NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11
Looooool at Michael Elgin spending 2016 being Tanahashi's buddy, getting an IC title run, and being involved in the first ever ladder match in company history to being in the preshow battle royal in 2017. And who enters at number two? BILL FUCKING GUNN. Lmao. He's only 8 inches taller than Elgin. Still obviously juiced to the tits, though. BONE SOLDIER! CHEESEBURGER! Oh my god. This dude legitimately looks like a child next to Billy. JUSHIN LIGER! KUNIAKI KOBAYAHI! Wow, Kobayashi looks like he's ready to beat the shit out of everyone under the age of 35. TIGER MASK IV! Fuck TM4. There's a new Tiger Mask. Retire this fool. Makes sense he'd go after Kobayashi, considering Kobayashi's feuds with both Sayama and Misawa. NAKANISHI! RYUSUKE TAGUCHI! When is Scott Norton going to show up? YOSHITATSU! Fuck this. YUJI NAGATA! HIROYOSHI TENZAN! HIRO SAITO! SCOTT MOTHER FUCKING NORTON! He's still a fucking HOSS. nWo Japan reunion! The 90s are alive and well in the Tokyo Dome. I would have skipped this battle royal if I didn't know Norton was going to be there. And to make this event even more blessed, he immediately beats Taguchi's ass. Cheeseburger has joined nWo Japan! I can't tell you how pleased I am to be making brand new gifs of Scott Norton in 2017. Michael Elgin is able to over come nWo Japan 2K17. Elgin picking on Cheeseburger was kind of weird booking for the end of this. Especially since they gave Cheeseburger a few hope spots that he might get an upset win, so the fans were behind him more than Eglin. Regardless, Norton returned, hit a lariat, a chop, and a powerbomb, so I'm pretty pleased with all of this.
Tiger Mask W vs Tiger The Dark
The next generation of Tiger Mask. Tiger Mask W is Kota Ibushi. Tiger The Dark is ACH. Expect a lot of flips. Damn mayne, that new mask is wonderful. Probably a pain in the dick to wrestle in, but they look great. This is a match where you can't even get mad at indie respek shit, because they're mirror images of each other. I've heard new TM anime is pretty good. I beleive NJPW World includes it under their subscription. Perhaps I'll check it out sometime. Fosbury Flop from Tiger The Dark! We got us a flyin' tiger! The best part of this is that there is no attempt to avoid making it clear that TM is Ibushi. He went from that incredible match with Nakamura, to wins over AJ and Tanahashi in the G1, to doing random WWE dates, to doing opening matches under a mask. All because he's a weirdo and just wants to do weird stuff. It's pretty clear neither guy is super comfortable or used to working in these masks. TM wins with the last ride.
Roppongi Vice vs Young Bucks IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championships
The fucking Young Bucks. Fuck the bucks and fuck RV. I'm still not sure if I'm supposed to hate the Young Bucks ironically or unironically, if I'm supposed to like them ironically or unironically, if I'm supposed to think they're geniuses, or if I'm supposed to think they're idiots. They bait RV into chasing them half way down the ramp so they could hit superkicks and run back to the ring to win by count out. Had that actually ended the match, I'd pop. A whole lot of superkicks. Constant "shit talking" that is so obnoxious and just trying to pop Americans watching online. It's not even funny. It's all HEY THIS IS TOTALLY FAKE LOL type shit. This is and the dumb shit in their spots are why I'll never like the Bucks. I can't suspend my disbelief with them on any level. It's like...musical acting. This is certainly not helped by seeing them do the same spots they've been doing for years, and the same spots Rocky has been doing for years with multiple partners. I would love to know who came up with the spot of Trent doing a huge tope and not being caught at all. That's what you come up with to get Rocky in a 2 on 1 situation? And it didn't even matter, because Rocky won with a roll up anyway. NEW CHAMPIONS. Fuck the Young Bucks.
Bullet Club vs Los Ingobernables de Japon vs David Finlay/Ricochet/Satoshi Kojima vs CHAOS NEVER 6 Man Tag Team Championships
Bring out hot broads doesn't make you suck any less, Yujiro. A whole lot of people in this match that I don't care for at all. Like...basically all of them besides Finlay, Sanada, and Kojima. The BC/LIJ show down would probalby be neat if this wasn't the weakest possible grouping of the Bullet Club. Send Norton back out here to chop people. Will Ospreay just makes me think of flippy Gregory Helms. Non stop flippy. I wonder what this dude is going to do when his body breaks down enough that he can't do flips. Literally seems to be all he can do. And the thing is, none of his stuff has any impact, so who gives a shit how many flips he does before hand? CHAOS is eliminated first, which brings out LIJ. LIJ quickly show BC how to be an actual heel stable, with Yujiro getting eliminated with a dragon sleeper after getting hit with a chair. Curious that they'd set this up in a way to not have any Ricochet/Ospreay interactions after their match in 2016 got so much attention. Sanada is no joke. I want to see him murder some folks sometime. A couple of ugly spots with Ricochet. Kind of weird considering he's known for hitting all of his stuff so clean, but that codebreaker spot with Bushi was ugly as sin. The match comes down to Kojima fighting off LIJ by himself, and going down after a finisher rush. New champions.
Juice Robinson vs Cody
Can you believe this is a WK match? This would be like...Cody Rhodes vs CJ Parker at WM. The fuck, Gedo? Cody continues his wishlist tour outside of WWE that people pretended to be excited about until it actually happened and everyone realized that Cody Rhodes was pretty average and not very interesting. His whole thing is that he stands on his own, he's his own man, yet his entrance starts with "There's more than one royal family in wrestling" and his nickname is The American Nightmare, which Dustin used in his second WCW run. At this point, I'm much more interested in CJ's improvement than having to pretend Cody Rhodes is a world class talent that I'm supposed to give a shit about. This is an ugly match from both guys. Cody missed the disaster kick by a good 5 inches, but still slapped his leg, and CJ still took a bump on the apron for it. Tighten that shit up, dawg. You can't pull that loose and sloppy shit in Japan. Most of the match is centered around CJ selling his leg, and it's definitely more impressive than whatever Cody is doing. Cross Rhodes for the win. Not an impressive debut for Cody, especially not on such a huge stage.
Kyle O'Reilly vs Adam Cole ROH Championship
This part of the show where ROH ruins everything. Except at this point, we aren't to intermission yet, so there isn't much to ruin. It's very odd to me that Kyle always looks like he's about to cry. Even moreso when he's trying super hard to look like an ultra bad ass. Cole hits Kyle's arm with a chair while it was against the ring post. I'm sure KOR is still going to do submissions where he needs full arm strength. At least with arm work, he probably won't do his goofy cartoon wobbly legged selling. It's so clear he badly wants to be seen as a Shibata like bad ass, but I'm not buying it at all. I don't know about you guys, but I definitely tune into Wrestle Kingdom to watch bland Americans having bland matches against each other. Don't worry, Kyle does manage to find time to sneak in the wobbly leg selling for no reason. Cole wins with a brainbuster into a knee neckbraeker. New champion. Why is Cole stunned he won the title? He's been champ two times already. He shouldn't be shocked that he was able to win it again.
CHAOS vs Guerrillas of Destiny vs GBH IWGP Tag Team Championships
Good, another multi man tag where I'm not into pretty much everyone in the ring. I guess there is a benefit to them all being stuck in one or two matches instead spread across the card. The only guy impressing me at all in this is Tama Tonga, who is probably never moving up the card despite he and Fale being the only original members of the Bullet Club still in the company. The noble mind of Yano wins after a low blow and roll up. New champions.
Hiromu Takahashi vs KUSHIDA IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Takahashi is the former Kamaitachi. Hopefully this match is better than the match with Dragon Lee I recently watched. He attacks Kushida during intros. No tranquillo. Speaking of tranquillo, I swear I'm hearing that multiple times a day now. Everyone in lucha seems to be saying it, and watching even half Spanish speaking shows has it popping up constantly. It is suddenly in my purview in a big way. Kushida hits a huge tope and begins the arm work. Takahashi splatters him on the floor with a sunset flip bomb, so they're even. I'm very distracted that Takahashi looks and is dressed like Japanese Tyler Breeze. Some more ugly spots in this, mostly from Takahashi. Oh no, Takahashi goes for the standing senton to the floor spot that seems popular in lucha right now, but Kushida doesn't catch him at all, so he just splatters on the floor. I'm still not much of a fan of Kushida, so his rote arm work mixed with Takahashi's sloppiness didn't do a whole lot for me. Takahashi won with some wacky driver move. New champion.
Katsuyori Shibata vs Hirooki Goto NEVER Championship
Do you think it is called the NEVER championship because you'll never hold the IWGP Championship if you have this belt? Excited to see Goto lose yet another big time match, although every title has changed up to this point, so maybe there is some good juju coming his way. All I ask is that the headbutts are kept to a minimum. At this point, I don't know why Shibata even bothers with pretenses. Just jump right into seeing how hard you can hit/get hit. Oh neat, Shibata doing World of Sport escapes. Perhaps he picked that up working for Rev Pro. Certainly didn't learn it from watching the WOS revival pilot. What a shit show that was. Shibata has an answer for everything Goto does, and it's looking like Goto is going to have another choke job. Fans seem okay with it, because they boo when Goto gets offense. Shibata gets SO PISSED when Goto ruins his corner dropkick. Shibata dares Goto to hit him harder. HIT ME, BITCH (is what I assume he was thinking). Here comes the strike battle: It's so much better when the whole show isn't full of them. Anyway, I forgot to mention that Shibata has his neck, shoulders, arm, and knee all heavily taped up. Goto begins focusing on the neck, as that seems to be the weakest point. They just start chucking bombs at each other, both strikes and moves, and it ends with Goto hitting an inverted and regular GTR in succession. New champion! Goto won a big match! This was pretty fun. Not great, but fun.
Tetsuya Naito vs Hiroshi Tanahashi IWGP Intercontinental Championship
6 years ago, Naito had his break out match against Tanahashi. 4 years ago, he shocked the world by defeating Tanahashi and wining the G1, and has spent most of the past 2 years shitting on Tanahashi as often as possible for being a politicker who is holding people like him back, going back to Wrestle Kingdom 8 that saw Naito/Okada for the IWGP Championship get pushed from the main event in favor of Tanahashi/Nakamura for the IC Championship. Since then, Naito has gone on to become wildly popular, and in 2015 won both the IWGP and IC titles. Meanwhile, 2015 started with Tanahashi officially losing his ace spot to Okada at this very event, then vowing to carry the company on his back after the departures of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamure. However, he was defeated by Kenny Omega for the vacant IC Championship, then lost to Bad Luck Fale in the NJ Cup, battled multiple injuries during the year, and had several major loses in the G1 before taking the last few months of the year off to recover. Now, at 40 and after the worst year of his career, Tanahashi aims to prove he is still a once in a century talent as he faces off against a determined Naito.
Ultra hot crowd for this. Naito has gone from hated as a face, to loved as a heel, to hated as a heel. Crowd is definitely supporting Tanahashi, who I think has more to prove to Natio, the crowd, and himself than Naito does. After stalling from Naito, Tanahashi doesn't give a clean break, which gets an interesting reaction from the crowd. Tanahashi knows when to turn up the dickish aggressiveness, but it's usually against a face that the crowd likes more than him instead of a clear heel. Tanahashi seems one step ahead of Naito until Naito dropkicks him in the back of the knee. We gotta story brewin'. Naito just destroys the leg, tormenting Red Shoes along the way. He's starting to get cocky about it. This gives Tanahashi an opening to continue to work the mid section that he started at the beginning of the match with a liver shot. Tanahashi starts his own leg work, seemingly out of frustration. Apron Slingblade! That's followed by a HFF to the floor that pretty much flattens Naito. Wiped his ass out. However, Tanahashi's knees hit the edge of the padding, then got caught under the railing. Tanahashi gets crotched on the ropes, and the leg work continues. Now both are hobbling around, trying to throw the biggest bombs they can, but none of their big moves are hit as clean as they normally would be. Lol at a strike battle that involves them taking turns kicking each other in the knee. DRAGON SUPLEX HOLDUUUUUU. Nothing Tanahashi can throw at Naito will keep him down. Naito hits a tornado variant of the Destino, then a regular one to put Tanahashi away in the center of the ring. Title retained. Great match. This ain't your company anymore, Tanahashi.
Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada IWGP Championship
What a year Kenny had. After AJ, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson, and Shinsuke Nakamura left for WWE, Kenny took over as leader of the Bullet Club and went up to heavyweight. His first order of business was defeating Tanahashi for the vacant IC championship. He then became the first gajin to win the G1 Climax, securing his spot in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. At last year's event, Okada finally vanquished Tanahashi to become the true ace of New Japan, but shortly after lost his title to Naito. After regaining it, he's been nearly unstoppable, and he refuses to allow Kenny to take his spot from him. Interestingly, the voice over and interviews for the build up video are subtitled in English, which goes along with Omega wanting to take NJ out of Japan. This is obviously meant for outside audiences to be able to follow along. THE FIRST BATTLE FOR FUTURE IN TOKYO DOME.
Kenny Omega gets his own Terminator entrance. Fuck you, HHH. The opening minutes of the match have some light neck work and 70s NWA Championship spots. Somewhere between filler and feeling out. Finishers are teased, spit is spat, and Okada gets a table out. This is kind of how things go for like 10-15 minutes, with the pace slowly ramping up, but most of the signature moves being countered and no big bombs being thrown. Kenny seems focused on both the neck and back. Things ratchet up when Kenny does a triangle moonsault into the crowd. Then he double stomps the talbe on Okada's nads. This doesn't feel like a dome show main event. Nor does Kenny getting back dropped over the top rope through a table. He went fucking floying, too. Not only did he go through the table, but he landed awkwardly on the riser. His back is pretty fucked, but that doesn't stop him from being able to hit a DRAGON SUPERPLEX, which sees Okada land right on his god damn head. This feels like a PWG main event in the main event of a dome show. It's weird. I'm not sure how I feel about it. Fans are very into it, but this type of ever increasingly crazy spot based matches from Kenny are still pretty unique to NJ, particularly in the main event. Kenny kicks out of the Rainmaker, putting him on Nak/Tanahashi tier. Okada was so sad about it. LOOOOL Okada hit THAT'S INCREDIBLE! That was the lead in to I think the 4th Rainmaker. Okada wins. Title retained. A war, no doubt, but also heavily based on crazy spots
This follows the trend of the last few years of WK shows, which means an entirely skippable undercard with only the last 2-4 matches being worth paying attention to. It might be worse than normal this year, since the undercard was full of multi-man tags and a lot of really bland gaijin being sloppy as hell. I would say the show didn't really start to pick up until Goto/Shibata, which was quite good. Tanahashi/Naito was my match of the night. Great long term back story, great selling, great story in the ring, great overall story with Tanahashi and Naito as individual characters and performers in NJ. Tanahashi is now 40, starting to break down, and has lost two years in a row at the dome. He's no longer the ace, and now it seems like he's not even in the top 2-3 guys in the main event scene. Where does he go from here?
Okada/Omega was a great spectacle, but I feel like it wasn't very fitting as a dome show main event. From the pre-match video to the match itself, it very much felt like the whole thing was being played more to American audiences, especially considering the match itself was essentially a PWG match in a NJ ring. Which is fine, that kind of match does have its place, but I'm not sure the main event of the 1/4 show is that place. Okada is Okada, and Kenny had some flashes of brilliance with his selling and movements, but overall it felt like a match that NJ has always been a reprieve from over the past decade, and I'm not sure I'm excited for NJ main events to lose their NJ feel to cater to American tastes. I don't watch NJ for a promotion playing to Americans. People claiming it as 6 stars or literally the greatest match in the history of the industry should maybe let the dust settle a bit and their high to come down, and then they'll realize it was a great spetacle and spot fest, but not even the best of WK match of the last few years. It certainly wasn't as good as Okada/Tanahashi from 10, or Ibushi/Nakamura from 9. That's not to say it was bad or anything. It was pretty rad. I'm worried that Kenny Omega might usher in an era of increasingly crazy spotfests and gimmicks in the NJ main event.