The SmarK Rant for New Japan Wrestle Kingdom 12–01.04.18

IWGP Junior title: Marty Scurll v. Will Ospreay v. HIromu Takahashi v. KUSHIDA

That entrance attire from Scurll is something else. Scurll immediately slips out while the rest fight it out, but heads back in and walks into a handspring kick from Ospreay. Ospreay throws ranas at everyone, but Scurll tosses him and dropkicks Takahashi to the floor. They head to the floor and KUSHIDA hits everyone with a dive, but then Ospreay climbs a light rigging like a madman and hits them with his own dive. He sends KUSHIDA back in for a corner dropkick (after locking the barricade so that the other two are trapped in the crowd forever), but dives off the top and lands in KUSHIDA’s armbar. Scurll sneaks in with a crucifix on KUSHIDA for two, and then a tornado DDT on Ospreay into his crossface chickenwing. Meanwhile, KUSHIDA locks in the Hoverboard Lock on Takahashi, so Scurll releases and breaks that up. So I don’t watch much Scurll: What’s the deal with calling his spots? We get a crazy sequence of guys hitting superkicks on each other, and then everyone clotheslines each other and they’re all out. We get a four-way slugfest on the mat, and Ospreay tries the Os-Cutter on Scurll but gets caught in a chickenwing. KUSHIDA saves, and Takahashi suplexes him into the corner. Everyone stacks up in the corner and tries to suplex Scurll off the top, but he fights them off with kicks and blocks a flying Ospreay with a neckbreaker that gets two. Scurll gets his own Os-Cutter on Ospreay for two and suplexes Takahashi into the corner, then finds some tape and ties him to the railing. And then he breaks the fingers for good measure. Back in, he tries the same thing on KUSHIDA, who gives it right back to him and then takes Ospreay off the top rope with a flying armbar. That turns into a triangle choke, but Ospreay powers out with a slam into the corner. Scurll, meanwhile, finds more tape and tries to repair his injured hand, then throws powder in KUSHIDA’s face, but the blinded KUSHIDA still hits Back to the Future for two. Takahashi breaks free and comes back in with a german suplex on Ospreay and then powerbombs everyone off the apron in sequence, and he runs wild, hitting the Time Bomb on Scurll for two. Superkick, but Ospreay breaks it up and teams up with Scurll for a superkick party. They try a double team Os-Cutter, but Takahashi escapes and dumps Scurll, then hits Ospreay with a missile dropkick for two. KUSHIDA then FLIES in with a sunset bomb on Takahashi, to the floor, and Ospreay hits everyone with a shooting star press to the floor. Back in, he goes up for the inverted 450 (HOW IS THAT EVEN A THING?!?) but that only gets two on Takahashi. Os-Cutter is blocked by Takahashi and hits the Time Bomb for two, as Scurll pulls out the ref. He waffles everyone with the umbrella, but misses Ospreay, and the Os-Cutter wins the title at 21:18. Man, poor Takahashi spent months trying to get a title shot, and then blew it. Another fantastic match, filled with all the highspots and crazy stuff you’d expect to see. ****1/2 Ospreay and Scurll are just something else.

IWGP Intercontinental title: Hiroshi Tanahashi v. SWITCHBLADE

Jay White still looks 19 years old. This man needs to grow a beard and maybe not listen to so much AFI. So this is a big one for him, because he needs to come out of this looking like a star, win or lose. Tanahashi is of course the walking wounded, with a bad arm and knee and probably more that he hasn’t revealed. White goes for the knee in the corner, but lets him go and Tanahashi gives him some air guitar. They trade wristlocks and Tanahashi puts him down with a forearm and tosses him, but misses a dive and hurts the knee. White goes to work on the knee and snaps off a backdrop driver for two. White with a leglock and he works on that while laying the badmouth on Tanahashi, but he makes the ropes. The knee gives out on him and White goes back to it, but Tanahashi takes him down with a dragon screw. Russian legsweep and he follows with a senton for two, but White cuts him off with another shot to the knee. Tanahashi takes him down with another dragon screw to put him on the floor, and follows with a High Fly Flow to the floor, but can’t hit the sling blade in the ring. White recovers with a german suplex and Tanahashi heads to the floor, so White follows with a brainbuster onto the apron. Back in, White goes up, but Tanahashi outsmarts him by staying down and not giving him the opening. White pounds him in the corner and steps on the bad knee, but that just gets Tanahashi fired up, so White fires off a pair of suplexes and death valley driver for two. Back to the top, and this time Tanahashi sidesteps him and gets another dragon screw. Tanahashi fights up to the top, but White cuts him off, so Tanahashi brings him down with the neckbreaker and starts smacking White around. Sling blade gets two. High Fly Flow hits, and he goes up again for a second one, but misses, and White rolls him into a crucifix and throws elbows. Fisherman’s buster gets two, but Tanahashi escapes the Blade Runner and hits a bridging german for two. He goes up again with a High Fly Flow to the back, and then one more time to finish at 19:40. Unfortunately this just made Tanahashi look like even more of a star basically fighting from his deathbed, and didn’t do much for White. White looked like he had nerves, but he’s got lots of time to get better. ***1/4

IWGP US title, no DQ: Kenny Omega v. Chris Jericho

The crowd reaction to the video package alone is amazing. The simple angles are still the best ones. Jericho attacks during Kenny’s pre-match hug with the Young Bucks, so you know it’s bad blood. They dive in with the hockey fight and Omega boots him down and slugs away in the corner. Jericho uses Red Shoes as a distraction and then lays Omega out. They trade chops and Omega tries a rana, but Jericho catches him with the Walls, forcing Omega to make the ropes. It’s no-DQ, so Kenny has to kick his way out of it, and tosses Jericho, but the baseball slide is blocked. A second try hits, and Jericho goes crashing into the announce table, so Omega tries a dive and DESTROYS the table. HOLY SHIT. Chris gives him the Walls on the floor, then beats on Red Shoes and then assaults the man’s son as well! Omega fights back in the wreckage and drops a monitor on him, but Jericho dumps a table on him in return. Kenny puts the table on Jericho and goes up the light rigging with a double stomp onto the table, as this is just nuts. Jericho suplexes him back into the ringside area, but Omega beats the countout. They slug it out on the apron and they both try a springboard, but Jericho hits his first and takes out the knee in mid-air. Jericho sets up a table at ringside while mouthing off to Masa Chono, but can’t powerbomb Omega through the table, so he just powerbombs him on the floor instead. Jericho steals an expensive camera and takes some shots for posterity, mostly of his own middle finger, and back in for a flying elbow that gets two. Jericho chokes him out on the ropes and hits a missile dropkick for two. Omega fights back with chops, but the Lionsault gets two. Omega snaps off a rana and clotheslines him to the floor, and follows with the Terminator dive. Back in, Omega with a facebuster for two. Neckbreaker and Omega makes the comeback, but Jericho blocks the V-Trigger with an attempt at the Walls, which Omega turns into a small package for two. Jericho rolls him into the Walls again, so Omega crawls to the corner and undoes the apron, finding a spray can to blind Jericho with. And also freshen his hair and armpits. But then the blind Jericho sends Omega into the chair that was wedged in the corner earlier to end that comeback. Eyesight regained, he runs Omega’s face into the chair a few times, bending it in the process. Jericho is drawing honest to god heel heat from the crowd for this stuff. Omega naturally starts bleeding off that, and Jericho goes to work on the cut, but Kenny fights back. V-Trigger and dragon suplex put Jericho down, but Jericho fights out of another one, so Kenny hits him with a leg lariat and tries the One Winged Angel. Jericho escapes that, and then just BLASTS him with a chair to put him down again, breaking the chair in the process. Jericho goes to work with another chair, destroying it in the process, and then just beating on Omega with the frame of the chair. Jericho goes up with it, so Omega dropkicks it back in his face, and then hits him with a V-Trigger knee to put him through Chekhov’s Table on the floor. Everyone totally forgot about that table, too! Back in, Omega throws more knees, then hits a massive V-Trigger and a butterfly bomb for two. Another V-Trigger and Jericho is dead, so Omega tries the Angel, which Jericho reverses into the Walls out of nowhere! The heat for this is unreal. And then Jericho turns it into the Liontamer, complete with knee to the head, but Omega fights to the ropes to break. Codebreaker is reversed to a V-Trigger, and the One Winged Angel gets two as Jericho miraculously gets the ropes. Omega goes up and Jericho crotches him, but Omega drops him with a stungun onto the turnbuckle, but Jericho catches him with a codebreaker for two. Another Lionsault is blocked with a chair, and Kenny turns it into the Angel, on the chair, for the pin at 34:34! GOD DAMN. Never let it be said that Chris Jericho can’t deliver in the big matches, as they went out and did an epic Attitude Era brawl, and then turned it into a heavyweight main event style classic. Here’s your 999 Yen worth right there. This was my JAM, delivering everything I wanted and then some. For those complaining about PG era WWE matches, get New Japan World and WATCH THIS. *****

IWGP title: Kazuchika Okada v. Tetsuya Naito

And then this match has even MORE heat than the last one, if that’s possible. Stalemate to start and Naito goes for the knee, then chills out with a quick pose. He hangs out on the floor for a bit, and Okada brings him back in for some elbows, and then dropkicks him off the top and back to the floor again. Naito necks him on the railing, then to the apron for a neckbreaker out there, and back in with a missile dropkick for two. Naito goes to work on the neck in the corner, and adds a neckbreaker and low dropkick to the neck. Mule kick in the corner and another neckbreaker gets two. Okada comes back with a DDT and puts him down with elbows, and they head to the floor where Okada fires off a running boot and draping DDT off the railing. Back in, Okada misses an elbow and Naito takes him down with a neckbreaker out of the corner, and an inverted DDT gets two. Okada fires back with a flapjack and hits a neckbreaker, and goes up with a flying elbow to set up a Rainmaker. He goes with a cobra clutch instead and fights off Naito’s attempt to counter with the Destino, holding onto the cobra hold on the mat. Naito keeps trying to roll out of it, and Okada just keeps the sleeper locked, but finally he makes the ropes. Okada goes to work in the corner with forearms, but runs into a boot and Naito sweeps the leg to put him on the apron, then turns it into a draping neckbreaker back into the ring. They fight to the top and Naito takes him down with an inverted rana from the top, for two. JESUS. Stardust Press misses, however, and Okada fights back as they exchange forearms. And then Naito just DESTROYS him with forearms to put him down and follows with a Pele Kick, only to have Okada shoot out of the corner with a dropkick again. Naito with a flying forearm to take over again, and they fight to the top, where Okada blasts him with forearms to send him back down. Senton misses badly and Naito tries the Stardust again, but Okada cuts him off with an insanely high angle german suplex and the RAINMAKER for two. They fight for a tombstone and Naito nearly turns it into the Destino, but can’t power him over. Okada goes back to the cobra, but Naito finally hits the Destino, and he’s too hurt to cover. They slug it out on their knees and Okada is ALIVE as they trade more forearms with increasing intensity. Okada punches himself out, so Naito slaps him silly and takes him down with a swinging headscissors for two. Destino is reversed to the Rainmaker and both guys are out, but Okada is still holding the wrist, and it’s Rainmaker again, but Naito reverses to the Destino for two. Thought that was it. Another Destino, but Okada elbows out, so Naito hits the enzuigiri and then Okada dropkicks him. Holy crap what a dropkick. Tombstone and it’s time to make the rain, but DESTINO follows, and then Okada reverses a second try to a tombstone and RAAAAAAAAINMAKER finishes at 36:23. FANTASTIC. Hell if I know where Okada goes from here, but he’s pretty clearly the best wrestler in the world who just drew 40,000 to the Tokyo Dome, so it’s hard to argue with keeping the title on him. *****

The Pulse

Well then. I mean, this was basically one of, if not the best, wrestling shows in history, I gotta say. And unlike some OTHER six hour PPVs, this one didn’t make me want to curl into a ball and die at the 3 hour mark.  HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION.  Head to njpwworld.com right now and drop your 9 bucks, ya cheapskates.