The SmarK Rant for NJPW Dominion – 06.09.18
Live from Osaka Jo Hall
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly & Don Callis
IWGP Junior tag titles: Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru v. Rappongi 3K
SHO & YOH send the champs flying off the apron before the bell, and back in Yoh gets two on Kanemaru. Suzuki-Gun hauls them out and they brawl into the crowd, where Kanemaru drops YOH with a draping DDT off the apron. He beats the count at 19, and Kanemaru goes to work with a neck vice until YOH makes the ropes. He fights back on Desperado and suplexes Kanemaru, and it’s over to SHO, who runs wild with a spear on both guys. German suplex on Desperado, and he follows with a deadlift version for two. Desperado comes back with a spinebuster and they hit a double-team kick into a sideslam for two. SHO and Desperado slug it out and Desperado stomps the foot to win that, but SHO powers him into a body vice and YOH turns it into a double team for two. SHO with a backstabber into a YOH knee on Desperado, but Kanemaru breaks things up before accidentally misting his own partner. 3K misses and Desperado takes the ref, but the low blow misses and SHO hits a Last Ride into a lungblower for two. SHO tries the package piledriver, but the ref gets distracted momentarily and Kanemaru hits SHO with the whiskey bottle and Desperado gets the pin at 9:30. Kind of a surprising result. Match was good, but as usual too much gaga from the Suzuki-gun guys. *** Callis reads a tweet wondering if Rocky Romero is the worst wrestler in the history of pro wrestling. #KimChee
Juice Robinson & David Finlay v. Jay White & Yoshi-Hashi
Jay attacks Juice to start, which Yoshi-Hashi doesn’t appear to be cool with, and they exchange chops before Juice puts him down with a spinkick. He suggests that Jay should “eat shit, motherfucker” and Callis asks for a translation from the interpreter. Japan is indeed a magical land with a strange language. Finlay comes in and pounds on White, but he gets caught with a snaps suplex that lays him out and CHAOS goes to work on him. Yoshi with a delayed suplex for two. White with a pumphandle into a backbreaker for two while Juice makes faces on the apron. Yoshi with a cravat and some ref distraction prevents a tag to escape, but Finlay comes back with a dropkick and makes the hot tag to Juice. He slugs away and hits a corner clothesline while screaming “Eat shit!” , then hangs Hashi in the tree of woe and hits them both with a cannonball. Juice goes up with a high cross on White for two and the faces hit a double team flapjack on him, but White hits a backdrop suplex on Juice to turn the tide again. Juice fights back with a lariat on White, but Yoshi-Hashi lays him out with a lariat, and White hits the Blade Runner on Finlay. Juice catches White with Pulp Friction, however, and gets the pin at 7:32. Fun match, hot finish, and Robinson is having SO much fun with this character as opposed to the death march that was CJ Parker in NXT. So now Juice is likely to get the next shot at the US title, and he’s probably got a pretty good case for it. ***
Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr. v. Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii
Callis notes that neither guy is afraid of Suzuki, since Ishii is tough and Yano is insane. Suzuki and Ishii exchange forearms to start and yell at each other a lot, then exchange neck-based submission attempts before Zack tags in and tortures Ishii on the mat. Ishii escapes and knocks Suzuki off the apron to REALLY piss him off, and the babyfaces double-team Zack while Suzuki yells at the ref. Yano has nothing to offer against Suzuki-gun and quickly gets beat up and tied in knots by Suzuki while the announcers make fun of his tights. “We keep hoping that someone puts him out of the business, but no one’s succeeded yet.” Suzuki beats on him with forearms, but Yano comes back with an atomic drop and thankfully brings Ishii back in as he unloads with chops on Suzuki and they go back to hitting each other in the face. Ishii escapes the Gotch piledriver and they throw more forearms just to prove who’s tougher. THEY’RE GOING TO BREAK MY HAKU RATING SYSTEM, GODDAMMIT.
Finally they both just hit each other so hard that they both go down, and both make the tag. Zack quickly tries up Yano in the ropes and gets an abdominal stretch, but Yano escapes with a hiptoss and undoes the turnbuckle pad. Shockingly, that proves to be an ineffective weapon. Zack backslides him for two, but Yano tries a low blow and Zack actually catches Yano’s hand with his own knees to block it, then wraps him up and submits him at 8:50. That was an amazing finish to a goofy match. **3/4 Ishii and Suzuki decide to get into a chair-swinging battle afterwards and brawl back to the dressing room while the terrified young boys try to stop them. Spoiler: It doesn’t work.
NEVER Openweight title: Hirooki Goto v. Michael Elgin v. Taichi
Goto and Elgin wisely decide that teaming up on Taichi (the Carmella of Suzuki-gun) would be the easiest course, but he runs away from them. Goto and Elgin slug it out instead while Taichi keeps running away. Elgin hits Goto with an enzuigiri, but Taichi boots him out of the ring. Back in, Taichi and Goto team up on Goto with kicks and Taichi offers a truce, but Goto of course turns on him. Elgin dodges both guys and suplexes Taichi, but Goto hauls Taichi out of the ring for a fight until Elgin dives onto them. Back in, Elgin destroys Taichi with a corner clothesline, but Goto charges in and walks into a Taichi lariat that gets two. It’s time for the TINY PANTS, but Goto drops him with a neckbreaker for two. They fight to the top and Elgin breaks it up, so Goto suplexes him down and we get a Tower of Doom spot instead. It always gets a pop, no matter what. Elgin tosses Taichi and we got a hoss battle between Elgin and Goto, and Elgin gets an electric chair drop for two. Goto escapes a powerbomb and ducks an enzuigiri, setting up the Ushigoroshi for two. Taichi uses some distraction and hits both guys with his microphone stand, but makes the mistake of laughing maniacally about his genius, and a superkick on Goto only gets two. Elgin powerbombs him into the buckle, however, ending his merriment, and then powerbombs him into Goto and finishes with one more bomb at 13:43 to win the NEVER title. Kind of surprising that they’d put a title on Elgin after all the unpleasantness, but this was good stuff and I’ve always been a big fan of Elgin. Definitely would have been better without Taichi running around like a clown, but they can always do a rematch, I guess. ***1/4
IWGP Tag titles: EVIL & SANADA v. The Young Bucks
The Bucks do some double-team gymnastics on both guys and send them to the floor, and Nick follows with a corkscrew moonsault onto them. He’s very humble in his momentary victory, as well. Back in, EVIL catches Matt with a sideslam and tosses him outside for some punishment as Matt’s back is flaring up already. Back in, SANADA with a standing moonsault for two. EVIL with a neckbreaker for two. He misses a senton, but SANADA cuts off the tag while Matt does his new back injury gag. I’m shocked they haven’t come up with a t-shirt to market it yet. Nick gets the tag and throws kicks on everyone to put the champs on the floor, but he throws one kick too many and hits the post by mistake. OUCH. EVIL then takes out the shin on the apron and Nick takes a crazy bump to the floor off that. DOUBLE OUCH. Back in, LIJ goes to work on the leg and Matt accidentally superkicks his own brother, so things are looking bad. Nick tries to fight them off, but EVIL drops him with a lariat for two. Nick escapes a Magic Killer and Matt comes in to help out with a superplex and some motivational words, but EVIL turns it into a double powerbomb on the Bucks instead. EVIL goes back to the leg, and Nick tries a high kick like an idiot and hurts his own foot again. Back to Matt and he slugs it out with SANADA, and they trade flips out of the corner before EVIL breaks up the Indytaker. Sharpshooter on EVIL, but SANADA is the legal man and he breaks it up with Skull End, which Nick breaks up with a missile dropkick. Phew. EVIL pounds on Matt in the corner and gets a spinebuster for two. Matt reverses an STO into a tombstone, but Nick again is unable to finish the Indytaker, and EVIL reverses into his own Indytaker. They toss Nick and hit a Magic Killer on Matt for two, but Nick manages to save again. SANADA dives onto Nick to get rid of him again, but Matt backslides EVIL for two. SANADA dives in with Skull End into a EVIL superkick, but Matt pulls out a lariat on EVIL. SANADA gets rid of Nick again, back into Skull End on Matt, and he goes up with a moonsault that misses. Nick comes back in for a superkick party, but he hurts his foot again. One last double superkick on EVIL, however, and one on SANADA, and MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK finishes at 15:03 to give them the IWGP titles! I’m really digging this “get injured and fight from underneath” deal they’ve been doing this year. This was some GREAT tag team wrestling, yo. But as they say, this is what they do for a living. ****
Jushin Liger, Rey Mysterio & Hiroshi Tanahashi v. The Bullet Club (Cody
Rhodes, Marty Scurll & Adam Page)
Who could hear Liger’s music and still not get pumped up? This came about from Scurll trolling Liger and Rey, as he is apt to do. Cody spurns Don Callis by giving his magic ring to Kevin instead. “Is he mad because I called him a pan-sexual narcissist on Twitter?” Scurrl asks for Rey to start, and then runs away and lets Page have him. So Page wants Tanahashi and he goes after the arm, but that goes badly for him until he drops an elbow on the back. Over to Cody, who wants a pushup contest with Tanahashi before Rey comes in for the first time. Rey with a sunset flip on Scurll for two and he snaps off a rana and brings in Liger, who baseball slides Scurll and wraps him up in the Romero Special to pay off the buildup. The Club breaks that up and Scurll tries his own version on Liger, but the Club works Liger over instead. We HAVE to get a heat segment on Rey at some point here. Bullet Club triple-teams Liger and Page gets a standing moonsault for two. Scurll comes in and goes for the leg, but Liger hits a backbreaker and it’s over to Rey. Flying senton on Scurll and a tornado DDT follows, but Scurll tags out to escape the 619. Tanahashi hits Page with a legwhip and a neckbreaker, but Scurll gets the cheapshot on the apron and Page puts him down with a lariat. Liger comes in and rolls up Cody for two, and a small package gets two. Shote gets two. Scurll tries to break Rey’s fingers but he escapes with an enzuigiri, and it’s a double 619 for Page and Scurll as a result. Sling blade for Page puts him on the floor, leaving Liger and Cody, and Liger takes him down with a top rope rana. Cody with Cross Rhodes, however, and that finishes at 11:34. Way too short, actually, as they were just getting into third gear when the finish came. Leave ‘em wanting more, I guess. Still a really fun match. ***1/4
IWGP Junior heavyweight title: Will Ospreay v. Hiromu Takahashi
Both guys charge in and slug it out to start, but Takahashi tosses him into the turnbuckle and they fight to the ramp. Ospreay goes running up the ramp and dives onto Takahashi in an incredible spot and Callis is like “So much for him slowing things down.” Back in, Ospreay with a running dropkick into the corner and he wraps up Hiromu with a bridging hammerlock before they fight to the floor again. Ospreay runs him into the post, and back in for more abuse of the arm. Takahashi snaps off a rana to escape and Ospreay bails to the floor, where HIromu hits a running dropkick off the apron. Back in, missile dropkick gets two. Powerbomb gets two. Takahashi throws some HARD chops in the corner and Ospreay has some very naughty words in response and comes back with a springboard clothesline. Takahashi catches him with a hanging choke on the ropes, but he falls to the floor and Ospreay hits him with the SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP. Back in, Ospreay tries the Oscutter, which is reversed to a german suplex by Takahashi and both guys are down. They slug it out with forearms and Takahashi superkicks him and hits a german suplex, but Ospreay gets the reverse rana, times two, but Takahashi reverses the Storm Breaker into a Code Red in an incredible sequence. They head to the apron and slug it out, but Takahashi gets excited about it until Ospreay DEADLIFTS him into a superplex. Amazing. Ospreay goes up with a shooting star press onto Takahashi and follows with a Sky Twister Press for two. Storm Breaker is countered by Takahashi with a Canadian Destroyer, and he locks in the triangle choke off that, but Will powerbombs out on the second try and actually drops him on his head with a piledriver in the process. HOW IS HE ALIVE?! Will hits the spinning head kick and tries the cutter, but Takahashi puts him on the apron for the sunset bomb instead. Ouch. Back in, Dynamite Plunger gets two. Ospreay escapes the Time Bomb and they trade kicks, which puts Takahashi down with a dramatic sell. Ospreay tries a third Storm Breaker, but Takahashi reverses right into the triangle this time, then blocks the powerbomb escape this time and piledrives him. Takahashi runs him into the corner, and the Time Bomb finishes at 20:25 to win the title. What a finish! These guys are nuts and you have to love it, even though I’m terrified for Ospreay’s life every time he wrestles now. ****1/4
IWGP Intercontinental title: Tetsuya Naito v. Chris Jericho
Jericho’s latest look is “A Clockwork Jericho”, and he storms Naito and attacks before the suit can even come off. They brawl into the crowd and Jericho suplexes him on the floor and drops a tripod on him as poor Red Shoes already gets abused, before the bell even rings. Jericho puts a table on the railing and powerbombs Naito through it, then beats on Naito and hauls him over to the announce table for a DDT that sends Naito flying. And he stops to sign an autograph, which is very considerate of him in the midst of a brutal beating. Finally they make it into the ring to start the match, and Jericho gets two. Backbreaker and Lionsault gets two. Jericho chokes him out in the corner and they exchange some shots, but Jericho takes him down with the Walls and Naito makes the ropes. Finally Naito explodes out with a spear and hammers away on the mat, and he drops Jericho with a neckbreaker on the apron. Thankfully no one needs to tell us that it’s the hardest part of the ring. And then he adds another neckbreaker from the apron to the floor, which is even harder than the apron, and finally gets the gear off and chokes Jericho out with it. He smashes a piece of the broken table on Jericho’s head and they head over to the announce table again, and this time Naito gets a piledriver onto it. Back to the ring and Naito hits a springboard dropkick to the back of the head and they head up for a top rope rana, but Jericho counters into the Walls and then catapults him into the corner. Naito counters with a rana out of the corner and follows with a tornado DDT for two, but Jericho counters a rollup attempt and goes back to the Walls again. Jericho sinks it in as Naito fights up and makes it to the ropes in dramatic fashion. Naito comes back with a hotshot into a german suplex, but Jericho blocks the Destino into a rollup for two. Naito with an enzuigiri and they slug it out, and Naito hits the Destino this time but can’t pin him in time and only gets two. They slug it out and Naito spits on him, but walks into a codebreaker. That’s what happens whenever he strays from tranquilo! They slug it out from their knees and Jericho elbows him down, but misses the Lionsault and Naito hits the enzuigiri, but Jericho goes low to block the Destino and hits the Codebreaker to win the IC title at 17:20. And the crowd is in SHOCK. Jericho beats him down with his belt and EVIL comes in to make the save, which isn’t a great direction if Chris is sticking around. Still, this was a fantastic brawl as the “something for everyone” style of these big NJ shows continues. Jericho is turning into 1989 middle aged and crazy Terry Funk and it’s AMAZING to watch. The man can do anything he puts his mind to. It wasn’t QUITE as batshit crazy awesome as the Omega match at WK12, but really, what could be? ****1/2
IWGP title, 2/3 falls, no time limit: Kazuchika Okada v. Kenny Omega
And finally we come down to this. Kenny’s entrance video, with a recap of this past year and Kota Ibushi appearing as his angelic savior, is AMAZING. Kenny works the arm to start and the crowd is behind him tonight. Okada goes to the leg and Kenny makes the ropes, and they exchange patronizing clean breaks in the corner. Suddenly they go into a series of reversals and tease a Rainmaker into a One Winged Angel before both guys escape and fall to the floor. Okada sends him into the railing and charges from the other side of the ring, but Omega catches him with a V-Trigger knee in mid-air and that’s not good for Okada. Back in, Omega gets two off that and takes over with an elbowdrop. He throws kicks to the back and Gedo gets Okada all pumped up from the corner, so Kenny puts him down with a low dropkick for two. Kenny throws HARD chops in the corner and a backbreaker gets two. Omega with a crossface into a camel clutch, but Okada makes the ropes, and Kenny just KILLS him with chops. Gedo screaming “NO NO NO!” before each one is a great touch. Okada fights back with a flapjack and a DDT for two, which sets up the cobra clutch that he still can’t get over. So he’s not perfect. Omega bails to escape and Okada hits him with a dive. Back in, Kenny catches him with a rana and Okada bails to the floor, so Kenny baseball slides him and the crowd starts the Terminator clap. Kenny instead does an amazing springboard dive over the railing into the front row onto Okada. Back in, the Kitaro Krusher bulldog gets two. Fisherman’s neckbreaker sets up the V-Trigger, but Okada counters with a german suplex for two. They fight to the top and Kenny wants the dragon superplex, but Okada pulls him down into a tombstone on the apron! THAT’S THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING! No, really, that would suck. Kenny tells him to bring it on from the apron, so Okada dropkicks him in the face and sends him flying into the railing. Well, he did ask for it. Back in, Okada with a VICIOUS missile dropkick for two. It’s a simple move and Okada just murdered him with it. Omega’s hetero life partner Kota Ibushi is clutching a white towel, just in case, as Okada goes up with a flying elbow and prepares to make it rain. I will never tire of the camera dramatically zooming out for the Rainmaker setup. Kenny suckers him in for a cheapshot, however, and then tosses him and hits the Terminator Dive. Back in, Omega goes up for his own nasty missile dropkick to the back of the head, and that gets two. One Winged Angel, but Okada escapes, so Kenny V-Triggers him, and then hits a german suplex for two. Kenny keeps coming with the V-Trigger, but Okada escapes the Angel and hits the dropkick. Kenny counters the Rainmaker into the V-Trigger for two. Okada manages to reverse a butterfly powerbomb into a tombstone, but Kenny counters the Rainmaker into a cradle, which Okada blocks with the Bret Hart/British Bulldog cradle for the pin at 28:36 to win the first fall. Don Callis is AGHAST, because now his friend has to not only beat Okada, but beat him TWICE in a row.
Second fall and Ibushi gives Omega a pep-talk while Callis relates the all-time great Mike Tyson quote: “Everybody always has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Omega goes up immediately and Okada dropkicks him to the floor (Callis: “DAMMIT!”) and calmly works him over on the floor. Omega tries to springboard off the railing, so Okada shoves him into the crowd to break it up and Kenny’s looking rough. Draping DDT off the railing and you can feel how the crowd is clenching their butt-cheeks with every move. Back in, Kenny throws more chops, but Okada just stands there and takes it before putting him down with a big boot and THEN selling it once Kenny has been dealt with. This man is an amazing professional wrestler. Back to the cobra clutch, but Kenny escapes with a stunner and gets a backdrop suplex. Okada rolls out, so Kenny hits another one onto the apron and drops a table on him, then comes off the apron with a double stomp off the apron and onto the table. The table is still mostly in one piece, so Kenny sets it up for something, but Okada sends him into the post. Back in, Okada tries a senton and Kenny gets the knee up to block. Okada gets a suplex to buy some time, then dropkicks him into the corner. To the top, but Omega throws more chops and brings him down with a superplex, but the moonsault misses and Okada puts him down with a forearm. Okada tries to backdrop Kenny out of the ring and through the table, but Omega counters into a DDT and they head to the apron. Hasn’t that poor table suffered enough already? IT’S GOT A FAMILY! Kenny wants the german suplex off the apron regardless, but Okada hangs on, so Kenny goes with the dragon suplex attempt instead, and Okada blocks that. So Kenny moves to the One Winged Angel, but Okada blocks THAT, so finally Kenny gets a reverse rana on the floor and settles for that. Okada does the dramatic 19 count, but Kenny catches him with the knee on the way in, and then Okada tombstones him, but Omega reverses the Rainmaker with a uranage. Kevin Kelly losing his mind that Okada was about to win 2-0 was great. They slug it out and now Okada means business, as he no-sells a german suplex and dropkicks Kenny, only to have Omega throw his own. Okada tries another one, but Kenny powerbombs him, hits the V-Trigger, and then Okada does that same cradle from the first fall again, but only for two this time. Kenny knees him and hits the butterfly piledriver for two, which had been his intent that first time. Omega with the V-Trigger knee, and the One Winged Angel finishes at 50:32 to even it up at 1-1. See, and that was brilliant for a finish because you knew that Okada couldn’t kick out of the move, and you knew that Kenny was probably going to win with it if he hit it, so having him win with the move in the SECOND fall means you can’t really guess who’s winning the match at that point because we’ve already seen that move. And it also casts doubt on Kenny winning, because how likely is it that Okada is laying down for the Angel two falls straight? Brilliant booking here.
Third fall and Kenny comes flying with a V-Trigger and tries the Angel, but Okada MAKES IT RAIN and then can’t capitalize. Finally he gets two. Okada wants another tombstone and they fight over that and slug It out, but Okada misses the dropkick. Omega beats on him and tries a powerbomb, but Okada blocks, so Kenny turns it into a Styles Clash instead and gets two. Okada crawls to the corner, so Kenny hits the V-Trigger to the back of the head and sets up the One Winged Angel, but Kenny can’t get him up due to exhaustion. So he lifts Okada using the turnbuckles, but Okada reverses to a tombstone, but Kenny reverses THAT into his own tombstone, hooking the legs in the process, but it only gets two. Kenny goes up and tries the Phoenix Splash after some urging from Ibushi, but that misses. That’s some really shoddy corner-work there. Okada comes back again and dropkicks him into the corner, but Kenny hits him with the V-Trigger as the announcers note that Okada has tried that tombstone too many times now. Kenny stands him up and just hits him with V-Triggers unopposed, but Okada finally catches the knee and dropkicks him, then tries one more tombstone, which Omega blocks. Rainmaker, but Omega just stands there and takes it, and Okada collapses because he didn’t have enough to finish the move. So both guys are down and out and the crowd is FREAKING OUT at the idea of a double-count finish, but Omega is up first and they weakly slug it out from their knees. But then they dig down and find more because they’re the best wrestlers in the world, and Okada hits the Rainmaker this time. He hangs onto the wrist and hits a second one and Don Callis is just openly cheering for Omega now and it’s great because it’s a real reaction and he sounds like a real human being would. Omega won’t stay down, so Okada picks him up one more time, but Kenny counters with a german suplex and he hangs onto the waistlock, hits a second one, and then tries a third before Okada reverses to his own. Another Rainmaker, but Kenny ducks it and gets another german suplex, into the reverse rana. Poor Red Shoes is just losing his mind and Kenny pulls himself up using the ref, but Okada dropkicks him again to put him down. Rainmaker again, but Kenny reverses to the One Winged Angel and Okada lands in the ropes and thus can’t be pinned. So Omega hits one more V-Trigger on the ropes, and the ONE WINGED ANGEL in the middle wins the IWGP title, finally, at 69:55 and ends Okada’s title reign. I knew who was winning and I was still yelping in terror with every move at the end. GOOD GOD WHAT A MATCH.
And then in amazing moment, the ref goes to present the belt to Kenny, but he shoves it aside and instead hugs the Young Bucks to end their beef first, and then Kota straps the belt on him. Do the star rating escalations even mean anything at this point? I already gave Gargano v. Ciampa ******, so I guess this gets ******* because this was the greatest match I’ve ever seen, bar none. It actually made me go to the Hot Topic website and buy an Omega shirt.
This was an all-timer. An unreal show with a solid undercard and then just greatness after greatness leading to the greatest main event ever, as they hyped it to the moon and then DELIVERED. Highest recommendation.