In just a short amount of time, New Japan Pro Wrestling will be presenting what could, perhaps, be its most ambitious card yet: Dominion 2018!
Dominion is considered, by many, to be the biggest event that NJPW can offer, besides Wrestle Kingdom, and is the first major event that follows the popular Best of the Super Juniors tournament. It is here where the winner of the aforementioned tournament challenges the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion (assuming the champion hasn’t won BOSJ). This show has been set as a 9-Match card (barring any Young Lion matches), headlined by three major main events that will set the tone going forward for NJPW and their storylines.
With that said, let’s take a look at the card and see what we have in store for us!
Match 1: [IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match] Suzuki-gun (El Desperado/Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO/YOH)
Roppongi 3K came into the Jr. Heavyweight tag team division with a LOT of momentum, defeating Ricochet and Ryusuke Taguchi for the IWGP Jr. HW Tag Team Championships in their first match in NJPW. Subsequently, they went on to win the 2017 Super Jr. Tag League in quick fashion before trading title reigns with the Young Bucks and ultimately losing the championships to current-champions El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru on NJPW’s 46th Anniversary Show.
Desperado and Kanemaru are both equally talented performers in their own right, aligned under Minoru Suzuki’s Suzuki-gun faction. While they have beaten the challengers before in tag-team action, the champions have each lost singles matches against their challengers at NJPW’s Sakura Genesis, resulting in this match.
Look for this match to feature some antics by the champions to retain, followed with some flashy offense by R3K. As for the winner, I feel that Roppongi 3K may win this one, but not without some challenges.
Winners: Roppongi 3K (NEW IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions)
Match 2: Juice Robinson/David Finlay vs. IWGP US Champion “Switchblade” Jay White/YOSHI-HASHI
A solid tag-team match follows up as CHAOS’ Jay White and YOSHI-HASHI tackle NJPW’s lovable underdog, Juice Robinson, and David Finlay, who is coming off an unsuccessful challenge for Jay White’s IWGP US Championship.
Following this, Jay White has attacked Juice Robinson at NJPW’s Wrestling Dontaku and has mocked Juice for his losses in title matches against Tetsuya Naito and Kenny Omega over the past few years. This tag-team match serves to further the feud between Juice and Jay White in preparation for a future title match between the two.
In terms of this match, I would pick Juice Robinson to pick up the win, pinning YOSHI-HASHI (who’s always the fall-guy in these matches) for the victory, giving Juice momentum going into the aforementioned match. I’d also bet that there would be a post-match attack from Jay White as well to further heat.
Winners: Juice Robinson/David Finlay
Match 3: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki/Zack Sabre. Jr) vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii/Yano Toru)
This match was set up in response to the confrontation between Ishii and Suzuki in the final night of the Best of the Super Juniors, following a 6-Man Tag Team match where Ishii, Toru and YOSHI-HASHI defeated Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka and TAKA Michinoku.
Look for this match to establish some feuds between the two, most notably Ishii and Suzuki, who will definitely produce some of the stiffest strikes to each other that would make normal grown men cry. Yano Toru will always produce some enjoyable heelish antics to win and Zack Sabre Jr. will make anyone JUST. TAP. OUT…….*ahem*
Sorry, but as for a winner, I’ll go with the Suzuki-gun team of Suzuki and Sabre Jr. with a submission victory from Sabre. Jr, who never fails to impress with his innovative and peerless style of technical wizardry.
Winners: Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki/Zack Sabre. Jr.)
Match 4: [NEVER Openweight Title Match] Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Michael Elgin vs Taichi
Ever since moving up to the Heavyweight division, Taichi has built up much momentum, contending against the likes of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tetsuya Naito and impressing the audience with his style and flair.
Taichi targeted Hirooki Goto back in Wrestling Hi no Kuni with a post-match attack, indicating that he would like to challenge Goto for his championship. Following Goto’s victory against Juice Robinson at Road to Wrestling Dontaku, Michael Elgin came out to challenge Goto for a title match, only for Taichi to intervene and issue his own challenge.
Three-way Singles-Championship matches are quite rare in NJPW and, thus, this match does carry a sense of gravitas to it. As for the match itself, NEVER Championship matches have carried the Strong Style element with them so look for this match to be hard-hitting and stiff from the get-go.
Given Taichi’s momentum in recent months, I expect him to walk away with the victory tonight, using the championship as some sort of prop in his flashy entrance (which I wouldn’t be against?)
Winner: Taichi (NEW NEVER Openweight Champion)
Match 5: [IWGP HW Tag Team Championship Match] Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA/EVIL) (c) vs. The Young Bucks
It can be argued that the Young Bucks are one of the greatest tag teams in the modern era of wrestling today, dominating the Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team division, as well as tag divisions in multiple organizations around the world. Due to this success, the Bucks have decided to move up to the Heavyweight Tag Division and replicate their success to cement their legacy. Following a match between LIJ and Suzuki-gun at Wrestling Dontaku, the Young Bucks challenged the champions to a title match for Dominion, which leads us to this match.
SANADA and EVIL are amazing competitors in their own right, providing hard-hitting action and establishing their spots as the dominant tag team.
I suspect that the Bucks will not be successful on this night, solely to prolong the program a little bit longer but look for this to be an entertaining match, as only these four competitors can provide!
Winners: Los Ingobernables de Japon (TITLE RETAINED)
Match 6: Rey Mysterio/Jushin Thunder Liger/Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Cody/Hangman Page/Marty Scurll
The debut match of Rey Mysterio in NJPW, who was sidelined with an injury before a match with Jushin Thunder Liger could take place at Strong Style Evolved. Will Ospreay took Mysterio’s place and Mysterio proceeded to set up matches with Liger, Ospreay and Marty Scurll at later dates.
During the Best of the Super Juniors event, Scurll attempted to attack Tanahashi after a match, leading to Liger making the save and challenging Marty and two partners (later revealed to be Cody and Hangman Page) against Mysterio, Tanahashi and himself at Dominion. This is expected to be an eventful match, with Mysterio looking to wow the crowd in anticipation of future matches with his partner, Liger, and Scurll.
Tanahashi never fails to impress as “the ACE”, as he’ll contend with the likes of Cody and Hangman throughout the bout. Liger will prove to be a solid helping hand in assisting Mysterio and I expect to see some interesting tag chemistry between the two in this match.
As Scurll has been the instigator for most of this feud and, given Cody’s ever-growing momentum in preparation for the ALL IN event, I do expect Bullet Club to pick up the victory here but I would not be surprised if Team Mysterio picks up the win here.
Winners: Bullet Club
Match 7: [IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship Match] Will Ospreay (c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Due to winning the 2018 Best of the Super Juniors tournament, Hiromu Takahashi has earned the right to face Will Ospreay for the championship in this match. I fully expect this match to be completely off-the-wall, given the styles of both these amazing competitors.
Takahashi’s ‘controllable chaotic’ style has lent credence to a dangerous contender to Will Ospreay, a phenominal champion in his own right. Ospreay’s style meshes well with Takahashi and I expect this will most likely be the second-best ‘Match of the Night’ (followed by the main event). Look for some of the most dangerous, innovative and fast-paced action to ever take place in a Jr. Heavyweight match as both competitors aim to leave it all on the line.
I would be more than satisfied with anyone here as the victor but I’m going to have to pick Ospreay to retain here. Ospreay’s victory would set up his match with Rey Mysterio nicely but I would be more than willing to reunite Takahashi with Mr. Belt once again!
Winner: Will Ospreay (TITLE RETAINED)
Match 8: [IWGP Intercontinental Championship] Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. Chris Jericho
Now this is a match I never thought I would see at any point in either man’s career, much less in 2018!
Chris Jericho, in the Renaissance of his career, returned to NJPW in late 2017, feuding with then-IWGP US Champion Kenny Omega, resulting in a violent and entertaining match at Wrestle Kingdom. Jericho did lose that match and many thought that it was a one-and-done deal to push Omega until Jericho shockingly reappeared to attack Tetsuya Naito at New Year’s Dash. A fired-up Jericho proceeded to beat down on Naito before disappearing for some time (i.e. competing in WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble event) and it was believed that Jericho was done with NJPW for the time being.
In the meantime, Naito went on to contend with other competitors before winning the IWGP Intercontinental Championship from Minoru Suzuki at Wrestling Hi No Kuni. Soon after, Jericho re-appeared in NJPW and bloodied Naito in a brutal post-match beatdown that has led us to this match. Look for this to be an entertaining match filled with Naito-like Tranquilo antics to throw Jericho off his trail.
Jericho and Naito are both wrestling geniuses in terms of ring psychology and I expect this to be a very entertaining match that will see Jericho give Naito a big moment. I expect Naito to be victorious in this match to further solidify the Tranquilo warrior’s position at the top and continue to build Naito up as the Dark Ace of sorts. I also suspect Jericho to continue to work with NJPW again in some fashion after this program, but against who? Hmm…
Winner: Tetsuya Naito (TITLE RETAINED)
Match 9: [IWGP Heavyweight Title 2-Out-Of-3 Falls Match] “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Kenny Omega
Quite possibly one of, if not, THE best feuds in professional wrestling today, the rivalry between Okada and Omega has produced some of the greatest matches in the history of wrestling. If you haven’t seen any of these matches, I implore you, as a fan of wrestling, to view them each in order and be amazed at the pure athleticism and story that these two all-stars have portrayed over the years.
This rivalry started as of last year’s Wrestle Kingdom, which saw then-G1 Climax winner Kenny Omega unsuccessfully challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight championship in a match that saw both men get taken to the limit. A few months later, at last year’s Dominion, they both went at it again in a match that arguably topped their Wrestle Kingdom match and saw both men beaten down and unable to finish the other in a time-limit draw.
Their most recent match occurred in last year’s G1-Climax, which saw Omega finally defeat Okada with his trusted One-Winged Angel for the victory. Throughout the entire feud, the story going in was that Okada was the unbeatable Ace and unstoppable champion (think Brock Lesnar now, only wrestling more frequently and with MUCH more versatility) but Omega’s One-Winged Angel was Okada’s kryptonite. It was unproven in Wrestle Kingdom, as Omega was unable to hit the move but Okada had avoided the move like a plague.
At last year’s Dominion, Omega managed to hit the move but Okada was able to escape via rope break in a razor-thin second. For their third match, Omega was able to successfully hit the maneuver and pin the champion, proving that Omega only needed one shot to fell the Ace.
My description of all of these matches do not do any of these matches justice and I could never hope to come close. I expect this match to be very personal, very intense and VERY close. Given that this is a 2-out-of-3 falls match, it’s almost a given that each competitor will score at least one fall on each other, with the third fall being the deciding factor.
Regarding who wins the first fall, given the promotion from Kenny about his training for the event, I expect him to gain the first fall either through a roll-up or a V-Trigger pinfall, with Okada subsequently gaining the second pinfall via Rainmaker.
The third fall is where everything will go full-steam ahead and I expect that Okada will finally kick out of the One-Winged Angel here en route to a Rainmaker victory to further establish his absolute domination over NJPW and finally vanquish his fated enemy.
In the end, though, we as the fans will have really won by witnessing what I believe will be the Match of the Night and a contender, if not, THE Match of the Year.
Winner: Kazuchika Okada (TITLE RETAINED)
As you can see, I expect the undercard to be developed nicely due to the feuds woven through the tag matches, which will set NJPW up nicely for the next few shows and establish some interesting contenders.
The second half of the card is where I expect things to go from 0 to 100 very quickly, with a sleeper match in Ospreay/Takahashi that promises to deliver every bit of frenzy that it promises.
Follow that with the intrigue and psychology of Naito/Jericho and the inevitable masterpiece in Omega/Okada and we have an event that will be talked about for months or even years to come!
I certainly am looking forward to this event and I hope to hear from all my readers regarding their thoughts on the show!
Photo Credits: New Japan Pro Wrestling