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NJPW Wrestling Hinokuni / Wrestling Dontaku 2018

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That's why I never thought Okada/Tana was for Dominion.  It's a good, logical storyline to fill up a title defense for Okada, but there is just no great thirst for pt. 323948734 of that pairing right now.

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First title match ended in rather surprising way, at least to me. It was a good match, not great, not something that I will watch again, but I enjoyed it. Going with WWE's logic, Suzuki stood tall after that main event so Naito is probably winning next week?

Anyway, with Taichi moving up to heavyweights it was rather obvious that Desperado would become top Suzuki Gun junior. And they are slowly building towards that. He got lots of time with Hiromu in the ring. He also might beat Bushi next week in singles match. At some point they could do Hiromu/Desperado singles feud and there would be some meat for that.

Random observation: Desperado defeated Hiromu in say way he defeated Kushida last year in BotSJ. He just used Kushida's RoH TV title there, obviously. Might become his "big match" finish going forward?

Big question, who Desperado/Kanemaru will face next? Ropongi 3k are either getting destroyed by Taichi or getting DQ wins after getting destroyed by Iizuka so them getting title shot at Dominion would be weird, yet they obviously still have time to build it up during BotSJ. But last year they ran heavyweight tags into the ground with constant GoD/War Machine/KES matches, would be really, really weird if Gedo repeated same thing with juniors now.

Alternatively maybe ACH makes BotSJ again and Super 69 could challenge Desperado/Kanemaru? Could give another win for Desperado and match would feel fresh... and last year Super 69 defeated Desperado/Kanemaru in jr. tags tournament so there is a bit of history there too.

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Ishii/Henare and White/Finlay were so much better than you'd expect- surprisingly strong show tonight. 

Wouldn't find having Finlay go on an excursion to come back in a year's time- would be better for him long-term than floundering around in the lowcard.

 

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White is so much more compelling when he's punching down, I think, and he and Finlay obviously have chemistry/history, so that was very good.

I also think it's interesting how the build to Okada/Tana inverts the Rainmaker Shock setup. I thought they'd work very hard to make Tanahashi look credible, and instead they've mostly had Okada dunk on him repeatedly; but perhaps, for those that know their history, this makes an upset seem more likely than any number of 50/50 sequences would? (Okada's still winning, though.)

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Ishii had a great match with Henare. It was Ishii's match, reminded a bit of his old NEVER title run. And well Henare used this opportunity very well, I think. He is still young, he is solid and has great fire. In couple of years when Ishii will, unfortunately, have to retire (or go to opening tags) I can see Henare taking his spot.

White/Finlay was also pretty good, probably best White's match so far? I, and I think many others, still don't get entirely what his character is, but he gets it 100% and thats what matters. That hair pull into lariat looked brutal, I would have preferred if Finlay sold it a bit longer, but that was probably my only nitpick with the match.

Finlay should really do something about his look (and probably his character), maybe get an excursion or something. It looks like that is all he needs to turn from being a pin eater in opening tags to being a solid midcarder.

I think that all three guys made strong arguments today for why they should be in G1.

As a side note, Okada is really being an asshole to Tanahashi. I almost want Tanahashi to win now, good job NJPW. And yeah, this works better than them having 50/50 sequences or Tanahashi even having upper hand.

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Interesting to see a modern Gaijin vs. Gaijin NJPW Main Event where both guys are proper dojo grads and the North American Indie influence is cut way, way back. Compare this to something like an Omega/Elgin match and it's night and day. Strong showing from both guys, and it seems like the character work from CUTLERY DEVIANT~ is looking a lot closer to what it *should* be. Certainly closer than the stinker with Hangman. White's choice to properly break the table with the elbow drop was a good call both in terms of spectacle and psychology, the "barely roll the shoulder" nearfall was fun and the finish was simple and swank. Both guys have a ways to go - it's obvious this match benefited from the two of them knowing each other so well and planning a lot of stuff out - but I'm more sold on something like a Finaly G1 run than I would have been a day ago.

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Looked over post match interviews. I think one with Ishii is interesting since we usually don't hear him talk much:

Speaks some truth and gives important advice for Henare and then goes back to his tough guy persona "But I don't care what he does". I suppose Ishii was actually impressed by Henare's performance? Because I don't remember when was the last time Ishii said more than 1-2 sentences in his promos/interviews.

Naito reframes his match into being not about IC title, but about him humiliating "The King" and stealing his treasure that is not a treasure in the first place. He also mentions how he was beaten by Zack, but if he beats Suzuki... what does it mean for Suzuki-Gun? I think we all want Zack/Suzuki to happen at some point and this could be a good starting point for that story.

 

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Yeah, Ishii playing the coach with the student under the learning tree then just saying "ah, fuck him" and walking off was great. And I don't even know who Henare is! 

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Looking forward to Kazuchika Okada vs. Biros Hi Tanahashi with the great feud and terrific matches. The Wrestle Kingdom 10 match is the best of them. Also: King of Pro Wrestling 2013, Invasion Attack 2013 and Dominion 2012. Worst by far was Wrestle Kingdom 7.

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Real Talk: Henare's match with Ishii was better than any match that Knife Pervert has ever had by a pretty wide margin.

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Ropongi 3K finally managed to beat Taichi, Taka and Iizuka. It is weird that this was presented as some kind of achievement, but there is that. I suspect that we will be moving back to Ropongi vs Kanemaru/Desperado which does not sound very exciting. What is even funnier is that if Hiromu/Bushi do not win BotSJ then we are likely to get that triple threat again. Amazing.

Naito continues being very over and brings in a guest to keep himself even more over.

Juice had picked up couple of important wins via roll ups in the past (Omega, Elgin) so for a moment I thought that he had it when he rolled Goto. I liked the match itself, it was noticeably better than their last year bout for the title and last couple of minutes were very hot. And was it just me or Goto was rather over?

So I was kinda right about Taichi and Elgin getting in the title picture for Dominion, but I didn't expect a triple threat. Normally I don't like such things, but I suspect that they might want to use this opportunity to give Taichi the big win while protecting Goto/Elgin since one of them won't get pinned and getting pinned in a match that is not 1vs1 isn't that big of a deal. So if that happens I'll be okay with that, but if Goto will retain or if Elgin will get a win then I'll be pissed. And I read on reddit a wonderful idea for Taichi's title run:

Honestly, how fucking hilarious would it be if Taichi went Heavyweight, won the NEVER Belt, and then used the Openweight stipulation to only ever fight Juniors with it?

It looks like with every match Ospreay screams more and lesser things trigger his screams. I wonder if at some point we will get full match with Ospreay screaming from the start to the finish. Anyway, Tanahashi got his revenge on Okada and I liked the finish, I wish we got more of such situations where one guy is holding another while his team mate does a top rope move. I would have liked it even more if Ospreay wasn't screaming thru all of that.

Originally I thought that for Dominion we might get White/Elgin, but since White was announced for RoH shows people speculating about Lethal being his challenger. It turned out to be Punishment Martinez with whom he also had some history. So in theory we could see White defeating Martinez and calling out Lethal during RoH shows and White/Lethal match for Dominion?

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Really felt like this was going to be Juice's night, especially since he'd already challenged Goto for the NEVER title and lost last year. Not sure what's more disappointing, him losing or this all being a setup for Elgin/Taichi to challenge instead.

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Not a great night for Suzuki-gun, even apart from the losing. Like dropping a game when you’ve got 65% possession, and a similarly severe shots on goal disparity. It was probably more exaggerated in the main, since Naito so rarely wins big matches with one Destino. But... I don’t know, I kinda like the idea of a sudden win. Any long finishing run would have ruined the knee work, whereas some stiff slaps, a nasty brain buster, and then the finish, felt appropriately like—to keep my strained metaphor going—a well taken counter. I get why twitter (not to mention the audience) was a bit “wait, that’s it?” though. It never hit the expected New Japan Main Event barrage, for better or worse, and Naito seemed disengaged and frankly a bit sloppy, which made Suzuki’s extended dominance less engaging. I know some of that is character work, but “Guy who doesn’t really care about this match or this belt, and so turns in a pretty middling performance” is a bit too meta. It was still fine, but I was expecting way, way better.

Predictions: It seems pretty clear Naito’s gunning for Okada again, but I think Suzuki-gun will get one last win before the feud really ends, with Minoru and ZSJ taking the tag belts, to be challenged by the (once again bleached) Golden Lovers.

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On 4/27/2018 at 6:18 AM, Archibald said:

Ropongi 3K finally managed to beat Taichi, Taka and Iizuka. It is weird that this was presented as some kind of achievement, but there is that. I suspect that we will be moving back to Ropongi vs Kanemaru/Desperado which does not sound very exciting. What is even funnier is that if Hiromu/Bushi do not win BotSJ then we are likely to get that triple threat again. Amazing.

Naito continues being very over and brings in a guest to keep himself even more over.

Juice had picked up couple of important wins via roll ups in the past (Omega, Elgin) so for a moment I thought that he had it when he rolled Goto. I liked the match itself, it was noticeably better than their last year bout for the title and last couple of minutes were very hot. And was it just me or Goto was rather over?

So I was kinda right about Taichi and Elgin getting in the title picture for Dominion, but I didn't expect a triple threat. Normally I don't like such things, but I suspect that they might want to use this opportunity to give Taichi the big win while protecting Goto/Elgin since one of them won't get pinned and getting pinned in a match that is not 1vs1 isn't that big of a deal. So if that happens I'll be okay with that, but if Goto will retain or if Elgin will get a win then I'll be pissed. And I read on reddit a wonderful idea for Taichi's title run:

 

 

It looks like with every match Ospreay screams more and lesser things trigger his screams. I wonder if at some point we will get full match with Ospreay screaming from the start to the finish. Anyway, Tanahashi got his revenge on Okada and I liked the finish, I wish we got more of such situations where one guy is holding another while his team mate does a top rope move. I would have liked it even more if Ospreay wasn't screaming thru all of that.

Originally I thought that for Dominion we might get White/Elgin, but since White was announced for RoH shows people speculating about Lethal being his challenger. It turned out to be Punishment Martinez with whom he also had some history. So in theory we could see White defeating Martinez and calling out Lethal during RoH shows and White/Lethal match for Dominion?

Well, in all fairness, a real osprey does a good deal of screaming. Ask Rev Ray, he's the bird guy.

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The finish to Naito/Suzuki definitely felt abrupt, like it ended before it really hit the final gear it needed to be something really special.  But given how much Suzuki was struggling to keep up with some of Naito's fast-paced offense that requires a lot of quick footwork and snappy bumping out of the recipient, it was probably better for the match that they didn't try to have a big finishing stretch.

I thought the booking of the Bushi/Despy and Hiromu/Kanemura matches were fun.  I enjoyed that whole section more than I was expecting to.

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Show itself felt a bit different to what we usually get what with Bushi/Desperado transitioning immediately into Hiromu/Kanemaru and main event didn't feel like NJPW main event which I found very refreshing since often things can get a bit too crazy. Not to say that this was better than usual NJPW show, but I don't mind such things happening once in a while. Just like that Hiromu/Kushida squash last year.

When you take a step back and look at the main event without "NJPW style" expectations, I think that ending made perfect sense. Naito delivers bunch of Suzuki-style slaps to Suzuki and draws blood, follows up with brainbuster (I think) and Destino to kill him. Only problem is that we had seen people kicking out of multiple Destinos before, but thats really another problem entirely. As for Suzuki being dominant most of the match, well thats usually how his matches go, especially if he ends up losing.

But really, main thing here is that Naito has IC title again which is dangerous territory. If he doesn't use it to challenge Okada at Dominion AND doesn't win then this entire journey becomes a bit stupid, all things considered. The way I see it that is the only path for Naito to grow now and if instead we get Naito/Zack at Dominion or he losses again to Okada then he'll be at dead end in my opinion. And thats bad because despite Okada breaking that record I'm not sure if Gedo wants Naito to go over him there... since that might also lead us to dangerous territory of Okada being GOATest GOAT that ever GOATed in terms of kayfabe, but still being surrounded by other, more popular main eventers. So more I think more it looks like lose/lose situation.

Not gonna lie, I wanted Naito to win, but all things considered it might have been better if Suzuki won.

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Regarding Naito’s future, there’s something very present by its absence in his first entrance, post-victory. (Which is to say, I don’t think he’s just gonna defend the IC title as if there’s nothing odd about this.)

 

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So first day is in the can and the show was rather weird in my opinion.

Good:

YBs/Marty new trios champions. I don't like Marty, but NJPW obviously likes him to some extent and this feels like a good place to continue showcasing him since it doesn't look likely that he will challenge for Jr. title any time soon. Furthermore if NJPW continues with this approach of "small titles main eventing Road To shows" then it makes sense to build that with YBs and Marty rather than with Fale/GoD.
Evil/Sanada vs YBs sounds great. Personally I was hoping for Zack/Suzuki or Golden Lovers, but this also will do just fine. This does rise a question thou, it feels like a big enough match to be on Dominion's card, but that would leave Dominion without a gauntlet match? Not that I'd miss it, but it looks a bit weird.

Weird:

I don't understand where are they going with Zack and Suzuki. Zack is not on tomorrow's card so it would be weird if he somehow made challenge to Naito later and not when they had a match together. And it also would feel a bit weird to do Naito/Suzuki rematch this soon. So what are they going to do at Dominion?

Bad:

While Ibushi/Cody didn't bomb, I felt like it dragged and really could have been shorter. Their Wrestle Kingdom match was 7-9 minutes shorter and worked better in my opinion.
Main event started in logical way. Everyone knows that Page is not on the same level so something has to happen for this to be a competitive match. But what follows is that babyface in peril surely has to win in such situation. In other words, match lacked gravity and once Cody was gone I didn't care much about it. Speaking about Cody, why was he gone? I think that by the time the match ended everyone already forgot that he interfered in the first place.
But biggest problem for me was... what was the point of all that? Omega in post-match interview talked about being a draw and that people care even when he is facing a nobody like Page. And yeah, I suppose that the point of this was to see if Omega/Jobber can draw a crowd. And it did, but I'm not certain if it will next time.
When this card was announced it looked like something will happen with the BC drama storyline, but it didn't. BC members had matches with each other like they had in previous few months, nobody changed sides and from the looks of it this isn't over yet either. We also didn't even get Omega/Cody face off at the end so its like we are in the same spot as we were before this show.

Based on all that I suspect that Omega is going to challenge Okada for Dominion and this whole BC drama thing is on pause till that wraps up and we move closer to All In. Yawn. Feels weird that Marty getting a title ended up being a highlight of the show for me.

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I think Cody and Omega both beating the other's lieutenant (Ibushi is too good and too big a star for that designation, but it seems New Japan has him slotted thus right now) means we'll get another singles match between them--and there is the 10-man tag tomorrow, which could move the narrative. Hopefully it does, because because the whole thing is a bit stagnant. Maybe it could be suggested that the Bucks superkicking Evil and Sanada demonstrates a Cody-aligned heel tint, but I think that's a stretch.

Kenny could certainly challenge (presumably) Okada as well, but things around the main event are pretty muddled at the moment.

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Yeah, on paper doing Omega/Cody II now makes perfect sense, but since we didn't get anything after the main even concluded it hints to me that whole thing is put on pause. And sure, maybe they didn't want to reveal their hand before Day 2 and actual set up will happen there. But then, what is the point of doing two day event if first day has to be lacking by design?

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Not sure. Maybe you want a conclusive finish and babyface promo to end the show, then let the heel get over the next night, when the crowd has a monster main event to satisfy them. Of course, you could argue the opposite, that Okada/Tana would overshadow any angle they might try underneath.

Dominion and the G1 special being relatively close together makes this all hard to predict, since they both need big matches. Maybe Kenny wins the title at Dominion (if he challenges, he basically has to, right?), then defends against Cody at the Palace? But then where is Naito going with the IC belt... that he isn't acknowledging? Is Jericho gonna show up? What about MiSu and Tana, presumably without titles? Etc...

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I'm gonna be so annoyed when the Bucks moving up to heavyweight leads to them teaming with Marty to defend against Rocky and R3K.

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A tale of two tweets 35 seconds apart

 

I really didn't expect him to unmask that quickly.

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No time limit, 2/3 falls... Omega and Okada are gonna go like 90 I guess.

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So second day.

Minor things:

It looks like Taguchi is usually picking up wins in undercard now. Being built up for BotSJ? I guess similar thing was done last year when he was constantly featured in trios title matches.
Ropongi 3K got like a third win a row now so yeah. Either a feud with YBs/Marty or another match against Kanemaru/Desperado. Kinda ridiculous situation since I'd probably prefer them going against Bucks and Marty.
Yoshi-Hashi actually picked up a win.
Marty getting crushed by Fale's weight was amazing.
I prefer Ospreay's new finisher to Oscutter.
No BotSJ announcement or did I miss it?

Bigger things:
It looks like White/Juice is happening and I'd say that it is about damn time for Juice to win a title. So White/Juice at Dominion with Juice going over?
Jericho going all LiJ. I liked that the angle started differently with Jericho jumping him from the crowd pretending that he is a random Naito's fan. But what happened after that wasn't as exciting. Felt a bit like it was a repetition of same stuff as what Jericho did with Omega. It still works because we see it only a second time, but if Jericho will continue to appear in NJPW they probably should figure out something different for new stuff. Either way Naito got mad in the end which is a plus and suggests that we might get a bit more meat out of this than Omega's "well he attacked me so I will attack him" delivery that I found lacking.
So both Omega and Cody are out of Bullet Club? It kinda makes sense, throw out both guys that are causing problems instead of picking one over another.
And yeah, Ishimori is in. And I think that he had to unmask, nobody cares about Bone Soldier (but they might start caring now) and if they didn't see that it was Ishimori immediately then this debut would have gone a bit meh.
Main event was what could be expected from Okada/Tanahashi match. I liked the ending when Okada lost control of the wrist, but still managed to catch Tanahashi. And next challenger is Omega.

Speculations:
If Jericho/Naito happens at Dominion then surely Jericho has to win and we either get a rematch in USA or he challenges Okada. I'm sure that he would draw for NJPW even if he lost to Naito, but it would look weird. And well, Naito getting beaten by Jericho would feel like a TNA thing. So I'm conflicted, it would make sense to put Jericho over, but at the same time it would open some bad possibilities.
Ishimori our next BotSJ winner? And I wonder if he is long term with NJPW? If so then Marty/Ishimori tag team for jr. belts?
With Tama Tonga introducing Ishimori one would think that maybe they are actually thinking about turning Tama into the leader?
2/3 no time limit match sounds a bit worrying for multiple reasons. First of all it is going to be one long ass match and I will probably lose interest at one point or another. It is a gimmick match. One of the reasons why NJPW has been working for me is rarity of gimmick matches. When they happen they usually happen lower on the card, but this is going to be major show with gimmick main event. And well 2/3 falls sounds like a feud ender. And I have hard time imagining that NJPW will have Omega winning this feud.

So putting together some pieces... Jericho over Naito, Okada over Omega and Okada/Jericho for USA show. I'm not very excited for that.

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