Thursday, June 1, 2023

NJPW Dominion 2023 Preview & Predictions

This Sunday NJPW returns to Osaka-Jo Hall for what is traditionally their #2 PPV of the year, Dominion!

Well this lineup looks more like the Dominion shows of old, loaded up with title matches and plenty of big names and fresh faces over a nine-bout card.  The main event pairing is an odd one indeed but hopefully it delivers.  But I'm really stoked for some of the undercard matches and also I wonder what ramifications this show will have on Forbidden Door in a few weeks.  Let's get into it!

#1 Contender Match: Lance Archer vs. Will Ospreay

The first match with FD implications, these two will face off for a shot at Kenny Omega's US Title.  Archer and Ospreay are no strangers, having faced each other numerous times over the years, always with great big man-little man chemistry.  I'd say Ospreay is almost certainly getting this win to set up a rematch with Kenny (and holy shit what a rematch that'll be).  This should be a pretty great contest in its own right.

Pick: Ospreay

Just 5 Guys vs. LIJ 

Naito and friends will take on the Burger Squad (wait, how can they be called 5 Guys when this is a 4-on-4 match??) in the one filler bout on this show.  Should be a fun little match but probably won't go very long.

Pick: I'll go with LIJ to win

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

These two again huh?  Not that I'm complaining.  I think ZSJ's successfully retained against Cobb twice now, once via time limit draw.  Hard to say what will happen here; I imagine ZSJ vs. Danielson is on the docket for Forbidden Door so conventional wisdom would say Zack wins again here.  Should be another excellent showing between these two.

Pick: ZSJ

IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship: Intergalactic Jet Setters vs. Catch 2/2 

This one's exciting.  Kushida with his first gold since returning to NJPW, teaming with Kevin Knight Jr. against TJP and Francesco Akira.  This should be a blazing tag match and a near show stealer if given enough time.  IJS just won these titles a little over a month ago so I see them retaining here.

Pick: Kushida & Kevin retain

IWGP/Strong Tag Team Championship: Bishamon vs. House of Torture  vs. United Empire 

This one I'm not super excited about.  In the first place Aussie Open was supposed to be defending the straps but Mark Davis's injury forced them to vacate both sets of titles.  Mark isn't expected to miss much time and I suspect they'll win the straps again later.  But for now we have this 3-way match to determine new champs, and unfortunately one of the teams is House of Torture.  Take them out of the equation and this could be good.  I guess I'll go with Bishamon to win back the titles so they can rematch with Aussie Open later (Their Sakura Genesis match was stellar).

Pick: Bishamon

NEVER Openweight Championship: David Finlay vs. El Phantasmo

Another match that should be incredible, former buddies Finlay and ELP will tear the house down if given the chance.  Good to see so many potential show stealers and also so many up-and-comers on a NJPW lineup.  I don't see Dave losing the title this soon as he's being booked into Jay White's old role, but this match should be great.

Pick: Finlay retains

NEVER Openweight Six-Man Championship: Kazuchika Okada/Tomohiro Ishii/Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jon Moxley/Claudio Castagnoli/Shota Umino

This is the fuckin' match right here.  Holy jeez.  Three of NJPW's all-time best stars against one of its future headliners plus two of the best damn workers in the US.  If this isn't the match of the night I'll be shocked.  Also I'm sure we'll see something Forbidden Door-related come out of this one.  Team Okada just won these titles a month ago but I could see Team Mox take them here and thus set up a rematch at FD or later.

Pick: Mox/CC/Shota

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Master Wato

Wato is this year's Best of the Super Juniors winner and thus earns a title shot here.  Should be another excellent match, as Wato has come a very long way and Hiromu is an absolute monster in the ring.  Hard to say how this one ends, I could see them pulling the trigger on Wato, especially since Takahashi's had the belt for five months.  On the other hand with an unproven top champion maybe they hedge their bets and keep this title on the established guy.  I guess with Forbidden Door on the horizon they may want Takahashi to go into that show as champ.

Pick: Hiromu retains

IWGP World Championship: Sanada vs. Yota Tsuji

Okay this one is just weird.  A first-time IWGP Champ against a guy just returning from excursion.  That there is a ballsy move.  When Okada and White returned from excursion and were immediately put into main event programs it was against Hiroshi Tanahashi, the company's Ace.  Here it's against Sanada who is far from a proven commodity.  It'll be interesting to see how this main event draws with two variables like that.  Anyway the match should be very good.  I know little about Tsuji other than he's supposed to be a prodigy.  I can't see them taking the title off Sanada this soon, so he'll probably retain in a way that makes Yota into a new star.

Pick: Sanada retains

Well it's a pretty stacked lineup to say the least and should yield some very memorable matches.  NJPW is planning for the future for sure; there are more new faces in prominent spots than in any recent New Japan show I can remember.  It's an intriguing time for this company, here's hoping the risks pay off.

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