NJPW Dominion 2018: Results and Review

NJPW Dominion 2018: Results and Review

It’s time once again to step into Puroresu-territory, as New Japan Pro-Wrestling has just completed Dominion 2018. This event is usually presented as NJPW’s second-biggest show of the year (with the first being their January 4th Wrestle Kingdom event) and it showed, with 6 title defenses, the debut of Cruiserweight kingpin Rey Mysterio in 6-Man Tag-Team action, the return of Chris Jericho and much more. Let’s delve right into the action with our first match review!

*Note*: (c) listed next to a competitor’s/team’s name indicates the champions in their respective matches.

 

0609_1

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Roppongi 3K vs. Suzuki-gun (c)

Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team action opens the event as Roppongi 3K, consisting of SHO and YOH (the former Tempura Boyz for ROH followers) tackle Suzuki-gun’s El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru. R3K is known for their flashy and effective style, and it was on display here, as they took it to the champions in the early going with aerial maneuvers to establish momentum. However, Suzuki-gun resorted to their typical dirty tactics to regain control, working on SHO for a period of time. Eventually, R3K gets control when YOH receives the hot tag and fires up on Suzuki-gun. R3K attempted to end the match with their 3K maneuver on Desperado but Kanemaru made the save. Kanemaru goes for the whiskey but accidently catches Desperado instead. R3K took advantage of the moment and attempts 3K on Kanemaru, but is saved by Desperado. The finish of the match saw the referee get knocked, allowing Kanemaru to smash his whiskey bottle on YOH and allowing Desperado to gain the pinfall and retain the titles.

Winners: Suzuki-gun (TITLE RETAINED)

Analysis: A solid match to open the card, with Roppongi 3K playing the roles of the underdog fiery babyface well against the dastardly outlaws in Suzuki-gun. Suzuki-gun’s antics did well in giving SHO and YOH heat and YOH’s hot tag sequence got the crowd invested fairly well. One thing to note is that it would seem that the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team titles are not being hotshotted into different teams (a possible result of the Young Bucks no longer being in the division to allow other teams to be established?). I had predicted Roppongi 3K to walk away with the titles tonight but the right team won here. This is a great positive for the stagnant division and Suzuki-gun holding the titles will allow for a decent heel team to be established for the time being.

 

0609_2

Juice Robinson/David Finlay vs. Jay White/YOSHI-HASHI

–Tag team action continues as CHAOS (consisting of IWGP US Champion “Switchblade” Jay White and YOSHI-HASHI) faces Taguchi-gun’s Juice Robinson and David Finlay. The main feud highlighted in this match is Jay White/Juice Robinson, and that couldn’t come any faster as Jay attacked Juice immediately at the start as YOSHI-HASHI looks on. A brawl between Finlay and White (a callback to their feud) breaks out and sees White catch Finlay with a speedy snap-back suplex to take control early on. White and YOSHI-HASHI proceed to work on David Finlay for a period of time, before Finlay gets a tag to Juice, which the referee doesn’t notice due to antics from the CHAOS team. David Finlay does eventually hit a dropkick on YOSHI-HASHI and tags Juice, who fires up and takes down White and YOSHI-HASHI. The finish of the match, in a surprising twist, sees Juice rocking White with a left hand and planting him with Pulp Friction for the victory. Post-Match sees Juice grab the IWGP US Championship and declares his intention to challenge for the title.

Winners: Juice Robinson/David Finlay

Analysis: I fully expected that either David Finlay or YOSHI-HASHI were added to this match solely to take the pinfall for their respective team’s loss. Especially in this case, in my “NJPW Dominion: Predictions” article, I expected Juice Robinson to pin YOSHI-HASHI and build momentum towards a potential title shot. Juice pinning Jay White of all people was an interesting surprise, and does establish that Juice could potentially defeat Jay for the championship, which was the driving point of their feud. I expect this match to occur during the annual G1 Special in San Francisco, where Juice will have his crowning moment and finally win the big one.

 

0609_3

Tomohiro Ishii/Toru Yano vs. Suzuki-gun

Strong-Style action follows as CHAO’s Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii face off against Suzuki-gun’s leader, the ever-dangerous Minoru Suzuki and his partner, Zack Sabre. Jr. The fact that Minoru Suzuki and Tomohiro Ishii was a clear indicator of how this match would flow and I’m glad to say I wasn’t surprised. Ishii and Suzuki proceeded to beat the pancakes out of each other in some of the most hard-hitting action in the show at this point. Order (if you can call it that) was eventually restored when Yano was worked over by ZSJ and Suzuki pretty brutally. Yano’s antics of cheating and shortcuts were always foiled by ZSJ’s unorthodox submission holds. Eventually Ishii and Suzuki were tagged in and Round 2 began with the strikes escalating once again. In the chaos (no pun intended) of all of this, Yano attempts to low-blow ZSJ, but is caught once-again in a submission hold and is tapped out for Suzuki-gun’s victory. Post-Match saw Ishii and Suzuki continue the violence-fest, probably unaware that the match ended already. I choose to believe that as the reason.

Winners: Suzuki-gun

Analysis: If there is one thing I love in a wrestling match, it’s the brawling aspect of it, and watching two wrestlers just going at it. Knowing Ishii and Suzuki were in this match, it was a safe assumption that I was going to get that and, boy, did I get that in spades! Suzuki and Ishii were the highlights in this match for me personally, but I enjoyed the spots with Yano’s cheating attempts being foiled by ZSJ multiple times. I had a feeling that Zack would be tapping out Yano to build his momentum for a future title shot (possibly for the IWGP Intercontinental title?) and it’s safe to say Ishii and Suzuki will be facing off in the future (G1 Special hopefully?).

 

0609_4_NEVER

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

–A rare non-Jr. Title three-way match takes place next as both Taichi and Michael Elgin stake their claim against Hirooki Goto’s NEVER Openweight Championship. Goto and Elgin square off and battle while Taichi picked his spots and tried to score an easy win against either of the two. Taichi (showing his Suzuki-gun roots) played the conniving heel during this match and it showed as he did his best to avoid any contact between Goto and Elgin whenever possible. Eventually, Taichi fires up (meaning the pants came off) and Goto fires back with an Ushi-Goroshi. Elgin and Goto hit each other really hard with clotheslines and both men end up on the mat. Taichi also manages to deliver the most sinister evil cackle (but without pants). Elgin hit a Ocean Cyclone Suplex on Goto for a 2-count as Taichi rolls his valet, Abe Miho, into the ring to distract the ref. Taichi then proceeds to clip both Elgin and Goto with the mic stand and superkicks Goto for a 2-count. The finish of the match sees Big Mike catch Taichi with a powerbomb. Elgin then powerbombs Taichi into Goto, then powerbombs poor Taichi again for the 3-Count and the championship.

Winner: Michael Elgin (NEW NEVER Openweight Champion)

Analysis: An okay match on paper but a ‘meh’ match in execution. Each man played to his strengths with Taichi being the sneaky heel, Elgin being the powerhouse hoss and Goto being the honorable babyface champion. Despite a few entertaining spots in the match, it never really got going and even dragged at some points as well. The NEVER Openweight Championship usually is contested with a Strong-Style element and it wasn’t really present here. Michael Elgin winning the championship was a weird decision, given Taichi’s momentum and the fact that Elgin hasn’t been as impressive in the ring lately. Maybe this frees Goto up for another title or gives Taichi another competitor to face in Elgin? I’m not exactly sure what led to this decision but it’s….odd to say the least.

0609_5_tag

IWGP Tag Team Championship: Los Ingobernables de Japon (c) vs. The Young Bucks

We immediately follow up one title match with another, as the newly-minted heavyweight team of the Young Bucks challenge LIJ’s SANADA and EVIL for their Tag Team Championships. The Bucks are looking to establish themselves as the greatest tag-team in wrestling today, and this was their platform to show it as the Bucks established control early on against the Ingobernable duo with speed and flips. That momentum, however, was brought to a screeching halt when Nick misses his apron kick and smacks the turnbuckle post, selling a leg injury. Matt also sells his continual back injury from prior matches, putting the Bucks at a major disadvantage. It only got worse from there as Matt accidentally superkicks Nick and the champions take full advantage of the miscommunication. After some time, Nick manages to fight back and superkick EVIL, but couldn’t capitalize due to his leg injury, forcing Matt to come in. A Tower of Doom spot occurs when the Bucks attempt a double-suplex on SANADA, only to be powerbombed by EVIL, forcing all 4 men down.

The Bucks muster up the strength to attempt the Meltzer Driver but are thwarted by EVIL, resulting in SANADA trying to lock in the Skull End on Matt. Matt escapes and attempts a Sharpshooter, only to be caught by EVIL. Matt manages to catch a sharpshooter on EVIL, only to be caught in the Skull End again by SANADA. Nick manages a dropkick and the submissions are broken up by this point.

–SANADA and EVIL manage to hit the Magic Killer on Matt (which is ironic, seeing as the move was the finisher of a Bullet Club team, only to see it used on Bullet Club members…..but I digress), but gets a 2-count! The finish of the match sees Matt and Nick regain the advantage and set up for the Meltzer Driver but Nick’s leg injury prevents the move from being delivered. SANADA and EVIL take advantage and lay the Bucks out before SANADA misses a moonsault on Matt. The Bucks, unable to utilize the Meltzer Driver, dig into their bag of tricks and pull the More Bang for Your Buck finisher on SANADA instead for the victory and the championships! Post-Match saw the Bucks ask Don Callis to be a commentator for ALL IN…..guess that means the show’s being streamed?

Winners: The Young Bucks (NEW IWGP Tag Team Champions)

Analysis: This was an amazing match from start to finish. Anyone who says the Young Bucks aren’t good at ring psychology should watch this match. Matt Jackson sold his back injury from months ago (since Wrestle Kingdom, I believe?) and Nick Jackson’s leg injury played a factor throughout the entire match, from the failed superkick to the inability for the Meltzer Driver. That’s not to take away from SANADA and EVIL, who have been amazing competitors and champions and delivered their best work as the foil to the Bucks’ flips and tricks. This match has definitely become one of my favorites and a must-watch for any fans of either team’s work!

 

0609_6

Rey Mysterio/Hiroshi Tanahashi/Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Bullet Club

Rey Mysterio, in his illustrious career, has travelled all over the world. He’s contended in AAA, ECW, WCW, WWE, Lucha Underground and countless other promotions, but he had never stepped into a NJPW ring once. That changed in this show, as Mysterio teamed with “ACE” Hiroshi Tanahashi and Jushin “Thunder” Liger against the team of Cody, Hangman Page, and Marty Scurll. It should also be noted that Mysterio’s attire were the colors of NJPW’s Lion symbol, he was wearing tights and looked amazing! I would definitely love to see that attire again in the future….assuming he works with NJPW again following this match.

It was clear from the get-go that this match was solely to showcase Rey Mysterio in NJPW, and the crowd picked up on this as they feverishly awaited him entering into the fray. It seems the rest of the competitors knew this too, as they all quibbled on who would start the match, with quick tags between everyone before the match even started. The match settled with Page and Tanahashi starting off, before Tanahashi takes down Page, leading to the tag to Cody. After a lockup and arm drags, Marty and Rey tag in and go to work. In what was a nice teaser to come for the later half of the match Rey Mysterio turns back the clock with his signature fast-paced action, catching Marty with a fast sunset flip and a huricanrana for a 2 count before Liger tags in and pulls off a Romero Special, forcing Bullet Club to jump in and re-establish control against Liger. Marty and the Bullet Club proceed to taunt Rey and Tanahashi while working on Liger, building the anticipation for Rey’s hot tag.

After Liger counters back with a backbreaker, Rey gets the hot tag and follows with classic Rey offense (and I’m referring to 90’s-early 00’s Rey action, with headscissors, satellite DDT’s and a set-up for the 619 to Scurll). The match breaks down from here, with Page tagging himself in to save Marty and Tanahashi and Liger coming in to brawl. After the ensuing chaos, Liger and Cody end up as the legal men and Liger manages a top-rope huricanrana, only to be caught by Cody’s Cross Rhodes for the pinfall.

Winners: Bullet Club

Analysis: This is the type of match where you know why it was made and yet it came off better than you originially thought. As mentioned before, it’s clear this was a showcase of Rey Mysterio in NJPW, but everyone here played their parts well to make it a special moment. The pacing that teased the anticipation for Mysterio’s sequencing was alright with me as it just made the crowd pine more for it and cheer when they got it. The right team won for this case as Rey doesn’t need the momentum since the anticipation was enough and Liger and Tanahashi would not be hurt by the loss. It would seem that, based on the actions in the match, Rey is not done with NJPW as he still has scores to settle with Scurll and possibly Cody (a good buildup for the G1 Special).

 

0609_7

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

–Hiromu Takahashi won the Best of Super Juniors Tournament with the hopes of reuniting with his beloved Belt-san. Unfortunately, he would have to go through his frenemy, Will Ospreay (that’s the only way it can be classified….Hiromu calls Ospreay a cat, what else would you call it?). At the Dominion press-conference, Ospreay challenged Takahashi to go all-out and put his body on the line, as he would, to put the Jr. Heavyweight Division on the map. Would that be the case here?

–Before you even finish reading that aforementioned question, the two of them will have already started with a suplex from Takahashi and a brawl to the floor. Ospreay then proceeds to rush from stage to ramp and hits a flip dive off the ramp to wipe out Takahashi before rolling him back in. Will maintains control and lays in uppercuts before going to the ground with some submissions. Eventually, they both end up back outside as Ospreay whips Takahashi to the barricade and rolls him back in. Ospreay slows the match down with more ground-based before Takahashi slowly fires back with a huricanrana and sliding dropkick. Ospreay ends up on the floor and Takahashi catches Ospreay with the shotgun dropkick, senton and a pop-up powerbomb for a 2-count. Ospreay manages to come back with a springboard flying forearm and then a ton of action occurs that needs to be seen to be believed. This ultimately ends with Takahashi landing a Code Red on Ospreay to slow the match down with both men laying.

The two madmen eventually rise and exchange forearms on the apron before Ospreay placed Hiromu over the top rope and hit a Shooting Star Press onto Hiromu’s back (you read that correctly). Ospreay then one-ups himself and hits a Red Arrow and only manages a 2-count. Ospreay teases Stormbreaker but Takahashi manages to get out and jumps to the second rope to get a sunset flip but is caught by Ospreay, only to be caught by a Destroyer from Takahashi….only for a 2-count.

Takahashi then goes for a triangle choke (it’s called the “D”), only to be dropped by Ospreay, who manages a 2-count in the process. What then follows is some of the most heart-pounding action I’ve seen so far in this show. Takahashi sends Ospreay to the apron and hit his sunset flip powerbomb onto the floor before the action heads back to the ring. Ospreay teases Stormbreaker again but Takahashi reversed into “D” again. Ospreay picked him up once again, but Takahashi caught him and dropped Ospreay with a piledriver. Takahashi followed this with a Death Valley Driver into the corner and the Time Bomb and got the pinfall and championship!

Winner: Hiromu Takahashi (NEW IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion)

Analysis: As you can probably tell, I had significant trouble covering this match because it was jam-packed with action from bell to bell. This match had its foot on the pedal and went from 100-to-260, with Ospreay and Takahashi almost killing each other to get one over on the other for the victory. Will Ospreay is one of the greatest high-flyers of wrestling today, and I loved that he was able to display his technical wrestling as well to preserve himself for the second half of the match. Takahashi’s style is so unorthodox and I love how it meshes well with Ospreay’s selling. The mere fact that just a few days ago, he delivered a classic against Taiji Ishimori to win the BOSJ tournament, and you can see that Takahashi has established himself as one of the most enigmatic Jr. Heavyweights today. It’s crazy enough that I even wanted more after, but I fear they may go too far trying to one-up this match. I picked Ospreay to win but I’m more than happy Takahashi is finally reunited with Belt-san, and I can only wonder what’s next!

 

0609_8_IC

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

Now this is a peculiar match as Chris Jericho, in a career Renaissance of sorts, finds himself in a NJPW ring again, facing off against the ultimate Ingobernable and the Dark Ace, Tetsuya Naito, for his IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Jericho comes out in “A Clockwork Orange” themed attire, with makeup and leather ensemble, which is awesome, to say the least. Then Naito comes out, as the crowd erupts for the champion. Well, you know what happens when the crowd cheers for Naito? HUH? YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS?! DO YOU??

Chris Jericho jumps Naito before the bell even rings and proceeds to suplex him on the floor. He followed this up with a powerbomb through a table and grabs a nearby camera to film the damage. Jericho then hits a DDT on the time keeper’s table and rolls Naito back into the ring to start the match. Jericho looks like a man possessed as he proceeds to lay into Naito with punches, a back breaker and even a Lionsault, while Naito is still in his suit for the most part, all while talking smack. Jericho only manages to get a 2-count, but the assault does not stop as Jericho chokes Naito and beats the Tranquilo out of him before locking in the Walls of Jericho. Naito manages to get to the ropes, however, forcing a break while Jericho talks smack with the referee.

This allows Naito to fire back with his signature smirk, spit, and tackles Jericho to the floor for a brawl. It looks as though Naito was also cut open below the eye, possibly from the powerbomb into the table. Naito hits a duo of neckbreakers, with one to the outside floor. Naito then throws Jericho into the guardrail and uses the broken table to attack Jericho. He then takes Jericho to the same time-keeper’s table from earlier and piledrives him.

The action moves back into the ring as Naito goes for a Frankensteiner, but Jericho counters and drops into the Walls of Jericho again. Naito does roll through to escape, but Jericho catapults Naito to the corner leading to a huricanrana, followed by a Tornado DDT for a 2-count. Jericho counters a pinfall attempt though and manages to lock in the Walls of Jericho again.

Naito escapes, however, and lands Destino on Jericho, who was too close to the ropes. Naito attempts a flying forearm but gets nailed with the Code Breaker for a 2-count. The two exchange blows before Naito counters a Lionsault and lands Gloria. Naito prepares to finish with Destino but Jericho shoves the referee before hitting a low blow and a Code Breaker on Naito for the 3-count and victory! Post-Match saw EVIL come out to save Naito from further punishment.

Winner: Chris Jericho (NEW IWGP Intercontinental Champion)

Analysis: This was a war from start to finish. Chris Jericho turned the dial up to 12 for this match and put Tetsuya Naito through the wringer from start to finish. Naito, in a twist, became a babyface for this match, and brawled back with Jericho in what has to be described as an absolute slugfest. The Chris Jericho from WWE and the Chris Jericho from NJPW are two totally different animals and it’s amazing to see what he can do when he’s given the reigns. I would never have thought that he would beat Naito, much less win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship but here we are. In 2018, Chris Jericho is now a champion in NJPW, will be working for them for the foreseeable future, and I am all sorts of excited to see what’s next for Y2J!

0609_9_IWGP

 

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Kenny Omega [2-Out-of-3 Falls]

After 2 maddening matches, we now come to the fourth incarnation of what could possibly be the greatest rivalry in professional wrestling today. “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, the greatest IWGP Heavyweight Champion in history with a record of 719 days and 12 title defenses, once again faces his fated rival, Kenny Omega, but this time, in a match where he must defeat him twice in a row. Every time these two warriors have clashed in the ring, they have produced matches that will be talked about for generations to come. Okada looks to silence the doubters from the time-limit draw at last year’s Dominion and the defeat from Omega in the G1 Climax, while Kenny Omega aims to unseat the infallible champion and claim NJPW’s richest prize. I’m going to do something different, given the gravitas of this match, in the sense that I won’t deliver an analytic play-by-play review, but rather I’m going to dictate the key moments as I go. This is the type of match that you need to see in order to believe. Trust me on this one.

Fall 1: Omega and Okada begin the match with a series of holds to start off, but shifts suddenly with Okada going for his Rainmaker. A miss from Okada leads to Omega priming for the One Winged Angel. Okada blocks and both men end up outside. Okada sends Kenny over the guardrail and goes for his flying splash but gets caught with a V-Trigger knee. Back into the ring, Kenny wears down Omega with chops works on Okada’s back with a backbreaker and camel clutch. Eventually, Okada ends up to the outside where Omega attempts a Tope con Giro, only to miss Okada, who fires back with a Tope con Giro of his own. After some fighting on the outside, the match ends up back in the ring, where Kenny lands a Kitaro Crusher and Fisherman’s Buster. Okada attempts to counter a V-Trigger but ends up taking one anyways.

The fight goes to the apron where Okada manages a Tombstone Piledriver onto Omega. Okada follows up with a series of dropkicks and a Rainmaker attempt before getting caught with a Snap Dragon. Back outside, Kenny hits his Terminator dive to the outside, sending Okada back in for another V-Trigger for a 2-Count. Kenny attempts a OWA but is countered into a Rainmaker attempt, which is then countered into a deadlift German Suplex. A series of counters then ensues but ultimately ends with Okada nailing Omega with the Rainmaker for the 3-Count and the First Pinfall.

Kazuchika Okada – 1 Kenny Omega – 0

Fall 2: A two-minute break ensues before the match continues with a frustrated Omega pushing back against the champion. It’s here where Okada’s cockiness starts rearing itself into the match, taking chops from Omega and shrugging them off and smirking as he kept the advantage. Omega begins to fight back, however, with two back suplexes onto the apron of the ring and a double stomp onto a table set on Okada. Back in the ring, Omega catches Okada off the top rope and delivers an Avalanche Cross-Legged Fisherman’s Buster. Omega follows up with the “You Can’t Escape” combo, but gets countered on the moonsault.

A series of counters ensue between the two in an attempt to put the other through the table, but the fight ends up outside where an Omega attempt at a Dragon Suplex off the apron was blocked. Omega attempts an OWA to the floor but Okada reverses into a Rainmaker, which was then reversed into a reverse hurricanrana on the floor. The fight spills back into the ring where more counters are exchanged between the two, including Snap Dragons, V-Triggers and Tombstones. Both men are barely standing at this point as Omega manages a V-Trigger, followed by a Tiger-Driver and an OWA to get the pinfall, tying this match up.

Kazuchika Okada – 1 Kenny Omega – 1

Fall 3: The two-minute rest period ends and Omega fires out of the gate with an OWA attempt that gets immediately countered into a Rainmaker. Okada is unable to fully capitalize and drags himself to a prone Omega for a 2-count. Both men are barely standing and it showed within the next few moves, as Omega could not run the ropes and Okada could not land his Tombstone. Omega goes for a powerbomb as Okada attempts a hurricanrana. This is countered by Omega, who lands a Styles Clash onto Okada, which gets an AJ Styles chant and a 2-count! Omega hits a V-Trigger and an OWA but collapses before hitting the move. Okada attempts a tombstone but is then countered with numerous and vicious V-Triggers but Okada blocks one of them to hit a Tombstone and readies a Rainmaker. Okada successfully hits the Rainmaker….but is too exhausted to put force into the move and collapses with an exhausted and drained Omega still standing before collapsing next to Okada.

A series of weakened exchanges occur with Okada ultimately managing to gain the upper hand and nailing the Rainmaker onto Omega, maintaining wrist control to deliver a second Rainmaker! Okada, however, is unable to cover, as Omega begins to rise. Okada attempts a Rainmaker again, only to be caught with a series of German Suplexes. Okada countered the third to land his own. A Rainmaker attempt was countered into a reverse-rana and Omega BARELY rises to attempt a V-Trigger, only to meet an Okada dropkick. Omega dodges another Rainmaker, however, and lands an OWA but is too exhausted to cover. Omega rises up one more time and lands a vicious V-Trigger before landing one more OWA for the pinfall victory and the biggest win of his career! Post-Match, Kenny Omega celebrates with the Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi, as the new Golden Elite stand tall!

Kazuchika Okada – 1 Kenny Omega – 2

Winner: Kenny Omega (NEW IWGP Heavyweight Champion)

Analysis: There are no words. There will never be a proper word to describe the magic that was truly witnessed in this match. My description does ZERO to encapsulate it and I knew that going into this review. Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada put on what I call the greatest match in wrestling history, and there could never be a better ending to the historic Okada championship run. I’m going to break from this review mode and tell you all that I watched this live, as in from the start of the show in the AM hours (I live in New York), and I watched this from the start of the match to the very end with my heart pounding non-stop. I gasped and stared, and my jaw dropped and I almost teared up at what I watched. I couldn’t sit still and, with every pinfall, I couldn’t contain my excitement.

I thought in my head that Kazuchika Okada would win because he was New Japan’s Ace, the man the company was built around, and I was okay with that because Okada is one of, if not the greatest champions out there! My heart, however, wanted Kenny Omega to win so badly, knowing that he fought his heart out three times prior to vanquish his fated enemy and always coming up just THAT short. I was cheering Kenny on from the first fall, and I realized something mid-way: I was emotionally invested. I didn’t care about the kayfabe or the decisions or the booking or any of that. I was hooked on this fight and I cheered like a kid for his hero to win. Seeing Kenny Omega win and hold that IWGP Heavyweight Championship does more than just mark a defining moment in NJPW history, it gave me hope that if you fought hard enough, if you trained hard enough and if you kept fighting, even when you were at your lowest, you will prevail in the end. It took Omega over a year but he did it….he beat the best and he became the best. In the end, isn’t that what wrestling is all about? Thank you, Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega, for everything you have given us and thank you, New Japan Professional Wrestling.

Final Show Review

This show, from top to bottom (except for Goto/Elgin/Taichi), completely knocked it out of the park with the presentation and match quality. The first half of the card maintained an excellenct pacing that set the stage for the second half to deliver a card that might possibly have set a bar that is unattainably high for the year. The fact that the card order itself was paced so well to build the excitement following into Omega/Okada IV, ending with Omega’s crowning moment as the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion, is a true testament to the NJPW booking and creative team. I will easily go out on a limb and say that NJPW Dominion will be noted as the Event of the Year for 2018, barring an impossibly Herculean effort from ANY promotion, including NJPW themselves possibly as the stars were so perfectly aligned for every moment to take place. If you’re a fan of professional wrestling or sports entertainment, you owe it to yourself, not just as a viewer, but as a fan, to watch this show in any way you can. History was made here and NJPW is quite possibly at their strongest possible point going forward.

 

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Image Credits: New Japan Pro Wrestling

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