SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
NEW JAPAN DOMINION 2020
JULY 12, 2020
OSAKA-JO HALL, JAPAN
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM
(1) Ryusuke Taguchi & Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma & Gabriel Kidd – Special six-man Tag Match
WINNERS: Yuji Nagata by submission (Nagata Lock II) in 9:25
(Fann’s Analysis: Solid opener that got the crowd excited (as one can get in this Covid environment, with applause only being the main avenue) with a solid Nagata win.)
(2) Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano & Yota Tsuji vs. L.I.J. (Bushi & Sanada & Hiromu Takahashi) – Special 6-man Tag Match
WINNERS: Hiromu Takahashi by submission (Boston Crab) in 10:15
(Fann’s Analysis: Still in shock from EVIL’s betrayal the night before, LIJ was reeling for most of this match. Of note for later, BUSHI wasn’t carrying the NEVER Openweight Six-man Tag team Titles that he, EVIL and Shingo currently hold. Hiromu winning with a basic Young Lion crab was another sign of regression from the team. Even his wrist tape had “why” repeatedly written on it.)
(3) Master Wato & Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Yuya Uemura vs. Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI) – Special Six-man Tag Match
WINNERS: El Desperado by pinfall (Pinche Loco) in 9:44
(Fann’s Analysis: Master Wato’s development, with super-supportive Tenzan in tow continues. While I’m still on the fence with the entire Wato deal, the fans are clearly behind him so far and that’s enough as he develops.)
(4) Chaos (Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto) vs. Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi) – Special Tag Match
WINNERS: Yujiro by pinfall (Pimp Juice) in 9:42
(Fann’s Analysis: Yujiro in the pandemic getting a push is a sight to see. Throughout this match Okada’s goal was to find and destroy the “Tokyo Pimp” as payback for the consistent interference and general tomfoolery Yujiro had perpetrated against him. Gedo helped Yujiro by choking Okada outside with a wrench while Ishimori & Takahashi took care of Goto.)
(5) SHO vs. Shingo Takagi (Never Openweight Champion) – NEVER Openweight Championship
WINNER: Shingo Takagi by pinfall (Last of the Dragon) in 20:07 to retain
(Fann’s Analysis: SHO and Shingo are a match made in heaven, as seen in their New Japan Cup match. With Yoh’s injury, SHO will be getting more looks as a singles guy and these matches have been a great opener to that career. Shingo took everything the younger wrestler had and barely got the win, and now looks to Despy as his next opponent for the Openweight title, due to the latter wrestler jumping Shingo post celebration.)
(6) Dangerous T(ekkers) (ZSJ & Taichi) vs. Golden Ace (Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi) (IWGP Tag Team Champions) – IWGP Tag Team Championship
WINNERS: ZSJ by pinfall (Holy Zack Driver) in 28:43
(Fann’s Analysis: The late isolation of Tanahashi and the absence of Ibushi late led to the Dangerous Tekkers getting the IWGP tag titles. The joy that Taichi had seeing Zack get the pin was felt from the screen. Where do Ibushi and Tanahashi go now? Do they challenge to get back the titles they never defended V1? Do they feud with each other? Interesting for the next few months.)
(7) EVIL (2020 New Japan Cup Winner) vs. Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Double Champion) – IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship
WINNER: EVIL by pinfall (EVIL) in 38:01
(Fann’s Analysis: Hiromu was the star of this as much as EVIL’s transition to Double Champion. EVIL’s goal – Gedo’s if we take a 30k foot view of it – to make himself thoroughly unlikeable in this tournament has been to mixed results online, but I’ve enjoyed the transition. With Jay White potentially out of the country for some time, having Gedo pull this trigger is an interesting look at how creative the New Japan booker will be to work around the global pandemic.
For all of that, Hiromu made this work. Any time you’ve seen him since his return to New Japan, if there’s been a beat down angle, Hiromu was the first – and sometimes only – member of LIJ to come to the aid of his allies while the rest may have been occupied. Hiromu had also had his “spot” held up for love/respect by EVIL during Hiromu’s injury, and the pair of wrestlers had been close during their young lion days. So for Hiromu to see Naito laid out by the first LIJ recruit, and to see his old friend this disloyal led to a guttural scream that would have played out in any drama.
The reintroduction of Dick Togo to New Japan was also welcome.)
FINAL THOUGHTS (8.5): Dominion was a 3 match show that had all 3 deliver in different ways. The NEVER and Tag championship matches were straight-forward New Japan-style matches. The Double Title match was nearly entirely story driven, with absolute focused heeling by EVIL holding the match together. For some purists, this was anathema to the New Japan style, but I enjoyed the difference, and how EVIL has embraced his absolute worst nature to take over as the top heel in the company.
Contact Rich at PWTDive@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/rich_fann.