Back for more New Japan, as we complete the Double Gold Dash to crown a dual Champion in the main event. It’s like WrestleMania VI but with more screaming Japanese fans losing their minds. What’s not to like?
Anyway, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!
The event is emanating from the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan
Calling the action are Kevin Kelly, Gino Gambino, Chris Charlton and Rocky Romero
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Titles
Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens Vs Tomohiro Ishii, Robbie Eagles and YOSHI-HASHI
This is winners stay on, with the last team standing winning the belts. Eagles used to be in Bullet Club but ended up joining CHAOS instead, so Fale wastes no time inflicting pain upon him. YOSHI saves though and they double on Fale and manage to bump him, which leads to everyone coming in for a quick bit, which ends with Owens getting a running knee on Ishii for two. Ishii replies with a vertical drop brain buster though, and that ends Bullet Clubs night.
Next Team: Taichi, El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Boo, where’s Mioh Abe? Suzuki-gun run wild on Ishii right from the start and Taichi manages a two count on him following an Axe Bomber clothesline. It all breaks down pretty quickly, with everyone hitting moves on everyone else until Taichi removes his baggy pleather pants. Ishii gives him a lariat for his troubles and both men are down. Eagles comes in next for CHAOS, but Kanemaru and Desperado double team him, causing YOSHI to have to make the save. Eagles then rolls up Kanemaru for a big win.
Next Team: EVIL, BUSHI and Shingo Takagi
Los Ingobernables would look like obvious winners here seeing as it would be the first step in the entire group having a Title if SANADA and Naito are also victorious later. Considering how popular the group is, that probably wouldn’t be the worst idea. Things actually turn into more of a traditional tag match now, with Eagles getting worked over in the LIJ corner. Eagles does a nice segment with Shingo though and makes the tag to YOSHI, who runs wild. Eventually YOSHI and Shingo double clothesline one another and then tag out to EVIL and Ishii respectively. Things break down again, as the ref just totally loses control of things, which leads to a suicide dive from BUSHI out onto YOSHI. EVIL and Ishii have a hard hitting fight inside the ring, which ends with EVIL getting the pin following a fireman’s carry into a powerbomb, although it looked like the ref botched the count and it ended before it was supposed to.
Next Team: The Champs! Togi Makabe, Toru Yano and Ryusuke Taguchi
Taguchi-Japan runs wild to start, but things settle down a bit with Shingo and Yano going at it. Makabe gets a tag and does his ten punches in the corner on BUSHI, but the masked man replies with a DDT and tags Shingo back in. Makabe just about wins the lariat battle and tags in Taguchi, who goes to the Three Amigo’s on Shingo before prepping for the Bom-Ba-Ye running knee. He takes too long however, which brings in all of LIJ. The rest of Taguchi-Japan make the save however, which allows Taguchi to get Shingo with a double chicken wing into a face buster for two before transitioning to the ankle lock. Shingo gets out of that though, which allows BUSHI to spit mist at Taguchi and Shingo to get Made in Japan (Pumphandle into a flipping slam) for the three count.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: EVIL, BUSHI AND SHINGO
This was fast paced and never boring. Shame about the seeming botch in the Ishii elimination though.
LIJ celebrate with their new belts, as the first chapter of them winning all the belts has been written.
Kevin Kelly wants to hang around and chat for a bit ahead of the main show starting, but the New Japan director says “Nope” and immediately cuts away whilst poor Kevin is in mid-sentence. Well, that was rude!
Liger The Final
Jyushin Thunder Liger and Naoki Sano w/ Yoshiaka Fujiwara Vs Hiromu Takahashi and Ryu Lee
Ryu used to be called Dragon Lee, but issues with CMLL means he can no longer use that name, so they’ve just given him a name that means “dragon” in Japan anyway. Lee comes down with Liger themed gear, seeing as this is Ligers retirement bout and all. Hiromu and Lee had an infamous match in San Fran 18 months ago, where Lee accidentally broke Hiromu’s neck and put him out for a long time. This of course will be an emotional bout, as Liger has meant so much to so many wrestling fans for so long due to his exemplary in-ring work and booking prowess in the 90’s Junior Heavyweight division.
Liger gets the better of Hiromu on the mat in the early stages, showing that he still has skills and is retiring because he WANTS to, not because he NEEDS to. Hiromu and Lee decide to double team on Liger as a result, earning them some boos in the process. Liger eventually manages to fend them off and tags in Sano for a missile dropkick from the top (!) and a follow up double dropkick to the young whippersnappers. Sano and Lee trade strikes in the ring, which ends when Lee puts Sano down with a knee strike, only for Sano to turn him inside out with a clothesline before tagging out to Liger.
Hiromu goes nuts on Liger with a ten punch, but Liger powerbombs him to counter that and then proceeds to just slap him right in the face. Oh yeah, it’s ultra-grump Liger in full effect! Lee breaks that up and goes for a dive on Sano and Liger, but they move and he ends up getting his own partner by accident. Ligers the powerbomb on Hiromu back inside, but it only gets him two. Shotei palm strike sets up a brain buster, but Lee makes the save at two.
Lee dives out onto Sano to take him out of proceedings, which allows Hiromu to get a Falcon Arrow inside on Liger for two. Lee comes in to help out Hiromu, but Liger manages to kick out at two. Hiromu gets a DVD into the corner on Liger and then goes for the Time Bomb, which Liger counters into a roll up for two. One last near fall for the legend there! Hiromu promptly mows him down with a lariat though and gets the Time Bomb for the win.
WINNER: HIROMU TAKAHASHI AND RYU LEE
You can argue whether Liger should have gone out in a big singles match or whatever, but this was still fun and they gave him one last big near fall before having him do the right thing and putting the new generation over. I’m sure a lot of people are going to have dust in their eyes tomorrow at New Year’s Dash during Liger’s officially retirement ceremony.
Sadly New Japan World decides to go crazy at this stage and boots me out, so I have to struggle to get it working again. This means I miss Liger’s emotional farewell, which is a bit of a pisser.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Champs: El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori Vs Sho and Yoh w/ Rocky Romero
I sadly miss some of this one due to the technical issues effecting New Japan World. It could have been worse I suppose. I join this with the Champs stalling outside the ring and then cutting Sho off in their corner. ELP and Ishimori do the dreaded back rake Sho, getting many different versions of it in a funny bit. ELP even dives out onto Rocky Romero as well, just to be a jerk, as the Bullet Clubs heel game is strong. Sho gets hung in the Tree of Woe and that leads to the heels standing right on his Donald Love’s, with Yoh getting the same treatment when he tries to come in for the rescue.
Sho eventually manages to catch Ishimori with a spear and makes the hot tag to Yoh, who runs wild on the Champs in classic babyface fashion. Both heels get sent to the outside and Yoh follows them out with a dive. Ishimori replies with handspring Pele kick back inside however, which leads to a double down and double tags to ELP and Sho. Sho goes into beast mode by heaving both heels over with a German Suplex, only for ELP to then catch him with an inside cradle for two. The Champs get a double team neck breaker on Sho, but he manages to kick out at two, so they get a code breaker/moonsault combo instead for another near fall.
The Champs goes for the 3K (Think a 3-D but you do a Complete Shot instead of a cutter) but Sho fends off his own move and then kicks the gum right out of ELP’s mouth before going for the Riccola Bomb. ELP fights that off however and delivers the Styles Clash for two. Fans were buying that as the finish due to AJ Styles making that into a MDK move by legit injuring Yoshi-Tatsu with it. ELP tries to illegally use the belt, but Rocky prevents that, so ELP tries the old “punch in the junk” technique, only to hurt his hand when Sho is wearing a cup. 3K takes care of Ishimori and a double team package piledriver crowns new champs.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: SHO AND YOH
They worked the tag formula here and when you do that with talented people you’re usually almost guaranteed a good match.
Rocky reveals that the cups were his idea, showing that “sneaky style” is still in effect!
Rev Pro British Title
Champ: Zack Sabre Jr Vs SANADA
This is the battle of the technical wrestling wizards, as SANADA has gotten the better of Zack in the build up to this on more than one occasion, so Zack is coming to the Tokyo Dome to tap him out. I remember they had an excellent match in the 2018 G1 Climax that I actually gave the Full Monty to, so I’m quite excited for this one as consequence.
We start right out with wonderful chain wrestling, as both men are incredibly fluid and know exactly what they are doing in a technical wrestling battle. I personally love this style of wrestling, so I’m like a pig in filth watching this. This feels kind of like a World of Sport match with a modern flavour actually, by which I mean the good WOS from the 70’s and 80’s and not the version that was on recently. Don’t get me wrong, the wrestling was fine, but the way it was shot and edited was a disaster.
Zack eventually manages to grab hold of SANADA and starts working him over with his usual punishing collection of holds. Are we sure that Zack isn’t the result of some mad scientist trying to gene splice together octopus DNA with that of a boa constrictor? SANADA eventually gets free and sends Zack outside for a dive before putting him back inside for some Dragon Screws, but Zack goes to the eyes to stop that and we get a great sequence of counters as both men go for submission victories.
SANADA locks in Skull End (Dragon Sleeper) but stupidly lets go to head up for the moonsault and Zack dodges that before getting a PK for the double down. Both men recover and trade European uppercuts, which leads to a great sequence of pin fall counters that leads in SANADA getting a close two count. Zack tries to win it with his European Clutch pinning hold, but SANADA counters it to Skull End, which Zack then counters into the Cobra Twist. SANADA powers out of that into Skull End, but Zack counters out of THAT and gets a big roll up to finally get the three count.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: ZACK SABRE JR
Zack says “bloody great tekkers mate” following that, and I can’t disagree. I just love this style of wrestling so I was having a ball. Your own mileage may vary
We’re straight into the next match, as we clearly aren’t mucking about tonight.
IWGP United States Title
Champ: Jon Moxley Vs Juice Robinson w/ David Finlay
This is the rubber match between these two, as both hold a win over the other. Juice won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag belts with Finlay last night, whilst Moxley defeated Lance Archer to win the US Title. I’m not sure if they’ll give Moxley a one day Title reign, but stranger things have happened and Juice winning the belt would be a nice end to the story considering his last US Title reign was ended by Moxley.
Juice wastes no time starting this one hot, by diving out onto Moxley whilst he still makes his entrance, and beating him up around ringside. Moxley responds by shoving Juice into the ring post and then sets up a chair, but Juice drop toe holds him into it Raven style before sitting Moxley on the chair and getting a running cannonball. We head back inside after that, but Moxley quickly brings it back out by throwing Juice out of the ring.
Moxley heads out to put Juice back inside the ring though, and works him over back in there, which leads to both men trading chops until Moxley bits him. Juice replies with a spine buster and jumping side kick though and gets the Juice Box (Fireman’s carry onto the knee). Powerbomb comes next, but Moxley is able to kick out at two. Juice gets some jabs but Moxley quickly stops that by single legging him and applying a figure four leg lock. Juice manages to drag himself to the ropes to break that though, so Moxley drags him into the corner and starts flinging the leg into the ring post before going to Bret Hart’s ring post figure four.
Moxley tries to add a chair shot, but Juice punches the chair into his face and then puts Moxley back inside for a superplex. Juice keeps going after that as well, rolling his hips a heaving Moxley up into a Jack Hammer for two. Juice goes for Pulp Friction (Tomikaze/Unprettier) but Moxley fights that off and then goes for the Death Rider (Elevated Double Arm DDT) but Juice counters that into a roll up for two before getting a big lariat for a double down. Both men pull themselves up, with Moxley demanding that Juice hit him, which leads to a trading of slaps. This angers Moxley, who gets a running knee, only for Juice to clobber him with some left handed punches before going to Pulp Friction. Moxley counters that into Dirty Deeds (Double Arm DDT) though and Death Rider ends it right after.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: JON MOXLEY
Good match for the most part, although I think they are both capable of better. Maybe if AEW and New Japan can work out some sort of deal then Moxley will actually be able to defend the belt in America now that he’s won it for the second time?
Moxley doesn’t get much time to celebrate though, as Minoru Freaking Suzuki comes down to the ring to confront him! Oh YEAH, that’s a feud we can all sink our teeth into! Suzuki marches down to the ring to drop Moxley with a Gotch Style Piledriver and the crowd is jazzed!
NEVER Openweight Title
Champ: KENTA Vs Hirooki Goto
KENTA went heel and joined the Bullet Club, beating up Goto’s childhood pal Katsuyori Shibata in the process, so this one has been bubbling for a while as a result. Goto runs wild on KENTA to start, showing off his aggressive side due to all the things that KENTA did to his friend. KENTA throws Goto out of the ring and then throws him into the metal railings for good measure, showing that he wants to fight this one dirty.
Case in point, over to the entrance ramp we go, where KENTA drops Goto with a DDT before heading into the ring to sneer heelishly and take the count out win. Goto bravely drags himself back into the ring at 19 though, only for KENTA to just chuck him outside the ring again, being the biggest jerk in the process. KENTA continues to work Goto over in the ring, taking the time to taunt the crowd when the situation allows. You just feel like it’s all building to Goto making the big defiant babyface comeback.
Indeed Goto blocks a kick from KENTA and starts making a comeback with some elbow strikes. KENTA replies with some of his own, but Goto shrugs them off and clobbers KENTA with a big one to send him crashing to the mat. Saito Suplex comes next from Goto, but KENTA is able to kick out at two. Ushigoroshi (Fireman’s carry onto the knee) looks to follow but KENTA goes to the eyes to block it and then drills Goto with a powerslam.
KENTA gets the Tornado DDT over the top rope and follows with a flying clothesline from the top rope for two, but then gets cocky and allows Goto to get to his feet, only to catch him with a DDT anyway. It should be no surprise to anyone that heel jerk KENTA is the best version of KENTA. However, Goto manages to get the Ushigoroshi, only to walk over and get caught straight away in the LaBelle Lock before he can gain some momentum. Goto manages to make the ropes, but KENTA stays on him with a draping DDT followed by a running dropkick in the corner.
Double stomp from the top looks to end things, but Goto wills himself to kick out. This has been mostly KENTA, with Goto showing the occasional sign of life and it’s been an effective story, with you just wanting Goto to kill him but KENTA denying you over and over. KENTA tries to finsh things off with the Go To Sleep, but Goto blocks it by catching the leg and then hits KENTA with a desperation head butt. Both men no sell clotheslines until Goto finally manages to floor KENTA with one for two. Goto no sells some STIFF KENTA strikes and gets a Fireman’s carry into an elbow drop called the GTW for two. GTR (Reverse DDT over the knee) comes next and that’s enough for the three.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: HIROOKI GOTO
The work was tight and the story was there, with Goto selling for the majority of the match but refusing to lose and eventually managing to put the hated heel away. I like the variety in match styles as well, as we’ve had technical wrestling, tag wrestling, brawls and now a traditional Face Vs Heel contest. It really helps make these longer shows flow better as it isn’t the same match type all night.
We get the announcement of the big show dates for 2020. The big news is that G1 is going to be in October this year, due to the Olympics being in Tokyo this summer.
Jay White w/ Gedo Vs Kota Ibushi
This is in essence the third place play off between the two lads who lost in the semi-finals of the Double Gold Dash, with the winner pretty much setting themselves up as the #1 contender going forward.
White stalls to start, which leads to Gedo causing a distraction, but Ibushi sees White’s sneak attack coming and shines on him for a bit. White replies by sending Ibushi off the apron into the metal railings though, before following Ibushi out and then throwing him into the railings for good measure. White gets some heat on Ibushi back in the ring, being his usual arsehole self, yelling at Ibushi that he isn’t a loser like he is.
Ibushi fights out of a chin lock and then sends White outside for a lovely body press to the floor. Ibushi seemed to hang in the air there before coming down, it was beautiful. Ibushi gets a springboard dropkick back inside and then adds a powerslam before delivering a Quebrada for two. White replies with a DDT, as this match has been good but it feels pretty flat. I think it might have been a good idea to give both guys the night off and put another singles match in here to give some other guys a rub.
White gets a Death Valley Driver for two and then sets up for a uranage slam, but Ibushi blocks it so White pulls him down by his hair and delivers some European uppercuts before going for a suplex. Ibushi slips out of that though and delivers The Bastard Driver (modified Tombstone Piledriver) for a double down.
White tries throwing a number of clubs to the back, which serves only to send Ibushi into his psycho danger zone, where he clocks White with a big shot and stares blankly like he’s possessed by the Ghost of Christmas Kick Your Ass. Ibushi demands that White hits him back, but White is out on his feet and Ibushi just CLOBBERS him with a bit lariat. That was vicious! Note to self, don’t ever let Ibushi go into psycho mode. White throws the referee in the way of Ibushi, which buys him enough time for a Complete Shot and a deadlift German Suplex.
White gets the Kiwi Krusher (Ki Krusher) for two and gets a nice snap back suplex before setting up Ibushi on the top rope for a superplex. Ibushi manages to fight the move off however, only for a Gedo distraction to allow White to go to the eyes and knock Ibushi onto the apron. Ibushi tries to rana White back into the ring, but White stops that by tripping Ibushi up and then gets the old Hiroshi Hase Sambo Suplex off the top rope for two. Sleeper suplex comes next, as Ibushi looks to be out on his feet, only to catch White with a V Trigger out of nowhere and both men are down again.
Ibushi gets an awesome deadlift German Suplex with a bridge for two before following up with a Bom-Ba-Ye running knee strike for two. Both men counter the others’ finishing moves and the referee ends up taking a bump when White swings Ibushi into him. This brings in Gedo with a chair and he hits Ibushi in the back with it, only for Ibushi to no sell it and go into psycho mode. Ibushi fulfills Scott Keith’s lifelong dream by flooring Gedo with one punch, and then knees White right in the FACE, before getting the sit out Last Ride Powerbomb, but there is no ref to count.
Kamigoye (Knee to the face whilst holding opponents wrists) comes next and it looks like the end as the referee is back, but Gedo pulls out the ref at two and then comes into the ring with a pair of brass knuckles. Ibushi blocks that, but this allows White to fling a chair at his face. Gedo adds a punch with the knux and things are looking bleak for Ibushi. White crawls over and gets the Bloody Sunday DDT, before following up with the Blade Runner (Sister Abigail’s Kiss) which is enough for the three count.
WINNER: JAY WHITE
The atmosphere for this one felt kind of flat, but the work and storytelling was there, as Jay White continues to be in the top echelon of wrestling heels. It’ll be interesting to see where they go with Ibushi now, seeing as he won the G1 and now lost two matches at The Dome like this. That’s him and White splitting matches, so they could always do a rubber match and have Ibushi fight his way back into contention I guess.
White adds another Blade Runner post-match, just to be a jerk.
Hiroshi Tanahashi Vs Chris Jericho
The video package for this shows Tanahashi making fun of Jericho’s singing in Fozzy. I’m not exactly sure what the lyrics are, but the crowd are cheering and laughing, so he must be doing something right. Jericho of course said that he would put the AEW Title up against Tanahashi if he could beat him here, which led to speculation that AEW and New Japan are going to start working together. It could just be a red herring as many expect Jericho to win here as he hasn’t had a big win in a while and Tana can afford to do a job, but who knows eh?
For some reason they dub out Jericho’s theme here, even though it’s by Fozzy and you’d think that Jericho would just have to say it was okay seeing as it’s his song and all? Copyright laws strike once again to ruin the things we love sadly. Jericho is working this as a heel, because he’s Chris F’N Jericho and that’s how he rolls, but Tana mocks him a couple of times during the shine to get some pops from the crowd. Jericho manages to dropkick him off the apron though, which would appear to be the cut off.
Jericho decides this would be a good time to steal someone’s camera to mock the crowd, before adding a slap to a Young Lion, as you do. Over we go to the English commentary team, where Jericho throws Tana over the table and then delivers a DDT onto it. The table doesn’t break though, which means Maffew will be getting a shedload of Tweets right about now, so spare a thought for him as his phone blows up at 9am on a Sunday morning, ruining his lie-in in the process.
The English commentary has now been taken out, as Jericho works Tana over inside the ring, getting the double arm back breaker. Jericho misses a splash off the top however, which allows Tana to make a comeback, skinning a cat into the ring and delivering a running flying forearm. Jericho pulls the referee in the way of a Tana Stinger Splash however, before kicking Tana right in the High-Fly-Flows. Tana replies by hitting Jericho right in the Irvine’s though, and parity has been restored to the ball shot universe. Tana heads up to the second rope for a flipping somersault senton and then shoves Jericho out of the ring when he tries the Lionsault.
Tana follows Jericho outside the ring with a cross body block from the top rope to floor, as Tana can still bust out the big moves on the big shows when the time calls for them. Jericho makes it back in, but finds some Dragon Screw PAIN waiting for him, which leads to Tana heading up top for the High-Fly-Flow Frogsplash. Jericho gets his knees up to block that and then gets the Lionsault, but the jolt to his knee delays him in making the cover and Tana is able to kick out at two. Jericho goes for the Judas Effect back elbow smash, but Tana blocks it and gets a German Suplex for another two.
Jericho manages to lock in the Walls of Jericho next, with Tana selling it big and teasing that he’ll submit. The crowd gets behind him, but Jericho drags him away from the ropes and cinches it in even further, so Tana instead rolls through to counter it and then shakes Jericho off before delivering the Slingblade and the Final Cut before heading up again. Jericho gets to his feet however and counters the cross body on the way down with the Codebreaker, which gets two. Jericho smartly waited a moment before making the cover though in order to protect one of his moves. Hey, Chris Jericho is a psychologically sound pro wrestler who understands match structure, who knew?
Judas Effect looks to end things, but Tana counters that with his own Codebreaker for two before going for the Slingblade again. Jericho counters that into the Walls, but Tana counters THAT into an inside cradle for two before getting the Twist and Shout spinning neck breaker. Another Slingblade gets two for Tana, so he heads up top to get a cross body block, but Jericho rolls through into the Walls again. Tana won’t submit however, so Jericho turns it into the Old School Lion Tamer to finally put Tana away and break the hearts of everyone who wanted to see Tana challenge for the AEW Title.
WINNER: CHRIS JERICHO
I enjoyed this quite a bit. It wasn’t an all-time classic or anything but it was a well worked match and I was into the near falls.
Kevin Kelly rubs it in by saying “The forbidden door will remain shut”, which seems like a pretty strong “F You” from New Japan to the fans who were hoping they would work with AEW.
Double Gold Dash Final!!!
Title For Title
IWGP Intercontinental Champion: Tetsuya “The Ultimate Warrior” Naito
IWGP Heavyweight Champion: Kazuchika “Hulk Hogan” Okada
Okada has beaten Naito twice at The Dome, whilst Naito did manage to defeat Okada for the Title once back in 2016 at Invasion Attack, so they have some history. It looks like things are going to be tentative, but then Okada throws that out of the window by getting a running back elbow and a DDT. Okada continues to work over Naito, but Naito fights back with his slingshot dropkick in the corner. It looks like the majority of the crowd in The Dome itself would like to Naito win, and you can tell that by the fact he gets a hanging neck breaker off the apron to the floor and the crowd actually cheers it rather than booing what would normally be an underhanded move.
Naito gets another neck breaker back in the ring and goes to a head scissors, with his plan seemingly being to weaken Okada’s neck and head so his Destino (Satellite DDT) finisher will have the most effect. Okada manages to turn Naito inside out with a big boot though and then gets a peach of a flapjack following that. It should shock no one that both of these guys are good that there pro wrestling stuff, as two awesome bumps from Naito should show. Okada body slams Naito down and heads up for the elbow drop which leads to THE RAINMAKER POSE.
Okada goes for the Rainmaker (Spin out clothesline) but Naito blocks it with some elbow strikes and then gets a Rock styled spine buster. A rana from the top rope comes next, as we get the 15 minute call. I have to say that it feels like this match has been going for much less time than 15 minutes, which is usually a sign that a match is good if time flies by like that. Okada manages to fight back with a running front dropkick, which Naito sells brilliantly again, and both men are down. Naito recovers and heads up top, but Okada cuts him off with a dropkick and Naito takes a spill down to the floor.
Okada decides to start heeling it up a bit, by going after Naito’s injured knee outside the ring and dropping it on the commentary table in a vicious manner. You can just hear the air seep out of the building with that, as the Naito fans are worried that their man is in trouble. Naito manages to just about make it back in at 19 after a great count out tease, but finds an Okada missile dropkick waiting for him, which gets a two count from the ref. They are getting the most out of absolutely everything here and it’s great.
Okada looks to end things with the Rainmaker, but Naito ducks it and gets a Tornado DDT for a double down. Gloria (pumphandle into a side slam) comes next, with the impact being higher up Okada’s body than usual to stick with the work on the neck, and Naito follows that up by setting Okada up top for a big reverse rana. Amazingly Okada is able to kick out of that, causing Naito to do the big shock facial before laughing it off and going for Destino. Okada fights that off and both men counter the others’ finishers, which ends with Okada catching Naito with a dropkick out of nowhere, only for Naito to follow up with Destino for an awesome near fall.
The Naito fans had willed themselves into believing that was the finish there, so the kick out stuck them deep. Naito goes for it again, but Okada fights it off this time and gets another dropkick to send both men down to the mat again. Both men eventually recover and start fighting up from their knees, and it seems like they are both enjoying the fact that they are pushing one another to their limits. The facial expressions of both men genuinely are great, as they sell the story of the dislike between the two almost better than anything else in the match. There’s a point where Okada gets an almost crazed look of determination on his face and it’s amazing.
Destino gets countered into a Tombstone and the Rainmaker hits…for two. That would be a match winner on other occasions, so the fact Naito kicked out this time just makes this match feel all the more epic. Naito desperately fights off another Tombstone attempt and then defiantly spits in Okada’s face, which leads to Okada giving a “okay, if you want to be that way” look and then targeting Naito’s knee almost out of spite to boos from the crowd. Okada even plays to the boos, as this match continues to be brilliant.
Okada gets a pair of Rainmakers and that looks to be that, but he decides that he wants a third one, which allows Naito to counter it into a Destino for two. Naito sold his knee for a split second after hitting that, which probably allowed Okada enough time to recover and kick out. I love the little touches like that; it makes the whole experience so much richer. Naito heads up top for the Stardust Press, and gets it, but Okada STILL manages to kick out for another super tight near fall. One more Destini looks to end it, but Okada blocks it, so Naito gets the Emerald Frosion and one more Destino to FINALLY defeat Okada at The Tokyo Dome!
WINNER AND DUAL CHAMPION: TETSUYA NAITO
This was fantastic in many ways. The in-ring work was there, the storytelling was there and the character work was there also. I can’t think of a single thing you could do to improve it and it felt like they went ten minutes when they actually went more than thirty five, which tends to be the sign of a great match. This one is absolute must-see.
Okada gets helped to the back and gets rightly applauded for such a great performance. Meanwhile, Naito calls for the mic and a baseball cap. He addresses Okada on the mic, and says that winning the main event of The Tokyo Dome feels good and asks that they do it again someday, which Okada seems to agree with as he raises his fist and nods. The belts are presented to Naito, and he poses above them. Naito does his victory speech, at which point KENTA shows up to attack him and spoil his moment. Well, that’s Naito’s next feud then it seems. Finally BUSHI makes his way out for the rescue, way too late for it to do any good.
Night One probably had the better individual matches but Night Two was the better overall card. Either way, both Nights were good shows and they had 70,000 people in The Dome over the course of the two days, which is nothing to be sniffed at.
I have to take a moment to praise New Japan on how well it is booked though. Naito finally gets his big moment and they already have not only his next feud sorted but also Jay White and possibly even Jericho waiting in the wing, along with the possibility of SANADA getting jealous because he’s the only LIJ member without a belt, meaning that he could potentially turn and work with Naito down the line too.
It’s so well planned out and that really comes across when you watch it. The fact there are so many different types of matches on the show as well means that the longer shows don’t burn you out because there’s always something different about most of the matches.
Big thumbs up for a great weekend of wrestling!
I’m probably not going to review New Year’s Dash as I have work on during the week, but I’m sure that’ll be worth a watch as well!