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wrestling / TV Reports

411’s NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 Review 1.04.15

January 4, 2015 | Posted by TJ Hawke

Tokyo, Japan
January 4, 2015

 

reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs. Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero) vs. Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA) vs. Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) [IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship]
The teams went back and forth for a while. The hot tag was build up for…Rocky Romero. Why???? KUSHIDA thankfully entered the match to add some much-needed excitement. Rocky even got to kick off the dive sequence! Who put this together! The Splitters seemed primed to win after the dives, but Nick saved his brother. The teams went back and forth. The Bucks hit lots of superkicks. The Bucks hit the Meltzer Driver on Koslov, but RD finally showed up again to save the match. RD have basically done nothing in this one. RD made a big comeback and then finished Koslov with Chasing the Dragon.

I think the second half of the match was way stronger than the very obligatory feeling-out portion of the match. I just don’t see how that contributed anything of value. Wrestlers and whole teams seemed to completely disappear without cause for long stretches of time as well. This is the second year in a row that this title match has underwhelmed me in this spot.
Match Rating: **3/4

 

BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, Jeff Jarrett & Yujiro Takahashi) (w/ Karen Jarrett & Scott D’Amore) vs. TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) & Tomoaki Honma
The match kicked off after Karen shoved Honma. The dude cannot win at anything! The Bullet Club worked over Kojima. Honma made a big comeback. He missed a falling headbutt though and then got cut off. Honma avoided Jarrett’s guitar shot, and Jarrett accidentally hit Yujiro. TenKoji hit Yujiro with the 3D, and Honma then hit the diving headbutt: 1…2…3!!!!

Honma won!!! Practically makes it a perfect match!
Match Rating: **

 

Toru Yano, Naomichi Marufuji, & TMDK (Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste) vs. Suzuki-gun (Davey Boy Smith Jr., Lance Archer, Shelton Benjamin & Takashi Iizuka)
Yano quickly got cut off and worked over. He tagged out early enough. The match eventually completely broke down. Marufuji avoided the Iron Finger and escaped being choked by Iizuka’s chain. The NOAH guys then finished Iizuka off for the victory.

This was a match that existed. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if there’s anything to all the rumors about NJPW working with or possibly buying NOAH.
Match Rating: *

 

Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Minoru Suzuki [UWFI Rules]
Minoru came out in white trunks, a white towel, and WHITE HAIR.

They went for submissions early on. Beat the shit out of each other please. They ended up in the ropes early and then went for slaps. Suzuki got his triangle in the ropes. Classic MMA! They ended up on the ramp and were striking it out. Sakuraba applied a kimura on the left arm, and the referee then made them break it up. Sakuraba then went after the left arm in the ring. Suzuki won a big slap battle. Sakuraba went back after the arm. Suzuki showed some tremendous fighting spiriting and eventually applied a sleeper. Sakuraba passed out.

Sakuraba and Suzuki hugged it out after the match.

That’s not really the match I wanted from those two. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it (because I did), but I was hoping that they would just beat the shit out of each other the whole time. It was nice change of pace on the card though and used its time well.
Match Rating: ***

 

Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Togi Makabe [NEVER Openweight Championship]
Neither guy could get a decisive advantage early on. Ishii hit a superplex and a folding powerbomb. Makabe came back with his own powerbomb and then a German. Makabe was firmly in control after that. Ishii came back after a German and a lariat. Ishii was building momentum. Makabe slowed him down with a dragon suplex. They traded strikes. Makabe hit a big lariat and then the diving knee drop: 1…2…3. Wow.

I was genuinely shocked by that result. I thought Ishii was fairly ideal for holding the NEVER Championship, and I’m not really interested in seeing Makabe in the same role. Maybe it will work out well though.

As for the match, I enjoyed it more than the typical Ishii match. I’m assuming that’s because it was short and didn’t feeling overly indulgent. It was a strong effort and felt like a G1 match midcard match.
Match Rating: ***1/4

 

Ryusuke Taguchi (c) vs. Kenny Omega [IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship]
Taguchi did in fact use his ass as a weapon early on. He then went for an ankle lock. Omega had to spray him with something to cut him off. Omega’s heat segment was a mix of boring and goofy comedy that was hit and miss. I did like the arm-chainsaw spot. Taguchi paid tribute to Devitt and Eddy Guerrero in his comeback. The match was not over at all. Taguchi got a nearfall with a Dodon and then applied an ankle lock. The Young Bucks failed at interfering. Omega came back with a snap dragon suplex, a running knee and then a variation of Rubix Cube for the win.

The right man won in a predictably awful match. There was not much in the way of heat or excitement, and there was nothing holding this match together. Taguchi needs to go to NOAH or something. At least get him out of the title pictures. This was a very cold way to bring back Omega.
Match Rating: 1/2*

 

BULLET CLUB (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) (w/ Amber O’Neal) (c) vs. Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata [IWGP Tag Team Championship]
This show needs this match to over-deliver.

Goto got cut off early on. Shibata tagged in, and the challengers started to build some momentum. The Bullet Club came back on Shibata. Damn, Shibata took a random bump on his head. Shibata and Goto came back and looked to have Anderson finished, but Gallows then hit a double lariat. They came back again though with a tandem GTS and then Shibata hit the Penalty Kick: 1…2…3

I’m so surprised and delighted to be completely wrong about how good this will be. It is my match of the night so far. They worked a great pace, did some good sequences, and timed everything really well. I also love how quietly well-done Shibata’s story has been done for the last sixteen months. After finally learning to love puro again, he steadily worked more and more shows until he actually became a full-time guy. Only then did he finally win a title.
Match Rating: ***1/2

 

AJ Styles vs. Tetsuya Naito
Naito has been one of the few guys to defeat AJ in NJPW this year.

AJ jumped Naito right away, but Naito quickly came back. AJ went after the left leg to get control. Naito sells an injured leg as well as Andy Bernard sells paper. They wisely dropped the leg work and just started going back and forth. My mind was wandering. Dammit, AJ went back after the left leg. He applied the Calf Slicer. Naito struggled, but he got to the ropes. AJ avoided Gloria and hit a Pele. Bloody Sunday. AJ went for the Clash, but Naito dumped him to the floor. That sounded painful. Naito went for a Frankensteiner, but AJ reversed it into a diving Styles Clash: 1…2…3

That was a very solid match. Naito’s selling of the leg was not as spotty as it normally is. The real-life drama surrounding the Styles Clash also adds a ton of drama (for better or for worse) to the spots surrounding it. I wasn’t blow away by this, but I enjoyed it all the way through. Much like Makabe/Ishii, this felt like a midcard G1 match, and that is just fine with me.
Match Rating: ***


Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Kota Ibushi [IWGP Intercontinental Championship]

Shinsuke literally came out in a crown. It was beautiful.

They were a bit hesitant early on. Kota stole the Cocaine Shakes spot, and that caused Nakamura to turn it up a bit. Nakamura was in control for a while. Kota came back with his moonsault to the floor. He later hit the springboard Frankensteiner. Kota was dominating Nakamura. Nakamura avoided the Phoenix Splash and hit a Boma Ye to the back of the head. Kota got this goofy grin on his face and came back with his wonky strikes. Nakamura then punched him in the face and reversed a lariat attempt into his flying cross armbreaker. Kota kicked him in his face to escape. He then hit a Boma Ye of his own for a nearfall. Kota is becoming a main event star here. Nakamura tried to fight back but walked into a double stomp somehow. In an even crazier spot, Kota somehow hit a springboard German. I did not do that move justice. It was awesome. Nakamura avoided the Phoenix-plex and hit a diving Boma Ye. Kota no-sold that one and kicked out the leg. Nakamura hit a Cradle Shock and then another Boma Ye: 1…2…3!

And with that, we have our first MOTYC for 2015. This was a star-making performance for Ibushi who seemed to become a legitimate main eventer before our very eyes here. I’m very curious to see where he goes from here. The crazy part is that Nakamura was even better throughout the match.

The 2014 Wrestler of the Year showed why he is capable of being the best wrestler in the world on any given night (if not every given night or even every given month quite frankly). He played his role perfectly and helped to make Kota seem like a future world champion.

This was just about everything you want from professional wrestling. Everyone should seek this one out. I cannot wait to re-watch it.
Match Rating: ****3/4

 

Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada [IWGP Heavyweight Championship]
Let’s see if these two can top that.

I never noticed Tanahashi’s cauliflower ears before. I don’t know how I missed them. They’re hideous. They traded headlocks early on. It broke down into a strike exchange. Even as a fan of both men, I would admit doing strike battles has never been their thing. Okada got control after sending Tanahashi to the floor with an uppercut. They traded forearms on the ramp. Tanahashi charged at him, but Okada hit the Heavy Rain on the ramp. Tanahashi came back after avoiding a back senton. They traded more forearms. Okada hit a John Woo Kick, but Tanahashi then reversed Heavy Rain into a Sling Blade. Okada avoided High Fly Flow and then hit an uppercut. Air Raid Crash on the knee for an obligatory two count. Tanahashi avoided the Rainmaker and then hit a dragonscrew. Tanahashi then went after the now-injured leg. Okada went behind a guardrail, and Tanahashi busted out the High Fly Flow. Brutal. Back in the ring, Tana hit a Sling Blade, High Fly Flow, and a DISGUSTING tombstone. High Fly Flow to the back. HIGH FLY FLOW: 1…2…NO! Tana hit another Sling Blade, as Okada looked knock out. Tana called for the Rainmaker, but Okada reversed it into one of his own: 1…2…NO! First time anyone has kicked out when Okada made the cover right after. That was not as big of a moment as I expected. They did another strike exchange. Tana avoided a tombstone and then kicked out the leg. Tana avoided another Rainmaker and hit a bridging German for a nearfall. Okada hit his beautiful bridging German for his own nearfall. Dragon suplex from Tana. Tana avoided the Rainmaker and went back to the leg. HIGH FLY FLOW. Okada’s leg was trapped in the ropes during that. Another dragon screw. High Fly Flow. He hit another: 1…2…3?

Okada cried as Gedo helped him to the back. Sad.

I don’t see this match as being on the level of the semi-main event or their 2013 matches, but that is a very high standard. I thought it was a very good (probably great) match for sure. The counters down the stretch were predictably wonderful, and the somewhat shocking ending really made this seem even more important. I was pretty disappointed in the first third (or so) of the match. I just didn’t think they put anything of real value in that time unlike in their past efforts. Okada’s selling of the injured leg was also not up to his usual standard, but he’s honestly dropped a lot of his selling in the past year. I have no idea what that’s about.

This was a match that I really feel like I need to re-watch. For now though, I’ll say that it’s something people should see. Just don’t go in expecting something as good as they normally do.

Match Rating: ****

 

 

Watch some NJPW for free!
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Masato Tanaka (G1 Climax)
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto (G1 Climax)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jun Akiyama (G1 Climax)
Katsuyori Shibata vs. Yuji Nagata (G1 Climax)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Yujiro Takahashi (G1 Climax)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Prince Devitt (G1 Climax)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Milano Collection A.T. (G1 Climax)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Toru Yano (G1 Climax)
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Togi Makabe (Chain Match)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Hirooki Goto
Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Prince Devitt vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Karl Anderson
Masato Tanaka vs. Tomoaki Honma
Kota Ibushi vs. Ryusuke Taguchi [Fantastic Match]
Prince Devitt vs. Kenny Omega
Sin Cara vs. Averno
Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi (With thoughts from Prince Devitt)
Davey Richards vs. Kota Ibushi
Kota Ibushi vs. KUSHIDA
Hiroshi Tanahashi & Hirooki Goto vs. Karl Anderson & Giant Bernard
Kurt Angle vs. Yuji Nagata
ORLANDO JORDAN VS. YUJI NAGATA
Christopher Daniels vs. Tetsuya Naito
Katsuyori Shibata & Scott Norton vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Jushin Liger vs. Ebessan
Katsuyori Shibata &Wataru Inoue vs. Eddy Guerrero & Black Tiger

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  • André Stenzel

    2015 and you’re still the worst! Nothing changed!

    • Greg Dufour

      I seriously wonder if he enjoys watching wrestling. He literally nitpicks the smallest friggen thing.

      • rovert

        Check the star ratings of the last two matches.

        • André Stenzel

          Non-answer!

    • Austin Powers

      HE’S LOST HIS MOJO!

  • Ryan

    I’m so very glad that they are making efforts to bring NJPW globe wide. It’s a tragedy that they are not known as wide over as they are for one reason or another. It’s absolutely impressive athletics, and further proof that WRESTLING still exists out there, without the BS, without the promos, and without the over (or in some cases, under) acting.

    Pretty much agree with your opinions TJ. I was disappointed in the opener, it definitely could have been so much more. But the final two matches made this card worth the buy alone.

    • TJHawke411

      They’re going through a real hot period right now. I think the booking can all over the place though, and I worry for their long-term health. Just going to enjoy for as long as I can though!

  • J_Parx

    Goddamit 411. I was looking forward to this review and you give it to this guy.

    • TJHawke411

      Damn 411 to hell.

    • save_us_DaJ

      Larry did a review of the show too.

  • Matthew

    What a crappy review. What is your problem,man?

    • TJHawke411

      What is my problem?

  • Matt86

    Trying awefully hard to be critical, are we?

    My 2 cents: I watched the thing, and you may add a quarter star to anything that dude wrote, more to some matches. And a lot of stuff TJ notes is just stuff people randomly use in reviews to look superior to your normal viewer (“What? I didn’t see that, he must have a keen sense for good wrestling!”)

    • TJHawke411

      Nope.

      Hardly.

      • Greg Dufour

        Did you clean the sand out of your vagina yet?

  • rovert

    Glad you praised the IWGP Tag Team Championship match. Was a very professional match.

    Don’t see much of an issue with your star ratings. People really get carried away by hyperbole live watching New Japan. I include myself in that. I suggest the people attacking TJ to rewatch the show midweek.

    • André Stenzel

      Half a star for Taguchi/Omega? That’s bullshit and everyone knows it.

      • rovert

        A lot of people disliked that match greatly on Twitter. The structure of the match made little sense.

        • André Stenzel

          ARM-CHAINSAW! That’s ** right there!

          • rovert

            Non-answer.

          • André Stenzel

            Sorry, but half a star as rating means nothing good would have happened. There were some cool spots in the match.

          • rovert

            So you admit the match had no real structure.

          • André Stenzel

            I wouldn’t say that. Omega needed the help of the Young Bucks to win and there were some fun moments. Taguchi wanted to counter Omega’s antics with some of his own which made for a nice match I think. For a match to get half a star something really bad has to happen or it has to be really boring and from his review I only see, that he doesn’t like Taguchi.

      • TJHawke411

        Awful match. Almost nothing redeeming about it whatsover, and I’m actually a huge fan of Omega. That is not how I would use him at all though.

        • bloooooooo

          lol.

          and cena vs orton is 5 stars right

          • rovert

            The crowd was into that match. They weren’t with Omega/Taguchi. Orton and Cena had a defined structure.

    • TJHawke411

      Fans of hot promotions take every criticism personally. Fascinating phenomenon.

  • Cap’n Carter

    This review is really… REALLY bad.

    • TJHawke411

      Thanks!

  • TJHawke411

    So, you disagreeing with my take on a show makes it dumb? A show that had six matches that I gave positive reviews with only one important match getting a negative review?

    • TJHawke411

      I think most wrestling matches are in fact average or below average even on big shows like this.

      That second sentence is remarkable. You yourself admit that there is no science to an opinion but then say my opinions are off base. What you mean to say is that you read some of my opinions, strongly disagree with them, and think that the general perception of the match is different than my own. That is fine.

      I didn’t write his selling wasn’t spotty. I wrote, “Naito’s selling of the leg was not as spotty as it normally is.” Naito is an historically awful seller when it comes to his legs. The last two years have featured a number of important and high profile matches that feature lengthy segments of “working over his leg” and then the match moves on as his nothing happens. When I say that his selling wasn’t as awful as it normally is, it means that it was not the dumpster fire it normally is.

      And yes, Naito selling his leg poorly in a match with plenty work being based around his leg, makes the match less interesting and not as good as it should be.

      • TJHawke411

        Some people aren’t bother by poor limb selling. I’m at the point where I don’t want to watch a poorly executed story. I rather they just not attempt to work over limbs at all if they don’t want to do it properly. This is how art is subjective. Some people can like certain things, and some people cannot like the exact same thing. That is okay. Learning to be okay with that is an important part of being an adult.

        I’m not sure what the point of your second paragraph is. If you wish to explain it further, I will try to reply.

        Because learning to be okay with average wrestling is a part of watching a full wrestling show. Or you can only skip to the good matches. (I did that for the G1 by the way and basically only reviewed matches that I had positive feelings towards.)

        Keeping with your line of logic, I said the last two matches were great. Everyone else thought they were great. So, did I have unrealistic expectations for those matches?

        And plenty of people agree with me. That doesn’t make me right. The comments section is a place for discussion and differences of opinions.

        You are insulted that another person has a different opinion than you about a piece of art. Please, grow up and learn how to express yourself.

        • TJHawke411

          No, I’m an adult and recognize that everyone is not going to share my opinion. Only disappointed with the cliche low level of discourse that you have contributed to.

          No, I think bad limb selling in a match largely focused on working over a limb makes for a poorer match.

          Tragic. I shall not recover.

  • rudo

    Only 4 stars for the Main Event?

    • I’m Tired

      Naw I thought it was 5 stars…the post match really made it for me.

  • Joe Wrestling

    So, you’re saying this wasn’t a blow away, best ever PPV in history the way Csonka praised it up and down?

    The opening tag match was a mess. I don’t watch the program or know the background, so I probably didn’t appreciate the Honma stuff as others would, but I could tell he is a lot of fun and the crowd loved it. Sakuraba-Suzuki and Ishii-Makabe were both good, old school fights, but neither were fantastic. Both seemed to end suddenly.

    The top three matches delivered. Loved Nakamura. If rumors were true that WWE had some interest in Kota Ibushi, I hope they are still pursuing him. I’m sure I’d be more into the Okada-Tanahashi match if I knew the build better. Nonetheless, excellent action in the match.

    Now just waiting to see what Jarrett announces next.

    • TJHawke411

      Plenty of people agree with Larry. Others are closer to my view that it was a very strong show with a great double-main.

      I would have preferred that Honma get a big win in a match of significance, but c’est la vie. He’s lucky to be on the show after Ishii got left off last year.

      I think Ibushi is locked in with NJPW for a while. I’m not positive though.

      • André Stenzel

        Others? Plural? Doesn’t seem legit!

        And if you didn’t get it by now:

        We’re just having fun, Maggle!

        • TJHawke411

          How did you know my real name is Maggle?

          • André Stenzel

            The bunny told me.

          • TJHawke411

            I am CALLING THE POLICE! YOU WILL NOT WIN!

          • André Stenzel

            *Throws Yoshihiko on TJ*

  • Morde#1

    Oh man this review is hilarious…. wait… you mean that 1/2 star rating was supposed to be serious?

    • TJHawke411

      Awful match in every conceivable way.

      • Morde#1

        Apparently we didn’t watch the same match….

        • TJHawke411

          Apparently. Seen some people like it and others hate it more than I did. Art is subjective. That is why we talk about it.

  • André Stenzel

    So, did you rewatch the event and want to change some things star rating wise, TJ?

    • TJHawke411

      Yea, I gave AJ/Naito a bit too much credit and maybe not enough to Sakuraba/Suzuki. Maybe 1/4 lower on the former and a 1/4 higher on the latter. Maybe.

      • André Stenzel

        Thanks for the laugh. Maybe.

        • TJHawke411

          You’re welcome!

  • TJHawke411

    Stop being a rational human being, please!

    Yea, the character work from certain guys really pushed their matches over the top for me. Namely, Ibushi and Nakamura.

    As I wrote, I’m a big fan of Omega. I think this character can ever work. That was just an awful way to introduce it. I also think Taguchi is pretty much worthless at this point though.

  • TJHawke411

    Yes, do that.

  • Aleksander Vedvik

    This guy gives what is most likely moty in all of pro wrestling a 4 star?!? The Tanahashi vs Okada match has been a unanimous 5 star match among pretty much among all reviewers. Not to mention that the Ishii vs Makabe match was 4 stars, no question. You have lost your damn mind sir…