The John Report: NJPW Dominion 2018 Review
The NJPW Dominion 2018 event featured a massive Kenny Omega-Kazuchika Okada match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship that went over one hour, plus Jericho vs. Naito and a whole lot more.
I am re-posting this review on the four year anniversary of this event. What you see below is my review of the show written one day later. This was about six months before we had any idea that All Elite Wrestling was going to start in 2019.
I’ll begin this review by saying that I’m a casual NJPW viewer. I have had an NJPW World subscription for over a year. I first started watching Japanese wrestling in the late 90s/early 2000s in the tape trading days when I got comp tapes of guys like Misawa, Kobashi, Kawada, Liger and tournaments like the Super J Cup in 1994 and 1995. In the last few years since the product has been hotter, I have watched more. I watch most of the major shows when I can and normally I do so while sitting on the couch chilling. It’s tough to want to write about more wrestling when I write so many words about wrestling per week. It’s also tough to sit through four or five hour NJPW shows in one sitting too.
I’m familiar with most of the guys wrestling on this event, but I will admit that I don’t know every name of every move they do, nor do I know the backstory of everybody. I do my best to learn things that I am unable to watch.
Dominion started at 3am my time, so I didn’t see it live. I could have stayed up or woken up early, but I had other things to do on Saturday morning and needed sleep. I managed to get through it all now as you can see below. A day late for a review isn’t that bad, right? Let’s get to it.
Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall
June 9, 2018
Osaka-jo Hall in Osaka, Japan
The opening video package previewed all the matches.
The English announce team is Kevin Kelly and Don Callis. Kelly noted it was completely sold out with about 12,000 people in the building.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh) w/Rocky Romero
Sho and Yoh with a double team move where they tripped up Kanemaru and a kick to the head got a two count. Yoh with a dropkick to the back of Kanemaru and Desperado took Yoh off the apron. Desperado took Sho into the crowd and tossed him into some chairs. Kanemaru with a DDT on Yoh on the floor. Desperado with a body slam and a back elbow. Kanemaru with a body slam and he kicked Sho off the apron. Yoh with a leg whip and a suplex to break free. Sho got the hot tag with clotheslines on each guy. Double jumping spear by Sho took down both of the champs. Sho hit two rolling German Suplexes and then a dead lift third German Suplex for two. Desperado with a spinebuster. Kanemaru with a dropkick. Yoh whipped Kanemaru into the guardrail at ringside. Yoh went into the ring and they hit a double team neckbreaker for two. Double knee attack by Sho and Yoh. Running dropkick by Yoh on Desperado and the crowd got into it. Kanemaru back in and he spit the mist onto his partner by accident. Kanemaru cleaned house with kicks, Yoh back in and Desperado hit a Spear on Yoh. Sho with a power slam on Kanemaru. Desperado grabbed the ref and Sho hit Desperado with a clothesline. Sho picked up Desperado in the air followed by a backstabber for two. Desperado drove Sho into the ref, so Kanemaru was in the ring with a whiskey bottle to the head and Desperado covered for the win at 9:29. Callis was funny on commentary ripping on Rocky Romero comparing him to Kim Chee, who was Kamala’s “handler” in WWE.
Winners by pinfall: Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
Analysis: **3/4 Good match with a cheap finish to keep the titles on the heels. I’ll admit that I don’t know that much about these guys, but they put on a solid opening match. I thought Sho was really impressive after the hot tag and had a good mix of power moves with some speed moves. Desperado and Kanemaru worked well together. The finish was cheap with the bottle, but that’s okay because I like whiskey too.
Chaos (Jay White and Yoshi-Hashi) vs. Taguchi Japan (Juice Robinson and David Finlay)
Robinson was known as CJ Parker in WWE NXT and he’s better as Juice Robinson. David Finlay is the son of well known WWE veteran Fit Finlay. White is the IWGP US Champion.
White attacked Robinson from behind to start the match. Robinson came back with a jumping side kick. Finlay tagged in leading to a double team bulldog. Finlay with a running uppercut and an elbow smash off the middle ropes. White nailed a snap belly to back suplex on Finlay. Hashi with a delayed suplex on Finlay. White distracted the referee, Finlay tagged out, but the ref didn’t see it and that meant Finlay had to stay in the ring. Finlay hit a nice dropkick. Robinson got the tag against White with Robinson hitting punches, a chop and a running attack in the corner. Parker set up both guys in the corner and hit a running cannonball attack in the corner. The crowd got into it cheering for Robinson as he went up top and hit a cross body block for two. Robinson and Finlay hit a double team flapjack. White shoved them into eachother and hit a belly to back suplex on Robinson. Running clothesline by Robinson on White. Hashi back in with a clothesline, Finlay with a stunner on Hashi and White hit a Blade Runner on Finlay. Robinson with a punch to the jaw. Robinson hit the Pulp Friction, which is similar to Christian’s Unprettier, but Robinson jumps up when he does it and Robinson covered for the pinfall win after 7:26 of action.
Winners by pinfall: Juice Robinson and David Finlay
Analysis: *** That was fun. It was the usual formula for a tag team match with a well-booked finish where everybody hit big moves leading to Robinson getting the win. It could have used a few more minutes, but give them credit for making the most of their time. Robinson pinning White should lead to Robinson getting a shot at the US Title soon.
Post match, Robinson grabbed the US Title and held it in the air. Callis said you shouldn’t touch the belt unless you won it. Robinson continued to pose with the title. Robinson dropped it on White and left.
Analysis: It’s good to see Robinson doing so well in New Japan. A lot of wrestlers want to be in WWE and have success, but it can’t work out for everybody. I’m happy for Robinson finding success in Japan.
Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. Chaos (Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano)
Suzuki turns 50 years old later this month and is a legit badass. Sabre was a part of WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic two years ago. He opted not to sign with WWE, which was a smart career move.
Ishii and Suzuki exchanged forearms to start the match. Suzuki with a boot to the face. Ishii with a shoulder tackle, sliding lariat and Ishii wanted a suplex. Sabre tagged in with a surfboard submission on Ishii. Ishii stunned Sabre with a forearm, he knocked Suzuki off the apron and Yano tagged in. Sabre with a submission where he pulled back on the arms of Yano. Suzuki back in wit ha submission where he pulled back on Yano’s arm. Sabre joined in. Suzuki slapped on a choke hold and Yano got the ropes. Running kick by Suzuki, Yano came back with an atomic drop and Ishii went back with chops for Suzuki. Ishii with a shoulder tackle. Ishii with some taunting kicks to the head, so Suzuki fired back. Each guy unleashed strikes on the other. Suzuki wanted a move, but Ishii with a back body drop. They exchanged forearm strikes again. Suzuki seemed to win that battle briefly and then they slapped eachother in the face leading to both guys falling. Sabre and Yano tagged in leading to Sabre applying an armbar using the ropes. Sabre had Yano locked in a submission, so Yano with a hiptoss to break free. Yano exposed the turnbuckle pad, Sabre hooked his arms and got a pin for two. Sabre with a backslide that got two. Sabre hit the exposed turnbuckle, Yano went for a low blow, Sabre blocked it by putting his knees together and Sabre slapped in a submission hooking the arms and head. While that was going on, Suzuki had Ishii in a submission. Yano couldn’t tap out, so it was a verbal quit. It went 8:42.
Winners by submission: Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr.
Analysis: **3/4 The match went under ten minutes with Sabre looking like a star while Yano looked like he didn’t even belong in this match because he barely did anything. I know he’s something of a comedy guy. He just felt out of place. It was fun seeing Suzuki and Ishii chop eachother a lot. That was the highlight of the match. Sabre getting the win made sense since he has received a push in NJPW of late.
After the match, Ishii left the ring and attacked Suzuki from behind. Ishii was pulled off by the guys at ringside. Suzuki grabbed a chair, so Ishii grabbed a chair and they battled in the ring. Suzuki hit Ishii with a chair to the back. They got into a hard slap fest on the floor. They were both taken away.
NEVER Openweight Title: Hirooki Goto vs. Taichi vs. Michael Elgin
The first fall wins the title in this match.
Taichi left to the floor to let the other two start and then Taichi got a rollup. Elgin sent Taichi out of the ring. Taichi went back in the ring and then he left the ring again. Taichi had a girl with him at ringside, he put her on the apron and the other two guys went at it. Elgin with an enziguri on Goto, Taichi back in with a kick, Elgin shoved the two guys into eachother, but Goto and Taichi came back with kicks to the chest of Elgin at the same time. Goto suplexed Taichi onto Elgin followed by a second suplex. Elgin suplexed Goto onto Taichi. There was a lot of action with guys hitting moves and Elgin knocked Goto out of the ring. Elgin with a German Suplex on Taichi and Taichi came back with an enziguri kick on Elgin. The Japanese guys battled on the floor, so Elgin hit a somersault dive over the top onto both guys. That was impressive. Back in the ring, Elgin clothesline, kick by Taichi and a belly to back suplex by Goto on Elgin. Running clothesline by Taichi on Goto for two. Goto hit the Ushigoroshi neckbreaker for two. They did a Tower of Doom spot out of the corner with Elgin doing the Powerbomb part of it after jumping off the ropes, so that was a cool way to do it. Elgin dumped Taichi out of the ring. Elgin and Goto each hit clotheslines, Elgin connected with forearms and an Electric Chair Drop by Elgin into a bridging pin got a two count. Goto with a back body drop on Elgin. Elgin came back with kicks, Goto stopped him with a headbutt and the Ushigoroshi. Goto drove Elgin into his knee for a two count. Taichi threw his valet into the ring to distract the ref, so Taichi hit both guys with the microphone stand that he brought to the ring during his entrance. Taichi hit a superkick on Goto for a two count. That was a great nearfall. Taichi with a roundhouse kick on Goto. Elgin picked him up and hit a Buckle Bomb into the turnbuckle. Elgin hit a Buckle Bomb where he sent Taichi into Goto against the turnbuckle. Elgin hit an Elgin Bomb Powerbomb for the pinfall win after 13:46 of action.
Winner and NEW NEVER Openweight Champion: Michael Elgin
Analysis: ***1/2 That was an enjoyable triple threat match with Elgin looking like the big star in the match that left with the title. Goto was good for much of the match as well. Taichi was more of a guy that didn’t belong in the match although he got a believable nearfall when you used the microphone stand as a weapon. The story will be that Elgin pinned Taichi to win rather than pinning the former champ Goto to win the title.
Post match, Elgin celebrated with the title. Goto got in his face and nodded at him as a sign of respect. They’ll probably continue their rivalry.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Sanada and Evil) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)
Sanada started with Nick as Callis put over their athleticism. Nick with a flying headscissors, arm drag off the top and a dropkick. Nick tagged in leading to a double dropkick. Evil with an eye gouge on Matt. Nick into the ring leading to Matt launching Nick into the air for a double dropkick. Nick with a moonsault onto both guys on the floor. Evil with a side suplex on Matt and Sanada with a dropkick that sent Nick out of the ring. Evil tossed Matt out of the ring leading to Evil whipping Matt into the railing. Sanada back in with a standing moonsault on Matt, Evil tagged in and hit a neckbreaker for two. Matt avoided a senton attack by Evil and Sanada hit Matt in the back. Matt with an arm drag on Evil, but Evil knocked Nick off the apron. Nick back up with a kick on Evil. Nick got the hot tag, kicks for both champs, a spin kick on Evil and a bulldog/clothesline combo by Nick took down both guys. Nick with a springboard dropkick sent both guys on the floor. Nick went for a kick on Evil, but Evil moved and Nick kicked the ring post. Ouch. Evil kicked the right foot of Nick. Matt into the ring with a superkick that connected on Nick by accident and Matt was sent out of the ring. Nick hit a superkick on Evil, then Nick sold his foot injury and Evil hit a clothesline for two. Matt was back in in the ring. The Bucks set up for a double superplex, Evil got back into it and they did a double Powerbomb out of the corner so it was a Double Tower of Doom spot. Nick with forearms to the face. Evil wanted a suplex, Nick slipped out of it and Nick hit a spinning kick to the face. Nick was down selling the foot injury again. Matt tagged in selling his back injury, Sanada went for a reverse DDT, Matt countered that and Matt set up for a double team move, but Evil pulled Nick off the apron. They were multiple submission attempts going up, Nick up top and Nick hit a missile dropkick on Sanada to break that up.
Evil with a spinning forearm on Matt followed by a slam after putting Matt on his shoulders. Matt countered the STO attempt. He held up Evil for the Indy Taker, Nick slipped off the top rope (great sell of the foot injury by him) and Evil held up Matt, so Sanada jumped off the ropes with the Indy Taker that got a two count because Nick broke up the pin. Sanada dumped Nick out of the ring. Evil and Sanada hit the Magic Killer double team neckbreaker for two as Nick made the save. Sanada sent Nick out of the ring and hit a dive over the top to take out Nick. Matt with a clothesline on Evil, Sanada back in with a dropkick and Sanada kicked Nick off the apron. Matt came back with a Spear on Sanada, but Evil was there with a clothesline. Double team superkick by the Young Bucks on Evil and Sanada jumped off the top leading to another double superkick. The Bucks set up for More Bang For Your Buck with Nick hitting the 450 Splash off the top for the pinfall win at 15:03.
Winners and New IWGP Tag Team Champions: The Young Bucks
Analysis: **** Excellent tag team match with the Bucks getting the big win to capture the Tag Team Titles. I liked the psychology in the match with Matt selling the back a lot and Nick selling the foot a lot, so that led to Evil and Sanada working on those body parts. It felt like the Bucks were trying to make the comeback the whole way, so when they finally did to win the match it was a triumphant victory for them. There are critics of the Young Bucks that say they don’t have enough psychology in their matches, but in this match they told a great story based on coming back from their injuries. I’ll admit to not watching Sanada and Evil a lot, but they were impressive. Sanada really is an outstanding athlete. I enjoyed that match a lot.
The Young Bucks celebrated with the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. It’s their first time winning those titles. They are 7-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions.
The Bucks did a quick interview with Kelly and Callis. Matt talked about how tonight is their night. Matt told Don Callis he’s hired for the “All In” show on the headset in Chicago on September 1.
Analysis: That interview was interesting because it tells us that they are going to be broadcasting the All In show, which is great news for those of us that want to see it.
Jushin Thunder Liger, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Rey Mysterio vs. Bullet Club (Cody, Hangman Page and Marty Scurll)
It’s cool to see the legendary trio of Liger, Tanahashi and Mysterio on the same team. This was Mysterio’s first match in New Japan.
Scurll wanted Mysterio to start, then when Mysterio tagged in, Scurll tagged in Page, who wanted Tanahashi, so that’s who started. Tanahashi with a shoulder tackle and an elbow to the back. The fans booed loudly as Cody tagged in. Cody did some push ups followed by a flex as if he was Scott Steiner. Tanahashi replied with push ups of his own. Tanahashi with two arm drags, Cody with a punch and Scurll tagged in, so Mysterio tagged in. Mysterio got a rollup on Scurll, Mysterio with a kick to the leg, kick to the face and a hurricanrana for Mysterio. Liger tagged in, he dumped Scurll out of the ring and hit a running dropkick. Liger hit the surfboard submission. Page and Cody saved their partner. Scurll got a roundhouse kick on Liger, Cody tagged in and stomped on Liger in the corner. Page with a back suplex on Liger. Scurll a kick on Liger and Page with a standing SSP for two. Liger hit a back elbow, Marty with a kick to the knee and Liger with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Mysterio in with a press off the top onto Scurll, headscissors by Mysterio and a DDT off the ropes. Mysterio with a kick to the gut followed by a move where he set up Scurll on the ropes. Page tagged, Tanahashi tagged in and hit a cross body block on Page. Tanahashi with a leg whip on Page, forearm by Page and Tanahashi nailed a neckbreaker. Marty with a knee to Tanahashi’s back, so Rey hit a knee to Page’s back and Tanahashi with a slap on Page followed by a Page clothesline on Tanahashi. Liger and Cody got the tags. Liger with a cradle for two. Liger with a running clothesline for two as Scurll made the save. Mysterio with an enziguri on Scurll. Page back in, Tanahashi kicked Page and Mysterio connected with a double 619. Tanahashi with a Slingblade on Page. Mysterio took out Marty on the floor and Tanahashi with a dive onto Page. Liger with a hurricanrana off the top on Cody. Liger went for something, Cody slipped out and Cody hit the Cross Rhodes for the pinfall win at 11:35.
Winners by pinfall: Bullet Club (Cody, Hangman Page and Marty Scurll)
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a fun tag team match with a hot finish where everybody was all over the ring hitting big moves. The legends team really had the crowd behind them, but it was the right call to put over Cody as a younger guy that can be a main event in NJPW for as long as he wants to work there. The finish was creative. It was done in a way where they cleared four guys out of the ring leading to the finish with Liger and Cody.
Post match, Cody stomped away on Liger and Mysterio made the save. Callis put over how impressive Mysterio looked. The Bullet Club trio celebrated their win. The legends that lost greeted fans at ringside after the loss.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Ospreay had tape on his shoulders around his neck area because he’s dealing with a serious neck injury from April 1 when taking a move on the ring apron right on his neck. Takahashi won the Best of the Super Juniors to earn his title shot.
Ospreay with a running kick. Takahashi sent Ospreay into the turnbuckle. They went out of the ring and Ospreay hit this amazing flip dive off the ramp onto Takahashi on the floor. Ospreay pulled off the padding on the floor, Takahashi fought it off and Ospreay sent him back into the ring. Back in the ring, Ospreay with a running corner dropkick. Ospreay with a forearm. Ospreay slowed it down with a submission by pulling back on the arms of Takahashi. They left the ring with Ospreay whipping Takahashi into the guard rail. The tape on Ospreay’s back was coming off as Ospreay sent Takahashi into the ring post. Ospreay stomped on the left arm of Takahashi while it was against the ropes. Ospreay slapped on an armbar. Takahashi came back with a flying headscissors, running dropkick and a dropkick that sent Ospreay into the guard rail. The tape was knocked off Ospreay’s back. Back in the ring, Takahashi connected with a missile dropkick off the top for two. Takahashi hit a Popup Powerbomb for a two count. Ospreay was holding his neck. Takahashi with chops, Ospreay swore at him and Ospreay with a quick enziguri followed by his version of a 619. Ospreay with a springboard forearm off the top. Ospreay kicked Takahashi out of the ring and hit the Space Flying Tiger Drop, which is a cartwheel and then a dive over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, Ospreay picked up Takahashi and hit a side suplex. Ospreay went for a springboard move, but Takahashi caught him with a German Suplex into the center of the ring. That was a painful bump for Ospreay for sure.
The two men exchanged forearm strikes for about one minute. Takahashi came back with a thrust kick, they each countered eachother and Takahashi hit a German Suplex. Ospreay with two reverse hurricanranas. Takahashi hit an incredible counter to the Stormbreaker with a sunset flip into a Powerbomb. Both guys were down. They battled on the apron with forearms to the face. Ospreay nailed a kick to the head. With Takahashi on the apron, Ospreay powered him out with a suplex like Cesaro might do. Ospreay with a Shooting Star Press while Takahashi was on the top rope. Ospreay up top and he hit a Corkscrew Shooting Star Press for two. He makes it look so easy. Ospreay went for the Stormbreaker, Takahashi broke free, he jumped off the ropes and hit a Canadian Destroyer. Wow. That was so great. Takahashi slapped on a Triangle Choke on the upper body of Ospreay. When Ospreay powered out of it, Takahashi slapped on the Triangle Choke again. Ospreay picked up Takahashi and slammed him down on the head/neck of Takahashi. That was brutal. Ospreay hit the Robinson Special spin kick to the back. Ospreay wanted the OsCutter, Takahashi avoided it and hit a sunset flip Powerbomb by jumping over the top and hitting the Powerbomb on Ospreay on the floor. Holy shit that was incredible! Ospreay landed on the mat rather than the exposed floor. Back in the ring, Takahashi hit the Dynamite Plunger for a two count that was a very believable nearfall. The fans were cheering for Takahashi. Ospreay connected with three kicks in a row to take control. Ospreay went for his Stormbreaker off the shoulders again, but Takahashi countered with a Triangle Choke again. Ospreay powered out of it, Takahashi got back to his feet and hit a Butterfly Piledriver. Wow! That was brutal. Takahashi drove Ospreay back first into the turnbuckle. The crowd was really loud as Takahashi fired up. Takahashi hit his Time Bomb finisher and he covered for the win at 20:20.
Winner by pinfall and New IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion: Hiromu Takahashi
Analysis: ****1/4 Outstanding match over four stars with a mix of cruiserweight style as well as technical wrestling. They worked at such a fast pace for a lot of the match, but also had moments where they slowed it down, which made the big moves mean more. If you go at a fast pace for 20 minutes you’re going to really get hurt, but if you do it in a way where you build up to those spots then it tells more of an interesting story. The speed with which they hit their moves is so amazing. I feel like I say this a lot, but they make it look so easy even while doing the most difficult moves you’ve ever soon. Some of the bumps that they took on the head/neck was tough to watch especially in Ospreay’s case because of his damaged neck. The crowd was really into the whole match and got loud for Takahashi’s finisher.
Takahashi celebrated with the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title. It was the second time Takahashi has held that title. Ospreay was helped to the back with an ice pack on his neck.
The video package showed the story between Chris Jericho and Tetsuya Naito, who is the IWGP Intercontinental Champion. Naito was attacked by a guy wearing a mask and it was revealed to be Chris Jericho. That set up this match, which would be Jericho’s second New Japan match after losing to Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom in January. After Jericho’s loss to Omega, he said he would not come back to Japan again, which was a lie because heels lie.
Jericho’s got a unique look with makeup on his face and some eye paint along with black lipstick. He’s got the scarf along with a leather jacket too. Jericho is 47 years old and will be 48 in November. Naito left the IC Title on the stage and walked around the ring. Jericho attacked before Naito could get in the ring.
Jericho attacked Naito with a forearm to the back. Jericho worked over Naito with punches to the ribs and he hit a suplex on the floor. Jericho threw a microphone stand down. Jericho grabbed the timekeeper’s table. Jericho set up the table against the railing. Jericho picked up Naito and hit a Powerbomb through the table. That table didn’t break easily. Jericho got a camera from a cameraman and gave him a middle finger. Callis asked if there was a viewing party in Stamford, CT wondering who this Jericho was. Jericho walked Naito to another table and hit a DDT on the table. The table didn’t break. The referee tried to get Jericho into the ring. Jericho rolled Naito into the ring leading to ref Red Shoes ringing the bell to start the match. Jericho: “Ring the Fucking Bell.”
Analysis: What a way to start the match with Jericho overly aggressive.
IWGP Intercontinental Title: Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho
Jericho got a two count after the bell rang. Naito hit Jericho with punches, but Jericho hit a backbreaker followed by a Lionsault for two. Nice ovation for that. Jericho stomped on Naito, chopped him, punched him and a hard whip into the corner two times in a row. Jericho was in full heel mode, yet the crowd chanted “Y2J” for him. Naito with punches, Jericho tripped him up and slapped on the Walls of Jericho, but Naito got to the ropes. Naito spit on Jericho. Naito attacked Jericho with punches, neckbreaker and a running dropkick to the back of the head. Naito with a dropkick on Jericho against the turnbuckle. Naito with a neckbreaker on the apron, which is the hardest part of the ring. Naito pulled Jericho off the apron with another neckbreaker this time on the floor. Naito had blood in his eye. Naito choked Jericho with his white pants. Naito drove Jericho back first into the barricade. Naito got the broken half of the table and hit Jericho in the head of it although Jericho got his hands up to block it. Naito hit Jericho with the table again. They went onto the same table where Jericho hit a DDT and Naito hit a piledriver on the table. Ouch. Back in the ring, Naito hit a missile dropkick to the back. Naito went for a hurricanrana off the top, Jericho blocked it and slapped on the Walls of Jericho submission again. Naito turned out of it, so Jericho did a catapult that sent Naito in the turnbuckle. Naito jumped off the ropes with a hurricanrana followed by a Tornado DDT off the ropes for two. Naito with a suplex attempt, Jericho rolled through and applied the Walls of Jericho submission again. Naito did a slow crawl towards the ropes, it looked like he was out and then he lunged ahead to get his hand on the bottom rope. Naito with a hot shot to the rope and a German Suplex. Jericho countered a move into a pin for two. Naito nailed Destino. Naito with a cover by the ropes and Jericho got his hand on the bottom rope. That was obvious from the ring placement.
Naito was busted open on the side of his cheek. They exchanged strikes. Jericho whipped Naito into the ropes, Naito went for a forearm and Jericho hit the Codebreaker for two after a delayed pin. They exchanged strike again with Jericho looking exhausted. Jericho with a back elbow. Lionsault by Jericho, but Naito blocked it. Naito with a step up enziguri followed by his Gloria slam. Naito went for Destino again, but Jericho slipped out, he shoved the referee, Jericho with a low blow kick and Jericho hit the Codebreaker for the pinfall win at 17:16.
Winner by pinfall and New IWGP Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho
Analysis: ****1/4 That was an awesome match. It was more like a fight where they were going at full speed from the beginning and told a great story with Jericho starting out in control, Naito coming back and building up to a hot finish. I liked the finishing sequence a lot with Jericho shoving the ref, hitting the low blow and the Codebreaker for the win. It was a crafty way for the heel Jericho to win. I thought Naito could have sold the back injury better since Jericho put him in the Walls of Jericho a few times and Naito didn’t sell it that much after. Jericho getting the win was a bit of a surprise since we don’t know how many NJPW shows he’s going to work, but obviously there’s some plan in place for him to do more.
Post match, Jericho celebrated with his knee title and punched Naito in the face. When Naito got back to his feet, Jericho hit Naito in the face with the IC Title. Jericho took off his black belt and hit Naito with it repeatedly. Evil made the save for Naito, he punched Jericho and got the belt. Jericho left.
Analysis: This should lead to a rematch possibly when they do the NJPW show in San Francisco on July 8.
It’s time for the main event. There was a video showing Kenny Omega’s journey over the last year and a half including problems with Kenny Omega of the Bullet Club and reuniting with his friend Kota Ibushi as the Golden Lovers.
There’s a long backstory here. Okada has been IWGP Heavyweight Champion for nearly two years. At Wrestle Kingdom 11 in January 2017, they had an incredible match with Okada retaining his title. One year earlier at Dominion 2017, they had a draw. In last year’s G1 tournament, Omega beat Okada, but it was non-title, so they were 1-1-1 going into this match.
Kenny Omega made his entrance with Kota Ibushi by his side. Omega looks like he was in the best shape of his career. The announcers put over how great he looks. I should point out too that Callis is very biased towards Omega as a fellow Canadian, which is fine with me since I’m Canadian as well.
Kazuchika Okada made his entrance as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Gedo was with him. Gedo was also the booker of NJPW and he did a great job. Kevin Kelly noted it was 720 days for Okada as the champion with over 1500 combined days as champion. There was a big ovation for Okada as he posed in the ring.
Analysis: Omega is 34 years old and Okada is 30 years old. They are in the prime of their careers with a lot of experience in big matches. I saw their other three big matches, but I didn’t write about any of them. All of them were five-star caliber matches.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship (Two out of Three Falls with No Time Limit): Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega
This is the longest singles match I’ve ever written about. Brace yourselves because it’s a big one. It’s referee Red Shoes as usual for a big match.
When the bell rang, the crowd cheered loudly in anticipation of the match. There was some mat wrestling early with neither guy getting the advantage. Omega slapped on an armbar. Okada applied an armbar and later turned it into a kneebar. Omega got to the ropes. They each did a clean break against the turnbuckle. Okada caught Omega on his shoulders, Omega with a basement dropkick, Omega ducked the Rainmaker, Omega went for the One-Winged Angel, Okada powered out of it and they bumped over the top to the floor. They exchanged forearms on the floor and Okada whipped Omega into the guard rail. Boot to the face by Okada knocked Omega into the crowd. Okada charged in, Omega was waiting for him and Omega hit him with a knee to the chest. That looked brutal. Omega slammed Okada onto the guard rail. They went back into the ring with Omega in control with elbows to the chest. Omega hit Okada in the back several times followed by a running kick off the ropes. Omega worked over Okada with chops against the turnbuckle. Backbreaker by Omega got two. Omega slapped on a Camel Clutch submission with Okada getting to the ropes to break it. Omega continued with huge chops. Okada came back with a flapjack. Okada connected with a running elbow to the chest. Okada with a DDT that got a two count. The action spilled to the floor with Okada hitting a slingshot dive over the top to take out Omega on the floor. Back in the ring, Okada with a boot to the face and Omega came back with a sweet hurricanrana. Omega with a dropkick to the back that sent Obama over the rail. Omega jumped to the top and hit a springboard cross body block that took out Okada on the floor. That drew a big reaction. Nice move. Omega rolled Okada back in the ring.
Omega leaped over Okada and hit a bulldog for a two count. Omega picked up Okada with a suplex into the knee of Omega. Okada avoided an attack, Okada blocked a V Trigger knee and then Omega connected with the V Trigger knee. Okada held on to the ropes to block a snap hurricanrana and Okada hit a German Suplex for two. Omega drove Okada back into the corner. Omega set up Okada on the top rope, but that didn’t lead to anything and Omega punched Okada. Omega teased a suplex off the top. Omega got out of it with elbows, Okada grabbed Omega and connected with a Tombstone on the apron. That was a great counter. It looked so smooth. When Omega got back to his feet, Okada hit a running dropkick that sent Omega ribs first into the barricade. The crowd let out a big “ohhh” when they saw the replay because it looked like a rough landing. The ref checked on Omega. They went back into the ring with Okada nailing a sweet missile dropkick for two. Okada with a body slam. Okada went up top with a flying elbow drop. Omega popped back up with a snap suplex that sent Okada out of the ring. The fans were clapping for Omega leading to a somersault plancha over the top that landed perfectly on Omega. That was perfection. The match is at 25 minutes so far. Back in the ring, Omega hit a missile dropkick to the back of the head for two. Okada tried to break free, Omega grabbed his tights and Omega wanted the One-Winged Angel, Okada got out of it, V-Trigger knee connects for Omega and then an Electric Chair into a German Suplex got a two count. Holy shit that was so great. Omega connected with another V-Trigger knee. Okada escaped the One-Winged Angel again and Okada hit another dropkick. Omega ducked the Rainmaker clothesline and Omega hit the V-Trigger for just two as Okada barely kicked out. Omega picked him up, Okada with a hurricanrana, he wanted a Tombstone and he connected with it. Omega avoided the Rainmaker again, Omega went for a sunset flip, Okada sat on top for the pinfall by hooking the arms and that was enough to get the pinfall.
Winner of the first fall: Kazuchika Okada
That was about 29 minutes for that first fall. The wrestlers got a two-minute rest period before the match continued.
Analysis: That was an exciting first fall. Each guy got plenty of offense. It looked like Omega was going to get the first fall, but Okada outsmarted him and managed to counter the pinning predicament. I like how the first fall ended with a move where it wasn’t a finisher. Save those for later. It adds to the story that these guys can beat eachother with a variety of different moves.
The action picked up with Okada hitting a dropkick that kicked Omega out of the ring. Okada hit Omega into the ribs. Omega tried to go for a move off the blue railing near the ring, but Okada shoved him into the white railing a few feet away, so that was another bump into the ribs. Okada hit a draping DDT off the railing onto the floor that was covered by a mat. They went back into the ring, Omega with chops and Okada with a boot to the face. Omega got some momentum going with a belly to back suplex. They left the ring with Omega hitting a belly to back suplex on the ring apron. Omega threw a table onto Okada. Omega ran across the apron and hit a double foot stomp onto the table that was on Okada’s ribs. That looked and sounded painful. Omega set up the table outside the ring. Okada came back by whipping Omega into the ring post and they both went back into the ring. Okada went for a senton splash, but Omega got the knees up to block it. Omega went for a move with Okada on his shoulders and Okada countered that with a suplex. Okada with a running dropkick that sent Omega into the turnbuckle. Okada was selling a rib injury as he made a slow climb to the top rope. They went to the top rope and Omega hit a superplex where he hooked the leg of Okada, so that smashed Okada’s leg into the knee. The crowd was cheering for Omega as they were for most of the match. Omega with a rolling senton, he went for a moonsault and Okada got his knees up. Okada with an uppercut. Okada pointed at the table that was on the floor. Omega connected with a running DDT that sent Okada to the apron. Omega followed him there. Omega teased a German Suplex off the apron through the table, but Okada held on. They went to the floor with Omega hitting a reverse hurricanrana. Omega went into the ring and told the ref to start the counting. The ref wasn’t counting for a lot of the spots when they were on the floor. It’s a 20 count in Japan. Okada got back in the ring at 19 to break the count. Omega with a V-Trigger. Omega went for the One-Winged Angel again, Okada countered it again and hit a jumping Tombstone. Rainmaker attempt countered by a spike uranage by Omega. Kelly pointed out it was just like last year. They exchanged forearms with both guys looking exhausted. Omega’s chop was loud. Omega hit a Dragon Suplex, Okada was right back up wit ha dropkick and Omega nailed a better dropkick to the top of the head. Great vertical. Omega with a spinning Powerbomb. Omega with a V-Trigger knee again. Okada countered a move into a pinfall again, but this time for a two count. Omega with another V-Trigger. Omega with a Butterfly Piledriver that got a two count. Holy shit this match is insane. Omega with another V-Trigger knee to the face. Omega connected with the One-Winged Angel and pinned to tie up the match. Callis pointed out that Okada has never kicked out of that move.
Winner of the second fall: Kenny Omega
The second fall was about 46 minutes into the match. Okada was down for nearly two minutes during the break. After nearly two minutes, Okada was barely above to move to sit up.
The bell rang, Omega hit a running knee to the back ad he went for the One-Winged Angel, but Okada slipped out of it and hit the Rainmaker clothesline! Wow. The crowd came alive for that. Omega did a flip bump where his foot kicked Okada in the back. That was such a great spot. Okada with a slow cover after hitting his finisher, so Omega kicked out at two. Okada tried for a Tombstone, but Omega held onto his foot. The announcement was the match was at 50 minutes. That doesn’t count the four minutes of rest between the falls. Okada with an uppercut, Omega with a slap and Omega collapsed. Okada whipped Omega into the ropes, but Omega collapsed into the ropes. Okada went for a dropkick, but he fell when Omega fell against the ropes. They were selling how exhausted they were. Omega with palm strikes to the back. Omega picked up Okada for a Powerbomb like-move, Okada fought out of it and Omega hit a Styles Clash that was good for a two count. That was cool. I think some fans were chanting “AJ Styles” there. I’m not sure if that’s what they were saying. Omega with a V-Trigger knee to the back of the head of Okada against the turnbuckle. Omega collapsed when he put Okada on his shoulders. The fans chanted for Omega. Okada with a cradle reverse piledriver like move that was good for a two count. Ibushi gave Omega some advice, Omega up top and he went for the Phoenix Splash, which was Ibushi’s finisher, but Okada moved. Dropkick to the back by Okada. When Okada went for a Tombstone, Omega slipped out of it and hit a V-Trigger knee to the face. I don’t know how many of those he has done, but it’s a lot. Omega with two more V-Trigger knees to the face, Okada blocked a third one, Okada with a dropkick and Okada hit another dropkick. Okada hit a Rainmaker clothesline and Okada collapsed when he hit his own move although he didn’t really connect with it. Both guys were exhausted. The referee counted both men down, but they got back up to continue the match.
They were on their knees slugging it out. Omega hit a headbutt to stun Okada a bit. When they got back to their feet, Okada hit a Rainmaker clothesline. Okada maintained wrist control and hit another Rainmaker. Okada was too tired to cover right away. Omega looked like he was out of it. Okada helped Omega up, he went for a Rainmaker again, Omega ducked it and Omega hit a German Suplex. Omega hit another German Suplex. Okada connected with a German Suplex of his own. Okada wanted a Rainmaker again, Omega ducked it again and hit Omega hit another German Suplex. Omega with a reverse hurricanrana or a Reverse Snap Rana if you want to call it that. It’s such a cool move. Omega crawled to his feet by grabbing the referee to help him. Omega ran the ropes, Okada hit a missile dropkick and Callis replied with a “God Dammit” since he is rooting for Omega. Okada went for the Rainmaker again, Omega slipped out of it and Omega hit the One-Winged Angel. Omega was too tired to cover and Okada sat up against the ropes. They were both exhausted. The crowd was chanting for Omega again. Omega hit a running V-Trigger while Okada was against the ropes. Omega set up for the One-Winged Angel and Omega connected with it. Omega hooked the leg and covered for one…two…three! Wow. It’s over. It went 1:09:29.
Winner by pinfall: Kenny Omega
Omega’s win was the first IWGP Heavyweight Title of Omega’s career. There were replays of the finish of the match. The crowd was cheering loudly for Omega’s win.
Analysis: ***** Wow! I often say “wow” when writing about great matches and this one had me saying wow for over an hour. Thank you Omega and Okada. I’m sitting here amazed. I can only hope my writing did this match justice because it was unlike anything I have ever seen. It really had everything you could ever possibly want in a wrestling match and I’m not going to be critical of much of it. This was special. This was professional wrestling at its absolute best with two guys in their prime that are very familiar with each other. Omega was in the best shape of his life looking as fast as I’ve ever seen, he had a good variety of power moves as well and everything they did looked easy. The counter moves were so impressive too. That’s what happens when you wrestle as many times as Omega and Okada have wrestled on the big stage. I thought the last fall was exceptional with how well they were selling exhaustion and how every move seemed to matter. They were so tired that when they hit their big moves they were unable to make the cover. It’s exactly how they should be selling after being in the ring for that long. I like how Okada has never kicked out of the One-Winged Angel, which made it fitting that Omega won with that move. Omega hit him with it three times. One time he did it and was too tired to cover, so it was the third one that finished off Okada to end Okada’s 700+ day title reign.
Analysis x2: Regarding the star rating, I’m going five stars out of five because that’s as high as my scale goes. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years. I don’t like breaking the scale. I know Dave Meltzer has gone six stars and above and he might do it for this match. I respect Dave a lot, but I think if it’s a five-star scale then it should stop at five stars. This is the best wrestling match I’ve ever seen. It topped their other matches. I don’t know how somebody is going to top this, but it might happen because of how great these guys are. Five stars is where it stops for me.
(For more thoughts on this Omega-Omega match, check out Alex Podgorski’s detailed column reviewing it RIGHT HERE.)
After a few minutes, Omega was helped to his feet by Ibushi and the referee. The Young Bucks, who were Kenny’s friends, went into the ring. They hugged Omega. Ibushi joined in with the hug. The story is they have had issues in recent months, but they wanted to be there for Kenny during this moment. Okada was helped to the back.
Omega was presented the IWGP Heavyweight Championship by the referee. Ibushi put the IWGP Heavyweight Championship around the waist of Omega. The crowd gave Omega a huge ovation.
Omega had the microphone in his hand. He spoke in Japanese and the translator at the announce table said he accomplished his goal of becoming the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Omega said that in this match he saw the future of pro wrestling. Omega said that he’s a champion and the Young Bucks are champions.
Omega spoke in English as well. Omega said what they’ve done is almost a miracle because every day people tell him he’s not the best. Omega said his way to make his own rules, live life the way that he wants and with all of us by his side and his best friends by his side they can truly do anything. Omega said he’s tired, so this is where he must bid you adieu. Omega said good night and good luck. Callis put over Jericho and Omega both being from Winnipeg.
The celebration continued in the ring. Cody walked onto the stage and the crowd was booing him. Callis ripped on Cody for not letting them have their moment. The Young Bucks invited Cody into the ring, but Cody just walked into the back.
Analysis: That played into the story of Cody having issues with Omega. Those issues will continue.
Omega was put on the shoulders of Matt Jackson and Kota Ibushi with Nick Jackson supporting them. The group has a new name called The Golden Elite.
Omega was helped to the back by his buddies. Kevin Kelly and Don Callis signed off as Omega made his way to the back.
Omega was shown backstage at a table for a post-match press conference. It only went about ten minutes. I’m not going to recap it because I’m exhausted from writing about this show.
The show had a run time of 4 hours, 52 minutes.
Five Stars of the Show
1. Kenny Omega
2. Kazuchika Okada
3. Chris Jericho
4. Tetsuya Naito
5. (tie) Hiromu Takahashi
5. (tie) Will Ospreay
Dominion gets a 9 out of 10. Excellent show.
It was an incredible show full of outstanding matches and several title changes. New Japan is rolling. I don’t think anybody can deny that. It’s especially growing in terms of fans that may have only watched WWE on a regular basis. They are providing a nice alternative with a focus on in-ring action.
The main event was amazing. I look forward to watching it again without having to write about it, so I can enjoy it even more. When writing about the matches, it’s hard sometimes to notice all of the little things in the match.
It was a newsworthy show due to all the title changes with several non-Japanese wrestlers holding titles now, so it shows how much they are willing to mix it up in terms of title holders. It’s a Japanese promotion that is gaining steam worldwide and having non-Japanese wrestlers holding titles is a smart way of building interest in other countries.
I enjoyed doing this. Will I write about New Japan again this year? I think so. That’s very likely. I don’t know how often, but I will do it. After all, I have to support my fellow Canadians that are kicking ass. See below.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below. Go Los Angeles Rams.