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NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2019 match recommendations: Wait a second...

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For full results of both Wrestling Dontaku shows you can check here (night one, night two), but otherwise, on with the show!

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.

Wrestling Dontaku Night One (May 3)

Ren Narita, Shota Umino, & Tomoaki Honma vs. Toa Henare, Yota Tsuji, & Yuya Uemura (2): Young lions to start until Honma comes in to punish Tsuji and this leaves him playing Ricky Morton for a good beat until Henare makes the save. Big hope spots for Umino oppposite the islander, back to Narita on Uemura and Yuya nearly gets the biggest win of his career with a wicked-looking Fujiwara armbar. The match breaks down a bit from there and then we go to our finish.

Overall this is a pretty standard Young Lion tag with some really strong exchanges and as always it’s fun to see how these kids are progressing, but it doesn’t rise to the level of a recommendation.

Jushin Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV, & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (3): Undercard match tropes ahoy! The draw here is Suzuki and Liger, folks-- their brawling is awesome and everything else here basically just serves to be a framework for it. Not essential, but if you’ve been skipping out on their tags, but this is the best mid-tag brawl they’ve had yet and it’s worth getting eyes on.

Bullet Club (HIKULEO, Tama Tonga, & Tonga Loa) vs. Chaos (Toru Yano & Will Ospreay) & Togi Makabe (1): Bullet Club with their usual aggressive start, they work Yano over a while before Makabe gets in and cleans house. On through to Ospreay and right to the finish, this is a real barebones exercise that you can safely skip entirely, folks.

Kota Ibushi & Roppongi 3K (SHO, & YOH) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, & Tetsuya Naito) (3): RPG3K and Ibushi make for a wonderful team here, perfect foils for a corner-cutting LIJ trio, and they start with an early advantage before Naito makes the save. SHINGO rules the roost against first Ibushi (now there’s a singles match for you!) and then continues his rivalry with SHO. Kota fired up after a brief interlude with YOH, the match breaks down and we head to our finish.

This is fun and snappy but we never quite get a long enough Ibushi/Naito exchange for it to feel more than ephemeral. The Shingo stuff all rules, though, and this is very much one for the “if you have the time, why not” pile.

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, & “Switchblade” Jay White) vs. Chaos (Hirooki Goto & Mikey Nicholls) & Juice Robinson (2): Nicholls and Fale to start, a reprise of their singles encounter, the match breaks down, Bullet Club running a beatdown on the floor and things settle back down with Mikey isolated and getting worked over. Shuffle through, Goto on Owens with a nice little exchange, Robinson in and running hot, and thence into a bit of “everybody do something cool” on our way to the finish.

This is basically the platonic ideal of a NJ undercard tag. It’s tight, it’s entertaining, it’s formulaic, and it’s completely surplus to requirements.

Chaos (Kazuchika Okada & Tomohiro Ishii) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (4): Okada and SANADA to start, previewing the inevitable feeling out in their title match, and then we switch to Ishii and EVIL and they just start hammering each other. LIJ take control, working Tom over, the Rainmaker comes in hot and we get a preview of the more exciting parts of their match before the Stone Pitbull comes back in to mix it up. Headed into the finish we get some escalations and some really high drama.

Normally a tag like this is pretty skippable because, well, it’s nothing you’re not going to see better versions of in the singles matches on night two, but I’m going a four with this just because the finish is SO good and really had me riveted to my seat.

Jeff Cobb (c) vs. Taichi (NEVER Openweight Championship) (4): Stalling early, Taichi looking for a sneak attack but Cobb just shrugs it off. So too, when Suzki-gun try to bring to him on the floor he’s able to deal with it in his stride until Taichi just clocks him with the mic stand. Sufficiently overcoming Tom’s natural strength advantage, we get some back and forth action as the SZKG man finds success with kicks.

Things escalate nicely on the way to the finish and this is like a lot of Taichi’s big singles matches as a heavyweight-- it’s not great, not exactly, and it’s a bit limited by his physical awkwardness in the ring, but it’s a good time, there are a few real breath-catching nearfalls (Cobb hits a piledriver here that just, well, my god...), it’s well put together, and it’s worth checking out.

Dragon Lee (c) vs. Taiji Ishimori (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) (5): Folks. This is a Dragon Lee title match. It starts a little slow and steady but it almost IMMEDIATELY jumps to fever pitch and refuses to let down from there. Big spots, wicked strike exchanges, just ridiculous full-bore fast-paced state of the art junior heavyweight wrestling that’ll have you going “wait what was that?!” in the best way. Watch this match!

Wrestling Dontaku Night Two (May 4)

Ren Narita & Shota Umino vs. Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura (3): Narita so fired up early on beating on Uemura that Umino has to pull him off but Shota is happy to join the punishment with vigor as long as no rules are being broken. Tsuji gets a turn as well, of course, slugging it out with Umino as the pace picks up and we trundle to the finish. Crisp, tight, and hard-hitting, I’m giving this one a slight bump and recommending you toss it on if you have the time, folks.

Jeff Cobb, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask IV, Toa Henare, & YOSHI-HASHI vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, TAKA Michinoku, & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (1): This match is completely unremarkable save for Suzuki-gun eschewing their usual hot brawling start. With no Liger/Suzuki action this is very much just another ten-man tag that you can easily skip. Pass.

Bullet Club (Jado, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa) vs. Jushin Liger & Most Violent Players (Togi Makabe & Toru Yano) (1): Tonga abusing Liger early on but the old man ain’t gonna just sit and take it. A baseball slide proves to be the legend’s undoing and Bullet Club carry the beatdown on. Makabe comes in hot, tag to Yano, shenanigans ensue and we head quickly to our finish. This was a promising start but didn’t amount to much. Pleasant but easily skipped. Pass.

Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, HIKULEO, & “Switchblade” Jay White) vs. Chaos (Hirooki Goto & Mikey Nicholls), Juice Robinson, & Tomoaki Honma (2): Owens on the back foot as the babyface squad run wild, but Honma proves the weak link in turn. He eventually gets one over on Switchblade, tag out to Goto, he and White have a good back and forth, Juice and Nicholls in with some shockingly smooth tag team action and then a Robinson/HIKULEO exchange on our way to the finish that makes me think that the Tongan rookie might be a good challenger for the US title.

This is just a good solid undercard tag match-- it’s not gonna blow you away, but if you’re into these dudes, you’ll enjoy it.

Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & ???) vs. Dragon Lee & Will Ospreay (4): Phantasmo and Ospreay to start, right into pyrotechnics and ELP gets to show what he’s made of as he and Ishimori work Will over. Lee in to relieve the pressure, a bit of back and forth, Phantasmo busts out an EXCELLENT rope-walk Asai moonsault and we head to our finish. This was a hoot and both an excellent debut for ELP and a great preview that’s got me stoked for Best of the Super Jr.-- Watch it!

Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi, & Tetsuya Naito) vs. Roppongi 3K (Rocky Romero, SHO, & YOH) (4): YOH and BUSHI beating the crap out of each other early on, then SHO finds himself isolated as LIJ break the match down. Ibushi clears house and gets into it with Shingo again before Naito tags in. RPG3K running wild on the Stardust Genius but YOH can’t stand alone against the combined might of Los Ingobernables and we head into the finish from there.

This one had more intensity and fire than the night one version of this match and is generally worth throwing on if you’ve got the time.

EVIL vs. Tomohiro Ishii (5): Clubbing away from the start, just HAMMERING each other with forearms until EVIL gets sick of it and takes things to the floor to turn the tide. And the match continues in this fashion from there, just all-out violence as neither man gives an inch, EVIL targeting the back something fierce and Tom fighting from underneath as only he can.

This is magical, folks-- watch it!

Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. SANADA (IWGP Heavyweight Championship) (5): Standard feeling out process, things start to escalate around when SANADA gets the Paradise Lock in. Action to the floor, Okada with a particularly long version of his trademark crossbody over the barricade, SANADA gets his own back and we’re into striking as we cross the twenty minute line. Rainmaker pose, fired up, both men hitting their big shots, SANADA pulling out every last bit of offense he has in him in a desperate bid to prove he’s Okada’s equal.

I dunno, maybe it’s just the way I’ve historically failed to really deeply connect with either of these guys but I really had a hard time sorting out how I feel about this match. It’s a good match for sure, and it does a good job telling the meta story of SANADA being the same age as the Rainmaker but following such a different path to get to where he is and consistently falling just short, but I can’t shake the feeling that they did that by way of a very formulaic and by-the-numbers “your turn, my turn” back and forth match in the NJ main event style.

So definitely one to watch and form your own opinion on, folks!

There you have it, folks

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

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