[Please note: there are incidental spoilers of matches from Day 1, which I reviewed, spoiler free, here. There is also a small spoiler as to the identity of “X”, who makes their debut on this show.]
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) annual event, Wrestling Dontaku, continues on night two, with two massive singles matches leading the charge before the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. In the main event, Kazuchika Okada will defend his recently re-obtained IWGP Heavyweight Championship against the super athlete of Los Ingobernables de Japon, SANADA. SANADA’s LIJ stable-mate will be in action, as well, as the King of Darkness, EVIL, finally goes face to face, one on one with the Stone Pitbull, Tomohiro Ishii in an absolute sure-fire slugfest.
+ Kazuchika Okada (c) vs SANADA (IWGP Heavyweight Championship): this was really good, but frankly, this new Okada reign already feels a bit old hat. Okada and SANADA are, according to commentary, five matches deep in their singles meetings, but as atheltic as each man is, they both are lacking that big change since their first real match-up. This was a good match, but if Okada is to continue his reign, or if SANADA is to start his, then something needs to change with these main event match styles, because they are just feeling a little bit too samey
+ EVIL vs Tomohiro Ishii: I don’t think I have enough synonyms for “Great” to describe this. These are two of my favourites in the company, doing a match and style that I love seeing, with the story going int hat they both want to prove they are the best at said style. What else can I say? This was the match of the show
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shinga Takagi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) vs Kota Ibushi & Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH): although this was essentially more of the same from Day 1, there was even more really good stuff from everyone involved. Ibushi and Naito’s eventual match is going to be superb, and the 3K boys in singles action for the BOSJ, not to mention my love of BUSHI and Shingo just massacring everybody he comes up against, have me excited for the upcoming tournament, and then Dominion after that
+ Will Ospreay & Dragon Lee vs Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo): this match is where the show really turned around. The reveal of X as El Phantasmo was hardly a surprise, due to the fact that Kevin Kelly spoiled it on the night the hype video debuted. But still, holy cow what a four man lineup for one match, and they absolutely did not disappoint. lee and Ishimori continued their battle from yesterday, and Ospreay and Phantasmo were on fire together, but things were just as good once they swapped opponents. This was a really good match, and has me excited for the upcoming Best of the Super Juniors
+ Bullet Club (HIKULEO, Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale & Jay White) (w/ Gedo) vs Juice Robinson, Tomoaki Honma, Hirooki Goto & Mikey Nicholls: this was pretty good, overall, with an interesting result. I’m still not sold on Nicholls in NJPW, but between Owens, White, Goto and Juice, there was some good action here, and even the relatively inexperiences HIKULEO had some big boi moments to himself
+ Jeff Cobb, Tiger Mask, Toa Henare, Ryusuke Taguchi & YOSHI-HASHI vs Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru): overall, this was fine, but there were just too many people involved for anybody to really stand out. Taichi should have been even more heavily featured, fresh of his title win on Day 1, and Suzuki himself should always have more of a spotlight. This was fine, but felt a bit too much as if they were just getting everybody into any match, when this probably should have just been Cobb/Henare vs Suzuki/Taichi
– Jyushin Thunder Liger & The Most Violent Players (Toru Yano & Togi Makabe) vs Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Jado): as with all GOD matches, this was acceptable, but with Jado involved, it was very clear what was going to happen. Going through the motions, and zero points for creativity
– Yota Tsuji & Yuya Umera vs Ren Narita & Shota Umino: in terms of a where the four guys are in their careers, this was an interesting little match, but the fact all four guys are relatively bland – outside of the progression Umino and Narita are making – meant this was nothing exciting
> I can never decide if I like NJPW’s ‘hype video’ style or not. They are all a bit samey, but I generally get that excitement when the person debuts. Maybe I’m just a sucker for surprises in general
Should you watch this event: The four final matches were definitely the best, so if you don’t have too much time to spare, just seek them out. If you are even further pressed for time, seek out the EVIL/Ishii and Okada/SANADA main events, and live a happy life.