The first night of Hamakatsu presents: Wrestling Dontaku 2019 kicked off in spectacular fashion. Arranged during the height of Fukuoka’s famous Dontaku festival, the event brought scintillating action and death-defying wrestling to the southern city. Nowhere was this more evident than during the main event for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Read below for more details on an outstanding night of action.
8th match: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match – Dragon Lee defeated Taiji Ishimori after a Desnucadora
The two men had been battling intensely throughout the tour, but on the last stop of the Road to Dontaku tour in Beppu on 1st May, Taiji Ishimori stole Dragon Lee’s mask, taking proceedings to a new level of personal intensity. Lee in reply came to the ring wearing the mask of Kamatachi, Hiromu Takahashi’s pseudonym when he was wrestling in CMLL. Lee and Hiromu have had a long-standing respectful rivalry, but it was the BONE SOLDIER that Dragon Lee was focused on in Fukuoka. The match started with a bang and only heated up. Ishimori seemed to have the upper hand, delivering his signature sliding German suplex as well as countering a Desnucadora into an ingenious roll-up. At one point both men seemed to be in danger of being counted out of the ring, but at the last second (literally) the both wearily rolled back into the ring.
The BONE SOLDIER Reborn broke out a few new moves; cruelly using “La Mistica”, a move popularised by Dragon Lee’s older brother. However, the twenty-three year-old star of CMLL proved to the crowd that he was not only talented, but also resilient, withstanding blow after blow until he was able to truly go on the offense himself. In the end, the champ managed to defend his title and in his post-match comments, he thanked the assembled masses and mentioned that he was still waiting for Hiromu’s return.
7th match: NEVER Openweight Championship match – Taichi defeated Jeff Cobb following a Black Mephisto
Taichi and Cobb both came into this match after a somewhat one-sided war of words from Taichi to Cobb with the holy emperor calling the former olympian a “hog” and a “piglet” and a variety of other porcine insults. Taichi continued in this vein, spending the first five minutes in typical Taichi style, slyly wokring his way in out out of the ring, using his companion, Abe Miho, as a human shield, making use of his Suzuki-gun allies and more. Cobb however had just about enough of Taichi by this point delivering a devastating series of power moves including a brutal deadlift brain-buster from the turnbuckle. The battle was fierce, with Cobb at one point dealing two consecutive suplexes followed by a piledriver to Taichi, with the challenger in turn delivering an excruciating “Holy Emperor’s Crucifix Tomb” and some amazing kicks. However, it was the challenger who emerged victorious in the end pinning the champ following a Black Mephisto.
6th match: EVIL & SANADA defeated Tomohiro Ishii & Kazuchika Okada after a referee stoppage
Both teams featuring wrestlers that have important singles matches on day two of Hamakatsu presents: Wrestling Dontaku, this match was one that was keenly important for each side to try and build momentum going into their respective matches. SANADA continued to impress going into his challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on the 4th May. Okada however, put up an extremely strong showing and it was left unsure as to who would emerge the victor. EVIL and Ishii for their part, engaged in a brutal Strong-style war. No quarter was expected and none given. Their momentum going into their special singles match the next day was going to be in the balance. It was somewhat fitting then, that the match ended with a referee stoppage in EVIL’s favour.
5th match: Mikey Nicholls, Juice Robinson & Hirooki Goto defeated BULLET CLUB (Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale & Jay White) when Juice pinned Chase after a Pulp Friction
The members of BULLET CLUB entered the ring wearing stylised matching Kimonos celebrating the 6th anniversary of the faction, of which Bad Luck Fale himself was a founding member. BULLET CLUB proved to be their typical brutal selves, bullying their Chaos and NJPW opponents throughout the match. However, the two teams had fought throughout the tour and the BULLET CLUB’s opponents knew all their dirty tricks. In the end it was Juice Robinson who stood triumphant in the the ring, that was until…
After the match a mysterious video played to the gathered crowd featuring a figure in a leather jacket slumped over a bar carving a sand timer into the bar. The video ended with the words “Time’s up”, perplexing the audience.
4th Match: SHO, YOH & Kota Ibushi defeated Los Ingoberables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito) when Ibushi pinned BUSHI following a Kamigoye
All eyes were on the 21st IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Kota Ibushi, and his upcoming challenger Tetsuya Naito. Teaming up with some of the best junior wrestlers in the world in their respective corners, the two teams dazzled the audience in Fukuoka with their skill and ability. Channeling one of his “gods”, Ibushi delivered a devastating Boma-ye on BUSHI, Ibushi emerged victorious with his Kamigoye move, a name that literally translates to “surpassing God.” After the match Ibushi spoke briefly on the microphone, requesting Naito give his answer as to when the title match would be and Naito hinted that his answer would be delivered tomorrow.
3rd Match: Will Ospreay, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe defeated Hikuleo, Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga when Ospreay pinned Hikuleo after an OsCutter
The other BULLET CLUB members also entered the ring wearing matching Kimonos. Will Ospreay had not wrestled in the first half of the tour, thus coming into the match fresher and more rested than the others in the match who had all fought in at least one championship match during the tour. That being said, it was not a matter of fitness, but instead the Aerial Assassin’s speed, technique and world-renowned talent that ended up seeing him pin Hikuleo. It was not a good birthday for the BULLET CLUB.
2nd Match:Suzuki-gun (TAKA Michinoku, El Desperado, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Minoru Suzuki defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask, Jyushin Thunder Liger & YOSHI-HASHI after TAKA pinned Tiger Mask following a Michinoku driver
With five of the eight competitors in the match appearing in the Best of the Super Juniors competition, the match proved to provide fertile scouting ground for the wrestlers to test their possible opponents. In the end it was TAKA Michinoku who earned himself a rare victory when he pinned Tiger Mask following a powerful Michinoku Driver. After the match, Suzuki and Liger continued their heated rivalry, squaring off with chairs on the entrance ramp.
1st Match: Ren Narita, Shota Umino & Tomoaki Honma defeated Yuya Uemura, Yota Tsuji & Toa Henare when Narita pinned Uemura with a front suplex hold.
With Tsuji being ganged-up on for the first half of the match, it fell to his teammates Henare and Uemura to try to win the match. Ultimately, it was Uemura who took the pin to Narita after a beautiful front suplex hold, which resulted in their budding feud heating up even further.