Just finished watching, still exited, have absolutely no intention whatsover to bore you with a long preamble because I NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS. So without further ado, this is what happened at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom 10 held at the legendary Tokyo Dome:
PRE-SHOW New Japan RAMBO
Order of entry: Jushin Thunder Liger, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, Tiger Mask, Cheeseburger, Hiro Saito, YOSHI-HASHI, Mascara Dorada, Captain New Japan, Manabu Nakanishi, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Ryusuke Taguchi, Shiro Koshinaka, King Tonga, Great Kabuki, Kazushi Sakuraba, Jado
Order of elimination: CNJ, Fujiwara, Tiger Mask, Saito, Liger, Nakanishi, Nagata, Kojima, Tonga, Tenzan, Kabuki, Sakuraba, Cheeseburger, YOSHI-HASHI, Koshinaka, Taguchi
Harmless fun involving appearances by most of NJPW’s legends, a surprise return by Haku (King Tonga) and everybody refusing to sell for poor Cheeseburger. Not a bad way to warm up for the main show.
We then got the proof WWE hasn’t the monopoly on silliness with a skit involving a child actress, some giant figurines and a comedian in tiger underpants. And yes, I swear, I was only drinking coffee, nothing else. My cats did like the cat though…
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match: The Young Bucks defeated reDRagon (c), RPG Vice and Sydal and Ricochet in 17:42 via pinfall to become the new Champions
I wasn’t a fan of once again just throwing all four Jr heavyweight teams in a match at first, but, I must admit, this worked rather well. Aside from the expected spotfest, the pacing and story of this match was much better then you would expect on such occasion, which helped make this one stand out. Some great spots of course and also a trip down memory lane as Cody Hall (who was in the Young Bucks croner) used his father’s Razor’s Edge to propel Ricochet over the top rope onto a cluster of wrestlers at ringside. But all the fun and spots can’t really hide the fact this particular scene remains dreadfully stale. The Young Bucks winning doesn’t really achieve anything, reDragon once again lost their title without being pinned, Sydal and Ricochet were the stars of the match, but to no avail and Romero, who is rumored to join NXT shortly took the pin. One can only hope we’ll finally have the reDragon vs Young Bucks or reDragon vs Ricochet and Sydal or Young Bucks vs Ricochet and Sydal showdowns this division clearly needs. Aside from all that, a very enjoyable opener that easily achieved his goal of getting the crowd into the spirit of things.
NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Title Match: Toru Yano and the Briscoes defeated Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi and Bad Luck Fale in 11:30 via pinfall to become the inaugural Champions:
As usual, the best part of Tanahashi’s performance was his girlfriends entrance. Fale continues to be the best Big Show impersonator out there. And no, that’s not a compliment. Which left Tama Tonga, the Briscoes and Toru Yano’s antics to provide entertainment.And provide they did, although the pacing of this match did feel a bit odd at times. This was clearly designed to get the Briscoes over with the Japanese crowds (which might indicate more NJPW appearances for Jay and Mark in the coming months), and, aside from a few moments where they lost the crowd, it worked. Doomsday Device by the Brsicoes (with a little help from a yano chair shot) on Tonga to end this one. Harmless fun with a great performance by Mark and good work from Jay and the always underrated Tama Tonga.
ROH World Title Match: Jay Lethal w/Truth Martini defeated Michael Elgin in 12:00 via pinfall to retain the title
See, here is the thing I have against screwjob finishes. Unless they are well booked and actually happen for a reason (which is seldom the case), they tend to ruin what could otherwise been called a good match. And it was a good match, really, with Elgin and lethal working their asses off to keep the crowd interested and they mostly succeeded. They had a good mix between the lethal control spots and Egin’s powermoves-based comebacks (which the crowd loved) and then the finish happened. Just as you thought it was time for Big Mikes BIG comeback, Martini got involved, Lethal used the Book of Truth on Elgin, Lethal Injection and that was that. The finish felt really flat and hurt a match that could (should) have been better with a more logical booking. I mean, the crowd favorite lost without having had his crowd-pleasing final comeback, Lethal retained but didn’t really get over with the Japanese crowds and it all felt a bit pointless in the end. I feel it’s kind of a missed opportunity for ROH here and that’s really a shame.
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match: KUSHIDA (w/ Ryusuke Taguchi) defeated Champion Kenny Omega (w/ The Young Bucks) in 12:45 via pinfall to become the new Champion
Start was a bit chaotic with tons of outside interferences and with Taguchi (dressed as Doc Brown for some reason) who attempted to counter The Young Bucks shenanigans. Omega is one of those wrestlers who I like but at the same time frustrates me to no end when I watch (most) of his matches. I mean, I KNOW the guy is an amazing wrestler… when he isn’t burying all that talent under silly gimmicks and antics. Fortunately, Taguchi and the Bucks more or less eliminated each-other after awhile leaving KUSHIDA and Omega with just enough time to showcase how good they really are. Outside interference aside I also really liked the story in this match, with KUSHIDA targeting Omega’s injured arm, making it more difficult for The Cleaner to hit his One Winged Angel finisher. That proved to be his downfall as KUSHIDA countered another OWA attempt into a cradle for the win. Good match with some great selling (especially from Omega), some amazing counters and some great sequences. Also it had the right winner since KUSHIDA certainly deserved this moment. But this match could definitely have been so much better without the extras.
IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe defeated Carl Anderson and Doc Gallows in 12:45 via pinfall to become the new Champions
Very good tag match telling a classic beloved babyfaces vs hated heels tale. Honma and Anderson worked the majority of the match which was definitely the right call here as those two have have their respective roles down to perfection. Both Makabe and Gallows brought in the power game when needed and all those elements combined to give us a very entertaining outing. It was easy to forget last year, during their disastrous feud with The Kingdom and maria, but, when given the opportunity, Gallows and Anderson are actually a pretty good and complementary tag team and they proved it once again here. GBH on their side are just perfect in the role of crowd favorites with Makabe providing the necessary support for the super-over Honma to finally achieve his dream of winning a Championship belt. Finishing sequence was tons of fun with a Doomsday Kokeshi on Anderson followed by a top rope Kokeshi and King Kong Knee drop on Gallows for the very popular babyfaces win. Best match these two teams could have, there was some pressure on them but they certainly delivered. I also hope this will be the start of a renewed Carl Anderson singles push, as for GBH, well we’ll have to see what NJPW has in store for them (The Briscoes?).
Hirooki Goto defeated Tetsuya Naito in 12:11 via pin
I don’t want to make too many WWE references in an article devoted to NJPW awesomeness, but isn’t it funny how Naito had to turn heel to become popular and entertaining again? And don’t we have some WWE wrestlers who could certainly benefit from such a turn also? Anyway, Naito’s Los Ingobernables predictably jumped Goto before the match started and this all led to a rather crazy table spot with Naito nailing Goto with a neck-breaker off the apron onto the table. Yeah. That was sick. Both went back and forth with some stiff offense until the inevitable ref bump brought BUSHI and EVIL back into the game. Goto fought them off and eventually finished Naito with the Shouten Kai. This was a good match but I felt the outside interference, who has become Los Ingobernables forte lately, was a bit diluted by the overabundance of interference in previous matches. I mean Hall in the opener, Martini in the ROH match, Young Bucks and Taguchi in the Jr Heavyweight match, there comes a time when trop is too much. They would have been better off toning it down in previous matches so it would have felt more relevant in the one match were it really counted. That aside, I was also a bit surprised by the winner. Not that Naito’s momentum will slow down noticeably by the loss, but a Goto win almost certainly means he will be in line for a title shot at one of the New Beginnings show, and that’s surprising giving Goto only enjoyed a caretaker reign with the IC title last year. If I had to guess, they’re prepping him for a shot a the NEVER title, while Naito will rise to the top later this year (possibly at Dominion) but I’ve been wrong before. Speaking of the NEVER title…
NEVER Openweight Title Match: Katsuyori Shibata defeated Tomohiro Ishii in 17:15 via pinfall to become the new Champion
I used the word “mesmerizing” in my preview to describe what this match would be, and, as it turns out, I couldn’t have picked a better word. But perhaps a word of warning first. This is the kind of match that you will either love and won’t be able to stop watching over and over again, or that you will hate and stop watching after two minutes, because it’s absolutely brutal. But if you enjoy watching two great wrestlers beating the everlasting hell out of each-other, then seek this one out and you will be in for quite a spectacle. And that’s one of the thing that NJPW has done very well for the NEVER title, creating a scene where the matches feel very different from anything else on the card. As for the match itself, well it’s the Stone Pitbull against the Rabid Dog, The Brawler against The Wrestler, two guys who go all out from the start, and keep going at the same frantic pace for the next 17 minutes. Ishii went into full dastardly asshole mode here which was the right call, as the crowd, who favored Shibata from the start anyway, went crazy for each of his comebacks and went completely nuts when he finally scored the match-winning PK. I’ve said it before, if you’re not familiar with Japanese Puroresu and want to know what it’s all about, this is THE match you NEED to watch. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but, afterwards, you will know. Fantastic performances by both, but, gods, that HAD to hurt. A lot.
IWGP Intercontinental Title Match : Shinsuke Nakamura defeated AJ Styles in 24:10 via pinfall to retain
I’m actually struggling to find words to describe this one. What do you say about a match everybody has such high expectations for, only to find that Nak and AJ actually managed to SURPASS those sky-high expectations? Thank you Shinsuke and AJ? Stop reading and go watch this thing? It’s gonna be difficult to top this a s Match Of The Year Contender? Hell it’s gonna be difficult to top this as Match of the Decade contender? Because yes, it was THAT good. NJPW absolutely made the right call on this one by foregoing the usual Bullet Club shenanigans. That was not the story of this match. The story was incredibly simple. two guys who went out there to have the best WRESTLING match they possibly could. And boy, did they deliver. This is a masterpiece crafted by two who are at the top of their art. Because wrestling at this level IS art. Not one wasted movement. Not one thing that was or felt out of place. Everything was spot on, was done for a reason, told a story. And, amazingly since it was their first singles match EVER, their chemistry was off the charts. The dramatic build-up towards the finishing stretch was done effortlessly and flawlessly and when Nakamura finally put Styles away after a double Boma Yé, you knew you had just watched the best wrestling has to offer nowadays. And then came that awesome post-match moment with Nakamura offering a fist-bump to Styles, out of respect, and Styles accepting it. Goosebumps. This was perfect. No other words for it. GO WATCH! NOW!
IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Kazuchika Okada defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi in 36:58 via pinfall to retain
And then it was time for one of the greatest rivalries of our time to come to a close (for now at least). Would Okada finally be able to conquer his demons? Would he finally be able to defeat Tanahashi on the biggest stage of them all? As it turns out, he could, but what an awesome battle he had to go through before getting there. The story had been partly written last year, Okada thought he had Tanahashi’s number but Tanahashi defeated Okada by taking out his legs. No picture perfect dropkick. No tombstones. No Rainmakers. Nothing left for Okada but get crushed by the High Fly Flow. After that soul-crushing defeat, Okada fought back, defeated Fale, defeated Styles to regain his title, defeated Tenryu, the celebrated veteran but there was one obstacle left for him. the biggest of them all. New japan’s Ace. Hiroshi Tanahashi. And Tanahashi wasted no time sending a message to Okada by attacking his legs again. Just as he did last year. You could feel Okada’s desperation as one after the other, his favorite weapons were taken away from him. But this WAS about pride. This WAS about ego. This was about refusing to admit the other was better. And this year Okada was able to call upon those last reserves, dig deeper and go beyond the pain, beyond the despair, past the demons. A story like one you seldom witness in a wrestling ring but one that was told expertly by two man who know each-other so well and have such great chemistry that you couldn’t help but feel every blow, every countered move, every moment of doubt as if you were there. That finishing stretch were Tanahashi kept countering Okada only for Okada to refuse to let go of Tanahashi’s arm, because he KNEW the answer was his Rainmaker was one of the most riveting thing I’ve ever witnessed in wrestling. And what about those heart-stopping near-falls? And that final, liberating Rainmaker? Do I need to say again that you need to stop reading and GO WATCH THIS?
This was wrestling storytelling at it’s very best and we finally know the answer to that question I was talking about aerlier.
Who is the Ace of NJPW? Kazuchika Okada is the Ace of NJPW.
But now, I’m staring to wonder what Nakamura has to say about this..
WK 10 was a very good wrestling show from match one to seven. Sure you can criticize the booking here and there, perhaps a bit too much of outside interference in the under-card matches and that ROH match should have been booked in a different way, but the action was there, not a bad match in sight and some great action. And then the last three matches happened and turned this show towards wrestling greatness. Many predicted before-hand that it would be difficult to top WK 9, but NJPW did it again and produced a show that, in my opinion, surpassed last year’s event. If you need something to start your wrestling year in the most awesome way possible, then wait no longer, go to New Japan World, spend those 999 yens (it’s about 9 dollars, give or take) and watch wrestling greatness. Seriously do it, or I promise you that I will keep taunting you all (yes that means you Joel, Chris, BD and Jonah) for the rest of the year.
Tags: AJ Styles, Bulet Club, Carl Anderson, doc gallows, GBH, Hirooki Goto, hiroshi tanahashi, Jay Lethal, Katsuyori Shibata, kazuchika okada, Kenny Omega, Kushida, Matt Sydal, Michael Elgin, njpw, redragon, Ricochet, RPG Vice, shinsuke nakamura, Tama Tonga, Tetsuya Naito, The Briscoes, Tokyo Dome, Tomoaki Honma, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Wrestle Kingdom 10, Young Bucks