NJPW Dominion in Osaka-Jo Hall, June 19th:
Hangman Page, Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi defeated Captain New Japan, Togi Makabe & Yoshitatsu
This was what you’d expect. Page jumped Tatsu during his entrance and hung him with his noose. There was some good brawling between Makabe & Fale. Page got to hit all his big moves. Captain came close to putting him away before Page hit the Right of Passage to get the win for Bullet Club. After the match Page hung Captain
YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii defeated SANADA & BUSHI
This was so great. YOSHI did it, he finally got a big win! The crowd was as hot as hell for this as they went back and forth with some great action. SANADA’s athleticism is amazing. He has the most perfect double leapfrog dropkick. Ishii & BUSHI have great chemistry in the ring together. YOSHI survived a SANADA TKO to a big pop. Ishii interrupted Cold Skull with a lariat and willed on YOSHI as the crowd rallied behind him. After an awesome series of counters YOSHI locked SANADA in the Butterfly lock. Just as BUSHI looked like he’d interrupt it, Ishii made the save. The crowd want nuts as SANADA submitted to the hold giving YOSHI what might be the biggest win of his career and an incredible feel good moment. The finish of this was so well done. YOSHI-HASHI could be on his way to the G1 after that.
Hirooki Goto defeated EVIL
What a brawl this was. Again, with incredible crowd heat, Goto & EVIL went at it hard. Right from before the bell. There were so many hard shots and big collisions. There was one lariat in particular that almost destroyed Goto. NJPW booking is so great. After his big win over Goto at Dontaku, EVIL’s STO finish was so over. The crowd popped every time he went for it. Goto escaped the move several times. The finishing stretch here was really hot. Goto fought out of everything, before managing to hit Ushigoroshi and the GTR to get his win back. EVIL looked great in defeated too.
IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks defeated Matt Sydal & Ricochet, ReDRagon & RPG Vice
The first portion of the match saw a lot of time in the ring for RPG Vice. Rocky went crazy with his forever clotheslines on everyone until The Young Bucks threw RPG Vice over the top rope to eliminate them. ReDRagon took control of the match until they were tossed out over the top. They came back into the ring and attacked everyone, hitting Chasing The Dragon on Sydal. This left The Bucks vs Sydal & Ricochet.
Ricochet was worked over until Sydal recovered and got the tag. Sydal came in off a great hot tag and flew around the ring. There were lots of close calls with over the top rope eliminations, with Ricochet hanging on like Shawn Michaels in a Royal Rumble match. The Bucks hit a big string of double team moves on Sydal. Ricochet was taken out with a superkick on the floor allowing The Bucks to hit the Meltzer Driver on Sydal to win the IWGP Jr tag titles once again. This was a really fun spectacle of action.
IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship
KUSHIDA defeated Will Ospreay
This was outstanding. They played off stuff they did in their previous match, with Ospreay countering moves KUSHIDA used. KUSHIDA went after the arm early on, and went back to it when he could, but he didn’t dominate it like he did in April. Ospreay controlled a lot of this and hit one amazing high flying move after another. There was a lot of great striking from both guys too. KUSHIDA threw caution to the wind when he launched himself off the top to the floor with a somersault. Ospreay hit a middle rope Phoenix splash and a Red Arrow for big near falls. KUSHIDA countered the Spanish fly into an armbar, which was incredible and countered the OsCutter into the Hoverboard Lock. This got him the submission win after a struggle. It was another amazing showing from Ospreay. He lost nothing in defeated. KUSHIDA can continue his excellent reign as champion.
IWGP Tag Team Championship
The Briscoes defeated Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga
What a shocker this was. The Briscoes pulled it off and are the new IWGP tag team champions. The crowd weren’t into this match at all at the start, but slowly got into it as the match went on. Mark was attacked with a chair on the floor by Loa and had to battle his way back as GOD cut off tags to Jay. Jay came in off the tag like only he can. There was some great hard hitting action. GOD got some big near falls with double team including a powerbomb/neck breaker combo. Loa kicked out of a Jay Driller before The Briscoes hit the Doomsday Device to pull off a major win. After the match Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi attacked The Briscoes. I really hope this is the start of a long reign for Dem Boys. They deserve it and are the sort of team that the NJPW tag division badly needs.
NEVER Openweight Championship
Katsuyori Shibata defeated Yuji Nagata
This was amazing. The match of the night up to this point. This was as stiff as hell and the match that everyone expected their first meeting to be. The strikes were so stiff and the intensity of the match was so great. They exchanged suplexes and neither man would back down from the others strikes. Shibata hit a back drop hold for a near fall. Nagata hit a back drop driver for a near fall followed by a Brainbuster and PK for another near fall. Shibata fought out of a back drop hold attempt and they both slapped the hell out of each other. Shibata hit one of the stiffest slaps I’ve ever seen before downing Nagata with a sleeper and a PK to start his second reign as NEVER champion. After the match Shibata bowed to Nagata. Nagata then presented Shibata with the title and raised his hand. It was a really great moment, a moment that this feud had been building to. Go out of your way to see this, this was fantastic. Strong style at its absolute best.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Michael Elgin defeated Kenny Omega
This was a classic. This couldn’t have been a better first ladder match in NJPW history. This was long, it told an amazing story, there were so many frightening bumps, run ins that only added to the drama and a huge win for Elgin. Omega took some sickening bumps and huge risks. There were at least three ladders broken. There’s no way I can recap all the amazing spots in this, just watch them for yourself. Omega hit an amazing deadlift gutwrench powerbomb onto a ladder propped between two trash cans. Omega was back dropped through a ladder. The scariest spot of the match came when Elgin was powerbombed off a ladder onto two tables that didn’t break. The bump look sick. We then had The Young Bucks run in and attack Elgin. Captain New Japan & Yoshitatsu then made the most pathetic attempt at a save. Ricochet & Sydal got involved with Page & Yujiro who were already there. It all led to Omega taking a huge fall off a ladder onto everyone allowing Elgin to win his first singles title in NJPW. This is one of the best singles ladders matches I have ever seen. Anyone that scoffed at the thought of a ladder match in NJPW will have their mind changed when they see this. Congrats to Michael Elgin. His rise in NJPW this year has been great to watch.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada defeated Tetsuya Naito
We have a new IWGP champion. This was another classic. The atmosphere was off the charts. The crowd were all over Naito with the exact opposite of Invasion Attack. This was an Okada crowd. Naito shook the hand of president Kidani on the way to the ring. There was no Gedo and LIJ stayed away from ringside. This was a clean match that built and built into a blistering finish. Some of the counters and reversals of each other’s signature moves were great and told the story of how well these guys know each other and how well they had each other scouted. Okada sold a Koji Clutch so well, looking like he might give up. Both guys ran the length of the ramp to deliver dropkicks. The last stretch is my favourite finishing stretch of a match since Okada & Styles at Dominion last year. The drama was off the scales when they started going for finishers and the crowd were so loud. Naito countered a Tonbstone and hit a version of Destino. He went for another which Okada countered into a Tombstone and a Rainmaker. Naito kicked out of the move cleanly, becoming the first man to do so without a pause between the move and the pin. Okada went for and hit more Rainmakers as he held the arm of Naito, not letting go as Naito countered into a pin for an amazing near fall and attempted Destino again. Okada hit a series of Rainmakers to score the pin and regain the IWGP championship.
Okada begins his fourth reign as champion as we head into the G1 Climax. This win continues this story. Maybe Naito can’t beat Okada on his own? Will this fuel Naito to want to win the G1 and take the title back at Wrestle Kingdom? Most likely. People will probably complain about a short Naito reign, but do we need to see Okada win G1 again and chase to Wrestle Kingdom? No. Naito winning G1 and going on to a possible crowning moment at Wrestle Kingdom will do so much more for him in the long run. NJPW know what they’re doing.
I can’t speak highly enough of this show. It’s easily one of the best shows of the year and up there with the best shows I’ve ever seen. There were classic matches, huge moments and major title changes. It is available now at NJPWWorld.com.