NJPW Wrestling Dontaku featured title changes, one returning challenger

New Japan Pro-Wrestling held its annual Wrestling Dontaku event today (May 3) in Fukuoka.

The show was headlined by SANADA’s first defense of the IWGP World Heavyweight championship. He was successful, fighting off a game challenge from IWGP Junior Heavyweight champ Hiromu Takahashi. After the match, a future challenger emerged. After the latest showing of a video NJPW’s been showing since the New Japan Cup final back in March, Yota Tsuji showed up to take out SANADA and the rest of the champ’s Just Five Guys stable.

The six footer, a Young Lion who has been on overseas excursion since August 2021, also pledged allegiance to SANADA’s former stable, Los Ingobernables de Japon.

Wrestling Dontaku started with another big man winning gold. Hikuleo survived a KENTA low blow and a Busaiku knee, countering a follow-up knee to hit his finisher and win the NJPW Strong Openweight title.

The dream team of Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Hiroshi Tanahashi won the NEVER Six-Man Tag Team belts from El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Ren Narita. Okada pinned Narita after Rainmaker, and even got his grumpy CHAOS teammate to cordially celebrate the win with his long-time rival.

That trio seems to have Jon Moxley, Shota Umino & an unknown third lined up for Dominion next month. More on that here.

A third and final title change took place in a match between the current Bullet Club leader David Finlay and a former one in Tama Tonga, on the tenth anniversary of the group’s founding. Tonga carried the NEVER Openweight championship into the match, but we seemed headed to a quick title change when Finlay gained the upperhand via some offense outside the ring.

Finlay wanted to send a message as much as win the belt, and continued to assault the champ rather than pin him. When it became clear Tama’s second Jado wouldn’t throw in the towel, Finlay hit his Oblivion finisher for a third time, covered for a three count and claimed the title. Tonga was taken out on a stretcher… but a mystery man entered the ring.

That was revealed to be El Phantasmo, who Finlay kicked out of the Bullet Club after assuming control of the group. El-P kicked the new champ’s butt all over the ring area, and seems the likely next NEVER Openweight challenger.

Elsewhere on the card, a draw between NJPW Television champion Zack Sabre, Jr. and Jeff Cobb means their feud is probably going to continue. And after Aussie Open physically reclaimed the IWGP Heavyweight Tag belts House of Torture stole from them, Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher challenged that group’s EVIL & Yujiro Takahashi and former champs Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) to a Triple Threat.

Here are the complete results from Wrestling Dontaku:

o CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, YOH & YOSHI-HASHI) def. House Of Torture (Dick Togo, EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi)

o United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) def. TMDK (Kosei Fujita, Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste)

o Intergalactic Jet Setters (Kevin Knight & KUSHIDA) & Shota Umino def. United Empire (Aaron Henare, Francesco Akira & TJP)

o Just Five Guys (DOUKI, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)

o Hikuleo def. KENTA to become the new NJPW Strong Openweight championship

o Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs. Jeff Cobb’s NJPW World Television title match went to a time limit draw

o Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, & Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Strong Style (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki & Ren Narita) to become the new NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team champs

o David Finlay def. Tama Tonga to become the new NEVER Openweight champion

o SANADA def. Hiromu Takahashi to retain the IWGP World Heavyweight title


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