Saturday, June 4, 2016

New Japan Pro-Wrestling - Wrestling Dontaku 2015 Review

Hirooki Goto challenges Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Title!

NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2015
Fukuoka, Japan 5/3/15

1.) Eight-Man Tag - Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Tiger Mask, Mascara Dorada & Yuji Nagata vs. KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi, Manabu Nakanishi, & Captain New Japan: ***

Our opening contest for the evening is a Eight-Man Tag Team Match featuring a ton of juniors with a few heavyweights scattered in. This actually turned out a little better than I thought it would. It was entertaining, for the most part. Everyone seemed to get their stuff in, including big ol’ Nakanishi, who actually hit a dive (a poor-looking dive, but a dive nonetheless) to the outside onto a pile of people. Holy Crap. In the end, Nagata would get the win for his after pinning Captain New Japan.

2.) Kota Ibushi & Yohei Komatsu vs. Tetsuya Naito & Sho Tanaka: ***1/4

Personally, I think some of the most entertaining match I’ve seen in New Japan in 2015 have been these types of tag team matches, where a Young Lion teams up with an established upper card guy. This time around, we have Kotmatsu teaming with Kota Ibushi, and Tanaka teaming with Tetsuya Naito. While it wasn’t anything special, I thought this was a fun tag team match. We got to see some good stuff between Naito & Ibushi, but Komatstu & Tanaka did a lot in here as well. Eventually, Komastu would force Tanaka to tap out, scoring the win for his team.

3.) Six-Man Tag - NWA World Heavyweight Champion Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, & Tomoaki Honma vs. The Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, & Cody Hall): **½

I really enjoy this Tenzan/Kojima/Honma trio. They took on The Bullet Club in a Six-Man Tag back at Wrestle Kingdom 9, and they’re facing them again here, though in this particular iteration, we have Tama Tonga & Cody Hall instead of Jeff Jarrett & Yujiro Takahashi. This wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as the Eight-Man Tag from earlier, but this was still an ok trios match for its spot on the card. Honma would score the fall for his team after hitting Cody Hall with a Top Rope Kokeshi.

4.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - Three-Way Tag Team Match - Roppongi Vice vs. reDragon vs. The Young Bucks: ***3/4

Our first title match of the night sees Roppongi Vice defending the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles against reDRagon & The Young Bucks. It’s pretty amazing to think that this team of Rocky Romero & Trent Beretta have only been teaming for two months at this point, and they were already holding tag team gold. Now, as far as the match goes, it was really good. People tend to pick on the fact that New Japan does these multi-team matches for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. Everyone seems to hate them, yet when it’s all said and done, people always talk about how good the match was. I don’t know why people keep doing this. New Japan’s Junior Division has a lot of great talent in it. Do they do these multi-team matches a little too often? A little bit too much, yes, but I feel like people forget who we’re talking about here. These guys will always deliver a very good match, and this here was no exception. There was a ton of fast-paced action from all six of these guys, as you would expect. It was honestly one of the better matches of the night. The Young Bucks would eventually score the victory to regain the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. If there’s one complaint I can sympathise with, it’s that these belts do tend to get treated like hot potatoes more frequently than they should.

5.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title - Kenny Omega vs. Alex Shelley: ***1/2

Our second title match of the night sees Alex Shelley challenging The Bullet Club’s “Cleaner”, Kenny Omega, for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title. Now, I really like Kenny Omega, but one thing that really annoyed me (as it did many others) when it came to this run in the Juniors Division, is that his matches were always filled with interference and other assorted wackiness. In all honestly, it’s not really necessary, and it just doesn’t fit in New Japan. Omega would use his signature trash can, and The Young Bucks would interfere on a number of occasions. Fortunately, KUSHIDA came out and fought them off. On the flip side, both Omega & Shelley did work really hard here. There was some great action between the two, particularly in the match’s latter stages. In the end, Omega would pick up the win to retain his IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title.

After the match, Omega announces that, because he’s worked so hard recently, he’s decided to skip this year’s Best Of The Super Juniors Tournament.

6.) Six-Person Tag Team Match - The Bullet Club (Amber Gallows, Doc Gallows, & Karl Anderson) vs. The Kingdom (Maria Kanellis & IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Matt Taven & Michael Bennett): DUD

Seeing women wrestle in New Japan is a rarity, but we’re getting to see it right here. The Bullet Club have brought in Amber Gallows, the wife of Doc Gallows, to counteract The Kingdom’s Maria Kanellis. Of course, the ongoing storyline here is that Karl Anderson is completely infatuated with Maria. Nothing much to say about this match, other than it SUCKED. People come to watch New Japan for great wrestling, not whatever this match was. It just feels SOOOOO out of place, it’s not even funny. It’s honestly a complete waste of time (no disrespect to the competitors, but a bad storyline is a bad storyline). Maria gets the win for The Kingdom with a small package.

After the match, Anderson & Gallows hit Maria with The Magic Killer, which seemed to snap Anderson out of whatever trance he was in.

7.) Six-Man Tag - Hiroshi Tanahashi, Katsuyori Shibata & NEVER Openweight Champion Togi Makabe vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & Kazushi Sakuraba): ***1/4

Much like a similar Six-Man Tag on Wrestling Hinokuni, you have six guys here who are in feuds with one another (Tanahashi/Yano, Shibata/Sakuraba, & Makabe/Ishii). All this match really did was swap out Goto & Nakamura for Makabe & Ishii. It wasn’t as good as that Six-Man Tag from Wrestling Hinokuni, but it did serve its purpose. In a “turnabout is fair play” moment, Tanahashi scored the win for his team with a rollup on Yano.

8.) The Bullet Club (IWGP Heavyweight Champion “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. CHAOS (“Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI): ***

Here we have a bit of a preview of the Main Event for Dominion, as Styles & Okada are on opposite sides. Much like the Six-Man Tag that came before it, this match wasn’t spectacular, but served it’s role of building towards the big Styles vs. Okada match for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. Yujiro were just kind of there, but YOSHI-HASHI did manage to stand out here a little bit. In the end, Styles would pick up the win for The Bullet Club after hitting YOSHI-HASHI with the Styles Clash.

After the match, they did a brief angle to build up the upcoming title match, as Okada stands tall with the IWGP Heavyweight Title.

9.) IWGP Intercontinental Title - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto: ****

This match came about after Goto pinned Nakamura in a Six-Man Tag at Invasion Attack. Since then, Nakamura has been making fun of Goto during multi-man tags leading up to this, where he “couldn’t find” Goto. As for the match itself, I thought it was a great Main Event. It did start a little slow, but things slowly but surely built up until they reached a high pitch by the end. Nakamura, as always, was fantastic, and Goto really stepped up here in a big Main Event spot. There was some really good action throughout this match, particularly towards the end. Both men fought very hard, but eventually, Goto was able to successfully put away Nakamura to win the IWGP Intercontinental Title!! I have to admit, I was surprised when the title change happened at the time, but it was nice to see Goto get a big title win in the Main Event of a big show.

Goto cuts a promo and celebrates his title win to close the show.

Overall: 8.25/10

From top to bottom, I thought this was a pretty good show. It wasn’t nearly as amazing as Wrestle Kingdom 9 or Invasion Attack, but it still had a lot of good stuff on it. Obviously, the Match of the Night goes to Nakamura vs. Goto in the Main Event, but there were several other good matches on this card as well. This including both title matches in the Jr. Heavyweight Division (despite a lot of shenanigans in Omega/Shelley), and some entertaining undercard tag team matches. The only match that should really be avoided is The Bullet Club vs. The Kingdom, but other than that, it was a pretty solid show from start to finish.

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