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NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2017 recap & match recommendations: Omega and Ishii tear the house down and Okada issues a big challenge

NJPW World

As always, I've got a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the folks in it, 3 is a match that's worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.

Mind you, these are not star ratings. They're not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you're best off skipping. I have my biases, of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.

Hirai Kawato & YOSHITATSU vs. Katsuya Kitamura & Tomoyuki Oka (2)

Pretty standard young lion tag opener where the angle is that Kitamura and Oka are physical specimens able to easily dominate fellow lion Kawato but YOSHI's veteran wiles let him turn the tide.

Hirai Kawato & YOSHITATSU win by submission with an inverted figure four leglock from YOSHITATSU on Katsuya Kitamura.

As always I recommend watching these if you have the time because charting the young lions' growth is very enjoyable, but there's nothing here essential beyond that. (And YOSHI's perm makes him look like he just guest starred on an episode of Always Sunny where the plot was Charlie running a witness protection program.)

Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Chaos (Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI) (2)

Bullet Club start hot but Tacos gets Chaos back into it and things go prettymuch as you'd expect from there for an undercard tag like this. Ospreay's hot tag is pretty fun, though, and he and Owens had a superlative exchange in there.

Chaos win by submission with the Butterfly Lock from YOSHI-HASHI on Chase Owens.

Little bit of a hard one to recommend, because by and large it was pretty unremarkable, but Ospreay and Owens really put some work in in the middle there. Probably a skip, but I came pretty close to bumping it up a notch.

Jushin Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, & Yuji Nagata vs. Tiger Mask IV, Tiger Mask W, & Togi Makabe (2)

Opening segments of the match dominated by TMIV and Liger going at it, with Liger's team soon dominating Tiger Mask and working him over. TMIV gets a Tiger Driver off and things break down a little, but W tags in and starts working his magic, he and Nagata trading some wicked kicks and suplexes.

Makabe and Nakanishi in for some bull moose clubbering, Manabu pulls ahead with the Argentine backbreaker rack and things break down for real, both Tigers diving to leave the two behemoths to their clubbering once more...

Tiger Mask IV, Tiger Mask W, & Togi Makabe win by pinfall with the King Kong Knee Drop from Makabe on Manabu Nakanishi.

Fun stuff, nothing super essential but I'd put it just a click above average thanks to totally-not-Ibushi and Nagata going hard.

Chaos (Beretta, Hirooki Goto, Jado, Rocky Romero, & Toru Yano) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (3)

All-out brawl early, Suzuki-gun trying to end the match before it can begin but things settle down and Rocky Romero makes a desperate stand, taking Taichi and Kanemaru on two-on-one. Chaos lay some five-on-one beatings in, slapping away, but Suzuki gets involved, armbar in the ropes, and things break down again, heading outside to stretch Goto over a chair.

Back in the ring the chaos continues as they isolate Jado, Taichi dropping a knee on his gentleman's area at one point for a Suzuki-gun trademark unofficial quick-count pin. Yano in, the turnbuckle pad mysteriously falls off and everyone from Suzuki-gun keeps falling over when he tries to give it to them.

Our interlude over, Goto and Suzuki have a mini singles match, Hirooki fired up to avenge his loss of the NEVER title. Really great sequence here, Gotch piledriver > Ushigoroshi > guillotine > Ushigoroshi > sleeper, neither man quite able to get one of their signatures to connect.

Suzuki-gun work Goto over as a whole but Chaos fights it off, Hirooki is ready...

Chaos win by pinfall with GTR from Hirooki Goto on TAKA Michinoku.

Good clean(?) midcard tag fun. Not a must-watch match, but definitely worth popping on if you've got a spare ten minutes or so.

Post-match, Suzuki attacks and he and Goto have to be pulled apart. Afterwards, Suzuki yanks Kitamura with him down the exit and punches him in the face HARD to work his frustrations out.

Cody Rhodes vs. David Finlay (3)

Feeling out early, Cody pastes Finlay with a slap and gets one in return. Pass outside, Rhodes with a double jump springboard outside but David rolls back in and hits a cannonball off the apron! Looking for a powerbomb, Cody ducks him and gets the Alabama Slam on the outside, demanding the count-out.

Changing his mind, he pours some water on Finlay and takes him back in the ring, laying stomp after stomp in, trying to brutalize David here. Delayed vertical gourdbuster but Finlay has the gas to turn it around and lay the grandson of a plumber out with a lariat and take control for a bit.

Sliding corkscrew uppercut, not enough to do the trick and Cody goes to the dropdown slap, looking for Cross Rhodes, jockeying for position, Finlay gets a counter pin. Snap scoop powerslam, throwing punches, Rhodes dedicates Disaster Kick to Kevin Kelly but Finlay ducks it, trying a counter but he slips, they manage to pull it back together and he gets an Air Raid Crash off.

David follows it with a deadlift German suplex, only two. Slugging it out on their knees, forearm for forearm, to their feet, Cody blocks an uppercut but soon takes a charging one, Finlay goes for the dive again...

Cody Rhodes wins by pinfall with Cross Rhodes.

Cody's post-WWE run has largely been underwhelming for me but I like what I saw here. He's cultivated a mean streak that worked really well here. Not, like, an all-time classic and not worth clearing your schedule for, but a good match and a strong 3 on the recommendation scale.

Afterwards, Cody cuts a promo about his voice takes the show from the islands to global and he's wrestling royalty. He wants someone bigger, someone stronger and they'll find out what we know in our bones, in our souls, that the worst nightmare happens with your eyes open, and it's him.

Juice Robinson & KUSHIDA vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & Tetsuya Naito) (5)

Naito and KUSHIDA to start, the Ingobernable one spits in Juice's face and things break down! KUSHIDA takes Takahashi deep into the crowd for a beating! Naito makes the save, slamming KUSHIDA on the concrete, and Hiromu delivers him back to the ring. Working KUSHIDA over with quick tags but he gets some separation on a double handspring elbow and tags Juice in!

Straight jabs, Juice is Loose, a cannonball, big diving crossbody, only a nearfall! Dodges a lariat, Russian legsweep, senton, Naito has the knees up! Tornado DDT, tags made, KUSHIDA in hot! Hip toss into a cartwheel dropkick, handspring kick takes care of Tetsuya, trying to fly, dodged, Hiromu trying the sunset flip powerbomb to the outside, KUSHIDA counters with a knee into the cross armbar on the apron!

Naito breaks it up but Juice has a spinebuster for him! Robinson directing traffic, KUSHIDA with a diving senton atomico to both men on the outside! Penalty Kick to the elbow, tilt-a-whirl, trying to get the Hoverboard Lock all the way in but Naito dispatches Juice and yanks KUSHIDA off the erstwhile Kamaitachi with a German suplex.

Stereo dropkicks, Blu-Ray, Takahashi's feeling it...

Los Ingobernables de Japon win by pinfall with Time Bomb from Hiromu Takahashi on KUSHIDA.

That was, as they say, a hoot. Little surprised it was built so thoroughly around KUSHIDA/Takahashi rather than Juice/Naito, but that was an excellent decision, as it turns out, and from the sunset flip powerbomb counter and the way Naito kept running interference, I think it's pretty clear we're getting KUSHIDA/Takahashi III sooner rather than later, which I am certainly on-board for. Watch it!

Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa) vs. TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) (c) (IWGP Tag Team Championship) (4)

Nobody's willing to step back so we start with some brawling to decide who will start. Rowe slams Hanson onto Tonga and Hanson sunset flips Rowe into Roa, leading to TenCozy coming in and isolating Warbeard. He bails and the two vets chop Ray down to size, Kojima throwing machine gun chops on both men in the corner!

GoD back into things, Tanga taking it to Satoshi, quick tags to keep the 3rd Generation star off-balance. Desperate for the tag, fighting, Cozy Cutter gets off but Tenzan got taken off the apron and Kojima's forced to tag Hanson in. Champion running wild with charging corner lariats, stacking 'em up and finishing it off with a Stinger splash, thinking cannonball but the Guerrillas wake up and chop him back down.

Diving headbutt, frog splash, no dice. Hanson back in the fight, Banzai Drop on Roa, cartwheel into the clothesline for Tonga! Tama throwing forearms, Rowe countering with headbutts, over-the-back arm drag, Gun Stun countered into a tossing back suplex and Tonga had no choice but to tag Tenzan in!

Mongolian chops, headbutts, a straight suplex gets two, whip into a lariat from Kojima, Tenzan comes off the ropes with a falling headbutt in tribute to Honma! Rowe blocks the TenCozy Cutter, rolling elbow, Hiroyoshi catches him with a back body drop into the Anaconda Vise, Kojima keeps GoD from breaking it up but Warbeard makes the save!

Intense jockeying for position, ducking and dodging, Tama slips away from a pop-up powerslam and catches Hanson with the Tongan Twist! Kojima takes Roa's head off with a lariat! Tonga caught by the TenCozy Cutter but he has the wits to roll out! Rowe in, calling for the lariat and Satoshi lariats his lariat arm!

Best lariat in the world blocked, countered to a judo throw and Ray nails Kojima with a knee! Strikes exchanged with Tenzan, the old man gets his spinning wheel kick off and he's calling for the moonsault! Warbeard cuts him off! Rowe is there...

War Machine win by pinfall with Fallout on Hiroyoshi Tenzan, retaining the IWGP Tag Team Championship.

I was kind of weary of these three-ways coming in, but these three teams mixed up the formula and delivered pretty well with it. Not an absolute must-watch, but worth making some time if you at all can.

Guerrillas of Destiny attack the champions after the match, laying Rowe and Hanson out both with belt strikes.

Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, & SANADA) vs. Taguchi Japan (Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ricochet, & Ryusuke Taguchi) (c) (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship) (4)

Tanahashi and EVIL start, gently mat grappling which is kind of weird given that they were trying to kill each other a week ago, but that's wrestling sometimes. To a bit of lucha, arm drags and such, and then we shift to Taguchi vs. SANADA for a bit. Weird feeling out, the Funky Weapon messing with Cold Skull, then into the drop-down fakeouts waiting for SANADA to make a mistake!

He does, but BUSHI is right there to save his pal and take a butt bump, and then all of Taguchi Japan get in on SANADA to put their posteriors through his skull. LIJ turn it around, putting Tanahashi and Ricochet's faces into Ryusuke's butt in the corner. Isolating the Funky Weapon, quick tags, he tries to rally but the former TNA X Division Champion ties him up in a ball and dropkicks him low.

EVIL toying with him, disdainful slaps, raking the eyes, but Taguchi fires up for a lariat and a tag to Ricochet. The Future of Flight in hot, fighting them off two-on-one, Tiger feint kick on EVIL in the corner to a springboard uppercut! The 1/100 Dude in but the King of Darkness outsmarts his recent rival and catches him with a superkick to the abdomen.

Trading forearms now, looking to end it but the old ace catches him with a dragon screw into the cloverleaf! Submissions in triplicate! Inevitable escape but Tanahashi's still got the momentum, sling blade, High Fly Flow... the knees are up! Taguchi in, throwing hip attacks like he got them on clearance, in full Annoying Butt Man mode.

The law of averages catches up to him, BUSHI maneuvers around him, nearfall off the Codebreaker! MX dodged, Ricochet and Tanahashi in for the save, into the "everybody do something cool" part of the match, straight pumphandle suplex from Ricochet, SANADA gets Skull End but the old ace reverses to a dragon screw neck whip!

Funky Weapon with the springboard hip attack! Dodon connects but LIJ break it up! Simultaneous slingshot dives clear the lane, Taguchi locks Oh My & Garankle on but BUSHI flips him away and right into referee Marty Asami! Back to the ankle lock, BUSHI's tapping but there's no referee. Trying to wake Asami up, BUSHI catches him with the mist, bridging backslide... NO GOOD!

To the second, MX... TAGUCHI JAPAN WITH THE SAVE! SANADA and EVIL clear Ricochet and Hiroshi out again, BUSHI climbs up top...

Los Ingobernables de Japon win by pinfall with MX from BUSHI on Ryusuke Taguchi, winning the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship.

These NEVER trios matches are almost always a lot of fun and this was as good an example as any. It's hard to get super invested in them because of how frequently they change hands, but at a certain point a bug becomes a feature, and this is worth making the time unless you're really strapped.

Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii (5)

Ishii hot out the gates with a lariat! Going right for the brainbuster, Omega floats over, German suplex, fighting hard, Stone Pitbull with the folding powerbomb, shades of Tenryu, nope! Sliding lariat, Kenny bails and Ishii follows right after, sending him into the barricade!

Thinking Asai moonsault off the barricade, Ishii counters and looks to be going for One-Winged Angel of his own but Omega slips away! Looking to get a chair into it, Red Shoes yanks it away and gives Kenny time to charge over with a dropkick. APRON POWERBOMB! COUNT OF 19 AND THE STONE PITBULL ROLLS BACK IN THE RING!

Ishii right back out to take a breather, Omega calling for it, Stone Pitbull blocks the tope with a forearm! Struggling over a suplex to the outside or in, Ishii backs him off with a headbutt but gets caught with V-Trigger on his way back in, Dragon suplex, V-Trigger again... NOT ENOUGH!

Electric chair, Stone Pitbull out with punches, and clobbers him with lariat! Back to their feet, trading forearms and chops, Kenny's fired up and throwing them hard, Ishii lets out a war cry so Omega drops him with a DDT! Putting the boots to him now, Tomohiro in agony but he wants more, beckoning Kenny to kick him in the back!

Forearms away, hangman's neckbreaker gets two and Omega locks a seated neck crank on, wrenching back. Overhead elbows and chops to the back of the neck, the Stone Pitbull fires back with chops of his own, backing Kenny against the ropes. He runs into a boot, Omega gets the leapfrog leg drop bulldog, only one but Ishii is clutching the back of his leg in pain.

Disdainful slaps to the back of the head, boots and chops, he spits in his face and Tomohiro decides he's had enough and isn't gonna have anymore. Rising to his feet, stepping into the chops and forearms inexorably, he knocks Omega halfway across the ring with a forearm! Snap scoop powerslam and then a backdrop driver for a nearfall.

Whip blocked, throwing hands, Kenny reverses a second whip, Finlay Roll to the moonsault, no good. Struggle in the corner, to the second, Ishii gets the superplex! Backfist to the throat but Omega snaps off a Frankensteiner in return and the Stone Pitbull heads outside.

Baseball slide, Ishii goes over the barricade, Kenny back in the ring... SPRINGBOARD CROSSBODY! HE WENT HIGH AND CLIPPED ISHII'S NECK! Stone Pitbull barely beats the count, Omega has a missile dropkick chambered for him, right to the back of the neck, sitout powerbomb... NOPE!

V-Trigger dodged, German suplex lands Kenny on his feet, snap German suplex takes Ishii to the mat, V-Trigger... NO GOOD! Calling for the end, electric chair, Ishii reverses, Omega with a superkick but the Stone Pitbull wipes him out with a lariat! Tomohiro throws a headbutt, off the ropes for a lariat, Kenny hits the arm to block, V-Trigger attempt gets another headbutt, the lariat connects this time... OMEGA LIVES!

Ishii with an electric chair, he turns One-Winged Angel into a neckbreaker over the knee, sliding lariat... NOT ENOUGH! Drawing him up for the brainbuster, Omega slips out, poison Frankensteiner! Kenny can't capitalize, he's dry heaving from all the damage Ishii has done! On their knees, Kenny throwing slaps, he blocks the headbutt with a forearm!

Off the ropes, lariat connects... ISHII LIVES! Aoi Shoudou onto the knee! V-Trigger in the ropes, electric chair, Stone Pitbull fighting... POISON FRANKENSTEINER?! LARIAT! OMEGA KICKS OUT! Ishii floats over a suplex, connects with the enzuigiri, but he's running low enough to let Kenny throw forearms and a slap.

Back in with a few of his own, Omega hits the V-Trigger again! Another! BRAINBUSTER! STILL NOT ENOUGH! ELECTRIC CHAIR...

Kenny Omega wins by pinfall with One-Winged Angel.

Hot start, a strong throughline with Omega going after Ishii's neck, no wasted time here. I liked their New Japan Cup match well enough, but it took a little while to get going in a way that didn't work for me, so I feel like this is decidedly better. Do not miss this one!

Bad Luck Fale vs. Kazuchika Okada (c) (IWGP Heavyweight Championship) (3)

Fale using his strength early, throwing the champion to the mat but Okada goes right to chopping the big man down with forearms. The Rainmaker sends the action outside with a dropkick but Bad Luck catches him on a slingshot and slams him on the floor. Looking for Bad Luck Fall on the concrete but Okada slips out!

Fale locks a bear hug on, I can hardly bear it! The champion, back-first into the ringpost and Bad Luck takes him up the entranceway before dropping a barricade on him and locking the gate to take the count-out win. Rainmaker back in, he's met by stomps, a giant step, Fale punishing the champion, seated sentons with him against the ropes, just brutal stuff.

Okada fighting hard but Bad Luck catches him with a crushing back body drop before locking the bear hug back on! It's unbearable! A thrust spinebuster when the Rainmaker starts fighting it gets a nearfall and Fale lies in wait. Boots up on a charge, whip reversed and Okada gets the DDT off for separation.

Kip-up, hard in with forearms, sidestep the body avalanche, going to slam the big man but Bad Luck blocks and scoops the champ up himself. Scoot away, off the ropes, an elbow, Okada gets the body slam! Clothesline to the outside, a big boot puts the Underboss over the barricade!

Crossbody over the barricade follows! The champion's not content to take the countout, though, brings the big man back in, up top, but Fale goes under. Trying for the Tombstone piledriver, Bad Luck reverses, Rainmaker slips away, off the ropes but he gets knocked down by a shoulder block!

Samoan drop nearfall, calling for Grenade but Okada counters with a dropkick. Off the ropes, back to the bearhug, slipped away, looking for a DDT but Fale throws the champion off and both men lie out on the mat. To their feet, throwing forearms, Kazuchika gets four in for every one but Bad Luck's pack so much more impact in them.

Shotgun dropkick, the Rainmaker gets the big man up for the Reverse Neckbreaker and follows with the diving elbow drop. Rainmaker pose snap zoom, wristlock, Fale catches him into the bear hug! Break with the turnbuckles, body avalanche, big splash, a nearfall. Grenade connects... NOT ENOUGH!

Bad Luck has Okada up for the Tombstone but again he slips away and throws a dropkick. Up top, missile dropkick, the Tombstone connects but Fale counters the Rainmaker with a lariat! Spear... NO GOOD! Up for Bad Luck Fall and Okada slips away, dropkick, he gets clobbered with a lariat again, up for the Tombstone, Fale crosses the arms... OKADA LIVES!

Up for Bad Luck Fall again, Okada counters with a Frankensteiner! Trying a backslide, Fale slips out, the champion holds the wristlock, short-arm lariat! Out on the mat, he still has the wrist, back to his feet, another lariat! Wristlock, Fale tries to counter with a lariat, Okada ducks, German suplex, wristlock...

Kazuchika Okada wins by pinfall with a Rainmaker, retaining the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

All good things must come to an end, and here comes to an end our streak of Fale/Okada matches that overdelivered. It was a fine "chop down the big man" match, to be sure, but it was just missing something to put it over the edge. I dug the through-line with Fale coming back to the bear hug, but it didn't grab me. Not a bad match, necessarily, but not one I can truly recommend, so I'm going right down the middle with the 3 on the ol' recommendation scale.

After the match, Okada calls Kenny Omega out, he wants another match!


I feel like Wrestling Toyonokuni was the better show, but with an excellent Omega/Ishii match, Wrestling Dontaku certainly has nothing to be ashamed of. Make time for that and the LIJ vs. KUSHIDA/Juice tag for sure, plus both sets of tag title matches were good fun worth watching.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.

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