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NJPW Dominion 2023 Review


IWGP UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE #1 CONTENDERSHIP: WILL OSPREAY DEF. LANCE ARCHER



By advancing on Ospreay early in the episode, Archer paid homage to his Suzuki-gun background. An incredible sprint that belonged in a G1 followed, and it was spectacular. Ospreay worked babyface for the monster Archer during the eight-minute fight, bouncing around until he connected with his major blows. While avoiding a Black Out and a chokeslam, Ospreay managed to evade the large close-range lariat that Archer has been employing as a new finisher. Archer kicked out at one after Ospreay struck it with a Hidden Blade. In order to win the contest and the subsequent title battle against Kenny Omega, Ospreay subsequently connected on three additional Hidden Blades.


After the match, Ospreay seized the opportunity to speak, declaring that he was prepared to enter Omega’s home arena and reclaim the IWGP US Title. It’s Canada vs Ospreay. The most eagerly awaited rematch in wrestling will likely be broadcast by AEW in North America. They might perform it on Collision? ****

LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (BUSHI, SHINGO TAKAGI, TETSUYA NAITO & TITÁN) DEF. JUST 5 GUYS (DOUKI, TAICHI, TAKA MICHINOKU & YOSHINOBU KANEMARU)



This would have been on Tales From The Undercard if there had been another one of these multi-mans on the card. Given that Gino Gambino was back on commentary for this evening, it was odd that Douki Chokey was absent from the match. With Llave Inmortal on Taka, Titán won. ***

IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM TITLE: CATCH 2/2 (FRANCESCO AKIRA & TJP) (W/ DAN MOLONEY) DEF. INTERGALACTIC JET SETTERS (KEVIN KNIGHT & KUSHIDA) ©



The Intergalactic Jet Setters fall in their first defense. Catch 2/2 are the 72nd IWGP Jr. Tag Team Champions.


This surprised me because I thought it would make more sense to let Jet Setters hold the titles and set a new record for the longest reign. However, it appears that they are portraying KUSHIDA as having lost ground to this new crop of juniors in the wake of his dismal Best of Super Juniors performance. They were able to develop a stronger game plan because of this and the fact that Catch 2/2 now knew what to anticipate from the Jet Setters. Knight attempted to use his large top rope rana but was stopped by Catch 2/2 using the Leaning Tower. In order to win the bout and reclaim the tag belts, Akira and TJP hit the 22 knees on Knight. ***3/4


Do you want to discuss the unexpected? Clark Connors arrived at the ringside after the contest. He intended to challenge for the tag team championships. His associate would be...Akira and TJP were jumped from behind by DAN MOLONEY. As they set out Catch 2/2, the irate crowd yelled at Moloney to leave and told him to go home. This gorgeous turn was necessary and fits well. This new all-killer iteration of Bullet Club is a fantastic fit for Moloney, and the two of them work well together.

NJPW WORLD TELEVISION TITLE: ZACK SABRE JR. © (W/ KOSEI FUJITA) DEF. JEFF COBB



This was Sabre’s 10th successful defence of the NJPW TV Title.


A problem I’ve had with some of Sabre’s early championship defences is that the early parts lacked a compelling feeling of urgency. Sabre wasn’t really working at a pace; he was rather playing with his food. That wasn’t an issue in this game. Picking up where they left off in their match at Dontaku, these two fought tooth and nail from the opening bell. As Sabre tried to deal with Cobb’s power advantage, it was more of the same. Cobb consistently fought off Sabre’s submission attempts, whether it was by converting an armbar into an overhead throw or thwarting Sabre’s attempt at a rear naked choke.


After a Spin Cycle, Cobb appeared to be heading for victory, but Sabre countered a Tour of the Islands into a crucifix pin to win and retain the titles in a thrilling finish. ***3/4

IWGP TAG TEAM & NJPW STRONG TAG TEAM TITLE – THREE WAY MATCH: BISHAMON (HIROOKI GOTO & YOSHI-HASHI) DEF. UNITED EMPIRE (AARON HENARE & GREAT-O-KHAN) & HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI)



Bishamon become the 99th IWGP Tag Team Champions and the 4th NJPW STRONG Tag Team Champions.

It went far beyond my expectations. Yujiro had a couple near-falls that both the audience and I bit on hard, and House of Torture’s antics contributed to the actual sense of tension being created. Because of the audience’s intense fear of House of Torture winning these titles, this match was made all the more thrilling. Henare and O-Khan were a terrific impromptu team since they worked well together and had some great offence. Bishamon performed admirably as always. After all was said and done, Bishamon hit Shoto while isolating Yujiro to win both sets of tag team titles. This was an exciting title bout with lots of action and energy. ****


After the match, the Bullet Club’s War Dogs team—Alex Coughlin & Gabriel Kidd of the New Japan Dojo—was introduced, interrupting Bishamon’s celebration. Oh my, Bullet Club has reloaded with a vengeance. Only lethal young bulls. With a tonne of new talent, this unit has been revitalised. I am quite excited about this new Bullet Club.

G1 CLIMAX ANNOUNCEMENTS!

Get your spreadsheets ready! It’s G1 season!


  • Kazuchika Okada (12th appearance, 4-time winner – 2012, 2014, 2021, 2022)

  • Tetsuya Naito (14th appearance, 2-time winner – 2013, 2017)

  • SANADA (8th appearance, 2020 finalist)

  • Will Ospreay (4th appearance, 2022 finalist)

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi (22nd appearance, 3-time winner – 2007, 2015, 2018)

  • David Finlay (2nd appearance)

  • Shota Umino (DEBUT)

  • Shingo Takagi (5th appearance)

  • Tomohiro Ishii (11th appearance)

  • Tama Tonga (6th appearance, 2022 semi-finalist)

  • Tanga Loa (2nd appearance)

  • Hikuleo (DEBUT)

  • Hirooki Goto (16th appearance, 2008 winner)

  • YOSHI-HASHI (7th appearance)

  • Toru Yano (18th appearance)

  • KENTA (5th appearance)

  • Zack Sabre Jr. (7th appearance)

  • Taichi (5th appearance)

  • Eddie Kingston (DEBUT)

  • El Phantasmo (2nd appearance)

  • Ren Narita (DEBUT)

  • EVIL (8th appearance)

  • Chase Owens (3rd appearance)

  • Jeff Cobb (5th appearance)

  • Great O-Khan (3rd appearance)

  • Aaron Henare (2nd appearance)

  • Gabriel Kidd (DEBUT)

  • Alex Coughlin (DEBUT)

  • Shane Haste (DEBUT)

  • Mad Mikey Nicholls (DEBUT)

  • Yota Tsuji (DEBUT)

  • Kaito Kiyomiya (DEBUT, 2018 NOAH Global League winner, 2022 NOAH N-1 Victory winner)


It appears that there will be 4 blocks of 8 matches, unless we follow Super Junior’s lead and have 8-match shows with only singles bouts. Ten men are making their G1 debuts in this field, which is quite the field. Depending on how the names are distributed, there is top talent, as there always has been with New Japan. The focus will be on Kingston and Kiyomiya, but I’m also looking forward to seeing all three Guerrillas of Destiny members back and the young bulls Kidd and Coughlin getting significant opportunities in the G1. Beginning on July 15, New Japan is in for exciting times.

NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE: DAVID FINLAY (C) (W/ GEDO, CLARK CONNORS, DAN MOLONEY, GABRIEL KIDD, & ALEX COUGHLIN) DEF. EL PHANTASMO



This was Finlay’s 1st successful defence of the title.


The thought of ELP vs Bullet Club was much more manageable for Phantasmo at the beginning of the evening. Before the concert, Bullet Club consisted of five people. In addition, Taiji Ishimori was sidelined due to a neck ailment sustained during the Best of Super Junior tour while KENTA was competing for DEFY in America. Phantasmo’s declaration that he will battle Bullet Club was simple to make. What began as a molehill swiftly turned into a mountain after the prelims saw the addition of three new members

Phantasmo simply couldn’t climb that mountain this evening because of its height. He fought valiantly, opening the contest with a huge leap over the barricade. To give Finlay the upper hand, the Bullet Club spectators at ringside interrupted another Phantasmo dive. Phantasmo fought back with a pair of Sudden Death superkicks for a near fall after Finlay dissected him. Phantasmo climbed to the top rope, but more diversions from the Bullet Club allowed Phantasmo to finish them off with dives to the floor. Finlay, who had previously defeated Tama Tonga to win the title, however, shoved Phantasmo off the top rope and into the barricade when he returned to the top rope.


Like in his encounter with Tama Tonga, Finlay pounded down his opponent for a prolonged period of time rather than using a fiery New Japan closing stretch. He hit a powerbomb, an Into Oblivion to retain, then put Phantasmo through a table. Although it’s not ideal for STARZ, it helps to establish Finlay as the savage leader of the new Bullet Club and a merciless, remorseless NEVER Champion. Finlay is capable of making the final push, but the benefits to him and Bullet Club outweigh the risks.

As for El Phantasmo, don’t worry about him. Before facing David Finlay, he must first get through Bullet Club. He simply has more bodies to go through at this point. However, this story is far from over. ***1/2

IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE: HIROMU TAKAHASHI © DEF. MASTER WATO



This was Takahashi’s 5th successful defence of the title.


This felt like Master Wato’s time to come up and stand strong as IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion given the altering landscape in New Japan. With an outstanding Super Junior final, Wato had elevated himself, winning the competition and setting himself up for a Jr. Title challenge in his hometown. However, this game has levels, and Hiromu Takahashi is currently playing on a different level. He has made it obvious that he wants to go down in history as the greatest Jr. Champion, not simply a champion. With this one, he moves closer to the necessary 12 to beat Minoru Tanaka’s V11 defence record, which was set back when he was simply known as Heat.

The neck and shoulders, two regions where Hiromu has frequently had problems, are the focus of Wato’s main offensive. Hiromu’s shoulder, which still bears a painful scar from his prior ripped pec, was stretched by the Vendoval. When Wato’s Recietemente got a major near fall, the match truly got going. Hiromu used all of his skills, including multiple Hiromu-chan Bomber lariats, to dodge the Tsutenkaku German. Hiromu kicked out as Wato reversed his exit from Time Bomb 2 and eventually hit the Tsutenkaku. Wato kicked out when Hiromu attempted to use the conventional Time Bomb. To maintain, Hiromu would detonate Time Bomb 2. For Hiromu, the journey towards V12 continues. While Master Wato’s path to the top will take a little bit longer, Wato has shown over the previous several weeks that he can hold his own at the top of the category. ****1/2

NEVER OPENWEIGHT SIX MAN TAG TEAM TITLE: KAZUCHIKA OKADA, TOMOHIRO ISHII, & HIROSHI TANAHASHI © DEF. THE BLACKPOOL COMBAT CLUB (CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI & JON MOXLEY) & SHOTA UMINO



This was the champion’s 1st successful defence. This was meant to be third from the top, but Castagnoli’s flight was delayed, causing this slight card change.


From the moment all six men entered the ring, this match was outstanding. The English commentators did a fantastic job of outlining the backgrounds of the fighters. From the current problems between Okada and Umino to the gory fight between Moxley and Tanahashi in Forbidden Door and the G1 feud between Ishii and Moxley from 2019, in addition to the fact that Umino’s father served as the referee. This match was saturated with the past. The bell then rung.

This wasn’t a trip to Japan, though. This was not a relaxing night. This was a group of six men headed to war. Okada and Umino were snarling at one another. Moxley and Ishii engaged in canine-like combat. Claudio Castagnoli and Hiroshi Tanahashi, who, you know, are Claudio Castagnoli and Hiroshi Tanahashi, were still the more impartial party. The entire fight was furious and full of vigour. Highlights for me include Okada hitting the Emerald Flowsion and the Rainmaker on Umino to win the match, Ishii headbutting Moxley in the face, the BCC hitting a triple powerbomb on Okada, and the final stretch. A match you must watch. ****3/4


After the match, Moxley had a message for Kazuchika Okada.


The biggest dream match I have ever had for these Forbidden Door events is Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson, and we are now three weeks away from seeing it. With that bout and Omega/Ospreay II, Forbidden Door won’t simply match but top the calibre of last year’s event.


IWGP WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH

SANADA © (W/ TAICHI, TAKA MICHINOKU, DOUKI, & YOSHINOBU KANEMARU) DEF. YOTA TSUJI (W/ TETSUYA NAITO, HIROMU TAKAHASHI, SHINGO TAKAGI, BUSHI, & TITÁN)



This was SANADA’s second successful defence of the title.


Where can I even begin with this one? SANADA won this bout by defeating this unidentified but significant challenger to his title. After a protracted stare-down, Tsuji successfully leapfrogged SANADA and grabbed him with a spear. When SANADA fell to the ground, Tsuji followed him by performing a Fosbury Flop. My initial assumption was that Tsuji would simply overpower SANADA as soon as they made contact and defeat him in a flash, similar to the Goldberg/Brock Lesnar battle from that Survivor Series. Instead, the game went on.

From this point forward, SANADA faced an uphill battle. Tsuji managed to get his hands and knees up on a Shining Wizard while attempting a moonsault. He attempted a Deadfall but cartwheeled out of it. He used techniques like a top-rope Spanish Fly and a release Falcon Arrow to attack SANADA. Tsuji had a shit-eating grin on his face the entire time, as though he already knew he had the championship won. But when he made his debut at Wrestling Dontaku, he gave up his hand. Despite all the secrecy and hiding, SANADA just understood that the spear must be avoided at all costs. At the beginning of the contest, Tsuji caught him. But he was never able to capture him again.

SANADA dodged the spear, dodging many attempts before dropping a kick on a charging Tsuji. After hitting the Shining Wizard, he stuck Tsuji with the Deadfall to win the bout, which was intriguing. Due to SANADA spending the majority of the contest selling Tsuji’s offence, there was a lot of downtime. However, I was never bored since I had a strong sense that it might all stop at any moment. It’s difficult to grade this one, but it was a remarkable match with an energised crowd that I do suggest seeing, even just to witness Tsuji’s work. ****


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