NJPW Dominion: Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White, Ospreay vs. SANADA, Tanahashi vs. Goto
By: Mark Buckeldee
Welcome to this POST Wrestling report for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Dominion 2022 from 12th June 2022. Dominion is New Japan’s second-biggest annual show of the year, held in Osaka-Jo Hall in the shadow of Osaka Castle.
New Japan have used the venue a lot in the pandemic era, with attendances in the venue as low as 1,846. The 2020 Dominion was a Pandemic high of 3898 fans. The 2019 edition drew 11,901 fans. In that context, this year’s attendance of 6,068 fans was a strong number, New Japan’s fourth-highest attendance this year behind the two Wrestle Kingdom shows and Wrestling Dontaku.
Despite the recent Best of the Super Juniors tournament, there were no Jr title matches on the card. There was not even a junior heavyweight-only match on the undercard.
1 Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi vs Aaron Henare, Francesco Akira & TJP – Decent but nothing special
2 Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI vs Taiji Ishimori, Ace Austin & El Phantasmo – A fun match that relied more on antics than action
3 Toru Yano vs Doc Gallows – Mercifully short, inoffensive Yano comedy match
4 NEVER Openweight 6-man Tag Team Championship: EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi (c) vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Zack Sabre Jr & El Desperado – Some good work from Kanemaru but a baffling structure made this less interesting than it looked on paper
5 IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (c) vs Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan – A decent match but nothing memorable
6 AEW Interim Championship Challenger Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto – Surprisingly underwhelming for me. They failed to click for me, and it felt like a sup par performance by their standards
7 KOPW 2022 Championship – 10-minute unlimited pinfall scramble: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Taichi – A good match hampered by the gimmick
8 NEVER Openweight Championship: Tama Tonga (c) vs “The Machine Gun” Karl Anderson – A good heel vs face match. Babyface Tonga is growing on me but obviously 2022 Karl Anderson is not 2014 Karl Anderson – BORDERLINE RECOMMENDED
9 IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Decision Match: Will Ospreay vs SANADA – A very good action match with lots of athleticism and little downtime, although I struggled to engage with it – BORDERLINE RECOMMENDED
10 IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Jay White – A very good match. While it was the Okada length and structure, Okada’s selling was great. Otherwise, a typical Okada-White match – RECOMMENDED
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi vs Aaron Henare, Francesco Akira & TJP
United Empire were joined during their entrance by former two-weight class World heavyweight champion boxer Jessie Vargas. He was announced as being a friend of TJP. The New Japan trio was joined by former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Manabu Nakanishi. After initially getting caught in a “Mongolian triangle,” TJP’s trickery let the Empire isolate Taguchi. Wato made the hot tag and eventually, it came down to Henare and Tenzan, where Henare locked in a Full Nelson and made Tenzan submit.
Aaron Henare pinned Hiroyoshi Tenzan via Ultima (Full Nelson) (10:31)
This was a decent opener that gave a lot of time to TJP, Wato, and Taguchi. There was some good stuff, but the finish felt flat as I do not think anyone expected Henare to win. While I appreciate going back to the classics, using the Full Nelson as a finish in 2022 feels weird.
Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito & BUSHI vs Taiji Ishimori, Ace Austin & El Phantasmo
Naito was fascinated by Austin’s magic stick before the opening bell. The Bullet Club isolated Naito from the start with double and triple teams, including Austin raking Naito’s back with another magic stick. Naito eventually escaped with a back rake of his own and Takahashi ran wild. Ishimori and Takahashi traded forearms and Lariats before Phantasmo and BUSHI entered the fray. Austin used the Fosbury flop to take out Naito and Takahashi before Phantasmo pinned BUSHI with the CR2.
El Phantasmo pinned BUSHI via CR2 (8:04)
This was a fun, entertaining tag match that focused more on antics than action. The crowd enjoyed the shenanigans but, even during the section building up Takahashi vs Ishimori, this match was kept simple and had as much effort as you would expect from an LIJ tag match in the second match slot.
Toru Yano vs Doc Gallows
Gallows emptied Yano’s spray bottle onto Yano and Yano tried to flee under the ring. The crowd appreciated Gallows’ punches and Yano struggled due to his obsession with trying to slam Gallows. Yano kicked out of the Gallows Pole before Yano kicked Gallows low and used an inventive pinning combination to steal the win.
Toru Yano pinned Doc Gallows via NU3 dedicated to Mariko Hayashi (pinning combination) (4:05)
They kept this short, and this was much better than I feared. I mean, it was basic Yano comedy and Gallows did not bring a lot, but it was fun at times and inoffensive.
NEVER Openweight 6-man Tag Team Championship: EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi (c) vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Zack Sabre Jr & El Desperado
The House of Torture ambushed the Suzuki-gun trio during the entrances. Kanemaru quickly went for the kill with a Figure Four leg lock on SHO, before applying the submission hold to all four members of HoT. The HoT gained control and isolated Kanemaru until the rest of Suzuki-gun fought back. Kanemaru trapped SHO in the Figure Four until Takahashi made the save by choking Kanemaru with his stick.
The match broke down, with a parade of moves ending when Desperado hit EVIL with a Spinebuster. Kanemaru got a nearfall with a Moonsault on SHO before SHO kicked Kanemaru in the gut. Kanemaru screamed in agony as SHO had loaded his kick pad with a wrench and SHO pinned Kanemaru with a shock arrow. The match ended with neither Sabre Jr nor Desperado actually tagging into the match.
SHO pinned Yoshinobu Kanemaru via Shock Arrow (9:26)
This was a weird match. It was mostly a good HoT 6-man tag but the choice to have Kanemaru as the legal man for the whole match was odd. The story worked well, although I did not get the context for the finish. Kanemaru’s performance was good and deserves praise, but it felt like I was short-changed with the relative lack of Desperado and Sabre Jr in the match.
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Bad Luck Fale & Chase Owens (c) vs Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan
O-Khan relied on submissions early on, hitting an Ippon-zeoi on Fale before being isolated by his opponents. Fale did a surfboard pose while standing on O-Khan’s back, mocking Cobb. O-Khan fought back with Mongolian chops before tagging in Cobb, who threw Owens with a suplex and scoop slammed Fale. Cobb got a two-count on Owens with a spinning back suplex before the Champions took Cobb down with double teams. Eventually, O-Khan made the save and clotheslined Fale over the top rope. O-Khan then hit Owens with a top rope belly-to-belly suplex and Cobb finished Owens off with the Tour of the Islands.
After the match, Rocky Romero attacked the Champions as revenge for when they attacked Trent on AEW Dynamite a few weeks before. It was not a wise decision.
Jeff Cobb pinned Chase Owens via Tour of the Islands (11:52)
This was slow and dull at times, as Fale and Owens controlled most of the match and I struggle to get engaged in their matches. Cobb and O-Khan showed their potential at times but these two should have much better tag matches later this year. Well, as long as New Japan does not cut the legs out from under them.
G1 Climax announcement
This was being announced as the biggest ever G1 Climax, with twenty-eight opponents across four blocks. The lineup was:
Tom Lawlor (NJPW Strong) – Debut
Jonah (NJPW Strong) – Debut
Aaron Henare – Debut
Bad Luck Fale
Zack Sabre Jr
Lance Archer (AEW)
David Finlay – Debut
El Phantasmo – Debut
KENTA, David Finlay, Lance Archer, and El Phantasmo got the four biggest crowd reactions, with the largest pops being for Archer and El Phantasmo. The latter honestly surprised me.
All in all, the G1 Climax lineup feels underwhelming to me as some of the dead wood has not been replaced and some of the new additions do not bring a lot of variety or excitement. The change to four blocks of seven will well but it does not feel like the tournament that a lot of fans were hoping for.
Interim AEW World Championship Challenger Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Hirooki Goto
The winner of this match faces Jon Moxley at AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door in a match for the Interim AEW World Championship. This was an even match until Goto knocked Tanahashi off the top rope to the outside. Goto hit a Lariat on the floor and Goto controlled Tanahashi until the Ace fought back with a flying forearm. Tanahashi cut off Goto’s attempts to regain momentum by using Dragon Screws. They traded forearms until Tanahashi downed Goto with a big slap. Tanahashi countered an Ushi-Goroshi into the Sling Blade, only for Goto to reverse another Sling Blade into a ropes-assisted GTR. Goto blocked a Samson Clutch for a close nearfall before Tanahashi hit another Sling Blade and two High Fly Flows to easily defeat Goto
Hiroshi Tanahashi pinned Hirooki Goto via High Fly Flow (12:40)
Honestly, I found this match disappointing. It was not a bad match, as they are two incredibly dependable professionals, but it lacked something, and I struggled to engage with the match. These two have had some amazing matches in the past (admittedly many of those were over a decade ago) but this was pedestrian and clunky at times. It felt like a low-effort undercard version of their previous matches, which I supposed is fair considering its place on the card.
KOPW 2022 Championship – 10-minute unlimited pinfall scramble: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Taichi
The rules were that the winner would be whoever had the most combined pinfall counts after ten minutes. The match started with a strike exchange that constantly evolved until Taichi ended it with an arm wringer hook kick. Taichi suckered Takagi in for a roll-up attempt and both wrestlers traded pinning combinations. Takagi hit a sliding Lariat to extend his lead to 7-2, only for Taichi to fight back with a jumping high kick. A flurry of kicks let Taichi get a two count and Takagi tried to absorb more of Taichi’s kicks. Taichi countered a Pumping Bomber into a backdrop suplex for another two-count, to make the score 7-6.
Takagi countered Taichi’s Black Mephisto into a Ground Cobra for a three count, to extend Takagi’s lead. They traded Lariats, with Takagi nailing a Pumping Bomber. Taichi kept kicking out early, trying to stay in the match but Takagi managed to get a one-count. After fighting over sumo throws, Taichi got a three count with the Gedo clutch and frantically looked for a cover, but Takagi kicked out at one just before the bell, with Takagi winning the match 11-10.
Shingo Takagi defeated Taichi 11-10 (10:00)
This was probably my match of the night up to this point. The match was very good, although it was hampered a little by the rules. I would have expected a slightly more frantic pace, as this match was less of a sprint than I had hoped for. That said, they did a decent job of telling a good story using the combined count stipulation and I really liked the finishing stretch. This was a flawed but exciting match, which was very welcome considering that the previous six matches had felt underwhelming, dull, or pedestrian.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Tama Tonga (c) vs “The Machine Gun” Karl Anderson
This was a clash between two of the original members of the Bullet Club. Tonga even adopted the Gun Stun, Anderson’s finisher, after Anderson left NJPW to join WWE.
Tonga started this match hot by attacking Anderson with a dropkick. They quickly ended up on the ramp, where Anderson scoop slammed Tonga, who fought back with a suplex on the floor. Anderson used a Gun stun variation as Tonga tried to enter the ring and Gallows hit a Chokeslam on the apron while Anderson distracted the referee. Tonga avoided being counted out, but Anderson was firmly in control. Gallows tried to attack Tonga again on the outside, but Jado made the save.
Back in the ring, Tonga fought back with a running crossbody and a Lariat. The Champion was fired up and hit a dropkick before removing his chest protector and getting a nearfall with a Stinger Splash. Anderson caught Tonga with a Spinebuster for a near fall, while Tonga got one of his own with a Headshrinker DDT. Anderson hit a Liger Bomb for another nearfall, but Tonga escaped the Bernard Driver and hit the Tongan Twist for another near fall. They traded strikes, with both wrestlers trying to catch their opponents off balance.
Both wrestlers went for the Gun Stun until Anderson hit the Bernard Driver for a big nearfall. Tonga hit the SRC and a top rope splash for a nearfall and Anderson distracted the referee. Gallows tried to enter the ring, but Tonga caught him with the Gun Stun. Sadly, this let Anderson hit a Gun Stun off his own to win the match and become the new NEVER Openweight Champion.
Karl Anderson pinned Tama Tonga via Gun Stun (16:27)
This was a good heel vs face match with a bomb-laden second half, and I feel that being a face plays to Tonga’s in ring strengths much better than being a heel. Anderson was clearly (and understandably) slower than his previous New Japan run, but we still got a version of the counter-heavy finishing stretches that made Anderson a fan favourite in the early 2010s. While the pace could be a little slow at times, the use of interference and the big near falls really worked for this match and this was as good as this match had any right to be in 2022.
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Decision Match: Will Ospreay vs SANADA
The story of the IWGP US Heavyweight title in 2022 has been pure chaos. There have been five Champions, the longest title reign was 49 days and the title had to be vacated twice due to injury. This is the second consecutive IWGP US Heavyweight title match that has had to be changed at short notice. Juice Robinson was originally meant to defend the belt in a three-way, but he had appendicitis.
The match started with a flashy display of athletic counters. SANADA hit a Plancha, with Ospreay gaining control after hot shotting SANADA on the top rope and kicking him in the face. After showing off his aerial prowess, Ospreay got caught when SANADA dropkicked him in the knee. SANADA gained control and applied the Paradise Lock after Ospreay had escaped the first attempt.
Ospreay hit a top rope Moonsault to the outside, following it up with the springboard forearm. SANADA countered an Oscutter, only for Ospreay eventually hit the Oscutter for a nearfall. Ospreay went for the Stormbreaker, but SANADA reversed it into a Frankensteiner for a nearfall. SANADA then hit a TKO style Stormbreaker and a bridging Tiger suplex for a nearfall. Ospreay got his knees up to counter SANADA’s Moonsault before hitting the (not so) Hidden Blade. SANADA got a nearfall with a Japanese leg rolling clutch, only for Ospreay to hit the Hidden Blade and the Storm Breaker to win the match and become the IWGP US Heavyweight Champion. Ospreay was not given the title as the physical belt was still in America with Robinson.
Will Ospreay pinned SANADA via Storm Breaker (12:48)
This was a good, action-packed match full of athleticism. On the plus side, it avoided feeling pedestrian or aimless which is a regular criticism of mine when it comes to SANADA matches. That said, this did feel like a lot of flashy spots and moves without a clear in-ring story or structure. It was like an action movie that relied on flashy action sequences to hide the lack of story. The execution was good, the moves were good, and the skill was there but it felt like less than the sum of its parts due to the lack of a clear or engaging story. Considering that SANADA had been out of action for almost 3 months due to an injury caused by Ospreay, there was zero sense of animosity or aggression from SANADA.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Jay White
The match started with a series of lock-ups. When Okada had some momentum, Gedo got involved. White capitalized with a DDT when Okada was distracted, before choking Okada with the ring apron. White was obsessed with trying to get the crowd to chant, while inside the ring he focussed on chopping Okada. Okada kicked out of multiple covers from White, which led to Okada fighting back with a big forearm. The Champion gained control of the match after a running elbow.
Gedo again got involved, only to be thrown over the guardrail and Okada hit his running crossbody on the floor onto both White and Gedo. White blocked a Tombstone on the outside and repeatedly rammed Okada into the guardrail. That was followed by White suplexing Okada into the guardrail. After a count-out tease, White hit the Blade buster for a two count. White methodically attacked Okada and worked over the Champion’s midsection and back before suplexing him out of the ring.
White used an Uranage suplex for a nearfall and Okada had to rely on hard forearms and a missile dropkick to fight off White. Okada hit the diving Elbow drop but sold the damage to his midsection afterwards. White then decided to hit a trio of Dragon screws and locked in the TTO (Reverse Figure Four Leg Lock), before deciding to transition into a Texas Cloverhold. Okada reached the ropes, but he was struggling until he started absorbing White’s chops and hit a picture-perfect dropkick. When he landed Okada sold the damage to his knee and locked in the Money Clip.
White escaped the Money Clip by driving Okada into the referee. Gedo slid a chair into the ring, but Okada got there first and kicked it out of the ring before reapplying the Money Clip. White struggled and only escaped by hitting a low blow when Gedo distracted the referee. White mocked Okada for the crowd being silent, so Okada smashed him with a forearm strike that sent White flying out of the ring.
White and Okada traded forearms, with Okada winning the exchange as he fed off of his anger and frustration. White refused to let Okada grab his wrist so Okada beat down White until he could grab the wrist. The New Zealander countered a Rainmaker with a shoulder block to the injured midsection and White was back in control, hitting a series of big moves before grabbing Okada’s wrist and hitting a series of short-arm clotheslines. Okada avoided a Blade Runner and hit a short-arm clothesline of his own. White was unable to make Okada let go of his wrist and the match moved into a counter-heavy sequence that ended with Okada hitting a dropkick and the sit-out Tombstone, only for White to counter the Rainmaker with the Blade Runner for a shocking upset win for Jay White!
After the match, the Bullet Club celebrated in the ring with beers. Jay White then called out Adam Page and said that Page can have Okada as Page does not deserve a shot at the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. Jay White begged for the crowd to speak and eventually the crowd cheered and whooped during White’s promo.
Jay White pinned Kazuchika Okada via Blade Runner (36:04)
This is a fascinating match. On one hand, it followed the general structure of an Okada match and felt like what we are used to from an Okada vs White match. It went over 35 minutes; the early going could be forgettable, and we got the mix of the usual spots and Gedo interference.
On the other hand, Okada deserves praise for his performance. His selling was great, some of the best selling that I can remember from him. It added an intense sense of vulnerability that ran throughout the match and made White feel like a credible threat. It made the struggle and effort feel real and made Okada’s big spots feel harder earned. Okada was more frustrated, and relied more on forearms and there were some great moments where he lost his temper. It is something that is underreported, but Okada has made some changes in 2022 and this mix of vulnerability and frustration is a fantastic addition to the character.
Despite that, I would not call this a match of the year contender or something that will change your mind if you dislike Okada formula matches. Okada was great, White was very good, and the match had some fantastic notes, but it did have slow moments. It was still a long match with some down time and the finishing stretch felt like a halfway house between a more dramatic finish and a more action-packed finish.
Ultimately, your enjoyment of the match will depend on your enjoyment of the NJPW house style, or Okada, or White. If you love any or all of those then you will love this. If you struggle with any of those then this will not change your mind.
Overall, this was not a great show. It had a very good main event, and the top four matches were all entertaining but those matches also had inherent flaws. The undercard was dull and often underwhelming, and some of the booking choices felt weird like Zack Sabre Jr calling out Bryan Danielson after a match where Sabre Jr did not even get to tag in.
This was not a show that will change your mind. If you enjoy 2022 New Japan, then you will enjoy this. If you do not, then this will not give you anything to make you reconsider your opinions. There were some surprises, like White winning the title, but it did not feel like a show that was the start of a new direction.
The G1 Climax lineup is a mixed bag. The move to 4 blocks of twenty-eight will reduce the number of single matches for each performer, which should help them from a physical perspective while also helping the fans by having fewer matches from wrestlers that they do not enjoy. That said, the lineup was probably not one that a lot of people were hoping for. While Lance Archer makes a lot of sense and he was a popular choice based on the crowd reaction, he was not someone that was on people’s lips when speculating about who from AEW would be in the G1. The use of New Japan Strong talent is encouraging but, from a personal perspective, there are too many wrestlers in the tournament that I struggle to enjoy. Like most of New Japan in 2022, it feels like more wrestling that is not going to change people’s minds, as I cannot see this lineup encouraging many people to jump on board who were not already following New Japan.