wrestling / Columns

Csonka’s NJPW Dominion 2018 Preview

June 8, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Chris Jericho Naito Dominion NJPW

WELCOME back to column time with Larry! Today, I am going to discuss and preview tomorrow’s NJPW Dominion 2018 event. Dominion is the next big event on the NJPW calendar, sandwiched between the BOTSJ finals and the beginning of the G1. On tap for today are some big matches, including Naito vs. Jericho, The Bucks challenging for the IWGP tag titles, and of course, Okada vs. Omega IV; it’s a hell of a card and I have a feeling that the show will see a big shake-up in regards to title changes. Feel free to make your picks in the comment section. Thanks for reading! It’s wrestling, we love it and will disagree. The only rules are “have a take, be respectful, and don’t be a dick.”

 photo NJPW Dominion 2018_zps8v4m799b.jpg

 photo 0609_1_zpsvl4fzs4b.jpg

IWGP Junior Tag Team Title Match: Champions Desperado & Kanemaru vs. Roppongi 3K (Sho & Yoh): Now that we’re done with the lackluster three-way feud over these titles, Sho & Yoh are back on track following strong runs in the best of the Super Juniors tournament and are focused on getting their titles back. Desperado & Kanemaru have done very little with and or for the titles, and were just placeholders to take the titles off of Sho & Yoh, which I have felt for some time was a huge mistake. When v are motivated and the matches aren’t completely overbooked, they are more than capable of having a good match, and I hope that this is the case here. Sho & Yo are on a roll and really need to take their rightful places on top of the juniors tag division, and win back the titles here. WINNERS: Roppongi 3K

 photo 0609_2_zps7vgmiyef.jpg

Juice Robinson & David Finlay vs. Jay White & YOSHI-HASHI: This match feels like a continuation of the tease for Juice vs. White for the US Title, which I assume will be set up here for the Cow Palace in July. Juice and Finlay are actually a really good and fun tag team, and the CHAOS boys tend to always work well together. I expect a good match here, with Juice picking up the win, possibly over White, to lock in the US Title match for July. It makes the most sense and is the only US Title match that makes sense right now, especially after White already beat Finlay again, although I’d be down for another meeting down the line as their last match was great. WINNERS: Juice Robinson & David Finlay

 photo 0609_3_zpshkhmn7fh.jpg

Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr vs. Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii: This was set up through the Ishii vs. Suzuki interaction at the BOSJ Finals event. This will either set up Ishii vs. Suzuki down the line or a possible tag feud as Ishii & Yano have been on another successful run as a team. Suzuki & Sabre as a short-term tag team isn’t the worst idea, as they tag together outside of NJPW, and adding another viable team to the division isn’t the worst idea. I imagine that Sabre will torture Yano a lot while Ishii & Suzuki try and kill each other. This could be good. WINNERS: Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr

 photo 0609_6_zps1zjsndi7.jpg

Rey Mysterio, Jushin Liger, & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Marty Scurll, Cody, & Adam Page: This was set up at the BOSJ Finals event, after days of Marty messing with Liger, and then Marty attacking Tanahashi and Liger making the save and challenge. I am a bit surprised that Ishimori wasn’t included on the Bullet Club team after such a good Super Juniors tournament, but it makes sense to get Tanahashi, Cody, & Page on the card. It also feels like Rey is still banged up and they want to protect him while getting his appearance in. This certainly has a chance to be fun, and it will be cool to see Rey in NJPW. I expect the babyfaces to win here so that Rey can have some momentum in order to get him on the Cow Palace card. But they could also go with Rey & Liger having issues, leading to their match finally happening. WINNERS: Rey Mysterio, Jushin Liger, & Hiroshi Tanahashi

 photo 0609_7_zpsab5rw9mh.jpg

IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi: These two last faced off in February of 2018 at the NJPW New Beginning in Osaka, putting in a 20-minute banger that was the best match on the show. They showed amazing chemistry in that match, and I expect more of the same as here as Ospreay has been on an amazing streak, and Takahashi just killed it in the BOSJ tournament. I think that a lot would have to go wrong here for this to not be at the very least great, because both guys are top tier performers. I see a lot of title changes on this show, and while part of me wants Takahashi to win badly and go on another tear as champion, Ospreay’s the hot hand right now, having tremendous matches allover the world and his story as the new ace, avenging losses, and wanting to establish his legacy is really interesting to me. I may be wrong on what title changes happen, but it feels like this one is safe as if Ospreay wins, he has tile matches set with both Ishimori & BUSHI after dropping matches to them in the tournament. WINNER: Champion Will Ospreay

 photo Dck8WC-UQAAd5QC_zpswyavsvzz.jpg

NEVER Openweight Title Match: Champion Hirooki Goto vs. Taichi vs. Michael Elgin: Hirooki Goto overcame the sadistic Minoru Suzuki at WrestleKingdom and won back the title. It was a great moment for Goto, but unfortunately, his latest run with the title has been completely forgettable. It has featured about 1000 tag matches, a pretty good defense against EVIL, a good title defense against the Beer City Bruiser, and a great defense against Juice Robinson. So while Goto can be great, his title run, after a great Wrestlekingdom moment, has been lacking and I see no reason that they have to keep the title on him. They started to heat Elgin up, which made sense following reports that he had re-signed with the company, and for the fact that stylistically, Elgin and Goto match up well. And then… then Taichi started to get involved. He hadn’t been setting the world on fire and was nowhere near a title shot in my eyes, but basically got his way into he match by being a dick and attacking people. In years past, they have downgraded who holds the IC & Never champions so tat the more important talents don’t take a lot of losses with the belt. I think NJPW holds a lot of value in Goto & Elgin heading into the G1, and that they want to give the Taichi at heavyweight experiment/move a chance. I haven’t been a fan of NJPW doing so many multi-man matches this year because most of the time, the haven’t been very good (minus the juniors match at Wrestlekingdom), so I don’t have the highest of hopes for this, but hope I am wrong. WINNER: Taichi

 photo Dck8UqTUwAE3cOD_zpsm46sgqpt.jpg

IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Champions EVIL & SANADA vs. The Young Bucks: EVIL & SANADA won the titles at Wrestlekingdom, and had their run derailed by EVIL’s orbital bone fracture. They remained champions, but the run hasn’t been what most had hoped for. The Bucks made the jump to heavyweight during the Bullet Club Civil war, and while doing well, did drop a match in a classic to the Golden Lovers. NJPW has a lot of value in all four, as they are great performers and parts of extremely popular and profitable stables in LIJ & Bullet Club. With the G1 coming up, you know that EVIL & SANADA will be a big part of that again as both are marked as future main event guys. And much like the Taichi move to heavyweight, I feel that the company will want to make waves here and justify the elevation of the Bucks, and that we’ll get a title change here, likely leading to an eventual rematch with the Golden Lovers; this should be great. WINNERS: The Young Bucks

 photo Dck8Fv4V4AAyL5c_zpspg3jrfng.jpg

IWGP IC Title Match: Champion Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho: In late 2017, Chris Jericho started a feud with Kenny Omega, one that caught the attention of the wrestling world because it led to him having a match outside of the WWE. Jericho would go on to face Omega at Wrestlekingdom in early 2018, putting in an excellent performance in a losing effort. The next day at New Year’s Dash, Jericho wasn’t done with NJPW, as he attacked Tetsuya Naito and laid him out. Jericho then went dark in terms of NJPW, appearing at RAW 25 and then the Greatest Royal Rumble event, selling his free agent status, and causing doubt of a NJPW return. But at the NJPW Wrestling Dontaku event, Jericho returned to NJPW. Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito defeated Desperado, Kanemaru, Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr, & Minoru Suzuki in tag team action. Following the match, as Tetsuya Naito was exiting the arena, Chris Jericho (dressed as a masked fan of Los Ingobernables de Japon), attacked Naito and hit Naito with the code breaker and then busted him open by hitting him with the ring bell. It was a tremendous follow up angle. At the NJPW BOTSJ Night Four event, Chris Jericho appeared via video package, cutting a promo on Naito, to further set the stage for the match here at Dominion. Jericho silenced a lot of critics and doubters at WrestleKingdom, and while the match had a lot of smoke and mirrors involved, he still delivered a completely great performance at age 47. While Naito retaining wouldn’t be a shock at all, I honestly think that there is a real chance that the title changes here. First of all Jericho isn’t just going to come in and lose all of his matches, and if he drops another match, is there really value in a third match? Secondly, the Cow palace needs a marquee match, and Jericho as IWGP IC Champion, working his first US non-WWE show in seemingly forever, would be a huge draw for that show in a rematch with Naito. It may seem unlikely, but I’ll go with the title change here, which will allow Jericho to claim he’s the greatest Intercontinental Champion that ever lived. WINNER: Chris Jericho

 photo Dck8BLQUwAE8eob_zpsy180p2xm.jpg

IWGP Title No Time Limit Best 2 of 3 Falls Match: Champion Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega: I am a HUGE fan of all three of their 2017 matches, giving them all five stars; they all ruled and were awesome in very different ways. So you’d think that when the big tie-breaking match (they are 1-1-1) was announced, I’d immediately be thrilled. But while the stipulation makes sense, I was filled with trepidation instead of instead of instant enthusiasm. I think that both men are extremely gifted performers, and that Okada is making a case for an all time great. I am sure that the match will be great, but the heavy stipulations really worry me. My fear is that with this being “No Time Limit Best 2 of 3 Falls” that they will feel the need to make this FEEL like an epic and take it way too long as far as time goes. Hell, you can argue that the G1 match, which was shorter and worked with a greater sense of urgency, was the best of the three due to the fact that it wasn’t as long and as drawn out. I am hoping that they don’t feel that they have to go something like 70-minutes to prove a point, because I feel that when you try to force the issue in creating a great match or classic, that you more often than not hurt the match. The good news is that both guys are obviously very good, and I think that we’ll get a great match, maybe not a classic, but a high quality match nonetheless. The question now is, will Okada retain again, or is this the time to lose? Business is good, the Okada matches are still selling very well, and mostly selling out. But there is certain amount of fatigue from part of the fanbase. I won’t say that now is the perfect time to make the change, but I also don’t think that it’s the wrong time either. In theory, Okada losing ahead of the G1 could create more drama for the tournament, which could lead to the even more drama later on if they choose this year to be the one where they finally have the G1 winner lose the briefcase ahead of WrestleKingdom. There are a lot of interesting ways that they can go if they decide to make the move and not hold serve with Okada. I think that with the story the two have and that Okada finally overcame Tanahashi to break the record, and the fact that Omega as champion freshens up the title scene and he as champion could be big for the international expansion, that they may make the big move here, and we’ll see a new champion. WINNER: Kenny Omega


– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.

 photo fe36ffd0-0da4-4e3b-a2d3-b026b341dd87_zps41ef5d61.jpg
“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”