Another night of New Japan Wrestling, and another night I’ll be impressed with too many wrestlers to name. There’s hardly ever a wasted moment on a New Japan show, and this was a lot tighter than the BOSJ blow-off, mostly because it wasn’t focused on only one match. Title changes, Zack Sabre showing up as part of Suzuki Gun, and YOSHI-HASHI grinding MY gears.
Onto the FULL review of Dominion 2017!
Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata, Tiger Mask W & Tiger Mask IV vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Manabu Nakanishi & Jushin Thunder Liger
This match is as WWE as this show is going to get. A bunch of classics getting their sh** in to get the crowd hyped for the matches with some stakes. The highlight was seeing Kota Ibushi flying around as Tiger Mask W, but I never get sick of Kojima doing the machine gun chops either.
Togi Makabe gets the win for his team right after the other seven men cleared each other out of the ring. The match was fine, and the crowd was popping pretty huge, but the most interesting moment came after it was over, and Makabe had something to say to Tiger Mask W.
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship Gauntlet Match – Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi, Hangman Page & Bad Luck Fale) vs CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI) vs Suzukigun (Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Taichi) vs Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson & Ricochet) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA, EVIL & BUSHI) (c)
Ishii clearing house to start the match pulled me right into the action. It’s funny because YOSHI-HASHI is about 1000x more smooth in the ring than Bad Luck Fale, but I find the big man far more entertaining. Just seeing this giant flip over the top rope after being clobbered by Ishii is its own highlight. Yano eliminated Bullet Club with a roll-up, and it was time to see Zack Sabre Jr. as a member of Suzukigun! It took him mere seconds to wrap Yano up for an elimination.
Taguchi going into baseball mode made me crack up. I wouldn’t expect anyone to be more comical than Yano, but I shouldn’t have underestimated Taguchi. He’s currently the biggest perpetrator of #AssBasedOffense, but somehow I still find his work funny. Still not sold on Juice, though.
Kanemaru spits into Taichi’s face to force his own team into an elimination by Juice Robinson. As usual, Suzukigun lost, but they brought a post-match beating with LIJ entering slowly to defend their titles. Ricochet eventually pulled his team back into the match with some of his wrestling amazingness. The “Tower of Doom” spot that seems to be forced into most 6-man tag matches these days, was a mess. No one seemed to take an injury, but it just looked lame… a lot like Taguchi’s ankle-lock.
The finish made me appreciate Evil more than ever, as he took out Ricochet/Juice, so SANADA/Bushi could finish off Taguchi.
NJPW Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match – Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Beretta) (c) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
When they have a “Junior Heavyweight” match in NJPW they bust out moves you won’t see anywhere else on the planet. The WWE’s 205 Division is supposed to provide this to their fans, but the matches usually just end up feeling like everything else WWE puts on, but with a top rope finisher. Just the speed that these two teams kept coming at each other set a pace unlike anything else on the card before it. Breaking up a tag with a running powerbomb onto the ramp only a few minutes into the match? Gets your heart pumping!
My biggest complaint (and probably the only complaint) would have to be these teams being too close to matching with all their pink. Young Bucks won the attire-off, so Roppongi should have went with an alternative option (you know I can’t go a whole show without bringing up team’s matching).
The apron may be the hardest part of the ring, but it was also the focal point of this match. Every key moment throughout their battle seemed to start, or end, on the apron. It was cool that both Jackson brothers used Sharpshooters, and eventually it led to Rocky Romero tapping out in submission. You don’t see too many teams share a hold all the way to victory. NEW CHAMPIONS!
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match – War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) (c) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa)
This match was only similar to the previous tag match because they were tag title bouts, and because both teams shared in-ring chemistry. This was the HOSS MATCH OF THE NIGHT because it has all the lariats/beards.
These dudes pulled everything they had out, but the G.O.D. took the win via Tiger Hattori bump + Chair shot to the DOME. Tanga Roa made me “WOOOO” at 1:30 in the morning when he crushed Ray Rowe with the chair. NEW CHAMPIONS!
Cody Rhodes vs Michael Elgin
This one surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. It was basically “anything Cody can do, Mike can do better”, as Elgin kept trying to one-up anything Cody did, but in the end Rhodes took the win. I like how the bout built up to Elgin’s stalling superplex, and Cody reversed it for the victory. I still feel left hanging from not being able to see one of my favorite spots in NJPW/wrestling.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match – Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. KUSHIDA
As the champion it feels like Takahashi experiments more with heel tactics. Just the way he moves is so swaggy it’s dickish. He was building heat with the crowd, and building up the hatred that KUSHIDA would later unleash upon him.
KUSHIDA’s dropkick off the chairs, and over the barricade, would make Sabu proud. A big difference in this match, compared to some you’d see in other countries, is when KUSHIDA lands on Takahashi, and the referee didn’t count. It’s not automatically a pin attempt if the referee doesn’t deem it so.
This match was brutal, just like the rest of their feud, but the sunset-flip powerbomb from the apron to the ground was violent looking. Hopefully KUSHIDA is okay. I don’t speak Japanese, but this match having Chono and Liger in the booth didn’t hurt. The Super Back 2 the Future was nearly as nasty as for Hiromu, as the powerbomb for KUSHIDA, but in the end he tapped to the third Hoverboard Lock of the match (one was off the top rope).
BUSHI seems to want KUSHIDA next, as he misted the (third) NEW CHAMP (of the evening).
NEVER Openweight Championship Lumberjack Match – Minoru Suzuki (c) vs. Hirooki Goto
The baddest of all the lumberjacks was EASILY Ishii. There are more photographers at ringside than lumberjacks, which is another difference between NJPW and WWE. What was VERY WWE was all the corny striking going on between all the members of Chaos and Suzuki Gun at ringside. It’s hilarious that every heel tries to start something with Thunder Liger while he commentates. The lamest was YOSHI-HASHI being the guy that single-handedly took care of Suzuki Gun for Goto.
The actual match started with Minoru just working Goto’s arm. Eventually Goto was gaining momentum, and then Suzuki threw the meanest forearms of the night (that I’ve ever seen?). When Goto finally had a chance to win my boy Taichi snuck out of the crowd to break-up a referee’s count, and then to bury Goto with chair shots. It was all mathematical from there.
Super YOSHI-HASHI ruined the celebration, and NJPW found some way to book my favorite (Minoru) against my least favorite (YOSHI-HASHI). They’re onto something here, although it’ll probably go the way of Roman/Taker.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match Tetsuya Naito has said he will retire the Championship if he wins – Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
This match is all about respect (for the title and in-general), and began with Tanahashi picking the title off the ground to hand to the referee, and then Tana allowing rage to take him to the outside to attack Naito before the bell. It’s crazy what disrespect can bring out of THE ACE.
One of the weakest parts of this match was Tanahashi’s mounted punches. I like that he was showing rage within the context of the match’s story, but they just looked Shane McMahon-worthy. There were a lot of similarities between Naito here, and Suzuki last match, as they worked the arm of their opponents the majority of the match in the sketchiest of ways. The best wrestling bad guys are as technical as they are evil, which Naito/Suzuki are.
It felt like Naito was doomed the second they announced the stipulation, but this match still had me on a few near-falls, especially the frog splash. They lived up to the co-main event billing with this match, and the ending coming down to a Texas Cloverleaf that made Naito tap after a couple minutes was fitting. That is how you make someone respect you, and Tanahashi did that.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match – Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Kenny Omega
Not as epic of an entrance for either man coming into this rematch. Before getting to the overall look I want to say… few have sold a Figure-4 better than Okada.
Was this match as good as their last IWGP Title bout? This one started slower, and probably had a more telegraphed ending after the first fifty minutes, but it’s also possibly the most enjoyable hour long match of the last decade. Dropkicks, knees, lariats were the main ingredients, but these two warriors re-defined how to main event a wrestling show.
The highlights of this match that will stick with me for a while…
- Okada nearly killing Kenny with an AA on the apron.
- The Bullet Club coming out to throw in the towel brought a new energy to the match. It felt like Kenny never had a chance to win… until Cody brought the towel down.
- The standing ovation the crowd gave Kenny on his way back to the dressing room.
60 minute TIME LIMIT DRAW. Can’t wait for the third part of this trilogy.
Top 3 Stars of the Show
- * Kazuchika Okada – Lived up to his job as THE TOP GUY in NJPW. Best dropkicks in the business.
- ** Kenny Omega – There was nothing about his performance that you couldn’t love. As the match was coming to an end you could see the true emotion on Omega’s face. It was heartbreaking.
- *** Hiroshi Tanahashi – Saved the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, but also made the new face of PUNK ROCK (in wrestling) submit.