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Kevin’s NJPW Dominion 2021 Review

June 7, 2021 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
NJPW Dominion
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Kevin’s NJPW Dominion 2021 Review  

NJPW Dominion
June 7th, 2021 | Osaka-jō Hall in Osaka, Japan

I had given up on New Japan for a while. They hadn’t interested me in a few months and once they put the top title on Will Ospreay, I tuned out. With Ospreay shelved and the chance to put the World Title on someone I think is a good choice, I’m giving the company another shot. Let’s see if they can keep me engaged.

Hiromu Takahashi opened the show to say that he’ll be back from his injury soon and will go after his Jr. Heavyweight Title. I’m always down for more Hiromu but I’d love to see him in the NEVER or US Title pictures.

Chase Owens, El Phantasmo, EVIL, Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi vs. Hirooki Goto, Hiroshi Tanahashi, SHO, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI
It’s still weird to see Tanahashi in the opener on a huge show like this. For the most part, this was billed as a standard NJPW multi-man tag but it had a bit more energy to it than usual. Maybe these guys were pumped for it being a notable show. Some of the exchanges lacked, like EVIL against YOSHI-HASHI, but the guys who usually deliver did. Ishii, Tanahashi, SHO, and Ishimori were on point. My favorite parts saw Ishimori and SHO going at it, which made sense given they’re two o the best junior heavyweights on the roster. The finish saw Ishimori put down SHO with the Bloody Cross in 11:50. A good way to start the show that sets up something for Ishimori. Post-match, it looks like EVIL, Yujiro, and Togo are going after the NEVER Titles, which sounds putrid. It tells you how bad the EVIL main event experiment was that he’s back in this title picture. [***]

BUSHI, SANADA and Tetsuya Naito vs. The Dangerous Tekkers and DOUKI
I’ve damned this company’s tag divisions more times than I can count and they deserve it. But goddamn it if SANADA/Naito vs. Taichi/ZSJ doesn’t sound awesome. SANADA as a top guy feels like it failed and Naito needs something fresh to do, so I’m here for it. More basic tag stuff here but with the focus on a tag match I’m interested in, I was hooked. I liked how the four had a standoff in the ring as the junior heavyweights were outside. They really showed who mattered in this match. SANADA and Naito worked great together, which I like given they had a banger tag in RevPro in 2016. Surprisingly, the finish didn’t involve one of the junior guys taking a pin. Instead, SANADA used an interesting pin bridge to win an exchange against Sabre Jr. in 11:31. Quality wrestling that sets up something going forward. Just what I want from these tags. [***]

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado [c] vs. YOH
I love El Desperado as champion and am glad he’s finally getting his shine. YOH is the lesser of Roppongi 3K but is still very good. I like YOH doing an Okada-style break in the ropes only for Desperado to not be about that and take a cheap shot. He’s a good heel even if we love him. Desperado pulled a page out of the Tanahashi playbook by going after the leg relentlessly, likely looking to set up the Stretch Muffler. Even when YOH was able to escape some of his offense, he’d land on his leg and mess it up more. That set up some interesting hope spots for YOH, who is fast but couldn’t quite use his speed. YOH retaliated with his own leg work and a calf killer submission. Things picked up in intensity late with a strike exchange YOH came close with a flash pin or two but Desperado had worn him down too much. The champ put him down with Pinche Loco after 23:40. A great match that told a simple, yet effective story without going too long. Excellent stuff. [****]

Post-match, El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori came out. They announced that they’d get a shot at Roppongi 3K’s Tag Titles at Kizuna Road. Then, Ishimori snatched the microphone and challenged Desperado for a singles title shot, which ELP seemed to not be fond of.

Jeff Cobb vs. Kota Ibushi
Commentary hyped this as a de facto No. 1 Contender’s Match. They met in a solid but unspectacular G1 match last year (***). Cobb apparently has a great W/L record in 2021 and he showed why with a bruising beatdown Ibushi in the early stages. Considering Ibushi is built like a God, the fact that Cobb could toss him around like nothing is a testament to his BIG BOI strength. Of course, Ibushi fought back valiantly and showed that he was also powerful and that he could hit hard. One thing I love about Ibushi is that he can still bust out athletic stuff when the hard-hitting antics fail. When his deadlift German was blocked, he pivoted to a top rope rana. Cobb retaliated with an F5 that looked more like an F100 or something. He spun the hell out of Ibushi. To add to it, Cobb delivered his own Cobbigoye knee strike that looked like it knocked Ibushi out. In the end, Cobb’s Tour of the Islands was countered and Ibushi fired of Kamigoye strikes to win in 14:54. That’s more of what I wanted form them in the G1. Two tough dudes going at it and playing to their strengths. It was great to see Ibushi fight from behind again and Cobb looked like a monster. After a sluggish start, he’s picking things up in New Japan. [****]

IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi
New Japan has the chance to either do something fresh and new, which they are in dire need of, or they can pull a classic Gedo and go back to the status quo of Okada. In last year’s G1, Okada beat Shingo (****) but the score was evened in this year’s New Japan Cup (***¾). The short World Title video is hilarious. You could tell they were going long early on as this had some Okada formula aspects with the feeling out process stages. However, it got twisted when Shingo got his knees up on a senton, triggering a focus on Okada’s bad back. He proceeded to focus on that and beat the hell out of Okada, who would pipe in teases of a true comeback but couldn’t get it totally going. The pacing of this was strong as it neared the 30 minute mark and didn’t really feel like it had been that long. While Shingo seemed in control, you always had that sense in the back of your mind that Okada would do what Okada does. They teased the Money Clip, a move I hate but one that put down Shingo last year. Thankfully, he survived and he also had the Rainmaker scouting, countering it at every turn and hitting one of his own. It took several big moves later but Shingo finally won with Last of the Dragon after 36:06. A great main event that built and built. It could’ve been a few minutes shorter but still worked really well and felt like Shingo truly accomplished something. [****¼]

Shingo celebrated and called out Ibushi for his first challenger.

For the first time since Naito won the title at Invasion Attack 2016, NJPW has struck while the iron was hot with someone as the top champion. Shingo has been the company’s MVP over the past two years or so and deserved this. New Japan, you’ve got me back in.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
I really enjoyed this show. It was only five matches, which I loved, and none were bad. The multi-man tags were entertaining and did their job. Then, you get a great Jr. Heavyweight Title match, a banger of a special singles match, and a tremendous main event where the absolute right guy won. I can’t ask for much more.

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NJPW Dominion, Kevin Pantoja