After an incredible Best Of The Super Juniors, New Japan has thrown together one hell of a card for Dominion. It is stacked from top to bottom with little to no fat on show. The BOSJ Final was a show of the year contender, but it might be outclassed by the same company just a few days later.
Jon Moxley defeated Shota Umino
Watching Moxley strut through the crowd while the Japanese fans screamed their appreciation, it seems impossible that anyone could fail to see that this guy is a star. He is fucking cool.
Not that Shota gave a shit. He threw himself over the top rope while Moxley posed at ringside and followed up with a Missile Dropkick. It was a massive opportunity for our wee cub, and that was his moment to shine.
Of course, he was never going to go toe to toe with NJPW’s new toy. Umino had his moments, but this was a squash with Moxley getting the win via the newly named Death Rider. Then, he grabbed a mic and demanded a spot in the G1 before helping Shota to his feet and carrying him to the back. What a lovely young man.
Solid opener. Perhaps not the murder of poor Umino that some were expecting, but it served as an opportunity for Moxley to show he doesn’t have to work wild and bloody brawls.
Verdict: Three Stars
Shingo Takagi defeated Satoshi Kojima
Putting Shingo against Satoshi Kojima and giving him the victory is a statement of intent from New Japan. Kojima may no longer be on top, but he is a third generation legend. Takagi getting a victory over him is the latest sign that the line between the top of the Juniors and the bottom of the Heavyweights is blurring.
As for the action, it was everything you’d expect it to be. If the thought of two big, beefy boys beating the shit out of each other gets you all hot and sweaty, then you know you’re going to love this. The final exchange was fantastic as the battle of the Lariats commenced with Kojima no-selling Shingo’s first Pumping Bomber and kicking out at one for the second. In the end, a Made In Japan followed by Last of the Dragons put the heavyweight down and Shingo is still the boy.
Everyone is in a chatty mood tonight as Shingo also grabbed a mic after the bell, making the declaration that he wants into the G1 too. That is huge! I assumed they’d hold off on that until next year. Damn, I’m excited.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Jushin Thunder Liger and YOSHI-HASHI defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr)
YOSHI-HASHI is so useless that Liger came into the ring to kick him in an attempt to wake him the fuck up. Amazingly, and because he’s Jushin Thunder Liger, the crowd popped big for that before chanting YOSHI’s name.
Then YOSHI only went and fucking won! Rolling Zack up and stealing a victory from under his nose. The story throughout the match was that Sabre was refusing to take YH seriously as a challenger and he was made to pay for it.
Elsewhere, Liger and Suzuki still don’t like each other. When are they going to pull the trigger on that? They’re certainly taking their time. I hope they do HASHI and Sabre before Royal Quest because that is an underwhelming match-up. Anyway, this was fine. Nothing we haven’t seen before, but the surprise win at least woke me up at the end.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated The Bullet Club (Jay White, Chase Owens and Taiji Ishimori)
On a packed card, this was the match which you could have cut, and no-one would have been that bothered (apart from those in attendance who wanted to see Tanahashi). All three feuds involved feel like history rather than the present.
It was also a rare off-day for Tanahashi. We see him taking it easy in multi-man tags, but he was sloppy and a bit all over the place. He put Chase Owens away with a new move, and it looked fucking shite. I genuinely have no idea what he was going for.
Still, it wasn’t a total disaster. Chase is always fun, Taguchi did some dancing, and Juice kept his serious face on after losing his title. Despite that, if you’re going to skip anything on this card, make it this.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Tomohiro Ishii defeated Taichi to win the NEVER Openweight Title
Ishii wanted to wrestle badass Taichi, not singing Ballbag Taichi. He was so determined for that to be the case that when Taichi left the ring at the bell, he lay down, inviting his opponent back in for a free shot. Then, later in the match, he grabbed Taichi’s gimmicks out of the corner, holding them in front of his face and telling him that he didn’t need them before throwing them away.
For the bulk of the action, it worked too. Taichi was in the mood and brought with him that combination of kicks and sharp suplexes which made his last match with Ishii so great. If anything, Wide Tom might have regretted his call. He was on the back foot, forced to fight from underneath and scramble for opportunities to get back into the match.
And credit to Ishii because he was the one making Taichi look like a badass. It can never be said enough how fantastic that man’s selling is. The way he stumbles back, lurching around before regaining his composure and throwing himself forward again. No-one wobbles around the ring the way Tomohiro Ishii does.
No-one spikes someone on their head the way he does either. Ishii got the win with a Brainbuster, and this was great. Taichi had one moment where he pulled the ref in front of Ishii, but the low blow was blocked, and the fight went on so while it didn’t quite hit the heights of their New Japan Cup brawl, it was still a battle, and the right man won.
Verdict: Four Stars
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tonga Loa) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL and SANADA) to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
How many times have we seen this match? How many times have I complained about how many times we’ve seen this match? It wasn’t that good the first time! What is Gedo’s obsession with putting these four men together? Could it not have been GOD vs Goto and, I don’t know, Mikey Nicholls? It would at least have been fucking different.
Honestly, these guys could have put on a five-star masterpiece, and my brain would have turned off. It’s conditioned to do so now. So, the fact that we got a slow and plodding GOD heat section and plenty of Jado interference was like begging me to go back to bed. I did not give a solitary fuck.
It had moments, SANADA and EVIL are better than GOD, so it was much easier to watch when they were in control, but it wasn’t enough. I hated this. I hate that we keep getting this shitty match and I never want to see it again.
Verdict: Two Stars
If you were worried about the crowd dying after that stain on the existence of tag-team wrestling (perhaps a bit extreme?), New Japan had other plans. We were expecting Dragon Lee vs Will Ospreay, but Shibata wandered out instead. Sadly, it wasn’t to announce that he’d be joining the G1 fun, but he had someone pretty good to take his place. MOTHERFUCKING KENTA IS IN NEW JAPAN! Shingo, Kenta and Moxley are all coming in as new participants in the G1 and fucking hell, that’s nae bad is it?
Will Ospreay defeated Dragon Lee to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title
At the Best Of The Super Junior Final, Will Ospreay put on a gruelling and physical war with Shingo Takagi. He matched him pound for pound, wrestling an almost heavyweight style and proving that if that is his future, he’ll be just fine (not that such a revelation should have been a surprise).
At Dominion, Will went back to his roots. In there with Dragon Lee, Ospreay had the kind of match he used to have with Ricochet, one of those wild encounters that got so much attention back when they first did it. Ospreay and Lee didn’t match the physicality intensity of Ospreay vs Shingo, but they upped the athletic side of the action. They were doing things that looked impossible as they pushed each other to take it that little bit further.
It was that mentality which led to Lee propping Ospreay on the barrier and hitting the most insane Tope Suicida I have ever seen. That mentality led to Lee hitting his Double Stomp to Will as he hung from the top over the apron, sending both men crashing to the floor. It was the mentality that had Will not just flip out of a Hurricanrana, but flip out of Lee’s already rather dangerous Hurricanrana from the ring to the outside.
All of which is not me saying that this was all sizzle and no steak. Ospreay and Lee still beat the crap out of each other, working stiff and hard. If I was to be a very picky fucker, the finish felt a bit sudden. They entered the final stretch, and Will won pretty quickly, but that’s the gap between outstanding and perfection rather than good and great. They were not only in the hard spot of following KENTA, but also Will vs Shingo from Wednesday. No-one is going to say they fell short.
Verdict: Four And A Half Stars
Tetsuya Naito defeated Kota Ibushi to win the IWGP Intercontinental Title
Every time I think these two men have exhausted the ways they have to destroy their necks, they find a few more. The German Suplex that Naito hit on the side of the ring was genuinely sickening. It should have killed Ibushi, and I’m not entirely sure that is hyperbole. The fact that Kota was up, taking more bumps onto his neck, mere seconds later, is incredible. I don’t know how they do it, but they always do.
The story between these two is simple. Ibushi and Naito don’t like each other, so they go out of their way to try and hurt each other. It ramps and ramps, as both men find the most dangerous moves in their arsenal and unleash them on the other. You end up watching through your fingers, terrified about what they are going to do next as they take it to a level that is quite frankly unsafe.
And, that puts some off. I’ve seen people on Twitter say that they couldn’t watch because they were too worried, and I get that. It’s tough, and no-one wants to see these men kill each other. However, I can’t help it. I fucking love it. It’s two men pushing each other to the edge of physical endurance and seeing what happens. A huge part of me is terrified that one day I’ll look back on these words and feel a horrid sense of guilt, but in the here and now, I can’t help but love watching Naito and Ibushi do their thing.
After the match, Naito stood on Ibushi’s head, holding the belt aloft. My bet is that Ibushi now wins the G1, setting him up to face Okada at the Dome while Naito goes on to face Tanahashi there. If that comes to be, it’s going to piss a lot of LIJ fans off, but I, for one, am more than happy to enjoy the ride.
Verdict: Four And Three Quarter Stars
Kazuchika Okada defeated Chris Jericho to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Title
Jericho and Okada had a functional match that failed to capture my imagination. It almost felt like both men’s greatest hits with Jericho DDTing Okada on a table and brawling around the ring, forcing Captain Kazu to battle back, using that dropkick to turn the tide. It was okay, perhaps even better than that, but they never sucked me in. I was never perching on the edge of my seat, desperate to see what they’d do next.
A big part of that was that I didn’t believe for a second Jericho was going to win and they never convinced me otherwise. He had Okada locked in the Liontamer, and I wasn’t buying it. At no point did I expect Okada to tap and I certainly wasn’t worried about that fucking awful Judas Effect.
Then, out of nowhere, Okada reversed a Codebreaker and sat down into the pin in what has to go down as one of the most underwhelming ends to a New Japan main-event in recent years. Although, I will point out that it was how he beat Omega in the first fall of last year’s main event. At the time, I’m pretty sure I said they’d never end an actual title match like that, so I have to put that down as a loss. Still, it didn’t the change the fact that one second they were wrestling and the next second it was over.
Well, not quite over. Jericho wasn’t happy with that result and bashed Okada with a chair before hitting the Judas Effect (it looked better than it did at Double Or Nothing, but that’s not hard). He then threw the champ into the steel post with a chair wrapped around his neck and was about to put Kazu through a table when Tanahashi made the save. It looks like that’s where we’re going next.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
There were boos at the end of this show as the fans were annoyed at the nature of the finish. However, I do not doubt that when they leave the building and look back on the event as a whole, they will be more than happy with what they received. The Heavyweight Tag and the Heavyweight Title matches might not have delivered, but the rest of the card did, and this will go down as a show of the year contender. That’s before we even get into the fact that every fucker and their dog is apparently in the G1. Oh, what fun is going to be had.
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