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RADICAN’S NJPW WRESTLING DONTAKU 2019: NIGHT 1 REPORT
MAY 3, 2019
FUKUOKA CONVENTION CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON NJPW WORLD
BY SEAN RADICAN, TORCH COLUMNIST
Commentary: Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero, Gino Gambino, and Chris Charlton
(1) Ren Narita & Shota Umino & Tomoaki Honma beat Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji & Toa Henare in 11:00.
(2) Suzuki-Gun (TAKA Michinoku & El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki beat Ryusuke Taguchi & Tiger Mask & Jushin Thunder Liger & YOSHI-HASHI in 10:00.
(3) CHAOS (Will Ospreay & Toru Yano & Togi Makabe beat BULLET CLUB (Hikuleo & Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) in 7:30.
(4) SHO & YOH & Kota Ibushi beat L.I.J. (Shingo Takagi & BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) in 11:30.
(5) Mikey Nicholls & IWGP U.S. Champion Juice Robinson & Hirooki Goto beat BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale & Jay White in 11:30. The lights went out after the match with Robinson alone in the ring. It showed a knife carving a symbol in a bar top. The graphic said Time’s Up. The figure carried a knife and the date read June 5, 2019, which is the finals of The BOSJ.
RADICAN’S BIG MATCH RESULTS & ANALYSIS
(6) L.I.J. (EVIL & SANADA) vs. CHAOS (TOMOHIRO ISHII & IWGP HVT. CHAMPION KAZUCHIKA OKADA)
SANADA and Okada started the match. SANADA challenges Okada for the title tomorrow. The fans chanted for both men. It sounded like the chants for SANADA were slightly louder. They had a great back and forth exchange. Okada slipped out of the Skull End and went for The Rainmaker, but SANADA ducked it and went for a Rainmaker of his own. Okada ducked it and got a rollup for a two count. Ishii and EVIL tagged in and began trading bombs as the fans clapped. They slowed down, but then picked up the pace. Ishii teased going down, but fired back with a forearm. EVIL then teased going down, but then he delivered another forearm. EVIL finally hit a sidewalk slam. SANADA ran across the ring and knocked Okada to the floor. Ishii and EVIL will meet for the first time in singles action tomorrow night. EVIL chopped down Ishii in the corner. SANADA tagged in and went to work on Ishii. Ishii knocked EVIL off the ropes, but SANADA raked his eyes to keep the advantage. Ishii finally fired back and caught SANADA with a powerslam off the ropes and the fans fired up.
Okada was ready for the hot tag, but EVIL stopped Ishii from making it. Ishii countered EVIL and hit a vertical suplex and both men were down. The fans fired up once again and this time Ishii made the tag to Okada, who ran wild on EVIL. Okada hit a big DDT on EVIL, but he kicked out at two. EVIL blocked a kick and sent Okada’s leg to the ref before nailing Okada with a kick. He tagged SANADA in. SANADA rolled through a rollup attempt and went for the paradise lock, but Okada blocked it and hit a flapjack. SANADA hit a high angle suplex on Okada . He got the Skull End. Okada struggled to try to get to the ropes. SANADA let go and went for a tiger suplex, but Okada slipped out of it and went for the cobra clutch. SANADA shook him off with an arm drag. They went back and forth and Okada hit his signature neck breaker. Ishii got the tag and no sold a kick to the face from SANADA. He whipped SANADA into the corner, but SANADA slipped over the ropes right into a springboard dropkick and both men were down. EVIL knocked Okada off the apron and went after Ishii. They blocked each other’s clotheslines attempts. EVIL finally hit a clothesline in the corner. He followed up with Darkness Falls, but Ishii kicked out at the last second. Ishii blocked Everything is Evil and hit a backdrop suplex and both men were down. SANADA ran into the ring and they wiped out Ishii with a combination of moves for a near fall. The fans applauded and L.I.J. singaled for the end. They set up for the Magic Killer, but Ishii got out of it. Okada then came into the ring out of nowhere and hit a huge dropkick on SANADA. Ishii then hit a big lariat on EVIL for a near fall. Ishii set up for the Vertical Drop Brainbuster, but EVIL got out of it. SANADA wiped out Okada on the floor. L.I.J. hit the Magic Killer on Ishii. EVIL then applied the Scorpion Death Lock on Ishii. The fans chanted for Ishii, as he tried to get out of the hold. Okada tried to crawl into the ring to break up the hold, but SANADA got the Skull End! Ishii tried to get to the ropes, but he couldn’t get out of the submission. Ishii screamed and the ref stopped the match. WOW!
WINNERS: EVIL & SANADA in 17:00 via ref stoppage. (****)
(Radican’s Analysis: What a match. EVIL beat Ishii with his mentor, Riki Choshu’s signature hold. This was a great bell-to-bell preview of the two big matches on Wrestling Dontaku: Night 2. EVIL and SANADA came across looking like they’ll be unstoppable tomorrow.)
(7) NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPION JEFF COBB vs. TAICHI (w/MIHO ABE, YOSHINOBU KANEMARU, & TAKA MICHINOKU)
Taichi had a bag around his shoulder with the iron fingers in it. The announcers said he hadn’t used them yet on the tour. Taichi kept stalling after the bell rang. He got Abe to get up on the apron. Cobb went up to her and Taichi came up from behind and hit him. Cobb no-sold the attack and glared at Taichi. Cobb caught Taichi with a dropkick off the ropes a short time later and he went to the floor. Cobb set up for a dive, but Taichi put Miho in his path and he stopped short. Taichi grabbed the ref and Kanemaru attacked him. Cobb went to town on Kanemaru, but Taichi nailed him with the mic stand. He then choked him with it. Taichi got into the ring and raised the NEVER Openweight title. The fans booed. Taichi choked Cobb against the ropes and continued to work him over. Cobb fired up and hit some big forearms. Cobb eventually lifted Taichi up and put him on the top turnbuckle. Cobb then held Taichi up for a delayed superplex. The fans applauded upon Taichi’s landing on the mat and both men were slow to get up.
Taichi ducked a standing moonsault attempt. He went for a buzzsaw kick, but Cobb ducked it. Taichi eventually nailed Cobb with a jumping kick to the head in the corner. He set up for a powerbomb, but he couldn’t get Cobb up. He then hit some Kawada kicks and went for another powerbomb, but Cobb backdropped him. Taichi then dropped him with a hook kick and then a buzzsaw kick, but Cobb got his shoulder up. Taichi fired up and ripped away his pants. Taichi went for a superkick, but Cobb ducked it and hit a punch. Taichi hit a kick to the leg and Cobb just stared at him. Cobb nailed him with a big forearm and Taichi went to a knee. Taichi hit a big kick to Cobb’s chest and then another. Cobb blocked a third kick and hit a leg capture suplex. They went back and forth and Taichi ended up big exchange with a jumping kick to the head. Taichi went for the stretch plumb, but Cobb blocked it. Cobb went for Tour of the Islands, but Taichi got out of it and hit a big suplex. He then locked in the stretch plumb. Taichi let go of the hold and got a near fall.
Taichi set up for a Cop Killa, but Cobb got out of it and hit a gutwrench suplex. Cobb held on and hit another. Cobb held on and dropped Taichi down with a piledriver, but Cobb was tired to make the cover. Cobb eventually lifted Taichi, but he nailed him with a running kick off the ropes. Cobb fired right back and hit Tour of the Islands off the ropes. Taichi held the ropes when Cobb whipped him and nailed him with a kick, an axe bomber, and a jumping face kick and both men were down again. They went back and forth. Cobb hit a big clothesline and a standing moonsault. He went for Tour of the Islands, but Taichi rolled him up. Taichi shoved the ref and hit a low blow. He then got the Gedo Clutch for a near fall. Taichi measured Cobb for a superkick and connected. Taichi then hit an air raid crash for the win.
El Desperado came out to celebrate with Taichi after the match. Minoru Suzuki came out as well. Miho held up Taichi’s belt as the Suzuki-Gun banner was held high in the ring as the group posed for a picture.
WINNER: Taichi in 18:00. (**¾)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was painfully slow at times, but it picked up down the stretch. Taichi definitely had some help in winning the match, but I was hoping for a longer reign for Cobb.Taichi is painful to watch in the ring at times. He shows flashes where he looks like he’s good, but for the most part he’s painfully boring.)
Dragon Lee came out wearing Kamaitachi mask that he took from him in CMLL, which was Hiromu Takahashi’s name in CMLL. Taiji Ishimori came down to the ring wearing a mask with Dragon Lee’s colors. He carried Dragon Lee’s mask, which he had taken from him earlier in the tour.
(8) IWGP JR. HVT. CHAMPION DRAGON LEE vs. TAIJI ISHIMORI
The announcers mentioned that Ishimori wasn’t pinned when he lost his title at G1 Supercard. Ishimori got a headscissors and he held on and twisted Lee’s head. They had a quick back and forth exchange. Lee hit a hurricanrana and then hit a big tope con hilo to the floor to wipe out Ishimori. WOW! Lee hit some big forearms in the corner and hit some Shibata style forearms before hitting a big running dropkick. He then hit Shibata’s signature seated pose. Lee lifted Ishimori’s leg and drove it into the mat. Ishimori fired back with Dance Break and both men were down. Ishimori mounted a comeback and went on the attack. He went after Lee’s mask up on the top turnbuckle. The announcers mentioned that it would be a DQ. Lee ended up hanging upside down in the corner and Ishimori nailed him with a running dropkick. Ishimori began targeting Lee’s neck. Ishimori hung up Lee in the ropes and hit a sliding German suplex. Ishimori hit a springboard moonsault off the turnbuckles to the floor. WOW! He rolled Lee back into the ring and made the cover for a two count. Lee caught Ishimori with a backwards wheelbarrow pinning combination as he came off the ropes. Ishimori fired back with a shotgun dropkick and a running double knee strike in the corner. He made the cover, but Lee kicked out at two.
Lee caught Ishimori with a STO when he came off the ropes and both men were down. The fans fired up as they tried to regroup. Lee hit a straightjacket German with a bridge, but Ishimori kicked out at two. Ishimori went for a springboard, but Lee caught him. Lee tried to lift Ishimori onto his shoulders, but he turned it into a crucifix bomb for a near fall! Lee caught Ishimori going for a running kick and hit a one arm deadlift powerbomb and both men were down. WOW!. The announcers focused on Ishimori’s injured back, which was taped up. Lee got a running start and hit an inside out hurricanrana to the floor from the apron. WOW! Lee whipped Ishimori into the guardrail. Ishimori then countered Lee when he tried to send him back into the ring by pushing off the apron and hitting an arm drag into the guardrail. The announcers talked about Lee wanting to make things right with Takahashi when he returned from injury. We nearly had a double countout, but both men dove back into the ring to break it up. Both men exchanged blows from their knees. They got to their feet and continued to trade forearms. The pace picked up and they really started to trade. Ishimori suddenly went down to a knee and the announcers said he had gotten caught. Both men began trading big forearms again. Lee suddenly caught Ishimori with a kick to the gut. They had a crazy exchange. Ishimori landed on his feet after taking a German and hit a destroyer, but Lee fired back with a falcon arrow and both men were down. Lee rolled over and made the cover, but Ishimori got his shoulder up at two.
Lee hung Ishimori upside down in the corner and hit a double stomp off the top for a two count! Ishimori countered Lee and hit a dragoncanrana for a near fall. Ishimori fired back, spun Lee down to the ropes, and got the Yes Lock in the middle of the ring. WOW! Lee almost got to the ropes, but Ishimori rolled with him and they ended up back in the middle of the ring. Lee went for the ropes, but Lee used his leg to hook his arm and dragged him back to the middle of the ring once again. The ref asked Lee if he wanted to tap. Lee went to the ropes once again and got them with his bottom foot. What an amazing submission sequence. Ishimori hit a double knee gutbuster for a near fall and the fans applauded. Ishimori went for the Bloody Cross, but Lee got out of it. They went back and forth trading knee strikes and Lee hit a poison rana, a snap German, and a HUGE knee strike for a near fall. THAT WAS INSANE! The fans fired up and Lee hit the Desnucadora for the win. WOW!
WINNER: Dragon Lee in 26:00 to retain the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship. (****¾)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was an awesome match. Both guys went full tilt from start to finish trading spectacular maneuvers. Lee fighting with the spirit of Takahashi at his side was a nice touch. The back and forth exchanges were breathtaking at times. Lee’s inside out hurricanrana was simply amazing. Go out of your way to see this match. Lee’s tribute spots to Shibata were great as well.)
Lee said hello to Ibushi at ringside. He cut a promo in Spanish. He said the belt means a lot to him. He said the win is for Hiromu Takahashi and the belt is waiting for him when he returns. He thanked the fans for all of the love and the fans applauded.
Lee stood tall holding the title and Hiromu’s mask as confetti fell from the ceiling. Rocky Romero gave him the mask back that Ishimori had taken from him. Lee went up the ramp and celebrated his win by picking up several small children and holding them up.
Contact Sean at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/sr_torch.