Metalhead’s Riff: Dominion 2015 (NJPW, Nakamura vs Goto, Styles vs Okada)

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With all their titles on the line, a couple of re-matches signaling the conclusion of feuds and two long journey’s arriving at their climax, NJPW had little choice with Dominion, it had to deliver. Now, I should perhaps maintain the suspense a bit and finish my introduction with the usual: “Let’s see how well they did”, but, instead, I’m gonna go with a Possible Best Damn Show of 2015 Alert! Because, yup, it was THAT good. Now let’s take a look at the review, results, implications and all that:

Manabu Nakanishi, Mascara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi, Sho Tanaka and Yuji Nagata defeated Hiroyoshi Tenza, Satoshi Kojima, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask & Yohei Komats:

Usual multi-wrestler tag-team dark match with some good stuff from Komatsu and Tanaka and a possible match tease between Nagata and Kojima.  Dorada finishes Komatsu off while the rest are brawling on the outside. Fun, and the crowd is already well into the spirit of things which bodes well for the rest of the card.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Young Bucks (c) defeated ReDRagon and Roppongi Vice:

It’s always a safe bet to put these guys in the opener as they will generally draw in any crowds with their dare-devil moves and high-octane pace. This was no different, only complaint would be that we’ve seen it all before between those three teams. Still, a more than watchable effort, The Young Bucks looked very strong in the finishing sequence which might mean they will hold to the belts for awhile. Then again, ReDragon once again avoided taking the pin here. A feud ending Young Bucks vs Redragon match in the near future to end this long-running feud? I’m all for it. Also of note, Rocky Romero was the most over wrestler of the six. No doubt NJPW will have notice this, which could herald a future Romero singles push. Great  fun as always but NJPW needs new Junior tag teams to mix it up.

Good way to officially open the show.

Tetsuya Naito and Tomoaki Honma defeated Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi:

I have lamented Naito’s lack of direction in recent times, but it seems NJPW has decided to take action. Tetsuya’s slow burn heel turn continues in this match with his repeated refusal to tag himself in. When he finally did, he then hilariously refused to tag out. Displaying complete disregard for his partner’s well-being and even refusing to participate in the post-match celebration, Naito is doing a great job in turning all crowds against him. His “Whatever” expression to anything that happened to the ever popular Honma was gold. Another good match but this was more notable for the Naito/Honma interaction than for the Bullet Club’s opposition. Honma finishes Takahashi off with a crowd-pleasing KOGETSU, but the real story was elsewhere.

Fun and intriguing, what more can you ask of a match involving Bad Luck Fale?

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba:

OK, I admit it, I have to eat humble-pie on this one. In my preview I stated it would be very difficult for Shibata and Sakaruba to equal the Sakuraba/Suzuki match from Wreslte Kingdom 9. I even made clear my general distaste of MMA inspired matches. Clearly I really didn’t even want to like this one. Of course I ended up loving it. While the build-up in this particular feud was somewhat underwhelming, those two delivered where it really matters, by delivering a fantastic and hard-hitting fight that managed to draw everyone in. Including me. When you make people forget they’re watching a fake MMA match, then you’re doing something right. Shibata really shined here, picking up a Penalty Kick aided win to enter the G climax as a very strong contender. Great stuff by all involved, I honestly didn’t think they could pull this off.

Yes, I’m gonna say it, great match, I recommend it!

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: KUSHIDA defeated Kenny Omega (c):

This show was already kicking ass (sometimes litterally) and the culmination of KUSHIDA’s long journey to the top was next. Keeping the shenanigans to a minimum, Omega was excellent in his role as hateful heel, while KUSHIDA nailed the crowd-pleasing baby-face comebacks. Only complaint here is, if you’re gonna go with a storyline where Omega injures the baby-face hero’s knee early on, said hero should sell it for the remainder of the match, not only when it suits him. But I’m nitpicking really, fast-paced, spectacular and effortlessly drawing the crowd in this was a very good match. The finish was inventive too, while Omega prepared to unleash the One Winged Angel, KUSHIDA countered with a submission hold which Kenny sold beautifully before finally taping out. KUSHIDA’s big moment definitely delivered and his first challenger will, reportedly be Ricochet/Prince Puma. This should be awesome!

If you disregard some minor flaws, you are left with a great match which benefited from a good story, great crowd and even better action. Watch this!

NEVER Openweight Title: Togi Makabe (c) defeated Tomohiro Ishii:

Irresistible Force vs Immovable Object take 3 this was as hard-hitting as any match between those two. They also did a injury spot which was so convincing I’m still not totally sure that Ishii didn’t really re-injure his shoulder. Match-wise this was fine but, while I still get a kick of watching those two beating the hell out of each-other, I also noted in my preview that this match had to be a clear ending for this particular feud. It was definitely time for all to move on. NJPW apparently agreed because, with his second, consecutive, high profile win Makabe finally established his superiority over Ishii. The fact that both are in separate blocks of the G1 climax confirms this.  That, my friends, is selling. No doubt Makabe will pick up new opponents in the coming weeks while Ishii will join his CHAOS team-mates in block B. This should be fun on both counts.

Very enjoyable slug-fest, with a satisfying, feud-ending finish.

IWGP Tag Team Title: Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson with Amber Gallows defeated The Kingdom (Taven and Bennett) (c) with Maria:

Well, no reason to sugarcoat this, this was the sole low point of this card. Usual, rather boring stuff, unhinged match, Amber and Maria didn’t add much and Anderson’s attempts to seduce Maria are becoming risible. Fittingly, the crowd was mostly death for this one. Since the Japanese audiences failed to connect with the Kingdom boys and girl, Gallows and Anderson regaining the belts was perhaps for the best, but NJPW has a lot of work to do with their Heavyweight Tag Team scene, which is now officially their (very) weak spot on any card.

Skip.

Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Toru Yano

Tanahashi finally beating Yano finished a feud that, while mostly (and surprisingly) entertaining, was right on the verge of getting the overly long tag. Still the feud achieved it’s intended goal, and that w&as giving Tanahashi some well-deserved rest while not being too obvious about it. Yano again played his decoy role to perfection and manipulated the crowd masterfully with his antics. There was a nice little story here too, with Tanahashi being in trouble whenever he tried to beat Yano at his own game, and gaining the upper hand as soon as it became about wrestling again. Fitting ending to this feud, this was yet another good, fun match. But now comes the big test for Tanahashi, period of short matches and smoke and mirrors is officially over. Let’s hop his back had enough time to heal, he will need all he’s got if he wants to play a role in the G1 tournament and beyond.

Fun, no problems recommending it.

IWGP Intercontinental Title: Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura:

Let’s be fair here, the observation phase was long. perhaps too long. But once they got going, damn did they deliver. Nakamura was very interesting to watch in the second part of the match because he went into full-on heel mode, which might very well be a sign of things to come. Goto gave as good as he received and confirmed he can carry the IC title for some time. perhaps not to the  level of Nakamura, but, then again, who could? Overall a great effort, only complaint would be that overly long opening stretch. I mean I love a good, slow story, the crowd was into it and it did help build-up the drama for the finishing stretch but let’s not over-do it, right guys? Last, important note, if NJPW indeed plans on putting the Heavyweight belt on Nakamura in 2016, they have already created a very viable challenger in the person of Goto and his two consecutive wins over Shinsuke. Long-term planning, gotta love it.

Great match but not for everyone because of the slow opening.

IWGP Heavyweight Title: Kazuchika Okada defeated A. J. Styles (c):

Let’s face it, when your main event almost casually produces a Match of the Year contender (if not THE match of the year), you know you’ve done everything right. This was the match everyone in the sold out Osaka-jo hall (first time in years) was dying to see, and it delivered big time. Bullet Club interfered from the start, only for the referee to trow them out and give them the crotch shop for good measure. Awesome. From there on Styles and Osaka assembled a 26 minute wrestling masterclass filled with drama, action, heart-stopping near-falls, swerves and great in-ring psychology. Those two had such great chemistry and effortlessly flowed from one move to the next. Crowd was great here, clearly buying into the relevance of the moment. Okada beating Styles with a Rainmaker/German Suplex/Rainmaker combo was the culmination of Okada’s long journey back to the top and that fact was clearly high-lighted in the story and in the ending, making this a momentous event. Styles, on his side, must have shut up his critics once and for all by yet again delivering in one of his biggest matches ever.

Everything any wrestling fan can expect of a wrestling match and more. WATCH!

 

Dominion is receiving rave reviews from (almost) every observer, and, believe me, it is deservingly so. If you exclude the Kingdom/BC thing, everything ranged from good to excellent, and EVERY match felt different. And they finished every fan off with a very serious Match of the Year contender. This show had me jumping up and down my couch for the duration. And that with a bad back, gonna pay for this in the coming days. Anyways, ending of feuds, start of new ones, NJPW has shuffled his deck to make sure everything was in place to give us the awesome G1 climax everybody is hoping for. We were wondering if any card could beat Wrestle Kingdom 9 as card of the year, well, enter Dominion for a very serious bid. Will be hard to top those two. Unless you’re NJPW of course.

Thank you all for reading, and please do give Dominion a try, I guarantee you won’t regret it. See you all soon and have fun!

 

 

 

 

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