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  1. #1

    The X-Patriot Takes On NJPW Dominion 2018

    The X-Patriot Takes on NJPW Dominion 2018

    For those of you who have read me over the years, you probably know that I have always preferred SummerSlam to Wrestlemania. Looking back over the years, I think that is largely because my favorite wrestler growing up—Bret Hart—nearly always had some sort of featured match at SummerSlam and rarely did at Wrestlemania when he was an up-and-comer. There’s no doubt that few of the older SummerSlams compare to the Wrestlemanias, though these days SummerSlams are normally objectively better due to Wrestlemania being when WWE tends to push their own agenda over what “we” want.

    I have also tended to prefer Dominion to Wrestle Kingdom; but for a different reason. The match quality seems to be better overall—though WK arguably has the better quality in the top matches. Wrestle Kingdom has suffered the last three years by Gedo trying to get everybody possible on the card. Really the only thing I dislike about NJPW is that they try to do this on a lot of shows, so you end up with a plethora of multi-man tags. They really don’t do this with Dominion, though, and this year’s card looks like it may end up being the card of the year!
    I haven’t done this in a while, but I’m going to break down the five matches on the card I am most interested in—in reverse order--and will then do the same after the show. The second thru fourth matches were really hard to decide between because they all look so good, so don’t view the placement as me being not excited for them.

    My buddy Jeff and I will be doing a podcast review of the show and possibly discussing the Bullet Club Civil War Sunday morning on Lords of Pain Radio, as well, at around 8:30 Central Time. Tune in and give a listen.

    Event: Dominion 2018
    Date: June 9, 2017
    Time: 2:00 A.M. CDT
    Location: Osaka-Joe Hall

    Before The Show

    CHAOS (Roppongi 3K) vs. Suzuki Gun (El Desperado & Yonshinobu Kanemaru) for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Championships
    Roppongi 3K are already two time champs in a very short amount of time, but both of their reigns have been quite short, as well. Kanemaru & Desperado are the best part of Suzuki Gun. What about Suzuki, Xan? Well, Suzuki is a great in-ring performer, but his antics piss me off. Every single damn match he uses a chair on the outside on his opponent well away from the ring in order to attain a count-out victory and in every case, the referee does nothing but admonish him and then after the match, win or lose he beats up the young boys. Irritating.

    This team of juniors, however, wrestles a sneaky, old school, style I can really appreciate. Roppongi 3K I am not completely sold on yet, as I haven’t seen them look better than average against a team without the last name of Jackson. It isn’t like there is a lot of choices in the division, though, so to keep things fresh they will probably end up getting the straps here. This division is really outdated at this point; they should just merge the two tag divisions together; but until they do, we will just keep getting repetitive rematches. Doesn’t mean it won’t be a fun watch.

    Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
    I have been anticipating this since New Year’s Dash. Jericho vs. Omega was the best match at Wrestle Kingdom, this one is also a blood feud—by definition—and Naito is one of the top 5 performers in the world. That said, as good as Jericho is historically, there is always a chance he has a bad night when he is against somebody he has never worked. I just have that little bit of trepidation that is causing me to drop this a little.

    All that said, I am probably worried for no reason and this match will likely be awesome. There has been some speculation that Jericho could actually win the title here and then lose it back to Naito in San Francisco in July. I really don’t think that’s happening. The title has already been passed around a bit this year and IWGP doesn’t tend to do that much with their heavyweight singles championships, so I think a change is unlikely until Wrestle Kingdom or so. That said, the strap has changed hands at the last two Dominions, so it certainly isn’t out of the question.

    The Young Bucks vs. Los Ingoberables De Japon (Sanada & EVIL) for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Championships
    I have huge love for Nick and Matt Jackson. I have always been a fan of theirs, but the psychology they have added into their matches in recent years has made them even better than they used to be and their move to the heavyweight division—despite my dislike of the separation—is long overdue. If you don’t like the Young Bucks, you may want to give them another look, as their character work since Wrestle Kingdom 11 has been fantastic. Already 2/3 of the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Champions and 7-time Jr Heavy Tag Champs, here they go for their first official heavyweight gold.

    Their opponents? Sanada and Evil, who have been a force in New Japan tag wrestling for about a year and a half now. Not only are they 3-time 6-Man tag champs with Bushi, but they won the 2017 World Tag League, defeated Killer Elite Squad for these belts at Wrestle Kingdom, successfully defended against them, and also defended the titles successfully against Kazuchika Okada and Hirooki Goto. These guys are the real deal and I think this match will be phenomenal. Should the Bucks win? I don’t think they should yet, but this could start a strong rivalry.

    Hiroshi Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
    I won’t say these two wrestled the best match of the year so far, but they certainly wrestled my favorite one. It occurred at The New Beginning in Osaka and is on my personal short list for match of the year. Now they get a grander stage on which to showcase themselves. Takahashi came into the organization on absolute fire and won this same title at the beginning of last year and was booked to be unbeatable…until Best of the Super Juniors rolled around and then he dropped the title at Dominion 2017 to KUSHIDA, fading into near obscurity by the end of the year. This left the door open for the gaijin, Ospreay, to basically take over the division since.

    Ospreay, always a great talent, has improved immensely in the psychology department and has been putting on great match after great match, even finally overcoming Marty Scurll at Sakura Genesis, putting paid to the notion that the third thing in life that was certain is Scurll beats Ospreay. His next assignment? Overcoming KUSHIDA at Wrestling Dontaku. Each match has been doing more and more damage to his neck and now the vicious timebomb of the 2018 BOSJ Champ is coming to get him with a finishing move that crushes that area. Ospreay needs a break; Takahashi needs a win. I smell a change.

    Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in a No-Time Limit 2/3 Falls Match
    Part of me thinks if you don’t know the history of this one, you must have been living under a rock the last 18 months. The other, wiser, part of me understands New Japan is gaining fans every day and you may be interested to turn in so I should tell you this shit. I am going to let my better (one-winged) angel win out.

    Kazuchika Okada is now, by two measures, the greatest IWGP Heavyweight Champion of all-time. He defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestling Dontaku to break Tana’s record of 11 consecutive title defenses and also has the longevity record, as he has held the title since Dominion 2016, which occurred on June 19. This means if he is able to escape at Dominion, he will almost certainly hold the belt for over two years. His greatest title opponent over the course of this reign? Kenny Omega.He only lost two singles matches in 2017. The first was to EVIL. The second? Omega on the penultimate night of the G1 Climax.

    In the other two matches they had—the two greatest matches of all time--it took 4 Rainmakers and 47 minutes for Omega to be conquered at Wrestle Kingdom 11 and the two fought to a 60-minute time limit draw at Dominion 2017. Since then; while Okada has been surviving challenger after challenger; Omega has been on an emotional rollercoaster. He was the inaugural NJPW United States Champion, vowing to bring it to the level of Okada’s championship, but losing it in a major upset to Jay White in his 3rd defense; the aftermath of which ignited the Bullet Club Civil War, but reunited The Golden Lovers (Omega and Kota Ibushi.)

    Okada has a claim to the greatest IWGP Champion of all time, while Omega has a claim to being in the greatest tag team in the world, and they both have a claim to being the greatest wrestler in the world. Bullet Club appears to have come back together, other than the alphas who are still trying to settle things, yet it won’t be the Young Bucks cornering Omega like they have so many times—it will be Ibushi. Can a divided Omega present the same threat to Okada that he did last year? Will Cody show up again to attempt to throw in the towel for Omega? This thing is going to be amazing and my bet? Cody tries to interfere, Bullet Club—the entire faction--stops him, and Omega finally gets the IWGP Heavyweight Title. It’s time.

    Until Sunday, my friends, be X-Cellent. Long days, pleasant nights.
    Last edited by XanMan; 06-08-2018 at 09:54 AM.

  2. #2
    LOP Freebirds Buddy Roberts SirSam's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Love this column. I cane to NJPW last year on the back of the Omega Okada hype, watched my first full ppv for Wrestle Kingdom and have been really enjoying their PPVs since. Even got to see their live show earlier this year too.

    The stories that I think will determine the main event are, where Omega's head is at, how he will do without the support of the Bucks and also where Okada's drive and motivation are at given he has very little left to achieve.

    Love this summation though especially for the lower card guys who I am only really starting to get a grasp on.

  3. #3
    "Behind every successful man, there's a slut." JL CanadianCrippler's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Tavistock, Ontario
    Shit I had no idea Dominion happened, I'm really not completely up to speed on NJPW so you caught me off guard with this. Respect your opinion and I strongly agree with your thoughts on The Young Bucks and Omega, was surprised to see more progression in the Bullet Club story. I would have to imagine if they don't fall apart before the World Tag Leaue then they must by WK next year. It's been a hell of a ride but it's becoming monotonous.

  4. #4
    Sam--Good point about Okada's motivation. One of the records he still needs relies upon him having to drop titles.

    Crippler--Dominion has not happened yet; it is now just under 12 hours away, so you can still watch it live on NJPW World!

  5. #5
    "Behind every successful man, there's a slut." JL CanadianCrippler's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Tavistock, Ontario
    Probably should have read tbis when I was sober... Gonna catch your podcast as my nefarious means take a few days to upload reliable DL's. Looking forward to it though now I've given it a once over.

  6. #6
    The Brain
    Join Date
    May 2018
    Awesome rundown, Xan, glad to see you back around these parts! Hope to see a follow column reviewing the event now that it's gone down, would love to hear more of your thoughts.

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