New Japan Pro Wrestling
Wrestling Dontaku 2019 Night 2
May 4, 2019
Fukuoka Convention Center

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our previewers:

Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura

Gerard: I already previewed this exact same match for Sengoku Lord. Not that there’s anything wrong with it happening again here. This should be awesome, as New Japan may have one of its best crop of Young Lions of all time. The two more experienced Young Lions should get the win here. Prediction: Shota Umino & Ren Narita

John: These matches are fun and I enjoy watching them. I’m still wondering when the hell Umino and Narita are gonna get to go on excursion. Both are beyond ready. Prediction: Shota Umino & Ren Narita

Jeff Cobb, YOSHI-HASHI, Toa Henare, Tiger Mask & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Suzukigun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & TAKA Michinoku)

Gerard: I’m sure there will be action that builds off of whatever the result the night before is in the Cobb vs. Taichi NEVER title match. This is one of the more random CHAOS/Sekigun teams, but I’m sure it will be fine. YOSHI-HASHI is the weak link, but I can understand if you’re more critical of these team than I am, if Taguchi’s schtick in these kind of matches isn’t your thing. Anyway, since I’m going with Cobb retaining the NEVER title, Taichi will pin someone here to get some heat back. Prediction: Suzukigun

John: There’s a few matches here where it’s tough to predict what will happen because they’ll presumably be playing off the results of the previous night (this is being written before Night 1 takes place), and this is definitely one of them. Is Taichi the new NEVER Openweight Champion here? Or is this match all about Cobb rubbing it in his face that he just retained his title? Meanwhile, it’s interesting that we’re finally separating Suzuki and Liger for the first time in weeks. I would like to see Suzuki torment YOSHI-HASHI instead, because frankly he kinda deserves it. Prediction: Suzukigun

Togi Makabe, Toru Yano & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. BULLET CLUB (Guerrillas of Destiny & Jado)

Gerard: I’m a little puzzled that Jado pops up on a couple of shows on this tour. His body is pretty much shot at this point to do anything beyond standing at ring side looking menacing with a Kendo Stick. Gedo can still kind of go, and has worked a couple tag matches on this tour. Even if Gedo wants to keep his in ring appearances at a minimum, the roster is deep enough that you shouldn’t have to use two 50 year old plus guys to fill out your undercard. But I digress. I think this match has a chance of being fun on some level thanks to Liger, but it could be something entirely forgettable. Liger is pinning Jado here. You don’t put Jado in a match in 2019 to not job. Prediction: Togi Makabe, Toru Yano & Jushin Thunder Liger

John: Yeah this is a weird one all around, both because Jado is working here as Gerard already covered and also because you’re separating Liger from his feud with Suzuki for seemingly no reason. GOD vs. Makabe/Yano was pretty much the definition of a nothing feud on this tour. Not much else to say about this one. Prediction: Togi Makabe & Toru Yano & Jushin Thunder Liger

Hirooki Goto, Juice Robinson, Tomoaki Honma & Mikey Nicholls vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Hikuleo)

Gerard: Don’t really have strong feelings about this match really. It might be okay, it has great talent like Juice, Goto, Owens, and White in it. It also has Bad Luck Fale and Mikey Nicholls. I’ll give Hikuleo a pass because he’s technically still a Young Lion in many ways and has been showing some improvement. There is the strong talent in here to compensate for, and cover up the weaker wrestlers in this match. I’m going to flip a coin and say there’s a 50/50 chance this match will be good. Prediction: BULLET CLUB

John: The BULLET CLUB vs. The Good Whites And Also Hirooki Goto feud was a big drag on this tour from start to finish, as these matches (plus GOD vs. Makabe/Yano) were just about the only things on the tour that the otherwise hot crowds didn’t care about. They at least managed to have a decent little elimination match on Wednesday, albeit one that was immediately overshadowed by a much better elimination match between CHAOS/Ibushi and LIJ on the same show, but that’s really the highlight of the tour for these guys. The only real bit of intrigue here is whether we get even the slightest of hints as to who Juice’s next US Title challenger will be. Goto, who lost to Jay White for the fifteen thousandth time in that elimination match, will probably get to pin Hikuleo here. Prediction: Goto & Juice & Honma & Nicholls

Dragon Lee & Will Ospreay vs. Taiji Ishimori & X

Gerard: Unless you’ve seen no New Japan this year, you probably know that X is in all likelihood, El Phantasmo. They even ran his teaser video during the video introducing the BOSJ participants despite still referring to him as X. It was weird. Anyway, not a big Brit Wres guy so I really don’t know anything about Phantasmo, but I do know that when a new mystery wrestler is revealed, the point of the match is to have him make a big splash. So expect lots of flippy-do stuff here. Even if Phantasmo isn’t that good (though I have no reason to believe that) this will no doubt still be a great match with the talent involved. I even think Phantasmo is gonna score a big win here and probably pin Ospreay. It would not even shock me if he pinned Dragon Lee. Prediction: Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo

John: Yes, as Gerard alluded to there, it was high comedy watching people on Twitter wonder out loud if the VERY MYSTERIOUS X in BOSJ was Hiromu Takahashi right after NJPW played a video quite literally showing it was El Phantasmo. The only mystery is whether or not they’ll change his name. Like Gerard I am also not a big watcher of the Euro graps- I can’t count the number of matches I’ve ever watched on one hand, but I probably can on two- so I have no frame of reference when it comes to The Artist Maybe Known As El Phantasmo. It does seem like NJPW is pretty high on him though, for whatever reason, just judging by all the vignettes he got leading up to this debut during the New Japan Cup tour. So Phantasmo pinning Dragon Lee, who will probably still be the junior champion here after his main event with Taiji Ishimori the night before, seems like something they might do to establish him right away and maybe set up a big BOSJ match. Prediction: Taiji Ishimori & Eh, Phantasmo?

Kota Ibushi & Roppongi 3K vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)

Gerard: This might be one of the last teases before we get the third Ibushi vs. Naito match of 2019. That will depend on how the undercards of the BOSJ are structured. Each show will have  5 block matches because the tournament has expanded to 20. Also some bigger heavyweight names often take off the majority of the BOSJ tour. Anyway, this will be a banger. R3K and the LIJ Jr. duo are coming off one of the best IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Title matches of all time, and there is more building up of SHO vs. Takagi to do. This could be the match of the undercard, at worst the second best after the tag match featuring X. Prediction: LIJ

John: This same match will have taken place the night before, but here it’s much higher on the card (third from the top vs. fifth), so I expect this one to get more time and probably in the end be the better of the two. As Gerard said this might end up being the final hype match for Naito vs. Ibushi- I tend to think it probably won’t be, and that they’ll work at least some dates of the BOSJ tour even if they don’t work the whole thing, but who knows- so that could be another reason why they go all out as well. No one can really accuse the two of them of taking this tour off either way, especially after they busted out the insane MSG apron rana spot on Wednesday night to do a double elimination in the main event. Throw in two awesome junior tag teams each looking to build momentum heading into BOSJ, and this could be a real treat. Prediction: Kota Ibushi & Roppongi 3K

Tomohiro Ishii vs. EVIL

Gerard: This has got to be building to something right? “Special Singles Match” usually means something. Ideally EVIL wins this and challenges Okada at Dominion for the IWGP title. Since I, and many others believe Naito is a lock to win G1, then Okada running through the other members of LIJ during this title reign isn’t a bad idea. But with Jay White having just won a Special Singles Match of his own it seems we could be getting another Okada vs. White match at Dominion. I am a big White fan, but I think EVIL should get the title shot at Dominion as something relatively fresh. Anyway, I’m expecting EVIL to win here, and hopefully we will get some kind of indication of what this match is setting up. Prediction: EVIL

John: Ishii and EVIL have been forearming and elbowing each other in the head for this entire damn tour- actually since the last night of the New Japan Cup tour- and they finally get to just lay into each other for a whole singles match here, and I for one can’t wait. You know the drill here: two men are going to beat each other senseless. In my dream scenario Ishii wins this and finally lays down the title challenge to Okada we’ve all been waiting nearly two years for (at Dominion, a show I’m attending!) but I think we’ve all kind of accepted that’s probably not going to happen by now. I do think Ishii is winning here, because like Gerard I think the winner is laying down a challenge for a title. If the next IWGP Heavyweight Title shot is (unfortunately) spoken for by Jay White, and obviously we already know the next Intercontinental shot belongs to Tetsuya Naito, that leaves us with the NEVER and the US. Considering no Japanese wrestler has ever challenged for the US Title in New Japan proper I doubt that’s happening, which just leaves us with the NEVER. Whether it’s Ishii vs. Cobb or a rematch of the awesome NJC second round Ishii vs. Taichi match, I think either would make a lot of sense for a Dominion NEVER title match. Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada © vs. SANADA

Gerard: I loved their New Japan Cup finals match. I know John will probably talk about how SANADA has always been much more over with Japanese crowds with his subtle charisma, and I don’t disagree. But I do think his work in the ring this year has been improved, and has been far more consistent. As for the issue of going right back to this match, even after SANADA already loss the New Japan Cup finals, I think it’s fine. New Japan has increased the number of larger shows in the past couple of years and are spreading out all of title and other big matches. That is happening because the company is hot. And if the company is hot and you have a hot champion like Okada, you can do stuff like another Okada vs. SANADA match in less than two months. The level of match quality has already been established as being very high. The build to this match over the Road to Dontaku tour has been pretty good too. SANADA was the sole survivor of a CHAOS vs. LIJ elimination match on the 5/1 Beppu show. He’s clearly inched his way up the card this year, and as long as he has a strong showing in the G1 I don’t think another loss to possibly the greatest IWGP Heavyweight Champion of all time is going to hurt him, especially if they meet or exceed the quality of their New Japan Cup Finals match. Prediction: Kazuchika Okada

John: I talked about this a bit in my Night 1 preview already for the tag match, but I enjoyed the subtlety of the Okada-SANADA build. It was more of a quiet build, given that these two men have no real storyline issue, but it was one that made a lot of sense. Okada liked wrestling this guy in the New Japan Cup final, especially liking that they’re the same age (both are 31, though Okada is almost three months older) and both clearly in their prime, so he made up his mind to give him his first title shot after winning back his title. There was no reason to try and make that into something it wasn’t, and NJPW didn’t try to force some kind of personal issue that wasn’t necessary. This was especially a good change of pace coming off Okada-White at MSG and White’s title reign in general, which is all based around the super-heel White and how much distaste virtually everyone else in the promotion has for him. Especially if we’re going back to Okada-White at Dominion, which I think is likely the case, this has been a very welcome reprieve. The crowds have been behind SANADA all tour, and I expect that to be the case here. Will they be able to top their excellent New Japan Cup final from the end of March? Prediction: Kazuchika Okada