By Jason Powell, Prowrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Dominion”
June 9, 2018 in Osaka, Japan at Osaka Jo Hall
Broadcast live on New Japan World
The English broadcast was hosted by Kevin Kelly and Don Callis… Prior to the actual show, a feature aired on the new NJPW President and CEO Harold Meij and his hopes to grow the company. Meij was introduced in the ring and he spoke in Japanese and then repeated himself in English about his love of pro wrestling and NJPW. He said his dream is to take NJPW to the next level. He said they have something special and unique. He promised the fans that he would give his everything to make that dream come true. The chairman presented Meij with an NJPW track suit jacket. Meij walked to the back while slapping hands along the way…
Powell’s POV: Meij came off very well. His message was simple and the crowd was receptive. I will be breezing through the undercard matches due to time constraints caused by a busy weekend. Some people crash weddings, but I crash graduation parties. Not really, but I will be attending one so time is limited. By the way, Kelly and Callis have a translator to help them with anything said in Japanese, which is a nice touch.
1. El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. “Roppongi 3k” Sho and Yoh (w/Rocky Romero) for the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles. Sho powerbombed Desperado onto his knees for a good near fall. Moments later, Desperado shoved Sho into the referee, who was distracted while Kanemaru hit Sho with a whiskey bottle, leading to Desperado getting the pin. Afterward, Romero approached the English broadcast team and said Desperado and Kanemaru are punk bitches and Roppongi 3k will be back…
El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Roppongi 3k to retain the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles.
2. David Finlay and Juice Robinson vs. Jay White and Yoshi Hashi. In the end, Robinson performed Pulp Friction on White and scored the pin for his team. The idea here is that Robinson pinned IWGP U.S. Champion White. Robinson held up the title afterward and posed on the ropes before giving it back to White, who was still selling the finish…
David Finlay and Juice Robinson defeated Jay White and Yoshi Hashi.
3. Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii vs. Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr. There was a big strike exchange between Ishii and Suzuki late in the match that led to both men falling down. Sabre owned Yano during their late exchange. Yano went for his low blow, but Sabre closes his legs to block it, then applied a submission hold and got the win. Afterward, Ishii went after Suzuki and worked him over until the young lions pulled him off. Both men grabbed chairs and entered the ring. Suzuki knocked Ishii’s chair away and struck him over the back with his chair. They fought back to ringside and traded hard slaps to the face until they were separated again…
Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii.
Powell’s POV: I hope they intend to do more with Ishii. He seems to be showcased when they come to the United States, but he seems to spend most of his time in throwaway tag matches in Japan. They may be setting him up as a fall guy for Suzuki, but that should still be a really fun match.
4. Hirooki Goto vs. Michael Elgin vs. Taichi in a three-way for the Never Openweight Championship. Late in the match, Taichi hit both opponents with his microphone stand and then let out a cartoonish evil laugh. Taichi caught Goto with a superkick for a good near fall. Taichi set up for another pin, but Elgin recovered and powered him up for a Buckle Bomb. Eligin performed a second Buckle Bomb that drove Taichi into Goto, then hit an Elgin Bomb and scored the pin.
Michael Elgin defeated Hirooki Goto and Taichi in a three-way to wini the Never Openweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: Good booking with Elgin pinning another challenger rather than beating the champion to win the title, setting up and obvious showdown singles match between him and Goto.
5. Evil and Sanada vs. “The Young Bucks” Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles. There was a nice spot with Matt applying a Sharpshooter on Evil, then Sanada applying Skull End on Matt, only to have Nick hit a missile dropkick on Sanada to break it up. Later, Nick sold an ankle injury and acted like it caused him to slip off the top rope while going for a move. Later, Sanada applied Skull End on Matt and spun him around while holding onto the move. In the end, Nick continued to sell the ankle injury and took his time getting to the top rope, but he and Matt hit More Bang For Your Buck on Sanada and then Matt pinned Sanada…
The Young Bucks defeated Evil and Sanada to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles.
After the match, Matt walked over to the broadcast team and spoke about the win. He said he was in such a good mood that he wanted to know what Callis was doing on September 1. Matt told him they need someone on the headset. “I’m all in?!?” Callis asked. In other words, Callis will be the color commentator for the All In event in Chicago…
Powell’s POV: A strong match and I could watch those teams wrestle all day. I’m surprised to see the Bucks go over on their first try. Elgin won a title match, the Bucks won the tag titles. Are they setting this up as a big show for the gaijin? Meanwhile, the fact that All In has a color commentator all but confirms that this show will be made available as a broadcast. It just remains to be seen what format they will go with.
6. Rey Mysterio, Jushin Liger, and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Cody, Marty Scurll, and Hangman Page. Mysterio wore a mask and jacket that had half the NJPW logo and half his mask on it. Scurll and Liger were going to start. Scurll called for Mysterio, then ran away and tagged out once Mysterio tagged in. Late in the match, Mysterio hit a double 619 on Scurll and Page. While the other wrestlers were at ringside, Cody performed CrossRhodes on Liger and pinned him. Cody worked over Liger with punches afterward. Mysterio returned to the ring and chased off Cody. The babyface trio shook hands and posed for the fans afterward…
Cody, Marty Scurll, and Hangman Page defeated Rey Mysterio, Jushin Liger, and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Powell’s POV: I’m surprised they didn’t have Mysterio go over, but he was showcased well and had a strong outing. Callis and Kelly both raved about him. Kelly hinted that we haven’t seen the last of Mysterio in NJPW.
7. Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship. Ospreay had his neck and shoulder taped. They quickly went to ringside and by the side of the stage. Ospreay ran up the ramp and performed a wild flip dive off the stage and onto Takahashi on the floor. He pulled a piece of the pads off the floor to expose the concrete. They slowed the pace once they returned to the ring as Ospreay targeted the arm of Takahashi. Takahashi came back with a powerbomb for a two count.
A short time later, Ospreay went for a move off the ropes, but Takahashi performed a German suplex in mid air that dropped Ospreay on the back of his neck. Ouch. Takahashi performed another German that dropped Ospreay on the back of his head a short time later. However, Ospreay bounced right back and performed some moves before Takahashi cut him off with a Code Red. The tape that Ospreay wore on his neck and shoulders to start the match was long gone.
Ospreay came back with a corkscrew shooting star press for a two count. Takahashi applied a triangle. Eventually, Ospreay powered him up and slammed him down. Ospreay set up for his OsCutter, but Takahashi followed him into the ropes and cut him off, then hit a sunset bomb to the floor. Later, Takahashi applied the triangle briefly, but Ospreay stood up. Takahashi responded with a butterfly piledriver and then drove Ospreay into the corner. Takahashi hit the Time Bomb and scored the clean pin…
Hiroumu Takahashi defeated Will Ospreay to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: A very good match between two of the best in the world. I loved the post match celebration with Takahashi clutching the title belt while lying on the mat and laughing maniacally. Takahashi is on fire after his performance in the Best of the Super Juniors final and now this match.
8. Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho for the IWGP Intercontinental Title. Jericho came out wearing a hat, makeup, and black lipstick. Kelly acknowledged that Jericho’s look seemed to be inspired by the movie A Clockwork Orange. Jericho attacked Naito from behind as he was walking by the ring as part of his entrance. They traded punches. Jericho picked up a piece of the barricade and hit Naito with it. Jericho went into hockey fight mode by pulling Naito’s jacket over his head and then punching him. Nice.
Jericho set up a table over the barricade and then powerbombed Naito through it. Jericho took a camera from a camerman and pointed it at Naito, then held up his middle finger. The broadcast team wondered whether there was a viewing party in Stamford, Connecticut and questioned, “Who the hell is this guy?” in regards to Jericho’s actions. Jericho DDT’d Naito onto a table at ringside. Jericho picked up a piece of paper and appeared to sign his name and then threw it down. Jericho rolled Naito into the ring. Callis noted that Naito was bleeding. “Ring the f—ing bell,” Jericho barked at referee Red Shoes, who complied even though Naito was down and still wearing his suit vest and shirt.
Callis was great as he said that this was more of an assault than a match. Naito threw a couple of punches, but Jericho pushed him over and applied the Walls of Jericho. Naito reached the ropes to break it. Jericho barked at the referee. The fans chanted for Naito, who stood up and spat at Jericho, then tackled him and threw some punches. Naito performed a neckbreaker on the apron and then another to the floor. Naito finally removed his entrance gear and choked Jericho with it.
Naito worked over Jericho at ringside and they got a good camera shot that showed Naito’s cut was just below his right eye. Naito performed a piledriver on a table at ringside. Back in the ring, Naito performed a missile dropkick to the back of Jericho’s head. Naito went for a top rope huracanrana, but Jericho countered into a Walls of Jericho. It looked scary as Naito either landed or came close to landing on top of his head on the way down, but he seemed to be fine.
Jericho catapulted Naito into the corner. Naito came back with a huracanrana and a tornado DDT for a two count. Jericho applied another Walls of Jericho. The fans chanted for Naito, who eventually reached the ropes. Naito performed a German suplex. Naito went for Destino, but Jericho caught him and dropped him into a pin position for a two count. Naito came right back with the Destino. He was slow to cover him and Jericho grabbed the bottom rope to break the pin. Naito suffered another cut on his left cheek. Jericho and Naito traded slaps with Naito getting the better of it.
Naito spat at Jericho again, then ran into a Codebreaker. The production crew showed the replay and missed the near fall. Jericho went for a Lionsault, but Naito put his knees up. Naito went for a Destino, but Jericho shoved the referee, then kicked Naito low, and hit a Codebreaker before scoring the pin…
Chris Jericho defeated Tetsuya Naito to win the IWGP Intercontinental Title.
After the match, Jericho threw a few more punches at Naito afterward before taking the title belt. When Naito stood up, Jericho ran the belt into his face. Jericho removed his belt and whipped Naito with it. Evil ran out and worked over Jericho. Evil took Jericho’s belt and wrapped it around his fist. Jericho fled the ring. He stopped at the English commentary desk and took the headset from Callis. “Who the hell are you?” Jericho asked while looking at Evil. “You’re gonna see what happens, huh?” Jericho dropped the headset and headed to the back. Evil helped Naito to the back…
Powell’s POV: New Japan Jericho is the best Jericho. He appears to be carrying more weight than usual, but I couldn’t care less because it’s not really an issue when he’s working this style. His vicious in-ring style in Japan is a blast to watch and I love the edginess that comes from simply dropping a few f-bombs. It continues to be Jericho Unleashed and I’m really digging it. It looked like they set up a Jericho vs. Evil match, and I assume we’ll be getting the Naito vs. Jericho rematch at some point. This was another big win for a gaijin (thought Takahashi did beat Ospreay). Will it carry over to the main event?
Past IWGP Heavyweight Champions were shown on the screen and then a video package recapped the history between Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega, and it included footage of Omega and Kota Ibushi. Omega made his entrance with Ibushi. Omega was shredded. Okada made his entrance as the Okada bucks fell…
9. Kazuchika Okada (w/Gedo) vs. Kenny Omega (w/Kota Ibushi) for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in a best of three falls match. Kelly noted before the match that Okada and Omega were 1-1-1 in their past matches. They fought to ringside where Okada whipped Omega into the barricade and then kicked him over it. Okada ran and dove over the barricade, but Omega was waiting with a V-Trigger knee. Omega slammed Okada onto a piece of the barricade, then rolled him back inside the ring and covered him for a two count.
Later, Omega kicked the back of Okada, who motioned for him to bring it. Omega obliged and then delivered a running kick and got another two count. Okada came back and went for a Cobra Clutch, but Omega was able to dump him to ringside. Omega went for a dive, but Okada moved. Okada performed a dive over the top and took out Omega. Callis said it looked like Omega’s head hit the guardrail. Back in the ring, Omega performed a huracanrana that sent Okada to the floor. Omega performed a slide kick that sent Okada over the guardrail. The fans did the Terminator clap, then Omega performed a springboard dive over the guardrail and onto Okada on the floor.
Back in the ring, Omega was on the offensive and went for a V-Trigger. Okada ducked it and went for a German suplex, but Omega landed on his feet. Omega connected with a V-Trigger. Okada came right back with a suplex into a bridge for a two count. They fought near the ropes. Okada ended up hitting a Tombstone piledriver on the apron. When Omega got back to his feet, Okada dropkicked him off the apron and into the barricade at ringside. Back in the ring, Okada performed a great missile dropkick to the face of a kneeling Omega and got another two count. Okada signaled for the Rainmaker, but Omega sent him to ringside and then performed an amazing flip dive onto Okada on the floor. Omega held his side and Callis speculated that he might be working through a broken rib.
Omega rolled Okada back inside the ring and then hit a missile dropkick to the back of his head and covered him for a near fall. Omega connected with a V-Trigger and then performed a German suplex into a bridge for another good near fall. Omega performed another V-Trigger, but Okada came right back with a dropkick to the back of Omega’s head. Okada followed up with a dropkick and then let out a primal scream. Omega ducked a Rainmaker clothesline and connected with a V-Trigger for yet another good near fall. Okada rebounded with a Tombstone piledriver and let out a primal scream. Okada went for a Rainmaker. Omega ducked it and wrapped behind to go for a pin, but then Okada sat down on him and hooked the legs for the pin.
Powell’s POV: The first fall alone was worth the price of admission. It’s crazy to see that fall and think that they still have two more remaining. This would have been a completely satisfying match if this had been a traditional one fall match.
First Fall: Okada pinned Omega to win the first fall.
There was a two minute rest period. Kelly noted that the first fall went nearly 30 minutes. Callis said Omega now had the daunting task of trying to beat Okada twice. Okada smiled as the referee kept them apart before the bell rang to start the third fall. They went to ringside. Omega leapt onto the guardrail only to have Okada shove him off into another guardrail. Okada performed a draping DDT onto the floor. Back in the ring, Okada stood and took chops from Omega, who then ran the ropes and ran into a big boot from Okada.
Omega bounced back and tossed a table onto Okada on the floor. Omega went to the apron and performed a double stomp. Omega had done a lot of audible selling up to this point, but this time it was Okada who was selling in that manner. Okada whipped Omega into the post and then held his ribs. Both men rolled back inside the ring. Okada went for a senton only to have Omega put his knees up. Okada responded with a suplex. Omega performed a superplex moments later. Okada recovered and pointed to a table at ringside. He went for a backdrop, but Omega avoided it. They ended up on the apron and this time it was Omega nodding at the table on the floor. Omega went for a German suplex from the apron twice, but Okada held on both times. Omega pounded his back and set up for a dragon suplex, but Okada fought him off. They ended up on the floor where Omega performed a reverse huracanrana.
Okada returned to the ring as the ref’s count hit 19. Omega caught him with a V-Trigger and set up for his finisher, but Okada countered into a Tombstone piledriver. Okada went for a Rainmaker, but Omega performed a uranage. Both men traded blows in the middle of the ring and then Omega performed a wicked suplex. Okada no-sold it and dropkicked Omega, who responded with a dropkick of his own. Omega performed a powerbomb and then a V-Trigger. Moments later, Okada had Omega pinned the same way he won the first fall, but Omega escaped. Omega performed a V-Trigger and a piledriver for an excellent near fall. Omega performed another V-Trigger and a One Winged Angel and got the pin. Callis pointed out that Okada has never kicked out of that move.
Second Fall: Omega pinned Okada to win the second fall.
Powell’s POV: The second fall is always the toughest in best of three falls matches due to the instinctive belief that fans have that the loser of the first fall will even things up. That wasn’t a real issue here because the action was good and dramatic enough. This would not have been a great stand alone match, but it wasn’t designed to be. Rather, they are telling the story of the second fall and the wear and tear that the first fall took on them. It was an excellent middle fall for a match of this style. And now it all comes down to the third and final fall.
After the two minute break, referee Red Shoes ordered Ibushi and Gedo out of the ring. Okada was still down and the broadcast team accused Gedo of stalling. Omega hit a V-Trigger to the back of the head as soon as the bell rang. Omega set up for his finisher. Okada avoided it and hit a Rainmaker clothesline. The replay showed that when Omega sold the move his foot hit the back of Okada. Both men stayed down. Okada crawled over and draped his arm over Omega, who kicked out at the last moment.
Later, Omega performed a Styles Clash for another dramatic near fall that had the crowd rocking. An “AJ Styles” chant broke out briefly. Kelly noted that Okada beat Styles for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Okada was leaning with his face in the corner. Omega caught him with a V-Trigger. Omega went to pick him up in electric chair position, but he collapsed. Callis said it was exhaustion. Omega hoisted him up, then they jockeyed for position with both going for Tombstone piledrivers. Omega won that battle and hit a spike version for another gem of a near fall.
Ibushi climbed onto the apron with his white towel in hand and pointed to the top rope before going back to ringside. Omega went up top and went for Ibushi’s Phoenix Splash. Omega went for the move, but Okada rolled out of the way. Okada caught Omega with a dropkick to the back. Omega came back with a V-Trigger. Omega delivered another V-Trigger. He set up for another, but Okada blocked it. Okada went for a Tombstone, but Omega blocked it. Okada caught him with a dropkick. Okada went for the Rainmaker, but he collapsed before he could connect. Both men were down as Callis noted they were approaching the one-hour mark. The ref counted, but both men got to their knees and traded forearms.
Omega caught Okada with a hard slap. Okada returned the favor. Omega headbutted Okada, who got up slowly and connected with a Rainmaker. Okada stood up Omega and blasted him with another Rainmaker. Okada fell down and then crawled over to Omega and picked him up off the mat and went for another Rainmaker, but Omega ducked it and performed a German suplex. Omega held onto the waistlock and then performed a German suplex and once again held on. They got to their feet and this time Okada countered into a suplex of his own. Okada held onto the waistlock and went for another Rainmaker, but Omega once again ducked it and performed a German suplex. Omega followed up with a reverse huracanrana. Omega got up and ran the ropes and took a dropkick.
Okada went for another Rainmaker, but Omega countered into a One Winged Angel that resulted in both men being down by the ropes. Omega got up and connected with a V-Trigger and then hit another Rainmaker and scored the clean pin…
Third Fall: Kenny Omega defeated Kazuchika Okada to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
After the match, the referee and Ibushi helped Omega to his feet and then he celebrated his win. The Young Bucks entered the ring. The ref was about to present Omega with the belt when he stopped the referee and hugged the Young Bucks. Ibushi joined in for a group hug. Okada was shown being helped to the back by Gedo and another man. In the ring, Omega knelt with the belt and the Bucks stood behind him with their tag title belts. The referee and Ibushi put the belt around Omega’s waist.
Omega called for a mic and spoke to the fans in Japanese. The translator jumped in. Omega said his final goal was winning the championship. He asked if they thought he might leave Japan. He said that in this match he saw the future of pro wrestling. He said he would go to the next stop in a New Japan ring and in a New Japan arena. He praised the Bucks and Ibushi.
Omega said they are a worldwide promotion so he should speak just a little bit of English. “What we’ve done here today is almost a miracle,” Omega said. He said he’s told that people tell him every day that he’s not the best, he should fit in, and he should take the payday. “That’s not my way,” he said. “My way is to make my own rules. My way is to live life the way that I want. And with all of you by my side and what I’ve realized, my friends, my best friends by my side… we can do anything.” Omega said he was tired and it was time to bid them adieu. He closed by saying goodbye and goodnight. Confetti fell from the rafters as Omega celebrated in the ring with the Bucks and Ibushi.
Just when it looked like the show was over, Cody walked out. Callis said it’s typical Cody in that he can’t let anyone have their moment without him stealing it. Cody walked halfway down the ramp and then turned around and headed back up the ramp and backstage. Kelly said he could have done the honorable thing and shook Omega’s hand. Callis said he never does those things. The Young Bucks and Ibushi hoisted Omega onto their shoulders in the ring. They all left the ring and Omega stumbled around as he greeted fans at ringside.
Powell’s POV: Excellence. This was spectacular and my favorite match of their amazing series. This is as good as it gets both in terms of what they did in the ring and the drama they created. This was truly special and you owe it to yourself to see this match if you haven’t done so already.
Overall, this looked like a tremendous show on paper and it more than delivered. The second half of the show was especially good starting with the Bucks winning the tag titles. It was a strong event from start to finish, but if you are pressed for time then watch the last three matches, but know that the main event alone went over an hour in length. It will be hard to top this for best event of 2018 and I can’t imagine what will top this version of Okada vs. Omega for match of the year. They have raised the bar yet again.