Tuesday, May 2, 2023

NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2023 Preview & Predictions

Tomorrow is Wrestling Dontaku 2023, one of NJPW's lesser annual PPV-type shows, and as with most such shows it's comprised of about half important matches and half throwaway tags, so we'll just look at the main stuff.

There are a few promising bouts here, particularly the main event....

Strong Openweight Championship: Kenta vs. Hikuleo

Hikuleo is more or less fresh off running Jay White out of the country and it's landed him a shot at, ironically, one of the US-based championships.  Kenta won this title at Battle in the Valley and has only defended it twice.  I could see this going either way but I think Kenta needs to keep it for a while to help establish it.

Pick: Kenta retains

IWGP TV Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Jeff Cobb

This should be fantastic.  ZSJ and Cobb are always great, pretty much regardless of who their respective opponents are.  I could see Cobb capturing the title but it seems like ZSJ will hold onto it for a while to really make it feel special.  This one could even go to time limit.  He's the Lord Steven Regal of NJPW!  Possible show stealer right here.

Pick: ZSJ retains

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Championship: Minoru Suzuki/El Desperado/Ren Narita vs. Kazuchika Okada/Hiroshi Tanahashi/Tomohiro Ishii

Okada and Tanahashi contending for the Trios titles is just weird.  Maybe NJPW is trying to make their Trios Championship feel important like AEW's does.  Actually House of Black vs. Okada/Tana/Ishii could be added to the Forbidden Door card.  To that end, it makes perfect sense for Team Okada to win the belts here.

Pick: Okada/Tanahashi/Ishii

NEVER Openweight Championship: Tama Tonga vs. David Finlay

Alright, Finlay finally has a chance to win some singles gold.  This should be fine and hopefully both guys will bring their working boots to make Dave's big win here meaningful.

Pick: Finlay

IWGP World Championship: Sanada vs. Hiromu Takahashi

This one should be excellent.  Takahashi is one of the best in-ring talents in the company and Sanada can really go when motivated.  This being his first IWGP Title defense ought to be one of those times.  IWGP vs. Jr. Champions is an annual tradition that usually headlines the Anniversary Show but for some reason they put it here instead.  No matter, should be a great main event and a successful first defense for Sanada.

Pick: Sanada retains

And there's your "main" card as it were.  Not exactly a loaded show but there should be some good wrestling.

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