FANN’S 5/3 & 5/4 NJPW Wrestling Donataku preview – Ishimori vs. Lee, Okada vs. SANADA

By Rich Fann, Torch contributor


MAY 3 & MAY 4, 2019

This weekend marks the final big show prior to the Best of the Super Juniors tournament, Wrestling Dontaku. Over two nights, there will be a bevy of multi-man tags, which I’ll provide insight when appropriate, but will attempt to focus on the singles matches and particularly the title matches on the cards.

As always, the shows are available via live or on-demand streaming at

With that in mind, here we go:

Wrestling Dontaku Night One (May 3rd, Fukuoka Japan)

Tomoaki Honma & Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Toa Henare & Yota Tsuji ^ Yuya Uemura

This will be a solid opener, with Honma there as a fun vet that isn’t expected to do a lot of the heavy lifting post-injury. I’m enjoying Umino’s development, so I’ll be checking this out after the fact.

Togi Makabe & Toru Yano & Will Ospreay vs. Tama Tonga &  Tanga Loa & Hikuleo 

BC vs CHAOS faction warfare. After the theft of the IWGP heavyweight titles at the G1 Supercard by Yano, Tonga and Loa have been hell-bent on making the master thief suffer. Ospreay continues his run blurring the lines between heavyweight and junior.

YOSHI-HASHI & Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask IV & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku 

I’m thinking this is going to be a Suzuki-gun led brawl, ending with YOSHI-HASHI or TAKA taking the fall.

Rocky Romero & SHO & YOH (CHAOS) vs. Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI & Shingo Takagi (LIJ)

This is, by far one of the matches I’m most looking forward to this weekend. All of the Takagi – Sho/Yoh matchups this past month have been great. Seriously, give yourself a few moments to hop onto NJPW world and look at them. Each time, you can see the gears turning and a little more of the SHO that will be a star emerges. As great as Naito is, as fun as BUSHI has been in LIJ, Takagi has been a match-to-match reminder of how great it is some of the previous folks have left – because it opened the door to his ascension.

Hirooki Goto & Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls vs. Jay White & Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens

I see this as a paint-by-the-numbers six man, with Goto and White pushing towards something, but not too terribly excited.

Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii vs. SANADA & EVIL 

A fun prelude to the semi-main and main event matches tomorrow, SANADA, my dear greatly coifed LIJ heart breaker is positioned to be the first challenger to the throne of the Rainmaker. Not to be outdone, Ishii and Evil are looking to knock each other’s heads into the next month. Look for a fun, but shorter match setting up their individual matches the next day. My biggest question is – what has SANADA cooked up to counter the Rainmaker killer sequence?

NEVER Openweight Champion Jeff Cobb vs. Taichi 

Jeff Cobb winning the NEVER Openweight title was a great way to re-introduce him to the New Japan faithful. I think his style will play well, and his status as double champion (he is also Ring of Honor World Television Champion) allows him to float between both promotions.

Taichi has never been a favorite of mine, but recently his work has been pretty good. I think this is a solid 14-20 minute match that ends in Mr. Athletic’s favor with a Tour of the Islands.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Dragon Lee vs. Taiji Ishimori

Ishimori and Lee should be a great main event. In this role I have zero doubt they’re going to try to kill each other with their frenetic style. Hiromu looming (see his tweet post G-1 Supercard of Honor) also adds intrigue – does Dragon Lee retain until his erstwhile rival returns, or does Ishimori regain his lost gold?

Wrestling Dontaku Night Two (May 4th, Fukuoka Japan)

Shota Umino & Ren Narita vs. Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura

Umino and Narita should continue their young lion style tags, and kick the show off with a solid, fundamental match against Tsuji and Uemura. With Henare out of this match I think it might be a little faster paced.

Jeff Cobb & YOSHI-HASHI &  Toa Henare & Tiger Mask IV &  Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Taichi & Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku 

I’ll most likely catch this on the replay, as opposed to live due to time constraints. However, should Cobb retain I am giddy with the possibility he can start a program with Minoru Suzuki.

Togi Makabe & Toru Yano & Jushin Liger vs. Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa & Jado 

This six man I’ll be watching if only to see how much Yano’s life will be in danger from the Guerrillas of Destiny.

Hirooki Goto & Juice Robinson &  Mikey Nicholls & Tomoaki Honma vs. Jay White & Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens & Hikuleo 

8 man tag that I think I’ll be skipping over, just due to time constraints.

Dragon Lee & Will Ospreay vs. Taiji Ishimori & X

Most reports has ‘X’ as El Phantasmo, and I’m of the position that would be a great introduction to the Juniors division, particularly with BOSJ on deck. With the debut I’m guessing the new player will get the win over Dragon Lee.

Rocky Romero & SHO & YOH vs. Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI & Shingo Takagi

Refer to Night One – Takagi vs SHO in any format is a match you need to watch.

Tomohiro Ishii vs. EVIL 

I think these dudes are gonna have a big ole “hoss-fight”. Ishii is the resident angry dad of New Japan, always ready to scrap, and EVIL has been in a complimentary competition with his tag partner SANADA to see who is the next one to take the step into the main event. I think Ishii and EVIL will be in the mood to steal the show, and I think that EVIL hit Darkness falls for the duke.

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA

In their five previous matches, Okada is 5-0 vs. my dear SANADA. In particular, their last matches have pushed from 20 minutes to 32 minutes to 33 minutes. With this IWGP heavyweight title match, I assume they’re going 40 minutes and that SANADA is going to focus on negating the Rainmaker.

Everyone tries to stop the Rainmaker, but like Mike Tyson said – “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” With this being the V1 title defense for the champ, I anticipate another close one, but the question is starting to mount – when will SANADA climb that mountain?

I’m looking forward to both nights personally, and I hope this report has helped to get you amped as well.

As always, I can be reached on twitter – @Rich_Fann or you can always email

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