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New Japan Pro Wrestling Dominion 2017 recap & match recommendations: Juniors carry the night

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.

But, before we get to Dominion, let's take a brief look at the finals to Best of the Super Jr., which got kind of orphaned by the way I chose to handle the tournament.

KUSHIDA vs. Will Ospreay (5): Feeling out early, light grappling gives way to Will playing the tough guy and KUSHIDA makes him pay for it, going after the arm and leg in turn and making him scream in agony. Ospreay fights through the pain, turning the tide by selling himself out huge for one good shot with the good leg by way of a handspring enzuigiri and things continue hot and heavy from there.

Crazy sequence in there with a shooting star press to the back of KUSHIDA's neck when he was hung up on the top rope right into a Poison Frankensteiner on the apron, too. Basically, unless Will Ospreay's howls of anguish aren't your deal, you should probably watch this.

Dominion 6.11 in Osaka-jo Hall

Jushin Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, & TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs. Tiger Mask IV, Tiger Mask W, Togi Makabe, & Yuji Nagata (2)

Pretty standard opening tag fare here. Fun stuff with both Tigers chopping Nakanishi down, but mostly it's just everybody doing their respective schtick to get through the match. Fun but inessential.

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

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page, & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Chaos (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, & SANADA) (c) vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, & Zack Sabre, Jr.) vs. Taguchi Japan (Juice Robinson, Ricochet, & Ryusuke Taguchi) (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship Gauntlet Match) (3)

Bullet Club and Chaos to start, Page going toe-to-toe with Ishii before isolating Tacos. Bit of domination, tag to Yano, the turnbuckle pad mysteriously falls off but Yujiro is somehow able to avoid the Yano Sense. Stone Pitbull evens the odds by taking Fale out, and Yano's able to eliminate BC with a low blow, bringing Suzuki-gun out.

The Sublime Master Thief looks for an early rollup on Sabre but Taichi and Kanemaru prove almost useful making the save and allowing ZSJ to eliminate Chaos with European Clutch on Yano and bringing Taguchi Japan down. They put Sabre in the corner with the exposed turnbuckle and repeatedly charge into him to wear him down.

The goons get into it, shifting the tide and isolating Juice in turn, but a mistimed whiskey mist lets Robinson get the upper hand and eliminate Suzuki-gun with Pulp Friction on Taichi. Suzuki-gun don't take the loss lying down and Sabre locks the octopus hold on Juice as Los Ingobernables de Japon come down.

They take the two healthier members of Taguchi Japan outside for a beating before focusing on Juice, but the delay lets the erstwhile CJ Parker rally and he's able to tag Ricochet in. Ricochet clears house on TEAM ALLCAPS, we get a Tower of Doom into a bit of a Ricochet/SANADA singles segment before Taguchi comes in throwing his butt at BUSHI.

Funky Weapon is desperate for a win, with both Dodon and Oh My & Garankle, Darkness Falls on Juice, Skull End is applied and released...

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

Nothing classic here, but fairly enjoyable and as much as my stomach churned when I saw they were tossing Zack Sabre, Jr. in with Taichi and Kanemaru here, he was made to be a big deal by the way they positioned him, so that worked out nicely.

Roppongi Vice (Beretta & Rocky Romero) (c) vs. Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) (5)

A superkick clears Rocky off the apron early and Beretta goes hard on the Bucks, landing the tope con giro this time, but he ends up alone and isolated after they follow it up with an apron powerbomb for Romero. The Bucks beat the crap out of Trent for a while, he gets some separation but Rocky's not on the apron so he fights the good fight but Matt takes Romero up the ramp and powerbombs him on it to guarantee he stays out of it for the time being.

Beretta clears house on the Bucks, putting Matt into the Tree of Woe before hitting an avalanche German suplex into a Busaiku Knee Kick and a piledriver for a wicked nearfall! He hooks him for Strong Zero... ROCKY LIVES! HE HITS IT! NICK COMES OFF THE TOP WITH A SENTON ATOMICO TO BREAK IT UP!

Romero running wild, "Forever!" all over the place, he gets caught, Trent nearly takes Nick out with a piledriver on the apron but eats a German suplex on the same. Sharpshooter locked in, Nick adds an X-Factor... ROCKY'S STILL ALIVE! HE MAKES THE ROPES! More Bang For Your Buck blocked, Romero nearly gets a flash pin, Black Magic blocked, Sharpshooter reversed to a small package, no dice!

Bucks keep working Rocky's back over, Indytaker connects, back to the Sharpshooter...

Young Bucks win by submission with a Sharpshooter from Nick Jackson on Rocky Romero, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.

That really blew my expectations away. Junior tags tend to be kind of trite and formulaic, but this one blew the formula wide open, with Rocky's back being destroyed by the apron powerbomb early and Trent fighting desperately to keep the match alive until Romero could come back in, only for him to be laid low by his back with a focused submission. Really good stuff, watch it!

Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) (c) (IWGP Tag Team Championship) (3)

War Machine on the offensive early but GoD string some offense together and take Hanson off-guard. Not a huge extended face-in-peril sequence, however, as Rowe comes in in short order and clubs away at Roa himself. In fact, tag rules are kind of loosely enforced here at best, as all four men are in the ring and prettymuch all times.

Crazy pop-up Hart Attack on Tonga but the Bullet Club men turn it around, blood in the water, Ray isolated, looking for Guerrilla Warfare but Hanson breaks it up, powerbomb into a diving splash from Warbeard and he follows with a suicide dive but the pin isn't enough to keep them their titles!

Pop-up powerslam reversed into a Gun Stun, Tiger Hattori gets wiped out, chairs coming into play...

Guerrillas of Destiny win by pinfall with Guerrilla Warfare, winning the IWGP Tag Team Championship.

Fast-paced and violent, not much to it but both teams throwing their best shots out, this isn't a must-watch, but it's quite enjoyable all the same.

Cody Rhodes vs. Michael Elgin (2)

Trading cartwheels and delayed vertical suplexes early, Cody's blowing a lot of kisses as well. To the outside, Elgin lands a back suplex on the apron and throws chops and forearms in the ring to continue punishing the American Nightmare. Alabama Slam connects, Rhodes turns the tide but eventually Big Mike has had enough and plants him with a Rock Bottom for some breathing room.

Slingshot splash, Elgin lying in wait, rolling German suplexes, Falcon Arrow, but he can't put the grandson of a plumber away. Cody in with strikes and a crooked moonsault, Big Mike back with a Chaos Theory style Blue Thunder Driver! Cody ducks a rolling elbow in the followup, American Nightmare locked on, Elgin struggling for the ropes... and he gets them!

Rhodes pastes him with a wicked reverse STO out of the ropes for a nearfall, Cross Rhodes blocked, pump kick blocks a right arm lariat from Big Mike but the left connects and Cody heads to the apron. Avalanche Falcon Arrow scouted...

Cody Rhodes wins by pinfall with Cross Rhodes.

There's some stuff here, but I honestly spent the whole match distracted by this new character Cody's busting out, all the blowing kisses and whatnot. After Wrestling Dontaku he had discovered a pretty cool mean streak that I was looking forward to seeing more of and so I experienced a bit of whiplash here. Anyway, even trying to look past that there's not a whole lot here that I'm inclined to recommend.

Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. KUSHIDA (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) (5)

Jockeying for position at the bell, neither man can land a maneuver so they settle for just clobbering each other with forearms! Hiromu pulls ahead, locked up in the ropes and referee Marty Asami has to physically pull the champion away. Spilling outside and then back in, still clubbing away, shifting to overhand chops, KUSHIDA charges in and takes a belly-to-belly suplex into the turnbuckles!

Takahashi keeping the pressure on, grinding his challenger down, countering a Frankensteiner into a powerbomb, Falcon Arrow, only good for a nearfall. Raking the eyes, looking for the sunset flip powerbomb to the outside... KUSHIDA COUNTERS INTO A CROSS ARMBAR ON THE APRON!

Time Splitter throwing the champion over the barricade, setting a few chairs up... DOUBLE JUMP CHARGING DROPKICK INTO THE SECOND ROW! Penalty Kicks to the arm, a turning dropkick to the face, hamstring kicks, going for a handspring but Hiromu catches him with a German suplex and both men are writhing on the mat!

The erstwhile Kamaitachi rises first, Time Bomb... NO GOOD! Up top, KUSHIDA gets a handspring heel kick in, Hiromu looking for an avalanche Time Bomb but the challenger counters with Hoverboard Lock... AVALANCHE HOVERBOARD LOCK DIVORCE COURT! Shifting, rolling through, Back to the Future blocked, rolling elbow connects!

Boot, float-over into the Hoverboard Lock but he doesn't have all of it at first and Takahashi locks hands to block it. Pele kick connects but the champion cuts the challenger off with a lariat! Struggle on the apron, KUSHIDA looking for a sunset flip of his own but Hiromu blocks it with stomps to his face.

Gamengiri cuts off a dive momentarily but the sunset flip powerbomb to the outside connects on the second try! Hiromu not content to take the countout, he takes it back in the ring. Blu-Ray connects, but Time Bomb is reversed into a lopsided victory roll for a nearfall! Struggle in the turnbuckles... AVALANCHE BACK TO THE FUTURE! BUT NO COVER!

Both men on their knees, trading overhand chops, wild flurries, both dudes just punching each other in the neck! Back on the mat, KUSHIDA rises first, double wristlock American Dragon style stomps to the face into the Hoverboard Lock! Takahashi fights to his knees and crawls for the ropes but the challenger rolls him back in the middle of the ring and wrenches his wrist...

KUSHIDA wins by submission with a Jim Breaks Special, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

So that was pretty excellent and you should watch it. Dug the structure here, from the striking early into first blocked powerbomb and KUSHIDA having exactly one Time Bomb kickout and knowing he needs to block it on the second or it's over. A fitting end to their trilogy, even if Osaka wasn't exactly stoked to see their cat lose.

BUSHI blindsides KUSHIDA during his post-match promo and issues a challenge, so we're headed back to ALLCAPS infighting!

Hirooki Goto vs. Minoru Suzuki (c) (NEVER Openweight Championship Lumberjack Match) (3)

Feeling out, Goto gets Suzuki in the ropes and Minoru immediately returns the favor, although he's not as nice on the break, scraping Hirooki's face with his forearm and hand. Suzuki's the first one to get rolled outside and Chaos rough him up a bit as they throw him back in, but he's able to turn the tide on Goto and kick him out to his allies, who throw him right back in.

Overhand chop for overhand chop, the Chaos man pulls ahead and gets low bridged to the apron for the cross armbar in the ropes for his trouble! Suzuki-gun beat the crap out of Goto while referee Marty Asami is busy berating Minoru for the hold in the ropes. Hirooki up on the ramp and Suzuki runs him over with a running boot to the face!

Following it up in the barricade and then deeper, physically throwing one of the internal barricades at Goto! The factions brawl as Goto recovers and Suzuki taunts him from inside the ring. Back in the ring, Hirooki runs right into a cross armbar and vicious kicks to the ribs when that doesn't work.

Wristlock, keeping the pressure on the arm with an elbow drop, wrenching and tearing, Jim Breaks Special, and Suzuki just dumps him out of the ring into the tender ministry of Suzuki-gun. A brawl breaks out, in the confusion the UWFi vet takes his challenger to the commentary area and slaps Jushin Liger. Liger throws a chair at him!

Back in the ring, kicks, punishing but Goto gets a lariat off! Fired up and climbing, Desperado tries to cut him off but the other Chaos guys save it, diving elbow, only a nearfall! Suzuki slips out of Ushigoroshi, boot, snapmare, Penalty Kick but Goto caught it and lays him out with another lariat!

Slugging it out, Goto refusing to say die as Suzuki pastes him with hard elbows. Ushigoroshi connects, followup Shouten blocked and Minoru throws him into Asami! All out war as both factions fill the ring, Suzuki-gun pulls ahead but YOSHI-HASHI clears them out and dives on them!

Headbutt, off the ropes, a sleeper applied, Suzuki lets go thinking Gotch piledriver, reversed, fireman's carry, reversed to a guillotine, reversals and re-reversals, Goto gets a front facelock facebreaker off and follows it with GTR... TAICHI YANKS MARTY ASAMI OUT OF THE RING!

Goto throwing forearms but Taichi clips him in the back of the head with the leading edge of a chair before cracking him across the head with it. Whip into a dropkick, Suzuki applies the sleeper a moment before shifting as they roll Asami back in...

Minoru Suzuki wins by pinfall with the Gotch Piledriver, retaining the NEVER Openweight Championship.

That was pretty enjoyable, but I'm docking it a point because they went back to the damn chairshot to the head. The seat of the chair popped right out on impact, so part of me wants to hope they at least gimmicked the thing, but even so, it's a terrible spot to book in the wake of Katsuyori Shibata's seeming early retirement. You’re better than this, New Japan.

On the plus side, the stuff they teased with Liger is super interesting and I look forward to whatever form a feud between him and Suzuki would look like, even if (based on post-match stuff) it doesn't seem like it'll be for the NEVER anytime soon

YOSHI-HASHI runs in while Suzuki is celebrating and attacks, staking a claim to challenge for the title.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito (c) (IWGP Intercontinental Championship) (3)

Tanahashi starting hot, jumping Naito before he can get his suit off! Whip into the barricade, Tetsuya reverses the second and we've got a brawl! Back in the ring, still throwing hands, Naito opens things up with a bit of lucha, dropkick to the bad arm, and he finally gets a chance to strip down to his gear.

The Stardust Genius wrenching at the bad arm over the barricade, step-up tornado DDT on the base of the ramp, and back in the ring the assault on the arm continues, culminating in an extended inverted short armscissor. Naito playing with the 1/100 Dude, disdainful slaps, and Tanahashi snaps, hard mounted punches and spitting in his face!

Forearm for forearm, slugging it out, Tetsuya returns the spit but Hiroshi targets the leg in his usual style, dragon screw leg whip but when he goes for the one over the ropes Naito catches him with an armbreaker. Missile dropkick, wrenching the old ace's bad arm over the ropes again, setting him up top but Tanahashi reverses and looks for a German suplex.

Fighting him off, corner combo, leg caught, again with the dragon screw, baseball slide and a dragon screw over the apron! Climbing... HIGH FLY FLOW TO THE OUTSIDE! Unwilling to take the countout, Hiroshi takes it back in the ring, looking for the cloverleaf, Naito grabbing at the hair but ultimately he has to get the ropes to break it.

Stomping away at the back of the knee but a dragon screw is blocked by yanking at the arm, a basement dropkick connects right on the bicep tear and Naito follows it with the corner combo and an Ode to Jim Breaks with a knuckle to the bicep! Tanahashi gets a break but the Ingobernable one follows right up with Gloria for a nearfall.

Looking for Destino, blocked, whip, a Black Hole Slam on the bad arm of all things for the 1/100 Dude to bust out! Struggle in the corner, Naito with a backhammer, pounding elbows down, avalanche Frankensteiner but Tanahashi rolls through into a pin of his own! Tornado DDT blocked, dragon screw neck whips, up top, nobody home for High Fly Flow!

Hiroshi writhing in agony, clutching his arm, but he's able to get out of Destino again and they move to trading slaps. Dragon suplex, he can't hold the full nelson on so he shifts to an arm-trap German suplex... ALMOST! Dragon suplex, blocked this time, struggle over a whip, tornado suplex puts the old ace into the ropes!

High-angle German suplex connects, tornado inverted DDT... NOT ENOUGH! Destino attempt blocked, the Dragon suplex connects, enzuigiri for a Sling Blade, another, up top, High Fly Flow... NO GOOD! Cloverleaf applied, Naito nearly gets the ropes, Tanahashi drags him back to the middle time and again, he sits down on it...

Hiroshi Tanahashi wins by submission with the cloverleaf, winning the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

Man, this was hard to watch. Not because it was bad, by any means-- I'm a sucker for a good limbwork story, and this was a classic battle where one man went after an arm and the other a leg, but with a legitimately torn bicep, Tanahashi's pain was a little too real for me.

Especially, and I don't mean to harp on this, but in the wake of Shibata's injury. Shibata, to my understanding, had been working for nearly a year on a legitimately torn rotator cuff before the brain bleed that may end up retiring him. Not that it's likely to be 1:1 analogous (Tanahashi's not out here throwing bust-open shoot headbutts, after all), but it can't help but color Tanahashi's situation for me.

So, good match? Yes. Should you watch it? That depends on your personal tolerances. Wrestling is a dangerous business, and sometimes when we get this close to that reality it makes for uncomfortable viewing. Proceed appropriately.

Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Kenny Omega (c) (IWGP Heavyweight Championship) (3)

Mat grappling early, a bit of bull moose action and into some light lucha, looking for their finishes early but it's far too soon for that. Okada blocks the Terminator dive and hits a tope con giro but comes up lame on his left leg and Omega smells blood in the water and goes after it, snapping and kicking at it.

The abuse continues on the outside, a shinbreaker into the ringside tables, but back in the ring Kenny lets up, switching to kicks to the back and the head and the Rainmaker is able to mount a hobbled comeback. Omega cutting him off, but Okada's superior speed even one-legged keeps him in it and he has a sweet victory roll transition into Red Ink.

Back outside, the champ abuses his challenger by way of the barricade, throwing a big crossbody. Back in, up top, nobody home, Tombstone reversals, Kenny gets a nearfall but Okada gets the Reverse Neckbreaker off. Diving elbow comes up empty and Omega capitalizes, pumphandle backbreaker, basement dropkick to the back takes the Rainmaker outside... ASAI MOONSAULT!

A missile dropkick keeps the attack on the back up, Dr. Wily Bomb follows, electric chair but Okada knows better than to get caught by One Winged Angel! Knees up on a moonsault, big uppercut and the Rainmaker levels the playing field. Slugging it out, struggle in the corner, Kenny denied a powerbomb, he tries for the Dragon suplex but Okada blocks that just as well.

Struggle takes them to the apron... Heavy Rain on the apron! Shotgun dropkick into the barricade, and the Rainmaker sets up a table on the outside. Omega thinking to powerbomb him through it, the champion stops him short, and goes to back body drop him through it but Kenny blocks, springboard... Okada catches him with a dropkick!

Diving elbow connects this time, Rainmaker pose snap zoom, Omega backs him in the corner and breaks the wristlock as soon as he feels it. More struggle in the corner... AVALANCHE AOI SHOUDOU! Another Aoi Shoudou, this one dropped across his knee, and the IWGP Heavyweight Champion is reeling. V-Trigger connects, electric chair and again Okada slips out!

Duck a Rainmaker, backslide, V-Trigger, Kazuchika catches the knee and lands rolling German suplexes, the Rainmaker connects... NOT ENOUGH! Throwing a dropkick... KENNY OMEGA CATCHES HIM MID-AIR INTO A POWERBOMB! Dragon suplex struggle, countered into a Rainmaker, recountered right into the suplex!

Okada sets Omega up top and knocks him outside with a dropkick. Setting him on the table while the Young Bucks beg referee Red Shoes Unno to do something about it... DIVING ELBOW ON THE TABLE... NO BREAK! Missile dropkick into a cover back in the ring... NO GOOD! Repeated seated dropkicks, Omega defiant, Rainmaker connects but Okada doesn't capitalize, choosing to keep the wristlock, another Rainmaker but again he's slow to end things despite Gedo screaming to finish him.

Bullet Club comes down, Cody has a towel in hand. He wants to end it to save Kenny but the Bucks stop him and for good reason, V-Trigger and a Poison Frankensteiner lay the champion out when he finally goes to hit another Rainmaker! Okada back with a dropkick, Rainmaker ducked, ripcord V-Trigger connects... NOT ENOUGH!

Off the ropes, V-Trigger to the back of the head, electric chair... Okada lands on his feet! Another V-Trigger! Electric chair again, but this time the champion can't fight out and One Winged Angel hits... FOOT ON THE ROPES! Gun fingers... Okada grabs him and hits the Rainmaker again!

Slugging it out, Omega staggers him with a forearm to the jaw, Dragon suplex, Kazuchika once again wakes up out of nowhere and throws a dropkick. Slugging it out again, Kenny gets a tight nearfall off a pair of knee lifts to the chin! V-Trigger to the back of the head in the corner, using the turnbuckles to get Okada's dead weight up in the electric chair but the champion reverses to a Tombstone piledriver!

Looking for the Rainmaker but Omega's legs go out from under him and he falls to the mat exhausted! Kenny blocking a second Tombstone, he lands a V-Trigger, stumbling, a second, a third, the champion is dead weight and Omega tries to lift him up but Okada has one more dropkick in him! Spinning Tombstone piledriver but no cover! Bridging German suplex... NOPE!

Kenny gets a small package nearfall, yet another dropkick, looking for another Rainmaker and we have just one minute left. Omega throwing elbows, Dragon suplex, Okada gets a dropkick! Rainmaker! The clock is ticking and he's not capitalizing! Crawling over, the final countdown...

The match goes to a time-limit draw.

An hour is a big ask for a pro wrestling match. There was, to be sure, a lot to love in this, but owing to the necessity of getting to the time limit and the realities of the New Japan main event style, there's a lot of sitting around doing nothing, and a lot of Okada going "Okay, I have to fill 90 seconds before the next spot... I know, dropkicks!"

Normally, with NJPW main events, I know I'm a little down on the style (or, really, the part of the style that mandates every match have this slow build with feeling out that doesn't always matter to the actual meat of the match) and I take a "watch it and form your own opinion" tack, and that's as true as ever. But I can't with a good conscience slap a must-watch rating on this bad boy.


Dominion was a typical good New Japan event, with a significantly above average junior tag defense and a junior title match that was as good as we all expected, but a variety of issues in the top three matches keep me from throwing out superlatives.

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

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