Bad night for CHAOS. Mostly good night for The Bullet Club
by Zach Dominello
The Young Bucks vs. The Time Splitters for IWGP Jr. Tag Titles
Really good opening match. These two teams know each other really well. It’s almost impossible for them to have a bad match together at this point, shoulder injuries withstanding. Shelley fortunately got through the match incident free, though his shoulder was heavily taped up. The Young Bucks worked it throughout the match.
Shelley got a nice pop when he first tagged in. He’s really over with the New Japan fans.
Lots of “suck its” by the Young Bucks early on. The Bucks stole Tyler Breeze’s boots, or vice versa. Nice double plancha by the Time Splitters onto the Bucks. Shelley did a diving knee off the apron onto Nick, Matt kicked Shelley through the ropes and tried skinning the cat, but KUSHIDA caught him with a dropkick to the face. The Time Splitters hit a top rope double team Sliced Bread for a near fall. Matt reversed a kimura attempt into a double team tombstone piledriver. Shelley made the save. Nick hit a nice 450 splash on KUSHIDA as Matt held him on the middle rope.
Young Bucks went for More Bang for your Buck but KUSHIDA rolled out of the way, got Nick into a kimura and tapped him out in 16’50. The Time Splitters are the new IWGP Jr. tag champs.
Very fun match, but not the best they’ve had together. The Time Splitters finally capturing the titles after quite a few attempts was a really nice moment.
KUSHIDA’s submission is turning out to be a very effective finisher (except against Ricochet).
Tetsuya Naito vs. Tama Tonga
Naito nearly stacked it while doing his pose on the turnbuckle. He looked pretty annoyed at himself after that. Not a good sign of things to come.
Tonga attacked Naito from behind immediately after the bell sounded. Naito did his sequence where he trips his opponent in the corner from the outside, springboards over the ropes and kicks them in the corner, kind of like Jeff Hardy. But he lands so hard on his back it looks more painful for him than it does his opponent. Naito taunted Tonga by imitating him. That was funny. Naito hit a really high German suplex on Tonga. Naito with the Stardust Press (not Cody Rhodes) for the pin in 8’13.
Fine match, but not a lot of reaction from the crowd. Tonga is basically the YOSHI-HASHI of the Bullet Club. Always there to take the loss.
Yuji Nagata & Tomoaki Honma vs. Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata
As expected, this was a very physical, stiff, hardhitting affair. Also as expected, Honma took the pinfall in 11’20, when Goto nailed him with a variation of the move where he fireman carries his opponent and drops them on his knee, but this time face first, instead of on the back of their head. It may be called a Reverse Ushikoroshi, but don’t quote me one that.
Early in the match, Shibata pretty much killed Honma with one punch. Honma and Shibata got into a slap fight that heft Honma bleeding from the mouth. Nagata got Shibata into his crazy eyes armbar but Goto made the save. Honma went for his usual diving headbutt from the top but Goto rolled out of the way. I’m pretty sure the crowd laughed at that. Goto went for Shoten Kai but Honma rolled him up for a near fall, but Goto eventually put him away with that facebuster knee smash that’s hard to describe but looks pretty cool.
Shibata and Nagata fought throughout the arena after match like it was WCW in the late 90s.
The crowd was heaps hotter for this than they were the previous match. Honma is so great. Every time he gets pinned he loses a little more hair. I hope they do more with him in the future/now!
Honma, Tonga and YOSHI-HASHI are 3MB, they just don’t know it yet.
Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer for the NWA Tag Titles
My stream cut out right at the start so I missed the first five minutes or so of this match. When it came back, KES hit their double team finisher on Kojima but Tenzan broke up the pin.
Kojima did a double lariat, followed by a regular Kojima lariat on Davey Boy for the win in 15’26.
Archer did a pretty cool moonsault from the top during the match. Crowd was into it.
Kota Ibushi vs. Ricochet for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title
This match had some huge expectations to live up to going in, but with the track record of both guys, there was no doubting that it would’t disappoint (too many negatives! I confused myself!). There was no doubting they would deliver. That’s better.
As expected, this was awesome! Incredibly fast paced, very smooth, very floppy, but also some hard hitting action. Ibushi did a top rope standing frankensteiner but Ricochet landed on his feet like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Ibushi reversed a Benadryller attempt into a huracanrana for a near fall. Ibushi put Ricochet away with the Pheonix-Plex. It’s the first time I’ve seen him use that one. Ibushi retains the title in 13’37.
After defeating KUSHIDA in the epic Super Juniors finals, Ricochet looked very strong coming into this one, which in turn makes Ibushi look super strong after putting away Ricochet.
I’ve got 2 problems with this match though, neither of them the fault of the performers. Firstly, 13 minutes was too short. These guys deserved more time than that. Secondly, they also deserved to go on last. This match should’ve been the headliner and gone at least twenty minutes. It was still a great match and the crowd was very hot. Ricochet is very popular in New Japan.
Kazushi Sakuraba & Toru Yano vs. Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka
Well, what goes up, must come down. After going into the intermission hot, this show’s momentum was killed dead with this match. It got some of its momentum back later on, but this match. Good grief! Suzuki’s entrance and music continue to be the best part of his matches lately.
15’53. How is it that this match was given more time than Ricochet and Ibushi? That is just mind boggling. At 13 minutes, Ricochet and Ibushi felt too short. At 15 minutes, this match felt like an eternity. And not a good eternity, with things that make you happy, like puppies and ice-cream. A bad eternity, with bad things and bad people, and no ice-cream.
Suzuki pinned Yano with a Gotch piledriver after a chair shot and an Iron Finger from Hell. After the match, Iizuka hit Sakuraba with the Iron Finger, too.
In all fairness, the brief moments where Sakuraba and Suzuki actually wrestled each other was good, like when Sakuraba reversed piledriver by Suzuki into a kimura. But those moments were very brief.
The crowd was quite dead after this (I was, anyway).
To make matters worse, Suzuki beat up my favourite Young Lion, Yohei Komatsu on the way to the back.
Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii vs. A.J. Styles & Yujiro Takahashi
Pretty good match. Ishii took some pretty crazy, “Mick Foley dangerous” bumps during this one. Takahashi tried to bucklebomb Ishii and sent him head first into the bottom turnbuckle. How his neck didn’t snap I don’t know. But I’m very pleased it didn’t. Later in the match, Takahashi hit a very high Angle slam on Ishii. Like really high on the neck. So dangerous.
The best part was Ishii’s lariat that drove Takahashi’s face into the mat, turing it into mush. After getting rid of Okada, Yujiro pinned Ishii with Miami Shine in 15’53.
Good match, but I can hardly remember anything Okada did here. He’s in a little bit of a slump it seems. AJ looked really good, particularly against Ishii. The crowd is starting to get into his moves, and even though he’s a heel, he’s very talented and the New Japan crowd can appreciate that.
The ending felt a bit flat, but I guess Yujiro needed the win to build up some tension for his title match against Ishii.
Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe for the IWGP Tag Titles
Gallows slapped Makabe in the face and Makabe sold it like his now was broken. Really good selling by Makabe. Galllows continued to target the jaw throughout the match. On the outside, Gallows picked up the guard rail and crushed Makabe with it. Anderson did Kevin Steen’s apron powerbomb on Tanahashi. Does he usually do that?
Anderson and Gallows hit their usually double team moves. Anderson hit a TKO on Tanahashi for a near fall. Tanahashi hit Slingblade, and went for High Fly Flow but Anderson got his knees up and rolled Tanahashi up for a near fall. Anderson took a dragon screw from Tanahashi better than anybody I’ve seen.
Makabe power bombed Anderson, Tanahashi hit the High Fly Flow and Makabe was going to go for the King Kong Knee Drop but Gallows hit him with a chair. Gallows hit a chokebomb on Makabe but Makabe kicked out at two. Magic Killer on Tanahashi puts him out for the rest of the match. Makabe came off the ropes and ran into an Gun Stun by Anderson. Anderson and Gallows then finished Makabe with the Magic Killer in 14’41 to retain the titles.
After a really slow start, the tension built up throughout the match to a really exciting finish.
Good match, but not as good as The Young Bucks vs. The Time Splitters, and not as hot as Nagata and Honma vs. Goto and Shibata.
Main Event: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bad Luck Fale for the Intercontinental Championship
This was probably the best match of Fale’s career in New Japan. It was certainly his biggest. While not my pick for the main event, Nakamura and Fale did a pretty good job, but I think I enjoyed their earlier match together at the New Japan Cup where Nakamura was busted open. Probably because Nakamura got busted open. It really added something extra to that match. Blood, I guess.
Very methodical start (meaning boring). Nakamura no sold some punches and spat in Fale’s face, which only angered him. Nakamura also did Fale’s arms crossed pose. That was pretty funny.
Nakamura did his shaky leg thing in the corner. Fale went for the Grneade but Nakamura countered with a knee to the head. Fale hit the Grenade on his second attempt for a near fall. Fale went for Bad Luck Fall but Nakamura wriggled free. FAle went up top but Nakmura superplexed him down from the middle rope. Why do the announcers always call superplexes/suplexes “brainbusters?”
Nakamura hit a backstabber and the a huge exploder suplex on Fale. That was impressive by both guys.
Nakamura hits second rope Boma Ye, followed by a regular Boma Ye but Fale kicked out at two. Nakamura went for a third Boma Ye but Fale speared him out of his boots. Fale turned a chokebomb into a regular power bomb for a near fall. Fale then hit a scary top rope splash on Nakamura for another near fall. Scary because he looked like he was going to fall off the ropes like Naito almost did. Another Bad Luck Fall attempt, this time successful, and Fale is the new IC champ! FAle oinned Nakamura in 17’56.
Very big win for Fale. Easily the biggest of his career. This match was very well done. There was only some minor interference from Tonga in the beginning, with no other interference during the match. This was another match with a slow start that built to a big finish. After the first Boma Ye, I really started to get into it. I still think Ibushi vs. Ricochet would’ve been the better choice to close the show, however.
After the match, the Bullet Club all came out and celebrated with Fale, who was clearly so happy that he couldn’t stop smiling.
Nakamura was taken to the back on a stretcher. Obviously that was meant to sell the effect of the Bad Luck Fall, but it kind of made Nakamura look like a geek, and also made me laugh a bit. I’ll feel bad if he was legit hurt, but I don’t think so.
This year’s Dominion was a good show, but I think it suffered from pacing issues. The first half, before intermission, was really good. The matches were fun and the crowd had a lot of energy. But coming out of intermission with Yano and Suzuki sucked the life out of everybody and everything.
Fale vs. Nakamura didn’t quite feel main even worthy. Fale is improving, but he’s not main event, not yet. Yes “main event” is now an adjective. Deal with it. Okada was literally forgettable in his tag match. Literally, I can barely remember seeing him in the match.
Ricochet vs. Ibushi was excellent, but should’ve been given more time and deserved to go on last.
The Match of the Night goes to the opener between The Young Bucks and The Time Splitters. It was awesome to see Shelley and KUSHIDA get the titles after trying for so long.
Thanks for reading! See you next time.
Big thanks to SenorLARIATO for the GIFS!