Thursday, April 29, 2021

NJPW Wrestling Dontaku Preview & Predictions

It's NJPW Wrestling Dontaku time, and that means two nights of sparsely assembled cards with only a few matches of note each night.  Of course in 2021 that's nearly every NJPW show.  

So yeah, there are essentially three important matches over the two nights, plus a couple bouts related to the Tag Team Titles.  The three big title matches should all be excellent, but I'm longing for the days when New Japan stacked most of their PPV events.  If this year's Dominion isn't a loaded show I'll be very sad.  Let's pick some winners.....

Night 1

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tanga Loa

Man, how thin is this division when the same two teams just keep meeting up?  New Japan desperately needs to drop the Jr. Tag and Six-Man Tag belts and just move all the tag teams into a single division.  I will never understand why they got rid of the Intercontinental Title but kept three sets of tag belts.  Anyway, ZSJ vs. Tanga should be fun.  Zack's matches always stand out because his style is so different.  The stip here is that if Zack wins, he and Taichi get another shot, if they lose they don't ever get another shot.  Since there are basically no other teams around I'll pick Zack to win here.

Pick: ZSJ

Iron Finger from Hell Ladder Match: Taichi vs. Tama Tonga

I assume the rules here are that if you climb the ladder and grab the Iron Fingers you get to use them?  That's goofy.  Both guys can work, so hopefully it'll be entertaining.  No idea who wins here but since Iron Fingers are Taichi's thing I'll pick him to win I guess.

Pick: Taichi

NEVER Openweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White

Ok finally a real match with real stakes.  New Japan's now-second-most important title is on the line, with Tanahashi defending against the nefarious Jay White.  White went from the top heel spot to the #2 heel spot once Will Ospreay got the big push, so I would think it makes sense for him to capture the #2 title.  These two always have good matches and this should be no exception.  White has become a really fantastic worker and Tanahashi is Tanahashi.

Pick: White

Night 2

Jr. Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado vs. Yoh

Desperado continues his run as the unlikely Jr. Champ, defending against one half of the Jr. Tag Champs.  It really speaks to how thin both divisions are that there have been so many scenarios like this.  The threat of a double Jr. Champ should be a rare occurrence, but it's happening constantly these days.  Time to elevate some of these Young Lions.

Pick: Desperado retains

IWGP World Championship: Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi

Goddamn, this should be amazing.  Ospreay and Takagi have had two ridiculously good tournament finals over the last couple years and it's great to see them fighting over the biggest prize in the company.  Ospreay is supernatural, Takagi is maybe the best bruiser in wrestling right now.  This'll be 30-plus minutes of awesome.  It's way too soon for Ospreay to lose and he's clearly defending against Okada at the Dome next month, so he'll retain here.

Pick: Ospreay retains

So yeah, it's another case of two NJPW shows where I'll only watch a handful of bouts.  I really hope Dominion and the May Tokyo Dome show are full cards of goodness; New Japan can put on an A+ PPV when they want to.  This two-match show stuff is for the birds....

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