New Japan Pro Wrestling
Dominion 2015
July 5, 2015
Osaka Castle Hall – Osaka, Japan
Watch: NJPWWorld.com

New Japan Pro Wrestling returns to the famed Osaka Castle Hall for their last major show prior to the G1 Climax, 2015’s Dominion. All eyes are on the main event as Bullet Club leader and current IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles defends his crown against Kazuchika Okada. While most assume Okada ends his redemption story with a title win in Osaka (the same city where he miraculously won his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship), Styles has been gaining steam and could pull an upset. I wouldn’t bet on it, but stranger things have happened. 

The remainder of the card is highlighted by a few notable title matches including Hirooki Goto defending his Intercontinental Championship against the King of Charisma Shinsuke Nakamura and the hopeful blowoff of the Ishii/Makabe NEVER Openweight Championship highlight the remainder of the card. Shibata and Sakuraba promise to slap the hell out of one another and Hiroshi Tanhashi looks to finally get the pesky Toru Yano out of his hair.

We’ll have live coverage of Dominion on our Twitter account (@voiceswrestling) and a review immediately following the event. If you want to discuss, give your predictions and talk Dominion, do so on our brand-new, re-designed forums!

Manabu Nakanishi, Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi, Sho Tanaka & Yuji Nagata vs. TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima), Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask & Yohei Komatsu

Joe Lanza (@JoeMLanza): Nakanishi used up his one good (by his standards) performance of the year on 6/28, so hopefully he spends most of this on the apron. Setting the former Kurasawa aside there is a lot of talent here, but ten men plus very little allotted time probably equals a short, forgettable sprint. But hey, these matches have accidentally been good before, so who knows? Best case scenario for this not being a complete throwaway would be Tanaka scoring a fall over Komatsu to give himself some momentum heading into the NOAH junior league.

Prediction: Nagata, Dorada, Taguchi, Nakanishi & Tanaka

Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes): Something is going to happen with Komatsu here. The momentum is building, the aura is surrounding, the people are believing! Komatsu will be huge, saving the day for his team while leading them to victory! Or he’ll be pinned.

Prediction: TenKoji, Liger, Tiger Mask & Komatsu

Rich Kraetsch (@voiceswrestling): Not sure what to tell you about this match. These things are a necessary evil and can sometimes be pretty fun. They are a tremendous waste of Dorada, Tanaka and Komatsu but again, something we just have to deal with on major New Japan shows. Think of it on the bright side: you’ll only get a few minutes of Nakanishi and Taguchi!

Prediction:  TenKoji, Liger, Tiger Mask & Komatsu

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Three Way Match
Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) (c) vs. reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) vs. Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero)

Joe Lanza: As we’ve pounded home all over our site in print and in podcasts, reDRagon has been protected to an incredible degree in New Japan, having not lost a direct fall in a tag match since their debut in the Seibu Dome last year. O’Reilly & Fish are 24-2 overall since their debut loss and 23-0 (23-0!) in traditional two vs two tag bouts, with the two “losses” coming in three way matches where another team lost the fall. Throw in two very strong singes pushes in the Best of the Super Juniors, and it’s clear Gedo loves him some reDRagon. With all of that said, this is another three way, and it’s for a title that has no discernible booking rhyme or reason, so while it’s a safe bet reDRagon won’t lose, that doesn’t mean they will win.

Prediction: Roppongi Vice

Rob McCarron: When Roppongi Vice won the titles, losing them soon after to Young Bucks, I had mixed feelings. I thought, foolishly so, that RPG would hold the belts actually until this show. Not the case, of course, so now they can redeem themselves by winning on this show and making all right with the world. Beretta is amongst my favorite wrestlers on earth right now, so I go into this one a bit biased.

Prediction: Roppongi Vice

Rich Kraetsch: reDRagon’s has two tag losses this year: both to the Young Bucks, both times saw Junior Tag Title changes, and both times in three-way tag matches like this one. I see them correcting that issue this go-around and winning back the titles.

I’d be interested to see how Roppongi Vice fares as them winning wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility as they continue to get over with the Japanese audience. Still, I think reDRagon are your new champions and the Junior Tag straps continue their game of hot potato.

Prediction: reDRagon

BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Tetsuya Naito & Tomoaki Honma

Joe Lanza: What looked like mid card filler before the tour began has ended up being a super intriguing bout due to Naito coming back from Mexico with a chip on his shoulder. Remember when Naito disappeared into a booking black hole after losing to AJ Styles at Wrestle Kingdom? In another example of Gedo’s “light bulb booking”, it all makes sense now, as it appears Naito was in a holding pattern for what could end up being both a big direction change and a big push.

Prediction: Bullet Club

Rob McCarron: I’m with everyone else on this matchup. Possibly the least intriguing match going in has turned around into a necessary watch, as we find out more what is up with Tetsuya Naito. I think the Bullet Club takes it, Naito and Honma don’t get along, and Honma does what he does best – lose.

Prediction: Bullet Club

Rich Kraetsch: The real focus here is not on the match itself but how Naito and his new heel-ish attitude from Road to Dominion carries over. The guy has a freakin’ goatee now, you know he means business. Can he co-exist with Honma? Will this be a reluctant partner scenario? Were Naito’s heel-ish mannerisms just a tease for something bigger down the line? This match has lots of questions and I want answers to them, dammit! I think the Bullet Club wins here. Naito turns on or acts like a dick to Honma who shockingly takes the pinfall.

Prediction: Tetsuya Naito & Tomoaki Honma

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba

Joe Lanza: This could either be great or be flat out terrible, which is basically the story of every Sakuraba match. I’m beyond over seeing worked shoot nonsense, and you’re beyond over reading about me complain about it. Here’s hoping Shibata pushes the pace & intensity, and that Sakuraba can work up to Shibata’s level. I really don’t see any reason Sakuraba should win.

Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

Rob McCarron: Hi, I’m Rob. You may know me from such classics as “Shibata might win the New Japan Cup this year!” and “Shibata could be a top G1 contender!” Okay, the last one isn’t true, but I did select Shibata as my NJ Cup winner earlier this year. So, I’m gun shy now on predicting Shibata wins. This singles match is a different animal, though, and while others say it can go either way, I have a hard time picking against Shibata here. I’ll bet my house on it.

Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

Rich Kraetsch: Please don’t be a grapplefest, please don’t be a grapplefest. Look, I know you need to have some shoot-esque, catch wrestling type stuff in this match and I’m out with it, just please let me see these two slap the hell out of one another for a few minutes too. It’s not too much to ask.

Prediction: Katsuyori Shibata

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match
Kenny Omega (c) vs. KUSHIDA

Joe Lanza: The timing is perfect for the big KUSHIDA title win (his accidental title win last year doesn’t count). Omega’s title run got off to a rocky start, but if it does in fact end here, it was mission accomplished as far as establishing him with the fan base. It’s time for Omega to move on, meaning the slow burn to a payoff of the fantastic tease angle from Invasion Attack. Omega will be a major main event player in New Japan by this time next year. Book it.

Prediction: KUSHIDA

Rob McCarron: The time has come, no? The time has come for that big KUSHIDA push to fall from the sky, into our laps, and onto our New Japan Worlds. We’re still waiting for the next chapter of Omega ever since he was a little hesitant to help out AJ Styles against Kota Ibushi earlier this year. Can Omega’s days in the Bullet Club already be coming to an end? If Styles loses the title, could Omega be making a play to become leader and usher in a new era of the Club? Could Omega vs Styles be a feud we’d possibly see next year around this time somehow? The question to me is whether Omega needs the championship for his next phase. If the answer is no, KUSHIDA is the best option to take it off of him. Whichever way they go, I think we’re going to see some major Bullet Club dissension coming out of DOMINION based on who wins and who doesn’t.

Prediction: KUSHIDA

Rich Kraetsch: Lost in the hype of June’s spectacular KUSHIDA/Kyle O’Reilly Best of the Super Juniors final is that we get THIS match to follow. I have super high hopes for this match and hope we get the no-interference, down-to-business Kenny Omega as opposed to the flagpole frolicker we sometimes see. I’m assume we get more of the former.

The big question for me is the winner. It feels too early for Omega to lose but KUSHIDA taking a loss feels odd too. If this was WWE, I’d say we get a No Decision but that’s not how things are done across the ocean. Gun to my head, Omega retains with KUSHIDA living to fight another day.

Prediction: Kenny Omega

NEVER Openweight Title Match
Togi Makabe (c) vs. Tomohiro Ishii

Joe Lanza: There is no reason to think this won’t be good, but I feel like we’ve seen it a million times (it’s actually only been twice), and i’m ready to move on. The original plan probably called for Makabe to hold the title straight through until this show, but the flu caused Ishii to lose the title to him twice before we got here. Ishii won’t lose a third time. Now pray they aren’t in the same G1 block.

Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii

Rob McCarron: Togi Makabe won the NEVER title, then got sick, which sent the belt back to Ishii. When Makabe returned, he won the title again, and Ishii probably felt sick. Third time is a charm for Ishii, and as I say that, I realize that this potentially could be a show where every championship changes hands. Will that actually happen? I don’t think it will, so I’m going to be wrong a lot here.

Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii

Rich Kraetsch: This will be the third and hopefully final matchup of 2015 for Makabe and Ishii. Makabe won the first two so expect Ishii to get his revenge, win the final and walk away with the title. I don’t see a scenario where Ishii loses a third time as there’s really nowhere else for him to go, unless, of course, we get more of these two later in the year. Ishii wins, heads will be smashed, grunts will be heard.

Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii

IWGP Tag Team Title Match
The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Michael Bennett) (c) vs. BULLET CLUB (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson)

Joe Lanza: Sigh.

Prediction: Utter shit.

Rob McCarron: Doc Gallows is a fantastically entertaining fella. Funny, witty, able to make fun of himself and enjoy life. In the ring, though, full on boredom. I hate that I’m bored by Gallows very much, as I want to support his work. It’s just not there, and his surrounding cast doesn’t help much, too. I’ll go in with an open mind, ready and willing to be surprised.

Prediction: Bullet Club

Rich Kraetsch: Wow. If I’m sent to hell and someone wants to torture me for eternity, playing this match on repeat would be a great start. There’s no way this is good. No, seriously, there’s no way. Anderson will scream about Maria, she’ll try to distract them with her breasts, Bennett will be boring as sin and Gallows will be unimpressive.

Prediction: Bullet Club

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano

Joe Lanza: Tanahashi’s extended vacation ends after this blow off, with the G1 coming up and a huge match against HARASHIMA on the DDT Sumo Hall show. This will be shotcut city, and we’ll know more about Tanahashi’s physical state in about a month.

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Rob McCarron: I can’t believe this program has only been going on for four months, it seems like forever. A lot is made of Tanahashi’s physical health, and it should be. The guy walks like Hulk Hogan, as stiff as a board with his back issues. Yet, somehow, he goes out each night and at worst puts on an average showing. At best, he’s as fluid as ever, taking risks with that back that make you think he can’t possibly be as bad as many believe. I feel like we’ll be getting the more average Tanahashi on Sunday, though, and it’ll be filler between the real main events.

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Rich Kraetsch: The key to this match is how Tanahashi looks and feels. We know this mini-feud with Yano was a way to rest him up for a grueling summer filled with trans-atlantic flights and the G1 Climax. We could see one more 50% effort match from Tanahashi but if he looks fragile or slow, we should start worrying about this guy being on the downslope of his career. If he goes out, gets something decent out of Yano and does the crossbody to the outside, we’ll be in good shape.

Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

IWGP Intercontinental Title Match
Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

Joe Lanza: The consensus seems to be a definitive Goto win to firmly establish him as the new dominant IC champ, as Nak moves on to winning the G1 or headlining Wrestle Kingdom or winning the IWGP Heavyweight title or all of the above. I am firmly part of that consensus. There should be no less than three other title changes on this show, so this belt is a good bet to stay put. As a huge fan of Goto, who I believe is one of the most underrated in ring performers of this era, I hope I am eventually forced to eat my words that the ship has sailed on a true main event push. A long, successful IC title run would be a good start.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto

Rob McCarron: Finally, a championship match where I don’t feel a likely title change. It could still happen, but I’m with Joe in thinking that Goto will cement his title victory, while Nakamura moves on to something bigger following the G1 Climax.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto

Rich Kraetsch: Ask yourself who needs the IC Title more and you’ll see why I’m leaning Goto for this one. A loss doesn’t necessarily hurt Nakamura (the man I’m predicting to win the G1 Climax) but a win does a lot for Goto. He needs to solidify this run and get the “choker” tag/stink off of him. This is going to be an incredible back and forth contest and has a great chance of being the match of the night.

Prediction: Hirooki Goto

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada

Joe Lanza: Okada is 0-3 vs AJ in IWGP title matches, including his loss at Wrestling Dontaku last year where his title was stolen. Failing in two tries to win it back from Styles since (plus one other unsuccessful attempt vs Tanahashi) means that Okada is a virtual lock to finally get his revenge on AJ and win back the title that he never rightfully lost. The long redemption story, which saw an overconfident Okada lose to Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom, a frustrated Okada fall to Styles over and over, and a physically overmatched Okada forced to overcome the monster Fale to get back into title contention finally concludes here, fittingly in Osaka, where Okada shocked the world by winning his first IWGP title in 2012.

Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

Rob McCarron: Again, something is going to happen with the Bullet Club on the show. In my own little “What will they do” fantasy booking world, dissension within the club has to revolve around Styles losing the title. Plus, Okada has his own revenge to seek on Styles, so it all fits together. Either way, this will be a hell of a show and I’m greatly looking forward to the main event.

Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

Rich Kraetsch: I can’t imagine a scenario where Okada doesn’t walk out of Osaka with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in hand. This is a long tour of redemption for Okada and it can culminate here as he returns to the top of the company to prove himself as their superstar for the next generation. The easy out is as Rob mentioned, some type of Bullet Club dissention leading to Styles’ eventual face turn or Okada can just win clean and kick off his run.

Prediction: Kazuchika Okada