So New Japan just finished their big Wrestling Dontaku tour, spreading out a lot of big matches across different shows. So I decided to pile them all in together in one review (including the Hi No Kuni matches) since I only watched the main matches I was interested in on each show.
23/4/18 – IWGP Jr. Tag Title Match: BUSHI/Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado/Yoshinobu Kanemaru (c)
First of the the tour main events, was nice for them to give these guys the spotlight and it was great match-up to boot. Guys worked their butts off with lots of good action and the crowd reacting well. In the end though after a bit of mischief Depsy hits a Pinche De Loco on one of the belts to gain the victory and retain.
Winners: Despy/Kanemaru (via Pinche De Loco) ****
24/4/18 – Toa Henare vs. Tomohiro Ishii
This ruled. It was a big proving ground for Henare in his biggest match yet and he certainly delivered, doing his best to absorb Ishii’s Punishment and hold his own. He even has a couple chances at victory but in the end Ishii drops him with a brainbuster to win.
Guys worked really well together and would be happy to see them square off again.
Winner: Ishii (via Brainbuster) ****
24/4/18 – U.S Title Match: Jay White (c) vs. David Finlay
Another proving ground with this time Finlay in his biggest match yet, up against a guy he know all too well. Great match-up too with both guys obviously having really good chemistry from facing each other a lot as young lions.
White has some good control spots and one point even tries to submit Finlay with a boston crab, treating him still like a Young lion. Finlay holds his own well though and proves he is more than that, but after a few nearfalls including the one of the subtlest kickouts ever, Jay counters Finlay’s stunner into the Blade Runner to successfully retain. This was definitely the most confident performance I’ve seen from White so far ad superb showing from Finlay who shows he is capable of working a big main event.
Winner: Jay White (via Blade Runner) ****1/4
27/4/18 – NEVER Title Match – Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Juice Robinson
Tremendous match between these two. Both guys really stepped it up with some great back and forth action, Juice in particular seemed really driven in trying to win his first singles titles, even busting out some new manoeuvres in his arsenal. Despite his efforts though Goto manages to successfully retain using the GTR.
Winner: Goto (via GTR) ****1/4
29/4/18 – IWGP Tag Team Title Match: KES vs. EVIL/Sanada (c)
This was a very good tag match, KES did well at isolating EVIL/Sanada and the Killer bomb they do off the apron through a table on Sanada looked pretty nasty. They come close to win the belts again, but in the end after a fun finishing stretch EVIL manages to successfully retain them for his team.
Winners: EVIL/Sanada (via EVIL) ***3/4
29/4/18 – IWGP Intercontinental Title Match – Minoru Suzuki (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito
This is an interesting one…So I’ve seen quite a few people say that Naito’s performance was awful here and I have to disagree, he may have been a little off his game but I didn’t see much wrong with him and while there were a few sloppy bits that was also down to Suzuki not being the best at taking moves anyway.
Suzuki was still on form for most of the match though, that being said that the match was disappointing with a rather abrupt anticlimactic finish but was still decent. Suzuki basically spends the majority of it going after Naito’s leg which did get a bit tedious this time around. There some good slaps exchanged and Naito make a couple of comebacks before suddenly hitting a Destino to win the belt. Definitely one of the most underwhelming big matches of the year, but it wasn’t all bad, was hoping for Suzuki to have a longer run with the IC belt but ah well.
Winner: Naito (via Destino) ***
3/5/18 – NEVER 6 Man Title Match: Young Bucks/Scurll vs. GoD/Fale (c)
Very solid 6-man, had a lot of good energy and action with Bucks actually getting the win with more ‘bang for your buck’ which I don’t think I’ve seen them win with before which was a surprise.
Winners: Bucks/Scurll (via More Bang for Your Buck) ***1/2
3/5/18 – Cody vs. Kota Ibushi
Really good match, thought it was a little better than their WK match with bit more going for it, though no Cross Rhodes of the apron this time, Ibushi does try and stomp Cody through a table twice though which was fun.
Cody did get a fair amount of control which wasn’t super interesting a times, but they pick things up and have some good nearfalls before Cody finally drops Ibushi with an odd looking vertebreaker.
Winner: Cody (via Vertebreaker) ****
3/5/18 – Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Page
This was great and had some brutal moments in it. The guys really put in the effort and from the get go was busting out the big manoeuvres, Page did his best to look like he was on the same level as Omega and seemed like he had a good chance of winning, but in the end Omega hits the one winged Angel to get the victory. Tremendous showing from Page though in his first singles Main event.
Winner: Omega (via One Winged Angel) ****1/4
4/5/18 – IWGP Jr. Title Match – KUSHIDA vs. Will Ospreay (c)
Outstanding match, the chemistry of these guys is through the roof, everything was just so smooth and there was some great creative counters and manoeuvres with the whole thing being very engaging from start to finish. KUSHIDA somewhat targets Ospreay’s arm but its only really to soften it up for his hoverboard lock. I think Ospreay’s screams can be a little much sometimes, but that a minor gripe in what was a super enjoyable match with Ospreay successfully retaining, hitting his new nifty looking finisher.
Winner: Ospreay (via Storm Breaker) ****3/4
-After the match the new Bone soldier debuts and is revealed to be Taiji Ishimori!
4/5/18 – IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada (c)
Another brilliant chapter in what is probably the greatest rivalry of this decade. It’s doesn’t quite match-up to their best stuff and I wasn’t as super invested as previous encounters, but the story they told here was something different…Tanahashi is no longer on Okada’s level.
Tana somewhat struggled throughout whilst Okada had control and took his time with things. It was still a valiant effort though as Tana managed to get in some of his big offense and came close to victory but Okada almost always had him scouted and despite Tana’s attempts to avoid it, the Rainmaker proved to be his demise making Okada retain his 12th defence. Just terrific stuff as Okada displays his true superiority.
Winner: Okada (via Rainmaker) ****1/2
-After the match Omega comes out to make the challenge at Dominion, but this time no time limit and 2 out of 3 falls!..Should be some good stuff, maybe Omega can finally dethrone the unstoppable champ.
And that’s your lot and what a great lot it is, certainly lots of enjoyable stuff to consume here with some guys getting a chance to really shine for the first time. KUSHIDA/Ospreay was certainly my favourite match of the lot, but don’t sleep on Tana/Okada, Page/Omega, Goto/Juice, Jay/Finlay or Henare/Ishii which are all definitely worth checking out. Naito/MiSu may have been disappointing but New Japan have managed to strongly deliver yet again.
Thanks for reading