wrestling / Columns

The One-Liner Review: NJPW WrestleKingdom 11

January 7, 2017 | Posted by Mike Hammerlock
NJPW Kazuchika Okada - Steve Austin

The IWC is filled with snowflake ratings and recaps for big wrestling events … but that’s a lot of work. This isn’t one of those columns. What follows is one line (or so) about every wrestler or team who worked New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 11. These are the stray thoughts and pointless musings that filled one lazy man’s mind while watching the event.

Michael Elgin – I can’t prove this, but the Japanese seem to value thickness over size. They might be right. If you can find a guy 4’6” and 300 pounds of pure muscle, he’d probably be unbeatable.

Cheeseburger – I once was sitting in a bar in Nantucket when Jimmy Buffett walked in. The bartender immediately put on “Margaritaville” and handed him a drink. Being an asshole in my 20s, I proclaimed, “Man, if I ever have to hear this song again, I’m gonna kill myself.” Buffett raised his glass to toast me and said, “I hear you, brother.”

Bone Soldier – First man eliminated from the Rumble/Rambo. Immediately goes off in search of a new gimmick.

Billy Gunn – As wrestlers continue to become more normal-sized, he grows bigger by comparison. I remember when he was the little brother in the Smoking Gunns.

Jushin “Thunder” Liger – I could swear Liger kicked out before the three-count on his elimination, which, when you think about it, that’s so Liger.

Hiro Saito – How do you have him in a match and not let him throw a Senton party?

Hiroyoshi Tenzan – Lost all of his matches in what was billed as his final G1 Climax. Now booked in a roadkill pre-show match at Wrestle Kingdom. How the mighty have fallen.

Tiger Mask IV – Kind of sad that the guy with the actual Tiger Mask gimmick can’t find his way into the Tiger Mask match on the main card.

Kuniaki Kobayashi – I like that he’s a crazy, old man who hates people in masks. Stop trying to sell him Bibles!

Manabu Nakanishi – Doesn’t really hit you with a lariat so much as his arm is made of antimatter and it sends people flying when it touches them.

Ryusuke Taguchi – How don’t you have him battle it out with Billy Gunn to see who the real Mr. Ass is?

Scott Norton – Heartening to see there’s still a place on the globe that will give Norton a big pop and a paycheck for a short night’s work.

Yoshitatsu – At home on pre-shows.

Yuji Nagata – Everyone else is collecting their paychecks and here comes Nagata, working stiff like this matters.

Tiger the Dark – Chico, you’re not dark until you’re Pentagon Dark.

Tiger Mask W -Hopefully Kota Ibushi has reflected upon the decisions he’s made that have led him to be part of a cartoon/merchandising crossover Wrestle Kingdom opener rather than the main event that once seemed to be his for the taking.

The Young Bucks – I know they’re not officially big enough to be counted as heavyweights (and they never will be), but can New Japan just let them run riot on the heavyweight tag division anyway?

Roppongi Vice – If you’ve followed the careers of Beretta and Rocky Romero as they’ve worked their way through the backwaters of the wrestling industry, them winning belts in a quality match on this stage is a major feel-good moment.

Jado – Somewhere Antonio Inoki is looking on confused, wondering why Jado doesn’t just book himself to win.

Will Ospreay – One of the best special effects in wrestling and they barely used him.

Yoshi-Hashi – New Japan seems to want to make him into a legitimate contender, but he’s not young (34) and he’s not all that good.

Bad Luck Fale – Still doesn’t have 1/10th the moveset of Yoshihiko.

Hangman Page – A running shooting star press off the apron? Well I’ll be damned. Buy stock in this guy.

Yujiro Takahashi – Is there a copyright reason they can’t call him the Tokyo Godfather? Also, Japanese cameramen are not shy about zoom-in shots on the female posterior. They clearly appreciate we all now have big screen TVs.

BUSHI, EVIL & SANADA – EVIL and SANADA probably are going to be serious challengers in the heavyweight division before long. BUSHI should ride those comets, and Tetsuya Naito, as far as they can take him.

David Finlay – Officially he’s Dutch, which means he’s got to hide a stoner midget under the ring.

Ricochet – When you need action, just add Vitamin Ricochet. He might be the hottest hot tag ever.

Satoshi Kojima – New Japan has got to stop the revolving door with the 6-man tag titles. I still don’t understand why Kojima, Ricochet and Finlay were a team.

Cody (don’t call me Rhodes) – Surprise, he once again put on the worst match of the show. I thought he’d flourish in the indies, but it’s looking like he’s no Drew Galloway.

Juice Robinson – Is it wrong that I want him to have a Kaiju big Battel gimmick where juice squirts from his nipples whenever he’s taking punishment? That would make classic strong style knife-edge chops so much better.

Kyle O’Reilly – Officially takes the title (from Michael Elgin) for most pointless ROH title reign in history. Let the record book show he successfully defended the belt zero times. Maybe they should have sorted out his contract BEFORE giving him the belt.

Adam Cole – The standard for a quality championship match is up all across the wrestling industry. Simply being “good” isn’t going to cut it in the competitive marketplace. Cole needs to up his game in 2017 to make sure ROH doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma – If you had a time machine to send them back 25 years to face Arn & Tully, that would be just about perfect.

Tama Tonga – In a testament to good announcing, Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino talked up Tama Tonga’s defensive abilities so well it made me gain a whole new appreciation for his ring skills.

Tanga Roa – Needs to have a Motherfucker Battle with Samuel L. Jackson. Who knew the former Camacho/Tevita Fifita had in-ring Tourette’s?

Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano – Yano’s fuckery really undermines Ishii’s excellence. It’s official, Yano makes everything worse.

KUSHIDA – Breaks out the hammerlock slams. He is now my favorite human on earth.

Hiromu Takahashi – Now that he’s had a career-defining win, no one will ever call him Kamaitachi again.

Katsuyori Shibata – You know Shibata’s matches have got to be a rough approximation of some form of Japanese slap porn.

Hirooki Goto – I feel like this is about the 5th time Goto’s won that big, career-defining match that’s going to make him a top guy.

Hiroshi Tanahashi – Has now gotten to a place where he has to hit his finisher, the High Fly Flow, close to a half-dozen times in order to win a match.

Tetsuya Naito – He might be New Japan’s top guy, but they just won’t admit it to themselves.

Kenny Omega – When did he become the complete package? Crazy power moves, big aerials, stiff striking, sells like a champ, speaks Japanese, speaks Canadian. A year ago he was a mildly interesting jr. heavyweight.

Kazuchika Okada – Dependent on your mileage, he just had his 4th straight ***** Wrestle Kingdom main event. That’s incredible, but can he get it up for the rest of the year?