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NJPW ‘The History & Growth of Dominion’

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Dominion (noun) – Sovereignty or control

In 2009 the title may not have been seen as clever but upon reflection, it’s perfect. New Japan saw noticeable growth in 2009 when they were able to expand their tours and have their payoffs in bigger venues. The first Dominion was held on June 20th, 2009 at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, an arena New Japan previously used for their anniversary shows in April. They moved the Osaka show down two months in order to create room for an April Sumo Hall show that we now call Sakura Genesis. The growth allowed New Japan to go from five annual marquee events to eight. When Dominion first debuted, it was the smallest of the big eight but as New Japan grew, so grew Dominion. Now, many consider this to be the company’s second largest show of the year.

Dominion had a humble beginning. The first show was held at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium with Hiroshi Tanahashi challenging IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Manabu Nakanishi. The venue had a capacity of around 6,500 which was fine in 2009 but by 2012, that wasn’t enough. They moved to the Bodymaker Colosseum in 2012 which featured the Tokyo Sports match of the year between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada. While the Bodymaker Colosseum’s capacity of about 7,500 was an improvement, New Japan was quickly able to max the building out. On the last Dominion held at the venue, the show was main evented by Shinsuke Nakamura and Bad Luck Fale for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. That was the only show in Dominion history where the heavyweight title wasn’t present. Why? Well, because it wasn’t needed. They sold the most tickets they had ever sold in the venue and didn’t need to feature the top title. That all changed the next year.

New Japan hadn’t run Osaka-jō Hall in more than twenty years but when the match between Kazuchika Okada and AJ Styles was announced, 11,400 flocked to the arena. In one year’s time, Dominion went from a capacity crowd of 7,300 at the Bodymaker Colosseum to nearly selling out Osaka-jō Hall. They continue to show growth with last year’s event reaching over 11,750 to see Okada vs Omega II. New Japan has grown exponentially over the last ten years since the inception of Dominion. The first event saw 5,800 come to the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium and now ten years later 12,000 are expected to sell out Osaka-jō Hall for the best two out of three falls match between Okada and Omega. This year’s event sold out over a month in advance so it’s very likely that we’re close to seeing Dominion once again change locations as New Japan continues steady growth domestically.

As the attendance has grown, so to has the importance of the show. In 2009 there were two titles were on the line, the heavyweight and tag team championships. Compare that to last year, where every title was defended, you can very easily see Dominion’s rise up the ranks. This year, six of the eight titles will be featured, leaving both the US and NEVER 6-man belts out of the picture. Since The Young Bucks are challenging for the heavyweight tag titles, they’ll be unable to defend their 6-man championships and Jay White doesn’t have any challengers. Here are some stats on the history of championship matches held in Dominion.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Featured: 2012-present
Title Changes: 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017

NEVER Openweight Championship
Featured: 2015-present
Title Changes: 2016

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Featured: 2009-present
Title Changes: 2010, 2015-2017

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Featured: 2010-2012, 2014-present
Title Changes: 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017

IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Featured: 2011, 2014-present
Title Changes: 2014, 2016, 2017

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Featured: 2009-2013, 2015-present
Title Changes: 2009, 2012, 2015, 2016

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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