Welcome to TJRWrestling’s Preview for NJPW’s annual Dominion show. Dominion is NJPW’s second-biggest annual show and marks the halfway point for the year’s biggest storylines and feuds.
Historically, Dominion has featured some big and important matches, such as in 2012, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Though we haven’t covered Dominion that much in the past here on TJR, I figured it would make sense to do so this year because of NJPW’s ties to AEW. There is at least one match on the Dominion card that will impact the upcoming AEWxNJPW Forbidden door show later this month, which is something that many people are looking forward to. You can watch Dominion on NJPWWorld live or any time after it’s over.
To that end, let’s dive into the matches.
Six or Nine (Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato) and Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. United Empire (Aaron Henare, TJP, and Francesco Akira)
One of these teams contains champions. The other does not. And even though this isn’t a title match, the team with gold around their waists will win here so that they don’t look weak as champions. Not only that, but Taguchi and Wato have to exact revenge after TLP and Akira beat them in a two-on-two tag match during the BOSJ tournament. The only way I can see the opposite happening would be if Henare beats Tenzan. But since the focus will most likely be on the smaller guys here, that scenario isn’t likely to happen, despite Tenzan being held together by rubber bands.
Winners: Six or Nine (Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato) and Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Los Ignobernables de Japón (Tetsuya Naito, Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo and Ace Austin)
This is an easy one to predict. Hiromu recently won the 2022 Best of the Super Juniors tournament, which marks the fourth time he has won this tournament. NJPW are clearly booking Hiromu as a legendary cruiserweight and are determined to convince people he’s the greatest junior heavyweight ever, even greater than Jushin Liger. And by winning the BOSJ, Hiromu has earned a shot at Ishimori’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight title. To build up that match, Hiromu will pin Ishimori in this match, most likely with the same Time Bomb 2.5 new super-duper finisher he used to win BOSJ. And even though this will be Naito’s first match back since returning from yet another surgery, he’ll have to play second fiddle to Hiromu here. And while this makes for a relatively subdued return for him, it makes sense to keep him fresh for the upcoming G1 Climax and a possible appearance at Forbidden Door.
Winners: Los Ignobernables de Japón (Tetsuya Naito, Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi)
Toru Yano vs. Doc Gallows
Yano is a comedy wrestler and Gallows is at his best in tag matches. This will be filler with silly slapstick nonsense and come over-the-top shenanigans. This won’t go more than eight minutes and will feature the same tricks Yano has been using for almost two decades. But at least it’ll bring some levity to an otherwise deadly-serious show.
Winner: Toru Yano
NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship match: House of Torture (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi and Sho) [c] vs. Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre, Jr., El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
Even though it hasn’t been announced yet, there’s one match that I’m really hoping gets booked for Forbidden Door: ZSJ vs. Bryan Danielson. That is an honest-to-God dream match of mine and I think there’s still a remote chance it’ll happen. And to make ZSJ into a credible threat after his loss to Okada at Hyper Battle ’22, I think ZSJ will carry his team to victory here. Even though it’s a lower-card title, having ZSJ hold something going into Forbidden Door will help him come across as a bigger deal. Plus, a new audience seeing for possibly the first time would shine a spotlight on that title, which would only benefit NJPW even more. Besides, HoT really do live up to their names and watching them wrestle the same boring interference-filled garbage matches is tired and stale. Even though they’re heels, at least Suzuki-gun would put on more thrilling matches should they become champions.
Winners and NEW NEVER Openweight Six-Man Champions: Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre, Jr., El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens) [c] vs. United Empire (The Great O-Khan & Jeff Cobb)
New Japan’s (heavyweight) tag title picture hasn’t looked too good in a while. Those titles have been around for almost forty years but the division has been quite stale for some time now. It doesn’t help them when the titles change hands so frequently, which has been the case since at least 2015. Maybe they thought a sudden title change would garner more interest, which is why Fale and Owens won at Wrestling Dontaku back in May. But having yet another title change only a month into the reign wouldn’t do anyone any favors. Fale is a solid monster and Owens is a good right hand that needs to be elevated. These two wrestlers have the opportunity to really shine as a team here, especially with an impressive hoss like Cobb and the unpredictable O-Khan as their challengers. I think Cobb and O-Khan will win tag team gold at some point, but not right now. It’s still too early. I think this match will be close and will end in some ‘dusty’ finish that will necessitate a rematch sometime down the road.
Winners and STILL IWGP Tag Team Champions: Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hirooki Goto
(The winner faces Jon Moxley for the Interim AEW World Championship at Forbidden Door.)
This is the match that most people reading this are likely to care about since it directly impacts AEW’s roster more than any other match on this show. The original plan was for Tanahashi to face CM Punk in a dream match (personally I would’ve loved to see that match in the vain hope of seeing Tanahashi kick Punk’s ass). But with Punk injured, both New Japan and AEW had to scramble to come up with an alternative. So now, Tanahashi must face Goto and the winner faces Moxley for the interim AEW world title until Punk returns. Now, I like Goto as a wrestler. I’ve seen him wrestle live, met him in person, and have enjoyed a lot of his matches. But being a good in-ring worker is only a good thing if it leads to positive results in one’s career. And in Goto’s case, his skills as a wrestler might as well be irrelevant because he’s so firmly established as a nearlyman. No one believed Goto will beat Tanahashi, especially at this stage in both of their careers and since there has been a plan to do Mox vs. Tana for a long time now. It seems like Punk’s injury simply accelerated those plans and we’ll get that big encounter early. Goto will try with all his might and will fight like the true warrior he is. But what’s a warrior to a God? Nothing.
Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi
Provisional 2022 KOPW Trophy Match – Shingo Takagi [c] vs. Taichi
I’m going to have to copy the Wrestling Observer Newsletter to explain what the stipulation for this match is. KOPW matches are almost always out of the ordinary, but this one takes the cake. According to the WON, the fans voted to use Takagi’s requested stipulation. That stipulation is as follows, per the WON: “It will be a 10:00 time limit and the winner will be determined by who gets the most points, with a point being every second someone gets the others’ shoulder on the mat for a near fall. Three counts mean nothing except it’s three points, and you can get six, ten or whatever number of points on a near-fall if the guy doesn’t kick out. It’s the most total points and not pins that determines the winner.”
In other words, Takagi and Taichi are competing in an experimental wrestling match to see if this novel concept sticks. I sincerely doubt that since it sounds like they’re trying to reinvent the wheel for no good reason. But at least novelty sells tickets, right?
Winner and STILL owner of the Provisional 2022 KOPW Trophy: Shingo Takagi
NEVER Openweight Championship match: Tama Tonga [c] vs. Karl Anderson
I’m glad New Japan is finally doing something with Tama that doesn’t involve him being a glorified tag team wrestler. Tama hasn’t won a singles title in a major company before so this is a great opportunity for him to show what he can do on his own. Anderson will make for a solid defense since he’s a good in-ring competitor on his own, as shown with some great singles matches he’s had in the past. He’ll make Tama look good here, but there won’t be anything unexpected here. They might do some over-the-top Bullet Club infighting shtick, but that won’t lead to anything substantial beyond maybe a cheap roll-up or two.
Winner and STILL NEVER Openweight Champion: Tama Tonga
Three-Way Match for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Juice Robinson [c] vs. SANADA vs. Will Ospreay
There are rumors swirling right now suggesting that Robinson won’t defend the title at Dominion because he’s suffering from acute appendicitis. However, more convincing rumors suggest that this is nothing more than an angle and that Robinson will indeed appear on the show. Right now, I’m going with the presumption that the title defense goes on as originally scheduled, and I think that Robinson will retain. He needs the win far more than either Ospreay or SANADA. SANADA returned recently following an orbital bone injury and winning any title so soon would come across as rushed and hollow. As for Ospreay, as much as I question his abilities as a ‘heavyweight’ wrestler, this title is beneath him. He’s a main-eventer, whether people like it or not. He should be competing in more important matches and participating in big money feuds. I doubt he’ll take the fall here since there’s an easy story to tell in SANADA not being at 100% upon his return. Still, expect to see lots of high-octane craziness from both SANADA and Ospreay buoyed with a more balanced wrestling approach from Robinson.
Winner and STILL IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion: Juice Robinson
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match: Kazuchika Okada [c] vs. Jay White
Earlier this week, Hangman Page announced that he wanted to face Okada for the IWGP World Heavyweight title. And judging by how the live audience reacted, he just might get his wish.
Even though Adam Cole made an important point when he mentioned Jay White, I sincerely doubt White will win here. As good as he is, he simply isn’t on Okada’s level in terms of reputation and appeal. He’s a solid wrestler, but I just don’t see him as a top gaijin threat. He lacks the wide appeal of guys like Kenny Omega and isn’t as explosive or acrobatic as Will Ospreay. He’s a solid hand, but that won’t be enough for him here. Both New Japan and AEW want to make money off this partnership and if crowd reactions are any indication, then White would be the less lucrative choice. On the June 8th episode of Dynamite, Okada was simply mentioned by name and the fans reacted loudly. Months earlier, White appeared physically on Dynamite and his reaction was nowhere near the same level. Okada is simply a bigger draw, and both NJPW and AEW will want that draw to deliver at Forbidden Door.
But even though White will lose at Dominion, he won’t go down without a fight. He’ll pull every trick in the book to try and win but none of that will be enough to stop Okada, mechanical as he is. I predict this match will go over thirty-five minutes, just because going long for the sake of it has become par for the course with big Okada matches. It definitely won’t be his best match, but I still think it’ll be another strong performance by NJPW’s unquestioned ace.
Winner and STILL IWGP World Heavyweight Champion: Kazuchika Okada
Match I’m looking forward to the most: Tanahashi vs. Goto
Match I’m looking forward to the least: Yano vs. Gallows
Longest match: Okada vs. White (35-45 minutes)
Shortest match: Yano vs. Gallows (8 minutes max)
Overall show excitement (out of 10): 7
There is nothing on this show that I haven’t seen from New Japan before. Their Dominion cards have followed the same rough outline for years with the same title matches and multi-man matches in the same spots. Replace one wrestler here and there and most people wouldn’t be able to distinguish one year’s Dominion card from another. That said, the real selling point here is how this show will affect AEW and Forbidden Door. Even though Tanahashi vs. Goto is fairly predictable, this match might be great on its own (mainly because Tanahashi is in it) and there might be some additional fallout that will make that show even more exciting.
If you’re doing to watch Dominion, make sure you have something to keep you awake and focused like coffee, gum, or something like that. Especially for the main event, which is likely to be yet another example of Okada trying to break every conditioning record in the entire wrestling industry.