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
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