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Kevin’s NJPW Wrestling Dontaku Night 2 Review

May 4, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Kazuchika Okada G1 Supercard
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Kevin’s NJPW Wrestling Dontaku Night 2 Review  

NJPW Wrestling Dontaku Night Two
May 4th, 2019 | Fukuoka Convention Center in Fukuoka, Japan | Attendance: 6,105

After a mediocre night one with a banger of a main event, Wrestling Dontaku wraps up with a pretty strong two matches at the top of the card .Can the rest of the show hold up? We shall find out. I kept my top 5 Dontaku matches list here, updated after yesterday.

1. Tetsuya Naito vs. Tomohiro Ishii – 2016 – ****½
2. Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii – 2017 – ****½
3. Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – 2018 – ****½
4. Dragon Lee vs. Taiji Ishimori – 2019 – ****¼
5. KUSHIDA vs. Jushin Thunder Liger – 2016 – ****

Ren Narita and Shota Umino vs. Yota Tsuji and Yuya Uemura
Four guys who are usually out to work hard and make an impression every single night. Narita had a taped up shoulder. It reminded me a bit of how Cesaro’s is always taped up these days. He and Umino are the more experienced duo and they looked like it. They used quick tags and just wrestled like smarter guys. It’s a small touch but one I appreciated. From an action standpoint, it lacked a bit of the fire I’ve come to expect from these guys. Tsuji came close with the Young Lion Crab but it got broken up. Shortly after, Umino beat him with a fisherman’s suplex in 7:36. Standard Young Lion fare. [**¾]

El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, NEVER Openweight Champion Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Jeff Cobb, NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champion Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV, Toa Henare & YOSHI-HASHI
Imagine putting the title back on Taichi after you just put it on Cobb. Ha. Surprisingly, this didn’t involve a Suzuki-Gun attack before the bell. It did still break down into a brawl after just a few minutes. Not so versatile. Doing this match without Liger was a huge mistake. He and Suzuki-killed it yesterday. That meant this was missing that something special. It was still fun to see Cobb throw people around. Strong boi gaijins are always over in NJPW. The other main focus here was Henare trying to beat Taichi because he wants a NEVER Title shot. He failed miserably as Taichi pinned him following a Backdrop Driver and superkick in 11:16. As I said, this needed something lieke Liger to make it work. Instead, it was just flat. [**]

IWGP Tag Team Champions The Guerrillas of Destiny and Jado vs. Jushin Thunder Liger and NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champions Togi Makabe and Toru Yano
Oh, here’s Liger. Is he trying to save a Guerrillas match? Jado and Liger hugged at the start, with both celebrating anniversaries in the business. It was all a ruse as Jado got in a cheap shot to set the stage for this match. A whole lot of nothing happened here. Liger tried but he couldn’t carry five people. Yano was kind of just there, Makabe didn’t seem to care, and the Guerrillas/Jado combo is perpetually awful. Whatever. Yano beat Jado with a low blow and rollup in 7:40. Poor Liger has to deal with this in his final sendoff. Bad match. [*]

Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, HIKULEO and Jay White vs. Hirooki Goto, IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Juice Robinson, Mikey Nicholls and Tomoaki Honma
Like the tag on night one, this was dumb because we’ve already had the payoff to these feuds. I don’t care to keep seeing them wrestle these lame undercard tags. I’m honestly not even going to waste time recapping it because nothing of note happened and it didn’t matter. Juice pinned HIKULEO with Pulp Friction in 11:57. Let’s move on. [*½]

The video from yesterday aired again, teasing Juice’s next opponent.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Dragon Lee and Will Ospreay vs. El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori
“X” was revealed to be El Phantasmo as we all knew. This worked as a preview of the Best of the Super Juniors as all four men are in. I’m intrigued by the larger BOSJ field. It could be good but expanding the New Japan Cup this year was a nightmare. Anyway, Phantasmo was given time to strut his stuff against Ospreay. He showed off a lot of his signature stuff as an introduction for the NJPW audience. On the other side, you got more from the awesome Lee/Ishimori pairing who killed it in the main event yesterday. All in all, it made for a fast paced match with a lot of action. Just what I wanted from it. Fans unfamiliar with Phantasmo were probably surprised to see that he could keep up with three of the fastest guys around. His superkick counter to the Oscutter was great. He followed with a spinning TKO and elevated Pedigree to win in 9:58. A very good introduction for Phantasmo and a strong preview to the tournament. [***½]

BUSHI, Shingo Takagi and Tetsuya Naito vs. IWGP Intercontinental Champion Kota Ibushi and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Roppongi 3K
An issue with tours like this is that we see the same matches often. At least this one is always very good. The Ibushi/Naito faceoff got a great response. I’ve given up on the idea that Naito will ever the top guy he deserves to be so I guess I’ll settle for these two killing it over the IC Title. Again, the exchanges were smooth and entertaining here. YOH vs. BUSHI, Shingo vs. SHO, and Ibushi vs. Naito are all great. I’m down for singles matches all around. Everything they do just feels effortless and smooth. It’s kind of amazing to see really. I love when SHO or YOH get the chance to work Naito or when Shingo goes against Ibushi. All singles matches I want but won’t get. YOH ate the pin following Destino at the 13:47 mark. At least juniors stay down after one Destino. Another banger from these six. It’s ridiculous how good they are. [***¾]

After the match, Naito named the time and place for a match with Ibushi. June 9th at Dominion.

For the first time since the MSG show, Hiroshi Tanahashi came out as a surprise. He recently had surgery on his elbow. He said he’ll return at the BOSJ Finals on 6/5. Then, he promised to win the G1 Climax again. Jay White and Gedo interrupted. White said Tanahashi has to get in the back of the line for an IWGP Title match, even behind Goto. Ouch. He then attacked Tanahashi and focused on the bad elbow. I’m guessing this is another Dominion match.

EVIL vs. Tomohiro Ishii
They’ve split two good matches in the 2016 New Japan Cup (***¾) and Road to Invasion Attack 2016 (****). However, this build has been the most intense. As a match capping a feud like that should go, they went right at each other. This was a war, which is exactly what it needed to be. EVIL put the focus on the knee. That made sense given how he used a Scorpion Death Lock to beat Ishii yesterday. Knowing it takes a lot to keep Ishii down, he brought a steel chair into play. Ishii can take a beating like no other and he sold all of this well. Watching him struggle in the submission as he fought to the ropes is the kind of stuff Ishii excels at. When he turned the tables and slapped on his own Scorpion Death Lock, I popped. The closing stretch ruled, as we got to see Ishii fire up. Their series of counters was great because you don’t often get that in a slugfest style. It’s usually guys being athletes. This felt more like a fight in that sense. Ishii overcame the odds with the Brainbuster in 23:08. An awesome match because these are two awesome wrestlers. They did exactly what I wanted them to do. I loved the work on the legs and back of Ishii and how he sold it. He’s such a believable wrestler in almost every situation. [****¼]

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada [c] vs. SANADA 
Okada has never lost to SANADA. All of their matches have been good but they never come close to greatness. They met at Dontaku 2016 (***¼), the G1 26 (***), G1 27 (***½), New Beginning 18 (***½), and this year’s New Japan Cup Finals (***½). Here, we got exactly what I’ve come to expect from Okada main events. It went way too long and the first third or so of it was a whole lot of nothing. Of course, it picked up later and lulled you into thinking this was great because the final few minutes were strong. I appreciated how SANADA was able to bother Okada at points, but this felt like more of the same from Okada’s last reign. Like, we get it. SANADA may have had it won but pulled a Naito at WK 12 and went for an extra high risk move he didn’t need. He missed the moonsault and that was all Okada needed. It instantly triggered the Okada Rainmaker combo/counter spot from all of his matches. One of them finally ended this after a long 38:03. This had no business going almost 40. Gedo needs to learn that when you try to make every main event an “epic,” none of them feel that way. There were good ideas sprinkled in here, but it got bogged down by the length and the Okada formula. It’s not a bad formula, just a tired one and especially when it lasts this long. [***]

Post-match, a Chris Jericho video played and it looks like Jericho/Okada will be the Dominion main event. Hard pass on that one.

The final score: review Average
The 411
Another show that really hits home my issue with NJPW this year. They’ll have some really good stuff (EVIL/Ishii, LIJ/CHAOS tags) but include an undercard that doesn’t matter or is bland, and give us at least one major match that underwhelms. Not at all a bad show, just a forgettable one. If you combine some of the matches from this tour into one show, you’d get a pretty strong one.