The SmarK Rant for New Japan Pro Wrestling – WRESTLE KINGDOM 12
Originally written 01.04.18
For those wondering about streaming options, I’m using Microsoft Edge browser on my Xbox One, and it looks perfect on the TV. Navigation is a bit of a pain, but ya takes what you can get.
Live from Tokyo, Japan
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Don Callis.
The New Japan RUMBLE
We’ve got Kitamura and BUSHI to start, with Royal Rumble rules and new entrants every minute. Kitamura flexes a lot, but BUSHI chokes him out with a shirt as Delirious is #3. I thought he retired, actually. Some funny stuff as he goes after the insanely massive Kitamura and all his stuff is completely ignored while he yells “Oh shit!” in terror. Leo Tonga is #4 and he’s gotta be on Vince’s radar. Dude is HUGE, although lanky like early Kevin Nash was. Haku has some impressive genes. He chops down Kitamura for two as Manabu Nakanishi is #5. That dude sure got old. Chase Owens is #6, representing the Tongan faction despite being white. Oh, wrestling. Package Piledriver finishes Delirious at 6:33. Nakanishi tosses out BUSHI at 7:08 and Yuji Nagata is #7. He slugs it out with Nakanishi for some angry old man action, but gets clipped and goes down. Tonga gets pined at 8:33 in a dogpile, and TAKA is #8. I’m surprised he’s still using his WWF music. Nagata rolls up Nakanishi and pins him at 9:00, and then everyone dogpiles Nagata and pins him at 9:10. Then Chase hits Kitamura with a package piledriver and pins him at 9:50 to clear the ring. Kanemaru is #9 to give us another Suzuki-Gun guy and they double-team TAKA. Desperado is #10 and it’s 3 on 1 against poor Owens. And he gets the BOOZE OF DOOM spit in his face and tossed out at 12:44. And then JUSHIN LIGER is #11 and it’s SHOTAY for everyone. And then he puts Desperado in the Romero special like a dork and the other two lay him out while he’s exposed. Never expose your sensitive underbelly! Any cat will teach you that. Tiger Mask is #12 and they go after his mask immediately like a bunch of jerks, but he reverses and goes after Desperado’s mask instead. He gets a tiger driver for two and Gino Gambino is #13. He must be new. Desperado loses his mask and Liger cradles him for two, but TAKA rolls them over and Liger is gone at 16:47. Then Kanemaru gets piled on and pinned at 16:57. Gambino pins TAKA with a lariat at 17:11 to get rid of Suzuki-Gun. So Gambino is alone, and Toma Hanare is #14 (not sure of the spelling there), looking like love child of Tatanka and Barbarian. He hits some power stuff on Gambino, and Yoshi-Hashi is #15. David Finlay is #16 and everyone gangs up on Gambino and pins him at 21:23. Finlay rolls up Hashi at 21:40 and pins him. Yujiro Takahashi is #17 and he’s sporting quite the arm candy. Finlay is alone at the moment, and immediately gets clotheslined out at 22:51. So Takahashi stops to party and Cheeseburger is #18. They brawl outside and Takahashi kicks his ass, but Cheeseburger comes back as my man Satoshi Kojima is #19. Takahashi jumps him and takes a Koji Kutter, but comes back with a fisherman’s buster. And then Tenzan is #20 and DAMN I see what Dave and Bryan are talking about with his ankles being all messed up. That’s terrifying. And finally, Masahito Kakihara is #21, back from the UWFI days. Tenzima hits 3D on Takahashi and pins him at 29:40. Cheeseburger tries the chops on Kojima in the corner and gets destroyed as a result, but collides with Tenzan while charging at Cheeseburger. And then Kakihara pulls down the top rope, eliminating Tenzima and leaving us with Cheeseburger and Kakihara as the final two. STO finishes for Kakihara at 32:20. This was of course terrible, but that’s beside the point. Lots of goofy fun.
IWGP Junior tag titles: Roppongi 3K v. The Young Bucks
Matt talks some trash and buries 3K as “young boys”, but Yoh quickly takes him down with a Sharpshooter and Matt makes the ropes. Then we get a goofy spot with dueling Sharpshooters from Matt and Yoh, and 3K double-teams Matt with elbows in the corner and the Bucks bail. 3K follows with stereo dives, but Yoh hits his back on the stage and the Bucks go to work. First up, Nick hits him with a german suplex on the apron, then the Bucks go after Rocky Romero and powerbomb him on the stage. He’s a MANAGER now. That’s unfair! Back in, things are grim for Yoh and Nick goes to work on the back, with Matt adding an apron powerbomb that gets two for Nick. Yoh fights back and puts Matt on the floor, but Nick cuts him off while Matt complains about his back. Matt hobbles in and hits a backbreaker while selling his own back, but Nick comes in and nails Sho off the apron with a high kick. Back to the apron, where poor Rocky is still dead, but Yoh fights off Matt and backdrops him onto the ramp. Nick flies out with a dive, but misses and hits his brother instead, and it’s hot tag Sho. Suplexes on the Bucks and he hits Nick with a kick combo for two. Rolling germans on Matt, and Nick tries to stop it, but Sho suplexes them both at the same time! Never not awesome. That gets two on Nick. They take out Matt with stereo knees, but it’s a superkick party from the Bucks. Nick counters the 3K with a tornado DDT and hits Sho with an enzuigiri into a lariat. Yoh slugs it out with Matt and goes to his back, and neither guy can suplex the other because of the hurt backs. So Matt guts through the pain and powerbombs Yoh into Nick’s knee, setting up a swanton for two. Sharpshooter on Yoh, but he fights to the ropes. 3K gets stereo Sharpshooters, but the Bucks keep each other from tapping, and Nick superkicks his way out of trouble. Sho slugs it out with Nick, which leads to an awesome spot where each guy starts kicking the injured back of the other opponent, just to be jerks. Nick superkicks Sho to the floor and follows with a corkscrew moonsault. Matt superkicks Yoh to put him down, setting up the Meltzer Driver and another Sharpshooter to win the titles at 18:05. Good opener, although the stuff with the back injuries meant that it wasn’t the usual frenetic pace from the Bucks. ***1/4
NEVER 6-man title gauntlet: Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr & Iizuka v. Michael Elgin & War Machine
As predicted by Kevin Kelly, Suzuki-Gun jumps War Machine before the bell, but Elgin tosses them around and slingshots onto Iizuka with a splash. Delayed suplex on Iizuka, and Hanson comes in and rubs his beard in his face. Ew. Taichi brings the ringbell hammer in and works on Hanson in the corner, but he cartwheels away from Iizuka and brings in Rowe. Ray slugs it out with ZSJ, and that goes badly for Zack, as Rowe just flings him all over. It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and Hanson comes in with a moonsault on Iizuka, which misses badly. War Machine recovers and beats on Zack again while Taichi literally tackles the ref out of the ring, allowing Iizuka to clear the ring with Iron Fingers, and Zack wraps up Ray Rowe with a wacky choke submission at 6:11.
Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & Iizuka v. Toru Yano, Trent Baretta & Tomohiro Ishii
Big brawl on the outside while Iizuka distracts the ref, and Suzuki-Gun quickly double-teams Yano and gets two. But then Iizuka tries the Iron Fingers, and Yano (master of the rollup), rolls up Taichi and pins him at 0:36.
Toru Yano, Trent Baretta & Tomohiro Ishii v. Togi Makabe, Juice Robinson & Ryu Taguchi
Juice slugs away on Yano and Makabe comes in with corner clotheslines on Yano and Ishii, and a lariat gets two on Yano. Powerslam on Baretta, and then everyone clotheslines the shit out of Yano, setting up Taguchi’s leg lariat for two. Juice throws more punches, but Ishii has had enough and lays him out. Taguchi does his Nakamura impression for a big laugh, but runs into a rollup from Yano at 3:30. The man can do a rollup, you have to give him that.
Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa v. Toru Yano, Trent Baretta & Tomohiro Ishii
It’s quickly a slaughter for the Bullet Club, with Loa hitting a death valley driver on Baretta on the apron to kill him off, but Ishii goes alone with the Samoans. Fale fights off a suplex attempt, but misses a splash and Ishii stubbornly tries again and hits the suplex this time. Fale brings in Tonga and they hit their Guerrilla Warfare on Baretta and beat on him in the corner, but he fights them off and accidentally moonsaults into a gun-stun. Fale cleans house, but Baretta counters Tonga into the Dudebuster for the pin and the titles at 7:00. I’d consider that a pretty big upset. That last match was kind of a mess, and the whole thing veered wildly between comedy match and serious brawl. I’d go **1/2 overall.
HANDSOME BATTLE: Cody Rhodes v. Kota Ibushi
Ibushi uses some acrobatics to evade Cody, and gets flipped off for his troubles. Cody quickly takes him down with a leglock and Ibushi makes the ropes, so Cody offers him a hand up and then turns on him. So Ibushi snaps off a rana to put Cody on the floor, but accidentally hits Brandi with a dive and wipes her out like Elizabeth on the Main Event. Cody uses Ibushi’s guilt to sucker-punch him, and then of course they reveal that this ruse was also a ruse and Cody takes over in the ring. Disaster Kick gets two. Cody goes to a reverse full nelson, but Ibushi makes the ropes. Brandi steals Kevin Kelly’s chair and Cody goes to work on Ibushi outside, but Ibushi hits him with a baseball slide and follows with the moonsault to the floor. Back in, kick combo and another moonsault gets two. They fight over a suplex on the apron and Brandi trips up Ibushi, allowing Cody to take over again. They battle on the apron and Cody manages to hit Crossroads onto the floor, which is a pretty sick bump. They do the countout tease and Kota makes it in at 19. Cody goes for the kill and Ibushi can’t even stand, and a top rope rana gets two. Another Crossroads is countered by Ibushi, and he spikes Cody into the corner with a running Snake Eyes to set up the comeback. Last Ride gets two. Cody catches him with a lariat for two. Ibushi hits his own Disaster Kick, but Cody goes low, so Ibushi hits a german suplex into the knee strike. Phoenix Splash ends it at 16:06. Too much American-style bullshit from Cody, but the good guy won in the end. ***1/2
IWGP tag team titles: Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer v. EVIL & SANADA
Random thing I love about the production here: One match ends, and BAM, the next entrance begins even while the guys are leaving via stage right. WWE could take a hint from that. Archer and his magical bottomless pit of water bottles is a pretty funny bit. KES immediately hits the Killer Bomb on EVIL and beat on SANADA outside. Now, I don’t wanna criticize anyone’s fashion choices, but Davey Jr. paying tribute to his father with the god-awful 1998 jeans look wouldn’t be my first choice. They double-team EVIL and Davey heads out to beat up the young boys for good measure, followed by Archer chokeslamming EVIL onto the pile of geeks for fun. So LIJ is down and out on the floor, but Davey throws SANADA back in and goes to a chinlock. Double team elbow gets two for Archer. Archer hits SANADA with clotheslines in the corner, but he comes back with a dropkick to Smith’s knee. And then Archer takes out EVIL and the KES goes back to work on SANADA again. Gut wrench gets two for Davey. Butterfly suplex gets two. Archer comes in with the uranage for two. Finally SANADA gets a rana and makes the hot tag to EVIL, who fights off the KES and throws clotheslines until Archer finally drops. That gets two, and they fight to the top rope, where Lance gets the top rope superplex. Back to SANADA for the acrobatics, and he tries the Skull End on Davey, but Archer breaks it up. Massive chokeslam on SANADA, followed by a backdrop driver from Davey that gets two. Hart Attack on EVIL and Killer Bomb on SANADA gets two. Another one is blocked by EVIL, and the champs collide, allowing EVIL to hit an STO on Archer and Magic Killer on Davey for two. SANADA sprints to the top with a moonsault on Davey for the pin and the titles at 14:14. LIJ took quite the ass-kicking there, leading to the huge finish. ***1/2
NEVER Openweight title: Minoru Suzuki v. Hirooki Goto
Loser gets a haircut! I love that Suzuki’s Titantron video features him kicking dudes in the face in time with the guitar riffs of his theme. These are two mean, mean, men. Suzuki bitchslaps Goto down and yells at him to get up, so Goto does, and fires back with his own. They trade forearms and Suzuki suddenly grabs the choke sleeper, but Goto runs him into the corner to break. Suzuki disregards the ref and holds the move until Goto is out, but Suzuki throws out the doctor and continues attacking Goto, then throws hi to the floor. Callis lets us know that Suzuki took his own Hippocratic oath: Do lots of harm, and kill everybody. They fight to the floor and Suzuki just smashes a chair into his back and slaps him around. Back in, Goto channels his FIGHTING SPIRIT and slugs back, but Callis declares “Suzuki is getting turned on!” and indeed, Minoru gets fired up and punches him in the face. Suzuki does not put smiles on faces. Running boot in the corner, but Goto catches the low kick, so Suzuki punches him in the face again and puts him down. Goto fights back again with a leg lariat in the corner, but can’t quite hit the bulldog full force. Another sleeper from Suzuki is reversed into a side suplex from Goto that gets two. And then they just unload forearms on each other again, but Suzuki slithers into a guillotine from the top. That turns into the choke sleeper again, but he releases because he wants the Gotch Piledriver, and that allows Goto to fight him off and hit the Ushigoroshi. This brings out Suzikigun despite their promise not to interfere, and Goto gets distracted enough for Suzuki to attack again. Dropkick is RIGHT IN THE FACE and Suzuki, my hero, laughs heartily at Goto’s pain. They slug it out again and he just PULVERIZES Goto, setting up the sleeper, and Goto is fading. But then he releases again and wants the Gotch and the heat is off the charts. And again Goto fights out, then clotheslines him in the corner. Callis is right, he really needs to give up that damn piledriver. They fight to the top and slug it out, but now Suzuki wants that damn piledriver off the top, but Goto is still mean enough to fight him off with an Ushigoroshi off the top. That gets two. Goto tries some forearms but he’s got not much left in the tank, and Suzuki just keeps unloading on him, so Goto goes nuclear with a headbutt and hits the GTR, front and back, and wins the title at 18:04. That was EXHAUSTING to watch. I love matches where mean guys just beat the shit out of each other because they’re MEN who are MANLY. ****1/2 Suzukigun tries to renege on the haircut stip, but Suzuki fights them off and returns on his own to take the haircut like a man. And indeed, he shaves off his ugly hairdo and somehow looks even more ugly. Fantastic match and story here.
Man, we’ve still got THREE HOURS left for the top four matches!