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Csonka’s NJPW WrestleKingdom 10 Review 1.04.16

January 4, 2016 | Posted by Larry Csonka
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Csonka’s NJPW WrestleKingdom 10 Review 1.04.16  

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NJPW WrestleKingdom 10 Review 1.04.16 Review

PRE-SHOW New Japan RAMBO: Jado won the 2015 RAMBO [**]
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match: The Young Bucks defeated Champions reDRagon, RPG Vice and Sydal and Ricochet @ 17:42 via pin to become the NEW Champions [***¾]
VACANT NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Title Match: Yano and the Briscoes defeated Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale @ 11:30 via pin to become the NEW Champions [**]
ROH World Title Match: Champion Jay Lethal w/Truth Martini defeated Michael Elgin @ 12:00 via pin to retain the title [**½]
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match: KUSHIDA defeated Champion Kenny Omega @ 12:45 via pin to become the NEW Champion [***¾]
IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe defeated Champions Anderson and Gallows @ 12:45 via pin to become the NEW Champions [***½]
– Hirooki Goto defeated Tetsuya Naito @ 12:11 via pin [**]
NEVER Openweight Title Match: Katsuyori Shibata defeated Champion Tomohiro Ishii @ 17:15 via pin to become the NEW Champion [****½]
IWGP Intercontinental Title Match : Champion Shinsuke Nakamura defeated AJ Styles @ 24:10 via pin to retain [****¾]
IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Kazuchika Okada defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi @ 36:58 via pin to retain [****¾]

NEW JAPAN RAMBO: The RAMBO is basically a combination Royal Rumble/Andre the Giant battle royal. They run it under rumble/elimination rules, using the guys that didn’t make the main card and also mix in some surprise appearances. Old Man Liger and OLDER MAN Fujiwara with his stanky leg kicked things off. Other competitors included Tiger Mask IV, CHEESEBURGER, Hiro Saito, YOSHI-HASHI, Mascara Dorada, Captain New Japan, Nakanishi, 2014 RAMBO winner Yuji Nagata, Kojima, Tenzan, Ass Man Taguchi, Shiro Koshinaka, BULLET CLUB MEMBER HAKU, THE GREAT KABUKI, fresh off his RIZIN ass beating Sakuraba and Jado. Liger and Tiger Mask continually making Cheeseburger fight with Fujiwara, only to get his ass beat, was tremendous. Fujiwara submitted the good Captain within minutes of his entrance, and was then pinned by everyone. We also had a group pin on Saito, so technically Cheeseburger beat Saito and Fujiwara. Kojima and Tenzan had miscommunication and brawled, but then came together to kick ass. Everyone hates Taguchi to they all attacked him. Haku eliminated Nagata and Kojima! Sakuraba and Kabuki faced off, I think Kabuki could take him legit. Well, Kabuki is gone for using the MIST. Kojima hit a senton to eliminate Cheeseburger. Taguchi, Koshinaka and Jado were the final three. Koshinaka and Taguchi used ass attacks, and ended up breaking up each other’s pins. Jado tossed Koshinaka, but then Jado pulled down the ropes to score the win of the 2015 RAMBO. That was full of wackiness and fun, not particularly good, but fun. Cheeseburger was robbed.

– We then got some weird shit with a comedian, child actress and some giant figures that made me think I was on acid.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match: Champions RedDragon vs. The Young Bucks w/Cody Hall vs. Roppongi Vice vs. Ricochet & Matt Sydal: I hate the lack of actual thought put into the juniors (both singles and tag divisions) in NJPW, this will likely be very good and a lot of fun, but the creative lacks for the juniors and that continues to be frustrating. Example, Ricochet & Matt Sydal won the junior tag tournament, only to earn a four-way match here. Yup. Cody Hall and the Bucks attacked everyone pre-match, and that got us underway. The Bucks worked over Fish for a bit, but reDRagon fought back, leading to Sydal then Trent getting involved. Really good pacing early, not too wild, but really well done to keep things going smoothly. We got the first superkick party from the Bucks at about 5:20, laying out almost everyone and then scoring a near fall. The Bucks got the heat on Trent for while, but he eventually fought back and tagged in Ricochet. Ricochet and Sydal then got to run wild, using some crazy fast double teams. ReDRagon finally got back into the mix as we broke down into everyone in, and the dives started. Cody Hall got involved during this and hit a Razor’s edge to Ricochet, sending him over the top and onto the pile of bodies on the floor. I tend to not be a big fan of that, but he got great heat for the spot. The Bucks ran through some double teams, and got a near fall on Ricochet. Sydal made the save, leading to them working over the Bucks and the crowd getting more and more into the match. ReDRagon was taking a powder again during this, Sydal and Ricochet went for the dueling SSPs, but reDRgon finally returned and cleaned house. Cody Hall again would get involved, but reDRagon took him out. We then got a wacky eight-man suplex spot, and then Romero ran wild with clotheslines on everyone. Crowd really got into this as it went on, Ricochet cut off Strong Zero and that led to the stereo SSP spot, but the Bucks blind tagged in and stole a near fall. More bang for your buck followed, and we have new champions. This was a really enjoyable opening match, but not a “great match”. I get the Bucks winning, but don’t exactly think it was the right call. Lots of speculation with Romero taking the pin that he is NXT bound as a trainer; reDRagon continues to be one of the more protected acts in NJPW. Anyway, this was a good way to kick off the show.

VACANT NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Title Match: Tama Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale vs. Toru Yano & The Briscoes: This started just like the opener, with them brawling before the bell. The Briscoes worked over Takahashi as Mark yelled, “WHAT’S UP JAPAN?” We got some Yano shenanigans, and then Bullet Club took over. Fale seems to get bigger all the time, which isn’t a great thing because it slows him way too much. When he was a little lighter and working aggressively to reflect his big man deal he was doing better. Tonga, who is easily the best guy in his team, Tonga is looking well. Yano, after the heat, made his own comeback on Bullet Club after exposing the buckle, Fake put a stop to that, but Yano finally tagged in Mark. This led to the Briscoes taking control and getting near falls on Tonga. Tonga fought back, Fale took Yano to the floor, and then Jay and Tonga fought up top. Jay slid out and got Tonga on his shoulder and Yano then hit Tonga’s hands with a chair as he grabbed the ropes, allowing the Briscoes to hit the doomsday device and score the titles. That felt really flat and oddly laid out at times. Too much drag factor, it likely would have been better with three or so minutes cut off.

ROH World Title Match: Champion Jay Lethal w/Truth Martini vs. Michael Elgin: I have to give credit where credit is due, Truth Martini has a Japanese version of the “Book of Truth” with him. Elgin controlled with the power game early, including the stalling vertical suplex, where Lethal would try to escape, drop halfway down and Elgin would repeatedly pull him back up. The crowd loved the power spots. Martini would distract Elgin, allowing Lethal to take control with a dive, where he overshot and almost died on the barricade. A little too fired up there. Martini then hit a spinaroonie in the ring, because why not, and they teased a countout on Elgin. After a bit of back and forth, Lethal took control and worked to keep Elgin grounded. Elgin fought back with power moves, and even a slingshot splash. Lethal’s sell of the deadlift German suplex was amazing, reaching into the empty air with a look of panic, praying for help. Lethal was able to counter back with a Lethal combo and top rope elbow drop for a near fall. Elgin didn’t have time for that shit, and hit the rolling Germans and then a sick clothesline, which turned Lethal inside out. Elgin then scored with the deadlift falcon arrow (HE DID THE DEAL) off the ropes, but only got a near fall. Martini got involved, leading to Lethal using the Book of Truth. He hit the Lethal injection for the win. An overall disappointing match, they worked hard but the early portion was really flat. I thought they recovered, and then had to do the bullshit finish, which was like throwing ice water on a fire. It also felt useless at the end of the day to have this match (outside of being able to say they had the match here) since Elgin lost (the Japanese love him) and didn’t care much at all for Lethal. I had hoped for a lot more.

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Kenny Omega w/Young Bucks vs. KUSHIDA w/Doc Brown Taguchi: Taguchi came out with KUSHIDA, dressed as Doc Brown. Omega did a Terminator inspired entrance. UGH, so Bullet Club hit a triple superkick on Taguchi and attacked KUSHIDA before the bell. That’s the third time we’ve done something like that tonight. Omega controlled as we had all sorts of bullshit (including weapons) on the floor as the ref was distracted. Omega controlled here, hitting a great dive and then using strikes to keep KUSHIDA down. He did the old wrist tape choke spot, which would have been fine if they didn’t spend the first three minutes with so much heel teamwork stuff. KUSHIDA then made his comeback and ran through some flying and his signature stuff, as he started to target the arm of Omega including a single arm DDT/kimura off the second rope. They worked some great striking exchanges, and Omega worked into a toss German, but KUSHIDA countered into the hoverboard lock, and it was sweet. The Bucks again got involved; Taguchi then stopped them with trashcan shots. KUSHIDA escaped the one winged angel, but Omega fought back with a knee strikes. And hit a one armed powerbomb for a near fall, selling the arm work from KUSHIDA. Omega hit another great knee strike, but KUSHIDA rolled through the one winged angle and got the cradle (sloppily) for the win and the title. This started rough, with the repetitive open and the fact that it looked as if this was going to be filled with shenanigans throughout. They recovered well from that, and worked a really strong final eight-minutes or so; including some smart work on the arm, good selling and some sick strikes from both men. The finish also allows for a rematch as it wasn’t a definitive ending.

IWGP Tag Team Title Match: Champions Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson w/The Bullet Babe vs. Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe: After some back and forth, Anderson took the ref and we got floor brawling and Gallows using the chain on Makabe. Bullet Club then got the heat on Makabe for a few minutes; Honma got the hot tag and ran wild, hitting a running kokeshi. He got cut off pretty quickly, and Bullet Club worked some double teams and Makabe had to make the save. Anderson hit a running gun stun for a near fall. Makabe again made the save prior to the magic killer connecting, and took Gallows to the floor. Honma scored with a jumping kokeshi and then went to the top but Gallows cut him off. Anderson tried the gun stun off the ropes, but Honma escaped. Anderson hit a sweet running Liger bomb, but Honma survived. Honma survived several gun stun attempts, and hit another kokeshi. Gallows and Makabe tagged in, and the Gallows poll got a near fall. Makabe would fire up and take out both Gallows and Anderson, he then slapped around Honma and tossed him into Anderson for another kokeshi. DOOMSDAY KOKESHI on Anderson, who took the flip bump, and then the top rope kokeshi on Gallows followed by the king kong knee drop and we have new champions. This was a follow up to the previous match that they needed, as the show felt flat after the opener. Gallows and Anderson work hard on the big stage (which pisses me off when they have pure shit matches when they can do so much better on smaller shows). But the work was good, they didn’t overstay their welcome and Honma finally got his first IWGP title belt after a 19-year career.

Tetsuya Naito w/EVIL & BUSHI vs. Hirooki Goto: AND AGAIN we had the attack the man before the bell from a unit, which is simply lazy at this point. They brawled to the floor, as EVIL and BUSHI worked over Goto with chairs as Naito got a table. Naito hit a neck breaker off the apron and onto the table, which didn’t completely break. This wasn’t doing much for me at all, Goto then tried to kill Naito with a code red off the second rope for a near fall. That was at about the eight-minute mark, and it picked up action wise from there. I was enjoying things, and then we had a ref bump and Goto hit a lariat that caused Naito to land on his head. EVIL and BUSHI got involved, but Goto escaped the mist and took them out. Naito then hit a low blow and cradle for a near fall. Goto would come back and hit the shouten kai for the pin. They tried to tell an over coming the odds story, which didn’t mean anything to me due to all of the extra curricular activities that had taken place. Of note, Komatsu helped Naito to the back, and Naito didn’t attack him as he would other Young Lions. They’ve been teasing Komatsu joining Los Ingobernables.

NEVER Openweight Title Match: Champion Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata: They went hard and heavy from the bell, using kicks, forearm strikes and lariats as they were just kicking the shit out of each other. It’s what you’ve come to expect from NEVER title matches, and also was so different than everything else that it felt so fresh. At one point Shibata is kicking the shit out of Ishii with forearms, and Ishii keeps calling him on and walking into the strikes before finally just dropping Shibata and face washing him in the corner. The first cover did not come until 8-minutes into the match, and that led to an arm bar attempt by Shibata. They hit this run of German suplexes and clotheslines that were just laid in so hard, leading to both men collapsing in exhaustion. Ishii went into full dick mode, chopping Shibata in the throat several times. Dear lord these men were doing some legit damage here, Shibata fighting for the sleeper and Ishii fight to escape were well done. Shibata looked for the penalty kick, but Ishii countered and then head butted him in the throat, because he’s an established dick. And then they did the head butt spot where they wee two rams fighting, and you could just hear that shit echo as they were head butting each other so hard. Shibata finally scored with the PK, and that was enough to score the pin and win the title. Amazing match, exactly what it needed to be style wise and work wise from both guys, and they did an excellent job building drama along with delivering the brutality. This is our first MOTY contender of 2016. Well, that was the first of the top three matches, and it delivered HUGE. It was everything I wanted from the match, and Shibata winning was absolutely the right call. The NEVER ranks need an overhaul, and he is fresh blood and can have great matches with everyone. Normally I’d fall into the “follow that” club, but with the two matches left, if anyone can, it’s these guys. Whether they will or not is a completely different question, but they certainly have the ability.

IWGP Intercontinental Title Match: Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles: Nakamura is wearing a lovely crushed velvet top. No Bullet Club seconds for Styles, which I am thankful for. This is a first time singles meeting between the two and a highly anticipated match. The big question here is how Styles’ back is doing, he says he is good to go, and we’ll see. They worked a measured open before doing an early tease for their finishers. They both mocked each other at times, and then picked up the pace. They did a spot in the corner where Nakamura pulled Styles off the ropes, and Styles took a back bump and sold that he hurt his back again. It was a trap as he then attacked the sympathetic Nakamura from behind and took control for a short time. Nakamura countered a Styles clothesline and hit a cool back breaker, and then speared Styles into the barricade for a heat segment. Styles would make a comeback, and sold the back well as he started to take things back over. The back kept being an issue, allowing Nakamura to do more damage, but Styles avoided a boma ye and scored with the calf slicer in the center of the ring. Nakamura scored with a sweet counter into the arm bar, but Styles stacked him to escape. Styles came up short on his asai DDT, and then used a back breaker into a powerbomb for a near fall. I hated that entire sequence, as sing the back breaker made no sense after all of the work on the back and the issues Styles showed on other, simpler moves. They teased finishers at the 15-minuet mark, and then Nakamura hit the boma ye off the second rope, but was too exhausted to follow up. They worked some great striking exchanges, leading to Styles hitting the PELE, and just when you thought he had control, he ate another boma ye for a near fall. Styles countered the boma ye with a knee of his own and hit a 450 splash for a near fall. Holy fuck they are building the drama so well with almost no wasted movements, it’s all so thought out and calculated. Nakamura got the jumping arm bar, Styles struggled and Nakamura turned it into a triangle. Styles then fucking Herc’d him up with one arm for the clash and got a seriously sweet near fall from that. Styles hit bloody Sunday, looked for the clash but then pulled Nakamura to the corner. Styles wanted the clash from the top, but Nakamura fought out and hit a Michinoku driver off the second rope, but it wasn’t enough. My Fucking word. Nakamura finally finished it with a boma ye to the back and then one to the face of Styles to retain. This was another excellent match (and early MOTY candidate) to help turn the show around. The best thing is that it was a completely different match than the previous one, which makes me appreciate them both for different reasons. Now it’s up to the main event.

IWGP Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: So Hiroshi Tanahashi was the guy that helped pull NJPW out from the dark years, and is the man. Okada returned to NJPW after his TNA excursion and was thrust into the main event scene. While he has had success, he has failed two straight times to defeat Tanahashi at WrestleKingdom. Okada’s victory will officially signal that he has won the feud, that he beat the man and that he is now the man for NJPW. Some have complained about the repeat main event, but the story is there to justify it, they just have to close the book here. So they worked a really slow beginning, making you think that they are going to go really long. Tanahashi used a chop block on Okada, allowing him to get some early control after the slow beginning. Tanahashi would escape a tombstone try, but get kicked off the apron to the floor. Okada would slam Tanahashi into the barricade, and then over. This led to Okada hitting a running high cross in the crowd. Okada worked the heat; with Tanahashi selling and bumping like a fucking champion here. Everything Okada did looked as if it was destroying Tanahashi, both in execution from Okada, and the work from Tanahashi. They then went into a section where they were countering each other, to play off of their history together, which makes sense and fed into the comeback by Tanahashi. Tanahashi started to attack both legs of Okada, and that led to Tanahashi hitting the high fly flow from he top all the way to the floor. We then got a callback to last year, when Tanahashi used the high fly flow onto the legs of Okada. Tanahashi continued his assault on the knees of Okada, and when Okada got the neck breaker onto the knee, he couldn’t follow up. Okada’s selective selling on the legs was frustrating here as he made a comeback and was doing full sprints as he attacked, making the work by Tanahashi seem like busy work to get to here and not an important part of the match. Okada hit the top rope elbow, but Tanahashi countered the rainmaker, and then a tombstone into a cradle for a near fall. Tanahashi went back to the leg work and locked in the cloverleaf. Okada teased tapping, but finally made the ropes. Tanahashi continued to control, went up top for the high fly flow and Okada moved. He finally hit the tombstone, called for the rainmaker and hit it but Tanahashi kicked out! Okada looks dejected, as Tanahashi continues to be one step ahead of him. He then hit a high fly flow on Tanahashi, and that only got 2. Tanahashi then hit the rainmaker and both men were down. Tanahashi then countered the rainmaker into a slingblade and hit a dragon suplex for a near fall. High fly flow by Tanahashi hits again, he returns to the top and hits another! Okada survives! Tanahashi looked for another high fly flow, but Okada caught him with the dropkick in midair. Okada scored with another dropkick and then a German suplex. Tanahashi slaps him but Okada hangs on and hits two rainmakers, and then a third and that finally puts away Tanahashi. This was another amazing match to close things out, and a fitting overall conclusion to the story they were telling. They went full tilt here, using great callbacks and some new stuff as the old lion stayed one step ahead for much of the match, only to finally be defeated. This was a match designed for those that have been following the story, but also something you can enjoy if you hadn’t. It’s a great story, a great emotional ride and I can’t argue with anyone that went five stars for it. My big issue is that you can’t dedicate a large portion of a match to working the legs, and just abandon it so quickly, even with the call backs, it bothered me because it took away from the meaning of that work; making the first portion rather useless to a degree. I wish it would have caused Okada to adapt to fully play off of Tanahashi owning him, but they stayed with what works, which is fine. Still, this was an excellent match and story, and a great capper to the show and another great match between the two and the official crowning of Okada.

– If you want to learn more about New Japan, my friends over at Voices of Wrestling have released their NJPW 2015: Year in Review eBook. Support their hard work and give it a look.

* End scene.

* Thanks for reading.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
The first part of the show, while there were some good matches to be had, was really rough from a creative aspect, lazy in fact. For those that want to defend NJPW and the lazy booking by saying, “but they present themselves as pure sport” as opposed to WWE or something similar, that is out the window with this show, and I say that as someone who loved the company. In match one we had Cody Hall get involved multiple times, the spots were over, but meant less as the show went on. In match two we had Yano use the chair leading to his team’s victory. Match three saw Truth Martini and the Book of Truth involved and costing Elgin the match. In match four we had the Young Bucks get involved a lot in the first three minutes of the match. During match five we had Gallows use Makabe’s chain. In match six, Los Ingobernables attacked Goto and used tables and chairs and interfered through out.

And then there was the lazy way they kicked off several of the matches. In match one, Bullet Club (Hall and the Bucks) attacked the other teams before the bell to start things off. In match two, Bullet Club attacked Yano and the Briscoes before the bell to start the match. In match four, Bullet Club (Omega and the Bucks) Taguchi and KUSHIDA before the bell to start things off. In match six, Los Ingobernables attacked Goto to start the match. Some of these things were good ideas (the Cody Hall stuff got the reaction they wanted) but then they kept doing the same old shit, and as it went on it meant less and less; it’s diminishing returns. It needs to be fixed and downgraded.

With that being said, we had some rally good to great wrestling. The IWGP tag match was good, the opener and IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title were very good, and the final three were a murder’s row of excellence which really brought the show to another level. Even with the issues I had, the overall show was excellent and worthy of your time. I personally have issues with some of the choices as outlined above, but at the end of the day the top matches delivered big time, they told great stories and I was very pleased when the show was completed. I may change my mind on some things after sleep and a rewatch, we’ll see.


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Larry Csonka