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By Mark Worrall @hoohoowozza
This Sunday sees one of New Japan’s biggest shows of the year in the form of Dominion. With all New Japan’s titles on the line expect some possible changes, with the Never six-man titles being the odds on favourite to find new owners as five teams attempt to win those belts via a gauntlet match. With four of the title matches being rematches from Wrestle kingdom it will be interesting to see how they differ to the outstanding standard that was set during that show. Headlined by the much anticipated rematch between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega for the IWGP Heavyweight title this show has the promise to tick all the boxes and highlight why New Japan is possibly still the best Promotion in the world today. My preview takes a look at the upcoming Dominion card.
TOMOYUKI OKA, SYOTA UMINO & DAVID FINLAY v TETSUHIRO YAGI, KATSUYA KITAMURA, HIRAI KAWATO.
This will most probably be a dark match which seems to have become the norm in New Japan big shows. A chance for the Young Lions to show us what they’ve got and our chance to see any future potential. Expect former Lion David Finlay to take the lead and I am also interested to see Kawato who seems to impress me whenever I am able to see him. No doubt someone will win executing a crab submission hold!
TIGER MASK, TIGER MASK W, YUJI NAGATA & TOGI MAKABE v SATOSHI KOJIMA, HIROYOSHI TENZAN, MANABU NAKANISHI & JUSHIN “Thunder” LIGER.
The New Japan dads, and Kota Ibushi in standard six-man tag action to open the show, do not expect anything different than a normal road to six-man and a match to warm up the crowd with the ever popular veterans. Hoping Tiger Mask W excites us with a few moves.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT 6-MAN TAG TEAM TITLE GAUNTLET MATCH BUSHI, EVIL, & SANADA(c) v BAD LUCK FALE, HANGMAN PAGE & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI v TOMOHIRO ISHII, TORU YANO & YOSHI-HASHI v TAICHI, YOSHINOBU KANEMARU, & ZACK SABRE Jr. v JUICE ROBINSON, RICOCHET & RYUSUKE TAGUCHI.
A somewhat repeat of the Wrestle Kingdom Gauntlet match and if it is anything like that then this may be something to skip. Not a fan of Gauntlet style matches, seem like an excuse just to get everybody on the card and are usually a mess. Be shocked if the titles do NOT change hands as that seems to be the basis of the six man titles in this company. Got an inkling Suzuki-Gun will take this, however seems a waste of Zack Sabre Jnr and Tomohiro Ishii’s talent.
IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP ROPPONGI VICE(c) v THE YOUNG BUCKS.
Looks like a good match on paper, and with the Bucks returning to New Japan they will be hungry to take these titles for a record sixth reign. Nice to see these belts being wrestled between just two teams and with Vice holding these belts for most of 2017, albeit a small exchange with Taichi & Kanemaru in March/April, they will be looking to keep hold of these titles. A match up we have seen many times but will no doubt be a good match as the Bucks aim to avenge their title loss to Vice at Wrestle Kingdom.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP WAR MACHINE(c) v THE GUERRILLAS OF DESTINY.
My favourite tag team against most improved tag team! Actually looking forward to this, War Machine have made the Heavyweight Tag titles seem somewhat relevant since becoming champions and they always work hard to give the fans a great match. If anybody can bring the best out of GOD then these are the perfect opponents. Really hoping War Machine retain and prolong their title reign for the betterment of the Tag division; however will not be surprised if GOD walk out with the belts!
SPECIAL SINGLES MATCH MICHAEL ELGIN v CODY
Cody returns to Japan and seems to be over with the Japanese fans, however he faces probably one of the most over Gaijin in the company who continues to steadily climb back up the New Japan ranks and will be looking to put Cody away. Expecting Cody to take this though as he pushes his way to the G1 tournament and a loss for Elgin will not hurt his reputation. Elgin’s power may be a problem for Cody who will no doubt find a dubious path to picking up a victory.
IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP HIROMU TAKAHASHI(c) v KUSHIDA.
After defeating Will Ospreay at the recent Best of Super Juniors tournament final, Kushida looks to capitalise on his tournament victory by regaining the title he lost to Takahashi back at Wrestle Kingdom. Although a rematch at Sakura Genesis ended up in defeat in less than two minutes, Kushida as shown why he has been the ace of the division for so long by coming back and winning the BoSJ! Takahashi however remains undefeated since returning from excursion in Mexico late last year and has been truly dominant whilst defending his championship and has shown just how good he is. Expecting something completely different than the two minute demolition Kushida suffered back in April and this will be intriguing and difficult to call.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE LUMBERJACK DEATHMATCH MINORU SUZUKI(c) v HIROKO GOTO(c)
Suzuki-Gun will surround one side of the ring with Chaos surrounding the other as Goto tries to recapture the title he lost to Suzuki on a ‘road to’ show. This match will be utter chaos and I wonder how much of the match will be spent in the ring itself! Not sure about the history of New Japan lumberjack matches, if the two participants can stay in the ring this may be good. With all the potential shenanigans I expect the title to stay with Suzuki.
IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP TETSUYA NAITO(C) v HIROSHI TANAHASHI.
Tanahashi returns from injury and once again attempts to take the IC title from Naito who as suggested that if he retains the title he will throw the belt in the trash. Naito’s distain for the belt is obvious, and whether that is a ploy to make this championship more important than it as ever been for Tanahashi to win is obvious. No doubt the fans will rally behind the former ace of New Japan to retain his presence amongst the New Japan elite and stop Naito disrespecting the title. A rematch from WK11 that some even preferred to the main event itself this match will undoubtedly make the Okada/Omega match difficult to follow. However Osaka is a place where Naito receives his biggest reaction and he will want to go over in that building.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP KAZUCHIKA OKADA(c) v KENNY OMEGA
Dave Meltzer awarded their previous encounter at WK11 six stars! Whether you agree with him or not there is no denying that their IWGP Heavyweight title match back in January was something spectacular and this much anticipated rematch as a lot to follow in what could be considered most people’s match of the year so far. With the upcoming G1 shows bound for Los Angeles in July there may be a reason to finally put the belt on Omega so the Canadian can showcase the Championship whilst headlining those shows. My take is to keep the belt on Okada for now, if New Japan’s thinking is to showcase their product to a US audience, then an authentic New Japan style would be beneficial as that is the style that has won them their big following worldwide. The match itself may take a different route than their previous encounter and here’s hoping they actually tell a different story and not just a repeat of their January match. Whoever does take the title, I am certain this match will not let us down as two of the best wrestlers in the world today put on an a wrestling masterclass.