New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest show of the year is over, and as you will read below, I absolutely loved it. Here are my scattered match notes and takeaways from the Dome Show.
Never Open Weight Championship
Kota Ibushi (C) vs Will Ospreay
This match ruled as expected. This match was a great opener and set the pace for the rest of the evening. The finish was very unique, and made sense. Ospreay really came across as a jerk at times, very similar to Zack Sabre Jr. I don’t think you could say that this match was a blow-away instant classic, but it met expectations. Ridiculously high expectations.
Winner: Will Ospreay by pinfall ****
IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Desperado/Kanemaru (C) vs Shingo/Bushi vs Ropongi 3K
The Jr Tag Title match was really good. Shingo and Sho tore it up. Really hope they’re in the same block for BOSJ. I also really hope we see both Sho and Shingo at heavyweight at some point. Lots of hope.
Winners: Shingo and Bushi by pinfall ***
RPW Brittish Heavyweight Championship Match
Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr
Awesome match with tons of counters and reversals. I thought Ishii would get Zack into a little more trouble than he did. Zack really came across as ultra skillful, always being one or two steps ahead of the Stone Pitbull. Fun match for the short time it lasted.
Winner: ZSJ by submission ***1/4
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Gorillas of Destiny(C) vs EVIL/Sanada vs The Young Bucks
HW Tag : Cool car crash match. Nobody worked at this pace so far and the crowd was really into everything. The Bucks were the glue in this match, flying all over the place. Sanada had some really cool spots, and if there are some openings up the card in 2019, he looks like a guy who is ready to step up (shave the beard Sanada). Will there be a bad match on this show?
Winners: EVIL and Sanada by pinfall ****1/4
IWGP US Championship
Cody (C) vs Juice Robinson
Easilly the worst match on the show so far, and it wasn’t even a bad match! Both guys worked their asses off and the stuff with Brandi getting thrown out kept things interesting. Hopefully this win is a springboard for Juice and he has a massive 2019. This show is on fire.
Winner:Juice by pinfall **3/4
IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship
Kushida (C) vs Taihi Ishimori
Good match. It felt like they could have given them a few more minutes because it never felt like either guy opened up the throttle. Kushida’s offense was so fluid and crisp. Ishimori’s timing was off a few times, and made for some clunky spots. Not enough to ruin a good match.
Winner: Ishimori by pinfall ***1/4
Okada vs Switchblade Jay White
Jay White’s white gear is absolutely on fire. I was so impressed with White’s look, and then it happened; THE RAINMAKER IS BACK!!!!! Okada gave the packed Tokyo Dome the full Rainmaker entrance and he even ditched the pants! White had the early advantage, but the match quickly turned into Okada playing all the hits. The dive over the barricade, dropkick, then another dropkick, and another dropkick. The crowd was loving every second of having the Rainmaker back. It wasn’t enough. After a series of reversals and even a spinning Rainmaker, Jay White pinned the great Kazuchika Okada in the Tokyo Dome. This one is going to hurt for awhile.
Winner: Jay White by pinfall ****1/4
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Chris Jericho (C) vs Tetsuya Naito
Brutal hard hitting match. Awesome stuff from both guys. The best part about this match, is that it seems like Naito and Jericho legitimately hate each other. Much different and much better than their first match. Naito was superb with his character tweaks. Leaving Tranquilo behind for one night was a nice refresh that proves Naito can go to a different place to win a big match. Looking forward to the first half of his 2019, I hope they have something big planned for Dominion. Maybe a IWGP World Title shot?
Winner: Naito by pinfall ****3/4
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega (C) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
The main event we all expected delivered. I actually think it over delivered. From over the top entrances, to great wrestling, to outstanding story telling, this match had it all. Kenny hit all of his huge moves and protected the One Winged Angel Finisher. Tanahashi’s reverse rana out of the OWA was a thing of beauty. It was at that exact moment that I thought The Ace was going to win. I can’t believe Tanahashi is holding the IWGP title in 2019, but with matches like he’s been having, Ace is certainly a worthy champion. I guess sometimes, in order to move forward, you have to look back.
Winner Tanahashi by pinfall *****