On Saturday, June 9th, New Japan Pro Wrestling presents Dominion, featuring all the stars of the company, and more. There has been a great deal of build to this event, which involves some matches that are highly anticipated, either because they have had a long build or because they are rooted in a rivalry that has similarly been long-standing.
As we delve a little deeper into the matches booked for the event, we must acknowledge the presence of international talent that built a reputation for themselves outside Japan.
The inclusion of Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio suggest New Japan is as committed to dominating the world as it is taking hold of their home country. (Mysterio's opponent has yet to be announced as we write this preview). The event is an international affair, as the promotion works to build notoriety around the world.
Which matches can fans anticipate are the most likely to create history? Could we see a new IWGP Intercontinental and/or new IWGP Heavyweight champion? Here is our preview of Dominion in Osaka-Jo Hall.
Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. ??
In a career that has spanned over twenty years, Rey Mysterio Jr. has blazed a trail that fans both young and old have come to respect and admire. The announcement of his involvement in New Japan's Dominion event shows that he is committed to competing all over the world and for the biggest promotions in the world before his career ends. Leading into the event, there has been a great deal of speculation about whom Mysterio may be facing. As of the writing of this preview, there has been no announcement. However, speculation has run rampant as to who it could be.
One of the most talked about potential match ups would pit one of Mexico's greatest exports against one of Japan's, in the legendary Jushin 'Thunder' Liger. Despite both men being over the age of forty that doesn't mean they are any less capable of impressing fans with an array of aerial moves, not to mention strikes that are key to their respective styles. We can be assured that no matter who the opponent is, it will be quite the match up against the legendary Luchador.
Chaos' Hirooki Goto vs. Michael Elgin vs. Suzuki-gun's Taichi NEVER Openweight Championship
This triple threat match involves three of New Japan's most established talents. As a member of the CHAOS faction, Goto has a great deal of support behind him if he needs back up when something goes wrong. Having won the NEVER Openweight championship from Minoru Suzuki at this past January's Wrestle Kingdom. Goto is a fighting champion that will face any challenge head-on regardless of whom it is. Michael Elgin captured the attention of the Japanese fans when he first came to the country. Given the opportunity to challenge for a championship, he is now as much as ever a threat to walk away with the title.
Suzuki-gun member Taichi not only brings with him as much allure as anyone in this match, he is also a big threat to walk away as the champion. What is interesting to note is that Taichi is now competing as a heavyweight in New Japan, something that hadn't happened prior to 2018. Goto's championship reign is in great jeopardy since his odds of winning are lower in a triple threat. Who walks away as the winner?
Los Ingobernables de Japon's EVIL and Sanada vs. Bullet Club's The Young Bucks, IWGP Tag Team Championship
This battle once again pits Los Ingobernables de Japon against the Bullet Club. Fans are ensured that this match will consist of two things in particular: there will be an array of strikes from both sides and a lot of high spots. The Bucks are no strangers to EVIL and Sanada, each side being very familiar with one another. This match will be about who makes a mistake that costs their team the match. Both teams are savvy and experienced, and there will doubtless be some creative exchanges between them.
One of the factors that could play a part in this match is the health of Matt Jackson, which has been factoring into Bucks matches for months. His back could be the vulnerability that EVIL and Sanada target, limiting the Bucks' overall mobility. The Bucks rarely come to Japan simply to make an appearance; fans can be certain that they are there for a fight. This also represents the Bucks' first title challenge since moving up to heavyweight. Who walks away as champions, and strengthens their faction through another victory?
Tetsuya Naito vs Chris Jericho, IWGP Intercontinental championship
It was a match many said wouldn't happen, and many thought couldn't happen. However, on Friday, May 4th on Day 2 of Dontaku, Jericho attacked an unsuspecting Naito while dressed in a hoodie and mask, beating him motionless. To add salt to the wound, Jericho unveiled a 'Lista Ingobernables de JERICHO' t-shirt when he was done. The finish of the match isn't necessarily the most important thing, after all of the build that has happened between these two.
It is an interesting matchup because Jericho won't have back up behind him to ensure that things go off without a hitch. By comparison, Naito has LIJ behind him, though that doesn't appear to be how he will play his cards on this night. With a sixty-minute time limit, a lot of things could happen. While we don't anticipate Jericho walking away as the IWGP Intercontinental champion, we can anticipate that the match will be a hard-hitting affair.
Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega (Part 4) in 2/3 Falls with no time limit, IWGP Heavyweight Championship
In the main event, New Japan is featuring what could be the final match in the storied Omega and Okada saga. The two out of three falls stipulation lends itself to things we probably didn't think we would ever see. In their first matchup, Okada defeated Omega in roughly 45 minutes. Their second match resulted in a sixty-minute draw, with Okada remaining as the IWGP heavyweight champion.
In their most recent matchup, Omega defeated Okada during the 2017 G1 Climax tournament, so essentially their head-to-head rivalry is tied. This time, however, the challenge was made by the champion towards the challenger Omega. Fans couldn't have known when these two would next face each other, and now not only is there the stipulation that there will be more than one fall, but there is the no time limit provision. Fans should expect nothing short of a classic between these two men.
As a wrestling enthusiast for over 30 years, my fondness for professional wrestling explores the irrational in a rational way. I will explore the details inside and outside the ring and hopefully have a laugh with you in the process. I've had the fortune to interview wrestlers from Lucha Underground, TNA, Ring of Honor, GFW, and former WWE talent as well. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and feel free to visit my website Pro Wrestling Post.