Wrestling Review: NJPW Wrestling Dontaku (2021) (Night 2)

[Please note: a line-up change was announced just before the show, and such, El Desperado defending the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship was postponed, and SHO, Kazuchika Okada, Minoru Suzuki and Yoshinobu Kanemaru were not on the card.]

After Jay White claimed the NEVER Openweight Championship on the first night of action, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) returns for night two of Wrestling Dontaku. In the main event, a rivalry is renewed as the current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, “The Commonwealth Kingpin” Will Ospreay defends his title against “The Dragon” of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Shingo Takagi. Ospreay shocked the world by defeating Kota Ibushi at Sakura Genesis, and after challenges from both Kazuchika Okada and Takagi, Ospreay determined to face Takagi first in what is sure to be an incredible fight. Not just retaining, or finally capturing the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, the winner of the match will also go on to face Okada at the upcoming Wrestle Grand Slam inside the legendary Tokyo Dome. As always, various tag team matches round out the card between competitors from Suzuki-gun, Bullet Club, Los Ingobernables de Japon, the United Empire, and more.

+ Will Ospreay (c) vs Shingo Takagi (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match): hot damn, what do you even need to say? Wild Shingo lariats, some incredible Ospreay athleticism and a crowd that couldn’t help but make some noise a few times. I make no secret that I think Shingo is the best wrestler in the world right now, but even I can admit that Ospreay is something special. Despite just how long all of these NJPW main events seem to go (see also the way the NXT TakeOvers lost their shine in the same way) this was a hell of a main event
+ Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano & Ryusuke Taguchi vs BULLET CLUB (Jay White, EVIL & Dick Togo): is there anything better than main event Taguchi? White and Tanahashi had some unfinished business after last night, but it was Yano and Taguchi clowning out Dick Togo that made the match for me. At how bummed I was with the loss of the Junior Heavyweight Title match, this sort of comedy was more than enough to win me over
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & SANADA) vs United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Aaron Henare & Jeff Cobb): I enjoyed this more than I thought I would, particularly when Cobb was ragdolling the much smaller BUSHI, or Naito was playing around with the much more serious O-Khan. Henare and SANADA were almost non-factors for me, and I remember almost none of their involvement after the fact
+ Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi & DOUKI) vs BULLET CLUB (Jado, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa): I really like all three of the Suzuki-gun boys, and I’m not sure if Tama Tonga was even in the match at any point. DOUKI and Taichi both looked really good, and keep an eye out for Tanga Loa staring deadpan into the camera and saying ‘my left arm really hurts’. Gosh that Tanga Loa is underrated. This was a standard match, but still kind of fun

Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Master Wato vs BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi): being an Ishimori fan is suffering. Wato didn’t look quite as bad as usual here, but the skill gap between Ishimori and the rest of the competitors is incredible

> Either Shingo/Okada or Ospreay/Okada in the Tokyo Dome for the top title, is a tantalising prospect.

Should you watch this event: Despite the loss of the El Desperado/YOH title match, this was a really good show. Not all of the tag matches are must see (especially not that horrendous opener, sans Ishimori), but they each have at least something going for them, before a banger of a main event seals the deal and offers an incredible title match incoming.

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