Wrestle Kingdom 10
Young Bucks vs reDRagon vs Roppongi Vice vs Matt Sydal/Ricochet IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships
I already feel like I've seen this match 100 times. Considering I don't really like anyone in this match, I can't say I'm looking forward to this at all. The Bullet Club attack before the bell. The ROH/NJPW partnership is brutal. The ROH guys are so clearly below the NJ guys. Also, that battle royal/whatever the fuck on the pre-show made me excited to see the Young Bucks. Lots of superkicks. Lots of SUCK ITs. But at least SOMETHING is happening. WWE probably should have hired Ricochet instead of Neville or Crews. His flippy floppies are more impressive than both, and he's taller with a better look than Neville. Cody Hall gets massive heat for stopping Puma's dive. Outsider's Edge to the floor! Lol at Matt Buck doing Nash mannerisms. Richocet's athleticism is insane. He actually jumps OUT OF FRAME with a springboard SSP to the floor. Out of frame on the hard cam. reDRagon's double team moves are actually more convoluted than the Young Bucks'. Think about that for a second. This is kind of your standard multi man junior tag, with lots of spots and no story, but it is pretty inoffensive. Better than last year's version, at least. Fans are very into it. The Bucks try to steal the win after stereo SSPs, but it doesn't work. It does after they hit More Bang For Your Buck. New champions.
Bullet Club vs Yano/Briscoe Brothers NEVER Six Man Tag Team Championships
More ROH shit. Come on. I also don't get the point of this new title, considering NJPW has done absolutely nothing with the NEVER singles title, just like they did absolutely nothing with the U-30 title when they had it. Lol at two guys trying to start an ROH chant and it just echoing. Mark is surely going to regret doing the Cactus Elbow as a regular move. Yano's noble mind doesn't do much again the Bullet Club. I fucking hate Yujiro. That shitty, unsafe piece of shit. Roman Reigns should just go ahead and steal Tama's face paint. Yano is the FIP for this which is...whatever. I don't give a shit about any of these guys, either. At least Tama looks cool. I'm sick of Yano's shtick, sick of the Bullet Club, never gave a shit about the Briscoes. The gaijin influence is getting out of hand. In the first two main card shows, 12 out of 14 competitors were gaijin. On New JAPAN's biggest show of the year. Not only does Mark do the Cactus Elbow as a regular move, he also does a Blockbuster off the apron regularly. Real great for longevity. Something else bugging me about all the ROH dudes is how fucking loud and annoying they are. They always have some cute noise or reaction for every move. Jay and Tama have a long segment of the match to themselves. It isn't very good. Briscoes get the win after the Doomsday Device. New Champions. Whatever match. The idea of having to see more Brisco Brothers in NJPW is not very appealing.
Jay Lethal vs Michael Elgin ROH Championship
Christ. ANOTHER ROH match? Big Mike, you ain't Dr. Death. Jay Lethal...you ain't shit. I can't believe this is on this show. Elgin has somehow caught on in Japan. Maybe because he basically just does the greatest hits of a bunch of popular American hosses from the 80s and 90s. Remember when NJPW did their joint super shows with real companies like WCW or other big Japanese promotions? A couple of minutes in, they're teasing apron spots that probably will never come into play anyway. Truth Martini causes distractions. A second Jay Lethal suicide dive is missed while a replay of the first is playing. Lethal basically just smashed the shit out of the guardrail each time and they clearly hurt him more than Elgin. Not only does Lethal steal Savage and Flair spots, he's now also stealing Chris Jericho's spots. He doesn't do anything original. I know the last few matches will deliver, but this has been a slog of a show so far. All these trashy American indie dudes are not cutting it on such a giant show. Imagine a ton of DDT guys getting half the card at WM. I'm not into this at all. There is no story at all, and just when you think one is developing, they drop it immediately. Lethal no sells all this power shit, which is Elgin's only bright spot, so that's not doing anyone any favors. Lethal gets the win after using Truth's book (the shittiest weapon in wrestling) and hitting the Lethal Injection (the shittiest finisher in wrestling). Title retained. Garbage.
KUSHIDA vs Kenny Omega IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
After coming out in a Delorean at last year's show, it will be hard for KUSHIDA to top that entrance. This year, he has Doc Brown in the ring with him. Omega does a Terminator inspired entrance. The Young Bucks and Kenny superkick Doc and then attack KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA is very fast. Kenny uses what I assume is hairspray in the eyes of OG Kush. Then on his own dick. A garbage can gets heavily used. Somehow the ref seems to not see or hear it. I'm always confused with Omega. Is he a comedy heel or not? A comedy heel you're supposed to take seriously? The majority of his offense seem like joke moves, and he has the most over the top reactions to everything. KUSHIDA begins focusing on the arm of Omega. FINALLY someone uses some psychology and storytelling on this show. KUSHIDA stays on the arm, hitting a second rope kimura divorce court, which Omega for some reason sells like a DDT. And then KUSHIDA breaks his fucking hand punching Kenny in the jaw. It's fake, y'all. You don't have to actually punch each other in the face. Kenny hits a one armed powerbomb, which was pretty neat considering most dudes would do the powerbomb and then sell the arm. KUSHIDA counters the One Winged Angel with a victory roll to get the win. New champion. This was pretty solid once the arm work started up. Before that, it was a weird comedy match with blatant cheating. This was the first match to have any kind of story or psychology. I still don't really buy KUSHIDA as the new generation face of the juniors.
Karl Anderson/Doc Gallows vs Toki Makabe/Tomoaki Honma IWGP Tag Team Championships
"Eight. Eight Wrestle Kingdoms in a row. That's fucking Undertaker style!" Honma and Anderson begin. Fans still love Honma, which is pretty weird considering the domestic abuse stuff last year. Shows a pretty big difference between American and Japanese cultures. Anderson at least looks like he's spent some time in the gym. He no longer looks quite so egg-like, so there's that, I guess. As is typical with Bullet Club matches, there is a lot of cheating and fuckery to be found here. The focus seems to be on Makabe's frequently injured jaw. It's something, at least. Honma gets a hot tag, revealing that the back of his head has been busted open at some point. His fire doesn't last long, as he's quickly in dire straights anyway. Karl attempts a super Kanyon Cutter, only for both guys to slip off the top rope. Doomsday Kokeshi! That's an interesting variation on the move. Kokeshi. King Kong Knee Drop. New champions. Honma is finally a champion!
Hirooki Goto vs Testuya Naito
Finally, an actual Japanese match. This is the first match on the show to feature only native talent. Hours in. Naito attacks a camera man for no reason. Goto hits the ring in a hurry and is ready to beat some ass. Naito bails and his Los Ingobernables partners ambush Goto. Sons of bitches. They're already on their Bullet Club shit, with tons of interference in the first 3 minutes. Naito does a neckbreaker from the apron through a table. Well, on a table is usually more accurate in Japan. It kind of broke. Naito is such a little cunt. Spitting and cheating and just being a dick head. Goto gets tired of his shit and just starts wrecking him. Naito's turn from jumpy babyface to "gives zero fucks" tweener to shithead heel has been very FnP. And it all started because the fans loved him until his push got too strong and they turned on him. This shit stems back to WK8 when he and Okada were supposed to main event and the fans voted for Tanahashi/Nakamura instead. Goto hits a disgusting avalanche Yoshi Tonic. Naito kicked out, but JEEEZUS. The impact was insane. I'm not sure I've seen anyone hit a mat so hard. The first real strike battle of the night happens here, which is refreshing since a lot of shows in the last 2-3 years would have a strike battle in every match. This show waits until one of the featured matches before they start pulling that shit. Ref bump! Bullet Club 2.0. Naito lands right on his fucking head from a lariato. Right on top of his fucking head. Los Ingobernables try to get involved while the ref is out, only to end up taking each other out. Naito hits a low blow and jackknife pin 12HEGOTHIMNOHEDIDN'T. I thought that was it. So did the crowd. Goto counters the Destino with a huge headbutt to the jaw, then follows it with the Shouten for the win. Finally, a good match. Really great finishing sequence, especially when you were expecting the Bullet Club like bullshit only for it all to backfire.
Tomohiro Ishii vs Katsuyori Shibata NEVER Championship
I'm sure this is going to be disgusting. Permanent brain damage incoming. They start off throwing all kinds of shit, but both avoid the bigger bombs. Strike battle 1 (elbows). Strike battle 2 (seated kicks to the back). Jesus Christ some of these kicks from Shibata. That will lacerate a kidney, breh. Strike battle 3 (chops). Shibata adding shit like a kip up right into an elbow to the face. The respectfulness of the "let's see who can hit harder" game seems to have gone away already. This is exactly what I assumed it would be. They are fucking murdering each other. Ishii starts walking into elbows, pushing Shibata across the ring while doing it, so he can unleash his own and repay the face washes. Shibata's elbows are legitimately disgusting. Jesus fuck. What's this? Wrestling moves? Weird. I just realized this is the first time I've seen Ishii without his shoulder taped in like 2 years. Strike battle 4 (lariatos vs kicks). This is essentially fighting spirit: the match. The kind of shit that only works in Japan. So much better than all the American bullshit for the first half of the show. If I wanted to see shitty US indies, i'd turn it to one of my local stations that only broadcasts in SD in 2016 and airs ROH at midnight on Saturday. One of the announcers, I think Liger, can't help but laugh at all these strikes. Because that's really all you can do. A HOLY SHIT with a chuckle. It's either that or be disgusted at your complicity in men giving each other brain damage for your enjoyment. Okay, now I'm grossed out. Strike battle 5 is headbutts. The thuds literally made me queasy. Disgusting. Shibata finally gets the win with a PK. New champion! What a war.
I really don't understand how either of these guys can keep having these matches.
AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura IWGP Intercontinental Championship
HYPED. I can appreciate that the Bullet Club has all been in matching gear tonight...except for the Young Bucks. Those shits. AJ is wearing a pretty nifty mask for his entrance. Nakamura is such a star. Very slow and tentative opening minutes, with both guys just feeling each other out. AJ has the first big moment of the match with his dropkick. AJ takes a fall from the second rope, tweaking his publicly known back injury. He was faking it. SWERVE! He's not faking it after Nakamura attacks it in the ring and out. AJ has a lot of vocal supporters at the dome. Nak continues to focus almost all of his offense on AJ's back. AJ now has to rely on his strikes and submissions, as he can barely even lift Nak at this point. Calf Killer! This is countered into an armbar, which is broken with a hammer fist to the orbital socket. Jumping BOMA YE. I expect about 8 more of those. AJ hits a knee of his own that appears to KO Nakamura. 450. 12HEGOTHIMNOHEDIDN'T. Seemed like that was it. AJ has a nasty looking bruise on his shoulder/collar bone. Strike combo is countered into a rolling cross arm breaker, transitioned into a triangle. AJ's fading. Rampage Bomb Styles Clash! Nakamura kicks out! Crowd is losing their shit for this. Bloody Sunday! Curb stomp! I think this crowd wants AJ to win. AJ goes for the Styles Clash again, but then decides to go for an avalanche version. I'm sure that won't come back to haunt him at all. Nak gets free and hits an avalanche Samoan Driver for...TWO! BOMA YE. BOMA YE. Nakamura wins! Title retained. The two fish bump after the match, showing respect for each other after the war they just had.
I don't know if this was as good as Nakamura/Ibushi at last year's show, but it was great and I've very happy it got to happen on the biggest stage possible, especially if both guys are wrapping up their time in NJPW. AJ's NJPW run has been nothing short of incredible.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada IWGP Heavyweight Championship
This is the closest thing NJ has to the Jumbo/Misawa generational battle. Despite Okada's control of the IWGP Championship over the past few years, Tanahashi is still the ace, and the one guy that is preventing Okada from truly being THE GUY in NJPW. Even though he's coming in as champion, he's something of the underdog here. If he loses to Tanahashi again, he'll never be accepted as the true ace. Okada is very calm and collected in this. Tanahashi is frustrated early on by Okada seeming to not be shook at all. There is some real tension in this. I get the impression that Tanahashi has no intention of giving up his spot anytime soon, and if Okada wants it, he's going to have to earn it. Tanahashi makes his big move, chop blocking Okada and sticking with the knee work. Tanahashi takes a crazy flip bump off the apron, and the story of the match seems to be falling into place. Okada does a crossbody over the guardrail, one of Tanahashi's signature moves. Okada really seems to have answers for everything Tanahashi does. Then he gets cocky about it and pays. Dragon screw on the turnbuckles. Not the pad. The metal. Then in the ropes. The two drop pretenses of a wrestling match and just start blasting each other in the face with hatred in their eyes. They're throwing bombs. RAINMAKAAAAAA. Tanahashi kicks out! I think that was the first time anyone has kicked out of that. Okada hits the High Fly Flow! Rainmaker from Tanahashi. Rainmaker countered with the Slingblade. Dragon Suplex gets a 2 count. Two High Fly Flows. Okada won't die. This crowd has lost its mind. The young boys at ringside are marking out. Another High Fly Flow...countered with a dropkick! Okada hits THREE Rainmakers in a row. Okada wins! Title retained. The Okada Era has officially begun. Standing ovation from the crowd and announcers.
Another great match. Okada forcefully taking the ace position from Tanahashi after being repeatedly embarrassed over the past few years was great. Both guys put on the performances of their careers, with Tanahashi probably having his last dome show main event and transitioning into a similar role that John Cena had in 2015. It plays off all their other matches, especially last year's that ended with Okada weeping while being helped to the back after losing.
Not a good show before Naito/Goto. A great show from Naito/Goto on. The over-reliance on sub-par American indie guys made the first half of the show brutal to get through. This is the biggest show of the year and should be a showcase for the native talent, not a bunch of lame ass ROH dudes. The only reason NJ has partnered with ROH is because ROH is the only promotion in America with decent TV coverage. It's not because of the talent, who are clearly nowhere near as good as most of the NJ guys. They really, really dragged the first half of the show down. 18 out of 30 wrestlers on the main card were foreigners. I watch a New Japan show for New Japan talent, not shitty ROH talent.
Anyway, the main events all delivered tremendously. It will be interesting to see where NJ goes in 2016. With the rumors of the Doc/Anderson/AJ and Nakamura all leaving, plus Tanahashi likely moving down the card and doing more outside work, some big changes seem ahead for New Japan.