Previously on NJPW: Elimination matches abounded and Japan getting a new Emperor in real life made it very easy for everyone to come up with topical promos.
You can keep up with With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook, follow our home site Uproxx on Twitter, and even follow me on Twitter @emilyofpratt. Don’t forget to share this column on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social media you use! Also, leave a comment with your thoughts on the show and/or article! All feedback is appreciated and will help us keep up the NJPW coverage.
And now, the best and worst of Wrestling Dontaku from May 3-4, 2019 in Fukuoka.
Best: Big Boy Szn Has Arrived
Both nights of Wrestling Dontaku featured heavyweight matches that 1) ruled, and 2) turned out to signal the return of the NEVER Openweight Championship picture to the designated place in NJPW for hard-hitting, minimally flippy matches. And in a move that I don’t think anyone could have predicted even at this time last year, it looks like Taichi could become a name closely associated with this belt during this phase – and if not, it still looks like he’ll almost definitely be one of the more heavily featured wrestlers on the roster.
The VTR for Jeff Cobb vs. Taichi could have made an effort to make up for the audience’s relative lack of exposure to Cobb in order to make sure he was as over as possible as a babyface before taking on a cult-popular heel. However, in a dramatic departure from the Naito vs. Taichi VTR that showed the Holy Emperor drinking and playing Fire Pro, Taichi looked extremely dominant for the majority of the video package. In retrospect, rather than getting Cobb over against a scummy heel, this whole angle was more about getting a strong win for Taichi over the immovable but astonishingly mobile object that is the ROH TV Champion.
Cobb and Taichi work well together, play their difference in size well, and both get moments to shine in this match, which also thankfully includes only enough Suzukigun interference to get the point across without throwing off the in-ring work. Cobb looks like a freak athlete and someone who should definitely come back and work with NJPW guys in the future, but by the time Taichi hits Black Mephisto he looks like a wrestler who could actually have a lengthy reign with this title.