New Japan Pro Wrestling
Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-Jo Hall
JUNE 9, 2019
Watch: NJPW World
Meet our reviewers:
Thomas Fischbeck (@rasslinratings): You’d think njpwmecca.com would have some extra World subscriptions lying around, no? In all seriousness though, coming off of a home run show on Wednesday this is the most excited I’ve been about New Japan in a while, so I’ve got my microwaved taco meat in a bowl and a cold brew black coffee and it’s time to jump into Harold Meij’s 1st Anniversary Show, I mean, uh… Dominion.
Jack Beckmann (@packerman120): Jack is trying his best to adhere to writing his bios in third person, however hard that may be. He also hopes that he does not fall asleep during the show. Hopefully the power of SHIN NIHON will keep him awake, but if not, one of us will make it through this thing, right? Damn it, I broke the third wall.
Jon Moxley def. Shota Umino
Thomas: We kicked off the show with quite the Fire Pro random match. Moxley came out thru the crowd again with his newly won IWGP United States Heavyweight Title. This was Umino’s second big opportunity of the year after he came up short against Hiroshi Tanahashi in the New Japan Cup, and Umino started with a bang, taking out Moxley with a tope at the bell.
Mox just exudes star and unsurprisingly, he dominated this one pretty much the whole way through, although the fact that Shota got a nearfall with a German showed that he is a little bit above your standard young lion. Moxley picked up the win with the Death Rider, F.K.A. Dirty Deeds. This wasn’t much more than an extended squash, but Umino’s effort was really great and it continued to get Mox over huge as a megastar. ***1/4
#NJPW #njdominionhttps://t.co/IKsQw9WMvw pic.twitter.com/btfIeUUUJw
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) June 9, 2019
Moxley announced his intention to be in the G1 post-match and helped Umino to the back.
Jack: Jon Moxley’s theme bangs. This review wouldn’t be completed without that obvious fact being stated. Moxley carries a unique aura and working style with him that is entirely unique to New Japan, which greatly enhances my enjoyment of his work. This could have been more, but it didn’t need to be, as it did a great job showcasing Mox’s unique moveset and charisma as well as Umino’s tremendous underdog babyface facials and selling. As my co-reviewer said, Mox announced his intention to enter the G1 after the match, a prospect that greatly excites me. This dude is going to be incredibly motivated, and when wrestlers are motivated, they produce incredible work. Totally fine match to kick off the show. ***¼
Shingo Takagi def. Satoshi Kojima
Thomas: This was essentially a G1 eliminator match, as both of these guys are up there with Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb, and Rush for the final two open G1 slots (assuming Moxley and Taichi are in). This is just Kojima’s fourth singles match in nearly a year and a half, his only others being losing efforts against Rush, El Terrible, and Minoru Suzuki. Kojima’s last singles win on a New Japan show came in 2017 when he beat HEAT UP wrestler Daisuke Kanehira on a Lion’s Gate show.
They teased a double countout early on and I totally bought it as New Japan is never too keen on juniors beating heavys, even if Shingo is an exception among juniors. It was funny how Takagi was clearly bigger than Kojima and yet being the one “challenging up.”
Shingo laid into Kojima with a Pumping Bomber and Kojima wouldn’t budge, unloading on Shingo with a lariat of his own. The two traded forearm shots and Shingo landed Made in Japan for a two count before finally nailing a Pumping Bomber. Last of the Dragon falls Kojima in an awesome match. They put over Kojima huge here as a big test for Shingo to finally overcome a heavyweight with little touches like Shingo not being able to get Kojima up for the Noshigami and withstanding a Pumping Bomber. The strike exchanges were incredible and this was a fight in every sense of the word. This was great wrestling that keeps you wide awake at 3:30 AM. ***3/4
YESSSSSSS!!! @cozy_lariat #NJPW #njdominionhttps://t.co/IKsQw9WMvw pic.twitter.com/15Ppff7UNe
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) June 9, 2019
SHINGO WANTS IN THE G1! He mentions he wants to prove that juniors can hang more or less, so he’s not becoming a heavy.
Jack: If I had to name two of my twenty favorite wrestlers, there’s a high chance that both Shingo Takagi & Satoshi Kojima would be among those named. There are many folks who strongly wish for Takagi to be in the G1, but if I have to be honest, I’d prefer Kojima getting one last farewell run. People forget just how awesome his 2017 G1 was, including great matches with the likes of Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega (remember him?).
As for the match itself, it did pretty much everything I wanted it to, and I had a big smile on my face the entire time. This was two of my favorites just slapping the shit out of one another in an action-laden ten minute affair, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I popped out of my chair for Kojima flexing his pecs. I’m sure I had more thoughts about this match, but as I was writing my thoughts down SHINGO ANNOUNCED HE WANTS IN THE G1, AND FOLKS, I AM FIRED UP! Even though I said I’d prefer Kojima, that doesn’t mean I won’t take Shingo! At the end of the day, this was a really fun undercard match featuring two of my all-time favorite wrestlers. Well worth a watch. ***¾
YOSHI-HASHI & Jushin Thunder Liger def. Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.
Thomas: Funnily enough in the time between when everyone I knew went to sleep and this show started I watched RevPro’s Epic Encounter show where Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr. finally lost the RevPro Heavyweight Tag Team Titles to Aussie Open in a great match, so I was interested in seeing if they would rebound here, especially with YOSHI-HASHI looking to challenge Sabre and Liger looking to take on Suzuki. As Jack mentioned earlier, this wouldn’t be a VOW review without stating the obvious, and I am pleased to report that Liger’s theme still rules
Suzuki-gun attacked the two faces before the bell as English commentary unloaded on YOSHI-HASHI for being a dope, which, to be honest, I would do too. Sabre just disrespectful kicking YOSHI-HASHI and not taking him seriously was just what I wanted. Don Callis suggested HASHI take an excursion to Siberia, and I’m starting to think this whole buildup of a potential YOSHI-HASHI title challenge is just to be able to make fun of him. Liger slaps around YOSHI-HASHI for sucking. This is hilarious but has to be leading to HASHI getting a flash pin on Sabre, right?
Trade strikes with @suzuki_D_minoru? Good luck! #njdominion
➡️ https://t.co/nA6zFRMmxQ pic.twitter.com/23o3M0sOQe
— TDE Wrestling (@tde_wrestling) June 9, 2019
This match was perfectly competent, but at this time a YOSHI-HASHI control period isn’t exactly keeping the ‘ol eyelids open. Jack is slowly breaking down in our chat, so I might have to go this one alone for the rest of the show, folks. God this is tough to stay awake for, please kick YOSHI-HASHI out of the G1. YOSHI gets a flash pin on Sabre in the least surprising upset of all time. ***
They brawl after the match and YOSHI-HASHI holds up the RevPro Undisputed British Heavyweight Title belt, signifying a title challenge, likely for either the Kizuna Road tour or the Copper Box show in the UK the day of All Out. At least YOSHI didn’t announce he’s in the G1 post match.
Jack: Nothing like following up two of your favorite wrestlers with a match involving YOSHI-HASHI, one of the dopiest looking men in wrestling. I guess every match can’t be a winner. The mere idea of YOSHI-HASHI challenging Zack Sabre Jr. for the RevPro championship makes me feel nauseous. If the last match is the type of wrestling that keeps you wide awake in the wee hours of the night, this is the type of wrestling that puts you back to sleep to stay there like a normal person. It says a lot about YOSHI-HASHI as a wrestler that I wouldn’t be upset if he got a minor injury to keep him out of the G1. Perhaps then his spot could be given to a wrestler who doesn’t always look like he has to run to the back to unload the sketchy Mexican food he ate fifteen minutes prior in explosive fashion. They don’t call him Loose Explosion for no reason, folks.
Meanwhile in the land of good, competent wrestlers, Liger was sure over here! Him and Suzuki’s mid-match slapfest was the highlight of an otherwise meandering undercard tag. Of the two matches this tag was building, I’m quite excited for Suzuki/Liger, and I couldn’t care less about Zack & YOSHI. Let’s move on to the good shit, not the type YOSHI is going to remove from his body after getting a flash win over Sabre. ***
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, & Ryusuke Taguchi def. Jay White, Chase Owens, & Taiji Ishimori
Thomas: Sigh… this show started off so promising. I’m going to grab a Keurig or something. I would like to say that after I received some push back for being anti-Jay White’s goatee in the BOSJ Finals review I am sticking with my position. I got this milk frother to put on my coffee as a topper and it really didn’t work at all and just mixed with the coffee, always drink coffee black, kids. Oh yeah, the match!
We got some Taguchi-Ishimori interactions earlier on as a call back to their match earlier this year, and boy do they have some fun chemistry. White worked over Taguchi’s ass but Taguchi fired up with one ass attack to huge effect at great physical cost to himself before tagging out. Good shit! Come on, I just have to make it thru this match.
Tanahashi tagged in and we get some interactions with him and White. They’ve had about 847 matches with each other in the past 17 months so they better have good chemistry. Jack hasn’t written anything since the match started and I’m starting to get a little worried. This is not great.
I’m now starting to think that Chase Owens looks a little like Nick Gage, like, facially? The things you think about at 4 AM. Juice puts White out of the equation with the Left Hand of God and Tanahashi pins Chase with… something? Like a reverse Sling Blade with an elbow? I guess he’s trying to establish a secondary finisher so he doesn’t have to hit the High Fly Flow in every match. This was quite sloppy throughout, not just the finish. **¼
New maneuver for @tanahashi1_100. #njdominion #NJPW https://t.co/d63mH2znnlhttps://t.co/hW3vzscrhK pic.twitter.com/3Ib4GRNA9R
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) June 9, 2019
Taguchi sold his ass as the winners walked off. I love the attention to detail. Tanahashi did not announce his intentions to be in the G1
Jack: Alright, after that last match, I need something to get me fired up again! The next match brought…. Jay White, who I find incredibly boring. Fantastic, I might need to break into that Mountain Dew Game Fuel a little bit earlier than expected. To continue this stream of thoughts before the match begins, it shouldn’t be allowed to have such a good theme if you’re a boring wrestler. Alright, match time. I can do this.
This was better than I expected it to be. The Taguchi/Ishimori interactions were fun, as was the finishing stretch with Tanahashi & Chase Owens. While there was nothing remarkable about this bout, it was a fine way to spend ten minutes or so. If you’ve seen one NJPW undercard tag, you’ve seen them all, and that stayed true here. ***¼
NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii def. Taichi ©
Thomas: Hell yeah, we are into the good stuff now. No matter what Jack types below me, know that Taichi is good, ignore whatever that dope says, anyways, some of Taichi’s best matches this year have been with the bruising big man type, against Ishii in the New Japan Cup and then in the match where he won the title against Jeff Cobb so I’ve got pretty high expectations for this.
Taichi disrespected Ishii early on and told him to “COME ON” before being floored with one forearm. We got a Ishii chop vs Kawada-style kick battle for over a minute straight. HELL YEAH. Ishii’s leg gives out and Taichi knocks him down with a slap, this rules! Ishii fires back with headbutts and a powerslam.
The ref went down but Ishii avoided two low blow attempts and flattened Taichi with a lariat. Taichi fired back by hitting an Axe Bomber and locked in the Stretch Plum in the middle of the ring. Taichi decided out of the goodness of his heart to let Ishii out only to unload with a Buzzsaw Kick. Last Ride Powerbomb and Ishii kicks out!
Ishii hits the headbutt. #njdominion #NJPW https://t.co/d63mH2znnlhttps://t.co/hW3vzscrhK pic.twitter.com/Vz2ZD206Tb
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) June 9, 2019
Forearms from Ishii, Powerbomb, and a Sliding Lariat but Taichi was able to kick out before ultimately being put away with the Vertical Drop Brainbuster. I am very sad that Taichi lost but boy did this match rule. We saw some awesome strike battles throughout and Taichi got put over as being able to hang with Ishii without much cheating. He should’ve won though, boy am I bummed about that. He didn’t even get one successful defense! In the past year there have been like three successful defenses of the NEVER Openweight Title and about 15 different reigns. Can we maybe have one decent little reign? I am now craving an Ishii-Shingo match after Kelly teased that Ishii would be “willing to defend against anybody.” Quarter star penalty for Taichi losing but still ****¼
After the match, it was announced New Japan was running Osaka-jo Hall for the New Beginning next year. One year they should try and run Kyocera Dome Osaka for Dominion, which seats around 40,000 depending on the setup, if they want to continue to expand in the market.
Jack: Alright folks, business has officially picked up. I see that Thomas thinks I am going to bury Taichi, but even though I used to dislike him, he’s grown on me recently. I still don’t think he’s great, but I can tolerate and occasionally enjoy him more than I used to be able to. As expected, these two go very well together. Not only does Ishii’s stoicism act as a natural foil to Taichi’s heel antics, the two also are capable of having believable, natural strike exchanges that rule. English commentary played up the Kawada vs. Tenryu protege aspects of this match, which enhanced my personal enjoyment a bit. Also enhancing my enjoyment – Taichi dropping Ishii right on his neck with a high angle suplex. Since I am not a dork, I very much enjoy the occasional head drop in my puroresu.
While I’m normally not a fan of ref bumps, the ref bump done in this was a quick, creative endeavour that saw Ishii reversing a low blow attempt with a headbutt. Even though it’s 3:30 in the morning, Ishii never fails to fire me up! There’s good professional wrestlers, and then there’s Tomohiro Ishii – he’s truly one of the best. The closing stretch fired me up even further, with more hot near-falls and dangerous looking bumps. Ishii was able to get the victory after a brainbuster, and folks, I am very excited at this fact. While it may only be the NEVER title, Tomohiro Ishii always delivers when given a big time singles match, and I am excited to see where this fifth NEVER reign goes for him. Hopefully he defends it more than one time. If you like stiff kicks, head drops and Tomohiro motherfucking Ishii, inject this into your veins at your soonest possible convenience. Quarter star bump for Ishii winning. ****½
Before the entrances for the tag title match began, NJPW announced that New Beginning in Osaka 2020 would be held in Osaka-jo Hall. Always fun to see New Japan get more and more ambitious with the buildings they run.
IWGP Tag Team Championship: Guerillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (c) def. EVIL & SANADA
Thomas: I could not possibly care less about a set of titles than the IWGP Tag Titles. Going to go grab a Diet Coke so I don’t fall asleep. These two teams have wrestled six times in the past six months. That isn’t a joke. We got some mid-match dialogue between Tanga Loa and EVIL which is pretty much my least favorite thing in wrestling.
I do oddly enjoy Jado on the outside for some reason, I’m not sure why but he always entertains me during this Bullet Club matches trying not to get caught. I have technically had my eyes on the screen this whole match but I can’t recall a single thing that has happened. Now we get the ref holding the opponent spot, another one of my least favorite things in wrestling. God this sucks. This match is specifically designed to annoy me. The crowd chants for SANADA instead of Tama Tonga and Tonga starts freaking out a la Stardust. EVIL screams “FINISH” before going for the Magic Killer because of course that is what you’d do in a real fight. Stereo submissions with Skull End and the Scorpion Death Lock from the LIJ boys. Referee is pulled out by Jado as Tama Tonga taps. Sigh.
Master Heater proceeded to wait for about 30 seconds with the kendo stick over his head as BUSHI was late on his queue, and finally he shows up and hits him with the mist and a Tope Suicida. Tama Tonga rolls up EVIL and holds the tights. What. This was absolute dogshit. DUD
SANADA leaves without EVIL and BUSHI. I also get a message from Jack saying “i wanna sleep” which is very relatable at this moment.
The queue for the toilet during the IWGP tag title match lmao pic.twitter.com/l53rMbROep
— Super J-Cast (@thesuperjcast) June 9, 2019
Jack: Welcome aboard folks to the 78th match between these two teams. I wonder what they’ll do this time. All jokes aside, it feels like these two teams truly have wrestled a million times. I could look up this fact for myself, but doing so would expend more energy than I am willing to use on this match. Like Thomas, I grabbed a soda during the entrances to hopefully stay awake. I tried paying close attention to this one, but I simply couldn’t. It turns out that when you don’t care about something, it’s hard to write about it! What a novel idea that is. I’ve long past given up hope for New Japan’s tag divisions, so I won’t go on a passionate rant here. It would be awesome if Gedo cared more, but it seems like that won’t happen anytime soon. Oh well. Look forward to seeing these two teams wrestle again in a month for the 524th time. And then again. And again. And again. You know what they say – time is a flat circle. Do they say that? I don’t know, I’m tired. Watch this if you are the living definition of insanity. Read Thomas’s section if you want play-by-play of all the bullshit in this match, I’m too annoyed to care. **
Katsuyori Shibata introduced KENTA to New Japan
Thomas: Shibata’s music hit as the English commentary assumed he was here to corner Dragon Lee. He pointed at the entrance way for about thirty seconds to build up the drama and then… KENTA came out! Legitimately one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, freed from the prison that is World Wrestling Entertainment. KENTA IN THE G1 iuknrhewfgvbfugruiiwvefuiv OH MY GOD! This is far and away the most hyped I’ve been for a tournament ever. This lineup is stacked. Half of my timeline is freaking out right now about how awesome he’ll be in the G1 and half of my timeline is freaking out about how he could ever betray NOAH. I’m perfectly happy with KENTA in New Japan if NOAH will continue to stay on the sinking ship that is Kaito Kiyomiya’s title reign but I can understand the anger of lifelong NOAH fans, as KENTA’s NOAH run is one of the best ever in any company. I’m of two minds about it really, and I think it would be awesome to see him try and revive the company, but obviously it’s his choice and anyway that gets mad online at someone for a perceived “betrayal” to their “team” can get lost. It’s dumb in sports and it’s dumb in wrestling.
#NJPW #njdominionhttps://t.co/IKsQw9WMvw pic.twitter.com/c7fVwn8xf5
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) June 9, 2019
Jack: I’ll let Thomas handle the eloquence here – KENTA IS HERE IN SHIN NIHON PURORESU. I’M FIRED UP AGAIN FOLKS, WRESTLING IS GOOD. Gedo’s very smart to give me and the rest of those watching something good to chew on after the shit that preceded it. KENTA’s wearing a shirt that says Takeover on it, which, if I had the pencil, would be the name of a faction of SHOOTERS led by KENTA. I’m only half joking. Continuing the theme of the show, KENTA declared himself for the G1. They’re expanding this thing folks, there’s not enough spots for all these people. God, I love New fucking Japan Pro Wrestling! And while it sucks that NOAH is kinda dead in the water now, they’re a husk of their former selves. The new ownership stripped the final bits of what it was, so I understand him deciding to leave it behind for good.
Fun side note: Google Docs wants me to spell check correct Gedo’s to God’s. Is the machine trying to tell me something? That’s up to you – the reader – to decide.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay def. Dragon Lee (c)
Thomas: I’ve completely forgotten about the IWGP Tag Title match as these two start at 100 miles per hour from the bell. Unfortunately, KENTA being announced for the G1 took my attention a little off of this match, I’m just so hyped for that.
They slowed the pace down a little bit AND HOLY SHIT THAT TOPE SUICIDA FROM DRAGON LEE
JESUS CHRIST TOPE SUICIDA!!!!!!!!!!!! @dragonlee95 #njdominion #NJPW https://t.co/d63mH2znnlhttps://t.co/hW3vzscrhK pic.twitter.com/wmVp4yNbuC
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) June 9, 2019
The high flying sequences between these two were great. Dragon Lee goes for a Hurricanrana off the apron but Ospreay lands on his feet and nails an apron powerbomb! OsCutter countered by a knee strike mid flight! This is insane. The play-by-play highlights don’t do this justice, these sequences are just incredible. Hanging double-stomp from Dragon Lee to the outside and they almost got me on the countout tease.
.@WillOspreay lands on his feet. #njdominion #NJPW https://t.co/d63mH2znnlhttps://t.co/hW3vzscrhK pic.twitter.com/CFd67jUDLv
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) June 9, 2019
Hidden Blade, Top Rope OsCutter, StormBreaker finish Dragon Lee in the same way Ospreay finished Shingo. Incredible match that did edge on the side of masturbatory at times but was at the very least incredibly fun to watch. ****1/2
WIll Ospreay vs Robbie Eagles for the Junior title announced for Southern Showdown in Australia. Also, Ospreay didn’t mention the G1, I don’t think he’ll be in.
Jack: KENTA’s in the G1, Will Ospreay is coming out, things could not be better for me right now! The last match? Didn’t happen. Dragon Lee’s awesome theme? Definitely happened. After starting with blazing fast speed, they slowed it down a bit while integrating aspects of both men’s high flying style. Since these are two very good professional wrestlers, the match remained compelling the entire time. Of course, as I typed that, Dragon Lee did an insane tope over the guardrail that took out both Ospreay and Milano, which created a brief, loud Milano chant. Wouldn’t mind seeing Ospreay vs. Milano myself. It’s truly remarkable that Ospreay is capable of having a match of this caliber just four days after an all-time classic with Shingo Takagi. The way these two men simply bump around the ring is simply divine. I love these two insane men. Every time I go to write about an insane sequence, two more happen, as the chemistry these two men have is something special. This is one of those matches you simply have to watch and just marvel at – as describing it in text form is simply impossible. Wrestling at times can be a beautiful thing, and when the three pillars all combine, those being storytelling, cool moves, and acting like a badass, it reaches perfection. That’s what this was, in my eyes – perfection. What fucking good shit. *****
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito def. Kota Ibushi (c)
Thomas: My expectations are incredibly high for this match, probably too high, as this is one of my favorite rivalries in wrestling history. I’ve given these two ***** together three different times, I’m not sure how many rivalries I could say that about; Kobashi-Misawa, Tanahashi-Okada, Okada-Omega, and this would probably be the only four I can think of now at 5:45 AM EST. Ibushi looked incredible for this, probably single digit body-fat levels.
This was probably the match I was most interested coming in when it comes to the result. These are probably the two leading contenders to win the G1 this year, but there are a ton of different paths this could take. You may assume that the loser will win the G1, but Naito has teased going for the double champion angle in the past, plus things could be thrown around should Jericho win the title in the main event.
“Naito getting booed in Osaka” is a meme at this point as half the crowd is in LIJ shirts, but nonetheless Naito worked heel early on, stomping on Ibushi in the corner to draw the ire of the crowd (except for John Carroll of course). This started out slow but never lost my attention, somewhat reminding me of the G1 match last year. Naito teased an Apron Piledriver as a callback to their New Japan Cup match. Ibushi blocked and Naito settled for an Apron German where Ibushi clipped his neck on the apron in what was an incredibly sick looking spot. There have been some pretty awful bumps in this rivalry but that was the worst… I really thought they would call off the match but Ibushi slid back in the ring at 19 and then took a top rope rana on his head… what the fuck.
OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! @s_d_naito #njdominion #NJPW https://t.co/d63mH2znnlhttps://t.co/hW3vzscrhK pic.twitter.com/djeP4pCsxQ
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) June 9, 2019
I don’t often feel queasy in matches but uh… this has crossed that threshold. Ibushi hits an Inverted Jig n Tonic and then they trade strikes. Ibushi kicks out of a running Destino, Naito kicks out of a Last Ride. Poison Ranas galore and this has crossed the threshold of insanity. Ibushi takes a nasty looking Destino and Tetsuya Naito is your IWGP Intercontinental Champion for the 4th time.
I am not one to get disgusted by crazy spots, but that one was awful, and because I was watching live was legit scared for Ibushi’s career. This became really uncomfortable to watch and Ibushi looked glassy-eyed walking to the back. On the one hand I want to slap a NR on this and rewatch it when I’m not worried about one of the two dying, but if you put a gun to my head, I’m at ****3/4. This was a sick match not for the squeamish and an incredible performance from Ibushi, I would say his selling was great but he most likely was actually knocked loopy. The heart and fire shown from him was incredible to see, and they completely got me on that countout tease after the Apron German, although part of me does wish Ibushi would’ve just taken the countout then to save himself from the punishment of the rest of the match given that he was losing anyways.
Jack: I don’t know how I’m going to write anymore after the match I just witnessed, but Kota Ibushi & Tetsuya Naito are two of the wrestlers that are capable of topping perfection. What a show, and we still have lobster dad in the main event ahead of us!
In the early stages, Naito played up his heel aspects more than usual as a result of his expected negative reaction from the Osaka crowd. It’s a playful booing, of course, but one that Naito expertly uses to add a little bit of juice to the typical slow-building New Japan epic. It’s impressive how Kota Ibushi can bump for any move and land on his neck, such as what happened around the ten minute mark with a standing dropkick. He’s a very special boy, and we should appreciate him before his neck disintegrates into ashes before us.
It turns out that may happen in this match, as Ibushi took a bump on the side of his head on an apron suplex that may be one of the most disgusting bumps I’ve ever seen. That’s a guaranteed concussion right there, and a bump I’d be fine never seeing again. I joke about liking head drops, but there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed – a line that Ibushi seemingly always tries to go far past. Of course, they followed that sick head drop by doing two more of them, because these two seemingly hate their necks and wish for them to not exist. To each their own, I guess.
I’ll let Dave Meltzer rant about safety in wrestling, but this was perhaps the first time I’ve ever enjoyed a match less because of the danger of it. At multiple points I felt uncomfortable, a feeling I never like feeling while watching wrestling. I’ve watched deathmatches that involved scissor boards and been less disgusted than I was when Ibushi took the bump on the side of his head. There comes a point when enough is enough, and these two men reached that point and then continued to beat that point into the core of the planet Earth.
Don’t get me wrong – this was a fantastic match, but it was one that went a little too far for my liking, and as a result, it hurt my personal enjoyment a fair bit. I wish these two would care more about their necks, because I’d rather not see a wrestler die in the ring – especially on a day where a Mitsuharu Misawa memorial show just took place, and on a show where Katsuyori Shibata appeared hours prior. It ended the way it began – with an unnecessary neck bump. Let’s not do this again. ****
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Chris Jericho
Thomas: Jack has quite nearly convinced me that Jericho is winning this match in our Slack DMs over the past 24 hours, but, come on, he won’t even give New Japan the rights to Judas, New Japan isn’t giving him the IWGP Heavyweight Title. How these two are going to follow the KENTA announcement and the last two matches I have no idea.
We went to the outside early and Jericho hit a DDT through the announce table and rang the bell as a callback to the Naito match earlier this year. He then grabbed a camera and flipped it off as a callback to the Omega match. Although, I’m starting to think these aren’t necessarily callbacks and more just Jericho repeating his spots that have previously gotten over because I think he’s done each of those like five times each.
To be completely honest, this was pretty bland in the early going, with the most exciting part being Don Callis’ commentary. I have really loved Jericho in New Japan, especially the Naito matches, but it all feels quite tired at this point. 15 minutes in and Okada isn’t doing a great job meshing with Jericho’s style.
6:40 AM EST and I am really starting to feel it during the extended Jericho control period. I have been up for… a lot of hours straight and I’m starting to have visions of my bed. Rainmaker countered and Jericho hits an enziguri as a nice little transition spot that lets them rest for a full minute. I am so tired.
Okada was able to kick out of the Codebreaker and hit one of his own for a two count. This just feels so dry, and I wanted to like it. Okada moves out of the way of the Judas Effect, and sits down on Jericho out of nowhere for the win a la the first fall of the ⅔ falls match on Dominion last year. **1/4
Codebreaker from @rainmakerXokada!! #njdominion #NJPW https://t.co/d63mH2znnlhttps://t.co/hW3vzscrhK pic.twitter.com/mzglIdpMft
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) June 9, 2019
Jericho beats down on Okada with a chair after the match and hits the Judas Effect, come on, I don’t need a rematch. Jericho should be done with New Japan. He doesn’t feel special anymore, in fact, quite the opposite, he feels forced. Tanahashi comes to save Okada, which was of course not surprising at all given his partnership with Okada recently.
Jack: THEY DUBBED OVER JUDAS! This is the most disgusting thing that has happened on this show so far, ignore whatever soliloquy I wrote for the match prior. What a disgusting act by New Japan. I’m so upset I think I’m going to turn this off and watch a Fujita match. I’m kidding, of course – I’m very excited for this and I think that Jericho is winning.
Jericho’s attire screams “I just watched It and liked it a little TOO much”, an aesthetic I very much appreciate. I’ll never not enjoy Jericho’s old school heel antics, for both humor and actual enjoyment purposes. Jericho did a lot of callback spots, which I appreciated. Jericho’s such a dope, and like I said, it’s hilarious. Is it good? A question that is certainly debatable! Don Callis hypes up the Judas Effect a fair bit in the early goings, further adding to my theory that Jericho is winning.
This is the first match on the card to have the “cat test” in play. To summarize, and this is quite complex, I know; what is more interesting – my cat or the match? For the first 10 minutes or so, the answer was easily my cat. While I enjoy the callbacks, the beginning portion lacked the energy that made Jericho’s previous lucha style brawls great. It all just feels a little too stale at this point for me.
Five more minutes have passed, and this is still really boring. I’m starting to feel rapidly more tired, and I envision sleep in my near future. This feels like a perfect time for New Japan to deviate from their typical 30-minute main event template and go a little shorter, but alas, I’m not expecting them to actually do so. I tend to avoid streams of consciousness while reviewing, but I feel that the method is the best way to describe my feelings with the match. I enjoyed Jericho’s usual antics in the first ten minutes – now I would desperately like something different. The bed is no longer the only thing in my room appealing to sleep on, with the floor joining the picture.
And you know what else is joining the picture? Omaha Steaks – the perfect gift for your father….. I think the caffeine is starting to wear off, folks. I’ll say it again – this match so far could have been so much more, but instead it’s just more of the same. Okada hitting a Codebreaker was cool at least.
What wasn’t cool was the ending. Okada got a shitty roll-up. What a disappointing end to a disappointing match. Easily my least favorite IWGP title match that I can remember for a good long time, and it’s truly a shame that I have to say that, as I was eagerly anticipating this one. Not everything can hit, I guess. ***
.@tanahashi1_100 saves Okada. #njdominion #NJPW https://t.co/d63mH2znnlhttps://t.co/hW3vzscrhK pic.twitter.com/PB87B5GDQQ
— Italo Santana (@BulletClubIta) June 9, 2019
Thomas: This was a mixed bag of a show with three really great matches, some great moments, some scary moments, one awful match, and a poor main event. Overall it was definitely a thumbs up but it could’ve been better with some small changes. In hindsight, I think I would’ve given EVIL the win over Ishii on the Dontaku tour and given him the title challenge, thus eliminating the two major disappointments of the show with the tag title match and the Jericho challenge. New Japan drew a full house of 11,901 for this show though, so I guess I can’t argue with the booking too much.
Jack: This was a fun show, but a show that I won’t consider for a second when talking Show of the Year, a departure from years past. If I weren’t so tired, I’d have more to say. Everyone should watch Ospreay/Lee & Ishii/Taichi, and if you want to be disgusted, Naito/Ibushi did a good job at that. I was going to make a YOSHI-HASHI poop joke here, but I just don’t have it in me anymore. To close this out – I will steal a line from the Game of Thrones geeks about three weeks ago (myself admittedly included). And now my watch has ended. I can’t wait to go to sleep.