The SmarK Rant for New Japan WRESTLE KINGDOM 13 – 01.04.19
Live from the Tokyo Dome
Your hosts are Kevin Kelly & Don Callis
I’m skipping the pre-game show because I’m on a time crunch here. Here’s the link to the show on New Japan World if you have a subscription and want to check it out yourself. It’s $10, just buy it.
The opening video running down the card is FUCKING AMAZING. You actually get a list of all the matches you’re going to see and the announcer is like THESE MATCHES WILL ALL RULE MOTHERFUCKER and I’m like “Okey dokey! I will enjoy seeing that! Thank you for the information!”
NEVER Openweight title: Kota Ibushi v. Will Ospreay
They come in throwing kicks and Ibushi hits the floor, allowing Ospreay to tease a dive, and we get a stalemate. Ibushi dropkicks him out to the floor and follows with a moonsault, but Ospreay kicks him in mid-air to counter. Back in for the SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP and it’s pulled off beautifully with a high degree of difficulty. Back in, Ospreay works the back for two, but Ibushi fights back with forearms and snaps off a rana to put Ospreay on the floor for a crazy springboard corkscrew dive. Back in, Kota with a missile dropkick and a rollup into an insanely high angle german suplex for two. Ospreay rolls him up for two and then tumbles into a rolling kick to the head. Ibushi gets a powerslam and goes up, but Ospreay pops up and slams him off for two. They slug it out with forearms to show the fighting spirit and Ibushi tries the Last Ride, but Ospreay flips out of it and we get a crazy series of reversals, which leads to a Spanish Fly from Ospreay. Ibushi fights up and Ospreay just blasts him with a superkick from behind and hits the Stormbreaker for two. Ibushi shakes it off and hits a Kinshasa in a cute touch. Last Ride gets two. Ibushi goes up but gets tripped up and he’s caught in the Tree of Woe, so Ospreay calmly sits there and slaps him around until the ref breaks it up. To the top and Ospreay wants something crazy, but Ibushi jumps off his back with a double stomp and Ospreay lands on the apron. Ibushi is bleeding from the mouth and Callis notes that millions of women are screaming “No, not his face!” right now. Ospreay suplexes him back in and hits the Robinson kick, but Ibushi blocks the Os-Cutter and gets a straitjacket german suplex for two on him. They trade kicks, but Ospreay levels him with a lariat. He tries the Stormbreaker again, but they reverse out of each other’s DDT attempts and Ibushi wins the battle with a tombstone for two. Ospreay just nails him with an elbow to the back of the head and Kota appears to be out. Ospreay then puts him away with the Stormbreaker to win the title at 18:20. Quite the gymnastic exhibition to start the show, and a tough act to follow. ****1/2 Poor Kota goes out on the stretcher with a neck brace after the elbow, although his beautiful, beautiful face appears to be unscarred, and that’s the important thing.
IWGP Junior tag titles: Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado v. Rappongi 3K v. Shingo Takagi & Bushi
Don Callis is immediately bitching about Rocky Romero before 3K even makes it to the ring, busting on Rocky’s jacket, which was apparently taken by “rolling a high school cheerleader”. Sho & Yoh hit stereo dives on LIJ to start, but Desperado takes Yoh down with a chinlock. Yoh fights back with superkicks and makes the tag to Sho, who runs wild with dropkicks for a bit, until Takagi tags himself in for a showdown with Sho. They trade strikes and Takagi wins that one, but Kanemaru comes in and we get a triple german suplex spot. Sho keeps running wild on everyone, but Desperado catches him with a spinebuster. 3K send him out with stereo elbows and hit Takagi with a Demolition kneedrop for two. Bushi and Kanumaru team up to spray assorted stuff in Yoh’s eyes, and Takagi goes nuts on Sho with lariats, but it only gets two. And then he finishes with Last of the Dragon, a fireman’s carry into a package powerbomb, thus ending LIJ’s 300 day title reign at 6:50. This was just a quick, inoffensive tag match to put Takagi over as the next big thing. **1/2
Revolution Pro British Heavyweight title: Tomohiro Ishii v. Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack’s plan is apparently to tap him out within 60 seconds. I’m dubious of that. They trade strikes right away and Ishii suplexes him on his head, but Sabre rolls him into an armbar and Ishii has to make the ropes. Well, Ishii made it through the first minute, at least. Sabre goes to work on the arm with SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION and throws some kicks to be an ass, but Ishii is happy to fight back through the pain. Zack uses an incredible takedown via the arm and wraps him up again, but Ishii gets the ropes. Zack continues poking the proverbial bear with short boots to the head, and then lets Ishii come at him before wrapping him up in an anklelock this time. Ishii reverses to his own, however, and Zack has to use an enzuigiri to escape. Grumpy Ishii bowls him over and throws chops in the corner, then follows with a corner clothesline and counters a guillotine with a suplex. To the top for a delayed superplex, but Zack HANGS ONTO THE ARM and snaps it with a hammerlock! I’ve literally never seen that before! He basically let himself get superplexed so he could set up an armbar. Ishii fights back again but can’t get a hold of Zack, who wraps him up with the Octopus. Ishii tries to slam out of it, but Sabre flips into a Code Red for two. Zack keeps on the arm with a kick to the shoulder, but Ishii absorbs it all and fires back with a powerbomb for two. Zack tries more kicks, but Ishii punches him in the foot and headbutts him to set up a lariat for two. Sabre tries a choke this time and then wraps him up with a rollup for two, but Ishii gets a sliding lariat. Sabre escapes the brainbuster with a guillotine and then ties him up with another crazy Octopus hold and Ishii has nowhere to go with both arms trapped, and he has to submit away the title at 11:50. These two meshed AMAZINGLY well, with Ishii trying to overpower him and just running into too many submission holds that he couldn’t escape. I FUCKING LOVED THIS and it was way too short for me. Bring on the rematches! ****1/2
IWGP tag team titles: Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa v. The Young Bucks v. EVIL & Sanada
Tonga offers a handshake to Nick, because he’s a good guy now for the new year. He’s no longer a bad guy! EVIL accepts his handshake and then yanks him out of the ring in a funny spot, and poor Matt immediately starts getting beat up outside, hurting his back yet again. Back in, Loa gets two on Matt. The GOD double-teams EVIL, but the Bucks go to work on EVIL themselves and dropkick Sanada to the floor. Matt rolls EVIL into a Sharpshooter, but the Guerrillas decide to cheer him on instead of just attacking Matt to break it up. And it works! EVIL comes back with a clothesline on Matt and it’s over to Sanada, who fights off both Bucks and puts Nick in the deadly Paradise Lock before hitting Tonga & Loa with dives, and we get a hilarious series of dives with the Bucks getting all flummoxed and outsmarted as a result. Back in, Sanada with a springboard into an inverted DDT on Matt, but Nick breaks it up with a blockbuster and they all start throwing suplexes on each other until Matt spears EVIL and goes up top. This sets up a giant wacky Tower of Doom spot and culminates in Nick hitting a 450 on Sanada. But now Jado and Fale get involved and both get thrown out by the Bucks. Tanga Loa goes to the top and Matt jumps up there with a rana and they set up the Meltzer Driver, but Sanada breaks it up with Skull End, into the Magic Killer, and a moonsault finishes Matt to win the tag titles at 10:15. Just an insane tag match with a chaotic finish, and loads of fun. ***1/2
IWGP US Heavyweight title: Cody Rhodes v. Juice Robinson
Juice comes out swinging, but Cody suckers him with a fake knee injury and hits him from the mat. Juice recovers with a spinebuster and counters a figure-four attempt into the lungblower. Juice goes up, but Brandi dives in and protects Cody from a flying splash. They fight to the apron once Brandi decides to leave, and Cody runs him into the post and back in for some well-earned jumping jacks. Cody ties up poor old Tiger Hattori, which allows Brandi the chance to spear Juice and pound on him, and she gets bounced from ringside as a result. Back in the ring, Cody gets Crossroads for two and then manages to escape Pulp Friction, but Juice hits his own Crossroads for two. Cody with the Disaster kick, and he gets his own Pulp Friction for two. Cody slaps him around and wants some competition, so Juice fights back with the jabs, but Cody cuts him off with a superkick. Another Disaster kick is countered with the Left Hand of God, and Pulp Friction follows. Juice doesn’t want it yet, however, and hits another one for good measure, and that wins him the US title back at 9:04. They had to get the title off Cody for obvious reasons, just in case. ***1/4
IWGP Junior heavyweight title: KUSHIDA v. Taiji Ishimori
KUSHIDA wins the internet by sending a creepy mini-KUSHIDA out, before Doc Brown fixes things with SCIENCE and expands our hero to full size again. Now THAT’S an entrance. They trade spinning armbar attempts and Ishimori manages to take him down with a LeBell lock. KUSHIDA makes the ropes and Ishimori comes back with a sliding german, but KUSHIDA goes for the arm with a crossface and works for the Hoverboard Lock. Ishimori fights out of it, but KUSHIDA tries a rana, only to have it blocked. KUSHIDA actually lays Ishimori’s legs on the ref’s shoulders and hits Ishimori in the face with a kick, but Ishimori comes back with a double knee facebuster for two. Another one is blocked and reversed into a double wristlock by KUSHIDA, but he can’t complete the Hoverboard Lock and Ishimori somehow powers out of it. Ishimori with a death valley driver to put him down, and he follows with running knees into the corner. KUSHIDA wraps him up with the package brainbuster, but runs into a knee and then Ishimori takes him down with jumping knees. Bloody Cross (double underhook leaping DDT) wins the title for Ishimori at 11:22. Another one where they had to get the title off the champion, just in case. I don’t know what WWE would do with KUSHIDA, but it would sure make NXT even better. ***3/4
Kazuchika Okada v. Jay White
Big one for Switchblade, duh. Okada charges in and White stomps him down, so Okada gets a seated dropkick, but misses a charge and gets dumped into the corner and suplexed to the floor. White runs Okada’s back into the railing and apron while Callis sums up the character of Gedo: “A blood sucking human wood tick.” Also applicable to Paul Heyman. White goes to a neck vice, but Okada fires back with forearms and blasts him with an elbow. DDT gets two. Okada pounds him with elbows in the corner and dropkicks him to the floor. Gedo decides to get his shot at Okada at this point, so Okada tosses him into the front row and hits both of the heels with a bodypress over the railing. Back in, Okada goes up and drops the flying elbow and it’s RAINMAKER TIME. White counters with a downward spiral, however, and a german suplex into a uranage for two. Okada slugs out of the Blade Runner, so White puts him down with a clothesline and Gedo sends a chair into the ring. Okada gets rid of that and takes care of Gedo again, and the DROPKICK OF DEATH sets up the Rainmaker, but White escapes with another suplex. Kiwi Crusher gets two. Okada escapes the Blade Runner again and hits a tombstone. Okada fights up again and absorbs shots from White, but gets a backslide and the big dropkick again to counter the Blade Runner. Rainmaker misses and White misses the Blade Runner, but they do an incredible series of reversals into the Rainmaker, which finally hits. Another is countered into the Blade Runner, which gets the pin at 14:13. This has gotta be setting up a redemption arc for Okada, although the match was shockingly short in some ways. I thought for sure they were going 30:00. White delivered the goods here, which he’s going to need to do if he’s getting pushed to the top like it seems. ****1/2
IWGP Intercontinental title: Chris Jericho v. Tetsuya Naito
They brawl out of the ring right away and Naito sends Jericho into the railing and chokes him out with his own scarf, then brings him up the ramp and delivers a PILEDRIVER on it! Back in, Naito pulls off a turnbuckle pad and batters Jericho with it, then snaps off a rana and clotheslines Jericho back to the floor again. Jericho whacks him with a kendo stick to block a dive, however, and Callis thinks this is just great. Back in the ring, Jericho goes to work with the stick (“Hey, Chono, you like that shit?”) and chokes Naito out with it until Naito fights back. So Jericho puts him on the apron and follows with the springboard dropkick to put him on the floor again. Jericho steals a handheld camera and shoots some B-roll footage, then suplexes him on the floor and batters his back with knees before heading to the announce table to destroy that as well. DDT onto the table and Naito takes a crazy headstand bump for that and Callis is in his pro-Winnipeg glory. Jericho rings the bell for himself, which gets crazy big heat, and they head back in for a flying bodypress from Jericho that gets two. And crowd HATES Jericho. This man is a GOD. Naito fights back, but Jericho gets the Lionsault for two. Backdrop suplex and ARROGANT COVER~! as Jericho just draws insane heat for this act, but Naito fights back with a flying forearm and makes the comeback.
Draping neckbreaker in the corner and another neckbreaker gets two. Dropkick in the corner, but Jericho catches the feet and hooks him in the Walls, but Naito flips out of it. Jericho tries the Codebreaker, but Naito counters with a DDT and the hammerlock slam for two. Jericho counters the Destino into the Walls and he sinks it in, but Naito finds the kendo stick and whacks him a few times to break the hold. Naito goes to work with the stick and tries for the home run, but Jericho catches him with the Codebreaker for a very close two. Jericho throws a pile of chairs into the ring and starts beating on him, but Naito counters a powerbomb into a DDT on the chair pile and hits his own codebreaker for two. Naito goes up with the stick, but Jericho HURLS a chair right at his head and takes him down with a suplex, which Naito reverses to a german suplex. He tries the Destino, but Jericho goes low to escape and gets another Codebreaker for two. “In Canada, that’s three!” declares Callis. “That’s a Japanese two and Red Shoes screws Jericho again!” So this time Jericho grabs the belt, but tralks too much trash and gets run into the exposed steel of the turnbuckle, and DESTINOOOOOOO…gets two. Shit, they got me with that one. And then Naito gets the belt, waffles Jericho with it one last time, and Destino #2 finishes at 22:35 to finally regain the title he hated so much and now loves. What an amazing story and an incredible brawl that delivered on every level. ***** Jericho himself is another amazing story, delivering the best matches of his career three decades on.
IWGP Heavyweight title: Kenny Omega v. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Kenny offers a clean break and Tanahashi bitchslaps him, so Kenny gets fired up and almost gets an early One Winged Angel, but Tana escapes and rolls him up for two. Tanahashi works the leg and they exchange hard slaps on the mat, but Kenny drops a Muta elbow and pounds the back with kicks. Kenny chokes him out in the corner and follows with a backbreaker for two, then goes to work on the back while sneering with malice. Backdrop suplex and Tanahashi escapes to the floor, so Kenny drops him with a suplex on the apron. For some reason the announce team doesn’t make any mention of how hard that part of the ring is! Amateurs. Tanahashi fights back with a dropkick into the railing, but Omega runs the back into the apron and then slams him onto the Japanese announce table without warning. Kenny’s “oops, tee hee!” reaction is great. He waits for Tanahashi to recover and then springboards off the railing with a moonsault onto him and grabs a table. Tanahashi recovers, but he opts not to use the table because that’s not his style, man. But the table is still at ringside.
Back in, they exchange chops and Omega wins that one by virtue of being Canadian, but Tanahashi takes him down with the dragon screw legwhip, and Callis is APPALLED at all the “Tanahashi apologists” suddenly appearing. Tana with a senton off the middle rope for two. Omega counters the sling blade with the Kitaro crusher and Tanahashi bails to escape, but he dropkicks Kenny to cut off the Terminator dive. Oh, NERD BLUE BALLS. Omega tosses him again and puts him on the ramp, and Omega hits his dive this time, but whacks his leg pretty good on the way down. Back in, Kenny goes up with a missile dropkick to the back and fires off the snapdragon, but Tana pops up on him. So Kenny hits another one and follows with the V Trigger. The Angel is escaped, but Kenny hurts his knee trying the moonsault and Tanahashi WRENCHES it out of the corner with a sick dragon screw off the middle and Kenny is in big, big trouble. Cloverleaf follows for Tanahashi and he sinks it in, then turns it into a Styles Clash as a major middle finger to Omega. High Fly Flow hits knees, however.
Kenny keeps coming with another V Trigger, but that misses and he hits the corner with it. OUCH. Tana goes back to the knee with another dragon screw and he follows with a sling blade on the apron. And now Tanahashi gives in to temptation and puts Omega on the table, but tries the High Fly Flow and misses, going through it as a result. I love that the announcers actually call it “Chekhov’s Gun”. Kenny teases the countout, but then decides to haul Tanahashi back in and goes up with a double stomp to the back of the head. MURDER DEATH KILL powerbomb gets two. Another one gets two, and Kenny just hangs on and hurks him up for a THIRD ONE, with a cradle for two. Kenny just chokes him down old school, but Tanahashi counters the V-Trigger with a sling blade and makes the comeback. They slug it out with forearms and Kenny is winning the battle, but Tanahashi sucks it up and finds another gear until Kenny finally puts him down with knees. German suplex, but Tana fights it off again, so Kenny throws chops and gets his own sling blade. Kenny goes up and hits his own High Fly Flow, but it only gets ONE and Tana is alive! V-Trigger, but Tanahashi won’t go down yet, so Kenny gives him another knee, but Tana catches a third attempt and dropkicks Omega’s other knee. Kenny gets the reverse rana, but can’t recover the bad knee in time to set up the One Winged Angel, so he just hits another V-Trigger instead. Yikes. Tanahashi still won’t die, so Kenny sets up the Angel and Tanahashi reverses to a rana of his own. Dragon suplex gets two. Tana to the top for the High Fly Flow to put Kenny down, and then another one gets two. Kenny desperately rolls to the apron to escape, and then hits Tanahashi with another V-Trigger to stop a third Flow.
To the top, as Kenny sets up the dragon suplex to kill Tanahashi forever, but he lands on his knee on the way down and doesn’t get all of the move. Still, YIKES. Kenny goes for one last V-Trigger to end it, and Tana is done, setting up the One Winged Angel, but Tana has one last counter in him. Sling blade and he goes up again for the High Fly Flow and regains the title for an eighth time at 39:20. Well, let the rumors about Omega’s future begin. This was an amazing masterpiece of a match, one of the greatest I’ve ever seen. What a main event! ******1/2
While not the best Wrestle Kingdom show I’ve ever seen, this was one of the easiest to watch, with lots of short, good matches and then an insane 1-2 punch of a double main event. Highest recommendation!