wrestling / TV Reports

Csonka’s NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 Review 1.04.15

January 4, 2015 | Posted by Larry Csonka
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Csonka’s NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 Review 1.04.15  

As a reminder, this will not be another traditional recap, but instead it will be a mash up of the Rs, Instant Analysis and my usual Twitter ramblings I would do during the shows; completely uncensored and as the ideas flow unfiltered to the old keyboard. Remember, this is a review; and I am here to review the show. As always, I encourage discussion and even disagreement, just do so in a respectful manner. I will be doing the review for Raw and most PPVs and iPPVs going forward.

 photo Wrestle-Kingdom-9_zps9912d02a.jpg

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 1.04.15

~ IWGP Jr Tag Title Match: Champions reDRagon defeated Forever Hooligans, Young Bucks and Time Splitters @ 13:00 via pin [***½]
~ Tomoaki Honma, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima defeated Bad Luck Fale, Jeff Jarrett & Yujiro Takahashi @ 5:30 via pin [**]
~ Toru Yano, Naomichi Marufuji, & TMDK defeated Davey Boy Smith Jr., Lance Archer, Shelton Benjamin & Takashi Iizuka @ 5:00 via pin [**]
~ UWFI Rules Match: Minoru Suzuki defeated Kazushi Sakuraba @ 9:25 via TKO [***½]
~ NEVER Title Match: Togi Makabe defeated Champion Tomohiro Ishii to become the new champion @ 12:30 via [****]
~ IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title Bout: Kenny Omega defeated Champion Ryusuke Taguchi @ 13:22 via pin [**½]
~ IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata defeated Champions Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson @ 9:00 via pin [***½]
~ AJ Styles defeated Tetsuya Naito @ 14:30 via pin [****]
~ IWGP IC Title Match: Champion Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Kota Ibushi @ 20:10 via pin [****¾]
~ IWGP Title Match: Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kazuchika Okada @ 31:00 via pin [*****]

* Note: I watched via New Japan World, so I have no opinion to offer on Jim Ross and Matt Striker’s commentary because I did not hear it. If you did, feel free to share your thoughts with others in the comment section.

IWGP Jr Tag Title Match: The IWGP Jr Tag was a great way to open the show. In the Dome they don’t always react to the juniors as much as other crowds do, but I felt that they got into things by the end. The work was really enjoyable, with the guys hitting all of the trademark stuff you want to see. We got the superkick party, the Meltzer Driver, the Bucks backflipping out of this awesome looking double doomsday device spot; it was just a great way to kick off a PPV. This was a tremendous effort, with a mild crowd, but I really enjoyed it. I also love reDRagon retaining, ensuring more NJPW dates for them. They have been a breath of fresh air for the division, and have really thrived there and upped their stock overall as a team.

Tomoaki Honma, Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima defeated Bad Luck Fale, Jeff Jarrett & Yujiro Takahashi: This was a short, throw away, get everyone on the show style match. I tend to be greatly annoyed by these matches, but Honma actually hitting the Kokeshi and getting the win was worth it for the reaction of the crowd. They wanted that guy to win so badly and he got a win on the biggest show of the year and got a moment.

Toru Yano, Naomichi Marufuji, & TMDK defeated Davey Boy Smith Jr., Lance Archer, Shelton Benjamin & Takashi Iizuka: This was another get people on the show match, and was also short like the prior match. As GHC Champion, Naomichi Marufuji was not only protected, but also picked up the win, which I am cool with. NJPW now has a “vested financial relationship” with NOAH, and there will be more crossover going forward. Lance Archer and DBS Jr will be heading to NOAH to work TMDK, which I am cool with because I like fun tag team wrestling. If anything, they did a nice job of showcasing the NOAH guys in the short time.

UWFI Rules Match: Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazushi Sakuraba has been a bit hit and miss in terms of build for me, at times I felt they did well at times it bored me. The match I felt could be a mixed bag, Japan loves the faux shooter stuff, but can be fickle (they hated the bottom of the barrel Gracies last year) so this could have been a mess. I think for the time they got that they worked this exactly they way they needed to. It felt stiff, it looked “real enough” and of course used pro wrestling story telling with the work of the arm by Sakuraba. Suzuki made the big comeback and submitted Sakuraba to put the definitive finish on the feud. They had the big emotional embrace post match, because RESPECT.

NEVER Title Match: I felt that the NEVER Title match featuring Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe came at exactly the right time, and provided an upturn in match quality. The show was good so far, two fine but ultimately skippable matches, but the opener and UWFI matches delivered well. This one trumped them, and delivered the kind of hard-hitting match that you expect from these men. They did a great job of telling the story if Ishii’s shoulder in the work of the match. Brutal lariats, forearms, chops and at the end, Makabe hits the king kong knee drop (basically to the shoulder…PSYCHOLOGY!) for the finish. If you’re into hard-hitting displays of violence, this match will be for you.

IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title Bout: This match was merely fine, and that was for a few reasons. First of all, with no intermission, they came right after the very good NEVER Title match. Secondly they worked a more US style with the Bullet Club shenanigans. Thirdly, Ryusuke Taguchi has been kind of shit as champion and no one cares about him. The good news is that they did the title change here, as Omega is the right guy to bring new life into this division. Omega is simply so good, and I am glad that he’ll be getting the chance to show that regularly with NJPW. They did some fun stuff, fun dive by Taguchi onto the Bullet Club and some fun counters, but largely I was waiting for the end and the new champion to be crowned so the division and the show could move on.

IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata defeated Champions Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson to become the new IWGP Tag Team champions. I felt that not only was this a tight little match for 9-minutes, but that it actually over delivered on the expectations that I had. I felt that it would be a fine, average match with the title change and that we’d move on. Gallows was really on tonight, Anderson is the glue of that team and continues to deliver and we see Shibata win his first title in NJPW. Goto and Shibata working together to win the titles is a great kick-start for Shibata’s 2015, as many have high hopes for him this year. This was the definition of maximizing your time and opportunity.

AJ Styles defeated Tetsuya Naito: AJ Styles defeated Tetsuya Naito in a very good match that I felt was a great piece of storytelling. While it is unfortunate what has happened with Tatsu and the Clash over in Japan (and of course others that got injured this year) the Styles Clash is now treated as a deadly move in Japan by the audience. Styles attacked at the bell and teased the Clash immediately, and the way the crowd reacted with a fearful gasp was spectacular, and they had them from that point forward. They worked the tease of the Clash for the rest of the match; leading to a second rope Styles clash for the finish. Styles looked awesome here, and the way the match was booked worked perfectly to set Styles up for an IWGP Title match. To this point, the match was the longest on the show but flew by due to the great execution and pacing from both men. That AJ Styles kid, pretty good.

IWGP IC Title Match: The co-main event of the show was the IWGP IC Title match that saw champion Shinsuke Nakamura defeat Kota Ibushi in 2015’s first MOTC candidate. The match is rematch of from the 2013 G1 Climax, a match that was really awesome and was beyond my expectations at the time. This match was all kinds of spectacular and is one of those matches that not only elevates Ibushi from the Junior ranks, but I feel is a true star making performance. We talk about that a lot in wrestling, guys with the hype, that will get the push and you wait for that one performance that lets you know that “he’s the guy” or “fuck off, he’s never gonna make it”. Ibushi brought the pain here in what I personally felt was his best performance I have ever seen. The entire match had that “big event/fight” feel to it, with Shinsuke Nakamura at the lead and proving why he is one of the very best wrestlers in the world today. Nakamura had to throw everything he had at Ibushi, and even had to survive Ibushi using Nakamura’s own moves against him. Nakamura winning continues his great run making the IWGP IC Title mean something special, the match made Ibushi look like a real deal and was the kind of special match you expect from the biggest show of the year for New Japan.

IWGP Title Match: The IWGP Title match was our main event, and in that match Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kazuchika Okada in 31-minutes. I have seen all of the Okada vs. Tanahashi matches, they have cemented themselves as one of the greatest rivalries in wrestling history already. It has been roughly 15-months since they last faced, and due to their history I had extremely high expectations for this match. They more than met my expectations, and again we have a very early MOTY candidate as I went for the full five stars. Okada came in very aggressive, leading to Tanahashi having to wrestling with more of a chip on his shoulder than usual. These guys let everything out of the bag, playing off of previous matches and finishes in the series of matches. If you had watched the other matches you got it, but even if you didn’t the action, pacing and overall drama was what pro wrestling is simply all about. People keep telling me that Hiroshi Tanahashi is slowing down and not delivering. He stepped back late last year, worked with Nakamura to help get the IC Title over, worked in the tag ranks and then was awesome in the G1 and is back to form. If Shawn Michaels is Mr. WrestleMania, Hiroshi Tanahashi is my Mr. Wrestle Kingdom. Tanahashi had to use everything to stop his greatest foe, and proved that for now he is still the man. Okada’s post match reaction was also what pro wrestling SHOULD be about. He was absolutely fucking crushed that he lost, holding his head in his hands and weeping because he failed on the biggest stage because the title meant everything to him. An amazing ending to an awesome show.

* End scene.

* Thanks for reading.

 photo fe36ffd0-0da4-4e3b-a2d3-b026b341dd87_zps41ef5d61.jpg
“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Simply put I feel that New Japan delivered big time with Wrestle Kingdom 9. I have no idea how they did on US PPV, but this is exactly the kind of show I knew they could deliver and needed to deliver if they are to have a future on PPV in the US.

There was nothing bad on this show, while the under card multi-man tags could have honestly been excluded, they did accomplish Honma getting a big win and the NOAH guys getting positive exposure as this new relationship (beyond what they had been doing obviously) begins.

AJ Styles delivered once again and is primed for another run at the IWGP Title and obvious rematch with Tanahashi. As usual with a big New Japan card, while there was nothing bad on the undercard in my opinion, the final stretch of four matches delivered big time on their biggest stage and were easily worth the price on their own. Okada and Tanahashi are money each and every time, and Nakamura vs. Ibushi was not far behind.

Bottom line, this is a must see show. New Japan Pro Wrestling has set the tone for 2015, now it’s up to everyone else to try and follow.

  • Cap’n Carter

    Okada vs Tanahashi was incredible.

  • Matthew

    Larry, JR pretty much said the same exact thing about Ibushi. Star making performance and Ibushi was elevated and delivered big time.

    • larrytcsonka

      Cool to hear and I appreciate you sharing. How did you think he and Striker did overall?

      • André Stenzel

        Ross was a little bit rusty and called some wrestlers and moves wrong, but Striker was really good and focused on explaining all the wrestlers backstory to the new US audience. Good job from both!

      • Killride19

        It was mostly them explaining backgrounds of the wrestlers and whatnot, not entirely focused move for move but I’m sure that’s what they were going for. Not without their faults but overall pretty solid job.

        • Charismatic eNegro Jef Vinson

          JR took quite a few shots at the WWE in his commentary.

          • JA

            As did Striker, and I could have done without those moments. I mean, what is the point? NJPW isn’t in direct competition with WWE. It’s not the same as another American-based company on American TV trying to pick up steam (like a TNA), where taking shots might serve a purpose. WK9 shouldn’t have been “WWE sucks! This is real wrestling!” It should have been “this is a great four hour show, and to a lot of Americans, it’s completely new and a fabulous debut for GFW”.

            Just enjoy professional wrestling, and especially when it is done well.

          • Scott

            Where did you hear ‘shots at WWE’?

          • André Stenzel

            JR’s comment about the NJPW Intercontinental title and how he can’t understand why someone (WWE) couldn’t treat the secondary title like a really important one.

      • logstrain

        JR could had used a little more “wrestlemania” emotion if you know what i mean

      • André Stenzel

        Oh and as far as the Flipps Stream goes:
        Some hickups, but nothing major, except a breakdown in the AJ/Naito match, that was fixed right at the avalanche Styles Clash.

      • Matthew

        I thought they were great. Striker didn’t go overboard; JR was a little tired and not as energetic as in the past, but I thought he helped make the product better.
        He really put over the wrestlers and how passionate they were. I think it was a solid team.

    • Franke Sisto

      The Ibushi match… THAT is how you elevate a guy with a clean loss.

      But at the same time you can’t downplay Nakamura. The man RADIATES charisma. I felt it through the TV as he was walking to the ring. I became a fan right then and there.

      • katamari damacy

        I really wish they copy the Nakamura/Ibushi template to elevate a new guy in the WWE.
        Honestly, Kevin Steen could just walk up to John Cena tomorrow, slap him in the face, and have that Nakamura/Ibushi match complete with Ibushi’s disrespect of Nakamura during the match and he’d instantly be a main event star even with a loss.

        • Franke Sisto

          Maybe not a main event star. But he WOULD definitely gain a huge following.

          Even if they tried that though… let’s be honest: WWE wouldn’t pull it off right.

          • katamari damacy

            While i’m sure the backstage booking and post-booking of the new guy would completely derail any good that came from the star making match, I could see the wrestlers making it work.
            Randy Orton v Kofi Kingston a few years back could have been this.

  • André Stenzel

    That’s more like it. I would rate Taguchi/Omega higher, but otherwise….hm, maybe I liked the Co-Main Event a little bit more…

  • logstrain

    man id really wanted to see an Styles vs Ibushi for the intercontinental title but i guess SOMETIME well get that
    great show and above all unpredictable, sets up the mood for newcomers perfectly to keep on track with the product

  • So here I am, reading to watch the show on NJPW World this evening – and, naturally, my connection keeps crapping out. Nice one, Virgin Internet…

    • John C. Reilly

      Your internet has never had sex?

      • I’ve always said their name is misleading, as the connection is fucked constantly.

  • Kouvre

    I had major issues with Flipps and missed everything up until the NEVER title match. Sounds like I got to watch all the best stuff though. A silver lining for New Japan though is that the issues were due to simply too much traffic on their servers. If NJPW pulled off even 10,000 US buys for this show it may as well be 10 million considering the current state of wrestling in the US with TNA apparently abandoning PPV and WWE focusing on the Network.

    • J_Parx

      If New Japan did 10,000 buys it would make them the second biggest promotion in the USA and all that without a TV deal. Can you imagine IF they had prime time US television with English language commentary? This product is hot in every sense of the word and it’s just going to get more and more over with the US audience.

      The joint ROH shows coming up will be very interesting to compare the crowd from last year’s New York show to this year’s. Hopefully the live US crowds will be much more into the New Japan workers this time.

  • Spike

    only a 9.5 what that show was a perfect 10 also the IC title match was 5 stars.

    • Matt86

      9,5 is okay, for a brief moment (the NOAH match) this felt like watching a WWE show… a rather good one, but it draws the event down ^^

  • Bung MC

    JR and Striker were good, but Striker seemed to talk a little too much. JR was rusty but came to life in the main in a big way, even an “OH MAH GAWD!”

  • rudo

    I personally thought Nakamua vs Ibushi was 5 star and Tanahashi vs Okada was 4 3/4. AJ vs Naito delivered as well. The story of the Styles Clash being dangerous during the match and then the top rope Styles Clash finish was just tremendous. Nakamura has more charismas than 99% of the WWE roster combined.

    • PJ_Almighty42

      That’s cause they let the WRESTLERS get over. Not Vince and “creative” having anything to do with them. It’s sort of how Austin, The Rock, etc. got over. ON THEIR OWN.

      Great show none-the-less.

    • Marty Confetti

      Yeah I loved both matches, but I liked the Nakamura/Ibushi match just a little bit more.

  • Thanks for your thoughts. I was curious about how JR did what other people thought of it. Im considering getting it on DVD if they release this stuff to American audiences in that format.

    • Honestly I was worried about it having streaming issues so thats one of the reasons I didnt bother live. I also prefer to keep the shows I watch ( I used to tape all my PPV purchases actually). Before the network I almost never watched anything live, just live reports… or borrowing .

      If you happen to hear anything about a DVD/Blu ray release please let me know though.

  • ribera

    Great review and love your ratings for everything except Makabe vs. Ishii.

    The last two matches were unreal, no one does finishing stretches better than Tanahashi.

  • Pigmilk

    Well said,great post. I loom forward to watching it tonite.

  • rudo

    I had Ishii/Makabe, Sakuraba/Suzuki, AJ/Naito, Nakamura/Ibushi, and Tanahashi/Okada all at 4 stars or better.

  • ThatGuyOn411

    Great show for NJPW. The show had no intermission and no breaks in between matches (minus a few video packages for the main event matches and a upcoming tour date promo), so it was NONSTOP action.

    As people have mentioned, JR and Striker did a fine job, with JR starting off slow and then picking up the enthusiasm towards the end. Striker would go through stretches where he was talking a bit too much and JR would kinda recap what Striker was saying with “Get to the point, kid” type of comments.

    In terms of production, NJPW changed a few things, especially when it came to the ring intros. The audio for the English broadcast had the ring announcer volume lowered, so it was hard to appreciate the ring introductions, but it’s understandable as JR and Striker had to maximize every moment of air time in order to provide as much info on the wrestlers as they could.

    JR giving props to how the challengers are introduced first and the champions second was cool and throughout the broadcast, you could sense how JR appreciated the old school traditions that NJPW still perpetuates through the course of all their shows. Striker fell along the same lines in that regard. Both guys also didn’t shy away from taking shots at the American wrestling product (WWE) by mentioning how the NJPW guys weren’t in the ring to goof around (they know how to sell and wrestle) and any Bullet Club interference was mostly described as being “American nonsense”.

    Great show!

  • J_Parx

    Great review Larry. I’d go along with most of your opinions here but I’d give the Nakamura match the whole 5 stars as well as the main event.

    Just a few thoughts:

    – Honma winning was a real mark out moment and completely justified the six man tag. For a promotion presented in a completely foreign language, it’s amazing how awesome stories like that can be told through in ring work alone. Lessons could be learnt there.

    – Suzuki vs Sakuraba really over delivered. Sakuraba came with his working boots and Suzuki proves to be one of the best performers in the company STILL! Hoping that he gets a shot at Naka or even Tana in the following months.

    – Tag team match over delivered and was easily the best Guns and Gallows match so far. Doc Gallows was absolutely tremendous and we need much more of this from him. Shibata playing the firery babyface was fantastic also and a really interesting new side to his character.

    – Nakamura/Ibushi match was my match of the night. Loved every second of it. Nakamura came across as a huge, huge deal and his charisma just oozes through the screen. His entrance was great and was better than last years, despite the lack of pole dancers. As everyone else tends to be saying, it was a star making performance for Ibushi.

    As a side note, I thought JR and Striker did a great job on commentary. At first Striker was talking way too much and JR seemed very rusty, but their calling of the two main events was absolutely terrific. I’m yet to watch those two matches on New Japan World, but on first viewing JR and Striker definitely added to those matches and JR marking out for the dropkick was something to behold. I think it took him a while to really get into the product but by the end he was fantastic.

  • Rocky4228

    This was the first full NJPW show I’ve watched. Best $45 I’ve ever spent. That NEVER Title match…goddamn. How do those guys even get out of bed today?

  • APrince66

    I never really got into Japanese wrestling but I checked out this show. Let me say, Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kota Ibushi was FN amazing. So many stiff kicks, hits, knees… and not just for the sake of it. It was part of the story.
    The card overall blew me away, and much like NXT Revolution, it reminded me why I fell in love with pro wrestling as a kid over 30 years ago.
    I am now a fan, and will do my best to follow New Japan.
    JR and Striker wern’t bad, but it felt out of place with the overall feel of a Japanese show, But at least I was able to follow the stories, understand the history and know the wrestlers better. I was glad for that.
    Oh, and I also liked how JR and Striker sold the dangerousness and recent history of the Styles Clash. Really made the finish pop.

  • I ordered the 7PM EST replay, I guess the battle royal won’t be part of the broadcast.

  • Quan Do Hoang

    what made it more weird is that this year’s show has the same number of matches as last year. I think NJPW tried to trim the length of the show for the American audience or something, so they cut pre-match videos. Hell, they even cut a short tribute video with the faces of every former IGWP Heavyweight Champion before the title match. One of my friend said that maybe because some of the fans need to go back to their hometown early after the show, so the length was cut.

    I still watch the show with Japanese commentary because I luckily can understand it. JR and Striker are good commentators, but Shinpei Nogami did better than them obviously in term of emotion and knowledge. The ending of the Nakamura – Ibushi match is an example: Nogami went “LANDSLIDE! BOMA YE! HE HITS THE BOMA YE!”, while both JR and Striker didn’t know Nakamura’s Landslide finisher (which is an old finisher that he abandoned nearly 5 years ago when he adopted his King of Strong Style gimmick. Nakamura brought it back to teach Ibushi a lesson).

    To me, Okada crying must be a sign of something special to come. A month ago, he sneak-attacked and tombstoned Tanahashi on the floor after losing a tag team match. This guy probably adopt a new, ruthless character soon after this loss.

    • katamari damacy

      A Tanahashi heel turn could easily be the template the WWE should follow in respect to John Cena. Both Tanahashi and Cena are long term white meat babyfaces and it would be awesome to see how they go with Tanahashi from here.

    • Hectus

      I didn’t see anything heelish; Tanahashi was a real good hearted babyface post-match given how obliging he was of the fans (Air guitars, returning “Signed” towels to the fans etc).

  • TADr1

    I had gotten hints of Striker talking too much shop from the GFW match breakdown vids (“this is the answer to when people ask is wrestling real” he says as I roll my eyes), but I was hoping he’d be more conscious on the air. JR’s tasteful but apparent verbal check was definitely a point of amusement. But generally speaking that stuff was minor. I definitely give Striker credit for doing the “heavy lifting”. I know the expressed intention was that Striker would follow JR, but there’s an argument that Matt carried JR at times.

    • Trevon Burtch

      More importantly, where can I watch this event with the JR and striker commentary?

      • Wheeljack84

        FlippsTV app and on most PPV providers.

        • Trevon Burtch

          Ok thanks, my only problem was that I already have njpw world so I dont really plan on shelling out the extra cash but no worries I found some links online.

          • Wheeljack84

            Also FYI, Mauro Ranallo and Josh Barnett are doing the commentary for the weekly NJPW show that will be on AXS TV in the US.

          • Juan Jimenez

            when does that start?

          • Wheeljack84

            January 16.

    • Scott

      I *LOVED* Striker’s promo videos

      • TADr1

        I did too! If they decide to do it all again next year, I’d actually prefer if they gave Matt the lead spot on the play-by-play. I thought he conveyed the story/dynamic better than JR at time. It’s just those few “smarkisms” every now and then that Striker tends to veer into, almost unconsciously, that make my eyes roll. Again, it’s minor, only like 2% of what he does, I’m not holding it against him per se; I’m just saying it’s a noticeable habit of his.

        • Scott

          That;s probably just how he talks

          • TADr1

            I don’t doubt it. And he’s good enough that it’s forgivable. Maybe it’s one of those things I’ll come to love, like JR’s old school references I haven’t the inclination to Google, or Taz’s charming, Brooklynite sense of grammar. “Oh, there Matt goes again being all smarky! Gotta love’em!”…maybe, in time…

  • Bobby

    I had a great time watching this, but it was a bit too long for me. With the Rumble it was nearpy five hours long. Again, I’m not really complaining as it was a great show, it just could have been a bit shorter for my tastes.

  • コーン

    Just finished watching it, my God that shit felt real!

  • Wheeljack84

    Loved the whole event. JR definitely got better as it went along, especially for the co-main and main events. Striker did carry him at times, but he overdid it with the smarky terms. I would prefer Striker knock that off.

    My only complaint was the additional widescreen presentation when I was watching the HD feed on PPV. wasn’t really necessary. However, that could’ve had something to do with the Japanese broadcast.

  • David

    This was my first NJPW ppv and I thought it was awesome and finally got a chance to really know the Japanese guys a bit more. I watched some Okada and Tanahashi matches and these guy put an amazing match at the ppv.

    Don’t know too much about Nakamura but honestly after watching his match he’s really becoming my favorite and just oozes charisma that could do pretty well in North America.

    The two main events had that big fight feel and was really something unique.

    Awesome ppv overall and the 4 hours just flew by fast, probably because they just went match to match with no break, except for couple video packages. Something I’m not really use to, but looking forward to some more GFW promoted ppvs. Hopefully this does well so we could see more.

  • JDW

    Jim Ross and Matt Striker did a pretty good job, overall. Striker talked too much early but settled in as the evening went on. Meanwhile, JR seemed a bit lost during the early multi-man matches but found his groove in the final stretch of matches where there was a clearer story to be told.

    Also, while there were a few shots at WWE style, I liked that the announce team spoke positively about WWE, TNA, Lucha Underground, RoH, and other promotions. I thought they made pretty classy acknowledgements while still pushing their current event’s importance.

  • Marty Confetti

    My first NJPW event and I thought it was amazing. Every match felt different and stood out in its own way. My favorite matches were definitely Nakamura/Ibushi and Tanahashi/Okada, though I enjoyed every match. The opening IGPW Jr Tag Team match was a lot of fun, and the Styles/Naito match told a great story. Who would have thought that the Styles Clash would be so over as such a deadly move today? Nakamura really stood out to me, and I think the Bullet Club is a great stable that makes the product a bit more accessible to the Western market. Overall a great show. I look forward to seeing more NJPW.

    As for the commentary, Striker carried it at the beginning. He seemed to have a wealth of knowledge about each fighter and their background, which is a great way to introduce these athletes to a new audience. JR was lost at first and, for the first time I can recall, a little annoying in how he likened a few things to WWE/WCW/nWo product. Though I suppose that might help some new North American viewers more easily connect to the NJPW product. Fortunately, as the night went on, JR really improved and I’m glad they got him to do commentary.

  • Scott

    You can literally hear JR remembering why he loves wrestling and how good he is during WrestleKingdom, it was actually kind of beautiful.

    Plus Striker put TMDK over like crazy which ruled

    • Mike Hammerlock

      Absolutely. JR was going through WWE detox: that’s how you do entrances, respect elevates the product, every title belt matters. There was an unsaid “… Vince” at the end of half of his sentences.

  • Da Man

    I will not even watch Raw tonight because I don’t want them buzzkilling my wrestling high

  • Cactus

    As someone who hasn’t paid attention to Japanese wrestling for about five years, I felt that Ibushi/Nakamura killed it, and was very clearly in my eyes the match of the night. The main event was good but I didn’t feel the same level of raw intensity Ibushi and Nakamura pulled off. I think that may be because I can’t buy the Frog Splash as a legit finish when he did it 10 times in the match, or maybe the way it felt too safe. Okada looked like a million bucks in that match though, which that’s kind of his gimmick so that’s good. Ibushi/Nakamura is currently match of the year for sure, and probably will be well into the year. I can’t imagine WWE, even at WrestleMania, putting on a better match, even with the stellar roster they have right now.

  • katamari damacy

    I just watched this and felt that JR and Striker’s commentary was very lacking. For christsakes JR complained about no tags in the JR tag match, and Striker wasn’t able to explain that “Lucha Rules” are in effect and going to a floor constitutes a tag out. He instead said that “we don’t worry about little details here”. WHAT?
    I’d rather hear “ABBUUNNNAAAIIIIIIIII!!!!!”
    Another pet peeve was how JR and Striker explained why the Bullet Club can interfere with impunity. They didn’t explain it at all. In NJPW there’s no DQ, it just doesn’t happen because Puro is treated like a sport and a DQ finish is just straight up BS. Also why the Bullet Club is out to support each other? They mentioned “young boys” earlier as hanging out by ringside to support the wrestlers. The Bullet Club come out supposedly to support their guy with ice spray and whatnot, which is why they are tolerated by ringside.
    I also feel that the lack of the well produced NJPW video packages kind of made each match “wrestling for wrestling’s sake” and it was difficult to tell a story about why they were wrestling. I love NJPW’s video packages and they could have easily had them produced beforehand and then have them translated with subtitles. The Nakamura/Ibushi promo could have been subtitled. That match was amazing and it could have been even better if we had some backstory beforehand.

  • Lucha Libre USA!!!

    “Wrestling needs wrestling minds in charge.”

    Thank you. I would rather watch wrestling as my entertainment than “sports entertainment” as part of a wrestling show.

  • White Priv

    ahhh, thanks for clarifying… I watched the Styles/Naito match last night and he wasn’t nearly as flamboyant as he was in the main event… and being an old-schooler I appreciate the Monsoon frame of reference as [to me] he didn’t add much value until he clicked with Heenan (though he brought some hilarious moments out of Ventura).

    • White Priv

      I vaguely remember him from many years ago (1980s-1990s). I am only just recently getting caught back up on puroresu; for various reasons I have lived in a vacuum and have a pretty large gap of viewing to fill (circa 2001-onward)… seems i missed A LOT, Kojima was the MAN for a minute there, no? Triple Crown AND IWGP champ concurrently?? we live in a wonderful age as YT and Dailymotion have pretty much everything I’ll ever need to get caught up.

      • White Priv

        good to know, thanks for taking the time to fill in some blanks for me… last i paid attention to NJPW before this past year was a house show i attended in Amagasaki — turns out it was the debut of Mutoh’s then-new finisher, the Shining Wizard! (this was post-nWo, BATT phase). It was also the first tour anyone had seen him with a shaved dome… Chono was such a boss, Team 2000 had their own separate tour bus from NJPW (but sadly Chono was injured and did not appear).