Wrestle Kingdom XII
Date: January 4, 2018
Location: Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan
Commentators: Kevin Kelly, Don Callis
It’s that that day of the year (not even time for this show) as we’re at New Japan’s biggest show of the year. The main event is IWGP World Champion Kazuchika Okada defending against former champion Tetsuya Naito in what should be a pretty obvious ending, but the match that has gotten almost all of the attention is a dream match between Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho. Not only have they set the match up but they’ve actually done some rather hot angles to help build the thing. Let’s get to it.
Please note that I don’t watch much New Japan. I have a decent idea of what’s going on and do follow the stories and developments, but there’s a good chance that I’m going to miss a thing or two.
Pre-Show: New Japan Rumble
This is a Royal Rumble with one minute intervals and pin/submission/over the top eliminations. Katsuya Kitamura (the reigning Young Lions Cup winner) is in at #1 and Bushi is in at #2. Kitamura shakes the ropes to start and is quickly choked in the corner with a shirt. Delirious is in at #3 and comes in after a quick lap around the ring. Some chops have no effect on Kitamura so grunting ensues and Delirious is dropped in the corner. Leo Tonga, a 6’10 monster and the Guerrillas of Destiny’s brother, is in at #4 and grabs a lifting Downward Spiral for two on Kitamura.
Delirious and Bushi trade some kicks until Manabu Nakanishi, a former IWGP World Champion, is in at #5. Nothing of note happens for not and Chase Owens (an honorary Tongan) is in at #6 as the intervals are already way out of whack. Owens gives Delirious a quick package piledriver for the first elimination to clear the ring out a bit. Nakanishi has Bushi in a torture rack before tossing him out as Yuji Nagata is in at #7.
Nagata and Nakanishi, current partners, slug it out with the latter getting the better of it. A double pin gets rid of Tonga, Nagata rolls Nakanishi up for a quick pin and Owens/Kitamura get together to pin Nagata in the span of thirty seconds. A package piledriver eliminates Kitamura and it’s Taka Michinoku in at #8 to go one on one with Owens. Since Taka takes forever to get to the ring, Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Taka’s stablemate in Suzuki-Gun) is in at #9 in short order. Owens is double teamed until Desperado, also of Suzuki-Gun, is in at #10.
Chase actually hangs on until a shot of booze to the face is good for an elimination to leave Suzuki-Gun alone in the ring. It’s Jushin Thunder Liger in at #11. Jushin gets in some palm strikes but tries the surfboard for some reason, allowing the triple teaming to start all over. Suzuki-Gun goes for the mask but it’s Tiger Mask in at #12.
Desperado goes for Mask’s mask, only to have Tiger switch places and almost get Desperado’s mask off instead. A tiger driver gets two on Desperado and it’s Gino Gambino, a rather large Australian, is in at #13. Desperado and Tiger lose their masks, which seems to be a double elimination. Liger, Kanemaru and Taka are pinned in short order, leaving Gambino to face Toa Henare, another Young Lion, who is in at #14. A Samoan drop gets two on Gambino as Yoshi-Hashi is in at #15. Hashi chops at Henare for one and David Finlay is in at #16.
Finlay wastes no time in Stunning Gambino for an elimination. Henare is put out again, leaving Finlay to roll Hashi up for another pin (despite his shoulder being WAY off the mat). Yujiro Takahashi is in at #17 with a rather good looking woman in a leather bunny mask. A clothesline gets rid of Finlay in short order and Takahashi is all alone. Cheeseburger is n at #18 because of course he is. The tiny man gets in a bulldog and a stomp as Satoshi Kojima is in at #19.
Yujiro grabs a fisherman’s buster on Kojima but goes after Cheeseburger instead of following up. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kojima’s longtime partner, is in at #20. The rapid Mongolian chops have Takahashi in trouble and it’s Masahito Kakihara (a cancer survivor of UWFI fame) in at #21 for the last entrant. A 3D plants Yujiro and a lariat gets rid of him, leaving us with Kakihara, Cheeseburger, Kojima and Tenzan. Kojima shows Cheeseburger how to throw some machine gun chops but he’s smart enough to roll away from a splash.
Back up and Cheeseburger and Kakihara try chops to the chest with Cheeseburger’s having no effect and a double low bridge eliminate Tenzan and Kojima. A quick STO ends Cheeseburger at 32:06 to give Kakihara the win.
Result: Masahito Kakihara won the New Japan Rumble (32:06)
Post match Kakihara puts on a shirt in honor of Yoshihiro Takayama, who was paralyzed in a match back in May.
The opening video runs the card down.
A female announcer seems to welcome us to the show.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: Young Bucks vs. Roppongi 3K
3K (Ring of Honor’s Tempura Boyz, Sho and Yoh) is defending and has Rocky Romero in their corner. Nick shoves Yoh around to start and it’s already time for a Sharpshooter attempt. Yoh actually grabs one of his own, drawing in the partners so Matt can put Sho in another Sharpshooter. That means a slap off for a unique spot, followed by 3K popping up for stereo dropkicks.
Romero actually calls a play, leading to double flip dives to the floor. Yoh comes up with a bad back though and it’s time for a glorified handicap match in the vein of the Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice from last year. Nick dropkicks Sho down and Romero gets powerbombed onto the ramp. Yoh gets thrown inside and then powerbombed onto the apron as the announcers go over the Bucks’ history at the show.
Matt hurts his own back on a dive so it’s Nick stomping on Yoh at a fairly slow pace. A pretty weak backbreaker has Yoh in trouble so Nick takes Yoh to the ramp for a piledriver. Yoh backdrops his way to freedom and Nick dives onto his brother by mistake. The hot tag brings in Sho to clean house with kicks and suplexes. He even German suplexes both Bucks at once in a surprising display of power.
Nick’s superkicks don’t get him very far so it’s a leg lariat which knocks Sho into the ropes, only to have him lariat Nick down. Yoh and Matt have matching back injuries but Matt is still able to powerbomb him into the corner. A hanging DDT with Nick flipping onto Yoh’s back at the same time is good for two and it’s off to the Sharpshooter. Yoh grabs the rope and More Bang For Your Buck is countered into a rollup for two.
We hit stereo half crabs from the champs with Nick having to hold his brother’s arm up. Eventually Nick kicks his hold away to break up the one on Nick and everyone is down. The healthy guys take turns kicking at the bad backs before Nick superkicks Sho down, followed by a corkscrew dive to the floor. Back in and the Meltzer Driver into the Sharpshooter gives the Bucks the belts for the seventh time at 18:49.
Result: Young Bucks b. Roppongi 3K – Sharpshooter to Yoh (18:49)
Never Openweight Six Man Tag Team Titles: Gauntlet Match
Bad Luck Fale/Guerrillas of Destiny are defending. Two teams start, the winning team keeps going, last team standing leaves with the belts. Suzuki-Gun (Zack Sabre Jr./Taichi/Takashi Iizuka with Desperado, Taka Michinoku and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) and War Machine/Michael Elgin start things off after Iizuka is lead to the ring on a leash. Suzuki-Gun jumps the simply named trio to start but run into the power of Elgin.
Somehow Elgin is still able to slingshot in with a splash for no cover. A not very delayed suplex on Iizuka is enough to bring in Hanson to rake the eyes a bit. Taichi gets in a few shots as well until a cartwheel gets Hanson over to the corner for the hot tag to Rowe. Everything breaks down in a hurry but Rowe misses a moonsault. Sabre grabs a quick triangle choke and Rowe is choked out at 6:05.
Next up are Beretta, Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii and the brawl is on in the aisle. They get in with the beating only lasting a few seconds until Yano gets in a low blow and rolls Taichi for the pin at 9:12 (including the time between falls). Next up is Taguchi Japan, consisting of Togi Makabe, Ryusuke Taguchi and Juice Robinson.
The brawl is on in a hurry with Robinson firing off right hands but having to catch the turnbuckle pad that Yano unhooked. Makabe runs over Yano with a lariat for two and now it’s everyone clotheslining Yano in the corner. A springboard hip attack gets two and Makabe runs more people over. Taguchi channels Shinsuke Nakamura with the gyrating before a running knee, only to charge into a rollup to give Yano his second straight pin at 14:06.
That leaves us with Bad Luck Fale and the Guerrillas of Destiny to complete the field and again the fight is on in a hurry. Tonga Loa gives Trent an AA on the apron but Fale misses a splash in the corner, meaning a hot tag can bring in Ishii. He can’t lift the huge Fale though and that earns him a big splash in the corner. A chokeslam is broken up and Ishii headbutts him backwards, followed by an impressive suplex.
The Guerrillas come back in and hit Guerrilla Warfare on Beretta. Instead of covering though, they try a belly to back superplex but get elbowed away. Beretta isn’t out of the woods yet though as he moonsaults right into a cutter for a very near fall. Fale and Ishii clothesline each other down but Beretta hits a quick Dudebuster to pin Loa for the titles at 21:46.
Result: Beretta/Toru Yano/Tomohiro Ishii won a gauntlet match last eliminating Bullet Club (21:46)
Ticket info for the Long Beach event is released tomorrow.
Cody vs. Kota Ibushi
Cody has Brandi with him and still has the bleach blond hair. After Cody puts his ring in a box, we’re ready to go. Cody’s headlock is countered with a nip up so Cody flips him off. That’s not the nicest gesture in the world and Ibushi is so disgusted that he gets caught in an American Nightmare lock. Ibushi makes the rope and Callis is wondering why he didn’t have that better scouted.
Cody gets sent outside and Brandi is down so Ibushi checks on her, only to be suckered into a right hand. Back in and the Disaster Kick starts working on Ibushi’s always bad neck and we hit a double underhook neck crank. Brandi takes Kevin’s chair and distracts the referee so Cody can get in some shots to the neck.
Ibushi is back up and hitting a moonsault press to the floor to take Cody down again. Back in and Kota’s rapid strikes into a standing moonsault gets two. Brandi grabs the foot to break up a suplex though (Callis: “She’s been watching her Bobby Heenan footage!”) and Cody hits Cross Rhodes off the apron to drop Ibushi HARD onto his head in a big crash. Somehow Ibushi beats the count so Cody hits his own springboard hurricanrana for a very close two.
Cross Rhodes is countered though and Ibushi lawn darts him into the buckle. Ibushi can’t follow up so they slap it out with Kota getting the better of it, setting up the sitout Last Ride for two more. A hard lariat (staying on the neck) gives Cody two and a straitjacket German suplex gives Ibushi the same. He doesn’t let go though, instead kneeing the heck out of Cody. The Phoenix splash is good for the academic pin on Cody at 16:08.
Result: Kota Ibushi b. Cody – Phoenix splash (16:08)
IWGP Tag Team Titles: Evil/Sanada vs. Killer Elite Squad
Evil and Sanada are challenging after winning the World Tag League last year. Lance Archer (partner of Davey Boy Smith Jr.) is a cowboy so a lot of beer is sprayed over the crowd. The champs jump them to start and a Killer Bomb (full nelson slam into a sitout powerbomb) gets a very early two on Evil (as in less than fifteen seconds in). Evil is basically dead so Archer pounds away, allowing Davey to get two while posing.
That’s enough for the Squad as they head outside and beat up the young boys for fun. Archer chokeslams Evil onto everyone else before taking Sanada back in for a headscissors. A side slam/middle rope splash gets two and Archer just blasts Sanada with a clothesline. Sanada dropkicks Davey in the knee but it’s still not enough for the hot tag off to Davey as Lance makes the save.
Archer’s Rock Bottom gets two but he charges into a hurricanrana. The hot tag FINALLY brings Evil in for some clotheslines with the third finally taking Archer down. Smith misses his middle rope moonsault but Sanada gets chokeslammed for two. Another Killer Bomb gets the same but Evil breaks up a third attempt. Archer gets sent outside and the Magic Killer gets two on Davey. A quick moonsault press puts Davey away to give us new champions at 13:17.
Result: Evil/Sanada b. Killer Elite Squad – Moonsault to Smith (13:17)
Never Openweight Title: Hirooki Goto vs. Minoru Suzuki
Suzuki is defending, no seconds allowed and hair/title vs. hair, which never sounds fair whatsoever. Goto walks into a shot to the face to start but comes back with one of his own to get us back to even. An early standing choke doesn’t get Suzuki very far so he grabs another while standing on the second rope. That’s enough to bring the doctor in, only to have Suzuki clear the ring again.
Goto is sent outside which seems to wake him up, meaning Suzuki can hit him in the back with a chair because he feels like it. For some reason Goto decides to roll back in and a hard forearm to the head cuts him off again. A running knee in the corner rocks Goto but a running kick to the chest is caught….so Suzuki hits him in the head again. Goto does manage a spinwheel kick in the corner and a bulldog, followed by a Saito suplex for two.
Suzuki grabs his choke again but keeps trying the Gotch Style piledriver. Instead Goto reverses into a fireman’s carry backbreaker so here’s Suzuki-Gun to interfere. Goto fights them off but walks into a hard dropkick to keep Suzuki in control. A long series of rapid fire strikes to the face sets up the choke again but Suzuki again opts for the piledriver.
Goto reverses that as well but gets caught in a guillotine choke with Suzuki standing on the ropes. That’s reversed into a super fireman’s carry backbreaker for two so Goto headbutts the heck out of him. The GTR (an Eye of the Hurricane onto the knee) is enough to end Suzuki at 18:04.
Result: Hirooki Goto b. Minoru Suzuki – GTR (18:04)
Suzuki is carried away by his guys but walks back to the ring for the haircut, which he does himself in humiliation.
Ads for upcoming shows.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Will Ospreay vs. Kushida vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. Marty Scurll
One fall to a finish and Scurll is defending. These four have been the only champions since November 2016 so there are a lot of stories tied together in the whole thing. Scurll and Ospreay are mortal enemies, Takahashi had Kushida’s number (though Kushida finally beat him to win the title back) and Ospreay took the title from Kushida a few months back. Marty comes out with WINGS for a heck of an entrance. The champ heads outside to start so it’s Ospreay flipping over Kushida to start.
Kushida flips over into a dropkick for two with Marty running in for the save. Back up and Ospreay moonsaults in to kick Scurll and Kushida down at the same time. Everyone heads outside with Ospreay climbing the set and moonsaulting down onto the other three. Back in and Kushida catches Ospreay’s springboard in a cross armbreaker but Ospreay comes back in to grab the chickenwing.
Kushida slaps the Hoverboard Lock on Takahashi at the same time and it’s a game of chicken. It’s Scurll letting go of Ospreay to make the save with a superkick to Kushida. Back up and everyone hits everyone really hard for the four way knockdown. They strike it out from their knees until Ospreay kicks Scurll down, only to have the Oscutter countered into the chickenwing.
That’s broken up as well and Takahashi suplexes Kushida into the corner. Kushida gets caught upside down in the corner for a superkick, followed by Ospreay going up. His shooting star is countered into a cutter though and Scurll gets two off a Last Shot. The Oscutter gets the same on Ospreay and Scurll heads outside to tape Takahashi to the barricade. He throws in a finger break, only to have Kushida and Ospreay break fingers on both of his hands.
Kushida triangles Ospreay but gets lifted up and powerbombed into the corner for his efforts. Now it’s Scurll grabbing some powder to blind Kushida, who is still able to hit the small package driver for two with Ospreay diving off the top for the save. Takahashi has somehow gotten free and catches Ospreay in a German suplex, followed by running sunset bombs to Ospreay and Scurll. The Time Bomb gets two on Scurll but it’s Ospreay coming in for the save.
Ospreay and Scurll take turns kicking the heck out of Takahashi and Kushida, only to have Takahashi missile dropkick Ospreay for two. Now it’s Kushida back up with a running sunset bomb on Takahashi. Ospreay hits an imploding 450 for two on Takahashi but a Time Bomb gets the same with Scurll making the save. Some umbrella shots have the challengers in trouble but the Oscutter takes Scurll down for the pin and the title at 21:22.
Result: Will Ospreay b. Marty Scurll, Hiromu Takahashi and Kushida – Oscutter to Scurll (21:22)
We recap (first time tonight) Hiroshi Tanahashi defending the Intercontinental Title against Jay White. Jay had been a Young Lion who left on his foreign excursion (mainly to Ring of Honor) and returned in November at Power Struggle. White talked about watching Tanahashi for years and now he wants to prove himself against the best. He attacked Tanahashi and received a title shot, which is about as simple as you can get. Tanahashi is older now (41) and banged up but he’s still one of the best the company has.
Intercontinental Title: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White
Tanahashi is defending. White has a knife falling on the ground to play up his Switchblade moniker. They fight over arm control to start and it’s an early standoff with Tanahashi throwing in some air guitar. A forearm White down but he gets in a shot to the knee to really take over for the first time.
The knee is wrapped around the barricade to make things even worse. Back in and Tanahashi has to fight from his back so White can pretty easily slap on something like an Indian deathlock. Kelly starts talking about Tanahashi’s history at this show as the basic leg work continues. Tanahashi finally escapes and hits a dragon screw legwhip for a breather, followed by a middle rope Swanton for two.
The Sling Blade misses but Tanahashi is right back on the leg to keep White at bay. A high crossbody to the floor drops White again but he’s right back up with a German suplex inside. White hits a brainbuster onto the apron before driving some knees into the corner (White: “Is this the Ace? Is this the Ace?”). Tanahashi’s comeback is countered with a suplex into the corner for two as frustration is starting to set in.
A twist of White’s knee takes him down this time but he catches Tanahashi on top. That just earns him a super swinging neckbreaker (Twist and Shout), followed by back to back Sling Blades for two. The High Fly Flow misses and the knee is banged up again. White’s Kiwi Crusher gets two but the Switchblade (looked like Sister Abigail) is countered into a dragon suplex for two more. High Fly Flow is good enough to end White at 19:44.
Result: Hiroshi Tanahashi b. Jay White – High Fly Flow (19:44)
We recap Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega. Basically Omega needed a top opponent and Jericho appeared in 2017, challenging him to a match. They’ve attacked each other in recent weeks and there’s actually a lot of hype for the match. Jericho used to wrestle in New Japan before he went to WCW so this is a homecoming in a way.
IWGP US Title: Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega
No DQ, Jericho is challenging and he brought the light up jacket to Japan. His hair has also grown out a bit and is now close to what it was looking like back in 2004/5. Instead of the Terminator, Omega has what looks to be a Loki helmet and a big gun, along with the Young Bucks at his side. Not that they matter as they’re ejected almost immediately.
Jericho jumps him during the entrances and shoves the young boys out of the way. They immediately slug it out with Omega getting the better of it and hammering away on the mat. Jericho grabs the referee for a cheap shot and chops away . An early Walls attempt sends Omega to the ropes and for some reason the referee breaks it up.
Omega baseball slides him over the barricade but the big springboard dive only hits table for a great looking crash. Jericho grabs the Walls on the floor and shoves the referee before putting a young boy (referee’s son) in the Walls as well. A monitor shot cuts Jericho off but he knocks Omega again. Jericho: “ALPHA!”
Speaking of Omega, he puts a table on top of Jericho and climbs a structure for a double stomp as the announcers try to figure out if they’re on the air. Both guys beat the count back in and Jericho’s springboard dropkick to the knee cuts off Omega’s springboard. Jericho heads back outside and sets up a table. The powerbomb is initially blocked so Jericho powerbombs him on the floor instead. Hang on as Jericho stops to grab a camera for some shots (as in photos), including some of his flipping off the fans.
Back in and a chair is wedged in the corner but Jericho goes with the Lionsault for a delayed two instead. One heck of a clothesline puts Jericho back on the floor and there’s the big flip dive to take Jericho down again. Omega scores with the V Trigger but the snap dragon is reversed into the ropes. This time Omega goes to the corner but grabs the cold spray stored there to blind Jericho for the escape. The blind Jericho is still able to send Omega head first into the corner, meaning it’s time to stop for some posing. That gets some great heat from the crowd and Jericho sending Omega into the chair again makes things even better.
Omega is busted and Jericho is right on the cut. A snap dragon gets Omega out of trouble but it’s way too early for the One Winged Angel. Another chair shot puts Omega down and some not great shots to the back keep him in trouble. Omega has to pull himself up and Jericho is nearly reveling in his pain. Jericho takes too long going up though and a V Trigger knocks Jericho off the top and through the table.
Back in and Omega knees the heck out of him, followed by a double underhook piledriver for a close two. The One Winged Angel is countered into another Walls and then the Liontamer for some extra mustard. Omega crawls over to the ropes and Jericho lets go with no orders from the ref. Two more V Triggers into the One Winged Angel is good for two with Jericho grabbing the rope.
Back up and Jericho is dropped face first onto the top turnbuckle but comes back with a Codebreaker for a delayed near fall. For some reason Jericho decides to lay a chair on Omega, who pops up with a shot to the back. The One Winged Angel onto the chair is enough to finish Jericho off at 34:36.
Result: Kenny Omega b. Chris Jericho – One Winged Angel onto a chair (34:36)
Omega is helped out and looked happier than he ever has been over his win.
We recap the IWGP World Title match. Tetsuya Naito won the 2017 G1 Climax Tournament to earn this shot and Okada has held the title for a year.
IWGP World Title: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito
Okada is defending and is also wrestling in long pants (not tights) which is a look I’ve never seen from him before. The fans are WAY into this from the bell and the dueling chants begin. No contact in the first minute and Naito backs up from a lockup attempt. Okada finally gets to him just under two minutes in but Naito dropkicks the knee. Some armdrags have Naito in trouble but he lands in his signature pose. We hit the stall button as you have to guess they have a ton of time here.
Naito elbows him in the head to take over but getsdropkicked off the top and out to the floor. Naito comes right back with a neckbreaker over the barricade (Okada has had a bad neck for the better part of a year) but the champ is back in before the twenty count. A missile dropkick gets two and Naito hammers on the head to work over the neck some more.
We hit the cravate to keep the champ in trouble but Okada throws him down and nips up. Okada nails a hanging DDT off the barricade but charges into a reverse DDT onto the knee. A flapjack cuts Naito off again and both guys are down. It’s WAY too early for the Rainmaker so Okada settles for a cobra clutch instead. Naito can’t flip him away but he can get his foot on the ropes. Back up and Naito hits a hanging neckbreaker, followed by a super reverse hurricanrana for the first near fall. A corkscrew moonsault only hits mat though and both guys are down. The battle of the forearms goes to Naito and a Liger kick staggers the champ.
There’s a flying forearm but Okada breaks up a superplex. He misses a missile dropkick though and Naito has another opening….which is rapidly closed by a Rainmaker for two. The tombstone is countered into Destino but Naito is too spent to cover. The slow slugout from their knees goes to a draw so they slug it out on their feet instead.
A hard slap puts Okada down and something like a swinging neckbreaker gets two. Destino is countered into another Rainmaker but Okada picks him up instead of covering. That means another Destino for another two and we keep going. The dropkick into the tombstone looks to set up another Rainmaker but Naito reverses into Destino. He won’t cover though and tries another Destino, only to be reversed into the tombstone. Another Rainmaker actually retains the title at 36:37.
Result: Kazuchika Okada b. Tetsuya Naito – Rainmaker (36:37)
Gedo yells at Naito as he stumbles up the ramp. Okada says something to Naito, which seems to be about respect. The champ addresses the fans and since I have no idea what’s being said and since no one translates it, we’ll wrap things up here.
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