It’s a Bullet Club birthday celebration, as New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) presents night one of Wrestling Dontaku, live from Fukuoka, Japan. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Dragon Lee, will defend his title in the show’s main event as the Bullet Club’s Bone Soldier, Taiji Ishimori, whilst the NEVER Openweight Championship is also on the line as the Hawaiian Juggernaut Jeff Cobb looks ot make short work of Taichi in Cobb’s first defence of the championship. A special tag match also features on the card, as the CHAOS duo of IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada and the Stone Pitbull, Tomohiro Ishii take on the former two time tag team champions of SANADA and EVIL, of Los Ingobernables de Japon, before their respective singles matches tomorrow night.
+ Dragon Lee (c) vs Taiji Ishimori (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship): this was really, really good. It was interesting that the commentators were hyping up an inevitable Lee/Hiromu Takahashi rematch as the biggest possible match, because it just made Ishimori feel a little bit of an afterthought, which is a shame because Ishimori is really good. These two are two of the best juniors on the planet, and they showed everybody why that is, and it made for a great match
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii): this was really good, and to say that I am all aboard the Ishii/EVIL train is the understatement of my life. Okada/SANADA will be fine, sure, but I’m here to see big bois run into each other really fast, so I know what I want. This match was great
+ Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale & Jay White) (w/ Gedo) vs Juice Robinson, Mikey Nicholls & Hirooki Goto: this was pretty good, but I am most interested in the aftermath. Owens is still impressive every time I see him, and I love me some Juice and Goto, but something needs to be done with Nicholls, because he is currently just a bore. White is good, too, but he is currently suffering from that post-champion thing some guys get, where the title made the man rather than the reverse. This was still fine, though
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) vs Kota Ibushi & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH): this was great. The team of Ibushi and the 3K boys was something I never knew I wanted, and any time Shingo gets to massacre someone is great. In fact, Shingo getting to go HAM, my boy BUSHI getting some good stuff, Roppongi 3K being one of the best teams around, and Naito/Ibushi continuing their attempts to kill each other and themselves, this was one of the best matches on the show
+ Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku, Yoshinubo Kanemaru El Desperado & Minoru Suzuki) vs Tiger Mask, YOSHI-HASHI, Ryusuke Taguchi & Jyushin Thunder Liger: this was primarily a continuation of Suzuki/Liger’s recent issues, but is also worked as a showcase for the various juniors, before the upcoming Best of the Super Juniors tournament. I enjoyed this, not least of all because YOSHI-HASHI was barely involved
– Jeff Cobb (c) vs Taichi (NEVER Openweight Championship): whatever love for Taichi I had brewing has dissipated, and seemingly only existed because of my love for his opponents at the time, and unfortunately Cobb is not one of them. Cobb still had the strength and agility we all know, but something about him just felt out of place in this match, and Taichi, though has has a few fans of his own, we just in the unfortunate position of being a bad guy challenging for a title that not many people really care about, against a guy NJPW fans don’t much care for, following a great match, and right before the main event. Simply put, this was not very good
– Will Ospreay & The Most Violent Players (Yano Toru & Togi Makabe) vs Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, HIKULEO) (w/ Jado): this was fine but not overly exciting. I can’t believe how little I care about the GOD at the moment, especially with their banger of a new theme. HIKULEO is visually impressive, but compared to someone like Makabe, and even Yano, he doesn’t look that menacing. Ospreay needs to keep going with that giant slayer thing, but I guess since losing to Cobb that’s done with. I didn’t much care for this
– Yuya Uemera, Yota Tsuji & Toa Henare vs Ren Narita, Shota Umino & Tomoaki Honma: Narita and Umino are so good. Tsuji is definitely on the way up, as well, but Narita and Umino are just crazy talented for their skill level. This was nothing special overall, just more experience for the young lions
Should you watch this event: The main event (Lee/Ishimori) and the third-to-last tag match (Okada/Ishii vs SANADA/EVIL) were really good, and you might enjoy the Ibushi/Roppongi/LIJ match too, but otherwise, as always, just have a squiz at the people you like.