After a rather disappointing Wrestling Hi No Kuni, NJPW needed to hit it out of the park with Dontaku. The unofficial theme of Day one is the Bullet Club Civil War. With no major titles on the line, it’s the storylines that will need to take centre stage…
Match 1: Bullet Club (Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) vs Yota Tsuji & Shota Umino
The young lions get the jump before the bell and try to work over Takahashi. Takahashi and Owens start working over Tsuji who gets a hot tag to Umino and he shows the fire that has gotten him so over. We trade finishes until Owens hits him with a Package Piledriver for the win. Solid, short, got a win for the ragtag team. Job done.
Winners: Bullet Club Rating: 5 out of 10
Match 2: Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, Jushin Liger, & Tiger Mask) vs Ren Narita, Tomoyuki Oka, & Yuji Nagata
Oka gets worked over by the dads and Taguchi until he gets the hot tag to Nagata. Grandpa Nagata runs wild and beats up Tiger Mask. Narita tags in and we have the young lions and Nagata triple team Taguchi. Narita has the hope spot and locks in a crab until Liger and Tiger Mask make the save. Taguchi puts away Narita with the Dodon. Nothing special but Taguchi gets the win heading into BOSJ
Winners: Taguchi Japan Rating: 4 out of 10
Match 3: Suzuki Gun (Takashi Lizuka, Lance Archer, & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) vs Roppongi 3K (Sho, Yoh, & Rocky Romero)
Suzuki Gun take it to the floor and brawl. Iizuka is biting Sho in the ring but gets distracted ALLOWING SHO TO ROLL HIM UP FOR THE WIN. What a shocker! the Juniors rarely pin heavyweights what a moment for Sho.
Winners: R3K Rating: 15 out of 10 (Editor’s Note: I checked with Alex and this was not a typo. That makes it a 7.5* match, SUCK IT, MELTZER!)
Match 4: CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, Jay White, & Hirooki Goto) vs Taguchi Japan (Toa Henare, Michael Elgin, Togi Makabe, David Finlay, & Juice Robinson)
We get the good strong style stuff to start between Elgin & Goto and then Ishii & Makabe. Yano gets in and runs his usual stuff with the turnbuckle pad on David Finlay. Finlay plays a good face in peril for CHAOS as they work him over. Hot tag to Juice who takes out CHAOS and almost wins before the match breaks down. Henare and White are in and trade Henare looks to put away White but cannot keep him down. White hits a German and plants Henare with Blade Runner for 3. More solid stuff with good energy and some good exchanges.
Winners: CHAOS Rating: 5 out of 10
IWGP NEVER Six Man Championships- (C) Bullet Club ( Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tonga Loa) vs Bullet Club (Marty Scurll, Matt & Nick Jackson)
A hectic match from the start. Bucks work double teams on G.O.D. Fale gets in and bats them away. They finally get him down and Scurll adds in the comedy element by trying to lift Fale, he fails spectacularly, G.O.D take over and work double teams on Scurll. Hot tag to Nick Jackson. The Being The Elite guys work over the OG guys and get some near falls on Loa. G.O.D back in control for a near fall, Scurll dumps Fale out, superkicks to Loa and Dale and Tonga taken out with a dive. More Bang for Your Buck for three on Loa. Hectic stuff and a really good trios match.
Winners: Scurll & The Young Bucks Rating: 6 out of 10
Match 6: Los Ingobernables De Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito) vs Suzuki Gun ( El Desperado, Kanemaru, Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr, & Minoru Suzuki)
Just when you thought we might be done with this after the LIJ clean sweep at Hi No Kuni, we get another LIJ vs Suzuki Gun matchup. As is usual, Suzuki Gun jump the gun and the two teams brawl around ringside. Naito and Suzuki show more fire here than in the entirety of their title match. The match consists of Suzuki Gun working over Naito’s injured knee until he makes a hot tag to SANADA he clears house and we get the junior exchange with BUSHI and Kanemaru before EVIL tags in and hits Everything is EVIL on Kanemaru for the win. Not bad but overdone and not nearly as exciting as the CHAOS vs LIJ matches that everyone was tired of.
Winners: LIJ Ratings: 4 out of 10
Post Match: The Young Bucks come out to make a challenge. They want their first shot at the IWGP Heavyweight tag team championships. They superkick the champions and high tail it. EVIL gets a mic and accepts the challenge.
Match 7: CHAOS (Will Ospreay & Kazuchika Okada) vs KUSHIDA & Hiroshi Tanahashi
Okada and Tanahashi start before tagging in the juniors who pick up the pace with a nice string of counters. KUSHIDA grounds things a little. Okada and Tanahashi start brawling on the floor. Meanwhile, Ospreay is now grounding KUSHIDA. He tags in Okada and they work over KUSHIDA before Tanahashi gets in and cleans house. Tana and KUSHIDA have submissions locked in but Ospreay saves Okada by shoving KUSHIDA into Tanahashi. We get another sick junior exchange before Okada tags in to beat on the Junior. Tanahashi tries to help but Ospreay takes him out. This allows Okada to drop KUSHIDA with a Rainmaker
Winners: CHAOS Rating: 7 out of 10
Match 8: Cody vs Kota Ibushi
A Wrestle Kingdom rematch but now with much higher stakes. Cody stalls early and we get some decent grappling. I can already tell it’s going to be a 3 star special from Cody. Ibushi can’t get rolling as Cody keeps using heel tactics to gain an advantage. Cody gets some 2 counts before Ibushi fires up and hits the Golden Triangle Moonsault. They trade strikes and Ibushi floors Cody with LARIATOOOOO and both men are down. The ref is down allowing Cody to introduce a table. Ibushi fights him off and attempts a double stomp but the table doesn’t break. OUCH! Ibushi tries again but only partially breaks the table. Poor Cody. We get some near falls including on a Cross Rhodes. Cody finally hits a Gringo Killer for the win. Some cool stuff but a tad too long and a real Cody special in that it certainly wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t great.
Winner: Cody Rating: 5 out of 10
Pre-Match: Cody and Page attack Omega before the bell
Match 9: Kenny Omega vs Adam Page
This match starts off in chaotic fashion. Omega hits a Rana sending Page outside and hitting a Plancha. He takes time to take Cody out allowing Page to hit him with a German and follows up with a moonsault to the floor before hitting the Rite Of Passage on the table. After the balls to the wall start, we slow it down as Page dominates. Omega comes back into it. Omega has a counter for everything Page tries and keeps laying in the V Trigger’s. Omega went for the One-Winged Angel but Page reverses but still gets hit by a Snapdragon and V Trigger. Omega covers for 2 apparently but Page doesn’t kick out. It’s clear that he has been knocked loopy by the last V Trigger. Omega hits the One-Winged Angel for the win. Just as the match was getting going Page got hurt and clearly couldn’t continue which really hurt the match as well as Omega’s injury.
Winner: Kenny Omega Rating: 6 out of 10
Another rather disappointing NJPW show where the main event let me down. Whether that was Omega going in injured or Page getting hurt we may never know. What is clear is that both Ospreay vs KUSHIDA and Okada vs Tanahashi will have to deliver. Solid undercards are perfectly fine but the big matches need to deliver and they didn’t here.