New Japan Pro Wrestling
Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall
June 9, 2024
Osaka-jo Hall
Osaka, Japan

Watch: NJPW WORLD

Meet our previewers:

J Michael: J. Michael believes that we are naturally inclined to destroy this planet. No one is safe from the hypocrisy. Case in point: he and his wife run through those plastic containers, which technically should be infinitely reusable. But the instant they get the slightest stain (like if you leave a meat sauce in them for more than  15 seconds), or J. Michael leaves them in the fridge too long and the stuff in them goes bad, or we just simply don’t feel like washing them… into the fucking trash. Just causing exponentially damage with every toss. Plastic everything. Embedded into our bodies at a cellular level. 

Because people like J. Michael and his wife don’t like the orange residue after bolognese is stored in these things. And, frankly, it’s cheaper to just toss them. If J. Michael calculated the salary he should earn from the washing and the drying and the trying to get the fucking lid back on and all the nonsense this entails, it would be more than just buying another one at the store, like a 20 pack for $5. We are incentivized to poison ourselves and the only habitable planet that we know exists.

Anyway, enjoy the nothing J. Michael offers @ryugu_jo

Tetsuya Naito vs. Callum Newman

J Michael: This one emerged from the June 3rd BOSJ Semi-Finals show at Korakuen. One of the undercard matches was a straight 2-on-2 tag between Shingo Takagi and Tetsuya Naito vs. HENARE and Newman. After the match, in which Newman was put down by the running Destino, Newman insisted that he could beat Naito, requesting, “one more, give me one more. No Empire, no LIJ. Just Callum Newman, Tetsuya Naito, one-on-one.”

On his end, Naito seemed genuinely intrigued by Newman in his backstage comment, and not just his typical sledgehammer insincere irony:

Also, to Callum Newman, who I faced tonight… Did you see his eyes after the match? Now that I saw that look in his eyes, I’m somewhat interested in his path from here.

Callum Newman was asking for another go, and I guess I’m up for it, too. I’m very interested in Callum Newman… CABRÓN!

Newman’s so young and so fucking good already, and look at the people they’ve had him face in singles matches the last 6 months: Ishii, Finlay, Kidd… Nicholls… and now Naito. 

This is such a fruitful spot for Newman to be in, and a useful one for Naito. Theoretically, Naito in the opening match should provide early galvanization of the crowd. They have no clue what to do with him right now, they probably just want to tread water until the G1, and, to be clear, he never should have lost the title in the first place. Considering Naito’s recent track record against the younger guys, which have largely feel below expectations, it will be fascinating to see how this one turns out. Newman might be the match-up to allow Naito to accentuate the youth.  

My strategy with predictions this time is to explain why someone should win, and then pick the other person for no other reason than this company makes little fucking sense at the moment. It would be preposterous for Callum Newman to defeat Tetsuya Naito at this stage, a mere nine months into his New Japan career, still floating in the ambiguous soup between Young Lion and nascent roster member, and in their first ever encounter. Prediction: Callum Newman

TMDK (Kosei Fujita, Robbie Eagles & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs Clark Connors, Drilla Moloney & LJ Cleary

J Michael: The traditional post-tournament tag title show, where one team defeated the other team in totality in the round robin stage. Eagles beat Moloney on Night 2, and then Fujita beat Connors in the Night 5 opener. And thus, here we have a completely stacked Dominion card where the tag champs defend… ah yes, nevermind all that. The Dominion undercard is being used to hype the title match on a lesser show, which isn’t a bad strategy, and it’s not like Dominion undercards of the past didn’t have non-title matches or the banality of multi-man tags. It’s just… it’s not 2018 anymore. Load these fucking things up.

Instead, the title match will take place on June 16th, at the PFSC in Hokkaido semi-main eventing behind David Finlay vs. SANADA, on the first New Japan Soul tour since 2011.

One thing to note, at least in our estimation: from each junior team, the top performer in the tournament was the unexpected one. Clark Connors had a significantly better tournament than Drilla, who is battling arm issues, and succumbed to time issues. For TMDK, Robbie Eagles, as a member of the Big 4 of the division, was also booked across the card, and his one main event, against Ishimori, was underwhelming. Meanwhile, Kosei Fujita’s matches were all compelling, far beyond his rookie status. 

And also, here we find another thing for a top company, Zack Sabre Jr.  to do, with nothing else to do at the moment. Funny both Tetsuya Naito and Zack Sabre Jr. find themselves completely bereft of direction at Dominion, the #2 show of the year on the New Japan calendar. I wonder what the fuck they could be doing here instead of these meaningless opening matches? I wonder what we could change about the lst few months of booking to have conjured something more impactful for them to do? 

Finally, there’s some NOAH guy in here. He’s in Jake Lee’s Handsome Boy Modeling School stable. And so, he’s naturally aligned with War Dogs. He’s also really Irish, actually from the country of Ireland, which I believe means he inherits the mantle of faction leader from Finlay, who like most Americans, can proclaim their heritage but can’t stand up to the real thing.. Prediction: TMDK

KOPW Provisional Title
Yuya Uemura © vs. Great-O-Khan
15 Min. Time Limit/No Striking Allowed/Limited Rope Breaks

J Michael: KOPW 2024 had been moving along with distinction, elegantly traversing Japan on Great-O-Khan’s Maoist-sounding Rural Revitalization Plan. First, he kicked Tonga Loa the fuck out of our lives by trouncing the tummy-slapping motherfucking in a gyoza eating contest and s trap match (while losing a every-count-is-a-point fall). But then, Yuya Uemura somehow defeated Great-O-Khan in Hiroshima, taking the tire stacking fall and the tables match, with O-Khan winning the far more impressive lemon eating contest.

And thus ended yet another half-hearted Great-O-Khan experiment. And here’s a match where they didn’t even follow the KOPW concept; they just took the stipulation that Uemura proposed for Hiroshima, one that got absolutely wrecked in the fan vote. But you could have expected this: both wrestlers adamantly defended the stipulation and expressed their intent to have this type of match together. They truly believe that they can, I dunno, proselytize the fanbase to this kind of match?

All it does for me is remind me of the match GOK had against Toru Yano in November 2021, an Amateur Rules Match, with Kenta Sato as the “Chairman of the Mat.” It was 6 abysmal minutes, largely because there they gave the audience no fucking chance at believability. Miserable fat bastard Yano, for whatever accomplishments he had as an amateur two fucking decads ago, should not have a prayer against a former national wrestling champion in his fucking prime. What a disgrace.

Uemura was a collegiate wrestler, and won titles himself. What’s interesting here is that Uemura was Greco-Roman, while O-Khan won his championships in freestyle. We don’t think it’s giving them too much credit to expect them to play upon those differences in the match. Clearly these two take this seriously, and they both have shown to be fairly profound thinkers about this medium, so we expect something legitimately captivating in this one. They’ll make it work.

Yuya Uemura should not be anchored to this gimmick title, but he also has stumbled out the gate, hampered by some kind of perniciously laissez-faire booking. It’s hard to believe he’s received any guidance since returning. It’s like some game to see how much they can hinder the golden boy to see if he can still succeed. But then again, the alternative outcome is GOK winning a match, and at this point we’re prepared to never predict a GOK win in this company ever again, even if it means picking against him 8-9 straight times in the G1.  Prediction: Yuya Uemura

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Oleg Boltin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Toru Yano (c) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Yota Tsuji, BUSHI, and Hiromu Takahashi)

J Michael: Great-O-Khan delivers long diatribes about the Rural Revitalization thing, but this is the title that should be defended at the obscure venues. This placement does not play to the strengths of this title at all, though with the wrestlers involved it should be a fun match. 

This is another one that stems from June 3rd; on that night, Tsuji pinned Yano in what was essentially this very match, just with Titan added to the LIJ side and Dragon Dia on the Hontai end. It’s tough to look at this match and not wonder how Tsuji, along with his stable leader, or ZSJ, or Shota Umino, who isn’t even on the card, or Ren Narita, who is dangerously close to evaporating out of existence… why are they either absent from the show or perfunctorily a part of it?

There’s nothing to this one besides the fact that BUSHI is eating one of these:

And Hiromu is getting a thoroughly wrenched gut by the end of this:

The most interesting thing done by any of these guys on this last tour was Tsuji once again (lost likely) going into business for himself in the backstage comments on May 28th. It was a spectacularly brazen sequence which shattered all kayfabe allegiances, in a legitimately endearing way. What did Tsuji do? He said that TJP doesn;t have the stuff to be United Empire leader, and that only one man does: GIDEON FUCKING GREY:

He literally said, “you need Gideon Grey here,” then spoke to Grey directly, since, as he put it, “I know you watch these comments.” We’re getting dangerously close to Tsuji having to leave the game before he truly breaks out, simply because we need him at the booking table, full time, literally all day, to nullify the godawful incompetence shown there lately. 

Anyway, even though Boltin should always have a title of some kind, and the benefits the title can bring him, Tanahashi is essentially invalid, taking as much effort to adjust his waistband all match then the energy he can create his stop-action running. Yano, to his credit, sucks and isn;t funny anymore, and doesn’t even try to look like he’s trying. LIJ should win here to bring this title back to the heights it reached under Prince YSH-HSH’s era. Prediction: Boltin, Yano, and Tanahashi




NJPW World TV Championship
Jeff Cobb © vs. Tomohiro Ishii

J Michael: Once again, this match exists in isolation, simply to occur and be mesmerizingly great, which is honestly something this company needs a bit more of these days. Or, at least, they need to know when to book these matches, and not to book already established rivalries and pairing that way. This is that match. 

These two have only met four times in singles competition, only twice in New Japan. And those matches were ages ago, in the 2019 and 2020 G1 Climaxes. That was a much different New Japan Cobb. The cavalier assurance of Cobb is exponentially higher than the teddy bear gap moe persona Cobb was portraying pre-Empire.

Ishii’s been battling injuries all year. He hasn’t wrestled a match for New Japan in Japan in three months, since his loss to Chase Owens. In fact, as a representation of the sorry state of New Japan priorities, Ishii is 2-3 for the year in singles matches. All of his losses have been to white Americans of varying levels of excellence: the highly excellent Orange Cassidy, the professionally (vacuously) excellent Nic Nemeth, and Chase Owens. His two wins this year have both come against Masa Kitamiya. The domino effect, the vicious cycle of abuse continues. AEW pours it down on New Japan, and New Japan makes sure to kick Masa Kitamiya around and have Dragon Dia go 1-8 in Super Juniors.

Cobb finally surmounted Zack Sabre Jr. for this title last month, on his third try in the last year. There’s no reason for him to lose it here, with the benefits the title would bring to him as a G1 Climax contender. Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii

NJPW STRONG Tag Team Championship/IWGP Tag Team Championship Tornado Elimination Four Way Match
BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & KENTA) © vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Hikuleo & El Phantasmo) (c) vs. Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) vs TMDK (Shane Haste & Mikey Nicholls) 

J Michael:  No, fuck this. Instead of wasting my time analyzing this situation, I present KENTA’s May 3 backstage comment, as KENTA has already shored up Buster Posey, the Backstage Comment MVP and Backstage Comment Comeback Player of the Year awards:

You’re not Fatty! Where did he go?

He’s not here today? I haven’t mocked him for being fat for far too long. I feel like I might get out of practice. Actually, my throat hurts from saying it to fans upon request at the meet and greet. You’re fat, and you’re fat! Give me a break…

Did you see the press conference yesterday? You really watched it? You’re not lying? Did you really watch it? 

What the hell was with Uggo? He said my cool outfit looked like pajamas! Did you see that part? He’s soured the ‘reversal’ clothing brand for me.’reversal’ is one of my best sponsors. They always have me in the finest threads. Yeah, they’re a sponsor of mine. Now he’s got me second-guessing things.

He really said pajamas. Where does he get off saying that? He just needed to complete his schoolboy outfit. You looked like a fine young man. Give me a break… He kept talking about taking the event seriously, but he wore that exact outfit last G1 presser! Update your wardrobe! Evolve a bit. Don’t stay in reruns. You think that shows enthusiasm? Give me a break… Try to enthusiastically buy a new outfit! Wearing the same old thing…

I can’t let a schoolboy run around with a belt. That’s far too dangerous. The adults will handle it from here. He should be wearing a backpack, not a belt.

Understand? Understand?

Whatever…

Anyway, what I came here to say was… I really miss Fatty.

Actually, no! When they show up, I always lose! Don’t show up! Prediction: Shane Haste and Hikuleo (please take the belts with you)

NEVER Openweight Championship
Shingo Takagi © vs. HENARE

J Michael: These two almost single-handedly legitimized the KOPW title a year ago with their Ultimate Triad match. Dave Meltzer gave the match 5.25 fucking stars, and cagematch has it at 8.80. Without bothering to look, we’re assuming those are the highest respective ratings for any KOPW match (besides mine, when I gave the Yano-Kanemaru Korakuen drinking match 5.6 stars).

HENARE lost that match, but he won the 2023 series, having defeated Shingo in both the 2023 New Japan Cup and 2023 G1 Climax. That brings their series to 2-2 (Shingo beat HENARE back in 2019). HENARE missed nearly four months after Gabe Kidd literally cracked his fucking skull open in the United Empire vs. War Dogs Steel Cage Match, somewhere in the beginning stages of that epic contest. And by “epic”, we mean like if you took an epic poem from whatever ancient civilization you prefer, and then imagined how long it would be if the poem’s events actually happened. 

HENARE is ready. The time has come. This title was never stable, but this year has been absolutely disastrous, from Tama Tonga winning the title, only to celebrate by announcing his departure, to EVIL, to Shingo… just fucking run with one guy. Tanahashi, here’s step one in Point #2 of the Resurrection Plan: stabilize this title, and put it on a young embodiment of the title’s fundamental spirit. HENARE has to win here. Prediction: Shingo Takagi




IWGP World Heavyweight Championship – Lumberjack Match
Jon Moxley  (c) vs. EVIL 

J Michael: Bloody fuck, the discourse. I don’t understand why the belt was taken off of Naito, or put on Moxley, but I was willing to give it a chance. If any foreigner has earned the right to wear that title, it’s him. But this just feels weird. He’s wrestling matches on AEW, and no one seems to understand when or how they involve this title. He wrestled Konosuke Takeshita on whatever PPV they just had, which seems totally fucking mental. If Konosuke Takeshita is challenging for this title, he should win it. But, from what I understand, Takeshita, the best wrestler alive, just loses all the time in that company. So if you’re wondering why I’ll be skipping FD3, there’s one reason. YOU WERE ALWAYS RIGHT, HAROLD. Always trust the instincts of a Dutch businessperson.

The winner of this first-time match-up basically goes to Wrestle Kingdom, or they should, since this title shouldn;t even be defended on FD3. The winner here should be the G1 Climax champion. But, we can’t assume that Moxley will even be in the G1 Climax. But then, it would be fairly catastrophic if EVIL became champion, since he hasn’t proven himself to be a draw outside of mid-size venues, or against anyone outside LIJ. Then again, he hasn’t proven he isn’t a draw, either. 

There are no good options here, but the best option is probably for Moxley to fend this off and set up an eventual bigtime match at Wrestle Kingdom. Prediction: EVIL

Best of the Super Juniors 31 Final
El Desperado vs. Taiji Ishimori

J Michael:

First off, read this:

El Desperado, Taiji Ishimori & A Rivalry Hidden Behind the Pandemic Wall

Predicting this is so difficult. They are two of my top favorites, and Desperado is my favorite. Despy has his weirdo produce show on the 10th, where he’ll team with Pheremones, or some kind of Pheremones type group, because Desperado has the absolutely best taste, and the most abysmal.

Ishimori, on the other hand, has some bizarre new catchphrase about Kami-sama and grace and whatever the fuck any of that is supposed to mean. He looks the same, he talks the same, he wrestles the same, but now he grafts some kind of fervent declaration of his blessed consecration. Is that a sign that he will win?

Isn’t the best story here Desperado getting a shot at redemption against SHO?  Prediction: 1. Read my article. 2. This match won’t get as much praise as it deserves, due to the restraint and technicality of these two. 3. Despy, I think

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