NJPW Dominion 2019 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights
Chris Jericho sought to continue his takeover of the wrestling world Sunday, following up a victory over Kenny Omega at All Elite Wrestling's Double or Nothing with an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match against Kazuchika Okada in the main event of New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Dominion event in Osaka, Japan.
For Jericho, the match represented an opportunity for the self-proclaimed "Pain Maker" to secure the one title that has eluded him over the course of his Hall of Fame-worthy career. For Okada, it was a chance to silence one of the most loud-mouthed villains in the industry.
Their showdown headlined an event that also featured the hottest star in professional wrestling—new United States champion Jon Moxley—and an Intercontinental Championship bout between Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito.
Relive the action from Sunday's massive event with this recap of every bout.
Shota Umino vs. Jon Moxley
"Deathrider" Jon Moxley defeated Juice Robinson to win the IWGP United States Championship on Wednesday, marking his first in-ring action since departing WWE in April. He opened up Dominion with a non-title match against young lion competitor Shota Umino.
Not willing to be a victim, Umino attacked Moxley before the bell and followed up with a missile dropkick seconds later. The new United States champion obliterated the young star with a clothesline and then pounded away on the mat.
Moxley grounded Umino and trapped him in the Regal Stretch, fish-hooking the mouth of the overmatched babyface. Unfazed by his opponent's forearm strike, Moxley dared him to deliver another. Then another. And another.
His arrogance nearly proved costly, as Umino delivered a German suplex for two. Moxley cut him off and delivered The Deathrider for the largely uncontested victory.
After the match, Moxley expressed his desire to be in the G-1 tournament to a very positive reaction from the fans.
Moxley defeated Umino.
This was a way to get Moxley on the card, put him over and deliver the announcement that he wants to be in the G-1. When taken at face value, this was effective.
Moxley looked like a star, gave fans a taste of his revamped ring style and put over Umino nicely in the bit of offense he got in.
Helping Umino to the back after the match added the subtlest little layer to the character that suggests Moxley is unhinged but that he does not necessarily hate or dislike any of his opponents. Instead, they are a means to an end.
At least for now.
Shingo Takagi vs. Satoshi Kojima
Shingo Takagi suffered his first loss in New Japan Pro-Wrestling to Will Ospreay at the Best of the Super Juniors. Determined to better himself against heavyweight competitors, he battled Satoshi Kojima in singles competition in the night's second match.
Takagi entered the night as one of the hottest stars in NJPW. His opponent is one of the all-time greats. But Kojima had not won a singles match since 2017, as the commentary team noted.
An exchange of strikes on the arena floor teased a double-disqualification, but both men hit the ring just before the official counted to 20. Back inside the squared circle, Takagi unloaded with a flurry of chops on Kojima. The legendary figure answered with a brutal collection of his own chops.
Takagi fended off a sustained onslaught from Kojima and caught him with a lariat, then a vertical suplex to regain control. Kojima unloaded with a short clothesline that flattened Takagi.
Shingo tried for two lariats, but Kojima barely flinched at the first two. The third stunned Takagi himself. Shingo recovered and blasted his legendary opponent with right and left forearms about the face. He executed the Made in Japan, the Pumping Bomber and The Last of the Dragon for the impressive victory.
Takagi defeated Kojima.
Takagi was determined to prove he could hang with heavyweights after a frustrating loss to Ospreay in the finals of the Best of the Super Juniors. He showed he could compete with one of the best of all time here, withstanding the veteran competitor and some vicious, violent strikes in the process.
By defeating one of the best of all time, Takagi takes the next step toward stardom in NJPW. His post-match announcement for inclusion in the G-1 set him up for a dark-horse run in the competition.
Jushin 'Thunder' Liger and Yoshi-Hashi vs. Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr.
Since April, Jushin "Thunder" Liger and Minoru Suzuki have been engaged in an intense rivalry. At the same time, Yoshi-Hashi has eyed Zack Sabre Jr.'s Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship. The two rivalries collided as Liger teamed with Yoshi-Hashi to battle Suzuki and Sabre in a match with the potential to be among the hardest-hitting on the entire card.
The match started on the floor, with the familiar foes pairing off from the get-go. Suzuki lifted and dropped a guardrail on Liger. Meanwhile, in the squared circle, Sabre grounded and stretched Yoshi-Hashi. Suzuki joined in, punishing Yoshi-Hashi further.
The arrogant Sabre kicked at his potential contender, disrespecting him with apparent glee.
Frustrated, Liger entered the ring and delivered a slap to his partner, trying to will him into the match by firing him up. It worked, and moments later, Yoshi-Hashi tagged in Liger.
The legend unloaded on the competition before, again, pairing off with Suzuki, who proved the aggressor. He tried for the package piledriver, but Liger fought out and answered with a brainbuster. Tags to Yoshi-Hashi and Sabre reintroduced those competitors to the bout.
Moments later, Sabre and Suzuki each trapped their rivals in octopus submissions but could not force a tapout.
An exchange of reversals and strikes gave way to a stunning rollup by Yoshi-Hashi for the pinfall victory.
Yoshi-Hashi and Liger defeated Sabre and Suzuki.
Suzuki and Liger beat the hell out of each other, continuing that program, but this was all about Yoshi-Hashi earning an upset victory over Sabre and setting up a championship opportunity against the undisputed British heavyweight champion.
Entering the match, Yoshi-Hashi was presented as a threat to Sabre's title reign. The victory, and resiliency demonstrated before it, set him in motion for a title opportunity. The Brit will likely not underestimate him to such a degree, and the result should be a harder, more physically unforgiving showdown.
6-Man Tag Team Match
The irreverent "Switchblade" Jay White brutally assaulted Hiroshi Tanahashi at the Best of Super Juniors, leaving Ace prone following his Bladerunner finisher. It was yet another attempt by the former IWGP heavyweight champion to upset the establishment in the name of Bullet Club.
Juice Robinson was reeling following the loss of his United States Championship to Jon Moxley. How would he and Tanahashi fare following adversity as they teamed with Ryusuke Taguchi to battle White, Taiji Ishimori and Chase Owens?
A more focused and determined Robinson than normal took the fight aggressively and ferociously to Owens. Taguchi and Ishimori tagged in and paired off next, the match teasing their rivalry next. Seizing an opening created by Ishimori, Bullet Club attacked the babyfaces as the match spilled to the floor.
Back inside the squared circle, the heels cut off the ring from Taguchi, isolating him from his partners and retaining control of the contest. Taguchi finally made the tag to Tanahashi, who exploded into the match and took the fight to White.
Switchblade countered a clothesline, enhancing the injury to Ace's left arm before delivering a side suplex. Bullet Club unloaded a corner attack, but the babyfaces broke any attempt at a pin. Tanahashi repeatedly tried for Slingblade but settled for simply driving down White.
Owens re-entered the match, delivered the Jewel Heist on Tanahashi and set him up for a package piledriver. Tanahashi fought out but White blasted him in the back of the head. At ringside, Robinson blasted White. In the ring, a modified Final Cut to Owens earned the heroes the victory.
Tanahashi, Taguchi and Robinson defeated White, Ishimori and Owens.
As the continuation of the Tanahashi-White rivalry, this worked. White was preserved from defeat, while Tanahashi answered his vicious assault with a win in the tag bout.
The commentary put over Robinson's no-nonsense approach to the bout, setting up an important element of his performance that may become a more permanent fixture. Taguchi sold well for the heels, but he and Ishimori felt like they were just there.
Owens was his perfectly acceptable self, even if nothing he did here was super flashy.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Taichi
NEVER openweight champion Taichi and Tomohiro Ishii are no strangers to each other.
Opponents in the New Japan Cup, theirs was one of the best, most physical and emotionally draining matches of the tournament. Furthermore, it established Ishii as the beloved veteran and showcased a toughness in Taichi few knew existed.
Sunday, Ishii and Taichi renewed their rivalry with gold on the line.
An incredibly tough, physical start to the match saw Taichi answer Ishii's punishing forearms. The strike-based bout saw Taichi closing in on his opponent, ready to retain his title when he wiped out The Stone Pitbull with a high-angle side suplex for two.
Ishii responded with one of his own but immediately sold the neck from the move prior. Defiant, he hammered away at Taichi. He downed the champion but bumped the official in the process. The referee recovered in time to count a near-fall for Ishii.
Taichi recovered and applied the Koto Clutch for a close near-fall as the openweight title awaited the winner. Moments later, he grounded Ishii and applied a modified dragon sleeper, wrenching at his challenger's neck.
He then called for his finisher, the Last Ride, but Ishii summoned the strength to kick out, much to the dismay of the champion. Ishii blocked a superkick by Taichi and answered with a jumping enzuigiri. He followed up with a peppering of forearms. He shrugged off a big kick and scored another two-count.
Moments later, Ishii delivered a powerbomb, a sliding lariat and the vertical brainbuster to pick up the win and title.
Ishii defeated Taichi.
Late drama, high-intensity sequences and a brutal exchange of strikes helped to elevate this title match, earning it Match of the Night consideration to this point.
Ishii tested Taichi's toughness, forcing him to fight through tremendous pain if he wanted to retain his title. Even then, Taichi proved no match for a Stone Pitbull determined to beat his opponent from earlier in the year and win the NEVER Openweight Championship in the process.
Could Taichi have used the rub? Probably, but this was the outcome that made the most sense and proved the most effective. On top of that, Ishii has come so close to winning so many high-profile bouts over the past few years that he needed to capture the gold here.
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match: Evil and Sanada vs. Guerrillas of Destiny
The Guerrillas of Destiny and Los Ingobernables' Evil and Sanada are no strangers to each other. Over the course of the teams' runs, they have encountered each other five times. Evil and Sanada hold the edge in the win-loss column, defeating Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga three times. If they did that Sunday, they would regain the IWGP Tag Team Championship.
Loa and Tonga benefited from interference at the hands of Jado. The champions isolated Evil and worked him over. Several minutes passed before Evil was able to create separation and make the desperation tag to Sanada, who unloaded, trapping Loa in the Paradise Long and sending Tonga to the floor. Moments later, Sanada executed a standing moonsault while Evil applied a Sharpshooter to Tonga.
Loa broke up the challengers' attempt at the Magic Killer. He found himself in another sharpshooter, but interference from Jado broke it up. Bushi came to the aid of his stablemates, misted Jado and delivered a suicide dive on the floor.
The challengers, without the threat of interference from Jado, set out to finish things with another Magic Killer. Loa grabbed Sanada, pulled him to the floor, and Tonga rolled up Evil for the win.
Guerillas of Destiny defeated Evil and Sanada.
This stood out, if for no other reason than because it was more story and gimmick-driven.
There was not much in the realm of high-risk or Japanese Strong Style. Instead, this was an Attitude Era special, relying on interference from Jado, the save by Bushi and the cheap heel victory. The outcome, and the controversy surrounding it, sets the teams up for a rematch while potentially involving Bushi and Jado.
You cannot ask for more than that, even if it were a match wholly against type when compared to the rest of the broadcast.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Dragon Lee vs. Will Ospreay
Dragon Lee entered Sunday's match the IWGP junior heavyweight champion, but it was his top contender, Will Ospreay, who arrived at Osaka-Jo Hall riding a wave of momentum. The Best of Super Juniors tournament winner for the second time in his career, The Aerial Assassin provided Lee the toughest challenge to his title to date.
The challenger grounded Lee early, working a submission in an attempt to put away Lee without relying on an aerial assault to win the gold. A well-timed STO by Lee allowed him back in the match. Corner forearms followed, but Ospreay cut him off before a corner dropkick.
In an amazing display of speed, tenacity and death-defying offense, Lee sprinted through the ropes, wiping out Ospreay at ringside with a suicide dive that brought the audience alive.
Exhausted after several near-falls for each competitor, Ospreay and Lee fought to their feet, with the latter nursing a neck injury. They came face-to-face, unloading on each other, with each strike another challenge issued by the competitors.
A big hook kick downed Lee, but the champion delivered a reverse rana. A standing Spanish Fly by Ospreay earned him a near-fall. Moments later, he followed with a headscissors from the inside of the ring to the floor. Ospreay, though, landed on his feet. Fueled by adrenaline, Ospreay delivered a Shooting Star Press for a two-count.
This allowed The Aerial Assassin to set up the Os-Cutter, but Lee caught him with a nasty knee to the face. A double stomp off the top rope, driving Ospreay to the floor, set up a near count-out, but both men returned to the squared circle.
Lee countered a powerbomb into a destroyer, followed with a knee strike and still could not keep his challenger down.
Ospreay recovered, delivered his Os-Cutter and finished off his opponent with the Stormbreaker for the win.
Ospreay defeated Lee to win the title
Ospreay is a top-10 wrestler on the planet.
His performances in the Best of the Super Juniors and in this contest showcased a man who's completely confident in his abilities. It highlighted a star not worried about criticisms or labels but, rather, doing his thing and doing it better than just about anyone else.
His chemistry with Lee and their dazzling exchanges were more than enough to keep audiences invested, and Ospreay's selling of his neck, as well as the heavy breathing that could be heard throughout, put over the grueling nature of the match.
Lee felt like a sitting duck entering the match, a champion unfortunate enough to run into the buzzsaw that is Ospreay. The Aerial Assassin continued his roll, picked up the win and is once again the face of the junior heavyweight division in NJPW.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match: Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito
Los Ingobernables' Tetsuya Naito, like Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, sought to snap his fingers and restore balance to his win-loss record against intercontinental champion Kota Ibushi.
Sitting at 0-2 against the Golden Star, Naito was not only seeking his first victory against Ibushi here in 2019 but also an IWGP Intercontinental Championship he has not been able to hold on to despite three reigns to this point.
A spirited exchange opened the match before Naito caught Ibushi with a dropkick. He kept the champion grounded with a move commentator Kevin Kelly compared to a full nelson using the legs. The challenger, not at all afraid to test what he could get away with, kept the hold applied beyond the official's count. From there, he attacked Ibushi from behind and stomped him down in the corner.
A corner dropkick continued his early dominance, going as far as to disrespect Ibushi with kicks to the face. Fired up, Ibushi threw some stiff forearms, but Naito cut him off with an eye rake. Ibushi answered, catching Tranquilo with a double stomp.
He wiped out Naito at ringside with a dive but could only pin the challenger for a weak two-count. Ibushi dropped Naito with a German suplex, but the challenger answered immediately with a tornado DDT. Neither was able to capitalize.
Naito was focused on targeting his opponent's neck, setting up Ibushi for a top-rope superplex. The champion slipped out, delivered a backflip kick and sent Naito crashing off the ropes.
A German suplex from the ring apron by Naito left Ibushi lifeless on the arena floor, with his head and neck having smacked off the frame of the ring. Sliding into the ring just in the nick of time, Ibushi went from the sanctuary of the floor back to the squared circle, where he faced more punishment.
A top-rope rana from Naito earned a two-count. He followed up with Destino, but Ibushi countered and dropped him with a cradle tombstone. The crowd erupted as the competitors fought to their knees. An exchange of strikes ensued.
Building momentum, Ibushi channeled Shinsuke Nakamura, but Naito dodged a Kinshasa and delivered a snap dragon suplex. He followed with Destino, but Ibushi still kicked out. Ibushi countered another Destino attempt with Go to Sleep. A sit-out Last Ride powerbomb by Ibushi earned just another near-fall.
A desperation DDT by Naito slowed the babyface's momentum and brought the match to a stalemate.
Frustration continued to set in for the challenger, who again failed to put away Ibushi with a swinging reverse DDT. Another attempt at Destino was countered by Ibushi, and the action broke down, with Naito delivering a nasty modified brainbuster for two. Moments later, he delivered another Destino for the pinfall victory.
Naito defeated Ibushi to win the title.
Ibushi is such a sympathetic babyface. His use of facial expressions and willingness to sell the offense adds exponentially to his matches, and this one was no exception. He took some severe abuse at the hands of Naito and created such sympathy for himself that fans wanted to see him somehow defeat the ruthless Naito.
The storytelling here was superb, as Naito was the aggressive veteran seeking his fourth title and throwing everything he could at Ibushi. The resiliency of the champion fueled the story before transitioning into a tale of a frustrated challenger.
Naito pulled out everything from his arsenal, unloading on Ibushi until that elusive Destino finally put Ibushi down for the count.
The finishing moments of the match got a bit sloppy, but if you take into consideration the tale of an exhausted and battered champion fighting with whatever little bit of energy he had left, it makes sense that he would not be able to support the weight of his opponent or provide a base for him.
With all of that said, the unnecessary spots involving the neck do make for a cringeworthy experience. At some point, Ibushi is going to be seriously and irreparably hurt because of his misguided desire to take dangerous bumps. He can tell a story without risking his well-being just by flashing a facial expression. Leave the neck bumps out of it.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match: Kazuchika Okada vs. Chris Jericho
The internationally recognized, future Hall of Famer Chris Jericho made his intentions to challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship clear in New York, interrupting Kazuchika Okada's victory address to stake his claim to the next opportunity. From there, he proceeded to knock off Kenny Omega in the main event of All Elite Wrestling's unrelated Double or Nothing event, continuing to build momentum for himself.
Would that momentum net him the one prize that has eluded him over the course of his career and set him up to be a dual champion in both AEW and NJPW by summer's end?
The aggressive, seemingly obsessed Jericho seized control of the match early and drove the fight to the floor, where he benefited from the contest's brawling nature. He pummeled Okada, driving him into an announce table before unloading with a series of elbows to the head.
Jericho then sent Okada into the barricade and mocked him with the television camera as the crowd sat in stunned silence. A crossbody from the middle rope and a high-angle suplex followed as the loudmouthed villain continued to mock him.
Even commentator Don Callis expressed surprise in Jericho's utter dominance of The Rainmaker. The self-proclaimed Painmaker punished his opponent's chest, chopping away in an attempt to drive the breath out of Okada. A flapjack from the champion, though, allowed him to create some much-needed separation.
It was short-lived, as Jericho wrested back control of the match from the champion. He grounded Okada and applied a Boston Crab, but the resilient Rainmaker fought to the ropes and necessitated the break. A big dropkick from Okada again created separation, but the battered babyface was unable to follow up.
Jericho went for the Codebreaker, but Okada caught him and dropped him with a neckbreaker for a near-fall. As had been the story of the match to that point, Okada's attempt to fight back was cut off by a well-timed springboard dropkick by Y2J.
Okada executed his Rainmaker pose, but an enzuigiri by Jericho prevented the champion from even pandering correctly. An exchange of blows ensued at the 20-minute mark, with exhaustion setting in. A dropkick from Okada was blocked by the challenger, who followed with a lionsault for a two count.
The Rainmaker delivered a shotgun dropkick that sent Jericho into the corner. There, the champion stomped away at the challenger. Jericho, again, cut off his momentum with a Codebreaker. Okada shot his shoulder off the mat, preventing the three-count and preserving his title reign.
Okada recovered and delivered a German suplex. Jericho dodged a Rainmaker, tried for one of his own, but Okada answered with a Codebreaker of his own for a near-fall. The spinning tombstone by Okada was proceeded by another attempt at the Rainmaker, but Jericho countered and applied the Walls of Jericho.
Jericho tried for the Judas Effect, but Okada ducked it. The challenger tried for a Codebreaker and then another sunset flip. Okada sat down on it and rolled him up for the win.
After the match, Jericho continued his assault Okada. He grabbed a chair, ordered the music to be cut and climbed into the ring to punish the victor. He blasted the champion in the face and delivered the Judas Effect.
Jericho proceeded to wrap Okada's head in the chair and send him crashing throat-first into the steel post.
Hiroshi Tanahashi rose from the commentary table and fought off Jericho, coming to the aid of one of his greatest rivals in the process. After a few words directed at Ace, Y2J exclaimed "happy championship, b---h!" toward Okada and exited.
Okada defeated Jericho.
This was as dominant and one-sided as you could imagine. Okada was brutalized, beaten down and overwhelmed by a ferocious Jericho. As all the best champions do, he found one opening and took advantage, pinning the superior wrestler's shoulders to the mat on a night when he was not at his greatest.
The storytelling throughout the match, from Jericho consistently cutting off any comeback by Okada to the commentary team bringing up how rare it was to see Okada picked apart to the degree that he was, really put over The Painmaker and made it seem like his championship reign was inevitable.
The post-match beatdown accomplished two things: It set up a rematch between Jericho and Okada and planted the seeds for Jericho to square off with Tanahashi. Those two matches will be built around and headline future NJPW shows as Jericho continues to do some of his best and most intriguing work late in his career.
Kudos to Okada for bumping and selling to the extent that he did because champions of his stature in other companies would not be so inclined to do so for that long without recording some sort of definitive win.
For those of you unable to catch the event live, Dominion will air across two Fridays on AXS TV.
On June 14, viewers will get to witness Okada vs. Jericho, Dragon Lee vs. Will Ospreay and Moxley vs. Shota Umino. On June 21, they will see Evil and Sanada vs. The Guerillas of Destiny and Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito.