It was a huge night for New Japan, as they presented one of their biggest annual events in Dominion 6.19 live from Osaka, Japan. There was a total of five title changes, perhaps several more than expected, as the promotion made waves and shook things up heading into this year’s G1 Climax tournament, which will kick off in July.
The biggest news of the night is that Kazuchika Okada defeated Naito in an incredible main event to reclaim the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for a fourth time. Okada is now tied with Hiroyoshi Tenzan and The Great Muta at four reigns apiece, with only Kensuke Sasaki (5), WWE Hall of Famer Tatsumi Fujinami (6) and of course Hiroshi Tanahashi (7) in front of him. In his post-show interview, Okada celebrated with fellow CHAOS stable mates, praised his controversial opponent Naito, and set his sights on winning the G1 Climax as reigning champion, a long-time goal and personal dream.
While we would normally expect detailed announcements for the G1 Climax at Dominion, possibly including dates, locations and the tournament brackets, New Japan is holding off as long as they can to make any official announcements, as they wait on the status of top star Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi was expected to compete at Dominion this weekend, but was written off with an injury angle to address his real life shoulder problems that have been growing for quite some time. While the promotion would obvious love to have Tanahashi in actual for the G1, easily the biggest and best annual tournament in professional wrestling, it is also known to be one of the most physically demanding and injury-prone tournaments in professional wrestling, which obviously doesn’t bode well for somebody already so banged up and having to take time off as it is. More on that at a later date.
It was also a big night for Canadian wrestler Michael Elgin, who defeated Kenny Omega in the first ever ladder match in New Japan history, capturing the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. This marks Elgin’s first singles championship with the promotion, and his first major singles title since dropping the Ring of Honor world title to Jay Briscoe back in 2014.
The Young Bucks survived a four-way elimination tag match to become five-time IWGP junior tag champions, unseating Ricochet and Matt Sydal. They are also the current reigning NEVER Openweight 6-Man tag team champions, FWE tag champions, and PWG tag champions. This is actually a record-setting title victory for the Bucks, as they are the first team in the 18-year history of the titles to be five-time champions.
Shibata also downed Yuji Nagata to win back the NEVER Openweight Championship in an incredible, hard-hitting match. This is Shibata’s second reign with the strap. After their match concluded, Nagata celebrated in the ring with several names, giving the indication that this may have been the last time we see the 48-year-old, two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and former G1 Climax winner involved in a major program.
And finally, Ring of Honor’s Mark and Jay Briscoe had a big night as well, upsetting Bullet Club members Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa (the former Camacho in WWE) to win the IWGP tag titles. This is the first time the brother have held the titles, which are added to their record holding eight reigns as ROH tag champions.