NJPW Wrestling Dontaku – Night 1

Date: May 3, 2021

Venue: Fukuoka Convention Center

Time: 6:00pm JST

Watch: NJPWWorld

NJPW’s Wrestling Dontaku kicks off on May 3rd with night one of two from Fukuoka, headlined by Hiroshi Tanahashi defending his NEVER Openweight Championship against Bullet Club Leader, Jay White on the eighth anniversary of Bullet Club’s formation. The two Wrestling Dontaku cards will be NJPW’s last cards before Wrestle Grand Slam in Yokohama Stadium, so it’s fair to expect that some wrestlers will be out to set themselves up for a place on NJPW’s first ever card in Yokohama Stadium.

International Start Times

First Match
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Master Wato, Tiger Mask, Toru Yano vs. Dick Togo, EVIL, Taiji Ishimori, Yujiro Takahashi

This match stems from the recent KOPW provisional championship match between Toru Yano and EVIL. None of their respective partners have had much going on as of late, but that doesn’t mean they can’t set course for an upcoming match in Yokohama Stadium (May 15th) or the Tokyo Dome (May 29th).

Recent History – Overall (2021 Year To Date)

  • EVIL leads NJPW with 59 total matches so far in 2021, unfortunately, he also leads NJPW with 36 losses.

History in Fukuoka – All Match Types

Second Match
Kazuchika Okada, SHO & YOH vs. El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

SHO and YOH were victorious in defending their IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships over El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru just three days ago and now YOH looks to prepare himself for his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship with El Desperado on the second night of Wrestling Dontaku (May 4th).

After Will Ospreay defeated Kota Ibushi for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Sakura Genesis, the new champion challenged Kazuchika Okada to settle what he considers unfinished business. Okada won’t be Ospreay’s first defense of the title, but he is slated for a title match at the Tokyo Dome against the the winner of Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi. This will be Okada’s first match in a full month, so now is the time for him to ramp up his efforts as he sets his sights on the top title in NJPW once again.

Recent History – Overall (2021 Year To Date)

  • This will be Kazuchika Okada’s first match since Sakura Genesis (April 4th)

History in Fukuoka – All Match Types

Third Match
BUSHI, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito vs. Aaron Henare, Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay

Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi have one last group match before meeting in their IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match on May 4th. The United Empire is 12-3 in group matches against Los Ingobernables de Japon on the Road To Wrestling Dontaku but Tetsuya Naito and SANADA were able to defeat Great-O-Khan and Toa Henare in recent singles matches. LIJ looks to gain momentum over The United Empire as one of their own, Shingo Takagi, gears up for his first shot at NJPW’s top title.

Recent History – Overall (2021 Year To Date)

  • On The Road To Wrestling Dontaku, The United Empire is 12-3 against Los Ingobernables De Japon.
  • Will Ospreay’s 43 overall victories are the most in NJPW this year. Great-O-Khan (42) and Jeff Cobb (39) are the second highest in NJPW.
  • Jeff Cobb’s +25 Fall Differential is the best in NJPW this year, 9 falls better than Shingo Takagi’s +16 which is second best in NJPW this year.
  • BUSHI’s -24 Fall Differential is the worst in NJPW this year.
  • This match includes six of the 10 most active NJPW wrestlers in 2021 (by number of matches).

History in Fukuoka – All Match Types

Fourth Match
Zack Sabre Jr vs. Tanga Loa

Zack Sabre Jr and Tanga Loa will meet in their first ever singles match with Tag Team stakes on the line. If Zack Sabre Jr is victorious, he and Taichi will receive an IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match. If Tanga Loa wins, Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi will never be able to challenge for GoD’s IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships again. Zack Sabre Jr certainly has the experience advantage in singles matches, but Tanga Loa cannot be ignored as he was recently victorious in his first singles match in four years in Japan when he defeated YOSHI-HASHI in 12 minutes and 58 seconds at Castle Attack.

Recent History – Singles Matches (2021 Year To Date)

Recent History – Singles Matches (Last 365 Days)

History in Fukuoka

Fifth Match
Iron Finger From Hell Ladder Match
Taichi vs. Tama Tonga

Taichi and Tama Tonga will participate in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s second ladder match ever in the semi-main event of Wrestling Dontaku’s first night. At stake will be the Iron Fingers From Hell that Taichi and Tama Tonga have been battling over for months, and this will put a definitive end to the battle. In a feud that has been littered with DQ and No Contest finishes, the simplicity of retrieving a prize from the top of a ladder will be a welcome change of pace.

Recent History – Singles Matches (2021 Year To Date)

Recent History – Singles Matches (Last 365 Days)

History in Fukuoka

Main Event
NEVER Openweight Championship Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi [C] vs. Jay White

On the eighth anniversary of Bullet Club’s formation, the main event will feature Bullet Club leader Jay White’s first-ever attempt to capture the NEVER Openweight Championship. White earned this championship match, not only with his star power, but with his victory over Tanahashi during the New Japan Cup. Hiroshi Tanahashi’s vision for the NEVER Openweight Championship is that of elevation. In the absence of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, Tanahashi knows better than anyone that there is significant value in another high-level singles title and Tanahashi believes that he is the man to bring the NEVER Openweight championship to that glory. It is certainly fair to say that Jay White is a challenger who is newsworthy and in victory, he may even be able to elevate the title even further than Tanahashi.

Recent History – 2021 Singles

  • Jay White’s 27 minute and 34 second average in singles matches is the longest in NJPW this year. Only Kota Ibushi’s average single’s match length is longer than Jay White’s.

Recent History – Last 365 Days Singles

  • Jay White’s 24 minute and 39 second average losing match length is the second longest in NJPW over the course of the last 365 days.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi’s 20 minute and 2 second average winning match length is the fifth longest in NJPW over the course of the last 365 days.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi is 5-5 in hits last 10 singles matches and 3-2 in his last 5.
  • Jay White is 7-3 in his last 10 singles matches and 3-2 in his last 5.

Recent History – 2021 Overall

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi’s 52 total matches in 2021 is fourth highest in 2021. Only EVIL, BUSHI, and SANADA have wrestled in more matches than Tanahashi.
  • Tanahashi’s +13 Fall Differential is third best in NJPW this year.

Head To Head History

  • Jay White and Hiroshi Tanahashi have met 6 times in singles matches, White leads the series 4-2.
  • Jay White enters this match on a three-match winning streak against Hiroshi Tanahashi, dating back to his IWGP Heavyweight Championship victory over Tanahashi in 2019.
  • Jay White and Hiroshi Tanahashi are both averaging under 24 minutes in their victories in 2021. In their 6 singles matches, White and Tanahashi have exceeded 24 minutes just twice, both of which were Jay White victories.

History In Fukuoka

  • Jay White is 2-0 in singles matches in Fukuoka since returning from excursion.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi hasn’t won a title match in Fukuoka since Wrestling Dontaku in 2011 when he defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura.

NEVER Openweight Championship

  • The NEVER Openweight Championship has been decided in 73 matches over the course of just over 8 years. In those 73 matches, a new champion has been determined 32 times or 43.84% of all matches.
  • This will be Hiroshi Tanahashi’s third ever match with the NEVER Openweight Championship on the line, it will be Jay White’s first.
  • Tanahashi’s 35 minute and 40 second victory over Shingo Takagi at The New Beginning In Nagoya was the longest NEVER Openweight Championship match of all time.
  • The NEVER Openweight Championship has been decided four times in Fukuoka and it has changed hands the last two times the title was on put on the line here. In 2016, Yuji Nagata defeated Katsuyori Shibata for the title, and in 2019, Taichi defeated Jeff Cobb for the title.