01/04 NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 10 review – Okada vs. Tanahashi for the IWGP Championship, Nakamura vs. A.J. Styles for the IWGP IC Champshionship

New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 10
Aired live on NJPWWorld.com (English language broadcast)
Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome

By Will Pruett

Note: There was a rather delightful pre-show battle royal, which was won by Jado. This was followed by some sort of hallucinogenic experience involving a singing caveman and a cat.

The opening video wished us a “Happy New Wrestle Kingdom” and ran down the card for the evening. The English language broadcast team of Matt Striker, Kevin Kelly, and Yoshi Tatsu welcomed fans as the stage lit up and The Young Bucks made their entrance.

1. ReDragon vs. Matt Sydal and Ricochet vs. Roppongi Vice vs. The Young Bucks in a four-way for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Cody Hall assisted The Young Bucks in jumping the other three teams. Matt Jackson and Bobby Fish started the match in the ring. The Bucks double teamed Fish as the other wrestlers made it to the apron. Fish eventually tagged out to O’Reilly.

Matt Sydal tagged in to exchange blows with O’Reilly. Rocky Romero and Trent? were soon in the ring. Trent? eventually dove to the outside onto the Bucks, Hall, and Sydal. Matt Jackson eventually scored a near-fall on Trent?. The Bucks took this opportunity to begin the Superkick Party. Matt and Nick Jackson taunted the others in the ring.

Trent? managed to get some vengeance on the Bucks and built to a hot tag to Ricochet. Ricochet and Sydal ran wild in the ring, eventually hitting stereo standing moonsaults. O’Reilly and Fish came out of nowhere to get involved as well. This lead to Nick Jackson diving over O’Reilly to the outside onto the other teams. All the dives occurred with Ricochet about to complete things. Cody Hall tripped Ricochet and gave him a Razor’s Edge onto the other teams on the floor.

Matt Jackson hit a cannonball in the corner on Ricochet. Nick Jackson almost pinned Ricochet. The Bucks attempted More Bang for Your Buck, but Sydal saved Ricochet. Ricochet got insanely high on a dive outside onto Cody Hall. Ricochet and Sydal attempted to set up the stereo Shooting Star Presses. O’Reilly and Fish put a stop to this effort with a series of double teams on all four men. Cody Hall once again got involved and was taken out by O’Reilly.

An 8-man (4 on 4) suplex occurred with a little comedy. Rocky Romero hit clotheslines on everyone in the ring, often multiple times. The match broke down to Sydal and Ricochet hitting their Stereo Shooting Star Presses on Romero and Trent?. The Bucks snuck in to attempt a pin, ended up hitting More Bang for Your Buck on Romero and pinning him.

The Young Bucks won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship via pinfall in 16:43.

Pruett’s Pause: This was a very fun opener. While I would rather see a more traditional tag, this four way was quite the action packed spectacle. Cody Hall’s involvement made me roll my eyes, but at lease there was a point to it. Hopefully we get to the ReDragon vs. Sydal and Ricochet match we should have seen here.

2. Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, and Yujiro Takahashi vs. Jay Briscoe, Mark Briscoe, and Toru Yano for the NEVER Openweight 6-man Tag Team Championship. The Bullet Club contingent jumped Yano and the Briscoes prior to the bell. It worked in the last match. Why not here, too? This lead to a Briscoe double team, first on Tonga, then on Takahashi. Mark Briscoe his a Cactus Jack Elbow on Takahashi on the outside. Tatsu questioned why Yano and The Briscoes are friends on commentary.

Fale and Yano faced off in the ring. Hilarity ensued when Yano found himself in the ropes, then was frighted by Tonga. Fake methodically stood on Yano. Takahashi quickly tagged in to attempt a pin. Soon Tonga was in and drop kicking Yano and The Briscoes. Fale returned to slam and stand on Yano some more.

Yano removed a turnbuckle cover, took out all three of his opponents, posed, and was slammed by Fale. Yano tagged in Mark Briscoe, who wasted little time almost pinning Takahashi. Jay Briscoe and Tama Tonga were tagged in. Jay hit the Death Valley Driver on Tonga for a near-fall. Jay attempted the Jay Driller, but Tonga reversed it into a flapjack. Tonga hit an Alabama Slam. Yano and Fale brawled out to the floor.

Yano hit Takahashi with a chair, leaving him open for a Doomsday Device from The Briscoes for the pin.

Toru Yano and The Briscoes won the NEVER Openweight 6-man Tag Team Championship via pinball in 11:38.

Pruett’s Pause: Not my favorite sort of match. Yano is always entertaining and I’m happy for The Briscoes, but the pacing didn’t work, especially after the prior match. A side note: The commentary team seems to forget what they’re talking about mid-match. Yoshi Tatsu is particularly awkward.

3. Jay Lethal vs. Michael Elgin for the ROH World Championship. Matt Striker gave an obnoxious shout out to Tommy Dreamer as the bell rang. Elgin and Lethal locked up with Elgin getting the better of Lethal with power and size. Elgin caught a Lethal leapfrog and reversed it into a powerslam.

Elgin spent some time delivering a delayed vertical suplex to Lethal, followed by a one-armed press slam. Elgin was distracted by Truth Martini on the outside, allowing Lethal to dive outside onto Elgin, not once but twice. Truth Martini obnoxiously did things.

Elgin climbed back into the ring, where Lethal was waiting. Lethal hit an elbow, followed by a one count. Lethal continued dominating until he was caught by Elgin post-slingshot and elbowed hard in the face. Lethal managed to arm drag Elgin to the mat. Striker and Kelly got distracted talking Star Wars, because wrestling bores them.

Lethal locked in a rear chinlock. Elgin fought his way to his feet and slammed Lethal’s back into a corner. Elgin hit a big powerslam on Lethal followed by a Deadlift German Suplex. Lethal began to make a comeback and hit his Lethal Combination. Lethal hit the Randy Savage tribute elbow drop for a two count. Elgin reversed an attempted Lethal Injection into a few Rolling German Suplexes. Elgin hit a Deadlift Falcon Arrow off the second rope for a two count and some sudden crowd noise.

Elgin hit the Buckle Bomb, but Martini got involved, passing off the Book of Truth. Lethal hit Elgin with the book, then the Lethal Injection to score a pinfall.

Jay Lethal defeated Michael Elgin to retain the ROH World Championship via pinfall in 11:59.

Pruett’s Pause: These two guys pulled out everything they could. It was weird hearing the crowd greet them with ambivalence, but they made their time count. The crowd eventually invested. Lethal and Elgin performed exceptionally well. I’m not a fan of the Truth Martini assisted finish, but I never am.

4. Kenny Omega vs. Kushida for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Taguchi came to the ring dressed as Doc Brown to Kushida’s Marty McFly. Omega had The Young Bucks with him. Taguchi was predictably jumped by the Bucks. Kushida and Omega then began their match.

Omega worked Kushida from corner to corner, but Kushida managed to send him out of the ring and knock the Bucks off the apron. Omega sprayed himself down with a aerosol can, was attacked by Kushida, but the Bucks threw a trashcan into Kushida’s face. Omega gave Kushida something like More Bang for Your Buck with a trash can on the outside.

The Bucks played trashcans as drums as Omega dove outside onto Kushida. Back in the ring, Omega hit a Bulldog-ish maneuver for a two count. He then choked Kushida with some wrist tape. The two exchanged slaps mid-ring. Kushida delivered a Pele Kick to Omega, followed by some kicks and a springboard chop. Kushida attempted the Hoverboard Lock, but Omega got to the ropes.

Kushida hit a beautiful diving Swanton from the top rope to the outside. Omega then had to fight Kushida off as Kushida attempted a Cross Arm Breaker. Kushida locked in a Kimura-ish hold and jumped from the second rope, forcing Omega down with him.

Kushida hit a big right hand and screamed, eliciting a crowd response. Omega dodged a corkscrew moonsault. Kushida locked in the Hoverboard Lock, causing the Bucks to get involved again, and causing Taguchi’s return for the save.

Omega hit a one armed power bomb and Kushida kicked out at two. Omega hit a knee strike, attempted to One Winged Angel, but Kushida rolled through to score a three count.

Kushida defeated Kenny Omega to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship via pinfall in 12:49.

Pruett’s Pause: Once again, outside interference on this show took away from an otherwise delightful match. Omega vs. Kushida should have been enough. There’s a tendency to throw too much out there on this show and it isn’t a positive development. Taguchi and Doc Brown is pretty creepy as well.

5. Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Honma and Anderson started the match in the ring. Some streaming issues prevented me from seeing a couple minutes, but Gallows took Makabe’s chain and was hitting him with it when I returned.

Anderson worked over Makabe in the ring and taunted the fans. Gallows tagged in and worked on the jaw of Makabe. Double teams abounded at the Bullet Club worked over Makabe. Makabe managed to tag Honma, who launched into his headbutt-laden comeback.

Gallows cut Honma off from outside. Gallows and Anderson double teamed Honma, causing Makabe to make a save. Honma eventually tried for a top rope headbutt. Anderson jumped up to try a Stun Gun. Both men tumbled to the floor. Anderson hit a running powerbomb and Honma kicked out at two. A fun exchange lead to a standing Honma headbutt and tags to Makabe and Gallows.

The match broke down, but eventually Honma was revived by Gallows. Makabe and Honma hit a Doomsday Device Headbutt thing on Anderson. Gallows was then given Honma’s top rope headbutt and Makabe’s King King Knee Drop for the pin.

Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma defeated Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship via pinfall in 12:46.

Pruett’s Pause: This was a fun and action packed tag match. While there was some chain use involved, it didn’t become the difference maker or the story in the match. Honma and Makabe played the sentimental favorites well while Anderson and Gallows were fine villains.

A video advertising various dates through the G1 was shown.

6. Hirooki Goto vs. Tetsuya Naito. This is the only non-title match on this show. Whoa. Naito had the first truly cool entrance of the show. Naito bailed out of the ring as Goto entered it. Naito attempted to get the upper hand, but Goto’s intensity stopped this. Evil wrapped a chair around Goto’s head and hit it with another chair. Yikes.

Matt Striker brought up the narrative dissonance of stupid referees as Naito put Goto through a table outside, then posed.

Naito wrapped his legs around the head and throat of Naito. Naito continued by methodically working over Goto. Goto managed to comeback with a clothesline followed by a bulldog and a back suplex. Naito hit a missile dropkick and a corner dropkick on Goto.

Goto hit a top rope Code Red on Naito, but only scored a two count. The two men traded tired forearms in the middle of the ring. Fighting spirit was had. Goto hit his Fireman’s Carry into a Neckbreaker on his knee (There’s a better name for it I don’t feel like spelling), but couldn’t take advantage. The referee was kicked accidentally by Goto. Goto was then attacked by Bushi and Evil. Bushi accidentally misted Evil. Naito kicked Goto in the man bits and the ref magically recovered to count two.

Goto then hit a big suplex slam maneuver thing (sorry for the lack of move names in this match) for a three count.

Hirooki Goto defeated Tetsuya Naito via pinfall in 12:18.

Pruett’s Pause: If the first portion of this show hadn’t featured a deluge of interference, I would have been fine with it here. This wasn’t bad. This was exciting. Naito was fantastic. It suffered because of what came before it.

7. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata for the NEVER Openweight Championship. Both men started off by exchanging strikes mid-ring. This was the fastest beginning of the night. They then exchanged hard forearms. Shibata got the better of Ishii and kicked his head parts. It sprung up and kicked Shibata’s back parts. Ishii and Shibata traded kicks while the other was sitting, volunteering for more punishment.

They then played the same game with chops to the chest, until Shibata sprung up with a big forearm to Ishii’s jaw. Shibata tied Ishii up in knots and Ishii tried to make it to the ropes. Shibata then held his boot against the face of Ishii. Ishii returned the boot smothering favor. Shibata hit a corner dropkick. Ishii hit a clothesline right after. There’s a lot of hitting.

They exchanged hard clotheslines, kicks, and strikes back and forth. This lead to both men being down and the crowd applauding. They rose and began the strike-fest again. Ishii hit a powerbomb and attempted to pin Shibata, but couldnt. Ishii performed a surprising top rope dropkick. Shibata kicked out of a pin attempt at one.

Ishii caught an attempted Penalty Kick, stood, and delivered a headbutt. Ishii and Shibata traded headbutts in the middle of the ring. Shibata kicked out of a pin attempt at one. Then another, after a clothesline, at two. Shibata eventually hit the Penalty Kick and scored a three count.

Katsuyori Shibata defeated Tomohiro Ishii to win the NEVER Openweight Championship via pinfall in 17:22.

Pruett’s Pause: That. Was. Intense. These guys absolutely beat the living hell out of each other. They’ll feel that match for a long time. This bordered on too dangerous in moments. It was also insanely entertaining. Great stuff and easily the highlight of the night thus far.

A video hyping Styles and Nakamura was shown.

A.J. Styles entered wearing a pretty cool mask. Shinsuke Nakamura didn’t have the epic entrance like last year, but it was pretty fun nonetheless.

8. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. A.J. Styles for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. This match began with careful hesitation between the two parties. They traded a quick sequence of attempted backslides and counters until they were at a standstill. There was an early sequence where A.J. landed on his back, oversold it, and Nakamura backed off, leaving A.J. able to attack.

This allowed Styles to lock in the Calf Killer momentarily, until Nakamura got to the ropes. They traded mid-ring strikes, until Nakamura gave Styles a painful looking backbreaker on his knee. Nakamura followed this by driving A.J.’s back into the barricade outside the ring. Back inside, Nakamura began kicking A.J. in the side.

Right around ten minutes in, Nakamura gave Styles his signature boot in the corner. Nakamura went for the early Boma Ye, but Styles avoided it. Styles attempted to take control, but his back wouldn’t allow him to suplex Nakamura. He ended up hitting a snap suplex on Nakamura in the corner and attempting the Calf Killer.

Nakamura hit a Lung Blower and a back suplex before again trying for the Boma Ye. Styles avoided it again and locked in the Calf Killer in the center of the ring. Nakamura struggled to get to the ropes. Nakamura almost locked in an armbar, but Styles avoid it. Styles hit a Torture Rack Powerbomb thing for a two count.

At 15 minutes, Nakamura sat out of a Styles Clash attempt, tried for a Boma Ye on the ground, didn’t get it. He did end up hitting a Boya Ye off the second rope into A.J.’s chest. Both men were down. Kevin Kelly rattled off an asinine scoring system at this point.

Styles and Nakamura exchanged standing forearms. Styles was able to get an exceptionally close two count. Styles unloaded a great striking combination capped by a Pele Kick, but Nakamura came out of it hitting a Boma Ye on Styles. Styles kicked out of a pin attempt at two. A.J. hit something like a Boma Ye, knocking out Nakamura.

Styles hit a 450 splash and Nakamura was able to kick out of a pin attempt.

At 20 minutes, Styles was attempting the Bloody Sunday DDT, but Nakamura was able to roll through to attempt a Cross Arm Breaker. This transitioned into a Triangle Choke. A.J. stood out of the Triangle Choke and hit a one-armed Styles Clash for a two count. Whoa.

A.J. hit the Bloody Sunday DDT, then went for the Styles Clash. Nakamura blocked the first attempt. A.J. then decided to take Nakamura to the ropes. Nakamura kicked A.J. on the top rope and was able to slam him off for a two count.

Nakamura set Styles up for the Boma Ye and hit it on the back of his head. He reset and hit Styles with a second one in a row. This ended the match.

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated A.J. Styles to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship via pinfall in 24:20.

Pruett’s Pause: What. A. Match. It started tentative, but they put together something really special down the stretch. Great psychology. Great near-falls. Great all-around big match. You must see this match.

After the match, Nakamura offered the fist bump as a show of respect to Styles. Styles bumped that fist.

A video about the Tanahashi vs. Okada Championship feud and match aired. Tanahashi entered first with another relatively subdued entrance, given the standards of the Tokyo Dome over the last few years. Okada’s entrance was momentarily paused, then lights flashed on him hitting the Rainmaker pose. Okada bucks fell from the sky.

9. Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. The fans applauded and began to chant when the bell rang. This has the big match feel it needs. As they first locked up, Okada managed to land a couple forearms on Tanahashi, knocking him down. They stood face to face again in the middle of the ring. Tanahashi slapped Okada. Okada aggressively went after Tanahashi with Elbows after.

At five minutes, Okada was fighting to keep Tanahashi locked in a side-heaadlock. Tanahashi managed to break out by clipping Okada’s knee. Tanahashi followed this by working on Okada’s knee with some stomps and such. Okada came close to hitting a Tombstone Piledriver in the ring, but Tanahashi escaped to the outside. Tanahashi was drop kicked off the apron by Okada, who then whipped him into the barricade. Okada rand and jumped over the barricade and onto Tanahashi.

At ten minutes Okada placed Tanahashi back in the ring. Okada slingshotted himself onto Tanahashi with a senton. Okada continued working on Tanahashi with a DDT and a two count. He went back to a chinlock-esque thing. Tanahashi attempted a low dropkick, which Okada avoided. Okada attempted a senton, which Tanahashi avoided. Tanahashi ended up clipping Okada’s leg again.

Tanahashi took over on offense with a dragon screw leg whip. Okada rolled to the floor. Tanahashi looked to be going for his floor High Fly Flow, but it was blocked. Tanahashi ran Okada’s knee into the turnbuckle. Okada was in pain on the apron when Tanahashi hit the Slingblade on the apron. Tanahashi eventually hit the High Fly Flow on the outside.

Okada narrowly beat the 20 count countout. Tanahashi hit a High Fly Flow on Okada’s legs. Tanahashi tried to put Okada in a Cloverleaf, but wasn’t able to. Okada attempted to rush Tanahashi. They traded a couple counters and Okada slammed Tanahashi onto his knee, hurting himself in the process. They both rose to their feet and traded forearm shots. Okada grew tired of this and hit quite a few running low dropkicks. Okada hit a top rope elbow drop, followed by the Rainmaker pose.

At 25 minutes, Tanahashi once again was working on Okada’s leg with the dragon screw leg whip. Okada attempted a dropkick, but Tanahashi blocked it, whipped the knee, and contorted Okada into a Cloverleaf. Okada reached the ropes. Tanahashi attempted the High Fly Flow, but Okada moved. Okada picked Tanahashi up and delivered a Tombstone Piledriver.

Okada hit the Rainmaker and Tanahashi kicked out right around 30 minutes. Okada went to the top and hit a High Fly Flow on Tanahashi. Tanahashi kicked out at two. Tanahashi reversed a Rainmaker Clothesline into his own Rainmaker. Okada beat Tanahashi to his feet. Tanahashi reversed a Rainmaker attempt into a Slingblade. He then hit a dragon suplex. Tanahashi hit two High Fly Flows in a row and pinned Okada. Okada still kicked out.

Tanahashi went back to the top and was dropkicked out of the air while attempted a High Fly Flow. Okada and Tanahashi traded a few moves. Tanahashi slapped Okada. Okada gave Tanahashi a beautiful dropkick. Okada pulled Tanahashi into two Rainmakers in a row, picked him up, and delivered a third. He then pinned Tanahashi.

Kazuchika Okada defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship via pinfall in 36:24.

Both men were tended to post-match. Tanahashi stayed down for a long while as Okada’s music played and Gedo congratulated him. Tanahashi was carried from the ring as the championship music played and Okada struck the Rainmaker pose. Kelly mentioned that he has lived for this moment, despite already being champion.

Gedo grabbed himself a microphone and said words. Okada then took the microphone and said more words. These words generated some applause.

Pruett’s Pause: That was a fantastic match. I’m not ready to rank it or anything and I want more time to process it, but Okada and Tanahashi put together yet another classic. I was a little doubtful as it began, but nearly everything paid off. We could debate the “work the leg” strategy with all the dropkicks at the end. We couldn’t debate the great drama and fantastic wrestling. Tanahashi did something special passing the torch to Okada here. Okada did something special rising to the task.

Overall, this was a very good show. If you’re reading this wondering what to watch, the opener and the final three matches are the essential viewing. The rest doesn’t suck, but it has some repetitive moments. Those final three matches delivered, and each in a different way. Great show. Well worth the $8 you pay for NJPW World (plus that whole archive rules). Thanks for watching with me tonight/this morning!

Got thoughts on this show or my review of it? If they aren’t super annoying thoughts, hit me up with them! Check the Twitter twitter.com/itswilltime or email me at itswilltime@gmail.com.

Readers Comments (2)

  1. Thanks Will for the great analysis of the matches and the overall show itself. As I’m running my business early this morning, I didn’t have an opportunity to watch the show but, after last year’s Kingdom show, I’m hooked. I’ll check this show out tonight.

  2. Lucky enough to be at the event. It was great ( and interesting withe th low key japanese crowd).
    Okada was super over (way more than tanahashi) and after he intensity of the third last match I think and Nakamura suffered somewhat

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