Two huge championship matches close out this year’s Wrestling Dontaku. The tour has been grueling but the payoff is sure to be great as we finish off with two of the best feuds in all of professional wrestling. Let’s see what surprises come our on as we dive into the finale of Wrestling Dontaku 2018!
Liger, Tiger & Taguchi def. Umino, Narita & Uemura @ 6:35 via Taguchi Oh My & Garankle on Narita – **1/4
Explosive opener from the young lions. They each delivered a dropkick to a veteran to start the match off with a bang. Uemura had the most ring time which is interesting considering he’s the least experienced. He showed great fire against the veterans and stepped up to each of them. Ultimately, he was put in his place but he made a great impression. Not much from Umino tonight which is rare. Instead, it was Narita who had the closing sequence. He countered a Dodon attempt into a pin for a nearfall but was quickly locked in Oh My & Garankle and was forced to tap. Uemura continued to egg on the veterans after the match. I really like this lion’s fire so far.
Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens def. Yuji Nagata & Tomoyuki Oka @ 6:11 via Owens Package Piledriver on Oka – *3/4
A real strong showing from Oka who gave his all and refused to be bullied by Yujiro. There were good double teams from both sides. Yujiro cut off the Shirome and wound up taking an Exploder for doing such. The closing stretch saw Oka do his best by fighting out of a Package Piledriver, being saved from a Jewel Heist but fell after he couldn’t escape the second Piledriver attempt. Nice and fiery performance from Oka.
Rocky, YOH & SHO def. Iizuka, Taichi & TAKA @ 6:08 via 3K on TAKA – *3/4
Iizuka rushed SHO before the bell and proceeded to attempt gaining respect through biting. Have no fear, it wasn’t only SHO receiving bites, YOH and Rocky were also chomped on quite a bit as well. Each member of Suzuki-Gun made it their mission to target and bully SHO. The tactic didn’t work as SHO’s team mates came to his aid and evened out the numbers. Ever since SHO snapped on Iizuka, these matches have been a lot more fun. It was nice to see TAKA show off a little more as we head into BOSJ. Taichi stomped off to the back upset over the loss.
Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano def. Togi Makabe & Toa Henare @ 7:35 via Ishii Brainbuster on Henare – **1/2
Every match that features Ishii facing off with Henare has been a treasure. I can watch these two beat one another up every night and have been for months now. I feel like this was Henare’s best outing. I bit on several of his pin attempts in the closing moments. These two bulls can lariat each other for the rest of time and it’ll still be engaging. Once Henare finally scores that win over Ishii, the place will go nuts.
Goto, White & HASHI def. Elgin, Juice & Finlay @ 11:05 via HASHI Karma on Finlay – **1/2
In similar fashion to Ishii and Henare, I can watch Goto and Elgin beat each other up forever. All six of these guys have really strong chemistry with one another and is a match that feels as if it can be expanded on further. White had nice exchanges with both Juice and Elgin, both of whom I could see being the next US champion. Right now it seems like Juice will be the next challenger. White attempted to hit him with a Blade Runner from behind after the match but Juice slipped out and White bailed out of the ring. Strong showing from everyone involved. Finlay looked close to pulling off the win but tonight was Y-H’s night as he ended the match with Karma.
Taichi rushed out with his microphone stand and pulled Goto backstage with the stand around his neck.
Naito, EVIL, SANADA, Hiromu & BUSHI def. Suzuki, Archer, Smith, Kanemaru & Desperado @ 8:32 via Naito Destino on Kanemaru – **3/4
Suzuki-Gun rush LIJ before they could reach the ring. Suzuki throws Naito into the crowd and applies a heel hook and makes his way to the ring where he and his crew focus their direction to BUSHI. Naito sacrifices his own leg to Suzuki for him to let go of BUSHI and Suzuki accepts the offer. The group then focuses on Hiromu but he turns out to be more than they bargained for and the odds are evened. SANADA and BUSHI hit a Placha yo opposites sides of the ring to clear the way for Naito to drop Kanemaru with Destino. Some really nice double teams by K.E.S., who continue to look the best they ever have. Suzuki-Gun are taken away to the back by the young lions to allow LIJ to celebrate the victory.
As Naito fist bumps the fans on his way to the back, someone grabs ahold of his arm and pulls him. A masked man appears from the crowd and beats on Naito. He takes him into the ring and removes his BUSHI mask to reveal it’s the return of Chris Jericho! He nails Naito with a Codebreaker and officials rush in to pull Jericho away from inflicting further damage. He rushes back in with the ring bell and clocks Naito, splitting his head open. The sight of a bloody Naito brings women and children in the audience to tears. They boo Jericho as he laughs and flips them off. A proud Naito rejects the stretcher and walks backstage under his own power.
Omega, Ibushi, Fale, Tama & Tanga def. Cody, Page, Bucks & Scurll @ 8:54 via Fale Body Press on Scurll – **1/2
Right off the bat, Cody has to be a dick. He finds the fan who received Omega’s Golden Lovers shirt and takes it from him. What a heel. Like yesterday, Scurll’s mission is to slam Fale. He’s still unable. These guys all have good chemistry but the Bucks refused to engage with either Ibushi or Omega. The respect was returned by Omega but Ibushi showed no qualms hitting them with a Golden Triangle. Scurll attempted the slam once more and actually got him up! Unfortunately, his knees buckled under the weight and Fale fell right on top of him, squishing Scurll like a bug.
Omega and Cody brawl into the backstage area while Yujiro and Owens come out and the entire Bullet Club, aside from Omega and Cody, Too Sweet in the middle of the ring. Ibushi stood off to the side, still not wanting to be involved in all this turmoil.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay (c) def. KUSHIDA @ 23:47 via Stormbreaker – ****
My favorite feud in all of wrestling the last three years. Ospreay out to prove his lone win over KUSHIDA was not a fluke. Both these guys are so dynamic and bring out the best in each other.
This was a bit more toned down than the last few defenses from Ospreay. The big spot, in a match that was still littered with big spots, was KUSHIDA’s rolling pop-up DDT. He rolled on the floor, jumped up to Ospreay on the apron and drove his head into the floor. Insanity. There were many jaw-dropped moments, including the extremely rare Supernova Rana. They were very physical and paced themselves well, coming alive in the right spots. KUSHIDA repeatedly went after the neck and arm of Ospreay which prompted Ospreay to fire back by ripping off KUSHIDA’S neck tape and returning the favor.
There was a tease of the Spanish Fly on the apron but they wisely didn’t follow through. Both these guys are becoming smarter in their age and still as explosive and innovative as ever. The finishing sequence consisted of KUSHIDA hitting a running dropkick to the back of Ospreay’s neck in the corner, followed up by an attempt of the Back to the Future from the top rope. Ospreay evaded, hit a top rope Springboard Cutter, directly followed up with a Storm Breaker to another successful defense of the title. A classic which can proudly stand among the other classics in this epic series. They embrace on the mat and KUSHIDA is helped to the back.
Before Ospreay could celebrate, the lights go out. The return of Bone Soldier has arrived. Tama Tonga comes out and allows Bone Soldier the opportunity to attack Ospreay from behind. He removes his mask and it’s none other than Taiji Ishimori! The popular junior wrestler from Pro Wrestling NOAH has been revealed as the newest member of Bullet Club! With BOSJ just two weeks away, anyone not excited for this development has never seen an Ishimori match. He’s a top tier junior wrestler who is a more than welcome addition to the New Japan roster. Awesome signing.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi @ 34:37 via Rainmaker – ****1/4
The feud which pushed New Japan to new heights returns! In 2012 it was Okada who ended Tanahashi’s title reign at a record eleven defenses. Now it’s only fitting that Okada must defeat Tanahashi in order to break the defense record. The rivalry between these two sparked new life into New Japan and they’ve been trending upwards ever since. They know each other better than anyone on the roster and their showcase tonight proved that to be true.
Early on Okada took it easy on Tanahashi, he decided to not take advantage of Tanahashi’s positioning against the ropes and instead left him go. This was the story of the match, Okada felt he was better than Tanahashi. Fifteen minutes in, Okada steps on Tanahashi’s chest and poses to the camera. Two minutes later he’s already attempting a Rainmaker. An insulted Tanahashi fired back with a Dragon Screw Leg Whip. Okada bailed to the outside where Tanahashi landed on top of him with a High Fly Flow. Tanahashi took too much time to recover from the high risk and was dropped on his head with a Tombstone Piledriver on the outside floor.
They rolled back in the ring before the twenty count and engage in a striking battle. Okada comes out on top and taunts Tanahashi some more. Tanahashi fires back up with a Slingblade for a two count and misses the follow up High Fly Flow. After they both counter out of Tombstone attempts, Okada launches Tanahashi with a huge John Woo. He tries to pick Tanahashi up off the mat but his exhausted body falls limp to the mat once again and Okada laughs. Out of nowhere, Tanahashi finds more energy and drills Okada with a Tombstone and hits his back with a High Fly Flow. When attempting to finish the match with the traditional High Fly Flow, Okada gets his knees up and Tanahashi is left reeling.
After countering each other’s signature moves, Tanahashi is dropped with a German Suplex. The Ace kicks out at one and they trade counters once again but this time Tanahashi ends up on top with a Dragon Suplex. Once more Tanahashi tries to end it with a High Fly Flow but is met with a Dropkick for his troubles. Okada gets him in position for a Rainmaker but instead winds up eating one from Tanahashi but his isn’t strong enough and Okada kicks out at one.
The closing stretch was Tanahashi slapping his way out of a Rainmaker three times. He launches himself towards the ropes to set up for a Slingblade but Okada grabs his trunks and spins him around for a Rainmaker to win the match. Okada has broken Tanahashi’s defense record. The exact record of which he ended in 2012. Awesome match.
When Okada addresses the fans, he mentions that the draw against Kenny Omega bothers him so he wants them to wrestle again at Dominion. Omega comes down to the ring to meet with Okada face to face. Okada tells Omega that he doesn’t want another draw so there will not be a time limit. Omega counters by proposing a two out of three falls match without a time limit. They agree and that’s how we end the show.
So many great moments tonight. The way they introduced Jericho and how completely unhinged he looked was awesome. Taiji Ishimori introduced as the newest member of Bullet Club was awesome. Both title matches were awesome. Wrestling Dontaku was awesome. Shows like these are why New Japan Pro-Wrestling is so popular.
Next up is the Best of the Super Juniors Tour. We are without Liger and Ricochet this year but with the additions of YOH, SHO and now Taiji Ishimori, there is a lot to look forward to this upcoming tour!
Okada vs Tanahashi
Ospreay vs KUSHIDA
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