Sunday, November 30, 2014

New Japan Pro Wrestling - Dominion 2014 Review

The Bullet Club takes over!

Before I start the actual review, I want to make note of some things that were announced during the show. They announced the Blocks for the 2014 G1 Climax during the show. They also announced that ROH's Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, Bobby Fish, Michael Bennett, & Maria Kanellis would be at the G1 Climax Finals Show at the Seibu Dome.

They also air a vignette with Jeff Jarrett, who announced that Global Force Wrestling (GFW) was entering a partnership with New Japan.

NJPW Dominion 2014
Osaka, Japan 6/21/14

1.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - The Young Bucks vs. The Time Splitters: ****1/2

The Young Bucks have held the Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles since late 2013. Simply put, this match was awesome!!! These two worked their asses off, and put together a great opening match. They told a really good story with The Young Bucks working over the injured soldier of Alex Shelley. Lots of great back & forth action, as you would expect, and eventually, KUSHIDA gets Matt Jackson to tap out! The Time Splitters win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles!!

2.) Tetsuya Naito vs. Tama Tonga: **1/2

It's kinda strange to see how much Naito has fallen down the card in recent months. He was in the IWGP Heavyweight Title Match against Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 8, and now he's in the second match on the card, wrestling (what is essentially) The Bullet Club's lowest ranking member. The match itself was solid. Naito got the win, which was the right move. Not much else to say.

3.) Yuji Nagata & Tomoaki Honma vs. Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata: ****

Anytime you get these four guys in here, you know it's going to be a slugfest, and that's exactly what we got. These guys just beat the crap out of the each other. Really hard hitting action throughout. Nagata & Shibata start brawling in the crowd, while in the ring, Goto takes out Honma to score the win for his team. The aforementioned Nagata & Shibata continue to brawl to the back, even after the match had ended.

4.) NWA World Tag Team Titles - Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima vs. The Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer with Taka Michinoku): ***3/4

These teams have faced each other a number of times in the recent past, but no matter how many times they've faced each other, they always seem to put on really good matches. This one was another example of that. Really good tag team match here. Tenzan & Kojima eventually put away The Killer Elite Squad to retain the NWA World Tag Team Titles.

5.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - Kota Ibushi vs. Ricochet: ****1/2

Ricochet got this title shot by virtue of winning the 2014 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament (representing Dragon Gate). If you thought the The Young Bucks/Time Splitters match was awesome, this match was INSANE!!! It amazes me how athletic both of these guys are, it's crazy. They put together a really fantastic match. It was every bit as awesome as you would think. Eventually, Kota Ibushi gets the win to retain his title. This match is a must see!!

6.) Suzukigun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) vs. Toru Yano & Kazushi Sakuraba: **

There was a recent turn of events in this seemingly never-ending feud. Takashi Iizuka, who had been a member of CHAOS alongside Toru Yano, turned on him to join Suzukigun. Yano needed a new partner, and Sakuraba stepped up to the plate. This went pretty much as you would expect. The match was relatively boring, with a lot of brawling on the outside. Suzukigun would get the win, but this would plant the seeds for a Suzuki/Sakuraba feud.

7.) CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & NEVER Openweight Champion Tomohiro Ishii) vs. The Bullet Club (IWGP Heavyweight Champion "The Phenomenal" AJ Styles & Yujiro Takahashi): ***1/2

Kind of weird that the IWGP Heavyweight Title isn't being defended on a PPV, but since the G1 Climax is coming up, I can see why they would do this. Here we have Okada teaming up with fellow CHAOS member, and NEVER Openweight Champion, Tomohiro Ishii, against the IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles and Yujiro Takahashi, the man who cost Okada the title and turned on CHAOS to join The Bullet Club. This was a pretty good tag team match. We got to see some diversity in here, with Styles & Ishii locking up for the first time, and Okada getting his hands on both Styles & Takahashi. Some solid action in this one. Takahashi would eventually score the win for his team by pinning Ishii, serving as a bit of a preview for their upcoming NEVER Openweight Title Match.

8.) IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - The Bullet Club (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe: ***1/4

Tanahashi & Makabe earned this title shot by defeated Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata in a #1 Contender's Match at the last PPV, Back to the Yokohama Arena. This was a fine match. You could tell they were all working hard, and they told a pretty good story, but I just didn't find this match to reach the level of being really good. Perhaps going overboard on finishers towards the end of the match contributed to that a little bit, but I'm not sure. Regardless, Gallows & Anderson retain their titles in a relatively solid defense.

9.) IWGP Intercontinental Title - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bad Luck Fale: ***1/2

I believe this is the first time that Bad Luck Fale has been in a Main Event Singles Match on PPV. He's facing one of the best in Shinsuke Nakamura. While not necessarily the type of match, from a quality perspective, that you would expect from the Main Event of a New Japan PPV, this was still a really good match. We all know that Fale is someone who, while not totally bad, needs to be carried to have really good matches. Nakamura did a fantastic job in that regard. Fale looked like a monster, which is exactly what New Japan is going for. Nakamura was his awesome self, but he was not able to overcome "The Underboss", as Fale got the win and the IWGP Intercontinental Title. 

After the match, The Bullet Club come out to celebrate with Fale, while Nakamura is stretchered out of the arena. Karl Anderson cuts a promo about how awesome & powerful The Bullet Club is to close the show.

Overall: 8.5/10

This was another really good PPV from New Japan, though it could have been even better. The first half of this show was absolutely fantastic. You had two amazing matches for New Japan's two Junior Titles (Heavyweight & Tag Team), as well the NWA World Tag Team Title Match and the Goto/Shibata vs. Nagata/Honma Tag Team Match, which were both really good. The second half was a bit disappointing. While we knew the Yano vs. Suzuki Tag Team Match wasn't going to be good, the remaining three matches (featuring a lot of New Japan's top stars) underperformed (for various reasons). I'm not saying any of those match were bad, but it just wasn't the best way to finish out a PPV. Had these matches been a little better, we could have had a show of the year contender. Instead, we got a really good show that had a fantastic first half with a weaker (though still relatively good) second half.

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