After having some of the best matches of this decade, Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi will square off once more for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Much more is on the line than just the title tonight at the second night of Wrestling Dontaku in Fukuoka. If Okada can best Tanahashi, he will break Tanahashi’s record of 11 successful title defenses. Okada’s record title reign, at over 680 days, is also on the line. The two have had nothing but spectacular matches, so tonight is almost sure to be another memorable encounter.
Another big title match has Will Ospreay defending the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against KUSHIDA. The two have also had memorable, exciting bouts in the past and tonight may prove to be more of the same. With the Best of the Super Juniors tournament just a few weeks away, whoever wins the match tonight will have all of the momentum in the world heading into the annual event.
Other matches on the show mainly consist of tag team bouts. One of those features Bullet Club members who have sided with Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi (Guerrillas of Destiny and Bad Luck Fale) against those who have sided with Cody (Hangman Page, Marty Scurll and The Young Bucks). Another tag bout has all of LIJ against the Suzuki-gun contingent Minoru Suzuki, Killer Elite Squad, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado.
Join us for live coverage tonight at 4 a.m. ET. There will be English commentary.
Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Ren Narita, Shota Umino and Yuya Uemura
A standard opener, about what you'd expect. It boiled down to Narita and Taguchi. Narita countered a dodon with a roll up, but Taguchi kicked out and held onto his leg. He dug it in deep with an elbow to the knee and got the submission win.
Yujiro Takahashi and Chase Owens defeated Yuji Nagata and Tomoyuki Oka
Much like the opener, this was a short and solid match. Once again, the young lion was pinned as Owens pinned Oka with the package piledriver. Owens motioned they wanted the tag team titles next.
Roppongi 3K defeated Taichi, Taka Michinoku and Takashi Iizuka
Another “just there” match, I guess this was more about the culmination of the feud between these guys than anything. The Suzuki-gun trio were not happy about how yesterday went and jumped Roppongi 3K. The referee was taken out which allowed Taichi to use his cane. 3K came back with a triple knee and cornered Taka, then planted him with the 3K for the pin.
Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano defeated Togi Makabe and Henare
This was pretty good. The chemistry between Henare and Ishii is excellent, and the near falls from Henare were great. Ishii connected with the brainbuster for the win. Would love to see another match between these two.
Rocky Romero said after the match they were looking for the Junior tag team titles next.
Hirooki Goto, Jay White and YOSHI-HASHI defeated Juice Robinson, David Finlay and Michael Elgin
Good match. Everyone worked hard enough that the people got into it. A lot of the focus was between Michael Elgin and Hirooki Goto, which is very likely the next NEVER title program. YOSHI-HASHI scored the win, pinning Finlay after hitting karma.
Taichi jumped Goto after the match with his cane, and attacked Elgin as well. A triple threat match seems very likely, probably for Dominion. Meanwhile, Juice Robinson was checking on Finlay when Jay White stalked him from behind. White grabbed him and went for the Bladerunner but Juice escaped. White told him that he was getting into his head.
They announced Wrestling Dontaku on 5/3 and 5/4 in Fukuoka for next year.
Tetsuya Naito, EVIL, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI defeated Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru and Desperado
Good match. The crowd was into this, especially when Naito and Suzuki went at it. Match wasn’t particularly long, but everyone looked good while it lasted. Naito pinned Kanemaru with the Destino.
Suzuki grabbed a chair after the match, but was escorted out as LIJ celebrated in the ring. Everyone except Naito made their exit as he eventually followed suit. He was slapping hands with people when all of a sudden one fan grabbed him and started to attack him. He flung Naito into the barricade and threw him back in the ring, where he revealed himself to be none other than Chris Jericho.
Jericho planted Naito with the codebreaker as officials came to the ring to break things up. Jericho exited the ring, came back with a ring bell and smashed Naito with it, leaving him a bloody mess. Jericho attacked Naito one more time before eventually making his way to the back. A stretcher was out for Naito, but he refused to take it and left under his own power.
Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, Bad Luck Fale and Guerrillas of Destiny defeated Cody, The Young Bucks, Hangman Page and Marty Scurll
So Marty said he was going to bodyslam Fale. At the start of the match, he tried. Let’s just say it failed.
Story of the match was the Bucks weren’t interested in tagging in whenever Ibushi or Omega were in the match. They confront one another in the ring, but Page and Cody take out the Golden Lovers to the floor. Ibushi launched off with a giant moonsault to the floor, taking out much of Team Cody. Back in the ring, Scurll tries to bodyslam Fale again, but it fails as Fale lands on top of him and pins him. This was good, although it felt like another match that didn't last too long.
Kenny chases Cody to the back as the rest of Bullet Club tries to gather themselves in the ring. Tama Tonga throw up the too sweet sign. The rest of the club (including Owens and Yujiro) obliged, so for the time being it looks like everyone (aside from Kenny and Cody) are on the same page. Ibushi, who watched this as a bystander, walked away as Bullet Club reunited.
Will Ospreay defeated KUSHIDA to retain the IWGP Jr. heavyweight title
This was really great stuff. I think they have had better matches with one another, especially ones with better heat, but the crowd was still into this and they still had a terrific match, easily the best of out of either show up to this point.
Both men have their necks taped up. Ospreay and KUSHIDA start things slowly. They go to the outside where KUSHIDA whips Ospreay into the barricade, but he jumps over and hands on the outside. He launches off the barricade, but KUSHIDA grabs him and sinks in the armbar on the outside.
KUSHIDA focuses on the arm as he takes Ospreay back into the ring, then works on his neck. Ospreay nails KUSHIDA with a kick and takes him to the outside where he hits the Sasuke special. Ospreay continued to gain momentum but failed connecting a new move. They fought to the apron where KUSHIDA fell to the floor, but jumped up, grabbed Ospreay and DDT’d him to the floor.
KUSHIDA jumped into the ring as Ospreay reentered and hit a big hurricanrana. Ospreay grabbed KUSHIDA in mid motion and landed a gigantic tilt-a-whirl slam. Ospreay hit the imploding 450 slam but KUSHIDA grabbed the bottom rope right before the three count. Ospreay went for the Ozcutter but KUSHIDA grabbed him and applied the hoverboard lock.
Ospreay escaped, hit the ropes and did something resembling a Canadian destroyer DDT on KUSHIDA. He fired back, grabbing Ospreay and destroying him with kicks to the face and the back of the head. He grabbed Ospreay and went to start the Back to the Future on the top rope, but Ospreay slipped to the apron, springboarded and landed a cutter. He hit his new move, a spinning slam called the Stormbreaker and connected for the win.
Ospreay was celebrating when suddenly the lights went out. A Bone Soldier vignette aired, then Tama Tonga came to the ring. He served as a distraction to the new, much more ripped Bone Soldier who jumped Ospreay from behind. Tonga introduced him as the new Bone Soldier, then unmasked him, revealing it to be none other than Taiji Ishimori. The two hugged as they threw up the too sweet sign.
Kazuchika Okada defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the IWGP Heavyweight title
This was a fantastic match, with the last few minutes being excellent. The crowd finally woke up and made this a great bout as well. I don’t know if this will be up there with some of their best matches, but the two continue to prove that they have terrific chemistry with one another, and their feud continues to be one of the best of this decade.
They keep things slow, focusing on headlocks and reversals. Tanahashi focuses on Okada’s legs, but Okada grabs Tanahashi, puts him on the top rope and connects with a draping DDT. Okada is in control until Tanahashi starts firing back, but Okada gets the better of it.
The pace starts to pick up as Tanahashi connects with a forearm shot and a running dropkick to the corner. Okada fires back with a neckbreaker on the knee and does the Rainmaker pose, but Tanahashi gets in his face. Okada is sent to the outside, where Tanahashi unleashes a giant high fly flow to the floor. Tanahashi picks up Okada as he tries to go for a running slingblade, but Okada grabs him instead and plants him with a tombstone.
Okada pelted Tanahashi with forearm shots but Tanahashi starts to fire back, hitting a twist and shout and connecting with the slingblade. He goes for a high fly flow but Okada dodges. He manages to dropkick Tanahashi in the back of the head and goes for a rainmaker, but Tanahashi connects with another slingblade.
Okada tries to hit the tombstone, but Tanahashi refuses to be lifted up and fights back. Okada dropkicks Tanahashi, but Tanahashi comes back and hits a tombstone of his own. He hits a high fly flow, then goes for a second but Okada gets the knees up. Tanahashi dodges a rainmaker attempt, then another and connects with a dragon suplex. An amazing sequence sends both guys to the floor in amazing fashion.
Tanahashi goes for a high fly flow but Okada dropkicks Tanahashi in mid air. Okada goes for the rainmaker, but Tanahashi counters with one of his own but Okada kicks out at one. Okada and Tanahashi slap either other silly, with Okada maintaining wrist control. Tanahashi slaps him away and goes to hit the ropes, but Okada grabs Tanahashi by the tights, brings him back in and finally connects with the rainmaker for the win, breaking the record for most title defenses with 12.
Gedo entered the ring and cut a promo, hyping up Okada. The champion said he has three things to say. First, he has respect for Tanahashi. Two, victory number twelve, task completed. He is focused on being the best IWGP champion there is. He has no number three. He wonders who the next challenger is. He lists all of the people he’s faced, and mentions that the last time he was in Osaka, he went to a time limit draw. He calls out Kenny Omega.
Okada mentions that it is currently tied between them, so let's do it again and forget time limits. Omega said that they should do a two out of three falls match. Okada was fine with that. He said he'll show him what's next at Osaka Jo Hall. The two stare down one another before Omega leaves.
Okada finishes his promo, saying he’ll make it to number 13. Streamers fill the arena as the show closes. It was a two match show, but the two matches were really good so it’s worth your time checking them out.