NJPW’s Wrestling Dontaku has been an annual event since 2009, but starting in 2018, it switched to a two-day event on the holiday weekend in Japan and that trend continues this year, as night two takes place on Saturday night, with a huge IWGP Heavyweight Championship title defense and a new Bullet Club debut.
Ren Narita & Shota Umino vs Yuya Uemura & Yota Tsuji
This is our “Young Lions” match of the evening, although these four formed at the NJPW Dojo won’t be Young Lions for much longer if you listen to Shota Umino during a backstage interview at the Road To Dontaku. Umino believes he will be heading to the G1 Climax tournament this Summer which would be remarkable for such a young athlete with potential after a debut in the New Japan Cup against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Narita and Umino should be heading towards some big matches in 2019, meanwhile, Uemura and Tsuji will have to contend with undercard matches until they refine their craft beyond Boston Crabs.
Prediction: Ren Narita and Shota Umino win.
Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & TAKA Michinoku vs Ryusuke Taguchi, Jeff Cobb, Tiger Mask lV, YOSHI-HASHI & Toa Henare
The Suzuki-Gun side of this tag team encounter has a lot currently in the mix with Suzuki reigniting a feud with Jushin “Thunder” Liger, TAKA returning to the Best Of The Super Juniors tournament and Taichi contending for the NEVER Openweight champion the evening before this event. Jeff Cobb has been on a big winning streak lately, coming into this match as a double champion, the ROH TV champion and the new NEVER Openweight champion. Henare could use a win as much as Taguchi but it’s Minoru Suzuki that has the most to gain walking out with the win. Suzuki has been called to task for his brawling by Liger, with Liger saying that’s not wrestling. Could Suzuki leave the brawling in the crowd behind for pure Pancrase efficiency from now on?
Prediction: Suzuki-Gun wins.
Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & Jado vs Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Togi Makabe & Toru Yano
The Guerillas Of Destiny are set for a war against The Briscoes at ROH War Of The Worlds, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa win when it matters the most and even a pair of legends on the opposing team shouldn’t stop the momentum of Bullet Club. Jado will mat wrestle with Liger and Togi Makabe will just look to throw Lariats and big bombs at the Bad Boy and company. Toru Yano could secure the win at any time with his bending of the rules but Guerilla Warfare should seal the deal here and give the fans a second taste of G.O.D’s sweet, sweet new theme song.
Prediction: Bullet Club wins.
Bullet Club (“Switchblade” Jay White, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Hikuleo vs Hirooki Goto, Mikey Nichols, Juice Robinson & Tomoaki Honma
Chase Owens and Mikey Nichols starting a small rivalry to build familiarity and chemistry during this tag team match would be very good for the futures of both men after their slightly underwhelming match at NJPW Sengoku Lord. Nichols current state with NJPW is uncertain and Chase Owens is finally receiving his just due in the company after a title match against Juice Robinson. Hikuleo should make it a mission to improve his game to break free from multi-man Bullet Club tags and onto singles matches against fellow Heavyweights. Goto and White will be the centerpiece of this match as they just collided in a major singles match at NJPW Wrestling Hi No Kuni 2019. Goto must be licking his chops at the chance to defeat Jay White, the Kiwi received an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match in February and won it at twenty-six years old but meanwhile, Goto hasn’t earned a title shot in three years since joining CHAOS. White will continue to win to remain a top heel and maybe even Juice Robinson gets pinned, forcing a future Juice vs “Switchblade” main event for the IWGP United States title on US soil perhaps.
Prediction: Bullet Club wins.
Dragon Lee & Will Ospreay vs Taiji Ishimori & X
Taiji Ishimori’s partner is to be announced but it has to be the debuting El Phantasmo from Canada, joining Robbie Eagles to the Bullet Club ranks and his first Best Of The Super Juniors tournament. El Phantasmo is a former Rev Pro Cruiserweight champion and he is a highly charismatic and talented addition to the Junior Heavyweight roster. Will Ospreay is going to have more UK rivals to square off with now in NJPW after fierce battles Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr in the past. This should be a win for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion, Dragon Lee, as he waits for a long-awaited rematch against Hiromu Takahashi unless El Fantasma has something to say about that.
Prediction: Dragon Lee and Will Ospreay win.
Los Ingobernobles De Japon (Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI) vs Kota Ibushi & Roppongi 3K (Sho and You)
Sho and Yoh may be three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team champions but they hold the record of the fewest defenses as champions, with their first two title reigns having zero defenses. These two teams last clashed at NJPW Road To Dontaku in a very hard-hitting bout won by Roppongi 3K. Shingo Takagi brought the biggest hits as always and a bout between Sho and Shingo is set to be a war in the upcoming Best Of The Super Juniors tournament. Naito is likely to get the pinfall in this match, Kota Ibushi has been added to this six-man tag after beating Naito at the NJPW G1 Supercard for the IWGP Intercontinental championship but a rematch is looming on the horizon fast. Naito is need of a momentum shifter, the fans could either adore or hate Naito depending on the situation and Naito would love to pin Ibushi again.
Prediction: Los Ingobernobles De Japon win.
Tomohiro Ishii vs EVIL
Tomohiro Ishii is forty-three years old and having the best matches of his career currently, traveling to Rev Pro in the UK and capturing the British Heavyweight championship in 2018. This is not the subject of passing the torch quite yet to the next big, bad brawler in the company but EVIL at thirty-two years of age is certainly in the conversation of being the next juggernaut in the heavyweight division. Both are former NEVER Openweight champions with strong style always presented at the forefront of their matches. Ishii is coming off of an outstanding New Japan Cup tournament but it’s EVIL that is need of a major victory. The slug-fest of the night could end with an STO as the commentary shouts “EVERYTHING IS EVIL!”
Prediction: EVIL wins.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs SANADA
Kazuchika Okada rose to the very top of NJPW once again at the G1 Supercard, it was “Switchblade” Jay White’s first defense of the IWGP heavyweight championship and it was all over a definitive second Rainmaker in Madison Square Garden. Meanwhile, SANADA is on the roll of his career in 2019 after a reign as the IWGP tag team champion with EVIL and making it to the Finals of the New Japan Cup against Okada. It’s only natural that SANADA had pushed himself to the biggest possible matches, last year SANADA was an absolute standout performer of the G1 Climax tournament with crowd-pleasing matches against Tomohiro Ishii and Zack Sabre Jr. SANADA also likes to one-up his opponents in the final stretch and it usually pays off, Sabre was pinned by his own bridge when it came down to non-stop counters in their G1 match. Okada is in top form like he was two years ago when he was the IWGP heavyweight champion or is he? Okada almost seemed desperate to win the New Japan Cup tournament, unwilling to let SANADA perform the Muta Moonsault and grabbing at his legs on the turnbuckle. Okada simply may have more of a drive to be the best, SANADA will come out looking like a major star even in a loss in the main event.
Prediction: Kazuchika Okada retains the IWGP heavyweight championship.