NJPW – DOMINION 2020: EVIL CHALLENGES TETSUYA NAITO FOR IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL AND IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
By: Mike Murray
New Japan Pro Wrestling returns to Osaka-Jo Hall for the second straight night. Dominion is the first major card in what might become the new normal. The crowd is at approximately 1/3 of the capacity at Osaka-Jo Hall and NJPW has put numerous protocols in place including the request that fans restrict themselves from yelling and cheering and of course face masks.
Mike’s Match Ratings
Satoshi Kojima, Yuji Nagata & Ryuske Taguchi vs GBH: Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma with Gabriel Kidd – 3*
LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (LIJ): BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & SANADA vs CHAOS: Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & Yota Tsuji – 3.25 *
SUZUKI-GUN: DOUKI, El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Master Wato, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Yuya Umera – 2.5*
BULLET CLUB: Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi vs CHAOS: Kazucihka Okada & Hirooki Goto – 2.75*
SHO vs Shingo Takagi for the NEVER Openweight Championship – 4.25*
TAICHI & Zack Sabre Jr vs Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Tag-Team Championship – 3.5*
EVIL vs Tetsuya Naito for IWGP Intercontinental and IWGP Heavyweight Championships – 4*
MATCH 1- SATOSHI KOJIMA, YUJI NAGATA & RYSUSKE TAGUCHI VS GBH: TOGI MAKABE & TOMOAKI HONMA WITH GABRIEL KIDD
Good opening match. The crowd gets to see some NJPW legends and Gabriel Kidd gets another chance to hang with some veterans. The audience is into everything and everyone in this match. The finish comes when Nagata hits an exploder suplex on Kidd and applies a Nagata Lock and Kidd taps out.
MATCH 2- LOS INGOBERNABLES DE JAPON (LIJ): BUSHI, HIROMU TAKAHASHI & SANADA VS CHAOS: TOMOHIRO ISHII, TORU YANO & YOTA TSUJI
A solemn LIJ group is the first to enter the ring. Yano and SANADA start out and Yano immediately unties the corner padding. SANADA gets Yano into a paradise Lock around the bottom rope and then puts Tsuji into another Paradise Lock. SANADA dropkicks the Young Lion into Yano and both get released from the holds.
All three members simultaneously dropkick Tsuji. Hiromu kills the Young Lion with a superkick and applies a Boston crab and Tsuji taps out.
WINNERS: LIJ in 10:16
LIJ was visibly upset after their win. SANADA appeared to almost be in tears and left the ring ahead of Bushi and Hiromu.
MATCH 3 – SUZUKI-GUN: DOUKI, EL DESPERADO & YOSHINOBO KANEMARU VS MASTER WATO, HIROYOSHI TENZAN & YUYA UMERA
Not a lot here. After yesterday when Kanemaru attacked Master Wato following his win over DOUKI – the focus to this match seemed to be Master Wato and Kanemaru and some kind of one on one match in the future.
El Desperado hit Umera with a Pinche Loco and pinned the Young Lion for a three count.
WINNERS: SUZUKI-GUN in 9:41
MATCH 4 – TAIJI ISHIMORI & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI VS KAZUCHIKA OKADA & HIROOKI GOTO
Okada gets a chance for revenge after Takahashi attacked him yesterday and interfered in the New Japan Cup Final. Okada’s shoulders and back of his neck are taped up. Ishimori does a good job of retying to keep the much larger Okada on the mat. Goto got busted open from a kick to his face by Takahashi I think.
Gedo comes out and attacks Okada outside the ring with a comically small wrench. Ishimori hit Goto with a backstabber and a Bloody Cross. Takahashi followed that with “Pimp Juice” and pinned Goto for the win.
WINNERS: BULLET CLUB in 9:43
After the match, Takahashi beatdown Okada as Gedo laughed outside the ring.
MATCH 5 – NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: SHO VS SHINGO TAKAGI (CHAMPION)
Togi Makabe joins the commentary team. SHO and Takagi are 1-1 in singles matches after SHO defeated Takagi during the New Japan Cup. The match starts with SHO trying to work his pace and take it to Takagi. The champ always seems to be able to assert his will and bully the challenger. Heavy-hitting strikes and big suplexes by both guys. Around 10 minutes into the match – Takagi tells SHO to hit him and SHO delivers a HUGE clothesline. Takagi hits SHO with a lariat. SHO hits a backstabber followed by a powerbomb and then a Power Breaker. Then a deadlift German suplex with a bridge for a two count. SHO tries for a Shock Arrow but Takagi backdrops him and escapes. SHO unloads forearms and clothesline on the champ who is leaning against the ropes.
Takagi hits Made in Japan for a two count, he follows that with a big lariat but SHO kicks out at one! SHO gets a sleeper and transitions to an armbar on the mat. Takagi powers out but SHO hits a cross arm piledriver. SHO kicks Takagi’s arm and gets another armbar attempt that he transitions into a triangle when the champ tries to escape. Shingo powers out of that and hits a Death Valley Driver. SHO gets up and slaps the crap out of Takagi but the champ answers with one right hand that stuns the challenger. Takagi headbutts SHO and hits a modified GTR on him. Finally, Takagi hits Last of the Dragon and pins SHO for a three count.
WINNER: SHINGO TAKAGI in 20:11
Fantastic match coming out of the intermission. Lots of stiff strikes! SHO looked awesome in this match, but just not good enough today to win the belt. The champ holds onto his belt and as he walked to the back El Desperado attacks and grabs the NEVER Openweight belt and lifts it above his head.
MATCH 6 – IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: TAICHI & ZACK SABRE JR VS KOTA IBUSHI & HIROSHI TANAHASHI (CHAMPIONS)
Tanahashi takes it to TAICHI before the bell rings. Golden Ace hit stereo planchas on opposite sides of the ring on the Suzuki-Gun members. The champs take the upper hand through the beginning portion of the match. Ibushi hits a last ride powerbomb on TAICHI. TAICHI tries to low blow Ibushi, but Ibushi hits a knee to TAICHI. Ibushi sets up for a Kamigoye but Sabre runs in and gets Ibushi in a sleeper. Red Shoes admonishes Sabre but allows the hold to continue. TAICHI hits the last ride on Ibushi and the pants come off. Ibushi catches a kick attempt by Ibushi and then kicks Taichi in the head and both guys are down.
Later on, Tanahashi hit a High Fly Flow on Sabre Jr. TAICHI kicks Tanahashi and drops him. Ibushi runs and hits TAICHI with a jumping knee. Sabre Jr then hits a Zack Driver on Ibushi and everyone is down. Tanahashi hits a sling blade on Sabre Jr. Tanahashi goes for another High Fly Flow but Sabre Jr gets his knees up. Sabre Jr goes for a pin but Ibushi breaks it up. TAICHI hits Ibushi with the iron glove. Tanahashi misses another sling blade and TAICHI hits him with a Saito suplex. TAICHI holds up Tanahashi while Sabre delivers 8(!) dragon screws to Takahashi – 4 to each leg. The crowd is clapping crazy to cheer on Tanahashi as the double team continues. Sabre holds up Tanahashi upside down, TAICHI hits him with a thrust kick into another Zack Driver for the win.
WINNERS: TAICHI & ZACK SABRE JR in 28:45
This was a decent tag team match but with the referee allowing extended periods of double-teaming by the heels and the constant rule-breaking by Sabre and TAICHI it takes it down a few notches. If there is constant rule-breaking throughout a match (let alone every match that certain wrestlers are in) the impact is lessened. I like Suzuki-Gun but all of their matches are becoming predictable.
MATCH 7 – IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL & IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT DOUBLE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: EVIL VS TETSUYA NAITO
There is a video package before the match showing how EVIL joined Bullet Club yesterday and attacked Naito. It also has footage from 2015 when EVIL returned from the excursion and was the first person to join Naito in LIJ.
EVIL has new music and a new Bullet Club themed entrance video. Milano Collection AT is still holding the light up scythe on commentary. EVIL’s hair is down and he has new gear: a gladiator-style entrance robe with machine guns on the shoulder pads. The gladiator theme continues with his new ring gear. EVIL is also wearing tights now. A good visual break from his LIJ look.
Gedo, Jado, Ishimori, and Takahashi come to the ring and all the Bullet Club members “too sweet” each other. Red Shoes tells them to go to the back. the crowd applauds as they leave.
EVIL stares at Naito as the bell rings and then rolls out the ring and paces around. He teases getting back in doing his best Larry Zbyszko impression to stall. Naito attacks and runs EVIL into the barricades and bounces his head off the timekeeper’s table. Pulling EVIL by his hair, Naito drags him back in the ring and continues his attack.
The double champ has EVIL tied up in the ropes and continues the hair pulling. Naito is all over the challenger until EVIL clotheslines the champ out to the floor and then runs him into the barricade. EVIL wraps Naito’s foot around the barricade and stomps on it. EVIL grabs a table and sets it up ringside. The challenger continues to attack Naito’s legs and knee. EVIL grabs the toy scythe from Milano and snaps it in half. Milano screams out and jumps over the table at EVIL who whips Milano into the barricade. The crowd is shocked!
EVIL returns his focus to Naito, again and again, wraps the champ’s leg around the barricade. EVIL gets back in the ring and removes a corner pad, exposing the turnbuckle. Red Shoes starts to count out Naito who rolls back into the ring. EVIL runs Naito back first into the exposed turnbuckles twice, Red Shoes admonishes EVIL. The challenger continues his attack on Naito’s legs and knees.
Naito gets up and slaps EVIL’s chest but EVIL kicks the champ’s knee. EVIL tries for a suplex but Naito escapes. EVIL continues to kick at Naito’s knee but the champ hits a dropkick that knocks EVIL down. Naito takes over and hits a Combination Cabron followed by a neck breaker. The champ drags EVIL up by his hair and hits a reverse DDT onto his knee. He stomps at the challenger. EVIL takes over and slaps Naito in the face. Naito takes back the advantage by using a wrist lock on EVIL and hitting him with elbow strikes. Naito is not fooling around and is all business.
On the apron, Naito hits a neck breaker onto the apron. Naito moves the table and looks to hit a piledriver from the apron but EVIL blocks it with an eye rake. EVIL picks up Naito and drives the champ’s knee through the table!
EVIL grabs a chair and wraps it around Naito’s knee. Red Shoes picks up a piece of the broken table to stop EVIL from hitting Naito’s knee with another chair. The champ has a big cut on his lower back from the broken table. Red Shoes gets back in the ring and starts to count out Naito and gets to 18 before Naito gets back in. EVIL applies a sharpshooter to Naito but the champ fights through it and gets a rope break.
Naito blocks an attempted Darkness Falls but gets whipped into the exposed turnbuckles and EVIL hits a lariat for a two count. EVIL gets Naito up and hits Darkness Falls for another two-count. Naito fights out of an Everything is Evil attempt and the champ slaps EVIL and hits a Destino but can’t get a cover. Forearm by Naito as both guys exchange strikes from their knees. The champs stare at EVIL and drop him with forearm strikes.
Back up on their feet, Naito hits a tornado DDT off the ropes and follows it with Gloria but only gets a two count. Naito tries for another Destino but EVIL fights out of it and the challenger gets driven shoulder-first into the exposed turnbuckle. On the top rope, Naito hits a huracanrana. The crowd is clapping and Naito hits a Destino for a two count. The champ tries to hit another Destino but EVIL blocks it and runs Naito into Red Shoes who was in the corner without the padding. Red Shoes is dead outside and as Jado strolls down to the ring with a kendo stick, Ishimori runs down and attacks Naito from the top rope. Jado is about to hit Naito with the kendo stick when Hiromu appears and chases off the Bullet Club members through the crowd. Naito gets up but EVIL has been playing possum and has a chair. He hits the champion in the gut and then delivers an overhead unprotected chair shot to Naito’s head. Red Shoes is alive, Naito blocks Everything is Evil and hits a reverse tornado DDT from the second rope for a two count. Naito hits Valencia but EVIL kicks him between the legs. BUSHI comes down to encourage Naito but instead hits him and chokes him out with a metal cable. EVIL stomps Naito between the legs as Red Shoes is distracted by “BUSHI” and then hits Everything is Evil and Red Shoes counts to three. EVIL is the new double champion!
WINNER: EVIL in 38:00
This was a very good match and with the win, it cements EVIL as a main eventer and new leader in Bullet Club. The crowd was super into the match.
“BUSHI” takes off his mask and underneath it is Dick Togo. EVIL and Togo attack Naito who is still out and Hiromu runs down again to save Naito. Hiromu grabs the mic and says he wants EVIL. EVIL takes the mic and instead of replying, he just walks away with his two new belts. Hiromu is left screaming in the ring.
The NJ Cup tournament and now Dominion has pressed the reset button on NJPW. Bullet Club gets a shot in the arm with some new members. New tag champs. EVIL has a huge new role in the company. Hiromu Takahashi takes a massive step up the ladder as well.
I will be joining John and Wai tonight to talk about Dominion and the fallout from the NJPW re-start coming out of the COVID-19 shutdown. That show will be available for POST Wrestling Patrons so check it out or sign up to become a Patreon.
Thanks for reading