RADICAN’S New Japan Dominion PPV Blog – Okada vs. Naito, Elgin wins first-ever NJPW ladder match, Bullet Club, Shibata; Overall Reax

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist


New Japan "Dominion" PPV Main event - Naito vs. Okada (c) NJPW.co.jp

RadicanSean_profileRADICAN’S NJPW “DOMINION” BLOG
JUNE 19, 2016
OSAKA, JAPAN
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM

PRE-SHOW

(a) Tenzan & Kojima & Nakanishi vs. Jay White & Juice Robinson & David Finlay in a Six-Man Tag match. This was White’s last match in NJPW before heading to the U.S. to begin his excursion to ROH. The match was a nice send-off for White, who got to trade bombs with Tenzan down the stretch before Tenzan tapped him out with the Anaconda Vice submission.

After the match, White gave a farewell speech in Japanese and the veteran Japanese wresters showed him respect, which was a nice touch.

WINNERS: Tenzan & Kojima & Nakanishi.

Star rating: (**/12)

MAIN CARD

A video package that ran down all the matches on the show aired.

(1) Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale) vs. Captain New Japan & Yoshitatsu & Togi Makabe. They have solved having two people named Adam in the Bullet Club by calling Page “Hangman Page.” I’m not a big fan of a wrestler using a noose in a wrestling, especially this close to the anniversary of the Benoit tragedy, but Page definitely carried himself with confidence in this match. He used his noose to hang Yoshitatsu early in the match, but his partners saved him. The match was chaotic during the early going with brawling going on all over the place. At one point, Page hit a nice SSP to the floor on Yoshitatsu. Page eventually hit a reverse tombstone on Captain New Japan, which looked really dangerous in execution. It was good for the win.

After the match, Page tried to hang Captain New Japan, but his partners ended up making the save.

WINNERS: Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale.

Star rating: (**1/4) – This was a good way to get Page over as someone to keep an eye on when the Bullet Club “B” team is in tag action.

(2) L.I.J. (BUSHI & Sanada) vs. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI). The L.I.J. vs. Chaos feud continues in this match. The fans booed L.I.J.’s cheap tactics during the early going. BUSHI used a shirt to choke HASHI after Sanada had worked him over on the floor with his black bat. HASHI finally cut off BUSHI after taking quite the beating. Ishii then got the hot tag and ran wild.

Sanada mounted a comeback on HASHI and nailed him with a lick springboard missile dropkick. Sanada caught HASHI with a big TKO, but he kicked out at the last second. Ishii then made the save when Sanada had HASHI in a dragon sleeper. HASHI caught Sanada in a nasty looking double arm submission. BUSHI tried to make the save, but Ishii grabbed him in a rear naked choke. BUSHI Then had no choice, but to tap out to HASHI.

WINNERS: Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI.

Star rating: (**1/2) – This was a solid tag match. It was ordinary at the start, but the final stretch was very good.

(3) Hirooki Goto vs. EVIL. This match represented the next chapter in the L.I.J. vs. CHAOS match. They did a hot start to the match with both men trading bombs. EVIL wrapped a chair around Goto’s neck on the outside and nailed him with another chair. Goto struggled, but managed to beat the ref’s count to get back into the ring. Goto mounted a comeback, but EVIL turned him inside out with a huge clothesline and both men were down. EVIL hit a big sit-out slam a short time later, but Goto managed to kick out at 2 ½.

Goto countered EVIL a short time later and nailed him with a neck breaker over his knee. Both men traded counters. EVIL hit a big forearm to the back of Goto’s head. Goto fired back with a pair of headbutts and the fans fired up. Goto then hit another neck breaker over his knee. He then held EVIL up in the dragon sleeper position before dropping him down with a clothesline for the win. This was a good match.

WINNER: Hirooki Goto

Star rating: (***) – This was a bit slow during the middle portion of the match, but the finishing stretch was strong.

(4) IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Champions Matt Sydal & Ricochet vs. ReDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & ROH World TV Champion Bobby Fish) vs. Never Openweight Six Man Champions The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs. RPG Vice (Rocky Romero & Beretta) in a Four-way Elimination match. The Young Bucks kept interfering from the floor when they weren’t legally in the match. Beretta and Fish eventually worked together to wipe them out. The rules are you are eliminated if you go over the top rope, so they did a fun spot teasing that Fish was going over the top and then everyone struggled near the ropes, but nobody was eliminated.

RPG Vice hit a double dive through the middle and top rope at one point to take out the champions. The fans fired up as they wiped out Fish with a nice string of maneuvers only for O’Reilly to save the pin. Romero wiped out everyone with his forever clotheslines a short time later much to the delight of the fans. The success for RPG Vice was short-lived, as The Young Bucks tossed them both over the top to eliminate them.

ReDRagon tried to toss the Young Bucks out, but Sydal and Ricochet ended up tossing them to the floor. ReDragon came back into the ring and put a beating on the champions. They hit Chasing the Dragon on Ricochet before eventually leaving. Matt then made the cover on Ricochet for a good near fall. The Young Bucks tried to eliminate Ricochet with a tandem dropkick on the apron, but he fell on the apron and wouldn’t spill to the floor. The Young Bucks continued to work him over, but he refused to be pinned.

Ricochet finally mounted a comeback and took out The Young Bucks. Sydal got the tag and hit a double hurricanrana on The Young Bucks. The action was really good down the stretch. Sydal and Ricochet went up top at the same time, but The Young Bucks cut them off from hitting stereo SSPs. Matt hit Ricochet with a superkick on the apron, but he managed to catch his foot on the bottom rope so he wouldn’t go to the floor. The Young Bucks finally hit the Meltzer driver on Sydal for the win.

After the match, Matt did the Booker T “five times” pose since they were now the five-time IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team champions.

WINNERS: Matt & Nick Jackson to become the new IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Champions.

Star rating: (****) – There were some fast eliminations at the mid-point of the match, but the action down the stretch when it came down to The Young Bucks and Sydal and Ricochet was great.

(5) IWGP Jr. Hvt Champion KUSHIDA vs. BOSJ 23 winner Will Ospreay. They had a great exchange early in the match that ended with KUSHIDA hitting a cartwheel into a dropkick on Ospreay. KUSHIDA worked over Ospreay’s arm, but Ospreay eventually fired back with a no hands handspring kick. KUSHIDA got sent to the floor and Ospreay wiped him out with the Sasuke special! KUSHIDA countered Ospreay’s attempt to superkick his head between his legs in the corner. He nailed Ospreay with a kick and they went back and forth in the ring.

They then began exchanging in the middle of the ring until KUSHIDA surprised Ospreay with a handspring kick against the ropes. KUSHIDA then nailed Ospreay with a swanton to the floor. Ospreay struggled and barely beat the 20 count! He slid right back into the ring only to take a springboard dropkick from KUSHIDA. They had a great exchange where Ospreay blocked a hurricanrana and went for a powerbomb only for KUSHIDA to counter it into a code red for a near fall. Ospreay blocked the Hoverboard Lock attempt from KUSHIDA and hit a SSP for a 2 count.

They went back and forth trading blows. Ospreay hit a headbutt and sent KUSHIDA off the ropes for a one man Spanish fly, but KUSHIDA countered it into a cross-arm breaker! He then transitioned the hold to his back, but Ospreay lifted him up onto his shoulders. KUSHIDA went for a Kimura, but Ospreay hit a lung blower out of the tombstone position! Ospreay then went up top as the fans fired up. He hit a twisting SSP off the top, but KUSHIDA kicked out at the last second! Ospreay went for a springboard, but KUSHIDA caught him in a kimura. Ospreay went for the ropes, but KUSHIDA rolled through and held on to the kimura to retain the title.

Both men shook hands after the match.

WINNER: KUSHIDA to retain the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship.

Star rating: (***3/4) – I liked their first match a little more than this one. This match had a bit of a slow start and there was some work on Ospreay’s arm, but it felt like a little something was missing from the submission work to set up the kimura submission in the end.

(6) IWGP Hvt. Tag Team champions Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) vs. The Briscoes (Mark & Jay Briscoe). Tonga got worked over during the early going, but Loa got the tag and went to work on Mark. The action broke down and Jay wiped out Tonga with a huge dive through the ropes. Mark then hit a sliding kick through the ropes to take out Loa. Mark charged at Tonga inside the ring and took a sick backdrop to the floor a short time later. Holy s—t! That’s not a good bump to be taking.

Loa hit an apron bomb on Jay a short time later and both Briscoes were down on the floor. Mark took a beating for a long period of time. Mark mounted a comeback and went for a tag, but Tonga dragged Jay off the apron. Mark mounted another comeback and wiped out Loa with a big clothesline. Jay finally got the hot tag and traded blows with Tonga. Jay worked over Tonga and the fans fired up.

The Briscoes sent Loa to the floor and set Tonga up for the doomsday device, but Roa broke it up and got the tag. G.O.D. hit a powerbomb/top rope neck breaker on Mark, but Jay made the save at the last second. Mark fired back on Loa and hit a big brainbuster and both men were down. Jay finally caught Loa with the Jay-driller, but he kicked out! Mark fended off Tonga up top and The Briscoes hit the doomsday device on Loa for the win.

After the match, Page and Takahashi attacked The Briscoes. They sent Jay to the floor. Page then hung Jay over the top rope. Takahashi and Page then grabbed the tag belts and smiled. The Briscoes eventually recovered and posed with the titles.

WINNERS: Mark and Jay Briscoe to become the new IWGP Hvt. Tag Team champions.

Star rating: (**1/2) – The Briscoes are fun to watch, but something is missing with G.O.D.’s act. Page and Takahashi apparently being set up as the next challengers isn’t a thrilling development for the tag division.

(7) NEVER Openweight champion Yuji Nagata vs Katsuyori Shibata. I’ve enjoyed the story of Shibata going through the veterans of NJPW since he won the NEVER Openweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom. Of course, a major stumbling block was Nagata beating him to capture the title. This felt very much like a farewell for Nagata in terms of being a threat to any of the three singles titles in NJPW going forward. These two had a really good hard-hitting match. They had a great fighting spirit spot at one point with both men trading German’s until they were both down. Nagata got his signature Fujiwara arm bar at one point to really fire up the crowd, but Shibata ultimately escaped. Shibata eventually got Nagata in a choke and then released him to hit the penalty kick, which was good for the win.

After the match, Shibata showed respect to Nagata and then the other veterans of NJPW including Tenzan, Kojima, and Nakanishi. He then left Nagata alone in the ring and the crowd showed him respect. As I said earlier, this seemed very much like the end of a chapter in Nagata’s career.

WINNER: Katsuyori Shibata.

Star rating: (***3/4) – This was a very enjoyable match. I thought it was a bit formulaic at times in terms of what Nagata and Shibata bring to the table, but the story behind the match brought it up to another level.

(8) IWGP IC champion Kenny Omega vs. Michael Elgin in a Ladder match. This was the first-ever ladder match in New Japan and these men worked really hard to set the bar high for the future. One thing I really enjoyed was that Kenny Omega made his entrance like Razor Ramon, but bumped like HBK as a nod to the two men that put ladder matches on the map. I thought it was a nice touch at the beginning that the ref found The Young Bucks under the ring and ejected them during the beginning of the match.

Omega bumped like a madman here, as I alluded to earlier and really made Elgin look strong. The crowd was amazing here and seemed in awe of seeing this type of match for the first time. They did some innovative stuff, but what made this match really special was the dynamic between Omega and Elgin. They told the right story here with Elgin overcoming all of the outside interference late in the match. It was fantastic when Matt Sydal baited Bullet Club late in the match into being in position for a dive from Ricochet, who snuck into the ring from the opposite side and wiped them out with a big flip dive.

Elgin getting the win felt like the right choice here, as he was replacing Tanahashi. Omega had beaten Elgin before thanks to outside interference, but tonight was Elgin’s night. After all the outside interference late in the match, Omega was climbing up the ladder and Elgin tipped it over sending Omega flying into a pile of men on the floor. Elgin then made the climb to the top of the ladder and grabbed the belt for the win.

WINNER: Michael Elgin to become the new IWGP IC Champion.

Star rating: (****3/4) – This was a really strong match. The hot crowd, the story, Omega bumping, and Elgin looking strong made for quite the ride from start to finish. Everyone involved played their parts well. It definitely appears that Elgin was born to wrestle in NJPW. He fits in so well and the fans love his act.

A video package aired for the Okada vs. Naito main event.

Okada made his way to the ring for the main event without Gedo. Money fell from the rafters and appeared to blow up from the floor as well as he made his grand entrance. Naito was out next accompanied by L.I.J. He slowly made his way down to the ring on his own. He took off his striped skull mask halfway down the aisle. He stopped and shook hands with NJPW president Kidani. He was then roundly booed once he got into the ring.

(9) IWGP Hvt. champion Tetsuya Naito (w/L.I.J.) vs. Kazuchika Okada. Okada asked for the match to be a one-on-one contest, so Naito sent L.I.J. to the back. Naito hit a slam on Okada on the entrance ramp. He slowly walked all the way to the top of the entrance ramp as the fans booed. He then nailed Okada with a huge running dropkick and worked him over by throwing him into the barricade several times. He then began to work him over inside the ring. Okada eventually mounted a comeback and Naito went to the floor. Okada chased Naito up the ramp, but Naito nailed him with several punches and spit at the cameramen on the floor.

Naito was playing to the crowd and Okada returned the favor by surprising him at the top of the ramp with a big running dropkick. Naito fired back inside the ring and caught Okada with a swinging neck breaker and then another one off the turnbuckles a short time later and the fans booed. Okada fired back and hit a diving uppercut for a 2 count. He went for red ink. Naito fought it, but Okada managed to lock it in after hitting several elbows. Naito struggled, but eventually got to the ropes. Naito blocked a rainmaker attempt and hit a big uranagi that left both men down on the mat. Naito then hit his signature dropkick in the corner and the fans booed.

Okada blocked a modified Koji clutch, but after a series of counters, Naito managed to lock it in. Okada struggled and did a big tease of tapping out, but he managed to get his feet on the ropes. Okada hit a lariat and Naito spit in his face. They traded counters once again and Okada eventually hit a neck breaker over his knee and both men were down. Wow! Big chant for Okada as both men slowly got to their feet. Both men traded blows from their knees. Okada smiled and they began trading from their feet. Okada dropped after taking a big forearm, but began dragging himself back to his feet as Naito staggered around.

They went back and forth and Okada hit a pair of big basement dropkicks on Naito. He hit a third basement dropkick, but Naito managed to kick out at 2. Naito slipped out of Okada’s clutch and hit a big slap to the face. He hit a forearm off the ropes a short time later. He set up for Destino, but Okada blocked it and went for a German. Naito freed himself and caught Okada with a big kick to the head. Okada then caught Naito coming off the ropes with a huge dropkick that turned Naito inside out!

Naito countered a Tombstone and hit Destino. He went for another Destino, but Okada turned it into a tombstone! Okada hit the rainmaker, but Naito kicked out at the very last seconds and the fans gasped! They did a crazy counter sequence with Naito going for Destino and Okada going for the rainmaker. Naito got a rollup for a near fall, but Okada got up and hit three rainmakers for the win! Holy s—!

After the match, the strap was put around Okada’s waist as Naito was shown being helped to the back.

WINNER: Kazuchika Okada to become the new IWGP Hvt. Champion

Star rating: (****1/4) – The first half of this match was slow and methodical with Naito playing mind games. The second half of the match got really good with both men countering each other’s signature moves. The finishing stretch was really well done with both men hitting finishers and trading counters. Wow! Okada won the IWGP Hvt. championship without Gedo in his corner and it seems like the crowd favoring Naito has gone away.

Okada cut a post-match promo. He declared himself the new IWGP Hvt. champion. He then talked about G1 Climax and vowed to win. Okada was really fired up and passionate with his promo and the fans responded well to it. Okada’s music hit and gold confetti fell from the ceiling as he posed to end the show.

Overall Thoughts: (9.0) – This was an excellent show. Portions of the show featured some action that was solid, but nothing worth going out of your way to see. On the other hand, there was some really good wrestling and storytelling on this show. The Jr. Hvt. Tag Title and Jr. Hvt. Title matches were both really good. The main highlight of this show was the last three matches which ranged from very good to excellent.

The highlight of the first half of the show was the excellent Four-Way Elimination match featuring Sydal & Ricochet defending against ReDRagon, RPG Vice, and The Young Bucks. The match stipulation that going over the top rope caused an elimination added a new dynamic to these matches, as the teams couldn’t rely on the standard dive sequences that usually highlight this match. Instead, once RPG Vice and ReDRagon were eliminated, the match was awesome. The Young Bucks and Sydal & Ricochet have great chemistry and they tore it up leading into the finish.

The highlight of the show was the excellent Ladder match between Omega and Elgin. The match told a really good story and the crowd was red hot for the action with Omega bumping around like a mad man. Shibata vs. Nagata was also really good and completed the storyline of Shibata going through the old guard of NJPW talent.

Okada beating Naito sets up an interesting story going forward leading into G1 and beyond this year. The fans seemed to be getting behind Naito, but once he was given the title, the tide seemed to turn back in Okada’s favor. Naito was roundly booed for his antics during the main event on this night. They started a bit slow, but really turned things up during the second half of the match. Okada winning seems to suggest that Naito will likely be a big part of G1 this year while trying to earn another shot at Okada during the tournament. This was a tremendous show for NJPW, although some of the undercard matches left something to be desired. Thumbs up!

***

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