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NJPW on AXS report 5-29-15: Ricochet vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship


(Photo credit New Japan Pro Wrestling/TV Asahi)

By Bryan Rose,

Last week, we saw Dragon Gate wrestler Ricochet defeat Kushida in the finals of the Best of the Super Junior tournament to become the 21st winner of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Now we move on to Dominion, New Japan’s annual June PPV in which Ricochet challenges Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship. Will Ricochet win once again, or will Kota Ibushi prove that he’s the best junior heavyweight in New Japan?

This event took place June 21, 2014 at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, or the Bodymaker Colosseum.

Mauro Ranallo on commentary points out that this is the first of three episodes to cover the 2014 Dominion event.

Young Bucks versus Timesplitters first took place, and man what a match. From start to finish, this was an explosive 16 minute tag team match. I believe a few minutes were cut since it went to commercial around the 11 minute mark, but regardless this was a hell of a match. What struck me the most is the great tandem work by both teams. Everything just clicked here and it turned out to be a hell of a match. Kushida ended up picking up the win for his team, getting the hoverlock submission on one of the Young Bucks.

Kushida thanks Shelley for being his tag partner, then says that he won’t let anyone talk about the Super Junior tournament lightly. He promises that the Super Juniors won’t be a supporting role in New Japan.

Takashi Iizuka and Minoru Suzuki took on Toru Yano and Kazushi Sakuraba. These teams faced off countless times in 2014, so much I don’t remember individual matches. At least it makes sense in the face that Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka have a beef, and Suzuki and Sakuraba were starting to build their match at the Tokyo Dome with this never ending tag series. Match was about what you’d expect- Suzuki and Iizuka would do their worked shoot style when in the ring and Iizuka and Yano would use weapons and brawl on the outside. This was a lot better than I remembered, with Yano being laid out with a chair, Iizuka’s iron fingers of death, then the Gotch piledriver by Suzuki for the win.

Suzuki promised he’d fight Yano and Sakuraba if they wanted to again, then called the press underlings. I’m very glad I can see Suzuki’s promos translated because they’re awesome.

Ibushi is interviewed. He said when he saw Ricochet he saw him as bigger and stronger, and that he had a similar moveset to him. He felt a bit threatened after seeing him in the finals. He felt more scared than excited before the match took place. He was imagining what the match would be like with fear in his mind.

The Junior Heavyweight championship match took place. This was as great as I remember it being. What stood out on a second watch is the performance of Ricochet. If anyone made the BOTSJ tournament mean something last year, it was him. He outshone Kota Ibushi here, and it’s amazing as Ibushi so far is in the running for many Observer awards this year if he has a great a year as he has in the first six months of this year. Ricochet was amazing, hitting a somersault tope through the ring post to the floor, one of the most amazing moves of 2014 anywhere, and landed on his feet after Ibushi hit a super hurricanrana off the top rope. Ibushi, however, pins him with a phoenix suplex, trapping him in a pinning position. Just a hell of a match and something that

Ricochet says he was the better man today, but he wants a rematch. Ibushi said he was truly amazing in his technique and learned a lot about him. Back to the post match interview, he says Ricochet's resilience was abnormal- he’s like an animal. He was afraid during the match, but after words he realized he had fun. He used the phoenix suplex because it can’t be dodged, and that’s why he chose it. He saw it in a magazine where Kent Kobashi did a powerbomb with a jackknife hold. He got the names mixed up for a while and though he threw his opponent backwards, so he did it that way for a while and started to use it.

Overall, a fantastic show with two great matches, highly recommended viewing. New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV might have dated footage, but in terms of storytelling and match quality, there’s few wrestling shows in 2015 that’s able to match it on a weekly basis.