match, with each busting out some moves from their past, or moves from enemies of their past. There was a lot of laying down in this match, but damn if the rest wasn’t phenomenal
+ Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Chris Jericho (IWGP Intercontinental Championship): what was Jericho wearing/what was his facepaint meant to be? He looked like an old timey clown. But then the match started and I was not laughing any more. There was lots of broken weaponry, a fair amount of (unintentional?) blood and the ending was sudden, which I think worked perfectly for what they were going for. I enjoyed this, almost as much as the Jericho/Omega match from Wrestle Kingdom, and I enjoyed the aftermath even more
+ Will Ospreay (c) vs Hiromu Takahashi (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship): the crowd was so wildly behind Takahashi that it almost forced Ospreay to play the bad guy. This was fantastic. Perhaps not quite as crazy as Hiromu/Ishimori from the finals, but full of so many incredible sequences, counters and such dangerous moves that I was hooked from the beginning. This really was fantastic
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (c) vs The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (IWGP Tag Team Championships): this was the first big test for new heavyweight Bucks, and it was a good sowing. Nick Jackson was on fire as Matt was STILL playing up his injured back. The Bucks were the very clear underdogs, but this match still lived up the hype that perhaps the Bucks could be a heavyweight team. I enjoyed this, but I like at least three of these four (try and decide the one I don’t like). All throughout, even up until the ending, I never really felt like the Bucks stood a chance, as they just looked too much like Juniors compared to the much larger EVIL and especially SANADA
+ Hirooki Goto (c) vs Michael Elgin vs Taichi (NEVER Openweight Championship): I’ll admit, I did not have high hopes for this match, but Big Mike’s incredibly transformed physique was noteworthy before the bell even rang – he looks great, and has apparently not lost any power. I was sufficiently entertained with the 1v1v1 shenanigans, and it really was Elgin who impressed me the most. Taichi was the worm throughout, as he constantly interupted the work between Goto and Elgin. Low expectations or otherwise, I really enjoyed this
+ CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) vs Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.): as I said on the BOSJ final review, I’d be more than happy for Ishii and Suzuki to just smacsh each other in the face forever. Sabre is a significantly better replacement than Iizuka. All four guys have history with each other in various stages, and it made for a short but satisfying contest. Frankly, I still just want more of Ishii/Suzuki, and the post-match shenanigans make me think I might get just that sometime soon

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jushin Thunder Liger & Ray Mysterio Jr. vs Bullet Club (Cody, Hangman Page & Marty Scurll): Cody and Mysterio are no strangers, having competed against each other at Wrestlemania, but it was Scurll’s interactions with both the masked legends that I was most invested in. I was a little bit disappointed with this match, only because I expected a bit more. Mysterio looked good, Liger looked good, Scurll looked good and Cody was great, but it was Tanahashi and Hangman who were essentially irrelevant
Taguchi Japan (Juice Robinson & David Finlay) vs CHAOS (Jay White & YOSHI-HASHI): Finlay and Juice are a good team, but this was about as standard a low-card tag team match you could get. I can’t believe Jay White is still not defending his title on these shows
Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (w/ Rocky Romero) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships): this was the opening contest, and it wasn’t very long, nor particularly special. The R3K boys did really well in the BOSJ, I thought, and I wanted to see Desperado continue with Dragon Lee in some capacity. I didn’t really want this match to go the way it did, but it happened, and it’s best we all just move on

> it was a bit strange to not have Kota Ibushi, BUSHI, Chase Owens and someone like Dragon Lee on here in matches. Ibushi in particular felt like a big omission
> there were a lot of replays on this show, which I don’t recall seeing as often in the past, and many of them showed just how “not-real” so to speak this stuff is. It was a strange, and ultimately incorrect production choice

Should you watch this event: This was a good show, especially in terms of the bigger matches. Essentially every title match was worth seeing, particularly Elgin/Taichi/Goto, Hiromu/Ospreay, Jericho/Naito and Omega/Okada. This was a relatively long show, at over four hours, but even if you just want to watch the main event matches you’ll have a good time with it.

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