NJPW DOMINION 2018 [Review]: Best Bout Machines.
– IWGP Junior Tag Team Title: Desperado & Kanemaru vs. Roppongi 3K – With how impressive Sho & Yoh were in the Best of the Super Juniors this past month, I kinda figured those weasals, Suzuki-Gun, would cheat 2 win. Of course, RPG 3K doesn’t need the titles to be over– they just need to break away from Rocky and this corny gimmick and become Junior Hvy Wt singles. – 2.75/5
– Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Jay White & YOSHI-HASHI – The only point in this match was for Juice to put the heat on Jay White. I like that match-up and maybe I’ll be lucky enough to see it in San Fran. Also, YOSHI-HASHI needs to go to All Japan or tag with Curt Hawkins or something; the guy is not over at all. – 2.75/5
– Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii – Everyone was so blown away by this card. Did they not count the first 3 matches? These 3 were no better than some of the better stuff on Raw. Fine, sure; but nothing to go out of your way to watch unless you’re a megafan of Ishii/Suzuki. – 3/5
– NEVER Openweight Title: Michael Elgin vs. Taichi & Hirooki Goto – It’s rare to see a triple threat match in New Japan, but here we are. While I respect his talent, I don’t care about Elgin. I don’t really care about the NEVER title either.. And TaifuckingChi? Don’t even ask. I’m guessing Goto will get the rematch at the Cow Palace. I’ll be taking a piss. – 2.25/5
– IWGP Tag Team Title: The Young Bucks vs. EVIL & SANADA – This was a slightly sloppier than usual, yet still damn great match for the Bucks. This was due to all the great selling. Yup– no Flippy Bucks shit here. Both EVIL & SANADA are a sound tag team that really never got the proper love for their title reign nor perhaps any real opponents until now. Despite a terrific back ‘n forth down the stretch, I would’ve actually held back on giving the Bucks the titles; then again, that result would have stopped their momentum and not make them so Golden. Oh, and Don Callis was hired to work commentary at ALL IN! Streamed it is. – 4/5
– Bullet Club vs. Rey Mysterio, Jushin Liger, & Hiroshi Tanahashi – I guess the Scurll/Cody beef storyline from ROH doesn’t carryover here. I was wrong, and Bullet Club is fine. Except, Adam is definitely hurt because he didn’t do a thing here. Loved the hints at a future Cody/Rey reunion.. but it looks like Scurll (or Schurll as good ol’ J.R. likes to pronounce it) will be facing Rey at the G1 Special; or maybe even Cody. I’m thrilled with either, so long as we get to see Rey! – 3/5
– IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay – This was exactly as you’d expect: thrilling, dangerous, and heated down the stretch. These are clearly the two best “cruiserweights” in the world, and the right guy took home the title at the right time. After seeing what else happened to Hiromu’s L-I-J brethren, it’s a good thing he was able to recover from that incredible match with Ishimori to give us another classic. I feel like Os is nearly big enough and definitely ready enough to pull a “Young Bucks” and move to heavyweight. A guy like this should just be Ring of Honor champion or something. Don’t you think? – 4.5/5
– IWGP IC Title: Chris Jericho vs. Champion Tetsuya Naito – Halfway through a match that resembled more of a Tekken 7 slugfest than a New Japan wrestling match, Don Callis said this felt like a callback to Ric Flair v. Terry Funk “I Quit”. Fuck yes. This was brutal from the beginning.. with tons of insanely, ECW-level dangerous table spots and what not. Once Naito was able to briefly recover and take off the Sleeping Dogs suit, this became an even more tantalizing match. It wasn’t always smooth, especially just before the final stretch (although props to Jericho for saving an even more obvious botch), but it was damn heated and Y2J is still one of the damned best heels going. I fuckin’ loved this and — of course — the surprise result. – 4.25/5
– IWGP Title No Time Limit Best 2 of 3 Falls: Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada – Bah Gawd was this a slobberknocker! I’m at a loss for words.. except to say that these two really had their work cut out for them and they did it. Okada and Omega threw in 2 ridiculous stipulations in order to present something different from their perfect trilogy, and it worked. It worked so much that Gargano no longer has the two best matches of the year. Sorry Johnny Wrestling! These 2 titans of industry, these 2 wrestling gods among us had a 70-minute match that had it all: apron tombstone, Omega Stunner (one of the very few match blips btw.. maybe only because Okada wasn’t sure how to sell it.. hey maybe he WAS stunned!!! Nevermind!!), an Omega Rock Bottom, an Omega Styles Clash.. and the smoothest, most vicious V-Triggers you’ll ever see.
On the other side, Okada was constantly in the right place at the right time and sold his ass of like no one else in the business can. And those facials, my goodness do I feel every drip of tenacity this guy has! Like Flair/Steamboat, Kuwada/Masada, Austin/Rock, etc., Omega/Okada just have that unbridled in-ring chemisry that only comes a few times a lifetime. This was a truly special, hella marathon affair, but truly invigorating in every sense of the word (hell, the first fall didn’t happen until the 30-minute mark). This main event is one that obviously needs to be seen if you witnessed any of their prior battles and especially if you call yourself a fan of professional wrestling. – 6.5/5
Overall = 3.75/5 Bibles
What is there to say except that fans of New Japan are witnessing history, history that is the great Kenny Omega/Kazuchika Okada Saga. It’s hard for me to believe there will ever be anything that can even come close to the pair’s four sweeping epics — at least in the foreseeable future. Tonight’s IWGP Heavyweight 2 outta 3 Falls, No Time Limit Title match also saw one of the great match layouts of all time. There were countless callbacks to critical moments of Okada/Omega’s past bouts.. new moves and spots we’ve not witnessed either do.. and a story that had the crowd and Yours Moody mindfucked like a rollercoaster through Christopher Nolan’s mind. A new era was also born for the Golden Elite.. and it seems like Kenny’s other arch-enemy will also have to run through his best friend and tag partner before getting to him. We’re finally seeing the culmination of a zillion BTE (Being The Elite) vids unfolding before ours eyes, post the best damn wrestling match many will have ever seen. I know 5+ hrs is a LOT for a wrestling show (and much of the undercard was just “aight”), so, unless you’re a diehard NJPW mark, skip to the show’s second half — especially those final 3 matches! — and be forever satisfied.