New Japan’s 2018 Dominion 6.9 signaled a changing of the guards in the company. A total of 4 titles changed hands, but the biggest news is that for the first time in about 2 years, Kazuchika Okada is not the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. In a brutal, 65-minute epic, Kenny Omega defeated Okada to become the 66th IWGP Champion in a no time limit, 2-out-of-3 Falls Match, giving Omega a 2-1-1 series advantage which began 18 months ago at Wrestle Kingdom 11.
With Omega now as just the 7th non-Japanese IWGP Heavyweight Champion, the question of if he can truly start to make NJPW a global brand will once again surface. Regardless, congratulations to The Cleaner. A hell of a way to end a hell of a wrestling rivalry.
Main Event: IWGP Heavyweight Championship, No Time Limit, 2 out of 3 Falls – Kenny Omega (w/ Kota Ibushi) vs. (c) Kazuchika Okada (w/ Gedo)
Omega’s entrance video shows him walking, getting a migraine at the thoughts of losing at WK11 and the 60-min draw at last year’s Dominion. We see flashbacks of Cody’s betrayal before Omega sees a single white feather fall in front of him. Cue Ibushi in an all-white getup and we see the reunion of the Golden Lovers minutes after Cody’s betrayal.
Ibushi and Omega share a telepathic moment. Ibushi asks if Kenny is ready for what’s about to come and the cost of it to get to this point. The Bullet Club logo disappears and Kenny says it cost him everything. Cue Omega’s entrance music.
Omega looks like Sly in Rocky III: shredded. He’s probably lost 5-10 pounds, but put on some muscle still. Okada’s entrance is nothing special. Any why should it be? He’s already had 25 total successful title defenses with 12 in a row currently. Kevin Kelly gives us some stats for Okada. This is Day 720 of Okada’s current reign. He’s held the belt more than 1,500 total days in his four reigns. His 25 title defenses are second all-time in NJPW history. He’s 17-2-2 in singles matches since Oct. 2016.
The match starts off slow and the crowd clearly favors Omega after the first set of holds are completed. After about five minutes the pace begins to pick up. Both men go for their signatures and finishers but are countered. Okada “avoids” a One-Winged Angel, but is carried over the top rope and falls out of the ring onto the floor in order to avoid the finisher. The men trade blows outside the ring.
Kenny is Irish Whipped into the railing and is put over the barrier. Okada goes back for the running cross body, but Omega catches him mid-air with a V-Trigger to Okada’s torso. Kenny slams Okada onto the top of the barrier and then brings him into the ring. Okada kicks out.
The crowd now seems about 50-50. Kenny starts kicking the back/upper neck of Okada and nails him with a running kick to the back of the head before driving Okada into the corner of the ring, allowing Omega to hit a few chops before a backbreaker. Okada kicks out.
Kenny goes for a modified STF in an attempt for a submission but Okada powers out. Kenny hits Okada with one of the loudest slaps I’ve ever heard but can’t add to it as Okada hits a flapjack to buy himself some time. Okada now gets in some offense, hits a DDT after knocking Kenny down a few times.
Okada gets a Cobra Clutch, knocks Kenny outside the ring and hits a diving cross-body. Kenny gets back in the ring, kicks Okada over the barrier. The crowd wants Rise of the Terminator, but Omega hits a diving crossbody of his own using the ropes to propel him over the barrier and hit Okada flush.
Kenny hits the Kotaro Crusher but Okada kicks out. With these men already wrestling each other for more than two hours in their first three matches, they know what to expect and how to counter it. Omega goes for three consecutive V-Triggers. Okada dodges the first, blocks the second and absorbs the third, but when Kenny goes for a snap-dragon suplex, Okada blocks it by holding onto the ropes. We learn we’re now 20 minutes into the first fall.
Okada and Omega fight on the ring apron and Okada hits a Tombstone Piledriver on top of the apron. Okada can’t roll Omega in for a cover though. Okada decides to hit a running drop kick which sends Kenny off the apron onto the metal barrier on his ribs. Omega is favoring the left side of his stomach. Red Shoes wants to call for the doctor but Omega begs him to let the match continue. Okada puts Omega in the ring and hits another dropkick, this time off the top turnbuckle, but only gets a two-count. You can hear Kenny moaning in pain right now.
Red Shoes goes back to check on Omega. Okada hits a slam, goes to the top turnbuckle and hits the diving elbow. Okada doesn’t go for a pin, but calls for the Rainmaker. Big mistake as Kenny instantly hits a Snapdragon, sending Okada outside the ring. It’s now time for the Rise of the Terminator and Omega doesn’t miss. We’re now at the 25-minute mark.
The men get back in the ring and Kenny hits a dropkick to the back of Okada’s head. He goes for a cover but Okada kicks out. Kenny’s attempt at the One Winged Angel fails, so does Okada’s Rainmaker to follow. Kenny then hits Okada with the deadlift German suplex off the electric chair. Another V-Trigger connects but Okada avoids the One-Winged Angel yet again.
Okada’s Rain Maker misses its mark. Kenny hits another V-Trigger and goes for a smart cover, using all of his bodyweight to cover Okada’s lower body as it’s up in the air but Okada escapes the pin. Kenny can’t reverse Okada’s Tombstone. The Rainmaker is countered by Omega, but his momentum gives Okada a chance to sit down on Omega for a flash pin after holding onto both of Kenny’s legs, totally legal move by the way. The fall takes place just before the 30-minute mark.
Fall one winner…Okada
The two men are given two minutes to regroup. Ibushi talks to Omega and Gedo talks to Okada.
The two men are given two minutes to regroup before the second fall begins. Ibushi talks to Omega and Gedo talks to Okada.
The fight quickly spills outside the ring. Kenny avoids an Irish Whip onto the steel barricade. Kenny attempts a moonsault off the barricade, but Okada pushes him off and Kenny goes into the second barrier, ribs first again. Kenny finally gets up and Okada hits the elevated DDT before going back into the ring, telling Red Shoes to count. Kenny makes it in by the count of 9.
Kenny tries multiple chops but Okada absorbs them. You can see the final two chops hurt him, but he stays up and kicks Omega down. Okada goes for the Cobra Clutch in the middle of the ring. Kenny powers up and hits a cutter to break the hold. Omega then hits Okada with a back suplex to avoid another Cobra Clutch.
Both men go outside and Kenny hits another back suplex, this time on the ring apron. Kenny then grabs a table and drops it on Okada. Kenny gets to the apron and jumps on top of Okada through the table with a double stomp. The table doesn’t break, but it is off its hinges. Kenny gets tossed into the ring post since he took too much time to reset the table.
The fight comes back in the ring and the two exchange a few moves before Okada hits a shotgun dropkick to send Omega into the red corner turnbuckle. Okada goes to the top turnbuckle but Omega catches him, nails a few chops and then goes for an avalanche move with Okada’s legs stuck in a figure four position. Ten minutes have passed in the fall. Omega can’t go for the cover.
Kenny’s moonsault is countered. Okada points to the table outside and attempts to backdrop Omega on the table. Kenny avoids it and hits a swinging DDT. Both men get on the apron and Omega now points to the table. Kenny looks to hit a German suplex on the table. Okada blocks the suplex attempts by holding onto the ropes. Kenny then goes for a Dragon suplex. It’s countered. Another One Winged Angel and Rainmaker are both countered before Okada eats a reverse ‘rana. Kenny rolls into the ring and after Red Shoes checks on Okada, he begins to count.
Okada gets into the ring at 19. He eats a Vi-Trigger for his efforts and then hits Kenny with a jumping Tombstone. Okada calls for the Rainmaker but Omega counters it into a spiked uranage with a nice full body twist added.
The two men struggle to their feet and when they trade forearms, neither has any real power to them. It looks like Omega’s hits have a little more oomph to them. Kenny hits a dropkick, a powerbomb but can’t hold on for a pin. Okada then goes for another cradle pin, but Omega kicks out. Omega hits another V-Trigger and a spike brainbuster. Okada kicks out.
Kenny calls for another V-Trigger, hits it and FINALLY lands a One-Winged Angel. Okada can’t kick out. This fall was just under 20 minutes.
Fall two winner…Omega
Okada is still out cold and hasn’t moved. Red Shoes tells Ibushi and Gedo to leave the ring. Okada finally starts to stir, but can only sit up by the time the bell rings to start the third fall. Once the bell sounds, Omega clocks Okada with another V-Trigger and goes for another One Winged Angel. He misses it and Okada hits a Rainmaker. However, Omega’s momentum allows him to slightly kick Okada away from pinning him instantly. This allows Kenny to kick out when Okada goes for the pinfall attempt.
Okada tries for another Tombstone but can’t get Omega up. Omega is grabbing Okada’s shoe to prevent the piledriver. We’re told 50 total minutes have elapsed. Both men regain their feet and trade shots again. Kenny falls to his knees and eats a European uppercut once he stands up again.
Kenny avoids another dropkick. He starts hitting Okada with palm strikes to Okada’s neck. Okada tries to turn it into a hurricurana and Omega turns it into a STYLES CLASH. Okada grabs the ropes to avoid the pinfall. The crowd now chants AJ Styles. Both men go to opposite corner and Omega hits a V-Trigger to the back of Okada’s head.
Kenny tries to lift up Okada but he falls down out of exhaustion. The two men trade Tombstone attempts and Omega hits another spike move but can’t get the fall. Ibushi gets to the apron to provide Kenny with advice. It seems that Ibushi wants Kenny to go for the Phoenix Splash. That doesn’t work as Okada avoids it and hits another dropkick.
Okada goes for another Tombstone. Kenny avoids it and hits another V-Trigger. Make it not two, but three consecutive V-Triggers. Kenny goes for number four, but it’s blocked. Okada hits a dropkick and hits a Rainmaker. However, Okada’s too weak for it to have effect as Okada collapses as soon as he makes contact and can’t follow through with the move. Both men are now down.
Red Shoes starts the count and stops at six when both men get to their knees. Both try to exchange blows from on their knees, but neither has any force behind them. Kenny headbutts Okada and pulls up Okada for another. This time Okada hits a Rainmaker and keeps his wrist control. Okada hits another Rainmaker. Okada is too far away for a pin and has to crawl up to Omega, going for a third straight Rainmaker.
It’s countered into a German suplex. Omega holds onto Okada’s waist. He hits a second, still holding the waist. He goes for number three but Okada counters it into a German of his own. Okada then grabs Kenny’s wrist and readies for another Rainmaker. Kenny avoids it and hits another German.
Kenny hits a reverse ‘rana and both men are down. Omega needs Red Shoes to pull himself up. Okada catches him with another dropkick as Kenny attempts another V-Trigger. Okada goes for a Rainmaker and Kenny turns it into a modified One-Winged Angel that takes about a third of the time of a normal one. That means Kenny couldn’t hold on to Okada and can’t go for a pin, but was able to spike Okada’s head.
Kenny gets up and hits another V-Trigger. He lifts Okada up, hits a proper One-Winged Angel, hooks the leg and ends Okada’s reign.
Third fall…AND NEW IWGP Heavyweight Champion…Kenny Omega.
Match Rating: 5/5
While the two men are still in the ring being taken care of, the Young Bucks start to walk down the ramp. Kenny kneels over Okada, who is out cold. Kenny turns around and sees the Bucks, who come inside the ring. Kenny declines to get the belt from Red Shoes. He walks over to the Bucks to embrace them. All four men, the Jacksons, Ibushi and Omega embrace in the middle of the ring.
Kenny now gets the belt and drops to his knees. Nick tells Kenny that he deserved it. Ibushi helps to put the title around Kenny’s waist. Kenny calls for a microphone.
Kenny says in Japanese that he’ll try to do this in Japanese. That draws applause from the crowd. He says in his 10 years in Japan he’s accomplished a lot and was finally able to become the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, his final goal. He says during this match he saw the future of pro wrestling and he wants to go to the next level with IWGP, he’s not going anywhere. He says he wants the Bucks, Omega and Ibushi to all do this together.
He then switches to English. He thanks the crowd again and says he’s looking forward to being with his best friends. The confetti drops and we hear boos. Whoever could that be?
Cody makes his way down the entrance. He stops about halfway and then walks backstage. Omega is now raised on the shoulders of his friends. An exhausted Kenny walks around the ringside to acknowledge the fans.
So no backstabbing this night. Omega and his friends exit Osaka Jo Hall without issues.
Match 1: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship – Roppongi 3K (YOH and SHO) vs. (c) Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru
The challengers certainly did their homework in preparation for this match as SHO and YOH avoid getting cheapshotted at the beginning of the match. A great stereo diving plancha/suicide dive quickly puts the duo in the driver’s seat as SHO and YOH continue to be aware of every dirty tactic Suzuki-Gun throws at them.
Unfortunately for the challengers, one “mistake” proves to be their undoing. SHO has worn down El Desperado and goes for the Shock Arrow. Deperado fights out of the move, allowing Kanemaru to hit SHO with his whiskey bottle. Desperado gets the cover for the pinfall win.
Winners by pinfall…AND STILL IWGP Jr. Tag Team Champions…Suzuki-Gun
Match Rating: 3/5
Rocky Romero is mad and vents his frustration to the English broadcast team. The good news for 3K is that the duo really got a chance to grow as wrestlers during the BOSJ Tournament last month. They’ll get back to the top of the division soon.
Match 2: Tag Team – David Finlay and Juice Robinson vs. Jay White and YOSHI-HASHI
A really forgettable match. The most important thing from this match is that Juice ends up getting the win over the US champion after hitting Jay White with Pulp Friction.
Winners by pinfall…Juice Robinson and David Finlay
Match Rating: 2/5
After the match, Juice grabs the US Belt and issues a challenge to White for the strap. Looking forward to these two former Young Lions battle for the belt.
Match 3: Tag Team – CHAOS (Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii) vs. Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki and Zach Sabre Jr.)
It’s a pretty standard match for these two teams. Suzuki and Ishii have some great exchanges throughout while Yano continues to be his silly self and Sabre continues to impress me with more ways to torque the human body in ways it never should be torque.
This one ends with Suzuki holding back Ishii in a submission while ZSJ gets the official win, locking Yano in with a modified (and disturbing looking) double armbar. Yano’s arms are both locked up so he has to give a verbal signal that he gives up.
Winner by submission…Suzuki-Gun
Match Rating: 3/5
Following the match, Ishii goes after Suzuki on the entrance ramp and both men go back to the ring. Young boys try to keep them apart, but both grab chairs and meet back in the ring. Two chair shots later and Ishii has his chair knocked out of his hands, giving Minoru a free shot to Ishii’s back. The two brawl more and finally the CHAOS team leaves, only to have Suzuki chase after them backstage.
Match 4: Triple Threat for the NEVER Openweight Championship – Taichi vs. Michael Elgin vs. (c) Hirooki Goto
This is the first match of the night to last more than 10 minutes. The announce team says Elgin has shed about 40 pounds, and he looks great. No belly on Big Mike anymore, but it looks like he still has the same size arms, neck etc. This comes into play when Elgin himself hits a suicide dive on both Goto and Taichi early in the match.
Near the end of the match Taichi’s girlfriend gets involved, being rolled-up into the ring to provide a distraction, allowing Taichi to hit both Goto and Big Mike with his microphone stand. He hits Goto with a superkick and goes for the pin, but the champ kicks out. Taichi kicks Goto in the head again but Elgin breaks up the pinfall attempt by deadlifting Taichi and hitting him with a Buckle Bomb. Goto staggers to the other side of the ring. Mike sees this and uses Taichi as a lawn dart on Goto with another Buckle Bomb. He then hits Taichi with his Elgin Bomb for the win.
Winner…AND NEW NEVER Openweight Champion…Michael Elgin
Match Rating: 3.5/5
Match 5: IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship – The Young Bucks vs. (c) LIJ (EVIL and SANADA)
This match was simply a war of attrition. The Bucks are in the ring with a team that’s bigger, stronger, possibly more athletic (at least regarding SANADA) and knows how to win in the heavyweight division.
Matt Jackson’s back comes into play about at the halfway mark, eight minutes in, forcing Nick Jackson to attempt to carry the load. I saw attempt because with EVIL out of the ring and Nick on the apron, Nick goes for a roundhouse kick, only to have EVIL dodge it, making Nick’s foot crash into the ring post, limiting his moveset.
LIJ then takes control and starts to wear down the Bucks. Matt and Nick have spurts of offense, but their injuries start to take a toll on them. The Bucks go for Indy Taker, but Nick’s foot/leg, prevents him from hitting the move, allowing LIJ to actually hit an Indy Taker of their own.
Somehow the Bucks kick out of that. LIJ goes for the Magic Killer, but again the Bucks prevent the pinfall. SANADA then locks in the Cold Skull submission, but the Jacksons are able to counter it and have a mini Superkick Party to give them a breather.
With LIJ down, the Bucks go for More Bang For Your Buck and get the win to become the 80th IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions.
Winner by pinfall…AND NEW IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions…The Young Bucks.
Match Rating: 4/5
Match 6: Six-Man Tag Team Match – Jyushin “Thunder” Liger, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. BC Team Cody (Cody, Marty Scurll and Adam “Hangman” Page)
Talk about a team of living legends! A side note is that Rey’s mask looks like the NJPW Lion logo this time for his NJPW debut.
The first fun spot is when Cody tags in to face the Ace. Cody decides to show off by doing some pushups and then flexing. Tanahashi, not one to be outdone, asks for time and then knocks out a couple of Hindu pushups, leading to his own flexing. The showboating ends for the moment and the two have a great exchange of catch-as-catch-can wrestling before the Villian and Mysterio both tag in to quicken the pace.
Liger gets the tag, kicks Marty with a slide and then locks on the Romero Special on the Villian. Cody and Page break up the submission, allowing the Bullet Club to get some quick tags and go to work on Liger’s left leg. The extended beatdown on Liger continues until Liger hits a Tilt-A-Whirl backbreaker on Scurll and tags in Rey.
Rey sets the Villain up for 619 but Marty tags in Page before the move can be attempted. Tanahashi tags in and avoids the Rite of Passage. Both men clobber each other with huge forearms and go to the ground. Cody and Liger tag in. Liger goes for a few quick pins and then hits a Shotei but can’t do anything.
Insanity ensues with body Cody and Liger going back and forth quickly. Cody finally hits Liger with the Cross Rhodes to pick up the win.
Winner by pinfall…Bullet Club.
Match Rating: 3/5
Rey jumps Cody to prevent Cody from pounding on Liger after the match. Bullet Club walks out of the ring first. Marty proclaims that they are the legends, then proceeds to flip off a group of fans.
The legends embrace in the middle of the ring and leave under Rey’s music.
Match 7: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship – Hiromu Takahashi vs. (c) Will Ospreay
The start of the match is just the two men going all-out with nobody having a clear amount of momentum for the first five to eight minutes.
At the 15 minute mark, Will hits a reverse corkscrew shooting star press and STILL can’t put away the Ticking Time Bomb. This comes after a few reverse rana’s and a Robinson special.
Hiromu locks in a triangle choke hold and Ospreay has to pick up Hiromu with one arm (a la Bulldog vs. HBK for the IC title way back when) not once, but TWICE to finally break the hold. Ospreay hits another Robinson Special, but Hiromu pushes him out of the ring and hits the Sunset Bomb on exposed floor on the outside. Ospreay barely kicks out.
Ospreay avoids the Timebomb and kicks Hiromu in the head. Ospreay goes for another powerbomb but gets caught in the triangle hold. Hiromu turns the hold into a Butterly piledriver, hits the Timebomb and covers for the win to begin the 81st reign of the title.
Winner…AND NEW IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion…Hiromu Takahashi
Match Rating: 4/5
Takahashi celebrates with “Belt-San” and for good reason. This is one of the few times the BOSJ Tournament winner has parlayed the tournament success into winning the Jr. title in the following event.
Match 8: IWGP Intercontinental Championship – Chris Jericho vs. (c) Tetsuya Naito
Jericho comes out with some unusual facepaint hidden by a fedora. Naito comes out in his all-white gear, complete with a cape. His mask reminds me of a character from the Kirby Nintendo games.
Naito doesn’t even get to the ring before Y2J jumps him and starts the beatdown. Naito eats a suplex on the unpadded floor and brings some weapons (a tripod and a chair) and powerbombs Naito through the table. The match still hasn’t officially started. Jericho grabs a video camera, flips it off and then goes back to working on Naito. Jericho takes Naito to the announce table and DDT’s him on the table. The table doesn’t break but Naito gets tossed over the barricade and pushed inside the ring. The match now officially starts.
Jericho goes for a lazy cover to start and Naito kicks out. Jericho taunts the crowd, telling them to chant for Naito, but they chant “Y2J” which earns them a middle finger. Jericho then hits a Lionsault but can’t get the fall. Naito is still wearing his shirt, vest and entrance pants. His vest is smattered with his own blood already.
Jericho continues his one-sided assault of the champion. Naito gets a few shots in but is quickly shut down. Y2J locks in the Walls of Jericho too close to the ropes, allowing Naito to break the submission. Jericho now starts yelling at Red Shoes, the ref. Naito then spits in Jericho’s face, drawing boos from the crowd.
That seems to fire up Naito, allowing him to finally get in some offense. He removes his vest, hits a slingshot into a dropkick then hits a neckbreaker on the ring apron. You can see Naito’s right eye is bleeding and completely red. The shirt and entrance pants come off and now Naito is in full ring gear, ready to give Jericho a ton of receipts for those first few minutes.
Naito picks up part of the broken table and clocks Jericho with it, drawing more boos from the Osaka crowd. He doesn’t care and picks up another piece of the broken table to hit Jericho again. The two go back to the announce table where Naito was DDT’d on. This time, Jericho eats a piledriver on the table. The table still didn’t break.
The fight goes back to the ring and Naito hits a dropkick and poses. Y2J catches Naito and locks in the Walls again. Naito gets out of the hold, uses his momentum to get on the ropes and hits a hurricurana but can’t get a fall. Jericho locks in the Walls again.
Naito crawls towards the ropes and with a last gasp of effort reaches the ropes. Jericho again argues with Red Shoes and eats a hot shot and a German for taking his eyes off Naito. Jericho counters the Destino and almost gets a fall. Naito slaps Jericho across the face and hits Destino. The pin takes place too close to the ropes, allowing Jericho to break the fall attempt. Naito now has a cut on the left side of his face. We can’t tell if it’s on his cheek or on his ear because blood is on both areas.
Naito goes for a flying forearm but gets caught in a Codebreaker. He kicks out barely. The two start to trade their big moves. Naito hits Gloria and signals for Destino. Y2J counters it, pushes Red Shoes away, kicks Naito in the crotch while Red Shoes isn’t looking and hits another Codebreaker for the victory.
Winner…AND NEW IWGP Intercontinental Champion…Chris Jericho
Match Rating: 3.5/5
Jericho continues to beat down Naito following the match. He clocks Naito with the belt. He then removes his own pant belt and whips Naito. This brings out EVIL to the rescue who nails Jericho with a lariat. EVIL grabs the leather belt and Jericho leaves the ring. He picks up the commentator headset and asks who EVIL is. EVIL helps Naito to the back and it’s now time for the Main Event.