Following the disappointment of Payback – although some people liked that show more than me – it’s easy to drop into a wrestling related mood. Many a time a bad show can leave you feeling like you can’t be arsed anymore. Thankfully, that’s when New Japan tend to step up to the bat. While, as is the case with most New Japan shows, there were plenty of tag matches to get through before you hit the juicy stuff, Dontaku was a good to occasionally great few hours of pro wrestling and here’s what we thought while we enjoyed it.
Okada Does It Again
It’s pure luck that I started watching New Japan when Okada kicked off what could be one of the best year’s in professional wrestling’s history but God I’m glad I did. Once again, Kazuchika Okada headlined a New Japan show to a sold out building and put on one hell of a match. I’m going to talk about Fale in a bit (because he did his part) but the story being built around Okada is fascinating. He’s the unbeatable champion who consistently looks beatable. Every match sees his power falter a little bit more and the cracks are spreading. The moment he drops the belt is already going to be huge, and 2017’s Okada may be one of the best of all time.
The Real Omega Shows Up
That’s the Kenny Omega we all want to see, and Ishii may be up there with Okada as his perfect foil. The two of them stole the show, and I could have watched them go for another half hour. When they opened as fast as they did, I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to hold that pace for the whole match, but I was wasting my time. The final stretch with the two of them stealing each other’s stuff was riveting and even though I knew Omega would win Ishii had me believing on more than one occasion. With Dominion giving us Okada vs. Omega II, it was nice to see the real Kenny Omega stand up.
Holy A Block Super Juniors!
Since kicking off my New Japan watching there has been one tournament I’ve been looking forward to over all the others. The Best Of The Super Juniors and holy shit does that A Block look beautiful. Ricochet vs. Osprey, the final tournament of Jushin Liger, Osprey vs. Scurll and Takahashi vs. Dragon Lee, Christ just Takahashi vs. everyone. This block is packed with globe-trotting feuds and world class wrestlers. B block doesn’t exactly look shabby, but these matches are going to be unmissable.
Flat English Commentary
This is the first show where I have missed Steve Corino. I like Kevin Kelly and Cyrus but both are quite soft spoken men and, at times in this show, I ended up fazing them out because their lack of excitement made them dull. When you put it up next to the passion of the Japanese team, it doesn’t cut the mustard even if I can understand what they are saying. I don’t want to wish either of them out of a job, but with Mauro Ranallo soon to be free from WWE I hope New Japan are at least making enquiries in that direction.
Yay Suzuki Boo Gun
I love Minoru Suzuki. The way that he spends most of these multi-man tags prowling the floor kicking young lions and bullying production people makes me laugh. The man is a legit badass, and his complete refusal to play by the rules works. The rest of Suzuki-gun can fuck off. I’m fed up of Taichi, Kanemaru, Taka and El Desperado getting involved in matches or them pissing about with that bloody bell hammer. I’m sure at least some of them are decent wrestlers, but I never get to see it. They are too busy playing silly buggers.
Cody And Finlay Struggle To Stand Out
I don’t get Cody Rhodes. He seems a decent bloke, and he’s got a bit of star power but he’s average at best in the ring. I’m also yet to see much from David Finlay. He has been languishing all year, and he really struggles to stand out. With that in mind, all I wanted from this match was for someone to shine. Cody’s fight with Juice Robinson at Wrestle Kingdom seemed to kick-start Juice’s rise up the card, and I would have loved the same thing to happen here. Sadly, we didn’t get it. This was fine, but to call it any more than that would be massively overshooting the dive.
How brilliant is Takahashi? Everything the guy touches turns to gold. Whether he is teaming with Naito or putting on classics with Ricochet you know something is going to happen, and the comparisons with Brock Lesnar are 100% justified. There is a big game feel to Takahashi’s matches whether that be title fights or simple tags. Much like with Okada the man that finally takes the belt from Takahashi is going to be a star, and I’m excited to see who it will be.
TenKoji And War Machine’s Chemistry
I really love watching TenKoji and War Machine smack each other about the ring. The two have such a natural chemistry, and the veteran team have made the young champions look great. It’s a shame then that G.O.D. were smack bang in the middle of this match. It didn’t do enough to ruin it, but I can’t help feeling it would be better without them. Either way, if you want some big hosses doing big hoss stuff, this match will be perfect for you.
Team Taguchi Japan
I reckon every New Japan show I have ever watched has had a Team Taguchi vs. LIJ match. If they haven’t, then it is damn close to it. Yet, I’m still laughing, and I’m still having fun. Taguchi Japan might be my second favourite grouping in New Japan after LIJ, and I’m not even sure if Taguchi Japan are an official faction. Taguchi is brilliant, and most of the wrestlers he surrounds himself with are right there alongside him (we’ll ignore Yoshi Tatsu). I know a lot of people are fed up of this but I could watch Taguchi fight for the six man tags for the rest of the year and I don’t think I’d ever get bored of it.
When Bad Luck Fale was first set up as the next opponent for Okada, I was disappointed. I hadn’t seen much of the big man, and his size instantly made me think that he’d be an anchor around the waist of the smaller champ. I now have to eat my words. Fale is a perfect example of why big men don’t have to be boring. He has a move-set that looks devastating, but when he has to sell, he’s damn good at it. His size and his dominance made him look like a total monster in this match and because of that Okada looks even better. A lot of the attention will be placed on Okada, but Fale deserves praise as well.