Saturday, December 14, 2019

Jon Moxley vs Shota Umino

Ahead of Sunday’s Dominion 2019 show, Jon Moxley defeated Juice Robinson in Moxley’s first match back after his WWE contract expired at the end of April. And of course we all saw Jon Moxley make his shocking appearance at AEW’s Double or Nothing a couple of weeks ago, when he attacked Jericho and Kenny Omega after their main event match to cap off a very successful Double or Nothing PPV.

As mentioned, Moxley went up against Juice Robinson, the former CJ Parker of course, for Juice’s IWGP United States heavyweight title on 5thJune and only 4 days prior to Moxley’s match at Dominion. Where they battled for over 25 minutes –AND I MEAN BATTLED – at the Best of the Super J tournament finals showcase – In and out of the ring, off the staging above the ring entrance, until Moxley defeated Robinson with his modified Dirty Deeds, which he is now calling the Death Rider, to win the IWGP United States championship in an excellent 25 match.

However, the opening match at this year’s Dominion show saw Moxley in his second match in only 4 days, here against Shota Umino. For those of you not too familiar with Umino, he is a Young Lion within the New Japan system, as well as being the son of New Japan head referee, Red Shoes.

Compared to Moxley’s epic 25 minute match against Juice Robinson, this match pitting Jon Moxley vs. Shota Umino went considerably shorter. Clocking in at 4:09 mins. However, nothing should be taken away from the fire that Umino put on display in the opening few minutes of this match, with the Young Lion taking the match to Moxley, with a Tope Con-hero and a missile drop kick to about the bout. Moxley took control with a stiff lariat and a series of grounded strikes and elbows. Moxley nailed Umino with a stiff back suplex for a 2 count. We even saw Moxley apply a Regal stretch to his opponent, with the younger Umino managing to claw his way to the bottom rope, to break the hold. 

Moxley took a couple of elbow strikes from Umino, including a drop kick and a German suplex for a 2 count of his own. Moxley put an end to this match with an X-plex before executing his Death Rider/Dirty Deeds double under-hook DDT for the pinfall victory. 

Moxley then grabs a mic and says that he “wants in” on this year’s enters G1 climax tournament. Jon Moxley then helps his battered opponent to the back, with Kevin Kelly telling us not to put Moxley in a box.  

Duration 4:09 mins

Star rating (**1/2)

‘The Dragon’ Shingo Takagi vs Satoshi Kojima

Satoshi Kojima is a true veteran of the Japanese mat game. As a singles wrestler Kojima was the first wrestler to hold NJPW’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship and All Japan Pro Wrestling’s Triple Crown simultaneously, and is one of three wrestlers to have held the IWGP Triple Crown and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. As mentioned earlier Shingo was the losing finalist to Will Ospreay at this passed Wednesday’s BOSJ tournament final. In what was an epic tournament final encounter between those two amazing competitors. In what is being said by many as a possible match of the year contender!

It’s explained on commentary that Shingo lost his BOSJ final match against Will Ospreay, thanks to Ospreay’s prior experience in the Heavyweight division. Shingo went on to explain that he wanted some of that Heavyweight experience!

From the start of this match both wrestlers take the action to the outside, where Shingo and Kojima club each other with stiff lefts and rights, only just managing to beat the referees 20 count. Once back inside both wrestlers take turns beating on one-another in opposite corners with chops and forearms. The action makes its way onto the ring apron where Shingo nails Kojima with a Death Valley Driver. Kojima returns the favour with a DDT on the ring apron, before executing a Koji-cutter from the second turnbuckle, managing to get a 2 count for his troubles.

This match is as stiff as you like with both men trading offence at every turn. Kojima drops Shingo with a Brainbuster for another 2 count. Kojima stands firm after 2 very stiff lariats from Shingo, before dropping his opponent with a lariat of his own. Shingo hits his Made in Japan pump handle slam for a very close near fall, before finally getting the pinfall with his Last of the Dragon finisher in this super stiff match, between these two very tough individuals.

This was a very hard hitting match, with Kojima giving Shingo a good fight and testing him as a Heavyweight, with Shingo rebounding from his BOSJ loss with an important and impressive win.

Duration 11:15 mins.

Star rating (***1/2)

Justin Liger & Yoshi-Hashi vs. Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr

In a shocking turn of events, Suzuki attacks before the bell taking the fight to the outside early. The four wrestlers pair off with Suzuki pummelling Liger with strikes and a brutal barricade spot. Back in the ring and Sabre Jr. starts attacking the left arm of Hashi. Sabre Jr locks on the Tequila Sunrise before transitioning to a cover for an early 2 count.

Suzuki and Sabre take advantage of a slightly distracted Ref to apply double submission holds onto Hashi, before Suzuki drops Hashi with a brutal right hand. Suzuki gets a 2 count on Hashi with a running kick, before Liger comes in to get his own partner fired up with a little motivation slap, with Liger wanting in for a taste of the action. Liger does eventually get the tag, setting up a striking match between Liger and Suzuki. Liger nails Suzuki with a Brainbuster before both wrestler roll to their respective corners for the tag.

Hashi drapes ZSJ across the top rope before hitting a drop kick to the back of the current Rev Pro British Heavyweight champion. Sabre counters a Powerbomb attempt from Hashi into an arm bar. Suzuki cuts off Liger until Suzuki and Sabre apply Cobra Twists, with Hashi making it to the ropes. Liger and Suzuki roll to the outside to continue their brawl, with Hashi connecting with a Lariat before going for a pump handle which gets countered into a full nelson. Sabre and Hashi trade slaps and forearms, before Hashi turns a back slide into a cradle for the pinfall victory for his team. 

This was a really fun match that went 9:50 mins with the babyface team of Jushin Liger and Yoshi-Hashi going over! After the match Yoshi-Hashi grabs ZSJ’s British Heavyweight title belt, setting up a future championship match between himself and Zack Sabre.

Duration 9:50 mins

Star rating (***1/4)

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Bullet Club (Jay White, Chase Owens & Taiji Ishimori)

Juice Robinson still showing signs of the war he went through after his match with Jon Moxley, when he lost his IWGP United States championship, at the BOSJ final show 4 days ago.

Chase Owens nails Robinson with a stiff left back elbow to the bruised and bloodshot left eye. The action soon goes to the outside with Jay White goes after Tanahashi, leaving him lying on the floor. Then Switchblade attacks Tagushi, ramming Tagushi into the guard railing and the edge of the ring apron. Back in the ring Tagushi goes for his signature hip attack which White manages to avoid. Tagushi goes for a second hip attack which he manages to connect to full affect.

Tanahashi manages to get the tag, successfully hitting a second rope senton. White connects with a back suplex before getting a 2 count from a modified Cross-Rhodes. White gets a close near fall on Tanahashi with a package Piledriver. Tanahashi wriggles out of a second package piledriver, eventually connecting with a Final Cut variation on Chase Owens for the win. 

This was another good match, with a few rough spots, but the right team of Robinson, Tanahashi and Tagushi won the match.

Duration 10:00 mins

Star rating (**1/2)

‘The Stone Pitbull’ Tomohiri Ishii (Chaos) vs. Taichi (Never openweight championship)

Ishii starts the match by lying on the matt inviting the champion to get the first shots in. The match soon progressed into a chops and kicks fest, with Taichi flooring Ishii with a big boot to the chest, before landing some driving kicks to the body with Ishii in the corner. Taichi doesn’t hold back with a series of solid kicks, first to the chest then to his back of Ishii. Ishii nails his opponent with a massive Powerslam before Taichi gets a very close near fall with a high angle suplex. Ishii responds with a high angled suplex of his own – with both men on the mat holding their necks after that exchange. Ishii recovers to hit a German Suplex, before pulling the referee into a running charge from Taichi, which Ishi take full advantage off with a solid head-butt, getting a 2 count for his trouble.

Taichi gets another close near fall from a Gattor clutch pinning attempt, on what should have been a three count. But I’m sure the referee held off for dramatic effect. Taichi gets a version of a Dragon Sleeper on his opponent with the referee checking on Ishii. Taichi manages to hoist the solid body of Ishii into a Last Ride Powerbomb, putting his whole bodyweight onto Ishii, only getting a 2 count on this attempt. 

Both men look out on their feet, but the eventually get into a vertical position where Ishii gets a 2 count from a stiff lariat. Ishii gets another close near fall from a Powerbomb/running lariat combination. However we finally see the end of the match with Ishii nailing Taichi with a brutal delayed vertical brainbuster, to become the 5 time Never-openweight champion.

That was a very enjoyable, stiff match. And it was a match that had me shouting at the tv screen due to the number of false finishes, and the referee delaying the three count on a few of them for extra dramatic effect. Nevertheless this was a really fun match, and we have a new champion with Tomohiri Ishii regaining the Neveropenweight championship for a 5thtime after 16:00 mins

 EVIL & Sanada vs. ‘The Gorillas of Destiny’ Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga (champions) IWGP tag team championships.

The Gorillas of Destiny are 5 time IWGP tag team champions, as well as being the current ROH tag team champions, which they won at the G1 Supercard at MSG over Wrestlemania weekend. Jado accompanies ‘G.O.D’ down to the ring, where he attacks EVIL with his kendo stick, causing the match to go to the outside early, and the referee starts applying the 20 count, with EVIL just getting back into the ring just in time to break the count. Tama Tonga proceeds to pound away on his opponent, before getting a 2 count from a suplex.

Sanada puts Tango Loa into a Paradise before drop kicking Tanga Loa with a dropkick to the backside, freeing the weary Samoan from his Paradise lock prison. Tanga Loa gets a two count from a sit out Powerbomb. Sanada nails a picture perfect missile drop kick onto Tanga Loa before EVIL executes a brilliant superplex, followed by a moonsault from Sanada, with Loa finding himself in a Scorpion death lock. 

This match soon picks up with EVIL and Sanada going to work on Tanga Loa. Evil and Sanada apply duelling submission holds on to Loa and Tonga, until Jado pulls the referee out of the ring. Jado enters the ring himself, cane in hand before striking EVIL. Jado goes for a second strike of the cane only to be stopped by Bushi, who comes into the ring from out of nowhere, where he sprays the toxic mist into the face of Jado, causing an end to Jado’s outside interference. 

Then from out of nowhere Tama Tonga rolls up EVIL from behind, pulling on the tights for extra leverage which the referee doesn’t see as he counts 1, 2, and 3 to retain their IWGP tag team championships.

Duration 16:45 mins.

Star rating (****)

This was a good tag match that definitely picked up when Evil and Sanada were in the ring together performing double team moves on G.O.D. But they were not able to hit their Magic Killer on Tama Tonga and failed to win the IWGP tag titles on this occasion.

Then we had a special appearance from Shibata who points and signals to the stage before we see the very popular figure of KENTA (formerly Hideo Ithami) with Takeover in yellow on his t-shirt. The t-shirt is actually a Shibata shirt. Although the ever so slightly subtle dig at WWE was also evident during this appearance. Additionally, Shibata and KENTA were also a tag team in Pro Wrestling Noah with the team name ‘The Takeover’

Now to the best of my knowledge KENTA never wrestled under the NJPW banner. Kenta wrestled for many years for Pro Wrestling Noah, before coming over to the States. Shibata introduces Kenta to the crowd. Kenta says that he wants to come out here to tell you how he really feels. Kenta announces himself for the G1 climax tournament.

NEW JAPAN ANNOUNCES THAT NEXT YEARS DOMINION SHOW WILL BE OVER 2 DAYS!

Will Ospreay vs Dragon Lee (champion) – IWGP Junior heavyweight championship.

Will Ospreay is only 4 days removed from winning the BOSJ tournament, managing to beat Shinjo Takagi in an epic final confrontation, with Will becoming a 2 time BOSJ tournament champion.

The match starts with a delayed drop kick in the corner from Dragon Lee to Ospreay. Ospreay performs a Suzkai special over the top rope, which Dragon Lee avoids before sitting Ospreay onto the guard railings before launching himself through the ropes with a tremendous dive, nailing Ospreay over the railing, over the announcers table and onto the concrete floor behind, with Ospreay landing heavily onto the back of his head.

Lee gets a close near fall back inside the ring with a Straightjacket brooding suplex. Both men are on the top turnbuckle when Ospreay nails Dragon Lee with a double foot stomp to the face, sending Lee to the outside, where Ospreay hits a picture perfect Corkscrew moonsault out onto the floor. After a number of reversals between these two Dragon Lee nails a DDT which really rocks Will Ospreay. Ospreay hits Dragon lee with a pump kick to the face. Ospreay is then nailed with a reverse Rana. Ospreay then executes a Spanish fly for a 2 count.

This match is 100 mile per hour. Ospreay lands on his feet from an attempted Dragon Rana from the top turnbuckle on the outside. That was AWESOME! Ospreay gets a close near fall from a Shooting star press. Will Ospreay hits a Robinson special. Ospreay then gets caught in the tree of whoa on the outside of the ropes, before Dragon Lee manages to hit a double foot stomp to the chest of Ospreay, with Ospreay just managing to beat the referees count of 20 to continue the match.

Dragon Lee hits a Destroyer and a running knee for a very close near fall. Ospreay brings an end to this amazing match with a top rope springboard cutter followed by his Stormbreaker finisher for the 1, 2 3 to regain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship. Will Ospreay is now 3 x times IWGP Junior heavyweight champion.

That was an outstanding match going 20 mins. The suicide dive from Lee onto Ospreay on the outside sending Ospreay over the guard railing was awesome! The double foot stomp from Dragon Lee looked as dangerous as hell. There were so many high spots in this match and the usually reserved fans really got into this match. Will Ospreay is definitely the real deal and will likely challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight championship before the end of the year, and will be a top contender to win this year’s G1 climax tournament.

Duration 20:00 mins

Star rating (****3/4)

Kota Ibushi (champion) vs Tatsushi Naito – IWGP Intercontinental Championship

Ibushi starts off with a stiff kick to the chest of Naito, flooring the challenger to the canvas. Naito gets his own back with a running drop kick to the back of Ibushi. Ibushi lands a corkscrew plancha onto Naito on the outside. Naito drops Ibushi off the side of the ring apron with a German suplex, with Ibushi hitting his head on the edge of the ring apron before landing HARD on the floor – THAT LOOKED BRUTAL!

Then Ibushi nails Naito with a reverse rana from the top turnbuckle, before Naito hits Ibushi with a package tombstone. This match progresses into a slug fest between these two before Naito goes for a series of head-butts. Ibushi drops Naito with a wicked 360 lariat. Ibushi misses a Kinshasa allowing Naito to hit his Destino for a close near fall. Ibushi gets another dramatic near fall from a last ride Powerbomb.

Naito then counters Ibushi into brutal DDT. This match is fast and furious, as Naito nearly gets the win from a swinging reverse DDT from the 2ndturnbuckle. Naito gets another close near fail from a poison-rana which looked as painful as hell! 

However the end of the match comes when Naito eventually nails a picture-perfect Destino to win his 4thIntercontinental championship. That was a tough match to watch, with so many stiff spots and so many head bumps from Ibushi. That guys needs to start wearing a crash helmet for future matches.

Duration 22:00 mins

Star rating (****1/2)

Naito heels it up by putting one foot on Ibushi’s head to the displeasure of the fans, before Ibushi gets tended to on the outside of the ring.

Kasuska Okada (champion) vs Chris Jericho – IWGP heavyweight championship.

This match was billed as the Rainmaker vs The Pain maker

Jericho comes to the ring with his Clockwork Orange make-up. We’ve seen Jericho in New Japan against the likes of Omega, Naito and now against Okada, for the IWGP heavyweight championship. The commentators tell us that this is the only championship that has eluded Jericho. They even mention Jericho’s 6 reigns as WWE champion and the night when he managed to defeat The Rock and Steve Austin in the same night to become the WWE Undisputed world champion.

The match soon goes to the outside, as most of Jericho’s matches tend to nowadays. Where he DDTs Okada onto the ring announcers table, whilst throwing chairs around at ringside, like a lunatic! Jericho sets up another table on the outside, but his attempted Powerbomb was blocked before Okada runs Jericho into the guard railings at ringside.

Back inside the ring Jericho hits a cross body block from the top turnbuckle, followed by a back suplex and a drop kick. The match soon goes back to the outside where Okada kicks Jericho over into the front row. Okada goes for a dive over the railings, only for Jericho nail Okada with a Code Breaker on the concrete floor. Back inside the ring Jericho executes a Walls of Jericho, before Okada gets to the bottom rope for the rope break.

Okada hits a tombstone piledriver on Jericho, but Jericho pops up almost immediately to nail a Powerbomb onto his opponent. This match is very back and forth with both men starting to show signs of fatigue. Jericho removes the turnbuckle pad, which he throws onto the commentary team, before attempting to throw Okada into the turnbuckles, which Okada manages to avoid. Okada hits Jericho with a tombstone, but is unable to connect with his Rainmaker clothesline. Instead Jericho applies a high angle Lion Tamer.

Jericho finally runs Okada into the exposed turnbuckle, before going for the Judas Effect back elbow, which Okada ducks. Okada eventually rolls Jericho up for a pinfall victory to retain his IWGP championship after 23 mins.

Star rating (***1/2)

Jericho then goes nuts, hitting Okada with a steel chair to the face on two occasions. Jericho drags the champ to the outside, running Okada with a steel chair around his neck into the steel ring post. Jericho goes to Powerbomb Okada onto the table previously set up on the outside, when Hiroshi Tanahashi who is on commentary for this main event jumps over the guard railings to come to Okada’s aid, sending Jericho running for cover into the front row.

Jericho grabs a mic to call out Tanahashi and the fans. Calling Tanahashi a bitch and calling Japan a Bullshit country. Tanahashi helps Okada out to the back as the show goes off the air.

Overall Thoughts:

This was another very impressive outing from New Japan. Proving once again that they are more than capable of creating world class matches and build new figure heads to rise alongside the old faithful, despite losing so many top names at the beginning of 2019. Will Ospreay came off as the MVP of this whole show in my opinion. Demonstrating that he can truly be spoken of as one of the best wrestlers in the world right now and a definite name to consider when talking about future IWGP World Heavyweight champions.

The match between Ibushi and Naito was super stiff and sometimes hard to watch. With Ibushi taking far too many stiff spots to the head. I also loved the match between Liger/Yoshi-Hashi vs. ZSJ/Suzuki, which was definitely my TAG match of the night.

The match between Ishii and Taichi was super fun, which both wrestlers beating each other to a pulp with super stiff exchanges that had the fans reacting to every move. The opener with Jon Moxley against Shota Umino was a fun 4 minute match.

Finally, after watching the main event for a second time I have to congratulate Jericho and Okada for putting on a more American style brawl, with Jericho proving once again why he is one of the best heels in the business right now!

John Scott

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