4CR Review: NJPW Dontaku 2013
Billy is back to review the latest offering on iPPV from New Japan Pro Wrestling, Dontaku 2013! We’ve got a special guest reviewer stopping by to help out, G9Z from g9zwwe.blogspot.com! What did we think about the show? Read on to find out!
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles
Time Splitters © vs Forever Hooligans
Billy: Good, fun opener that saw Alex Shelley play ‘Ricky Morton’, so to speak. I was actually surprised at the outcome with Koslov & Romero picking up the win and the titles here. I had a discussion with someone before the show about whether Shelley would be heading back to North America–and more specifically TNA—as Chris Sabin has found his way back to TV from his injury. This could be a hint, or maybe not. Either way, we need some more junior heavyweight tag teams to compete for these titles.
G9Z: Terrific opener with the usual fast paced offense from both teams. Romero & Kozlov are building a lot of steam right now so the right duo won here. This match was a whole lot of fun.
Prince Devitt & Bad Luck Fale vs Ryusuke Taguchi & Captain New Japan
Billy: Cool new Y2J-esque ring jacket for Prince Devitt who, along with Fale, pretty much dominated here. Taguchi hit a few moves but nothing of note. Heels get the win after Bad Luck picked up Captain New Japan in a chokeslam-stye lift before nailing him with a Samoan spike, a la the late Umaga. Short, sweet and established the new heel duo as strong.
G9Z: A bit of a grudge match that was the result of Devitt’s attacking of both his opponents last month. Most of the work here was about getting Devitt over as a bona fide top heel. His turn has been one of the best of the decade thus far. Good stuff.
IWGP Tag Team Titles (Four Team Match)
Killer Elite Squad © vs TenKoji vs Toru Yano & Takashi Iizuka vs
Manabu Nakanishi & Strongman
Billy:Not much of this match that I liked. Muscle Orchestra severely dragged things down for me when they were in, the pacing seemed off and I don’t agree with the title switch. KES is the best team going today in my book, and how many times do TenKoji really need to win the belts? I’m assuming this sets up a rematch with KES & TenKoji, and if that’s the case then I’m glad that Archer or DBS Jr. didn’t eat the pin here. I guess we’ll see what lies ahead for the members of Killer Elite Squad—maybe more US dates now that they have those NWA tag straps?
G9Z: Solid enough given the talent involved. As a K.E.S fan, I was a bit disappointed in the fact that they lost the titles without either man even being pinned to the mat, but such is the nature of a match like this. TenKoji earn their billionth tag title with this win. Didn’t enjoy this as much as I wanted, but it wasn’t bad by any means.
IWGP NEVER Openweight Title
Masato Tanaka © vs Tomoaki Honma
Billy: Honma isn’t someone that I’m overly familiar with yet, but I really dig what I’ve seen of him. I REALLY liked this match too, just a shame that the crowd didn’t feel the same way that I did. Still, I didn’t let that take away from the match too much for me. Both guys worked really hard and I would’ve been in favor of another 5-10 minutes. Tanaka wins after a nasty Sliding-D and I’m hoping we get another match or 2 from this feud.
G9Z: This is where things really started to pick up for me. I don’t know how many of you feel about Honma, but he’s subtly becoming one of my favorites in New Japan right now. I really can’t put my finger on why, but there’s just something about him that makes his matches especially captivating for me. And Tanaka is always outstanding at what he does. A very good matchup here. These two have great chemistry.
Yujiro Takahashi vs Togi Makabe
Billy: Not a lot to this match, except Togi beating the hell of Yujiro. This was here only to serve a purpose for later in the show and Togi won pretty handily following a King Kong Knee.
G9Z: Nothing too special here. Yujiro is a great dickhead heel and Makabe is Makabe. Still, this sort of just…happened.
Here in the intermission the names for Best of the Super Juniors were announced via video, and I was amped by the time it was over. Ricohet, Kenny Omega, TAKA, Titan, Trent Baretta, Brian Kendrick and KUSHIDA just to name a few. Definitely looking forward to this.
Tetsuya Naito came out too for a promo, and I didn’t catch a lot of it. I do know that he’ll be back in action on June 22nd against the aforementioned Yujiro Takahashi. It’ll be good to see him back in the ring.
Hirooki Goto vs Katsuyori Shibata
Billy: I’ve seen reviews vary on this match, but I loved it. I’m a Shibata guy and I figured he and Goto would deliver a pretty solid match here. Stiff striking galore and they built off the story that has been playing out for a while. A little on the fence about the finish, but if it gets us a rematch (which I’m assuming it will), then I can live with it. Good stuff.
G9Z: One of my most anticipated bouts of the night. These two have a lot of history and after their amazing tag war at Invasion Attack, they had tons of momentum heading into this one. Excellent work in the storytelling department with some very stiff exchanges that could make Minoru Suzuki cringe. Most may scoff at the double KO finish, but I loved it.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Karl “Machine Gun” Anderson
Billy: Really good match, although considering its placement on the card, I wasn’t expecting anything like their classic from New Beginning. I almost expected Karl to get the win here and give us a reason for the ‘rubber match’ somewhere down the road, but Tanahashi won clean after a High Fly Flow. The post-match developments were fantastic, however, as Prince Devitt and Bad Luck Fale hit the ring and attacked Tanahashi while Tama Tonga also came down. Then, “Machine Gun” joined in and the “Bullet Club” was formed! This has the makings of an all-time great and dominant stable and it looks like we might be heading for a Tanahashi/Devitt feud.
G9Z: Another amazing match between these two that gets my vote for the second best match of the evening. It’s nowhere near the level of their classic at New Beginning, but that’s mostly due to time constraints and a much lower level of hype. A real back and forth thriller and yet another four star effort from Tanahashi. Devitt and Fale jumped Tanahashi after the match and Anderson and Tama Tonga soon joined in. They now comprise a stable called the “Bullet Club” (which is obviously, only open to REAAALLL shooters!). More great additions to back Devitt’s heel turn.
IWGP Intercontinental Title
Shinsuke Nakamura © vs Shelton ‘X’ Benjamin
Billy: This was actually a pretty darn good match until the closing minutes. They were putting together something great and then Nakamura slipped off of the ropes, going for what looked like a Boma-Ye. Things sort of broke down from there before Nakamura ended it with a Boma-Ye. Unfortunate, because like I said this was very good. Everyone has one of these kinds of nights though…
G9Z: This match was in the running for the best of the night until a bit of sloppiness occurred near the finishing sequence. It’s still one of the highlights of the show, but it’s a shame that it was brought down by the Nakamura botch. Shelton thrived here in his new role. Really thought he showed more charisma in this one match than in his entire run with the WWE. Very enjoyable.
IWGP Heavyweight Title
Kazuchika Okada © vs Minoru Suzuki
Billy: Great main event with some good storytelling from both men. Suzuki looked to attack the arm that Tanahashi worked over at ‘Invasion Attack’ while also bombarding with champ with a variety of chokes and sleeper attempts. Okada did a great job at finding counters to Suzuki’s piledriver, as well. Everything you could ask for in a main event—good psychology, good wrestling, plenty of time for storytelling—but the crowd was horrible. This would’ve probably broken 4 ½ stars if the crowd was into it at all. As it was, it was a fantastic bout and the new champ got a big win in his first defense. Post-match saw Togi Makabe emerge as Okada’s next challenger at the ‘Dominion’ show.
G9Z: A very good world title main event that was built off of Okada’s inability to score a real definitive win over perennial douche Minoru Suzuki. The leader of Suzukigun looked as dangerous as ever here and put the boots to the champ for about 85% of the contest, leaving some doubt in the audience’s minds as to if Okada would again have a short reign. Great mat work, selling and psychology by both men. One of the best main events of the year, but it’s New Japan so that’s almost become expected at this point.
Well, it was impossible to think that NJPW could maintain the historic streak of classic, must-see shows up for much longer. While Dontaku 2013 was pretty good (and better than most US PPVs this year) it fell short in comparison to a lot of New Japan’s iPPV offerings in the last 1 ½-2 years. Still, I feel that I got my money’s worth and I’m interested to see the developments to come from this show—particularly the “Bullet Club” and where they go. Okada’s second reign as champion is off to a great star, as well.