New Japan Wrestling Dontaku 2014
A Review by Kevin Wilson
Date: May 3rd, 2014
It is not too often I get to review an event the day after it takes place, so when I get the chance I tend to take full advantage even if it does mean I am skipping ahead a bit. The “Wrestling Dontaku” events are held annually in New Japan during “Golden Week” in Japan. It is always a big show and this one is no different with five title matches, including Styles challenging Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Here is the full card:
- Captain New Japan, El Desperado, BUSHI, and Mascara Dorada vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tiger Mask, KUSHIDA, and Yohei Komatsu
On paper this has some potential, with several matches having a real chance to be awesome. Let’s hope for the best!
Captain New Japan, El Desperado, BUSHI, and Mascara Dorada vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tiger Mask, KUSHIDA, and Yohei Komatsu
Punches by Captain New Japan, Irish whip, reversed, and Tenzan trips Captain New Japan. Mongolian Chops by Tenzan into the corner, Irish whip, and Tenzan hits a lariat. Tenzan then goes on the top turnbuckle and hits Captain New Japan with the calf branding. Cover, but Dorada breaks it up. Tenzan stomps Captain New Japan, Irish whip, but Captain New Japan hits a jumping shoulderblock and tags in El Desperado. Tiger Mask is also tagged in, El Desperado dropkicks Tiger Mask out of the ring. KUSHIDA tries to interfere but El Desperado ducks his attack and KUSHIDA falls out of the ring as well. Tenzan comes in and he hits a heel kick on El Desperado before tagging in Komatsu. Komatsu dropkicks El Desperado, Irish whip by Komatsu, reversed, and Komatsu hits a jumping double chop. Komatsu puts El Desperado in a crab hold but breaks the hold when BUSHI runs into the ring. All of Komatsu’s team mates come in the ring and they hit running strikes on El Desperado in the corner. Komatsu grabs El Desperado and hits the half hatch suplex hold, but the pin attempt is broken up. Carnage ensues with Dorada being awesome, then BUSHI gets a running start and sails out of the ring onto KUSHIDA with a tope suicida. Tiger Mask goes up to the top turnbuckle and does a plancha splash down onto KUSHIDA, and Dorada follows with a swandive corkscrew plancha onto Tenzan. Tenzan knocks Captain New Japan out of the ring, leaving just Komatsu and El Desperado in it. German suplex hold by Komatsu, but El Desperado kicks out at two. Komatsu grabs El Desperado around the waist, reversed by El Desperado, but Komatsu rolls him up for a two count. School boy by Komatsu but that gets a two count as well. Komatsu goes for an inside cradle but El Desperado blocks it and hits a brainbuster for a two count. El Desperado scoops up Komatsu and hits the Guitarra del Angel, cover, and El Desperado picks up the three count. Your winners: Captain New Japan, El Desperado, BUSHI, and Mascara Dorada
Match Thoughts: A fun way to open the card (this was technically the ‘dark match’ for the event). It was of course simple and with so many wrestlers they didn’t really get into any type of structure but all the wrestlers got at least a second to shine. Komatsu has a lot of fire and seems to be improving, it will be fun to see how high up the ladder he can get over the next few years. They kept it short so it didn’t get old, but not so short that the match was completely pointless. It probably would have been better with one less on each team but as an opener it served its purpose and was a decent match. Score: 5.5
(c) The Young Bucks vs. Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov
Nick picks up Romero, Irish whip, but Romero elbows him. Matt pulls Romero out of the ring, Nick goes out to the apron and tries to kick Romero but Romero moves and Nick kicks Matt by accident. Romero gets back into the ring with Nick following, Romero hits an enzigieri and finally tags in Koslov. Swandive body press by Koslov to Nick, he goes off the ropes and hits a spinning headscissors. Matt comes in the ring but Koslov hits a swandive missile dropkick on him, Irish whip to Nick, reversed, and Koslov sails out of the ring with a tope suicida onto Matt. Koslov slides back in the ring and kicks Nick in the head, he gets his Russian hat and kicks Nick repeatedly while wearing it. Running doublestomp by Koslov, cover, but it gets a two count. Koslov picks up Nick and goes for a suplex but Matt catches him. Romero comes in the ring, they throw Nick and Matt into the corner and both hit running strikes. Koslov picks up Romero and drives him knee-first into both Nick and Matt, Koslov drapes Nick on the ropes and Romero hits a missile dropkick. Cover by Koslov but it gets a two count. Koslov puts Nick up on his shoulders but Nick gets away as Matt comes into the ring, knee by Nick in the corner Matt hits an assisted Asai DDT followed by a running knee by Nick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Matt picks up Koslov and they go for the MBFYB but Koslov pushes Matt away. Irish whip by Koslov to Nick but Nick elbows him back. Superkick by Nick and both wrestlers are down hurt. Both wrestlers tag in their partners, and Romero hits a hurricanrana onto Matt. Lariat by Romero in the corner and a second one, but Matt ducks the third. Romero hits another lariat anyway, he goes for the Shiranui but Matt pushes him off and hits a spear. Matt goes up to the top turnbuckle but Romero kicks him before he can jump off. Avalanche Frankensteiner by Romero, cover, but it only gets a two count. Romero charges Matt in the corner but he moves and Nick kicks Romero from the apron. Nick gets in the ring, he picks up Romero and with Matt they go for a double back suplex, but Romero lands on his feet. Matt and Nick both superkick Romero out of the ring, but Koslov blocks it when they try to do the same to him. Koslov gets Matt onto his shoulders and Romero hits the swandive Doomsday Device, cover, but Nick barely breaks it up in time. Koslov and Nick trade elbows but Nick dumps Koslov out of the ring and hits a moonsault from the apron down onto Koslov. Romero kicks Matt in the ring but mm reverses the Michinoku Driver into an assisted Tombstone Piledriver. Cover, but Koslov breaks it up. Koslov punches both Nick and Matt, but they throw him into the corner. Koslov fights them off again but when he goes for a swandive move he eats a double superkick. Matt picks up Romero and with Nick they deliver the More Bang for Your Buck. Cover by Matt, and he picks up the three count. Your winners and still champions: The Young Bucks
Match Thoughts: The match time listed on various sites is quite wrong for what it matters, the match was actually over 15 minutes so it got more time than it looked like. A pretty entertaining match, a lot of the Young Bucks matches look pretty similar and this one didn’t do anything special to set it apart but it was still fun. Needless to say both of these teams know each other well so the action was very smooth, no real mishaps or (unintentional) misunderstandings, and they kept the pace up for the entire match. Aside from the feeling of “I have seen this before….” it was a very solid title match. Score: 6.5
Minoru Suzuki and Shelton Benjamin vs. Toru Yano and Takashi Iizuka
Match Thoughts: A pretty average brawl at best, Suzuki and Benjamin are not 'natural' brawlers so at times I was wondering why Suzuki wasn't dropping people with piledrivers instead of brawling around the ring. Benjamin always seemed out of place, I know he is in Suzuki's faction but he came across as the third wheel. Suzuki getting DQed was silly as he can beat Yano whenever he wants and the referee gave him more than enough chances, it makes sense when a heel cheats and gets DQed, but in a match with such laid back rules in the first place it just didn't seem necessary or that it really continued the story. So not a very good match. Score: 4.0
(c) Satoshi Kojima vs. Wes Brisco
Match Thoughts: Lots of questions were running through my head while I watched this match, the most common one was "Why?". The biggest issue with the match, besides that Brisco getting a title shot is random, is that Brisco was beaten way too easily. He dominates the match, lots of leg work which was fine (although ultimately forgotten), but he gets pinned after one brainbuster and a lariat. Since when did Kojima win with just one lariat, usually it takes a handful of them and this was a title match. Not that I am advocating overkill, but I wouldn't have minded if Brisco had shown a bit of adversity here instead of being defeated the first chance he got. Kojima is nowhere near the wrestler he used to be to be able to carry a match like this, not that he was trying to, and I thought overall the match was pretty flat. Score: 3.5
Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi
Kicks by Shibata and he boots Nagata but Nagata returns the favor until Shibata knocks Nagata to the mat with a hard knee. Shibata throws Nagata in the corner and hits a few elbows, Shibata gets a running start and dropkicks Nagata in the head. Vertical suplex by Shibata, cover, but it gets a two count. Crossface by Shibata but Nagata gets into the ropes, back up and Nagata hits an exploder. Nagata tags in Nakanishi, Nakanishi picks up Shibata and hits a few elbows. Irish whip by Nakanishi, Shibata tries to reverse it but Nakanishi slams on the breaks and hits a lariat. Nakanishi knocks Goto off the apron, he then waits for Shibata to get up but Shibata kicks him in the chest. Shibata tags in Goto and Goto kicks Nakanishi back into the corner, Irish whip by Goto and he hits a heel kick in the corner. Goto goes for a backdrop suplex but Nakanishi blocks it and hits a bulldog. Nakanishi goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Nakanishi picks up Goto and puts him in the Argentine Backbreaker, Shibata comes in but Nagata puts him in an armlock. German suplex hold by Nakanishi, but Goto kicks out at two. Nagata throws Shibata out of the ring and picks up Goto, and they bit an enzigieri/lariat combination on him. Irish whip to the corner but Shibata hits a big boot onto Nagata, Goto goes off the ropes and hits a lariat on Nakanishi but Nakanishi doesn’t go down. Nakanishi goes off the ropes but Goto catches him with another lariat followed by a headbutt. Shouten Kai by Goto and he puts Nakanishi in the Scorpion Deathlock. Nakanishi can’t get to the ropes and is forced to tap out. Your winners: Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata
Match Thoughts: Botched moves can be a bitch, especially if they are near the end of the match, as that is the lasting impression you have. I don't know if the match was supposed to end with the Shouten Kai, but even Goto knew he messed the move up too bad to cover Nakanishi without everyone rolling their eyes, so it was smart to go to the submission hold to try to cover it. The bad botch aside the match was acceptable, actually Nakanishi seemed to be going out of his way to not be boring which I appreciate. I wish that Goto had done something bigger on the show but he did get the pinfall so he should hopefully keep going upward. The action was solid, nothing offensive but nothing really special either, but botching what was probably the finish is never a good thing. Score: 5.5
(c) Kota Ibushi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi
Taguchi goes to the outside and Ibushi goes up to the top turnbuckle, hitting a moonsault down to the floor. Ibushi picks up Taguchi and slides him back into the ring, Ibushi goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Irish whip by Ibushi to the corner, but Taguchi kicks him back. Powerslam by Ibushi and he hits a moonsault off the second turnbuckle. Cover, and it gets a two count. Ibushi stomps on Taguchi, he picks him up and goes for a sunset flip but Taguchi rolls through it and hits a dropkick. Taguchi stomps Ibushi in the corner, Irish whip, and Taguchi dropkicks Ibushi in the back. Taguchi goes for a Tiger Suplex but Ibushi lands on his feet and kicks Taguchi in the face. Ibushi picks up Taguchi and elbows him, but Taguchi hits him back. They trade slaps, Ibushi goes for a standing moonsault but Taguchi gets his knees up and covers Ibushi for a two count. Enzigieri by Taguchi but Ibushi delivers the Pele Kick. Taguchi is up first and he punches Ibushi, and they trade elbows. Kick combination by Ibushi but Taguchi ducks one and goes for the Dodon, but Ibushi rolls her up for a two count. Ibushi grabs Taguchi from behind and hits a snap German suplex followed by a corkscrew standing moonsault for a two count. Ibushi goes up to the top turnbuckle but Taguchi rolls out of the way of the 450 Splash. Ibushi rolls through it, Taguchi hits a lariat, and a second lariat sends Ibushi to the mat. Taguchi picks up Ibushi and goes for the Dodon, Ibushi blocks it but Taguchi drops him to the mat and holds on for a two count cover. Taguchi picks up Ibushi and hits a Milano-saku Dodon's Throne, cover, but it gets a two count. Taguchi picks up Ibushi and goes for a backbreaker hold, but Ibushi gets out of it. Taguchi goes for the Shika Koroshi but Ibushi wiggles out of it. Lariat by Ibushi, he picks up Taguchi and hits a sit-down powerbomb. Cover, but it gets a two count. Ibushi goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the Phoenix Splash, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Kota Ibushi
Match Thoughts: Fun match. One of the things I liked about it is that unlike Brisco, these two were actually reversing each other's moves to avoid finishers and in general made it look like the title really meant something to them. Ibushi must have gotten out of the Dodon half a dozen times, every time Taguchi went for it you just kinda lean in, wondering if it would actually work this time, and that added suspense is always a good thing. Ibushi's offense can have a bit... too much flare at times but he hit a perfect Phoenix Splash so I will let it slide. The match felt like an even encounter, Ibushi was in control but there were a few times that Taguchi seemed so close to getting the title. Overall it was entertaining and definitely a step up from the last few matches. Score: 7.0
(c) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma
Honma returns to the ring but goes back out to get Ishii, sliding him into the ring. Shalimar Tea by Honma, he hits a scoop slam and goes back up to the top turnbuckle again and hits another headbutt. Cover, but Ishii barely gets his shoulder up. Honma picks up Ishii and goes for a slam but Ishii wiggles away, Ishii goes for a jumping kick but Honma blocks it. Honma goes off the ropes but Ishii hits a lariat. Ishii and Honma slowly get up and both try to lariat each other at the same time, but neither man goes down. They do it again with no result and a third time, but the forth time Ishii lariats Honma down to the mat. Ishii grabs Honma and hits a Last Ride powerbomb, cover, but it gets a two count. Ishii picks up Honma and goes for a brainbuster but Honma knees out of it. Brainbuster by Honma, he picks up Ishii and drops him with the Fire Thunder Driver. Honma tries to pick up Ishii but he can't, so he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Ishii rolls out of the way of the headbutt. Honma goes for a lariat but Ishii knocks his arm away, school boy by Honma but it gets a two count. Ishii ducks a Honma lariat attempt and hits a release German suplex. Back up they trade elbows, then headbutts, enzigieri by Ishii and he hits a lariat to the side of Honma's head while he is seated on the mat. Cover, but it gets two. Ishii picks up Honma and drops him with a brainbuster, cover, and Ishii picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Tomohiro Ishii
Match Thoughts: Awesome match, loved every minute of it. Ishii has been on a real hot streak for about a year now, and Honma is always up for doing crazy stuff in big matches. Honma isn't really at the same level as Ishii, and he showed it in this match as he was going for the most nutty versions of his moves to try to put the better wrestler down. Ishii was brutal as always (in a good way), nailing Honma with lariats and headbutts, and he put Honma away in very convincing fashion. I wish Honma had a few more moves in his arsenal so he didn't have to go for the headbutt so many times, but that is a small quibble, this match was man-sized. Score: 8.0
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tetsuya Naito and Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows, Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga
Makabe and Gallows lariat each other unsuccessfully, kick by Gallows but Makabe levels him with a lariat. Makabe knocks the other Bullet Club members off the apron and lariats Gallows in the corner. Another lariat by Makabe and he hits mounted punches in the corner. Gallows clubs Makabe and goes off the ropes but Makabe catches him with another lariat. Gallows tags in Fale as Naito is tagged in, dropkick by Naito, and he hits an armdrag followed by a dropkick. Senton by Naito to Fale, Fale gets up in the corner and he boots back Naito. Enzigieri by Naito, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Tonga grabs him from the apron and Gallows throws Naito to the mat. Naito gets up in the corner and Fale hits a body avalanche. Lariat by Fale to Naito, cover, but it gets a two count. Fale puts Naito up on his shoulders and hits a Samoan Drop. Body press by Fale, cover, but it is broken up. This causes another melee, Fale grabs Naito by the throat but Naito rolls him up for the three count. Bad Luck Fale is eliminated. Tonga comes in the ring and throws Naito over the top rope to the floor. Tetsuya Naito is eliminated. ll comes in as the legal man, Liger puts Tonga on the top turnbuckle and joins him, but Anderson pulls Liger back down to the mat. Splash by Tonga to Liger in the corner and Anderson follows with one of his own. Tonga puts Liger on his shoulders and hits a flapjack, cover, but it gets a two count. Tonga waits for Liger to get up, he goes off the ropes but Liger catches him with the Lou Thesz Press, picking up the three count. Tama Tonga is eliminated. Anderson comes in the ring next and hits Liger with the Gun Stun. Cover, and Anderson picks up the three count. Jushin Thunder Liger is eliminated. Tanahashi and Makabe both come in the ring and brawl with Fale and Anderson, with Makabe becoming isolated in the ring.
Double Irish whip to Makabe but Makabe hits Fale and Anderson with a double lariat. Makabe hits a lariat on Anderson in the corner but Anderson avoids the second one and hits a big boot. Elbow by Gallows and he hits a lariat onto Makabe. Senton by Anderson and Gallows hits a body press, cover by Anderson but Makabe gets a shoulder up. Fale picks up Makabe and with Anderson they hit a backdrop suplex/neckbreaker combination, cover, but Tanahashi breaks it up. Anderson picks up Makabe and puts him on his shoulders, and he hits the Swivel Gun Stun. Cover, but again Makabe kicks out. Anderson goes for the Stun Gun but Makabe pushes him off and lariats Anderson over the top rope to the floor. Karl Anderson is eliminated. Gallows comes in and goes off the ropes, but Makabe knocks him down with a lariat. Makabe tags in Tanahashi, Tanahashi elbows Gallows and hits an uppercut followed by a dropkick to the knee. Tanahashi goes off the ropes, Gallows tries to throw Tanahashi out of the ring but Tanahashi skins the cat. Gallows grabs Tanahashi by the throat but Makabe comes in the ring and hits a lariat onto Gallows. Sling Blade by Tanahashi to Gallows, Makabe goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the King Kong Kneedrop. Tanahashi then goes up top and delivers the High Fly Flow, cover, and he picks up the three count. Doc Gallows is eliminated. Your winners: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Tetsuya Naito and Jushin Thunder Liger
Match Thoughts: The problem with matches like this is that if you don't want the match to be 60 minutes long, at some point wrestlers have to get pinned by something that wouldn't normally beat them. Liger and Tama both went down really easy for example, simply because they had to get through those eliminations to get to the final stretch of the match. Once the eliminations started they went rapid-fire, the Liger one was so quick that they missed Anderson's move since they were still showing the last eliminated wrestler leaving. With the match structure and match time there was no way this match was going to deliver, but at least they made the last elimination be convincing and each wrestler got to do a little something to help justify why they were in the match. Makabe still hits way too many lariats though, I realize he will never stop but he wasn't in the match that long to use the same move so repetitively. The match needed about six less wrestlers or 30 more minutes to be good, it just didn't really work the way it was presented even if the wrestlers were doing the best they could. Score: 5.0
Daniel Gracie and Rolles Gracie vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazushi Sakuraba
Match Thoughts: Whatever this is, I wish they would stop. I have no interest in watching fake MMA, especially when it isn't done very well (Nakamura still doesn't look very comfortable with this format). Every major New Japan card this year has had a short meaningless tag match with the Gracies, and whatever the point is I hope they get there soon as there is nothing entertaining here. Watching old MMA guys (like Funaki) can be fun, but when they try to do an MMA style match it is awkward, boring, and ultimately not enjoyable. I bet Inoki is enjoying it, but I am not. Score: 2.5
(c) Kazuchika Okada vs. AJ Styles
Elbow to the knee by Styles and he kicks Okada in the head. Cover by Styles, but Okada kicks out at two. Muta Lock by Styles but after a moment he releases the hold, he picks up Okada and hits a kneebreaker. Styles grabs Okada by the ankle and applies a facelock, Okada elbows out of it and hits an uppercut. Irish whip by Okada and he hits another uppercut. Okada goes off the ropes and kicks Styles in the face, Irish whip by Okada and he hits a flapjack. Okada charges Styles in the corner and hits a jumping elbow followed by a snap DDT. Cover, but it gets a two count. Okada picks up Styles, Irish whip to the corner but Styles kicks Okada back. Styles goes out to the apron and hits a swandive elbow smash. Styles picks up Okada and goes for a suplex before turning it into a neckbreaker, cover, but Okada kicks out at two. Styles goes up to the top turnbuckle but Okada is up and pushes Styles to a seated position before dropkicking him from the top turnbuckle down to the floor. Okada goes out after him and he throws Styles into the guard rail before booting him over it. Okada pulls Styles back over the rail and hits a DDT on the floor. Okada picks up Styles and slides him back into the ring, Okada goes in after him and hits a scoop slam. Okada goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers a diving elbow drop. Okada picks up Styles and goes for the Rain Maker, but Styles blocks it and applies a leg submission hold. Okada gets to the ropes to force a break, Styles waits for Okada to get up and goes off the ropes but Okada knocks him down with a dropkick. Both wrestlers slowly get up and trade elbows, Okada ducks Styles's lariat attempt and goes for the Rain Maker but Styles ducks it and hits the Pele Kick. Slam by Styles, cover, but it gets a two count. Styles picks up Okada but Okada grabs him and hits an over the shoulder drop onto his own knee. Okada picks up Styles but Styles gets away, elbow by Styles and he hits the Stylin' DDT. Cover, but it gets a two count. Styles goes up to the top turnbuckle but Okada rolls out of the way of the Spiral Tap. Dropkick to the back by Okada, he picks up Styles and hits a tombstone piledriver. Bullet Club comes back down and distracts the referee as the Young Bucks try to get in the ring. This allows a wrestler in a hoodie to come in the ring and attack Okada. The wrestler takes off the hood to show that it is Yujiro, and Yujiro hits the Tokyo Pimps. He slides out of the ring as the referee turns back around and hits the Bloody Sunday. Styles Clash by Styles, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and new champion: AJ Styles
Match Thoughts: First of all, I have no issues with Styles winning. New Japan has been somewhat stale the last six months as they have great wrestlers that put on great matches, but it has been the same pairings for awhile so at least this will mix things up a bit. Styles is a respected veteran so him winning didn't really seem out of place. I do wish though that it was a more 'clean' win, New Japan is clearly going all-in with the Bullet Club but Okada had such a good reign I'd rather he went out with a bang, not due to Yujiro of all people interfering. The match was a bit sloppy at points and most of the action was a bit more basic until the final stretch, which isn't too surprising since it was a new pairing but I know that both are capable of more. The action was generally very solid, I just am dreading a series of Styles defenses where he only wins due to outside interference. We'll see where they go with it, but they are certainly shaking things up. Score: 6.5
Best Match: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tomoaki Honma. For two guys that not too long ago were mid-card afterthoughts, they sure can put on an entertaining match. Ishii has really been coming into his own and just brutalizes people, while Honma is still the crazy wrestler that he was more than 10 years ago in Big Japan Pro Wrestling. There was little downtime in this match as they just took turns knocking each other around. Not a perfect match but very entertaining.
MVP: Tomohiro Ishii. No one really stuck out at this event to be honest, at least not in a good way, so Ishii gets the nod since he was the best wrestler in the best match even if it wasn't one of the main matches on the event.
Overall: Ten matches is a lot of matches to put on one card, and one of the things that suffers due to that is the matches get shorter, and the wrestlers get less time to really put on a great match. So you get a lot of good matches, but that is about it. All the New Japan title matches delivered to an extent, but the only match that really stood out was Ishii/Honma. The main event wasn't bad, but it wasn't as polished as you'd expect and the ending will take a lot out of it for some fans. With just the sheer level of talent it is difficult for New Japan to really have a bad show, but this was only average and isn't one a casual fan needs to go out of their way to see.