The Road to Wrestling Dontaku heavily featured the rivalry between Suzuki-gun’s El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru and the returning Roppongi 3K. They battled for the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Titles in Kagoshima, and El Desperado was supposed to defend the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship against YOH in Fukuoka, but a possible COVID exposure took the four pillars of the junior heavyweight division off the table on Tuesday. They were four of the six wrestlers pulled from Tuesday’s show after two unnamed wrestlers arrived with fevers.
El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Minoru Suzuki, SHO, YOH & Kazuchika Okada were all pulled from the show, casting a dark cloud over the event, and taking one title match completely off the table. Complicating matters further, Okada is set to compete in the main event of Wrestle Grand Slam in the Tokyo Dome, so if this is more than just a scare, that could throw one of the biggest shows of the calendar year into disarray.
All this grim news hung over Tuesday’s show like a thick fog. An entertaining undercard was hampered by uncertainty. The woeful vibes were reminiscent of tense early-pandemic shows. Then the main event bell rang.
Will Ospreay & Shingo Takagi went into Tuesday’s main event not only looking to uplift an uncertain crowd, but also to bring to a close one of the longer, more-divisive tours in NJPW history. They did more than uplift, they thrilled to an extent that very few main events have in the past few years.
In a near-45 minute instant-classic Will Ospreay successfully defended the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship for the first time, and firmly defeating his rival Shingo Takagi in their fourth match ever (and second in the past two months). Takagi was prepared for Ospreay in a way that he simply hadn’t been in the past. Every bit of offense was answered by Takagi, and despite Takagi driving the IWGP Champion neck-first through a table, The Dragon was unable to claim his crown.
Now, assuming both men are healthy, Ospreay sets his sights on the Tokyo Dome, and Okada.
44 minutes 53 seconds.
First Defence ✅
I’m main eventing the Tokyo Dome. pic.twitter.com/fB29w1i4P2
— ᵂⁱˡˡ ᴼˢᵖʳᵉᵃʸ • ウィル・オスプレイ (@WillOspreay) May 4, 2021
NJPW Wrestling Dontaku: Night 2
Available on NJPWWorld.com
- Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & Douki) def. Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Jado) by submission. (10:00)
Zack Sabre Jr. submitted Jado via Hurrah! Another Year, Surely This One Will Be Better Than the Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All to Happiness.
- Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi) def. Master Wato & Hiroyoshi Tenzan by pinfall. (10:24)
Taiji Ishimori pinned Master Wato via Bloody Cross.
- United Empire (Aaron Henare, Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI) by pinfall. (14:54)
Jeff Cobb pinned BUSHI via Tour of the Islands.
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano & Ryusuke Taguchi def. Bullet Club (Jay White, EVIL & Dick Togo) by pinfall. (12:14)
Toru Yano pinned Dick Togo via Rollup.
- IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match: Will Ospreay (c) def. Shingo Takagi by pinfall Stormbreaker. (44:53)
NJPW returns on May 15th at 12am ET on NJPWWorld with Wrestle Grand Slam in Yokohama