Wrestling Review: NJPW Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall (2019)

With the Best of the Super Juniors 26 completed, and Will Ospreay leaving victorious, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) moves forward to Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall. In the main event, The Rainmaker, Kazuchika Okada will defend his IWGP Heavyweight Championships against the self-dubber Painmaker, AEW wrestler Chris Jericho, who is fresh off a win over a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion in Kenny Omega at Double or Nothing. Will Ospreay will cash in his BOSJ 26 win against the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Dragon Lee, and Taichi will defend the NEVER Openweight Championship against Tomohiro Ishii. All of this, plus the new IWGP United States Championship Jon Moxley in action, the IWGP Tag Team Championships will be defended, and a huge cross-weight class match between BOSJ 26 runner-up Shingo Takagi and Satoshi Kojima at NJPW’s Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall.

+ Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Chris Jericho (IWGP Heavyweight Championship): Jericho may not be the most athletic competitor anymore, but he has such a great grasp of the theatrics and crowd-control that make for a great professional wrestler. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Okada is literally one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, and as the defending Champion of course he wanted to make the match as good as he could. If you didn’t like this match, I could understand why, but I liked it for what it was, though truthfully the ending was a bit flat
+ Kota Ibushi (c) vs Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Intercontinental Championship): of course this was great, and for almost anyone else, maybe even match of their life. But Jesus Christ almighty, how is Ibushi alive, let alone functioning properly. One point in this match was the last I ever wanted to see from these two. If they wrestle again, one of them will die, and I don’t know if that is even hyperbole anymore
+ Dragon Lee (c) vs Will Ospreay (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship): this was incredible, but also, I admit, not really what I was expecting. Both Dragon Lee and Opspreay had bangers against Shingo through the BOSJ and the final, and I am glad they tried some different for this match. Ospreay’s promo post-Shingo said he has plans to take NJPW to a new level, and if he keeps having matches like this, he will. Dragon Lee is incredible, too, and my prise for Ospreay is only possible because of how great Lee is as champion
+ Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Lao) (c) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (IWGP Tag Team Championships): despite commentary saying these two have only gone against each other 5 times total, it feels like they have faced off a thousand times. SANADA and Tama were so damn quick together, and EVIL and Loa were the big boys of the match. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, not because they are not good teams, but just because I didn’t really care for it going in. They proved me wrong
+ Taichi (c) vs Tomohiro Ishii (NEVER Openweight Championship): this was good, perhaps even really good, but it never quite bumped up to great or higher. Taichi looked really good, and Ishii hit like a truck over and over, but it just lacked that one final stretch to spark up the crowd. Still, I enjoyed this, and these two do bring out the best in each other
+ Shota Umino vs Jon Moxley: this was very short, and overall not very surprising, but the aftermath left me with goosebumps

Bullet Club (Jay White, Chase Owens & Taiji Ishimori) (w/ Gedo) vs Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Juice Robinson): Juice looked good, as his new title-less persona took center stage, but Tanahashi was sloppy and dragged the match down. Taguchi was used sparingly, thankfully, and the Bullet Club trio looked good together. This was not good, and frankly it is entirely on Tanahashi, once more
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zach Sabre Jr.) vs Jyushin Liger & YOSHI-HASHI: this was a pretty standard affair, with the same Suzuki/Liger stuff we’ve seen a lot lately, also featuring the same old stuff from Sabre and YOSHI-HASHI. This didn’t really do anything for me
Shingo Takagi vs Satoshi Kojima: this was a fine match, as you’d expect but in some ways I didn’t like the behind the scenes stuff. If Shingo won, then how could he possibly have lost to a junior in Will (as much as Will is almost a heavy himself). Nonetheless, once they started hitting their own lariats on each other it was all you could want. Still, I was left a little but underwhelmed

> If a special return wasn’t enough, the surprise he had certainly was. God almighty, the G1 is going to be insanely good

Should you watch this event: Despite the few matches listed above as negatives, and an ending of the show that was not quite what the crowd wanted, nothing on the show was bad, which means that start to finish, this may be one of the best wrestling shows of the year. Ibushi/Naito and Lee/Ospreay were both absolute match of the year contenders, and leaving aside the ending, Jericho/Okada was pretty good, too.

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