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  • Connor Ewens

Let's Review: NJPW Dominion 2023

After a predictably exciting Best of the Super Junior's tournament, we have one of New Japans biggest shows of the year. My intrigue was high with some of the built stories leading to this show, particularly in and around the NEVER Openweight 6-man titles featuring some of the biggest names in wrestling from both sides of the planet. I'm excited to talk about this so I'll get straight into it. Let's establish sovereignty. Let's review.

June 4th 2023- NJPW Dominion 6.5 at Osaka-Jo Hall

-Our English commentary team is Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton & Gino Gambino

Lance Archer vs Will Ospreay

This is the finals in a tournament to crown a number 1 contender for Kenny Omega's IWGP US Championship. Lance Archer defeated Fred Rosser, Will Ospreay defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi. Both guys are coming off recent injuries, Archer being recently vocal about how he's sick of the fans assuming he's being "buried", which I can understand. Just let the guy have his privacy. This was a short match but they absolutely packed it with action, full of signature offence like Ozcutters and chokeslams. Will Ospreay picked up the victory with a barrage of hidden blades for the pin. An exciting, high-octane opener, perfect way to start the show. Will Ospreay will get his rematch with Kenny for the title which I'm sure everyone is very excited for, considering how good their match at Wrestle Kingdom was. Will cuts a quick promo where he declares it's him vs the whole of Canada, seemingly confirming the rematch to be at Forbidden Door (which is now officially confirmed).

Will Ospreay wins via pinfall (8:01)


Just 5 Guys (DOUKI, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, Titan & Shingo Takagi

Damn these factions have had waaaay too many multi-man matches together. A feud that has been in progress for a few months now, which we honestly may see carry on throughout the year until we get our Naito vs Sanada match. At least Titan being in this adds some much needed freshness. This was a solid tag match, Titan especially had a great showing, continuing his momentum from a stellar showing at the BOSJ tournament. Titan gets the win for his team, a much needed victory for LiJ who've lost a few times in this feud.

Los Ingobernables de Japon win via pinfall (9:24)


Intergalactic Jet Setters (KUSHIDA & Kevin Knight) (c) vs Catch 22 (Francesco Akira & TJP) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships

These teams have been feuding since meeting in the Super Jr. Tag League last year. Dan Maloney is in the corner of his fellow United Empire friends. This was a very fun, very exciting display of tag wrestling. The story coming off the BOSJ and continuing is Kushida struggling to compete with younger talent in his division. Catch 22 had an answer for everything, and eventually secured with a leaning tower and regained the Championships. Post match, Clark Connors representing Bullet Club intends to challenge for the titles and introduces his tag partner. It's Dan Maloney! He attacks Catch 22 and joins Bullet Club. The champs are beat down. Didn't really care for the turn too much, but hopefully they're planning on breathing fresh air into an incredibly stale Bullet Club

Catch 22 win via pinfall (10:38)


Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs Jeff Cobb for the NJPW Television Championship

Very much looking forward to this coming off their previous clash at Wrestling Dontaku. It ended in a draw, not only Cobb wants to get the job done but ZSJ is extra aggressive wanting to prove he can beat Cobb. The was an evenly contest match, similar to the opener a bit of a sprint chocked full of action. A very good match with a great finish. After failing to hit the tour of the islands a few times, it seemed Cobb finally had it landed BUT Zack transitions into a crucifix bomb to get the pin. Very slick.

Zack Sabre Jr. retains via pinfall (8:46)


Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) vs House of Torture (EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi) vs United Empire (Aaron Henare & The Great O-Khan) for the vacant IWGP Tag Team & NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team Championships.

Aussie Open had to relinquish both titles unfortunately due to Mark Davis tearing his meniscus, United Empire taking their place. This was the one I was least excited for, like everyone else, because the House of Torture are easily the worst thing about New Japan right now. This was actually pretty decent. They played to the fact about how much everyone hates HoT by having the teams take turns beating on them. They also got numerous of very nearfalls that nearly made me sick. It started off pretty basic and when the HoT were on offence it was a bit meh but it built towards and exciting ending. A touch too much interference for my liking but it definitely exceeded any expectations I had. Bishimon win with their Shota finisher.

Bishimon win via pinfall (13:46)


-The G1 Climax roster was revealed. Some of your usual great names, micarders and upcoming talents involved. The greatest highlights were Eddie Kingston from AEW and Kaito Kiyomiya from NOAH, with a lot of youngsters like Ren Narita & Gabriel Kidd also making their tournament debut.

David Finlay (c) vs El Phantasmo for the NEVER Openweight Championship

With Finlay leading the charge for Bullet Club, it seems plenty major changes are happening to the faction which are much needed at this point. Seemingly it'll be used as a platform to elevate upcoming Western talent. After being booted out of the faction early this year, Phantasmo is looking for revenge. The crowd are pretty hot for ELP. Finlay is flanked by 4 of his BC Bois. This was good, they played their roles well and the action was good of course. It dragged a bit though, I would have shaved off maybe 5 minutes and it would have benefited. Finlay hit Obilivion to pick up a victory, with help of some outside interference.

David Finlay retains via pinfall (18:51)


Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs Master Wato for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

Okay, it's time for things to pick up. Our last 3 matches are bangers and we start with the Junior's. Master Wato had a blinder of a tournament, only dropping 2 losses in the block stage and going on to have stellar wins against Mike Bailey & Titan. There's change in the air in New Japan, it feels like they're really letting an influx of young talent rise the ranks for the first time in some time. Many comparisons are being drawn between Wato & Kota Ibushi, which is a great endorsement and he has the potential to make it on his own. An exciting contest that continued to escalate, they pulled out some nail-biting nearfalls. Wato survived a time bomb but was kept down with a time bomb II. I thought Wato had this won to continue the rise of the new guard, but I'm happy with either result. It continues Hiromu's quest to maintain his title as the ace of the division, Wato's time will come.

Hiromu Takahashi retains via pinfall (19:50)


Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Blackpool Combat Club (Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli & Shota Umino) for the NEVER Openweight 6-man Championships

Ohhhhhh yeah I'm excited for this one. You have legends like Ishii & Tanahashi. You have current megastars like Moxley, Okada & Castagnoli, and a future star in Shota Umino. Outside of these all having talent oozing out of their orifices, there's plenty of other wheels spinning. Okada & Shota have been at war with the latter demanding respect and not getting it. Ishii & Moxley had a brilliant rivalry of matches a few years back. Moxley also rivaled with Tanahashi last year. AND, this is Claudio's first New Japan match. AND AND, Shota Umino's dad is the referee, Red Shoes. This was a marquee match for sure. The way the crowd cheered when Claudio & Okada stood opposite each other was magic. Umino being a brash youngster off his leash, gunning for Okada. Claudio duking it out with Ishii. Moxley being busted open because of course he is. Claudio doing a big swing on Okada. Okada taking a bloody SHIELD BOMB. This was everything I hoped it would be. Who would think the Openweight 6-man titles would ever be the best thing about a New Japan show? Okada puts young Shooter Shota in his place with a Rainmaker to win

Okada, Tanahashi & Ishii retain via pinfall (20:38)


-Video package, Bryan Danielson challenges Kazuchika Okada. FUCK YES PLEASE. I want all of this. One of the greatest wrestlers in the world, versus one of the greatest wrestlers in the world. Give them 60 minutes, hell give them 2 hours I'll watch it all!!

SANADA (c) vs Yota Tsuji for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship

New Japan pushing a returning Young Lion has backfired in the past. Jay White took longer than usual to find his place, Shota Umino took a big hit after a flop main event. Different story here. Tsuji is actually crazy over here, chants for him drowning out chants for Sanada. Yota attacked Sanada before his excursion, so now upon is return he targets Sanada again, joining LiJ and immediately gunning for a world title opportunity. This felt like an epic battle. Tsuji is HUGE. He dominated large portions of this match. He got a huge reaction from the crowd (and me) for almost murdering Sanada with a spear in midair. Then he goes and hits a Fosbury Flop! Sanada clawed back for an advantage but Tsuji was dominant. His offence looked great, and the risk paid off because the fans loved him. Sanada showed resilience and fought against his stronger foe, able to hit dead fall to retain. I actually was convinced they were going to hotshot to title on Tsuji at one point but its probably for the best. Great showing, I look forward to seeing more from him in the G1. What's next for Sanada? Well I imagine a feud against his former leader Naito is still on the cards.

SANADA retains via pinfall (17:01)


Overall- 70%

What a show, as I expect from New Japan usually. It was a solid show right from the start with only a pair of weaker matches. Things picked up at the end with a trifecta of astounding matches. Plenty of hype built towards the future too with the G1 competitors announced and some match-ups seemingly confirmed for Forbidden Door.

MOTN- NEVER Openweight 6-man match


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