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RADICAN’S NJPW “DOMINION 2018” BIG MATCH SPOTLIGHT
IWGP IC CHAMPION TETSUYA NAITO vs. CHRIS JERICHO
JUNE 9, 2018
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
NJPW “DOMINION 2018” BIG MATCH SPOTLIGHT: IWGP IC CHAMPION TETSUYA NAITO vs. CHRIS JERICHO
Commentators: Kevin Kelly and Don Callis
Chris Jericho defeated Tetsuya Naito after a low blow and a code breaker to capture the IWGP IC Championship in a match that started with a long brawling segment around the ring after Jericho jumped Naito during his entrance before it officially started and lasted nearly 19 minutes officially. Jericho’s NJPW gimmick as a brawling foul-mouthed villain has really worked out quite well for NJPW. He has matches that are unlike what you see from NJPW most of the time. His brawling style and the goth edge added to his gimmick are yet another example of how well Jericho has kept himself fresh over the years. The match saw the crowd get behind Naito and chant his name, as Jericho was positioned as the antagonist in the feud. Jericho got cheered at first during the beginning stages of the match, but as he continued to use cheap tactics, weapons, and tables the crowd began to fully support Naito.
Naito finally turned the tide and got his turn to on the offensive on the outside. The match was very close down the stretch and they did some great teases of Jericho winning with the liontamer. Jericho had some great counters for Naito’s offense and the match was excellent from start to finish.
Jericho winning the IWGP IC Championship means he’s coming back for at least one more match with NJPW and given NJPW’s ambition to expand globally in the U.K., U.S., Australia, and beyond, it’s a huge deal for them to have Jericho representing them and bringing subscribers to NJPW World. It would not surprise me if Jericho defends the IWGP IC Championship at the G1 Special in San Francisco to boost ticket sales.
PLAY BY PLAY
Chris Jericho made his entrance first. He had a very gothic look with a hat, scarf and black paint coming out around his eyes. Jericho had his hair up in a ponytail and was also wearing black lipstick. Tetsuya Naito was out next and a big Naito chant rang out in Osaka. Naito came out wearing a white mask and suit. He dragged his title down to the ring and then dropped it. Jericho jumped Naito as he made his entrance and they brawled on the floor. Jericho suplexed Naito on the floor and the ref got bumped. Jericho got a table and set it up on the guardrail. He then powerbombed Naito through the table as the fans gasped. Jericho grabbed the camera at ringside and filmed himself flipping off Naito. Jericho dragged Naito on top of another table and DDT’d Naito, but the table didn’t break. The fans gasped again, as Kelly and Callis sold shock on commentary. Jericho signed his name on a stack of papers and threw it down on the floor. Kelly said the match had not officially started yet. Jericho finally shoved Naito into the ring. Naito was bleeding from the eye. Jericho told the ref to ring the f—ing bell. He made the cover, but Naito kicked out at 2. Jericho raised his arms to the crowd and got a mixed response. The fans chanted for Naito as Jericho tried to rip his top off. Jericho taunted Naito with some slaps to the head. Naito tried to fire back, but he ended up taking a back breaker and a lionsault. He made the cover, but Naito kicked out at 2.
The fans chanted for Naito as he rolled around on the mat. Jericho choked Naito with his boot in the corner. He then played to the crowd and drew mostly boos this time. Naito still hadn’t gotten all of his entrance gear off at this point. Naito tried to mount a comeback, but Jericho got the wall of Jericho. Naito quickly got to the ropes to break the hold. Another chant for Naito broke out. Jericho got in the ref’s face and told him to shut his mouth. Naito fired up and nailed Jericho with a punch. He then hit a spear anda a flurry of punches followed by another spear. Naito hit a neck breaker over his knee and a dropkick to the back of Naito’s head and the fans fired up. Naito and Jericho went to the apron and Naito hit a neck breaker on the apron. He then followed up with a hangman’s neckbreaker to the floor. Naito took his entrance gear off and used it to choke Jericho. Naito was still bleeding from his right eye. Naito drove Jericho into the barricade. He grabbed a broken piece of the table on the floor and smiled. He then broke it over Jericho’s head and the fans gasped. Naito grabbed another piece of the table and blasted Jericho over the head with it. He then dragged Jericho through the gate at ringside and they went behind the announcers. They went back to the table where Jericho had DDTd Naito. Naito lifted Jericho and hit a piledriver on the table and it didn’t break. WOW!
The fans really fired up behind Naito and chanted his name. They battled up top. Jericho blocked a top rope hurricanrana and locked in the liontamer. He sat down on it and yelled at the ref to ask him if he was done. The fans once again started a HUGE chant for Naito and he got to the ropes. Naito fired back with a hurricanrana out of the corner and a tornado DDT for a 2 count. Both men were down and the fans went crazy chanting for Naito. They went back and forth. Jericho blocked Gloria and eventually got the liontamer again. He told the ref to ring the bell over and over. The fans fired up with another Naito chant and he crawled towards the ropes. The ref asked Naito if he wanted to tap. Naito continued to struggle towards the ropes, but stopped. He appeared to be going out, but Naito suddenly fired up and got the ropes! WOW! Naito hit a German a short time later. He went for destino, but Jericho blocked it and they went into the ropes before Jericho turned it into a pinning combination for a 2 count. Naito hit a HUGE slap and hit destino, but he was unable to make the cover! WOW! He made the cover near the ropes, but Jericho got his hand on the bottom rope at the last second! The fans fired up and chanted for Naito. Naito had another cut open up on his cheek. It then appeared the blood might be coming from his eye. They began exchanging slaps from their knees. They got to their feet and continued to trade blows. Naito went for a flying forearm off the ropes, but Jericho turned it into a code breaker! WOW! He couldn’t make the cover right away and Naito kicked out at the last second.
Jericho went for a lionsault, but Naito got his knees up. Naito hit Gloria and then signaled for destino, but Jericho slid out of it. Jericho shoved the ref from behind, hit a low blow and then hit the code breaker for the win. WOW!
After the match, Jericho waited for Naito to get up and then he wiped him out with a belt shot to the head. Jericho took his leather belt off and began whipping Naito with it.EVIL finally ran down to make the save. He wiped Jericho out with a clothesline and he grabbed Jericho’s belt, but Jericho bailed to the floor. The fans chanted for EVIL. Jericho got in on commentary and asked EVIL who the hell are you.
Winner: Chris Jericho at 18:00 to become the new IWGP IC Championship
Star rating: (****¾) This was fantastic. Jericho’s brawling style is perfect for Japan. He also does enough in the ring to engage the crowd while keeping the action moving at a pace that is acceptable for what people expect out of a NJPW main event. The fans throwing their full support behind Naito after Jericho’s villainous attacks on him before and during the match created an incredible atmosphere.
Radican’s Analysis: This was fantastic. Jericho’s brawling style is perfect for Japan. He also does enough in the ring to engage the crowd while keeping the action moving at a pace that is acceptable for what people expect out of a NJPW main event. The fans throwing their full support behind Naito after Jericho’s villainous attacks on him before and during the match created an incredible atmosphere.