New Japan Pro-Wrestling: Wrestling Dontaku 2017 (Review)

Reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, defends his championship against Bad Luck Fale, a man who has beaten him on multiple occasions. Will Okada’s superb title run come to and end, or will Bad Luck Fale become yet another defeated challenger…?


Yoshi-Hashi & Will Ospreay
vs.
Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens
3star
(Winner via submission: Yoshi-Hashi & Will Ospreay)

Togi Makabe, Tiger Mask W & Tiger Mask
vs.
Yuji Nagata, Manabu Nakanishi & Jyushin Thunder Liger
3star
(Winners by pinfall: Togi Makabe, Tiger Mask W & Tiger Mask)

Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, Jado, Rocky Romero & Beretta
vs.
Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi, El Desperado & Taka Michinoku
2half_star
(Winners by pinfall: Goto, Yano, Jado, Romero & Beretta)

David Finlay
vs.
Cody Rhodes
3star
(Winner by pinfall: Cody Rhodes)

Juice Robinson & Kushida
vs.
Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi
3half_star
(Winners by pinfall: Tetsuya Naito & Hiromu Takahashi)

Raymond Rowe & Hanson (“War Machine”) (C)
vs.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima
vs.
Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa (“Guerrillas of Destiny”)
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
3star
(Winners by pinfall: Raymond Rowe & Hanson)

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet (C)
vs.
Sanada, Evil & Bushi
NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
3star
(Winners by pinfall, and new champions: Sanda, Evil & Bushi)

Tomohiro Ishii
vs.
Kenny Omega
4star
(Winner by pinfall: Kenny Omega)

Kazuchika Okada (C)
vs.
Bad Luck Fale
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
4star
(Winner by pinfall: Kazuchika Okada)


Review

A consistent show from start to finish, Wrestling Dontaku felt very much like a filler event as we head toward the big New Japan Pro-Wrestling summer events. That’s not to say it wasn’t good viewing, because it was, but with no big singles titles on the line besides the company’s top one, this never felt like a major show.

Ironically, this was probably the first time where I didn’t take an instant dislike to the multiple tag team matches that New Japan uses each time to pad the show out. Wrestling Dontaku opened with several such matches, but they weren’t so frustrating here. I’ve said many times that it’s the spamming of tag matches that brings down New Japan shows, and whilst that is unlikely to ever change, this show didn’t have the usual feeling of dragging out time before the main events.

Speaking of the main events, Kenny Omega and Tomohiro Ishii had a delightful little match. Nothing was at stake besides pride, but it was a good opportunity for Omega to get a big singles win on his CV again, and Ishii certainly pushed him all the way. For me, it wasn’t anywhere close to being the best match of 2017, which commentary was trying to tell us, but it certainly did liven up a show that had just been plodding along steadily. Omega has already been in the best match of 2017 (see: Wrestle Kingdom 11), and whilst this one was good, it was nothing close to his January match against Kazuchika Okada.

For his part, Okada put on a well-structured championship match against Bad Luck Fale. I’m not the biggest fan of Fale, and I personally don’t think he belongs in the spot he was in here, but he and Okada worked a good David and Goliath story here that certainly teased an upset victory for the challenger a few times. Truthfully though, I never saw Fale winning simply because Okada has had so many superb title defences that I don’t see him dropping it until he comes up against a superstar talent again. That is not Fale, at least not at this point.

The main talking point of the entire show took place in the last few minutes, with Okada challenging Kenny Omega to another IWGP Heavyweight Championship match. Omega accepted, and we are now all set for Omega/Okada II at June’s Dominion event. It’s come a little sooner than I had expected, but I’ll never complain about seeing more of these two men together.

Match of the Night

Bad Luck Fale vs. Kazuchika Okada

NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2017 Rating

3star

All New Japan Pro-Wrestling events can be streamed at NJPWWorld.com

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