Welcome once again to Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV. This week we are back in Osaka and the Osaka-Jo hall for Dominion 2016. We cap off our look of this big show with the IWGP title on the line!
But before we get to the show, I'd like to touch on some bad news coming out of Japan as Tomoaki Honma took a very scary hit last night during a six-man tag match. He was taking a DDT from Jado on the middle rope and was knocked out and unable to move. Literally, as I'm writing this NJPW announced that he has suffered a cervical spine (the neck) injury and he would be out for the foreseeable future. No word on the severity of the injury, but after only a single day it is hard to tell how bad an injury like that really is. I wish him all the best of luck in a speedy recovery. Get well soon you gravel-voiced warrior!
Now on with the show!
We are greeted by Okada!
Before we get to the action we get highlights of the IC Title Ladder match between champion Kenny Omega and Michael Elgin (subbing for the injured Hiroshi Tanahashi). Seriously, we just get some highlights of these guys falling off the ladder on the mat or the floor. We see Omega bounce off a couple of tables and then we see Elgin climb the ladder and win. WHO thought reducing a 40-minute ladder match to a short highlight package should be drug out in the street and shot. Multiple times. That match could have been made into its own episode.
We get some studio words from Okada as he says that the crowd had an effect in the last match as they cheered for Naito despite his rampant cheating. He hated the way Naito would disrespect the IWGP belt, but since he wasn't the champion he couldn't do anything about it.
IWGP Title: Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada
This is the big rematch. A few months before Naito won the Title from Okada with help from the other members of Los Ingobernables, especially the debuting Sanada. The match touched off a war between the goobers and CHAOS and we finally get the rematch.
Okada makes his entrance first in his usual fashion with him making it rain. I'm not seeing Gedo walking around, odd. The champion comes out next. JR likens Naito to Steve Austin because slobber knocker. He is wearing a skull mask and a white suit. Kinda looks like Skeletor going to a disco. The other members of Los Ingobernables are with him. Naito goes right up to NJPW owner Kidani sitting at ringside and surprisingly shakes his hand. That was odd. For Naito anyway.
We come back from break and both guys are still in their gear. We get the full introductions of both men. Naito gets booed here really badly. Okada solidly has the crowd behind him. Both take their time here, especially Naito. Okada gives Naito flack for having all the other guys at ringside. Naito goes for it and sends the others to the back. Let's see if they stay away.
Bell rings and they stand there letting the crowd chant. Naito slowly walks around and Okada is ready to go. Lock up with Okada pushing into the ropes. Naito reverses and gives Okada the pat on the chest. Lock up again as Naito gets the advantage but Okada turns that around into a wristlock, Naito turns it into a hammerlock and Okada reverses it and they get into the ropes. Okada goes for the chest pat but just whips Naito into the ropes through a few leapfrogs and reversals that ends with Naito in a relaxed pose on the mat.
We take another commercial as they are stretching for time. We come back as Naito is hanging around outside the ring as Okada just waiting in the ring with his hands on his hips. Naito comes in with a few kicks to the gut and a few punches. Naito gets a snap mare but Okada turns around and lands a low dropkick. Naito in the corner and Okada reverses and sets him up on the buckle and lands his high dropkick to send Naito crashing to the floor. Naito gets up and starts walking away, so Okada follows him. Naito rakes Okada's eyes and then slams him on the rampway. Naito walks back further and then lands a running dropkick! Okada rolls down the entrance as Naito strolls into the ring. Okada gets in at 16.
Naito tosses him right back outside and whips him into the metal barrier. Okada gets whipped again into the barrier right in front of Kidani. Naito tosses him back in the ring and lands a stomp before locking in a cravat. Okada gets into the ropes. Naito lands an elbow on the side of the head a few times on Okada. Snapmare and Naito locks in a chinlock. Okada gets up and counters with a few elbows but Naito breaks him down and hits a dropkick and then a second low dropkick. Lax cover gets two. Stomp on Okada. Okada pops up and lands a few elbows but both guys elbow each other. Okada gets a straight jacket neckbreaker. Clotheslines by Naito gets Okada in the corner but Okada with a boot. Okada counters by just running over Naito and Naito rolls outside. Okada follows him out with some punches but Naito counters and Naito walks back up the ramp again. He looks to be leaving. Naito turns around and Okada dropkicks him!
Okada drags Naito back down the ring and lands some shots for good measure. Naito bleeding from the mouth a bit. Okada tries Red Ink, but Naito counters and lands a neckbreaker. Naito tries the charge into the corner but Okada gets the feet up. Naito catches the feet and turns it into a neckbreaker. Naito goes up and lands a dropkick but gives a crap cover and gets a two count. Naito tries the German suplex but Okada counters into a flapjack.
We are back from break. Both guys down. They struggle to get up and Okada lands the back elbow into a DDT. Okada lands an elbow right to the face. Cover gets two. Okada goes for Red Ink but lands some elbows for the fun of it before locking in the hold. Naito struggles and eventually gets to the ropes and Naito breaks. Okada gets a slam and lands the Randy Savage elbow. He signals for the Rainmaker but Naito counters into the urinagi. Hiroshi Hase mentioned as JR remembers the match with Hase and "A partner" against the Steiners in 1991 and Barnett tries to say the partner was Kensuki Sasaki without sounding like a dick. Naito gets his corner trip and dropkick combo and he is booed! Naito gets and inverted atomic drop into an STO and tries for the submission but Okada rolls it into a pin attempt and Naito lets go. Naito spins around and gets Okada in the Koji clutch but Okada gets to the ropes for the break.
Naito picks him up and puts Okada on the top buckle and lands the rana off the top! Naito goes for Gloria but Okada blocks it. Naito gets in an uppercut and spits on Okada and Okada slaps him for that and Naito lands the spinebuster. He goes for Gloria again but Okada blocks it and turns it into driving Naito right on his head into the mat.
We come back from ANOTHER break. Both guys down again. They start hammering each other on their knees with elbows and forearms. Naito is SMILING. They stand up but keep going back and forth with these stuff forearm shots. Okada falls down first and into the corner. Naito tries the charge but catches him and slings him to the mat. Okada lands 4 low dropkicks. Okada scoops him up and Naito slips out and hits a slap and then an enziguri. Naito tries for Destino but Okada counters. He hits a rolling kick and then gets in another high dropkick that nails Naito and he lands on his head! Okada tries the tombstone but Naito counters. Okada tries it again but Naito has a hold of the waist. Naito lands a reverse DDT and Naito goes for Destino but Naito reverses it into a tombstone! Okada hits a Rainmaker. Cover attempt and it only gets two! Wow! Okada recovers first and pulls Naito up and lands a German suplex and tries for a rainmaker but Naito counters with an attempt for Destino but Okada counters into a Rainmaker. He hits it again. And for a fourth time! Naito is out and Okada covers and gets the three count. we have a new champion! As Naito is helped from the ring Okada gets the belt strapped around his waist once again.
We take our last commercial and come back as Okada has the mic. He goes into his "3 things" shtick as he gives Naito his props and says that is what fighting for the title in New Japan is like. Nest he says he will win the G1 tournament coming up. He doesn't have a third thing to say but he is on another level Now that he's champion he wants to take the company global. He poses around the ring for a bit as JR and Josh talk about what lays ahead for the new champion.
Backstage Okada says it was tough. He again gives credit to Naito for doing it by himself and having a great match. Naito says that everyone must be happy he lost, but it is all his plan.
Studio words as Okada says Naito has grown as a wrestler and that the crowd reaction didn't affect him. He says that even though they weren't there, that with this victory, CHAOS stopped Los Ingobernables' momentum.
The main event match was very good but taking the ladder match and reducing it to clips is bullshit. That match was actually long than the one shown here and easily could have been an episode of its own. Boo on the producers for doing that and hope it doesn't happen again.
So, with the ladder match they've been building up to not really being shown, the hell with it. Here it is for YOU to watch HERE.
Next week we come back with TWO hours of action! See you then!