By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Wrestle Kingdom 13”
January 4, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome
Broadcast live on New Japan World and FITE TV
Kevin Kelly, Don Callis, and Chris Charlton were on commentary…
Pre Show: Gauntlet match to determine the No. 1 contenders to the Never Openweight Six-Man Tag Titles. The first entrants were Marty Scurll, Yujiro Takahashi, and Hangman Page (w/Chase Owens) vs. David Finlay, Jeff Cobb, and Yuji Nagata. Finlay rolled up Takahashi and pinned him. Kelly noted that Page and Scurll were seething afterward.
The next entrants were Chuckie T, Beretta, and Hirooki Goto. Finlay pinned Chuckie T. The broadcast team noted that Finlay scored both pins for his team.
The fourth entrants were Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Lance Archer. Living legends Suzuki and Nagata had a fun exchange. Then the powerhouses Smith and Cobb fought briefly. Archer and Smith hit the Killer Bomb on Finlay. Archer pinned Finlay to eliminate his team.
The final entrants were Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano, and Togi Makabe. The Suzuki-gun trio met them in the aisle and brawled. They fought to ringside where Suzuki took a swing at Kelly over the barricade. Callis acted(?) petrified. The Killer Elite Squad (Smith and Archer) performed a Hart Attack clothesline on Yano for a near fall. A short time later, Yano rolled up Smith and pinned him.
Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano, and Togi Makabe defeated Minoru Suzuki, Davey Boy Smith Jr., and Lance Archer in 28:00 to earn a shot at the Never Openweight Six-Man Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: Call me a killjoy, but I didn’t find much entertainment value in the New Japan Rumble. So while I don’t really care about the six-man titles, this was more up my alley than the usual pre-show match. They went to a wide shot and guitar rock is playing, so the pre-show is over and I’ll be back at the top of the hour for the main show.
A video package aired and announced that the G1 Tournament will begin in Dallas, Texas at American Airlines Arena. Next year’s Tokyo Dome show will be a two-day event on January 4-5…
Powell’s POV: Wow, so much for waiting until the top of the hour. Those are big show announcements. A video package is airing now, so the main card will begin momentarily.
1. Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay for the Never Openweight Championship. Kelly openly questioned whether anything would be able to top this main show opening match. Kelly noted that the Never Openweight Title changed hands six times in 2018. Around 10:00, Ibushi performed a running knee to the head, which Kelly noted was shades of Nakamura. He followed up with a Last Ride powerbomb for a two count.
Both wrestlers fought for position on the ropes. Ibushi performed a double stomp onto the back of Ospreay from the top rope. Ibushi suffered a bloody mouth or nose. Ibushi performed a German suplex that brought Ospreay into the ring from the apron, but Ospreay landed on his feet, waited for him to turn around, and delivered a kick. A short time later, Ibushi performed an inverted piledriver for a near fall. Ospreay came back and hit the Stormbreaker for the win. Ibushi was stretchered out afterward.
Will Ospreay defeated Kota Ibushi in 18:00 to win the Never Openwight Championship.
Powell’s POV: These are two of the most talented wrestlers in the world and with the right story they just as easily could have feuded over the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, headlined this show, and not have been the least bit out of place. The match was terrific with lots of aerial teases early followed by some stiff work late. Maybe too stiff with the knees and elbows? I’m not sure what caused Ibushi to be stretchered out, but it wasn’t played up in a way that suggested work, nor was there a specific move that was pushed by the broadcast team as being responsible either in shoot or work fashion.
2. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado vs. Sho and Yoh (w/Rocky Romero) vs. Bushi and Shingo Takagi for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Titles. Sho and Yoh set up for their finisher and had to fight off Desperado and Bushi, which let Takagi stop their momentum. A short time later, Takagi performed Last of the Dragon on Sho and pinned him…
Shingo Takagi & Bushi defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado and Sho & Yoh to win the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Titles in 7:00.
Powell’s POV: A solid match that had a tough act to follow, yet it was entertaining and it didn’t overstay its welcome. I like the idea the new champions beating the non-champions, as it sets up the obvious need for a rematch.
Kelly announced that NJPW has announced a show in Nashville, Tennessee for February 2. He said more details would be available on the website…
3. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (w/Taka Michinoku) for the British Heavyweight Championship. Taka delivered his pre-match introduction of ZSJ. Kelly noted that Sabre said at the press conference that he would tap out Ishii in less than 60 seconds. Sabre applied an early armbar, but Ishii reached the ropes to break it. Ishii sold arm pain while throwing some early forearms, and Sabre continued to target the arm.
At 5:30, Ishii performed a superplex. Sabre rolled out of it and ended up stomping the bad arm, then controlled the offense for the next few minutes. Ishii came back with a powerbomb. Ishii blocked some strikes, performed a headbutt, and a lariat for a near fall. Sabre rebounded with an octopus and the referee called for the bell…
Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Tomohiro Ishii in 11:40 to win the British Heavyweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: A very entertaining match. I could watch Sabre work his submission style all day. In this case, his early offensive control left me assuming that Ishii would end up coming back to win, but instead it was Sabre controlling the majority of the offense and never seeming to be at risk of losing. Sabre went over strong.
4. Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa (Bad Luck Fale, Jado) vs. Young Bucks vs. Evil and Sanada for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles. The teams went to ringside early. Evil bodyslammed and clotheslined Matt Jackson on the entrance ramp, leading to Matt selling his never ending back injury. The injury never really came into play even thought Matt was pinned off a Sanada moonsault…
Evil and Sanada defeated Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa and The Young Bucks in 10:20 to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: You had to assume one of the Bucks would be losing this match, but I’m mildly surprised they didn’t have the Bullet Club OG members get a win over the Elite duo. No complaints, though, as this established Evil and Sanada as the dominant team in the company. The match was fine, but I can’t help but think it would have been a lot more fun if the Bucks weren’t leaving and they performed their bigger spots. But it wasn’t about them in this case so the approach is understandable.
5. Cody (w/Brandi Rhodes) vs. Juice Robinson for the IWGP U.S. Championship. Charlton stated that with Cody being an executive in a new company, it’s basically an inter-promotional match. Cody swung the belt at Robinson, who ducked. Robinson performed an early Juice Box and then went to the top rope, but Brandi covered Cody to protect him. Cody used the distraction and ran Robinson shoulder first into the ring post a short time later.
Brandi got involved again and threw punches at Robinson while Cody distracted referee Tiger Hattori, who then ejected Brandi once he caught her. A short time later, Cody hit CrossRhodes for a good near fall. Robinson came back and performed Pulp Friction. Robinson picked up Cody and performed the move a second time before pinningCody…
Juice Robinson defeated Cody to win the IWGP U.S. Championship in roughly 9:00.
Powell’s POV: The onslaught of title changes continues. There wasn’t much mystery here regarding the outcome. Cody and Brandi wore gear that had a Jacksonville Jaguars theme without actually including any logos. Funny. Meanwhile, Robinson wore purple and gold. Does that mean the Wilf family that owns the Minnesota Vikings are going to fund a new startup pro wrestling company and name Juice an executive producer?!? Okay, maybe he just likes the colors or he’s a Lakers fan or something.
6. Kushida vs. Taijii Ishimori for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship. A child dressed like Kushida came out, then a guy came out who played Doc Brown for Kushida’s entrance. Kushida went for a Hoverboard Lock at 9:00, but Ishimori powered out of it and slammed Kushida. Later, Kushida set up for a fisherman’s buster suplex, but Ishimori avoided it and caught him with a knee. Ishimori performed the Bloody Cross and scored the clean pin…
Taijii Ishimori defeated Kushida to win the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship.
Powell’s POV: On one hand, Mini Kushida is just what I needed to stay awake through this late night show. On the other hand, I’m now fearful of ever falling asleep again. Seriously, WTF was that? If there’s ever a New Japan Studios, the company will make millions from a Mini Kushida horror franchise. You know what this show really needs? More title changes! Shoot, we’ll have to wait at least one more match for another one.
7. Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White (w/Gedo). Callis said Gedo looked like a middle aged rapper due to his attire. Okada bucks fell for his entrance and he had blonde hair and a great ring jacket. He removed the jacket and he was wearing trunks. The broadcast team said Okada was back. Fans chanted for Okada and booed when White left the ring in their biggest outbursts of the night. Gedo reached in and tried to trip Okada. White went on the offensive and Gedo smiled at ringside.
At 7:25, Gedo hit Okada from behind at ringside after Okada threw White over the guardrail. Okada threw Gedo over the guardrail and the gate swung and hit Gedo. Okada ran and dove over the guardrail onto both men. Back inside the ring, Okada performed a top rope elbow drop and then did the Rainmaker pose. White avoided the move and performed a nice sequence that ended with a German suplex. White followed up with a uranage for a near fall.
At 10:40, Gedo placed a chair on the apron and then distracted the referee while White grabbed it. Okada stopped him from using it, but White once again stuffed the Rainmaker and dumped Okada on his head. White performed a Kiwi Krusher for a near fall. Okada avoided a Bladerunner and countered into a tombstone. There was a great series of both wrestlers countering out of the other’s attempted move that ended with Okada performing a Rainmaker. However, White came right back and performed the Bladerunner and scored the clean pin…
Jay White pinned Kazuchika Okada in 14:20.
Powell’s POV: A very good match with a cool finish. The story was set up as Okada being back to himself and thus most fans would naturally assume that he was going to get the win, but instead White beat him clean. This outcome is far more interesting as it gives White another huge win and leaves viewers wondering where Okada goes from here. This was great.
8. Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito in a No DQ match for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Naito attacked Jericho from behind. Naito performed a piledriver on the ramp. Jericho bounced back with a kendo stick shot to the head from ringside as Naito was running the ropes. Jericho knocked Naito to the floor with a kick, then grabbed a camera and filmed him. Jericho took Naito the broadcast table row and DDT’d him on a table.
Back in the ring, Jericho performed a top rope cross body block at 7:15. Jericho performed a long distance Lionsault for another two count. At 11:30, Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho. Naito spun his way out of it and then stuffed a Codebreaker attempt. Naito went for Destino. Jericho blocked it and reapplied the Walls of Jericho. Naito broke the hold by grabbing the kendo stick and hitting Jericho with it at 14:30.
Naito wound up baseball style with the kendo stick, but Jericho ducked it and performed a Codebreaker for a near fall. Jericho picked up the kendo stick, but then tossed it aside in favor of going to ringside and tossing a bunch of chairs into the ring. Jericho set up for a powerbomb. Naito countered into a DDT onto the chairs. Naito performed a Codebreaker of his own for a two count at 18:00.
Naito went to the middle rope with the stick, but Jericho threw a chair at him. Naito went for Destino. Jericho blocked and shoved the referee, and performed a Codebreaker for a near fall. Jericho grabbed his title belt and tried to hit Naito, who hoisted him into an exposed turnbuckle. Naito finally hit Destino, yet only scored a two count. Naito picked up the title belt and hit Jericho with it. Naito performed Destino and pinned Jericho. Afterward, Jericho slapped a guy at ringside, and Naito roughed up referee Red Shoes…
Tetsuya Naito defeated Chris Jericho in 21:50 to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
Powell’s POV: That was a blast. On a show filled with mostly straight forward wrestling, the big brawl really livened things up. This was the highlight of the show thus far. The show is moving along quicker than I expected. I wonder if they are rushing things along because they fear that the monster known as Mini Kushida will be feeding soon and they want to get everyone out of the building safely.
9. Kenny Omega (w/The Young Bucks) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Omega came out wearing a one winged angle themed costume with a sword. The Young Bucks came out with him and helped him remove it. Kelly noted that they had yet to receive an update on the condition of Kota Ibushi.
Omega had Tanahashi against the ropes early and gave a clean break while lightly tapping his cheek, and Tanahashi fired back with a hard slap. Omega returned fire with some hard slaps moments later. Omega worked over the back of Tanahashi with kicks and then a suplex. Tanahashi rolled to ringside. Omega followed and performed a back suplex on the apron. Omega bodyslammed Tanahashi over the guardrail and onto the Japanese broadcast table. One of the Japanese broadcasters was knocked down in the process. Omega performed a moonsault off the apron, then helped up the broadcast team member and raised his arm.
Omega and Tanahashi returned to the ring around 12:30 and exchanged strikes with Omega getting the better of it with chops. Tanahashi came back with a flying forearm. Tanahashi performed a dragon screw leg whip. Tanahashi performed a summersault senton off the middle rope for a two count. Tanahashi was dumped to the floor. The Bucks did the Terminator bit and Omega dropped down and played into it. Tanahashi raced back to the ring and dropkicked Omega while he was slapping the mat.
Tanahashi ended up at ringside and the Bucks did the Rise of the Terminator bit. Omega performed a big flip dive. Omega hit the ramp hard and sold knee pain while the Bucks checked on him. Omega rolled Tanahashi back inside the ring and then performed a missile dropkick to his back at 17:30. Omega performed a snap dragon suplex. Tanahashi popped right up only to take the same move again. Tanahashi got up slowly and Omega hit him with a V Trigger. Omega went for the One Winged Angel. Tanahashi avoided it. Omega performed a rolling senton and then sold knee pain when he would normally go to the ropes. Tanahashi performed another dragon screw leg whip.
At 20:00, Tanahashi applied a cloverleaf and turned it into a Styles Clash. Tanahashi went up top and performed a High Fly Flow, but Omega put his knees up. Omega went for a V Trigger, but Tanahashi moved, causing Omega to slam his knee into the corner pad. Tanahashi performed another dragon screw. Tanahashi performed a sling blade clothesline on the apron. Tanahashi placed Omega onto a table at ringside and went for a High Fly Flow, but Omega moved and Tanahashi crashed through the table at 24:30. Wow.
Omega considered rolling back inside the ring, but he opted to grab Tanahashi and bring him back to the ring instead. Kelly said kudos to Omega if he wins, but there would be second guessing if he does not over his decision to not take the count-out. Omega performed a double stomp onto the back of Tanahashi, then powerbombed him for a near fall. Omega powerbombed Tanahashi again for the same result. Omega performed a third powerbomb, but Tanahashi kicked out again. Omega ran the ropes and Tanahashi bounced back with a sling blade.
Omega and Tanahashi traded strikes in the middle of the ring. Omega landed some hard slaps to the face along with some chops. Tanahashi returned the favor. Omega threw a knee and then several more to the side of Tanahashi at the 30-minute mark. Omega performed a German suplex, but Tanahashi popped up. Omega performed his own sling blade clothesline. Omega went up top and performed a High Fly Flow. Tanahashi kicked out of his own finisher at one. Omega blasted him with a V Trigger and followed up with more knees.
At 33:10, Omega performed a reverse huracanrana. Omega caught Tanahashi with another V Trigger against the ropes. Omega went for a One Winged Angel, but Tanahashi countered into a reverse huracanrana of his own. Tanahashi performed a dragon suplex into a bridge for a two count, then went up top and performed a High Fly Flow onto a standing Omega. Tanahashi went up top again and performed the move again for a great near fall at 35:25.
Tanahashi went up top. Omega raced over and hit him with. V Trigger. Omega sat Tanahashi on the top rope and performed a wicked dragon suplex. Omega performed a running V Trigger. Omega picked up Tanahashi for his finisher, but Tanahashi reversed in mid-air and landed on Omega. Tanahashi performed a sling blade. Tanahashi performed a High Fly Flow and scored the pin…
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kenny Omega in 39:20 to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Kelly noted that the paid attendance for the show was 38,162. Omega left the ring with the Bucks. The belt was placed around the waist of Tanahashi, who took the mic and spoke to the fans in Japanese. He teased not having enough strength to play air guitar, but then he delivered. Tanahashi thanked the fans again to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A hell of a main event to end a strong show. The last three matches made the night even though there were also some good matches on the undercard. Expectations were high with most fans for this show and it did not disappoint. Check back later today for the new Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast, which will feature Will Pruett and I breaking down this event in a free audio show. Will is watching the show on delay, but hopefully it will be available early this afternoon.
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The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Brian Fritz of Sporting News and Between The Ropes discussing WrestleMania 36, WWE television from the empty WWE Performance Center, his own travel woes, NFL free agency, and more...