NEW: Help support Prowrestling.net when you shop Amazon by starting your online Amazon shopping at Prowrestling.net/amazon. You are not charged extra, but we receive a small and very helpful commission on everything you purchase. Thanks for thinking of us every time you shop at Amazon.
By Will Pruett
New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 12
January 4, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome
The pre-show began with Kevin Kelly saying some words and the New Japan Rumble beginning.
The Annual New Japan Rumble. The Rumble is technically the pre-show, so I won’t be covering it in depth. Kitimura was the first entrant, followed by Bushi, and ROH booker Delirious. Next up Leo Tonga. Nakanishi was entrant number five. Eliminations can be made via pin, submission, or being thrown over the top rope. Chase Owens entered next and eliminated Delirious.
Bushi was thrown over the top rope as Yuji Nagata made his entrance. Nagata won last year’s Rumble. Taka Michinoku entered as Nagata eliminated Nakanishi, then was promptly pinned. Owens was the only man left in the ring by the time Taka made it in. Kanemaru entered next and teamed up with Michinoku against Chase Owens. El Desperado entered to make this a 3-on-1 situation. All 3 Suzuki Gun members eliminated Owens.
Jushin Thunder Liger made his way to the ring next. Tiger Mask was the next entrant to offer some aide to Liger. Geno Gambino entered next and is apparently named “Mr. Juicy.” Kanumaru and Liger were eliminated next. Apparently Tiger Mask was too. Gambino pinned Michinoku. I didn’t quite get the next wrestlers’ name. Yoshi-Hashi entered while these two battled. David Finlay made it 4 wrestlers in the ring. Gambino was eliminated by Finlay and Henare. Henare was eliminated next, followed by Yoshi-Hashi. Callis and Kelly embarrassingly drooled over Yujiro Takahashi’s valet before Yujiro eliminated Finlay.
Cheeseburger entered to the first big pop of the night. Kojima was next out. Tenzan followed. The final entrant for the New Japan Rumble was Kakihara, who has a great cancer survival story according the commentary team. Takahashi was pinned and eliminated.
Kojima and Tenzan were both eliminated by Kakihara and Cheeseburger as they charged at the undersized duo.
Masahito Kakihara pinned Cheeseburger to win the New Japan Rumble.
My Take: The New Japan Rumble is always and legends and surprise showcase. This was no different. It’s a fine way to pass the time, but nothing close to what the main show should hold. The feel good moment at the end was great.
The commentary team bid us farewell for the next 20 minutes.
An opening video package appeared on my television and it is totally Wrestle Kingdom 12 time! The video ran down the complete card in Japanese with enough English on the screen to easily make out what’s happening.
The show was introduced by a woman speaking Japanese, then The Young Bucks made their entrance, followed by Roppongi 3K and Rocky Romero.
1) Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. Matt Jackson and Yoh started the match off with a quick exchange that saw Yoh lock Matt into a Sharpshooter, then Yoh and Matt each lock in a Sharpshooter on Sho and Nick. With all four wrestlers in the ring, Sho and Yoh hit double dropkicks and then double-teamed Matt. Sho and Yoh then hit both Bucks with stereo dives to the outside.
Yoh came up from the dives with a lower back injury, made worse by Nick Jackson’s German Suplex to him on the apron. Rocky Romero ended up stuck between both Bucks on the stage and was superkicked, then powerbombed. Nick Jackson tagged into the ring to work over Yoh’s back. Yoh received an apron powerbomb from Matt Jackson on the outside, but kicked out at two when Nick attempted a pin.
Matt Jackson tagged into the match and the Bucks double teamed Yoh. Matt Jackson hurt his own back on the outside as he tagged in Nick. The Bucks pulled the no-tag partner switch as Sho attempted to get into the ring. Matt tried to take Yoh out to the ramp for a powerbomb, but was back body dropped for his efforts. Yoh made his way back to the ring and ended up ducking a Nick Jackson dive while Matt held him. Nick hit Matt.
Sho tagged into the match for the first time and delivered a headscissor takeover to Nick and a suplex to Matt. Sho hit a series of kicks on Nick for a near fall. Matt Jackson tagged in and received a couple rolling German suplexes. Nick tagged in and Sho Germaned both men. Roppongi 3K called for the 3K, but ended up eating some superkicks. Nick Jackson countered another 3K attempt Sho, Yoh, and Nick all ended up down.
Matt Jackson and Yoh tagged in and traded punches with back pain. Matt buckle bombed Yoh, then Nick and Matt hit a double team Swanton with Yoh’s feet on the ropes. Matt locked Yoh into the Sharpshooter. Nick hit a facebuster on Yoh, then a moonsault off the apron to Sho. Yoh managed to reach the ropes.
The Bucks attempted More Bang for Your Buck, but couldn’t hit it. Yoh and Sho both locked in single leg crabs. Nick kicked Sho into Yoh to prevent a tapout. Nick kicked Yoh’s back while Sho kicked Matt’s in a fun spot. Nick and Sho then turned to each other. Sho ate a superkick, then a moonsault to the outside from Nick.
Yoh ended up in position receiving a Meltzer Driver, then tapping out to Nick Jackson’s Sharpshooter.
The Young Bucks defeated Roppongi 3K to win the IWGP Junio Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in 18:37.
My Take: This was a different opener than the Bucks have usually offered in the Dome. It wasn’t a spotfest, but a well wrestled tag match. It was nice to see Matt and Nick Jackson have the chance to tell a real story. Yoh and Sho looked impressive in defeat and likely won’t be far from the titles for long.
2) Gauntlet Match for the NEVER Openweight Six Man Championship. Suzuki-gun’s trio of Taichi, Iizuka, and Zack Sabre Jr. were the first out. War Machine and Michael Elgin entered second. Kevin Kelly advised match reviewers on what to write. I appreciate the help.
Elgin worked over Iizuka with his standard spots including the hanging vertical suplex. Taichi used the ring bell hammer on Hanson. ZSJ and Rowe ended up in the ring together with Rowe hitting a ton of power offense on Sabre. Hanson missed a top rope moonsault. War Machine hit a pop-up powerslam on on Taichi. Suzuki-gun interfered. ZSJ locked a triangle choke/armbar onto Rowe, who he choked out. Elgin and War Machine were eliminated at 5:46.
Chaos’ Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii, and Beretta entered next. Suzuki-gun cut this entrance off on the ramp. Taichi and ZSJ worked over Yano in the ring and Taichi tore his own pants off. Yano rolled up Taichi and eliminated Suzuki-gun. Suzuki-gun was eliminated at 8:39.
The Taguchi Japan trio of Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Togi Makabe entered next. Juice Robinson avoided a series of attacks from the Chaos trio. Yano threw the turnbuckle pad to Robinson, who was momentarily distracted. Makabe tagged in and worked over Ishii and Yano. Taguchi entered and encouraged Juice and Makabe to hurt Yano in the corner. Taguchi hit a hip attack for a near fall.
Taguchi began channeling Shinsuke Nakamura, but then was rolled up by Yano for a three count. Taguchi Japan was eliminated at 13:40.
Bullet Club’s trio of Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, and Tanga Loa entered last. Beretta ate a Death Valley Driver on the apron from Tanga Loa while Fale worked over Yano in the ring. Fale rushed into the exposed turnbuckle. Ishii threw Tonga into the exposed buckle as well. Ishii couldn’t lift Fale for a brainbuster, but kept trying. Fale backed Ishii into the exposed corner. Ishii and Fale hit clotheslines on each other, but no one fell. Ishii lifted Fale for a suplex. then tagged Beretta.
Beretta and Ishii were kicked and samoan dropped by Fale respectively. Tonga and Loa worked over Beretta in the ring. Beretta was hit with the Gun Stun while trying to moonsault. Ishii and Fale ended up back in the ring for a moment. Tama Tonga received a Dudebuster from Beretta and was pinned.
Chaos (Beretta, Tomohiro Ishii, and Toru Yano) won the Gauntlet for the NEVER Openweight Six Man Championship in 21:09.
My Take: Fun for what it was, but both tag matches in a row highlighted some of the weaknesses of NJPW’s tag formula. I’m happy to see Beretta do well here.
Kevin Kelly mentioned news coming about the Strong Style Evolved event in March in Long Beach will be coming tomorrow.
Cody and Brandi Rhodes entered next in sparkly red gear and still sporting Cody’s blonde hair. Brandi delivered a promo calling folks simple marks as they walked to the ring. Kota Ibushi returned to the Tokyo Dome for the first time since his Wrestle Kingdom 9 match with Nakamura.
3) Cody vs. Kota Ibushi. Cody and Ibushi traded headlocks in a quick back-and-forth. Ibushi did some great flips. Cody ended up helping Ibushi to his feet and kicking him. Ibushi hit a snap huricanrana. Ibushi dove out of the ring onto both Brandi and Cody. Kota checked on Brandi, showing remorse for his actions.
Kota attempted to carry Brandi out, but Cody punch Kota in the face. Cody and Brandi laughed at their successful plan. Cody hit the disaster kick for two near falls on Ibushi. Cody worked over the next with a series of elbows. Brandi handed Cody a chair at ringside and Cody used it on Ibushi’s neck. Cody missed a chairshot, allowing Ibushi to come back.
Ibushi hit the Golden Triangle Moonsault to the outside on Cody, then rolled him inside and hit a missile dropkick, some strikes, and a standing moonsault. Brandi got involved again, preventing Ibushi from suplexing Cody. Both Cody and Ibushi ended up trading strikes on the apron. Cody hit CrossRhodes off the apron to the floor. Ibushi took the bump neck-first, as he does most things.
Ibushi beat the count out with one second to spare. Cody looking like Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer sneered in disappointment. Ibushi decided against standing on his own as Cody attempted to pick him up. Cody carried Kota to the top turnbuckle, sat him there, and hit a springboard hurricanrana. Ibushi kicked out of the attempted pin.
Kota Ibushi countered a CrossRhodes attempt by lawn darting Cody into the turnbuckle. Cody and Kota traded slaps and palm strikes. Kota hit a sitout powerbomb for a two count. Cody countered Kota’s big knee attempt with a clothesline. Cody missed a disaster kick after saying “He doesn’t love you like I love you.” Kota hit a straight-jacket German suplex for two, then finally hit his big knee. Ibushi went to the top rope and hit a beautiful Phoenix Splash for three.
Kota Ibushi defeated Cody in 16:13.
My take: This was a much better match than I expected. I doubted it would get a ton of time after seeing past ROH title matches get under ten minutes. This match, without a title on the line, got a ton of time and saw great performances from Cody, Brandi, and Kota Ibushi.
Lance Archer awkwardly wandered and spit on fans before the match. Gross.
4) Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Sanada and EVIL) for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. KES hit the Killer Bomb on Evil right off the bat, but Sanada rushed in to save the pinfall. Evil looked dead mid-ring. Archer stood over Evil, pulled him up, and attempted a whip. Evil collapsed, but kicked out of an arrogant cover by Smith Jr.
Evil was thrown into his own corner and tagged by Sanada, who Archer bodyslammed over the ropes and onto the floor. KES decided to beat up the young boys on the floor as well. Archer chokeslammed Evil off the apron onto Evil and some young boys. Damn.
Smith Jr. threw Sanada into the ring and attempted a pin for a two count. Archer and Smith Jr. continued to work over Sanada in the ring without getting a pin. Sanada attempted to tag Evil, but Archer threw Evil off the apron. Sanada received a double-underhook suplex from Davey Boy. More power moves on Sanada. More kicking out. Sanada eventually hit a headscissor on Archer and tagged Evil.
Evil went to work with a running bulldog on Archer, catching a boot from Archer, avoiding two chokeslams, and eventually clotheslining Archer to the ground. Evil went to the top rope, but his plans were cancelled by Archer and Smith Jr. Archer hit a Spanish Fly on Evil off the top. Sanada and Smith Jr tagged in and Sanada hit a few dropkicks.
Davey Boy went for a Moonsault off the second rope, but landed on his feet. Archer chokeslammed Sanada. KES hit a Hart Attack on Evil. Sanada received and kicked out of a Killer Bomb from both men.
Evil and Sanada hit the Legend Killer on Davey Boy, then Sanada hit his Moonsault for the three count.
Los Ingobernables de Japon defeated Killer Elite Squad to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in 14:22.
My Take: This begins the big night for Los Ingobernables. This was a fine match, but another tag match on the first half of this show wasn’t necessary. I would have loved a little more variety in the first part of this card. The formula for this match was at least different than what we’ve seen before. Evil is going to have a very good 2018.
5) Minoru Suzuki vs. Hiroki Goto in a Hair vs. Hair match for the NEVER Openweight Championship. The announcers reminded us that neither man will have a second at ringside.
Suzuki knocked Goto down with a big right hand. Goto returned the favor. Both men traded forearms and slaps until Suzuki locked in a rear naked choke and hung Goto from his arms on the ropes. A doctor came in to check on Goto and Suzuki stomped him, because why not?
Goto is still limp on the ground as the referee checks on him more. Suzuki threw Goto’s limp body to the outside. Suzuki grabbed a chair, which is completely chill in all NJPW matches apparently, and hit Goto’s back with it. Suzuki slapped Goto with his feet. Goto fought to get back into the ring. Suzuki taunted him.
Suzuki seemed to beg Goto to slap him and Goto showed some fire, before Suzuki sadistically giggled and put him down again. Goto caught Suzuki’s Penalty Kick, but Suzuki hit a hard strike and put him down. Goto hit a running bulldog out of the corner in a comeback attempt. This was followed by a Saito Suplex. We’re back to hard stikes in the middle of the ring. Suzuki attempted a Gotch Piledriver, but couldn’t get it. Goto hit a ushigoroshi and couldn’t capitalize.
Taka and El Desperado attempted to rush the ring. Taichi almost made it in with a chair, but Yoshi-Hashi stopped him. Suzuki and Goto went back to wrestling in the ring where Suzuki hit a pretty dropkick. Suzuki hit all the strikes and slaps one possibly could and locked in the rear naked choke. Goto refused to let his arm fall, but then did so 3 times. Suzuki went for the Gotch Piledriver and Goto woke up. Suzuki and Goto wrestled in the corner, where Suzuki climbed the ropes, hit a headbutt on Goto, and locked in a front facelock. Goto lifted Suzuki onto his shoulders for a Super ushigoroshi.
Both men traded hard strikes again while Suzuki help Goto’s arm. Goto eventually hit a hard headbutt and the GTR. Goto pinned Suzuki.
Hiroki Goto defeated Minoru Suzuki to win the NEVER Openweight Championship in 18:07.
Suzuki-gun carried Suzuki out before he could get his head shaved. The referee tried to stop them. Suzuki then walked back to the ring on his own. Suzuki grabbed a chair and went to the ring. He hit the chair Goto had set up out of the way and proceeded to start shaving his own head. Suzuki left his hair on the chair and walked away.
My Take: That was about what I expected from these two. 18 minutes is longer than I needed a match of mostly strikes to go, but such is life. Suzuki and Goto did fun dramatic work amongst those strikes. The ending was certainly memorable with Suzuki shaving his head.
The video for NJPW’s events through the G1 this summer aired. This was a short almost intermission before Hiromu Takahashi made his entrance with a masked Daryl. Kushida followed in some a wonderful shiny shirt. Will Ospreay entered next in a weird purple almost suit-jacket thing with a hood. Marty Scurll entered sprouting from the floor with giant wings on his back. Neato.
6) Marty Scurll vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay vs. Kushida for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
Scurll bailed from the ring to kick things off. Ospreay almost pinned Kushida in the ring and Scurll broke it up. Kushida got the better of Ospreay and Scurll broke that up. Kushida and Ospreay went after Scurll outside, Scurll rolled in and was almost pinned by Takahashi. Ospreay took control with the other three men in corners and hit a series of head scissors, ending with a dropkick on Takahashi.
Scurll managed to jump on Takahashi’s fingers, then hit a superkick on the apron to Takahashi on the outside. Kushida dove onto Scurll and Takahashi outside. All 4 men fought between the ringside barricades. Ospreay climbed some lighting truss about 15 feet up and moonsaulted onto the other 3 men from it. Ospreay and Kushida made their way to the ring and Ospreay hit a dropkick and a standing moonsault onto Kushida’s knees. Kushida got a near fall. Kushida caught an Ospreay springboard in an armbar. Scurll broke it up.
Scurll locked Takahashi in the chicken wing. Kushida had the Hoverboard Lock on Ospreay. Scurll ditched his hold to break Kushida’s.
Scurll hit a massive clothesline on Ospreay and Takahashi and Kushida hit them on each other. All four men are down. All four men battled to their knees. Scurll and Ospreay hit knees, Ospreay went for a jumping cutter and Scurll caught him with a chicken wing. Kushida broke up the chick wing and avoided a hit from Hiromu, who eventually gave Kushia an elevated belly to belly throw into the corner.
Ospreay and Scurll traded kicks in the corner. Ospreay climbed the ropes and went for a shooting star. Scurll rushed in and countered with an uppercut and a neckbreaker. Scurll hit a jumping cutter on Ospreay and Takahashi broke up the pin.
Scurll grabbed tape and taped Takahashi to the barricade. Don Callis said awkward pervy things. Scurll rushed into Kushida and Ospreay in the corner and played with their fingers. They “finger broke” Scurll before Kushida hit an avalanche cross armbreaker. Kushida turned it into a triangle choke. Ospreay countered and powerbombed Kushida into the corner.
Scurll grabbed more tape from a first aid kit, also some sort of white powder, which he threw in Kushida’s eyes. Kushida hit Back to the Future while blind, and Ospreay flew in for the save. Hiromus got away and is angry. Sunset Bombs from Hiromu for Scurll and Ospreay. Takahashi hit the timebomb on Scurll and Scurll kicked out.
Ospreay and Scurll teamed up to take out Kushida and Takahashi. Ospreay and Takahashi had a slightly awkward moment on a catch, but recovered. Takahashi hit a missile dropkick on Ospreay for two.
Hiromu was sunset bombed by Kushida. Ospreay hit his beautiful springboard shooting star press to all three men on the floor. Ospreay hit the implosion 450 splash on Takahashi and Takahashi kicked out. Hiromu avoided Ospreay’s cutter, hit the Timebomb, and Scurll pulled the referee out before he could count to three. Scurll did a lot of umbrella hitting. Ospreay avoided the umbrella and hit his cutter on Scurll to pin him.
Will Ospreay won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in 21:20.
My Take: Spectacular action in that one. It was a damn hard match to cover and hopefully I didn’t miss anything huge. I know Scurll’s whole deal is to cheat, but he seemed to be doing less than the other wrestlers in the ring in a noticeable manner. Scurll also sort of annoyed me with shouting every move he planned to do in the match. Takahashi, Ospreay, and Kushida absolutely killed it though.
Jay White made his entrance after a video package. White’s hair is sub-par. Hiroshi Tanahashi, the most beautiful wrestler of all time, entered looking extra pretty with new hair extensions. Go Ace.
7) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. White and Tanahashi locked up and White forced Tanahashi into the corner. They did some floor rolling that ended in Tanahashi playing air guitar. Tanahashi threw White over the top rope and to the floor. Tanahashi’s knee got caught by White, who then stomped on it outside the ring. White hit a big forearm and a snap saito suplex in the ring for a two count. Tanahashi is fighting from his back as White works the knee with leg whips.
White asked Tanahashi if he was the Ace while holding a modified indian deathlock. Tanahashi got to the ropes, got to his feet, but his knee buckled. Tanahashi eventually hit his own dragon screw on the standing White, followed by a Russian leg sweep. Tanahashi hit a summersault senton from the top for a two count. Tanahashi went for a slingblade but “Switchblade” moved and couldn’t take control. Tanahashi executed a couple rope assisted dragon screw leg whips and sent White to the outside. Tanahashi went up top and hit his High Fly Flow to the outside on White. White recovered and hit a deadlift German suplex on Tanahashi in the ring. They rolled outside and White swore a bunch before hitting a brainbuster on Tanahashi on the apron.
White went up top, waited for Tanahashi to get up, but then climbed down when Tanahashi stayed down. White did some Tanahashi chopping in the corner before switching it up and kneeing him. Tanahashi stood up as White begged “show me the Ace!” Tanahashi slapped White hard a couple times and hit a couple snap saito suplexes. White scored a near fall after a death valley driver. White went up top again and missed a dropkick.
Tanahashi hit what Kelly called a “Twist and Shout” from the top and followed it up with slaps to White. White ended up eating a couple Slingblades. Tanahashi hit High Fly Flow on the standing White and wet up top again. White avoided the third High Fly Flow attempt and elbowed Tanahashi in the throat about 50 times. White hit the Kiwi Crusher for a two count and went for Blade Runner. Tanahashi countered with a Dragon Suplex for a two count. White received a High Fly Flow on his back, then another while he was on the ground. Thus ended the match.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Jay White to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship in 19:46.
After the match White’s hair got frizzy AF and Tanahashi raised the Intercontinental Championship in the air.
My Take: That was good for what it was. White isn’t inhabiting his character at the level he needs to for this to work. It reminds me of Okada’s early matches as “The Rainmaker” when he seemed to be playing at a character and not playing it. This is more apparent with White. Tanahashi was the ring general here and this match had a great ebb and flow to it.
The Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho video package aired. Jericho entered to something that sounded like Fozzy with a light up jacket and a scarf. Kelly ran down Jericho’s accomplishments from almost two decades ago. Kenny Omega rose from the ground with what I’ll call a horse’s head made of metal and most likely a laser gun. Kenny Omega could be the Buzz Lightyear of wrestling in a year or two.
8) Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho in a No Disqualification match for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship. Before the bell Kenny was hugging the Young Bucks goodbye when Jericho attacked him and them. They had a pull-apart with young boys involved and then the bell actually rang. No lock up, this match started with each man attempting to throw bombs. Jericho was getting worked over in the corner by Omega when he pulled Red Shoes in between them. They traded chops. Jericho reversed a head scissors attempt into the Walls of Jericho. Omega got to the ropes and Jericho argued with Red Shoes about it being No DQ.
Jericho caught an Omega baseball slide attempt, but then got hit with a second slide. Jericho regrouped in the announcer area and Kenny Omega dove from the top rope all the way over the barricades and through the table. Don Callis might be dead. Jericho went after Red Shoes and Son of Red Shoes, locking the latter in the Walls.
Omega stopped the assault and went Bret Hart in 1997 on some old school CRT monitors on the body of Chris Jericho.
They fought to the other announce table, which Jericho threw on top of Omega. Omega threw a table onto the downed Jericho, climbed the lighting truss, and jumped down onto his body. Omega put Jericho back into the ringside area. A countout almost happened, which seems weird. They’ve been outside the ring for like 5 minutes.
Back in the ring Omega tried to springboard in, but Jericho gave his knee a springboard dropkick. Jericho set up a table at ringside and tried to powerbomb Omega through it. Omega fought and was powebombed on the floor instead.
Jericho stole a camera from a reporter to flip off the crowd. Jericho yelled “Alpha” before jumping off the top rope with an elbow to standing Kenny. Omega and Jericho traded almost whips until Jericho hit a second rope dropkick. Omega slapped Jericho. Jericho knocked Omega down and hit the Lionsault, which scored a near fall.
Omega hit a Hurricanrana and a clothesline to Jericho out to the floor. The fans gave Omega that Terminator clap thing and Omega dove over the top rope with a flip and took of Jericho. Kenny hit a crusher and got a two count.
Kenny started getting the babyface fire and went for the V Trigger. Jericho caught him and went for a Walls. Omega rolled up Jericho for two. Omega hit the V Trigger. Jericho locked the Walls of Jericho onto Omega in mid-ring. Kenny struggled to get to the ropes, which didn’t matter now. Omega pulled a spray can out from under the ring and sprayed Jericho’s eyes to escape.
Omega rushed at Jericho, who dodged allowing Kenny to run headfirst into a chair. Jericho rammed Kenny’s head into the chair a couple more times. Jericho worked the crowd to boo him all they could. More Kenny head chair ramming occured. Omega is now busted open.
Jericho worked over Omega’s wounds. Omega came back with a V Trigger and a snap dragon suplex. Jericho countered a One Winged Angel attempt. Jericho then flung the flimsy chair in the ring at Omega’s face, taking him down. Jericho grabbed another chair and worked over Omega’s back. From the second rope Jericho jammed the frame of the chair into Omega’s back.
Jericho grabbed another poorly constructed chair and attempted to climb the ropes. Omega hit two V Triggers that sent Jericho through the table Jericho set up outside. Chekov’s Table strikes again.
Kenny hit a vicious V Trigger after firing up in the ring, and then another one. Kenny hit the Tiger Driver for two. Kenny hit another V Trigger to the downed Jericho and went for the One Winged Angel. Jericho rolled through the OWA attempt to lock in the Walls of Jericho. Kenny almost made it to the ropes, but Jericho pulled him back and turned it into the old school Walls with a knee in Omega’s back. Kenny got to the ropes again and Jericho broke the hold, deciding to attack Red Shoes.
Jericho went for the Codebreaker, but ate a couple V Triggers instead. Omega hit the One Winged Angel, but Jericho was able to score a rope break on the pin. Omega went to the top rope and was stopped by Jericho crotching him. Jericho went for a top rope ‘rana, but Kenny slipped out from under him and sent him into the buckle.
Jericho hit a Codebreaker, which Kenny barely kicked out of. Jericho went for a Lionsault and Omega flung a chair at him. Omega hit the One Winged Angel on said chair to get a three count.
Kenny Omega defeated Chris Jericho to defend the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship in 34:35.
My Take: This was really fun. Yes, Jericho was audibly calling spots and he wasn’t anywhere close to peak. The match did its best to cover for all of that and to work to Omega’s strength. This was about getting Omega over like the white hot babyface he is and it worked. Fans rallied behind him in the right moments. Fans derided Jericho. It was a solid match with a straight forward story.
The main event video package aired. Tetsuya Naito’s music hit and the crowd chanted his name over it. Naito appeared on the stage in a white suit, a cape with burgundy lining, and a weird cat and/or rabbit mask. This crowd loves Naito like they’ve loved no one this evening.
Kazuchika Okada came to the ring wearing what look like snazzy new pants with Okada Bucks raining down from the heavens. The graphics on the circle-tron over the ring show Okada’s head with slams happening inside of it. Okada is definitely wearing bell bottoms. They’re perfect.
9) Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Red Shoes is our referee. The fans applauded as the bell rang.
Naito and Okada worked with short bursts of speed until Naito ducked a clothesline and got tranquilo on the ground. Naito ducked to ringside. Kelly and Callis talked star ratings for some odd reason as Naito ducked back into the ring to get stomped by Okada. Naito had a sudden reversal and ended up hitting a knee on Okada. Okada set Naito up on the top rope and dropkicked him to the outside. Naito hit a neckbreaker on the barricade to Okada. It looked rough. Naito hit another neckbraker on the apron to Okada and threw him into the ring, hitting a missile dropkick as Okada rose.
Naito worked over Okada’s neck with strikes in the corner. Naito landed another neckbreaker, sent Okada into the corner, and hit a great looking combo to take him down. Naito locked a cravat in mid-ring. Okada hit a DDT and sprung to his feet. Running, Okada hit a series of elbows on Naito. With both men on the floor, Okada ran halfway around the ring to deliver a big boot to Naito. Okada followed with a draping DDT using the barricade. Back in the ring, Naito managed to reverse Okada into another neckbreaker, halting his momentum. Naito hit a reverse DDT and covered for a 2 count.
Naito ran at Okada and Okada flapjacked him. Okada hit his neckbreaker on the knee thing and his big flying elbow drop. Rainmaker pose time as the camera zoomed out. Naito reversed an actual Rainmaker attempt and ended up in Okada’s Cobra Clutch. Fans chanted for Naito as he writhed in Okada’s clutch. Naito managed to spring himself to the ropes after a long while in the hold.
Naito managed to hit a draping neckbreaker with Okada’s feet on the top rope. He then set Okada up for a reverse ‘rana on the top and hit it. Two count for Naito. Naito hit Gloria and went for the Stardust Press, but Okada moved.
Both men reached their feet for a reset, trading elbows, eventually breaking down to a brawl Naito got the better of. Okada sprung up with a big boot, Naito came back with a spinning wheel kick, and Okada came back with a dropkick. Okada threw Naito to the ropes and Naito hit a flying forearm.
Okada and Naito ended up fighting up top. Okada knocked Naito off the corner and went for a Missile Dropkick, which he missed. Naito tried to go back up top, getting stopped by Okada with a delayed German Suplex. Okada held onto the German and went for the Rainmaker, missing it once, hitting it a second time. Naito kicked out of the Rainmaker at two.
Okada couldn’t accomplish a Tombstone Piledriver he was going for. Naito couldn’t accomplish the step up enziguri. Okada went back to the Cobra Clutch and Naito reversed to hit Destino. Naito couldn’t even try to pin Okada after. Some long panning crowd shots and a close up for the IWGP title followed as both men struggled to get to their knees at 30 minutes into the match.
Naito and Okada traded shots as they rose to their feet. Naito got the better of the punch trading, eventually slapping Okada hard. Okada went down. Naito ran at Okada in the corner and somehow ended up hitting a weird head scissors. Naito went for Destino and Okada reversed into the Rainmaker. Okada held onto Naito’s wrist and pulled him up. Naito ducked the second Rainmaker and reversed into Destino. The crowd roared. Okada kicked out at two.
Naito tried to set up Destino again and couldn’t. Naito landed the step up enziguri. Okada hit his amazing dropkick to Naito’s head. That move is freaking perfect. Okada hit a Tombstone and pulled Naito to his feet. Rainmaker setup reversed to Destino. A second Destino reversed into a Jumping 180 Tombstone. Okada pulled Naito up and hit another Rainmaker to finally score a three count.
Kazuchika Okada defeated Tetsuya Naito to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in 36:29.
Replays aired as Okada finally made his way to his feet. Naito can hardly walk his way to the back. Gedo growled what seemed to be his standard words about the greatness of Okada. Okada took the mic and addressed Naito and the crowd, seemingly giving credit to Naito for an amazing effort. Okada, according to @reasonjp said he’s going to do it again with Naito and he wants the whole wrestling world to be happy. He celebrated as the show closed.
My Take: Where do I even start with that match? Where do I start with that final stretch? It was unbelievable. Okada and Naito did something really amazing with the build of that match. It was like nothing else and will surely be hard to top this year. That said, that result has left me a little puzzled. I’m not sure what’s left for Okada to do in this title reign. He’s done it all and held the belt the longest. I’m totally along for the ride, but it felt like Naito’s time. This felt a little deflating for the giant crowd and that concerns me. New Japan books pretty long stories though and this could be me wanting too early of a payoff.
Overall, this was an awesome show. Nearly every match delivered something good-to-great with standout efforts from Cody vs. Ibushi, Jericho vs. Omega, and Okada vs. Naito. The english commentary team was eons better than the Matt Striker days. Callis and Kelly still had some moments that I didn’t enjoy, but they told the stories of the matches and didn’t overshadow the action. They did right by the performances here.
What the hell else is there to say? It’s almost 5:30am and I should probably sleep at some point.
Will Pruett writes about wrestling and popular culture at prowrestling.net. Of interest to him are diversity in wrestling and wrestling as a theatrical art form. To see his video series “What I Love About Professional Wrestling” subscribe to his YouTube channel. To contact, check him out on Twitter @wilpruett, leave a comment, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Frank Zarrillo discussing his film "The Wrestler: A QT Marshall Story", which includes appearances by Matt Riddle, Damian Priest, Gerald Brisco, Kevin Kelly, Steve Corino, and many more, the involvement of Marshall's wife and mother, and much more. Stick around after the interview for Powell's audio review of Wednesday's AEW Dynamite television show...