The last couple months of New Japan have been relatively uneventful when it comes to big things happening. They had a tournament, then another tournament, and a whole lot of multi-man tag matches were nothing important happened. That’s about to change though, as July 5th will be Dominion, a chance for the existing storylines to wrap up before the start of the G1 Climax tournament.
But what’s been going on with New Japan lately? They toured with Ring of Honor for several shows, which is one reason most of their stories have been on hold. In place of any progress, we’ve mostly gotten CHAOS vs. Tanahashi and Friends in 10 man tag matches, and the Bullet Club vs. Other People. Fortunately, Dominion is bringing all these things to a head. The G1 Climax starts next month, and I’ll probably post a preview of that too once they release the blocks.
Random Five Guys vs. Other Random Five Guys
Well, we can’t get rid of all the 10-man tag matches I guess. This one is relatively harmless, filled with New Japan regulars who aren’t involved in any stories. With the focus the last couple months on the Jr’s, filling this match up with them is fine. One of the Young Lions will take the fall, and we can move on with the real show.
Winner: Some Random Guys.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match: The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)(champions) vs. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Beretta) vs. reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly)
All three of these tag teams are awesome, and this match should be equally awesome. The Young Bucks will proclaim they are the best tag team in the world, loudly and often, and it’s hard to disagree with them. Roppongi Vice are highly entertaining, and reDRagon were very impressive in the BOSJ tournament, with Kyle O’Reilly having a Match of the Year Candidate in the finals. This match is going to be face paced and high intensity, and picking a winner is pretty much impossible. The Jr. tag belts are passed around routinely, and New Japan has made both challenging teams likely winners, but one of them has looked just a little bit better recently.
Tomoaki Honma & Tetsuya Naito vs The Bullet Club (Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale)
The main story here is Naito’s new attitude. For a long time he’s been the prototypical babyface, but after coming back from spending a few months with CMLL in Mexico, he’s had a new casual attitude and, most importantly, FACIAL HAIR OF EVIL. Honma is always over with the crowd, but even Honma-mania won’t be enough to counter his teammate’s new hair growth. Besides, Bad Luck Fale could use a win going into the G1 after losing his feud to Okada.
Winner: Bullet Club
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba
The first of the singles matches that we’ve been teasing for months with the CHAOS vs. Tanahashi and Friends tag matches. Shibata and Sakuraba are both MMA influenced, so there’s going to be a lot of grapples, submission, and hard strikes. Sakuraba is the guy who’s been around the block for a long time, but Shibata is constantly on the cusp of breaking out. In the end though, one of these guys is in the G1 Climax, and one of them isn’t.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega (champion) vs. KUSHIDA
KUSHIDA’s time has come I think, after a great BOSJ tournament. Omega is enjoyable to watch, but he’s reign as champion hasn’t been all that memorable. In theory, these guys will have an awesome match, but that’s been the case with every match Omega has had lately, and they haven’t really delivered. Here’s hoping this one does.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Togi Makabe (champion) vs. Tomohiro Ishii
The second CHAOS vs. Everyone Else match, these two have been fighting all year over the NEVER title. Hopefully this will be their last match against each other for a while, because as much as I enjoy watching them forearm the holy hell out of each other, even the stiffest attacks get a little old when it’s on every show. Ishii is one of my favorites, but I badly want him to start fighting other people. I’m mostly just exhausted by this feud.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: The Kingdom (Michael Bennett & Matt Taven)(champions) vs. The Bullet Club (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows)
Maria Kanellis is ridiculously hot. There should be more to say about this match, but since Maria is all they are focused on, maybe I should just leave it at that. This is a WWE style feud, where people act dumb and out of character over a girl, and the title takes a backseat. I don’t like it. I also have no clue who wins this one. Anderson and Gallows are in the G1, and it might be better for them not to have the titles during that time.
Winner: The Kingdom
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano
Like the previous match, this is another rather silly, almost WWE-style feud, but I don’t care. I love it. Yano beat Tanahashi in the New Japan Cup with a roll-up while pulling the hair, and has rubbed it in Tanahashi’s face ever since while doing everything he can to avoid being in the ring with the New Japan ace. Yano is an awesome character, hilarious but not treated as a joke, and Tanahashi’s frustration with him as been growing for months. If this match ends with Yano low-blowing Tanahashi and rolling him up two minutes into the match, I may laugh forever. It’s much more likely that Yano gets some of his own medicine though.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Hirooki Goto (champion) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
I don’t like Goto. There’s just something about his that rubs me the wrong way, from his stupid jacket to his unrealistic finisher. Nakamura is at least extremely entertaining. There are two things going against Nakamura though. First, Goto just won the belt. Losing it immediately back to Nakamura would make Goto look like a chump, and he really needs some strong title defenses to keep the belt at the levels Nakamura carried it. Second, there are bigger things in store for Nakamura with the G1 Climax looming. He doesn’t need the belt… at least not the IC belt.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: AJ Styles (champion) vs. Kazuchika Okada
This is a huge match that could go either way. There’s a lot of stories to tell here. Okada lost the belt to Styles last year, and was unable to beat either Styles or Tanahashi to get it back. Winning it back now would be redemption for Okada. And Okada WILL win the belt back, it’s only a matter of time, and I’m just not sure this is the right time. Styles is great, but kind of a lame duck champion in Japan, and with the New Japan/ROH shows over, I’m not sure if New Japan will want to keep the belt on him. I would though, and have Okada win the belt after the G1. I will not be surprised to see Okada walk out with the title though.
Winner: AJ Styles
Overall it looks like a good show, and I’m extremely interested in handful of matches on it. It’s the biggest New Japan show in months, and I’m hoping they deliver and get everyone pumped for the G1 Climax.