RADICAN’S TAKE: NJPW Dominion 2023 PPV Preview – Ospreay vs. Archer, Wato vs. Takahashi, Sanada vs. Tsuji

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist (Twitter: @SR_Torch)


Note: NJPW Dominion takes place Sunday at 3:00 a.m. and will air live in Enlgish and Japanese on NJPW World. 

The following is a preview of the big matches on the card and a look at what fans can expect from Dominion 2023, which is one of NJPW’s biggest PPVs of the year.

IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Sanada vs. Yota Tsuji: Tsuji returned from his excursion in Mexico and attacked Sanada after he had beaten Hiromu Takashi to successfully retain his title at Dontaku on May 3. He also teased a potential alliance with L.I.J. He returned to Mexico right after Dontaku, so Dominion will be his first appearance in a NJPW ring post-excursion.

Tsuji is getting the biggest push out of the gate for any young lion returning to then promotion from excursion. Many wrestlers have returned to NJPW and have gotten strong pushes after their excursions such as Kazuchika Okada and Jay White, but none have main evented Dominion, one of NJPW’s biggest PPVs of the year, in their first match returning to Japan.

This is a deep card that doesn’t necessarily have a big attraction match, so it’s going to be interesting to see how the show does from an attendance standpoint and whether or not it leads to increases in NJPW’s business going forward. Tsuji headlining a show of this magnitude is a big ask from NJPW, but he appears to be up to the task.

Tsuji appeared at a press conference ahead of Dominion and confirmed he was indeed going to be part of  L.I.J. He then vowed to take L.I.J. and NJPW to new heights.

This match is a complete mystery in terms of what to expect. It can go many ways. It seems too soon to take the belt off Sanada, who is just finding his way as a champion and trying to finally establish himself as a top guy in NJPW after many stops and starts over the years. A loss for Sanada here could be damaging to his long-term viability as a top act in Japan.

A statement win for Tsuji would be a sure way to get people talking about NJPW. If he runs through Sanada and looks strong in a lengthy match where it is clear he was the better wrestler, NJPW would create a new star in one night.

Prediction: NJPW plays it down the middle with Tsuji looking strong, but Sanada finding a way to get the win.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi vs. BOSJ winner Master Wato: This should be one heck of a match. Wato had a star-making performance in winning the BOSJ 30 tournament. He beat Titan in the finals of the BOSJ 30 tournament and challenged Takahashi to a match for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship in his hometown of Osaka at Dominion.

Wato has impoving dramatically over the last year and showed he is capable of being credible top-tier junior in NJPW. Wato goes into this match on an 8 match winning streak in singles matches and it’s hard to believe his momentum comes to a halt at Dominion where he can make a big statement in the semi-main event.

Prediction: Takahashi and Wato steal the show and have the best match on the card with Wato gutting out a win in the end and kicking off his first reign as IWGP Jr. Hvt. Champion.

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Champions Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomohiro Ishii vs. Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli & Shota Umino: Okada has been the face of Dominion for the better part of the last eight years headlining nearly every Dominion and delivering memorable matches against the likes of A.J. Styles, Tetsuya Naito, and Kenny Omega amongst others. This year he takes a step back, but his match will likely be part of the build to a big singles match for him at Forbidden Door on June 25.

NJPW will likely use this match to set up something between Jon Moxley and Kazuchika Okada at Forbidden Door. Moxley and Okada had a lot of interactions on oppsitie sides six man tag match at Resurgence on May 21 when he teamed with Tomohiro Ishii and Rocky Romero to take on Moxley & Shota Umino & Wheeler Yuta, so I would expect that trend to continue in this match.

I would expect something to happen after the match to establish the first step in building towards making Moxley vs. Okada at Forbidden Door on June 25, as things need to get moving towards building up that card at this point.

Prediction: Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi & Tomohiro Ishii retain the titles in a very good match to round out the top three to end the show, but the memorable part of the match is the angle used to set up Moxley vs. Okada.

NEVER Openweight Champion David Finlay vs. El Phantasmo: ELP questioned Finlay’s ability to lead Bullet Club since he took at Jay White earlier this year in brutal fashion. ELP was eventually ejected from Bullet Club by Finlay at Sakura Genesis on April 8. Finlay beat Tama Tonga for the Never Openweight Championship at Dontaku.

After the match, ELP ruined Finlay’s post-match celebration. He has vowed to take out every member of Bullet Club starting with Finlay.

Prediction: I would expect Finlay to retain here in a brutal match, as this feud has become extremely personal in recent months. The way Finlay wrestles should ensure that this is an intense and brutal match from bell-to-bell. This feels like the type of feud that needs more than one match to conclude, so I would expect this match to build to at least one more with ELP’s story unfolding in the coming months as he attempts to take out Bullet Club.

IWGP US Championship Number One Contender’s Tournament Final: Will Ospreay vs. Lance Archer: Archer and Ospreay opened the G1 Climax Touranment on July 6, 2019 with a bang in their first round match. Ospreayhas grown leaps and bounds as a performer since that match took place. These two have excellent chemistry in the ring and I would expect this match to be even better than their amazing G1 match in 2019.

Ospreay and Archer have not had a sinlges match since 2019, so it will be a lot of fun to see how they match up in 2023. Ospreay is a much more well-rounded performer that relies just as much as his physicality now as he does as his high flying, which he primarily relied upon in 2019. With Archers mix of power and strength vs. a much-improved Ospray, this match very well could steal the show.

Prediction: Will Ospreay will win here to set up a rematch against Kenny Omega for the IWGP U.S. Championship at Forbidden Door. Ospreay has the potentital to add to his MOTYC contender’s list on major shows if he gets through Archer and goes on to face Omega later this month.

NJPW World TV Champion Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Jeff Cobb: Sabre goes into this match having defended the title seven times in his five months as champion. The lone blemish? A time-limit draw against Jeff Cobb at Dontaku on May 3. After going to a 15 minute time limit draw against Cobb, Sabre challenged him to an immediate rematch.

Sabre has done a really good job at establishing the NJPW World TV Championship in his five months as champion. He has defended the title all over the world and made multiple appearances in ROH and AEW along the way with the title. He beat Action Andretti on AEW Rampage last night in a fantastic TV match.

Prediction: Sabre has done what he does best as champion and has found a way to use his submission game to his advantage and given a second chance against Cobb, I believe he will find a way to tap out the former Olympian and continue his streak of impressive matches against a variety of opponents as NJPW World TV Champion.

The G1 Climax field will be revealed: At some point during the show, the field for G1 Climax 33 will be announced. This will be newsworthy, as fans will get their first look at the tournament and whether or not NJPW is adding and/or subtracting any wrestlers from the field. I will be most interested to see if anyone from AEW comes over for the tour this year.

The rest of the card:

  • Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi) vs. House of Torture (Evil & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. The United Empire (Great-O-Khan & Aaron Henare) – Vacant IWGP Tag Team & NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Championship match
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Kushia & Kevin Knight vs. United Empire (TJP & Francesco Akira)
  • LIJ (Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi & Bushi & Titan) vs. Just 5 Guys (Taichi & Taka Michinoku & Douki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
  • Dark match: Young Lion gauntlet Oskar Leube vs. Ryohei Oiwa vs. Boltin Oleg vs. Yuto Nakashima

Sean Radican is celebrating 20 years with PWTorch this month. Contact Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow Sean @SR_Torch on Twitter. 

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