On Friday, May 4th, NJPW presents Dontaku - Day 2. Much like the matches offered on Day 1 the card will feature matchups that will keep fans on the edge of their seats. While the main portion of the card is what most fans are talking about, there are several undercard matches during this second day of the event that could get fans excited.
These matches include: veterans Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask and Jushin 'Thunder' Liger against 'young boys' Ren Narita, Shota Umino and Tomoyki Oka; Tetsuhiro Yahi and Yuji Nagata facing Chase Owens and Yuijiro Takahashi of the Bullet Club; Roppongi 3K and Rocky Romero versus Iizuka, Taichi and TAKA of Suzuki-Gun.
Further on, matches inlude Toa Henare and Togi Makabe against Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii of CHAOS; and finally Michael Elgin, David Finlay and Juice Robinson squaring off against Jay White, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto (also from CHAOS).
While these matches don't have the pomp and circumstance that the rest of the card does, they will have they certainly have something to appeal to almost everyone.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, BUSHI, SANADA and Hiromu Takahashi) vs. Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr, Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado)
This rivalry between these stables has been building quite a bit over the past few months. Many will recall Suzuki-Gun members the Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr and Lance Archer) lost their titles to LIJ members Evil and Sanada.
While Evil isn't in this matchup due to injury, Archer and Smith Jr will be reminded of their loss every time they are in the ring with Sanada. The sting of that loss also may lead Smith Jr or Archer to take liberties against Sanada, which could compromise their chances of winning this match.
One of the elements to keep a keen eye on in this stable versus stable rivalry will be how the leaders of each group do against one another. Naito and Suzuki are no strangers to one another, having had some recent confrontations, and both plan to lead their team to victory.
Suzuki is the most seasoned of everyone in this match, but that doesn't make him any less susceptible to defeat at the hands of the younger LIJ members, including Naito. One would anticipate a victory by LIJ as they have had the advantage over Suzuki Gun in a number of their recent confrontations.
BULLET CLUB (Cody, Hangman Page, Marty Scurll and The Young Bucks) VS Kota Ibushi and BULLET CLUB (Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Tango Loa)
If anyone is questioning whether Bullet Club is or isn't fine, this match will certainly cast doubt on how secure the relationship within this group happens to be. The allegiance of Kota Ibushi with what many will call the original members of Bullet Club, not including Kenny Omega, reflects that lines have been drawn and the friendships strained.
Bullet Club original members Tama Tonga and Bad Luck Fale have taken issue with a portion of the group, those who may have gotten away from what the group originally had intended to be.
While now it appears as though the group is more focused on building their brand that was never what Bullet Club was about; it was less about marketability and more about creating a group of 'brothers' who wanted to dominate Japan together.
While the relationship between Fale and Tonga is as strong as ever, Loa and Tonga being brothers, and Omega and Ibushi being long-time friends, on the other hand, there is a great deal of animosity towards the more recent Bullet Club members: Cody, Hangman Page, Marty Scurll and the Young Bucks.
We could see a shift in power in Bullet Club, either for better or for worse. Bullet Club may be fine to some, but others may wonder what they will look like at the end of day 2.
IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Will Ospreay vs. KUSHIDA
Another of the championship matches to keep an eye out on is the one involving former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Kushida and the current one, Will Ospreay. Each of their previous encounters appeared to outdo the previous ones, with how they are both able to not only counter the other's intended moves but pull off surprising and eye-popping maneuvers.
Each match breeds familiarity, and their ability to go counter for counter shows how well these two are matched up and will contribute to how competitive this match will be. Their matches have generally been in the twenty-minute range and involve stiff kicks and strikes along with incredible acrobatics and athletics.
One would think that their comparable styles in the ring is a reflection of their age and experience. It should be noted that Kushida is older than Ospreay, and is well versed in not just the Puroresu style of wrestling, but the North American style as well.
The same could be said for the champion Ospreay, who has competed not only in the UK and Japan, but North America as well. This match will unquestionably be a match of the night candidate and prove once again that both men can steal the show even though they aren't headlining the event.
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
The final match of the two-day event and the culmination of the Road to Dontaku 2018 pits two long-time rivals against one another in a match, two men that are not just two of the biggest stars in NJPW, but the world.
These men have faced each other time and time again, and while the result has not always been favorable for Tanahashi, he has one his fair share, and come close other times. His coming so close also suggests that his time he may finally recapture the IWGP Heavyweight championship. He will certainly be motivated, as an Okada victory would mean he breaks Tanahashi's NJPW record of successful title defenses.
The pedigree of these two veterans means that it will take a great deal for one of them to walk away from the champion. Despite all of Okada's success during his run as champion, it could finally come to an end.
A challenger that is desperate to succeed may stop at nothing in order to become champion. This could be that time, and this could be Tanahashi's night.
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