Preview: NJPW Dominion (6/9/18)

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Photo: NJPW

New Japan Pro Wrestling have brought out the big guns for this year’s Dominion event with a stacked card featuring the biggest rematch perhaps in NJPW history and the NJPW debut of Rey Mysterio at NJPW’s second biggest show of the year besides Wrestle Kingdom in January. It was one year ago in the same building, Osaka Jo Hall, where IWGP Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega wrestled to a one-hour draw in a match heralded as an instant classic with both competitors too exhausted to make the pinfall before the clock expired. Part four happens this Saturday and Kenny Omega could walk out as the first ever Canadian born IWGP heavyweight champion in NJPW history heading into the second G1 In USA event as NJPW continues the expansion to North America. There are nine bouts scheduled for Dominion with six championships on the line, let’s take a look at the full card and who has the most to gain as we head to the annual G1 Climax tournament this summer.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team championships: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado (C) vs. Roppongi 3K (Sho & Yoh)

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El Desperado of SuzukiGun in particular has improved the most in his faction the past couple years and competed in some of the most enjoyable Best Of The Super Juniors tournament matches this year. Desperado and Kanemaru make for a deadly tag team that is willing to do whatever it takes to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team championships, including using a steel chair or a guitar if necessary. Roppongi 3K have quickly become a staple of the Junior division after returning to NJPW from a North excursion in Ring Of Honor Wrestling last year and they have lived up to high expectations. Sho can cover for Yoh’s weaknesses and vice-versa to make for a complete package in the ring but they have charisma for days to go with the talent. It would be a great moment if Roppongi 3K regained the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team championships and their feud with The Young Bucks helped them gain experience but it might be too much too soon for Sho. It seems NjPW is content on Roppongi 3K spearheading the Junior tag division for the foreseeable future and that’s only a positive for fans and NJPW’s faith in the Young Lion’s system.

Prediction: Roppongi 3K win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team championships.

Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. IWGP United States Champion “Switchblade” Jay White & YOSHI-HASHI

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David Finlay and Juice Robinson have become a frequent tag team with mild success, it’s their passion that gets them far in the ring and with continuing fan support. Juice Robinson can involve the live crowd as well as any veteran in the company and it’s only a matter of time before championships start to come his way. Robinson and Finlay just received the biggest matches of their careers this year, Juice against Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Openweight championship and Finlay against rival “Switchblade” Jay White for the IWGP United States Championship but both came up short in great matches. Jay White may not stick with CHAOS for the long haul but he adds an interesting dynamic as the “knife pervert” to the faction of face wrestlers. YOSHI-HASHI is one of the most over-looked talents in NJPW, he will likely take the pin but he always impresses even in a loss. Juice Robinson should bring the fight to White to set up an IWGP United States Championship match at G1 In USA this summer. Juice Robinson may just become IWGP United States champion if he keeps improving at this rate.

Prediction: Juice Robinson pins Jay White.

NEVER Openweight Championship Triple Threat: Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Michael Elgin vs. Taichi

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Hirooki Goto hasn’t exactly set the world on fire as NEVER Openweight champion and maybe that is why he has never held the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight Championship but he always gives it everything he has. Goto is great when he is motivated and his neck-breakers are some of the most cringe-worthy moves to watch maybe in all of pro wrestling right now. Taichi has discovered a career renaissance of sorts since he brought the best out of Hiroshi Tanahashi in the New Japan Cup and Tetsuya Naito at Strong Style Evolved. Taichi has always had a great act that gets under fans skin, now his skills have brought him to the Heavyweight division and title matches. Michael Elgin is still booked as a top player even after some key losses lately, “Unbreakable” however beat Ishii in the first round of the New Japan Cup in a match of the year contender this March. This is anyone’s match to win, Goto though is ready for all challengers and is battle-tested since his feud with Minoru Suzuki. Elgin and Taichi will come close but the GTR is a move that is so vicious it could be hit at any time and spell the end.

Prediction: Goto retains the Openweight championship

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr)

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Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii continue this tag team run in CHAOS as the pain and fun combination against the United Kingdom’s finest and the leader of Suzuki-Gun. Toru Yano is the odd man out in this match, he will either surprise Suzuki-Gun with his tactics on the floor or be completely dominated with submission holds for the duration. Minoru Suzuki and “The Stone Pitbull” are on a collision course for a major singles match soon this year to prove who the toughest man in all of NJPW really is. Ishii is the current British Heavyweight champion for Rev Pro in the United Kingdom, a title he won from Zack Sabre Jr. Sabre will be look to weaken Ishii for a rematch and for his partner, the godfather of Pancrase. The double submissions from Sabre and Suzuki will be on full display and Ishii can’t hit a Lariat with a bad arm. Suzuki should defeat Tomohiro Ishii to set up a singles match where Ishii seeks revenge.

Prediction: Suzuki-gun with the victory

IWGP Tag Team Championships: EVIL & SANADA (c) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)

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The Young Bucks took on War Machine (WWE NXT’s War Raider’s) last year in Junior Heavyweight meets Heavyweight tag team match for NJPW and one year later The Young Bucks have moved to the Heavyweight division and are challenging for the IWGP tag team championships. Matt and Nick Jackson captured the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team championships a record seven times. A tag team match with EVIL and SANADA is a first time match in NJPW. The Bullet Club and Los Ingobernobles De Japon factions have met before with Los Ingobernobles De Japon usually coming out on top. This is EVIL’s first title defense besides against Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith and Lance Archer) suffering a broken orbital bone in February during NJPW’s tour of Australia. EVIL  and SANADA are both poised to be big singles stars and they already received IWGP Heavyweight Championship matches against Kazuchika Okada. The future is incredibly bright and busy for EVIL and SANADA as main eventers but for now they focus on the tag team division and they retain here in a match that combines high-flying and brawling.

Prediction: EVIL and SANADA retain the IWGP tag team championships.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay (c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi

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Hiromu Takahashi won the Best Of The Super Juniors tournament to earn this title shot with Takahashi, developing a new triangle choke finishing move to win big matches against opponents like “The Villain” Marty Scurll. “The Ticking Time Bomb” always has an unhinged edge to him, Ospreay and Takahashi are going to look to steal the show with a fast paced match fans won’t forget any time soon. Ospreay has solidified himself as the man to beat in the Junior division with exceptional matches every time to match his position as champion. Hiromu Takahashi and Will Ospreay met in February at New Beginning In Osaka in a Junior Heavyweight title match that is this writers match of the year so far. Expect Ospreay’s already injured neck to take a pounding on route to Ospreay’s most spectacular title match to date. If Ospreay can avoid the Time Bomb and lift up Takahashi for Ospreay’s innovative new finisher “The Stormbringer” it’s going to be the end. Takahashi is consistent one of the most exciting competitors in the world but perhaps he will move to the Heavyweight division sooner rather than later along with KUSHIDA after they have done all they can do in the Junior Heavyweight division.

Prediction: Will Ospreay retains the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

Rey Mysterio, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs. Bullet Club (Cody Rhodes, “The Villain” Marty Scurll and “Hangman” Adam Page)

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Rey Mysterio makes his much anticipated debut in NJPW after he was originally scheduled to face fellow legend Justin “Thunder” Liger at Strong Style Evolved in March in Los Angeles. Don’t let Mysterio’s age of forty-three fool you, Marty Scurll brought out the best of Mysterio at Rev Pro Summer Sizzler last year. The dream three-man team of Hiroshi Tanahashi, Rey Mysterio and Liger will have their hands full with Bullet Club’s youngest and freshest members besides Taiji Ishimori. “Hangman” Page gets better every month and is showing real staying power in the main event not just the mid-card. Cody has a history with Rey Mysterio in a past feud in WWE that culminated at WrestleMania and Extreme Rules, look for some great chemistry from Cody and Mysterio leading to a Mysterio victory. If Mysterio’s debut win is thwarted, “The Villan” will be the man to cheat Mysterio out of his moment leading to feud.

Prediction: Rey Mysterio’s team wins.

IWGP Intercontinental championship: Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. Chris Jericho

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Everyone imagined Chris Jericho coming to NJPW for an IWGP United States Championship match with Kenny Omega would be a one time only deal with Jericho’s cruise happening this year. Jericho showed up at New Year’s Dash to attack Tetsuya Naito then did it again at Wrestling Dontaku. Tetsuya Naito believes Chris Jericho is targeting him because he is such a big star in NJPW and that’s not too far from the truth. When Naito failed in his quest to beat Okada at Wrestle Kingdom this January, the world felt his disappointment even if Naito is a deplorable enigma that destroys championship belts. Tetsuya Naito has built up a strong fanbase with help from his faction, Los Ingobernobles De Japon, and he hasn’t just been hanging around Japan waiting for Chris Jericho to show up. AAW Pro and Glory Pro featured Tetsuya Naito in main event bouts in America where Naito picked up victories against AR Fox and Sami Callihan. If it’s a brawl Jericho wants then Naito is more than up to that challenge or Naito could simply outwrestle the veteran that last toured NJPW in 1998. Chris Jericho is actually only the second person behind MVP to ever compete for both the WWE Intercontinental and IWGP Intercontinental Championships. Chris Jericho will have some interesting counters up his sleeve and he can hit a Codebreaker from any angle but Destino will take Jericho by surprise. Jericho and Naito have both done a fantastic job of building this match up with intriguing promo’s but Jericho will be another huge name on Naito’s list of victories on his ascent to the main event he desires so much.

Prediction: Tetsuya Naito retains the IWGP Intercontinental championship.

IWGP Heavyweight Championship, 2 Out Of Three Falls, No Time-Limit: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Kenny Omega

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It’s all come down to this after two years of buildup and a trilogy that was heralded as the best wrestling main events to take place in many years. A two out of three falls match with no time limit due to last year’s Dominion IWGP Heavyweight Championship match going to a one-hour draw. Okada has broken records with his current reign as IWGP Heavyweight champion and has developed a new Cobra Clutch submission along the way. Okada even recently took a page from “The Cleaner’s” playbook and used the V-Trigger knee strike at the Best Of The Super Juniors finals but it didn’t have near the effect Omega’s has. Kenny Omega has proven himself to be a major player in NJPW with the blows of losing AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura in the main event mix two years ago. Omega has even more importantly proven to be a loyal figure in the current state of NJPW, speaking Japanese for the home crowd and speaking English for the American crowd at shows in the United States. This all started when Kenny Omega won the 2016 G1 Climax tournament to earn his title shot then one year later at the 2017 G1 Climax Omega pinned Okada but it wasn’t for the title. How much more does Kazuchika Okada have to prove as champion? Omega showed he can be a fighting champion with top-level matches when he was IWGP United States champion, now it’s time to be the face of the company. This match is sure to be one for the history books and the match of the year with multiple near-falls. The fact is, Okada has never been able to kick out of the One Winged Angel, both are tied going into this match and hopefully we get a clean victor with no Golden Lovers (Kota Ibushi) or Bullet Club (Cody and The Elite) involvement.

Prediction: Kenny Omega wins the IWGP heavyweight championship, Two falls to one.

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