Every May 3rd, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) holds it’s annual Wrestling Dontaku, an event that began in 1993. While it was inconsistent in its first decade (running from 1993 through 1995, then again in 2000 and 2001), it’s been an annual tradition since 2009. Dontaku is a Japanese word for “holiday”, taken from the Dutch word “Zondag”, for Sunday. It’s held yearly at Fukuoka Kokusai Center on the Constitution Memorial Day during Golden Week, celebrating the 1947 Constitution of Japan’s declaration. Since last year, it’s been broken up into two nights and the new tradition continues in 2019.
Wrestling Dontaku: Night One Preview
Ren Narita, Shota Umino & Tomoaki Honma vs Yuya Uemura, Yota Tsuji & Toa Henare
The youngest crop of “Young Lions” are going into this match with the obvious disadvantage of big match experience against Honma’s team but Toa Henare has a big upside with size and intensity on his side. Henare has been tested the most out of all six involved in this six-man tag, it’s only a matter of time before Henare moves to the Heavyweight division permanently against the gatekeepers of NJPW. Yota Tsuji is a former Quarterback and it really shows with his strikes. Yuya Uemura has been signed for one year, he really shined during the NJPW Road To Dontaku tour. Shota Umino is already being referred to as the “Future Ace” and he even locked in a Texas Cloverleaf on Hiroshi Tanahashi during the New Japan Cup tournament’s first round. Umino or Narita could greatly benefit from victory and fan support.
Prediction: Ren Narita, Shota Umino, and Tomoaki Honma win.
Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask lV, Jushin “Thunder” Liger & YOSHI-HASHI vs Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Suzuki-Gun not only have a great track record in multiple-man tag team matches but they fare better against a mix and match team like Taguchi’s team. YOSHI-HASHI has been especially underwhelming in his return from injury this year so far, it’s gotten to the point where YOSHI-HASHI would be better served in a tag team rather than the upcoming G1 Climax tournament. Tiger Mask and Liger challenged unsuccessfully for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team championships in 2018, these veterans will have to double-team living legend Minoru Suzuki if the good guys plan on coming out on top. TAKA Michinoku, El Desperado, and Kanemaru will take out the Junior Heavyweight competitors and allow Suzuki to sink in a choke on YOSHI-HASHI.
Prediction: Suzuki-Gun win.
Will Ospreay, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe vs Bullet Club (Guerillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Hikuleo)
Hikuleo has been an honorary member of Bullet Club ever since being a sub competitor for injured Bullet Club members in past tag team matches during his 2016 debut, the big man still has a long ways to go but being in the ring with Togi Makabe will really help him in the long run. Will Ospreay is just coming off a loss to Jeff Cobb for the NEVER Openweight Championship, it was a loss Ospreay must rebound from immediately because he had the chance to walk out with two titles that night at the G1 Supercard in Madison Square Garden. Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa are going to brawl around the ring but that won’t work against the high-flying, hard shots and big laughs of Ospreay, Yano, and Makabe.
Prediction: Will Ospreay, Togi Makabe and Toru Yano win.
Kota Ibushi & Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh) vs Los Ingobernobles De Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI)
The irony of Tetsuya Naito’s placement at Dontaku is not lost lost on Naito, who has claimed that he doesn’t mind when he is the only one without much going on. Naito just lost the IWGP Intercontinental championship to Kota Ibushi, Naito is referring to his Los Ingobernobles De Japon friends all being in more prominent spots. Shingo and BUSHI lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team championships to Sho and Yoh just after winning those titles at Wrestle Kingdom 13 against Roppongi 3K. Naito will pick up steam and win this one as he figures out when he will next challenge for the IWGP heavyweight championship in 2019 after a rematch with Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental championship.
Prediction: Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI and Shingo Takagi win.
Mikey Nicholls, Juice Robinson & Hirooki Goto vs Bullet Club (“Switchblade” Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens)
Jay White is on a collision course with Hirooki Goto and it’s only natural after “Switchblade” played the CHAOS faction for fools only to lead Bullet Club to a new era. White may have had a short run as the IWGP heavyweight champion but he rebounded quickly with a win over Hirooki Goto at NJPW Hi No Kuni with the Blade Runner. Juice Robinson is still the reigning IWGP United States champion, Chase Owens was unsuccessful in challenging for the title and so was Bad Luck Fale so Robinson has the momentum on his side. Mikey Nichols is going to be a very interesting development after he debuted in the New Japan Cup and lost to Kazuchika Okada. Nichols will probably take the pin to White here but perhaps Nichols shows enough heart and energy to advance to this Summer’s G1 Climax tournament.
Prediction: Jay White, Bad Luck Fale and Chase Owens win.
CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA)
Before Okada puts the IWGP heavyweight title on the line against SANADA on the second night, a huge CHAOS and Los Ingobernobles De Japon battle is an order. Okada and Ishii just had a match of the year contender in the New Japan Cup against each other, that will motivate both towards inflicting punishment on opponents instead as the friendship never wanes. EVIL and SANADA has a quick run as the IWGP tag team champions for the second time after The Guerrillas Of Destiny took the title back. A singles run looks to be in the foreseeable future for EVIL and SANADA with EVIL being a former NEVER Openweight champion and SANADA making it to the finals of the New Japan Cup. Ishii could slug it out with EVIL and get the upper hand after a Brainbuster until the singles meeting on Night Two of Dontaku.
Prediction: Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii win.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Jeff Cobb (c) vs Taichi
Jeff Cobb and Taichi both received NEVER Openweight championship matches last year and both cashed in, Tachi pinned Hirooki Goto for the title and Cobb pinned Ospreay for the title on another attempt at the G1 Supercard. The lethal kicks of the Suzuki-Gun member won’t be enough to combat the strength of the champion even with Miho Abe distractions at ringside. Taichi has vastly improved his game beyond ripping his pants off to get a big reaction, really big bombs could land on Cobb even coming from a former Junior Heavyweight competitor. The Suplexes and strength will take the fight out of Taichi and set up the Tour Of The Islands as Cobb looks to some heavyweight clashes in the future, while also holding the ROH TV championship at the same time.
Prediction: Jeff Cobb retains the NEVER Openweight Championship.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Dragon Lee (c) vs Taiji Ishimori
Dragon Lee won his very first IWGP Junior Heavyweight title at the G1 Special in a Three-Way against Taiji Ishimori and Bandido, the match was so fast-paced that the commentary couldn’t keep up with the action. Now Dragon Lee makes his first defense against the former champion, Lee must avoid the Bloody Cross at all costs. It’s hard to say which competitor is faster, Ishimori is so innovative that Shinsuke Nakamura used Taiji Ishimori’s running middle rope German Suplex on Smackdown Live and credited Ishimori on Twitter. It’s a bit of giving back to NJPW in a way considering Kota Ibushi uses Shinsuke Nakamura’s Bombe Ye now in tribute. Dragon Lee will likely perform some Hiromu Takahashi trademark moves to set up their eventual rematch from July 2018 when Lee broke Takahashi’s neck at the G1 Special In USA. Ishimori will have one of the best matches of his career here and Lee should retain as we approach the Best Of The Super Juniors tournament.
Prediction: Dragon Lee retains the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
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