NJPW
WRESTLING DONTAKU 2024
MAY 3-4, 2024
FUKUOKA CONVENTION CENTER
FUKUOKA, JAPAN

Watch: NJPW World

MEET YOUR REVIEWER:

Suit Williams: You can read Suit’s long-form previews and reviews of wrestling from around the world here at Voices of Wrestling. You can also find his weekly reviews of AEW Collision over at F4WOnline. Check out his brand-new wrestling blog Williams Watches Wrestling, where he’ll engage in watch projects and review requests. Follow Suit on all social media platforms @SuitWilliams.

NJPW WRESTLING DONTAKU 2024 NIGHT ONE

TALES FROM THE UNDERCARD:

  • House Of Torture (SHO & Yujiro Takahashi) def. Just 5 Guys (DOUKI & TAKA Michinoku) – Yujiro pinned TAKA with Big Juice.
  • Just 5 Guys (Taichi & Yuya Uemura) def. United Empire (Callum Newman & Great-O-Khan) – Uemura pinned Newman with the Deadbolt Suplex.
  • Guerrillas Of Destiny (Phantasmo, Hikuleo & Jado) def. TMDK (Fujita, Nicholls & Haste) – Phantasmo pinned Nicholls with a roll-up with the tights, setting up their rematch for the NJPW STRONG Tag Titles at Resurgence on the 11th.
  • BULLET CLUB (Owens, KENTA & Ishimori) def. Bishamon (Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) & Tiger Mask – Owens pinned Tiger Mask with the Package Piledriver.
  • Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Hiromu, Takagi & Naito) def. BULLET CLUB War Dogs (Connors, Moloney, Kidd & Gedo) – BUSHI tapped Gedo out with the Fable, his Figure Four variant.
  • House Of Torture (EVIL, Narita & Kanemaru) (w/Dick Togo) def. Desperado, Moxley & Umino – Kanemaru pinned Desperado with a Sanson Clutch after a Suntory surprise.

NJPW WORLD TELEVISION TITLE MATCH
JEFF COBB DEF. ZACK SABRE JR. (C)

Zack Sabre Jr. failed in his first defense. Jeff Cobb became the 5th NJPW World TV Champion.

It was last year on this Dontaku show that Cobb brought Sabre to his first-and-only time-limit draw as TV Champion, and it was here where Cobb ended Sabre’s second reign with the title in his first defense. Both men came into the match with something to prove, with Sabre wanting to get Cobb to submit, and Cobb wanting to beat Sabre in a title match after beating him in the G1.

Sabre fought from underneath as per usual with this pairing, with Cobb targeting Sabre’s ribs throughout. Sabre could never target a limb as all he could do was get big moves off, like the Zack Driver or the Penalty Kick for nearfalls. As the match wound down, Sabre would try the same counter to the Tour of the Islands that he used to beat Cobb at Dominion last year, but Cobb stuffed the pin attempt. After avoiding several armbars, Cobb finally powered up Sabre and hit the Tour of the Islands on the bad ribs to get the win and earn his first singles title in five years. A quality match as always with these two. Cobb with this title excites me, as the idea of people having to fight this powerhouse while racing against the clock has strong potential.

Sabre, a world-class worker, once again feels like he’s in limbo after getting the TV Title off of Matt Riddle and onto Cobb. This clearly wasn’t the plan for him, as Riddle seems to have burned the New Japan bridge quicker than expected. So now what? New Japan is not in a position to have a wrestler with the talent and cache that Sabre has just floating around in match five. ****

DAVID FINLAY (W/GEDO) DEF. YOTA TSUJI

I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was the struggle I had to get this match watched, with Firefox crashing multiple times when I tried to press play. Maybe I wasn’t in the best mood. Or maybe I was never excited for this pairing to begin with. But I didn’t give a damn about this match. The sloooooooow start certainly didn’t help matters, with Finlay grinding Tsuji down with headlocks. Tsuji picked the pace up some, but this match was ultimately unmemorable. Finlay got a shillelagh shot in behind the ref’s back and won with Overkill, getting the win he possibly should’ve gotten in the New Japan Cup. ***

IWGP GLOBAL HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH
NIC NEMETH (C) DEF. HIROSHI TANAHASHI

God bless Tanahashi, but it’s gotten very hard to watch him in the ring. I don’t want to put him in the class of NOAH-era Keiji Mutoh because Tanahashi is both far more giving and not booking his shit friends, but he’s physically compromised to the point where it’s hard to take him seriously in these main events. He fought off Father Time for as long as anyone could reasonably ask given the style he worked, but time has caught up to him quickly. Nemeth won it with two Danger Zones. **1/2

After the match, David Finlay jumped both of them, with Nemeth fighting him off and challenging Finlay to a title match on Night Two. Which brings us to…




NJPW WRESTLING DONTAKU 2024 NIGHT TWO

TALES FROM THE UNDERCARD

  • United Empire (Francesco Akira & Great-O-Khan) def. Just 5 Guys (DOUKI & Yuya Uemura) – Akira pinned DOUKI after reversing a Jorge Rivera Special into a pin of his own.
  • TMDK (Kosei Fujita & Zack Sabre Jr.) def. United Empire (Callum Newman & Jeff Cobb) – ZSJ pinned Newman with the Zack Driver.
  • Guerrillas Of Destiny (Phantasmo & Hikuleo), Desperado & Umino House Of Torture (EVIL, SHO, Kanemaru & Takahashi) – Umino pinned Yujiro with the Death Rider ahead of his IWGP World Title challenge at Resurgence.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi & Oleg Boltin def. Just 5 Guys (Taichi & TAKA Michinoku) – Tanahashi pinned TAKA with the High Fly Flow. After the match, Taichi and Tanahashi got in each other’s faces.
  • Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Takahashi, Naito & Tsuji) def. BULLET CLUB War Dogs (Connors, Moloney, Ishimori & Gedo) – Naito pinned Moloney with the Destino, getting his win back after the upset in Korakuen Hall that came after the interference of Jake Lee.

IWGP TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH
BULLET CLUB (CHASE OWENS & KENTA) DEF. BISHAMON (HIROOKI GOTO & YOSHI-HASHI) (C)

Bishamon failed in their second defense. Owens & KENTA became the 103rd IWGP Tag Team Champions.

I want to use this portion of the review to speak to Paul “Triple H” Levesque.

Hey Paul. How’s it going, legend? I know you’re busy running this new hot period of WWE with your brilliant creative and incredible innovation, with this being the “Paul Levesque” era of the company and all. I know you hate all the attention too, it must be hard booking yourself on television every week. Anyway, I wanted to give you a little heads-up on some people you should think about bringing into the company. I know you just added Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa to the Bloodline, with Hikuleo almost certainly on the way. But I think a secret weapon of the Bloodline could be that of the “Honorary Tongan” Chase Owens. He’s a solid worker, always makes his dates, and won’t mind eating pins if you need him to. Just a suggestion.

Take KENTA back too, while you’re at it.

Owens and KENTA cheated a bunch and won after a low blow and a Busaiku Knee. After the match, TMDK, Phantasmo & Hikuleo, & YOSHI-HASHI all got in Owens & Kenta’s face, no doubt setting up a four-way match for Dominion. It’s truly impossible to care about any of this. **

NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE MATCH
SHINGO TAKAGI (C) DEF. GABE KIDD

I feel like Gordon Ramsey here, finally some good fucking wrestling!

Gabe Kidd’s arc in New Japan has been set to the point where I think he could develop into a top name for New Japan in the coming years. Gabe Kidd fell in love with New Japan Pro Wrestling, specifically the hard-hitting NEVER-style of the promotion. He entered the dojo to learn that style and represent the lion mark with pride, but between his own mental health issues and the pandemic screwing up his training cycle, he’s soured on it all. He hates what New Japan has become and what the NEVER Title turned into with EVIL holding the belt, and now he wants to take it to show that he can represent the company better than anyone else. It’s a compelling story that can easily turn Gabe babyface if/when they ever wanted to pull the trigger on that, a fact signified by part of the crowd getting behind Gabe during this match.

This was the NEVER-style title match you want to see during these shows. A violent, no-nonsense brawl that rarely relented. One of Kidd’s hallmarks came through here, as he would get too headstrong at points and cost himself the advantage. At one point, Gabe even had Shingo pinned after a flurry that ended with a brainbuster before pulling him up at two. That loss of focus would bite him in the end, as Shingo would retain with the Last of the Dragon for the win. Awesome stuff, and easily the best match of either night. ****1/4

IWGP GLOBAL HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH
DAVID FINLAY DEF. NIC NEMETH (C)

Nic Nemeth failed in his second defense. David Finlay became the 3rd IWGP Global Heavyweight Champion.

As it turns out, winning the AAA Mega Heavyweight Title may have negatively impacted Nic Nemeth’s New Japan career. This match was not on the cards until yesterday, and New Japan doesn’t like associating with AAA talent due to their relationship with CMLL. This results in David Finlay regaining the Global Title in what was a match you would expect these two to have. With this loss, both of the newcomers that won titles at New Beginning – Nemeth & Riddle – have lost the titles and may be done with the promotion for the time being. A waste of time from the jump. ***

IWGP WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH
JON MOXLEY (C) DEF. REN NARITA (W/ THE HOUSE OF TORTURE)

Narita was the second of the Three Musketeers to challenge for the World Heavyweight Title this spring, with Umino being the third next week at Resurgence. I was never high on Narita when he was Shibatacito and sticking him in House of Torture certainly wasn’t going to help. There’s just no juice to his work, no oomph to anything he does. Shota Umino has really good babyface fire, Yota Tsuji has an explosiveness to his work, and they both look like marquee main event players. Ren Narita doesn’t have any of that. Narita looks and wrestles like a JAG, and if I ever had any, I’m selling my stock on him.

He’s not even particularly over outside of the House of Torture shenanigans, although there wasn’t much space outside of the House shenanigans in this match. SHO and Kanemaru jumped Moxley before the bell, leading to an extended brawl that saw Shota Umino being handcuffed and hit with a chair. Moxley eventually took out SHO and Kanemaru with the help of El Desperado, who was on Japanese commentary, before putting Narita through two tables on the floor.

The match went on, but as Moxley had the bully choke in, the lights went out and brought out EVIL and Dick Togo. They laid Moxley out until Umino re-emerged, having been cut out of the cuffs by Desperado in the back. Umino took them out, and Moxley got the win and his second defense of the title with the Death Rider. If you can tolerate the House nonsense, you’ll like this more than I did. I can say it until I’m blue in the face, but I can’t do the House stuff in important matches. **

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