NJPW Wrestling Dontaku Review: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Below is my review and star ratings from night two of NJPW Wrestling Dontaku. The main event featured Kazuchika Okada defending the IWGP Heavyweight Title against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Okada looked to make history by breaking Tanahashi’s record of 11 straight successful IWGP Heavyweight Title defences. The co-main event featured Will Ospreay defending the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title against KUSHIDA.
NJPW Wrestling Dontaku Review
Ryusuke Taguchi, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask def. Ran Narita, Shota Umino & Yuka Uemura
- Rating: *1/4
Story of match was The Young Lion being really aggressive to get the upper hand in the match. Narita, Uemura and Umino attacked Liger as the bell rang. Liger applied a surfboard to Uemura. Tiger Mask delivered a butterfly suplex but the Young Lions broke the referee’s count up. Liger delivered Shite to Umino. Narita applied a sharpshooter to Taguchi but was broken up by Tiger Mask. Narita and Taguchi exchanged some close pin fall attempts. Finish came when Taguchi applied an ankle lock as Narita tapped out.
- A short and fast paced tag team match to open the show
Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi def. Tomoyuki Oka & Yuji Nagata
- Rating: *2/4
Nagata delivered a big boot and Oka followed up with a belly-to-belly to Owens for a near fall. Owens and Takahashi delivered a combo backdrop/neck breaker to Oka. Takahashi delivered back-to-back big boots but Oka delivered a neck breaker. Nagata tagged in and delivered an exploder to Takahashi for a near fall. Nagata applied a Fujiwara arm bar to Owens but Takahashi broke it up. Oka wanted a tag as Nagata tagged him in. Owens attempted a package pile driver but Oka rolled him up for a close near fall. Owens delivered Jewels Heist to Oka for a near fall. Finish came when Owens delivered a package pile driver to Oka for the win.
- Just a regular tag team match
SHO, YOH & Rocky Romero def. Taichi, Taka Michinoku & Takashi Iizuka
- Rating: *
Iizuka attacked SHO and YOH with a chair. Taichi delivered a clothesline to SHO for a near fall. TAKA poked the eyes and delivered a super kick but YOH broke the count. The referee took a bump as Taichi attacked everyone with his cane. Iizuka brought out the Iron Fingers but couldn’t use them. Roppongi 3K delivered a triple team combo knee to TAKA. Rocky delivered a springboard dropkick to Iizuka and followed up with a tope to Taichi. Roppongi 3K got the win after planting TAKA with the 3K.
- The crowd got into the comedy spots but this match was lame. SHO & YOH are really talented but have been under utilized on the last two Dontaku shows.
Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano def. Togi Makabe & Henare
- Rating: **2/4
Henare delivered head butts but Ishii with a shoulder tackle. Yano exposed the turnbuckle. Henara with a flying shoulder tackle to Yano for a near fall. Ishii delivered a German suplex to Henara. There was nice double team combination as Makabe delivered a back fist and Henare followed up with a Samoan drop. Henara delivered a spear to Ishii for a near fall. Yano catapult Henare into the exposed turnbuckle as Ishii delivered a Saito suplex for a near fall. Henare got a close near fall of a driving spear to Ishii. Ishii delivered a big lariat and got the win after delivering a vertical brain buster.
- A fun tag team match as Ishii and Henera worked hard and really well together
Hirooki Goto, Jay White & YOSHI-HASHI def. Juice Robinson, David Finlay & Michael Elgin
- Rating: **3/4
Elgin and Goto exchanged strikes early on. Juice with an axe handle smash to White. Finlay and Juice with a double team bulldog to White and double team dropkick to YOSHI. White pulled down the top rope and then crotched Juice into the ring post. White delivered a basement dropkick and then Goto hip tossed YOSHI onto Juice. White with a snap side suplex to Juice for a near fall. Elgin got the hot tag and delivered a middle rope missile dropkick to White. Elgin then delivered a super kick and back breaker to Goto. Elgin delivered a nice looking pump handle DVD to White for a near fall. Finlay tagged in and delivered rolling back elbow to YOSHI. Elgin pressed slammed YOSHI onto Juice knee. Finlay delivered a orange back breaker to YOSHI for a near fall. YOSHI battled back and delivered a big lariat for a near fall. YOSHI got the win for his team after planting Finlay with Karma.
- A fun match as everyone worked well as the fans were into it.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) def. Suzuki Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr. Desperado & Minoru Suzuki)
- Rating: ***
A brawl broke out before the match started as Suzuki attacked Naito with a chair. Archer choke slammed Takahashi onto EVIL and SANADA on the floor. Archer delivered a fallaway slam to BUSHI. Suzuki applied a Fujiwara arm bar to BUSHI but Naito returned to spit in Suzuki’s face. Suzuki applied knee bar on Naito. Takahashi tagged in and delivered a double dropkick to Desperado and Kanemaru. Archer and Smith delivered the Hart Attack to Takahashi. Naito finally got the hot tag as he delivered a slingshot dropkick to Kanemaru. SANADA applied the Skull End to Suzuki but was broke up. Finish of the match came when EVIL delivered a big lariat and Naito followed by delivering the Destino to Kanemuru for the win.
- A fun match as Suzuki Gun got the advatange for most part by playing dirty. Everyone did a fine job as the crowd was super hot for LIJ and especially Naito.
Naito basked in the glory of his victory as the crowd loudly chanted “Naito” Naito slapped hand with fans and was about to leave but someone in a LIJ mask attacked Naito. The fan removed the mask and it was Chris Jericho who got a big pop. Jericho delivered a Code Breaker to Naito as the crowd chanted “Y2J” Jericho then attacked Naito with a ring bell as Naito was busted open.
- This was so awesome and such a great angle. Jericho is so awesome playing a heel and has such an amazing ability to evolve his character. This is obviously setting up a match at either NJPW Dominion or NJPW G1 in San Francisco.
Bad Luck Fale, Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi & Guerrillas of Destiny def. Marty Scurll, Cody, The Young Bucks & Hangman Page
- Rating: **2/4
Story of the match was Scurll attempting to body slam Fale which didn’t work. Fale scoop slammed Scurll who tagged in Cody. Cody spit in the face of Omega and tagged in Nick. Nick and Tama Tonga were evenly matched as they worked a great quick pace. Cody tagged himself in and Ibushi also got the tag. Ibushi delivered KENTA strikes and standing corkscrew moonsault to Cody for a near fall. Page tagged in and delivered strikes to Ibushi. Omega tagged in as Ibushi delivered a snap rana to Cody. Omega delivered a guitar crusher to Scurll. Ibushi and Omega attempted the Cross Slash but The Bucks jumped in the ring and stopped them. Ibushi delivered a great looking Golden Triangle to most of Team Cody on the floor. The Bucks delivered a double team super kick to Fale. Scurll attempted to body slam Fale who landed on top of Marty and got the win.
- Nothing much happened in the match but the interaction between both teams were great as the crowd got into that.
Omega chased Cody to the back. Tonga threw up the “Too Sweet” sign as the rest of Bullet Club (including Owens and Yujiro) arrived in the ring. Everyone did the “Too Sweet” sign including The Bucks after they hesitated at first. Ibushi watched from aside and then walked to the back. (This was cool and nice to see)
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Will Ospreay def. KUSHIDA to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title
- Rating: ****3/4
This was an awesome match that had some great story telling. The matched started a slow place as Ospreay went for a springboard but KUSHIDA caught him and applied a cross armbreaker on the floor. KUSHIDA applied a key lock but Ospreay placed his foot on the bottom rope. Ospreay with a springboard wheel kick to KUSHIDA and followed up with a great looking handstand reverse moonsault on the floor. Ospreay with a springboard forearm for a near fall. Ospreay with a running low dropkick to KUSHIDA in the corner and followed up with a standing shooting star press for a near fall. KUSHIDA with an overhead kick and then applied a kimura but Ospreay broke free by delivering a German suplex. KUSHIDA with a rolling heel kick. Ospreay was standing on the ring arpon as KUSHIDA delivered a rolling spike DDT to Ospreay on the floor. (This was nuts) They teased a count-out but Ospreay made it back into the ring. KUSHIDA delivered a springboard snap rana for a close near fall. KUSHIDA ran but Ospreay caught him and delivered a spinning standing cutter which looked great. Ospreay delivered a running Yakuzka kick in the corner. Ospreay delivering seven straight kicks to the face of KUSHIDA who was prone on the turnbuckle. Ospreay deliverd an a amazing looking reverse 450 splash for a close near fall as the crowd popped. Ospreay delivered a Romero Special and went for the OzCutter but KUSHIDA caught him the Hover lock. Ospreay escaped and delivered a one-handed Spanish Fly into a spike DDT. (This was nuts) We got a great forearm exchange as the crowd popped. Ospreay with a head kick but KUSHIDA with a KO punch as the crowd popped again. KUSHIDA stomped Ospreay and delivered a running dropkick to the back. They battled on the top turnbuckle as Ospreay delivered an awesome springboard cutter and got the win after delivering the Storm Breaker.
- It stared off as a great technical wrestling match but was lacking crowd reaction. But once the pace quickened, the crowd got into the match especially for all the big spots and the finish. This was an overall great professional wrestling match as both KUSHIDA and Ospreay told an amazing story. KUSHIDA and Ospreay work so smoothly in the ring and everything they deliver looks so crisp. This was easily the best match of either Dontaku show up to this point.
Ospreay was celebrating his victory when the lights went out as a Bone Soldier vignette aired and then Tama Tonga came to the ring. He served as a distraction for the new Bone Soldier who jumped Ospreay from behind. Tonga introduced him as the new Bone Soldier, then unmasked him, revealing it to be Taiji Ishimori. The two hugged as they threw up the “Too Sweet” sign. (Likely setting up a match between Ishimori and Ospreay at NJPW Dominion)
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match: Kazuchika Okada def. Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Title
- Rating: *****
This was an unbelievable match and the story telling was just outstanding. The crowd was super hot for the match as the chanted “Tanahashi” as the match began. We got some chain wrestling to open the match. Tanahashi countered a kick and delivered a chop block. Okada placed Tanahashi on the top turnbuckle and delivered a standing dropkick. Tanahashi tried to spin-the-cat but Okada caught him and delivered a draping hanging DDT from the top rope. Okada delivered a running big boot and then planted Tanahashi with a draping DDT from the barricade. Okada delivered a sliding dropkick and then posed on top of Tanahashi as the crowd booed. Okada no sold Tanahashi’s forearm strikes. Okada slowed the pace down by applying a nerve hold. Tanahashi with a neck breaker as the crowd popped. Tanahashi with a running dropkick in the corner and followed up with a low dropkick to the knee. Okada with a running back elbow in the corner and followed up with a spike DDT for a near fall. Okada delivered a neck breaker, a scoop slam, delivered a flying elbow and did his Rainmaker pose but Tanahashi got in his face as the crowd popped. Tanahashi delivered a dragon screw and followed up with a perfect High Fly Flow to Okada on the floor for a big reaction. Tanahashi charged but Okada caught him and delivered a tombstone on the floor. They teased a double count out but the crowd popped as Tanahashi made the count. The crowd popped for a nice forearm exchange. Okada played heel as he kicked at Tanahashi. The crowd went wild for another forearm exchange. Tanahashi coutures a flapjack, delivered a Twist and Shout and followed up with a sling blade for a near fall. Tanahashi attempted a High Fly Flow but Okada moved out of the way. Okada delivered a dropkick to the back and another standing dropkick. Okada attempted a Rainmaker but Tanahashi countered with a sling blade as the crowd popped. Tanahashi countered a tombstone but Okada with a Woo dropkick. Okada had a smile but Tanahashi recovered and delivered a tombstone. Tanahashi delivered a High Fly Flow to the back, went for a second but Okada got his knees up. Okada with a German suplex but Tanahashi kicked out at one as the crowd popped. Okada went for a Rainmaker but Tanahashi countered with a snap dragon suplex but Okada quickly delivered another standing dropkick. Tanahashi delivered another sling blade as the crowd popped. Tanahashi went for a cross body but Okada delivered a dropkick (this missed but both Okada and Tanahashi sold) Okada attempted a Rainmaker but Tanahashi avoided and delivered a Rainmaker of his own for huge pop but Okada kicked out at one. Tanahashi slapped Okada which the crowd popped for. Okada maintained wrist control as Tanahashi continued to slap him. Okada then suddenly grabbed Tanahashi delivered a Rainmaker for the win and broke Tanahashi’s record and now has 12 straight successful IWGP Heavyweight title defences.
- This was an amazing match and has to be considered as a match of the year candidate. This was easily the best match of both the NJPW Dontaku shows. The last five minutes of the match were incredible. The storytelling was superb as both Okada and Tanahashi worked really card. Okada was great as he played heel and Tanahashi was just beloved by the crowd.
After the match, Gedo cut a promo and hyped up Okada. Okada said he respected and has completed the task of 12 straight successful title defences. Okada then asked what’s next and brought up his match against Omega at NJPW Dominion last year. Okada then called Omega out. Okada mentioned that it is currently tied between them, so he wants to do it again. Omega said that they should have two-out-of-three falls match. Okada was fine with it and will show Omega what’s he made off at Osaka Jo Hall. Omega left as Okada vowed that at NJPW Dominion it will be 13 straight successful title defences as streamers filled the arena to close the show.
NJPW Dontaku night two was worth watching for the last two matches on the show. KUSHIDA and Ospreay put on a show but it was topped by a match of the year candidate as Okada and Tanahashi stole the show.