Wrestling Review: NJPW Wrestling Dontaku (2017)

Following Kazuchika Okada’s incredible IWGP Heavyweight Title defense at Sakura Genesis, the champion was attacked by Bad Luck Fale, the runner up of the 2017 New Japan Cup. This new rivarly concludes in a title match tonight at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestling Dontaku in Fukuoka, Japan, at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center, in what is Bad Luck Fale’s first ever IWGP title shot. In another match stemming from clashes in the New Japan Cup, Kenny Omega looks to take out Tomohoro Ishii, after Ishii’s shock win in the first round voer Omega. Two other titles are on the line as well, as Taguchi Japan (Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ricochet and Ryusuke Taguchi) look to defend the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Titles against Los Ingobernables de Japon (Bushi, Evil and Sanada) whilst War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) will defend their IWGP Tag Team Championships against two other teams: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa) and Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima). All this and much more when NJPW presents Wrestling Dontaku.

+ Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii: this was everything, from a wild brawl, technical tap-or-snap battles and then a home stretch to make you tired from just watching these two go. I don’t think there is a man you want to piss of more, at the moment, than Tomohiro Ishii. This was far and away the match of the show; absolutely incredible
+ War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) (c) vs Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa) vs Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) (IWGP Tag Team Championship Match): it should be clear by now that I love seeing these big boys slog the shit out of each other, so this was everything I could have ever wanted. With the same surprising athleticism from each of these competitors, this was a fantastic match. And as always, we get to hear the GODs theme music, which makes everything better
+ Taguchi Japan (Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi) (c) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA) (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships): some good wrestling, and a few legitimately laugh-out-loud comedy spots made for a really good match up. All of these LIJ members are just so cool to look at and I’ll say it until it happens, SANADA is going to be the biggest star in NJPW history one day
+ CHAOS (Beretta, Hirooki Goto, Jado, Rocky Romero & Toru Yano) vs Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru): everyone in Suzuki-gun are just so slimy; it is fun to hate them, especially the way Suzuki himself just wanders around the entire ringisde beating someone up, and the Suzuki/Goto encounters were fantastic. Yano’s comedy was not over the top like it somes can be, and Romero/Beretta were both really crisp as well, even though they didn’t get much time in the ring. I really enjoyed this whole match
+ Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito) vs Juice Robinson & KUSHIDA: The Juice/Naito match from a few weeks ago was incredible, and I loved the KUSHIDA/Takahashi match from Sakura Genesis, so this had the potential to be an amazing fight. A frantic early pace and shenanigans made for a fantastic affair, thought this time it was KUSHIDA whow as the standout, opposed to Juice. I hope both of these rivalries continue, because this was good and I want more
+ we were given a glimpse into the A and B Blocks of the Best of the Super Juniors 24 Tournament, and it has a lot of phenomenal talent, including Ricochet, KUSHIDA, Marty Scurll, Wil Ospreay, Jushin Liger and BUSHI to name just a few. The simple thought of some of the match-ups is making my mind race

– Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Bad Luck Fale (IWGP Heavyweight Championship): despite Okada being such a tall guy, this was structured mostly as a David vs Goliath contest, with Fale teasing the big moves and cutting off Okada each time. When it was all said and done, this was a different style of match compared to Okada’s recent classics, and probably the worst of the four big ones (Omega, Suzuki, Shibata and now Fale) so far, and didn’t leave any real impression on me
– Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs Tiger Mask, Tiger Mask W & Togi Makabe: although the Tiger Mask/W/Makabe team did a lot individually, I didn’t see much of Liger in this match, and there was a rather abrupt ending. I would have liked to see him more. I wonder how much longer we are going to have this MYSTERIOUS Tiger Mask W as he is now
– Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) vs Chaos (Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI): this was about average, for an opener. The high-flying skills of Ospreay got the crowd pumped early, but never kept them there. Though not necessarily in-ring wise, in terms of star-power Owens was so far below the standings of the other three guys here
– Cody vs David Finlay: the crowd didn’t seem to have much interest in this one despite, I would have thought, David Finlay being a rising star on their radar. Maybe that is just the Westerners’ perspective. Outside of a few big spots, they were mostly very quiet, which had Cody play the bad guy to try and get them into things. In the end, this was relatively unimportant

> Yujiro Takahashi didn’t come out with Pieter. Why even bother living?
> I’ll never understand the Gaijin wrestlers cutting a promo in English to a, more often than not, 99% Japanese crowd. It always falls flat.

Should you watch this event: Another NJPW show, another ‘main matches were great, tag matches were hit or miss’ affair. Both tag title matches were fantastic, and Ishii/Omega was a match of the year contender, but the main event was disappointing. Overall, this was a show worth watching, as the negatives above were spaced in between some fantastic wrestling.

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