Wrestling Review: NJPW Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall (2021)

Looking to put a company-wide, unlucky few months behind them, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) returns to Osaka-jo Hall at the 2021 edition of Dominion. In the main event, former record breaking champion, “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada will face “The Dragon” of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Shingo Takagi, for the vacant IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. Following Will Ospreay’s relinquishing of the title, Okada has vowed to bring NJPW out of the malaise it finds itself in, whilst Shingo has sworn to bring prestige back to the top gold in the company. In the semi main, in what has essentially become a number one contender’s match, Kota Ibushi will face Jeff Cobb, and the match third from the top will see El Desperado face YOH for Desperado’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. A six-man tag, and a huge 10-man tag team contest will round out the show, as competitors jockey for position and championship challenges.

+ Kazuchika Okada vs Shingo Takagi (for the vacant IWGP World Heavyweight Championship): with the winner certain to hold this title for the first time, truthfully I expected something a bit more. Takagi is still one of the best in the world, and Okada looked like the Okada of old, much like Ibushi in the match before him. My main man Shingo’s speed is almost unbelievable, and main event Okada has timing for his big moves like nobody else. This started slowly, but finished incredibly strong, but all throughout I was waiting for that one more big moment which unfortunately never came. Still, this was the main event for a reason, and it capped off a really solid event
+ Jeff Cobb (w/ Great-O-Khan) vs Kota Ibushi: Cobb looked like an absolute monster in this match, and Ibushi seemed to have the crowd back on his side as before the title merger he was involved with. Ibushi also looks absolutely RIPPED. Ostensibly a number one contender’s match, the winner versus either of the main event competitors (especially the man who actually won) is going to be a wild banger. Cobb’s freakish strength led to one of the best moves I’ve seen in a very long time, and the crowd getting audible a few times really made this something special
+ El Desperado (c) vs YOH (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship): I really like Despy, and don’t particularly care for YOH. I think this went a little bit longer than it needed to, but overall really good. Despy walks that line between a dirtbag and a hero so well, but he was seemingly in his element being the jerk against the younger challenger in YOH. I feel like the crowd would have gotten into this more if they could make some noise, but it was once again better than the match before it
+ Suzuki-gun (Taichi, DOUKI & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & SANADA): the second match seemingly solely to get the most people on the card as possible, I still get a thrill out of everyone here except SANADA. I think DOUKI is really underrated, and BUSHI is still my boy even without a junior partner in LIJ. This was more of a match for a match’s sake, but it was pretty good
+ BULLET CLUB (Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens, El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & EVIL) (w/ Dick Togo) vs CHAOS (SHO, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) & Hiroshi Tanahashi: there was not much in the way of story here, but simply put, with so many moving pieces there was bound to be some good stuff. I enjoyed Ishii/EVIL dropping bombs each other, and Phantasmo and Ishimori being jerks to SHO was a lot of fun. I don’t know how I feel about YOSHI-HASHI meant to be the top guy in the group, but overall this was fine

> the live crowd is still limited to clapping and using the noise makers, and not any audible cheering, so the moments where they just can’t help themselves are magical. Three moments in particular stand out on this show, and they were all great
> with Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton and Rocky Romero doing commentary from their own homes, there was some wildly conflicting audio. Charlton, in particular, needs a new set up for some better quality

Should you watch this event: With only five matches, this was a breeze to watch. Though I wasn’t able to watch it live, due to a schedule change in Japan, I watched it as soon as I could and I wasn’t disappointed. Seek out Cobb/Ibushi and the main event Okada/Takagi match.


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