NJPW Dominion 2015
Osaka, Japan 7/5/15
1.) Ten-Man Tag – Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi, Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Sho Tanaka vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask, & Yohei Komatsu: **1/2
We open up the show with the usual multi-man tag that gets everyone on the show. There really wasn’t much to say about this one. Mascara Dorada gets the win for his team here after pinning Komatsu. Pretty much the standard New Japan opening match multi-man tag team match.
2.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles – Triple Threat Match – The Young Bucks vs. reDRagon vs. Roppongi Vice: ***1/2
Now we’re properly kicking off the show, with the first of six title matches. Having these IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles constantly contested in three-ways or four-ways has become a pretty significant complaint about New Japan recently, but like I’ve said before, the matches are always going to be good, especially considering who’s in the division right now. In this particular case, however, I think we could have gone with a regular tag team match. Don’t get me wrong, this was a pretty good match, but it could have been better if it was a two-on-two match. Still, all six guys worked hard, and that’s all you can ask for, really. The Young Bucks would retain their titles after hitting More Bang For Your Buck on Rocky Romero. This also continued the streak of reDRagon not being the team to take the fall in these multi-team matches.
3.) The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Tetsuya Naito & Tomoaki Honma: ***
So the big story here is that, after the ROH/NJPW North American Tour in May, Naito took an excursion to CMLL for about a month, and returned to Japan as a member of the villainous stable Los Ingobernables. He’s slowly started to show more heelish tendencies, and that was clear here, as he would ignore Honma at points and wouldn’t tag in. He eventually did, and their team would win in the end after Honma pinned Takahashi following a Diving Kokeshi Headbutt. The match itself was fine. A solid tag team match, but nothing special. Naito, after the match, didn’t celebrate with Honma, as he just rolled out the ring and strolled to the back.
4.) Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba: ****
This match has been building up for a few months, as Shibata & Sakuraba have been interacting a lot in multi-man tags. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this match, but it was actually pretty great!! This was a very hard hitting and physical match, and the MMA backgrounds of both men certainly added to this match. Of course, Shibata was his great usual self. Sakuraba is a very interesting case. He doesn’t do much for most of the year, but if he gets a big (maybe “significant” is the better word, I don’t know) singles match, with the right opponent, and he could have a great match, as he did here. Shibata would score the victory in this brutal encounter.
5.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title – KUSHIDA vs. Kenny Omega: ****1/2
KUSHIDA earned this title shot after winning the 2015 Best Of The Super Juniors Tournament. I was a little concerned about this match going into it, as Omega’s title reign thus far has been a bit mixed, as we’ve gotten matches where he’s been more serious, and matches where he’s been goofing off and doing a lot of comedy. Fortunately, we got the former, and both men were able to put on an awesome match! The action was great from start to finish, and it told a great story. There was some pretty awesome stuff throughout this match. These two showed here why they’re two of the best wrestlers in the world. In the end, KUSHIDA was able to overcome “The Cleaner” to capture the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title!! It was a great moment for KUSHIDA, and his victory here felt like a big deal.
6.) NEVER Openweight Title – Togi Makabe vs. Tomohiro Ishii: ***1/2
So this is the third time that these two have faced off for the NEVER Openweight Title. Whenever you get Ishii & Makabe in a match with each other, you know it’s going to be hard-hitting. This match was no exception. However, this wasn’t quite as good as their previous encounters. I think it mainly has to do with the fact that people are just tired of this match, after already seeing it twice in 2015. Another complaint people have about New Japan is that the booking can be a bit stale at times. I feel like this match exemplifies that. Makabe would eventually retain the NEVER Openweight Title, getting his third straight win over Ishii in the process.
7.) IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles – The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Michael Bennett with Maria Kanellis) vs. The Bullet Club (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows with Amber Gallows): **1/4
This match wasn’t quite as bad as some of their other encounters, but this was still the worst match on the show. The feud has just been bad. There’s no other way around it. The Bullet Club would get the titles back, and hopefully, this meant that the feud was indeed over (for the most part, it was over). The less I talk about this match, the better. Moving on….
8.) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano: ***1/4
Earlier that year, Yano scored a shocking upset win over Tanahashi in the First Round of the 2015 New Japan Cup. They’ve been feuding ever since, exchanging victories via nefarious means in a number of multi-man tags. Now these two are finally going at it again in a singles match. While this wasn’t spectacular by any means, I thought this was still a pretty solid match. Yano’s comedy stuff can be really cool to watch at times, and in certain situations, his antics play a part in helping people get invested in his matches. Tanahashi was good here also, playing his role very well. The Ace of New Japan would eventually get the win over the “Sublime Master Thief”, firmly putting him in his rearview mirror. The real reason Tanahashi was in this feud was to rest up for the G1 Climax. Hopefully he’s fully healed and ready to go (Hint: Based on the quality of his matches during the tournament, he most certain was ready going into it).
9.) IWGP Intercontinental Title – Hirooki Goto vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: ****1/4
In what some might see as an upset, Goto defeated Nakamura at Wrestling Dontaku 2015 to win the IWGP Intercontinental Title. This is the rematch. I have to admit, the match was a little slow to get going. However, once it did, it was pretty great! I’d say this was slightly better than their first encounter. Again, once things really picked up in the second half of the match, it got a lot better. These two haven’t been having Match of the Year Contenders, but they’ve been able to put on two great title matches, and that’s all you can really as for. Goto would get the win here, successfully retaining the IWGP Intercontinental Title over Nakamura.
10.) IWGP Heavyweight Title – “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles vs. “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada (with Gedo): ****1/2
Believe or not, these two have actually been feuding for well over a year. Styles regained the IWGP Heavyweight Title from Hiroshi Tanahashi back in February, while Okada has been going through his road to redemption after his devastating loss to Tanahashi earlier that year at Wrestle Kingdom 9 in The Tokyo Dome. Honestly, I feel like these two have had progressively better matches, and I think this one may have been their best yet. I thought this match was awesome!! These two just went out there and showed why they’re easily two of the best wrestlers in the entire world. This match had everything from great action to intense drama. There was a lot of awesome back & forth action throughout this match. Fortunately, The Bullet Club were dealt with early on in a unique manner, as Red Shoes (the referee) gave all of them the crotch chop, told them to “suck it”, and sent them to the back. That was actually a really cool moment. The final moments of this match were just incredible, and in the end, Okada was able to put away AJ Styles to win the IWGP Heavyweight Title!! “The Rainmaker” was back on top of the mountain, and he did it in incredible fashion, with one of the best New Japan matches of 2015.
Okada celebrates his title win to close the show.
While I don’t think this show was quite as incredible as Wrestle Kingdom 9 was, this was still an amazing show from start to finish, and a definite Show of the Year Contender. Yes, there were a few relative stinkers (Bullet Club vs. The Kingdom, the opening Ten-Man Tag), and some matches that underperformed (mainly the NEVER Openweight Title Match and the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match), but no match was truly “bad”, and I thought this show was still, for the most part, pretty awesome. Okada/Styles & KUSHIDA/Omega were definitely the best matches on this show, and are definitely worth going out of your way to see. Goto/Nakamura and Shibata/Sakuraba were both great as well. This was easily one of the best New Japan cards of 2015, and proved that New Japan is still, quite possibly, from a match-quality perspective, the best wrestling promotion on the planet.