Wrestling Review: NJPW Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall (2022)

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) returns to pay per view action with the annual Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall event. In the main event, Kazuchika Okada defends the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against the ‘catalyst of pro wrestling’, the leader of Bullet Club, “Switchblade” Jay White. Okada had historically had a tough time against White, with White holding a 3-1 advantage in singles competition, though Okada has never lost when the top gold in NJPW has been on the line. Throwing one final wrench in the gears, “Hangman” Adam Page of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has challenged Okada, should Okada come out victorious, to a match at the upcoming AEWxNJPW crossover show, Forbidden Door. Also on the show, SANADA and Will Ospreay battle one-on-one for the vacated IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship. Though Juice Robinson never lost the championship, and still claims ownership of the physical belt itself, he was not able to make the event due to having his appendix removed just over one week ago and therefore has been stripped by NJPW management. Meanwhile, two Bullet Club OGs go head to head with the NEVER Openweight Championship on the line, when Tama Tonga and Karl Anderson face off for the first time ever in singles competition, and Shingo Takagi and Taichi continue their unconventional match rivalry over the Provisional KOPW 2022 Trophy. Tonight at Dominion, Shingo and Taichi will meet in a match with a ten minute time limit, where any pinfall count of any length will add to a cumulative total, and the most pin counts wins.

Originally scheduled to face CM Punk at Forbidden Door, and with that match cancelled due to an injury to Punk, Hiroshi Tanahashi will instead spend his night at Dominion having to battle to see if he even makes it to that show. The Ace will now contend with Hirooki Goto, where the winner will face Jon Moxley at that event instead. The IWGP Championship has long eluded Hirooki Goto, and while he is certainly the underdog in this match up, a upset win here could spell a huge world title win in the future for the fan favourite underdog. The IWGP Tag Team Champions will also be defended as General’s Jewel (Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens) of BULLET CLUB battle the hosses of the United Empire, Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan, and the House of Torture defend their NEVER Openweight 6-Man Titles against El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Zack Sabre Jr. of Suzuki-gun. Toru Yano faces DOC Gallows in Gallows’ first singles match in NJPW in years, and two huge six man tag team contests kick off the show, featuring the likes of United Empire, BULLET CLUB and Los Ingobernables de Japon.

+ Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Jay White (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship): Jay White is just fantastic, and I think some people may have forgotten that as he spent so much time in Impact and on NJPW Strong over the past few months. I liked this overall, but if there is one thing Okada needs it is a 15 minute match with no overly-long build up tot he stuff the fans — both the live crowd and I — want to see. The Money Clip tease Okada does in every single match kills the momentum every single time, and it’s only a testament to how good White is that the match even recovered. Still, the stuff from Okada we do want to see is good as ever, including that incredible dropkick and superb lariats. This was a great main event that would have been an all time classic were it ~10 minute shorter. Oh, and Jay White even got the crowd making proper noise again
+ Tama Tonga (c) vs Karl Anderson (NEVER Openweight Championship): this was perfectly acceptable from two guys who are best known for being tag team wrestlers. There was a lot of history here, and with both men using some similar moves in storyline, we got a lot of great mirror spots or counter chains. I liked this more than I was expecting to
+ Shingo Takagi (c) vs Taichi (10 Minute Unlimited Pinfall Scramble Match for the Provisional KOPW 2022 Trophy): I love the unique pinfall matches these two have had, and this was another great entry in that series. I might almost suggest this was the most exciting match on the card, and both men played their parts not just perfectly as wrestlers, but with accuracy measured to the second. Shingo is just the greatest, and Taichi continues to surprise me in these ‘comedy’ (but not really comedy) matches
+ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto (Interim AEW World Championship Eliminator Match): I don’t think anybody bought Goto in this match and the match suffered for it. Whether that proved correct or not, the live crowd was seemingly struggling to get behind Goto as compared to the man who already had the match booked before this event lineup was even revealed. It’s no fault of the wrestlers here, and this was still a positive overall, but there are some issues outside of their control that have to be acknowledged
+ HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & SHO) (c) (w/ Dick Togo) vs Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr.) (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship): overall I like this and it was lots of fun, but it just gets so bogged down by predictable garbage. Despy/Kanemaru/Sabre are a great trio, and I look forward to them teaming up a bit more (though I think I do prefer Dangerous Tekkers of Sabre and Taichi). I really like SHO and I want him to succeed, but this character and wrestling format he has going on is just the worst
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI & Hiromu Takahashi) vs BULLET CLUB (Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo & Ace Austin): Austin/Naito is a match I didn’t know I wanted until right now. Everyone in this match was good, and it’s almost scary how well Ace Austin has transitioned from beloved foreign favourite to immediate Bullet Club dickhead after his BOSJ showing, but that is just a testament to his abilities. I am disappointed that Hiromu/Ishimori wasn’t on this show, but this match was fun so I can’t complain

SANADA vs Will Ospreay (Vacant IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship): I wanted to like this, and I really gave it my undivided attention, but I just couldn’t care for it. Ospreay has a bit of a ‘the guys backstage are screwing me over’ thing going on, but that never came across against the far less visually emotional SANADA. I don’t know what to do about SANADA, but I feel like I’ve been flip flopping on him almost every single show
BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens) (c) vs United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) (IWGP Tag Team Championships): in the time it took me to copy and paste this review from my template to this finished place, I already forgot everything about this match, including the winner. That’s a real shame, considering I have been enjoying O-Khan lately. I hope he won
Toru Yano vs DOC Gallows: steaming garbage. Gallows being back in NJPW is a death sentence for my interest. I don’t know why people like the Good Brothers at the best of times, least of all Gallows
Six or Nine (Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato) & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs United Empire (Aaron Henare, TJP & Francesco Akira): Henare looked impressive, but overall this was a nothing happening match which served primarily as a preview for the Junior Tag Team Championship match to come. I smiled to see Manabu Nakanishi with Tenzan, but that was about it

> the line up for the G1 Climax 32 has been announced, and it is a doozy. Some notable omissions, of course, but also some really good inclusions that I cannot wait to see

Should you watch this event: This could have very easily been a show carried entirely by its main event, but I was pleasantly surprised by the entire second half of the show (except for Ospreay/SANADA, though I admit that’s a me problem). Jay White is fantastic, Okada is an all time great, Tama Tonga and Karl Anderson impressed and Tanahashi/Goto put on a perfectly solid match. This was a good show, overall.

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