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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 2013

July 1, 2013 | Posted by TJ Hawke
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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 2013  

 photo WK2013_zps61690cfb.png

January 4, 2013
Tokyo, Japan

Dark Match #1
CHAOS (Jado, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Captain New Japan, Tama Tonga & Wataru Inoue
CHAOS worked over Inoue. Inoue came back with a couple of backbreakers. Tonga tagged in and hit a diving crossbody and double dropkick. Tonga looked great and the crowd was into him. Jado cut off Tonga. CHAOS then worked over Tonga. Captain New Japan and Inoue evened things up. Tonga then hit Jado with a guillotine DDT: 1…2…3

This was a typical NJPW dark match. Nothing to see here.
Match Rating: *

Dark Match #2
Hiromu Takahashi, Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask vs. BUSHI, KUSHIDA & Ryusuke Taguchi
It seems crazy that NJPW didn’t have a main show spot for Taguchi or KUSHIDA.

Taguchi got worked over for a bit. Bushi managed to tag in, but he was then worked over. The babyfaces came back. Taguchi and KUSHIDA hit stereo slingshot planchas on Tiger and Liger. Bushi then hit a 450 splash on Takahashi: 1…2…3.

The length of my recap should say it all. NJPW dark matches can stay dark.
Match Rating: *1/2

CHAOS (Takashi Iizuka, Toru Yano & Yujiro Takahashi) & Bob Sapp vs. Muscle Orchestra (Manabu Nakanishi & Strong Man), Akebono & MVP
Yujiro main evented a PPV four or five months prior to this.

The match started as a brawl on the entrance ramp. An atomicos match broke out. Akebono and Sapp squared off sooner than I expected. Sapp was eventually attacked by all four of his opponents. Nakanishi got Sapp up in the torture rack, but the rudos made the save. Nakanishi was worked over for a while. The babyfaces eventually made a comeback. Eventually, Nakanishi made Iizuka submit with a torture rack.

Some commentator got into the ring and hit the weakest lariat on Iizuka ever. I assume this was a payoff to some angle that I didn’t know about. If someone in the comments could inform me and the other readers, that would be swell.

This was every NJPW atomicos opener you have ever seen. The crowd was mildly into it. I wish MVP did something more interesting on the show.
Match Rating: *1/2

Masato Tanaka (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin [NEVER Openweight Title Match

Shelton hit a German and tope con hello early. Tanaka was then in control for a bit, but Shelton avoided a Sliding D and hit spinning heel kick. Shelton got a nearfall with a diving blockbuster and then another nearfall with a superkick. Tanaka’s second interfered and hit Shelton with a Singapore Cane. Shelton came back with an ankle lock on Tanaka. Shelton fell victim to another distraction. Tanaka then hit a Sliding D: 1…2…3

It’s a shame this wasn’t a proper match. Shelton seemed motivated. I don’t get why NJPW flew in Shelton for this.
Match Rating: **1/4

Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) (c) (w/TAKA Michinoku) vs. Hirooki Goto & Karl Anderson [IWGP Havyweight Tag Team Title Match]
TAKA was literally carrying their bags. Earth.

The Squad attacked the babyfaces before the bell. Goto was worked over for a while. He eventually gave Smith a suplex and tagged in Anderson. Anderson made a fiery comeback. Smith came back with a tiger suplex. Archer then hit a chokeslam. Anderson came back with a middle rope TKO on Archer: 1…2…NO! Goto and Smith tagged in. Goto ran wild on everyone. Goto got a nearfall on Smith with a bridging German. Archer gave Anderson a Blackout. Goto and Archer then botched something. Smith gave Goto a Liger Bomb. Anderson gave Smith an Ace Crusher. The Squad then gave Goto a double team powerbomb: 1…2…NO! Anderson then ate a double team powerbomb. Goto ate another double powerbomb: 1…2…3

This wasn’t especially interesting, but they got the crowd into it by the end. Anderson was the only person in the match that I like to watch.
Match Rating: ***

Minoru Suzuki vs. Yuji Nagata
These are some MEN.

They started the match by being awesome. Because these men are awesome. Nagata started going after Suzuki’s left arm. Taichi interfered for Suzuki, and Suzuki then started using a chair to attack Nagata. Suzuki then locked in a submission on Nagata’s left leg. Nagata survived and came back with an exploder and a Brogue Kick. Nagata then hit a yakuza kick and a belly-to-belly suplex. Nagata locked in a crippler crossface. Suzuki escaped and delivered a series of kicks and slaps. Suzuki then got a sleeper. Nagata nearly passed out. Suzuki went to deliver a cradle move. Nagata fought out of it. Nagata then got an armbar on the injured arm. Taichi jumped up on the apron, but Nagata kicked him. Nagata and Suzuki then traded slaps. Nagata delivered several kicks to the injured arm and then got the armbar again. Oh man, this match kicks ass. Suzuki escaped, but Nagata delivered one last big slap and a bridging saito suplex: 1…2…3

Oh wrestling, you can be so much fun some times. This lacked big-time drama as the crowd was a little weak for it. However, these two are so good, and they had me completely enthralled with everything they did. The match didn’t start as hot as I expected, but it definitely turned into a really good match.
Match Rating: ***3/4

Prince Devitt (c) vs. Kota Ibushi vs. Low Ki [IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Three Way Dance]
These three traded the title around in 2012.

Low Ki came out in a suit with two handguns. Hitman. Shockingly amusing thing for him to do considering how seriously he takes himself. Low Ki proceeded to wrestle in a suit. They did some “two men in, one man out” at the beginning. They managed to make it fun though. Low Ki is so great when he wants to be. He wants to be great here. Ki and Ibushi ended up on the floor, and Devitt took both of them out with his tope con hello. Devitt hit Ibushi with a ghetto stomp for a nearfall. Ibushi then ate a Pele kick, but Ki pounced on Devitt with a koppou kick. Devitt and Ki ended up on the floor. Ibushi took them out with an Asai Corkscrew Moonsault. That spot was a bit labored, but you know, at least it led to an Asai Corkscrew Moonsault. Back in the ring, Ibushi hit his double jump moonsault on Devitt for a nearfall. Ibushi had Devitt pinned with a Liger Bomb, but Ki made the save. Ki showed fighting spirit and hit a double stomp after eating a German for a nearfall. Ki gave Ibushi a Ki Krusher, but Devitt broke it up with a Ghetto Stomp! Ibushi got a nearfall on Ki with a springboard super hurricanrana. LOTS OF MOVEZ. Ki got dumped to the floor, but Devitt then gave Ibushi a super Blood Sunday: 1…2…3!

This was a hell of a fucking match. It was very spot heavy, but the spots pretty much got bigger and bigger as the match went on. As a result, the crowd’s investment seemingly got bigger and bigger as the match went on. Most importantly though, this match was just so much fun to watch. Great stuff from all three men. It’s a real shame that Low Ki had to be himself, and that his relationship with NJPW couldn’t continue. As it stands now, this will be the last major match of Low Ki’s career.
Match Rating: ****1/4

Keiji Mutoh & Shinjiro Otani vs. TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima)
This match will have trouble following the last one for me. Daichi Hashimoto was scratched from this match due to an injury.

Tenkoji cut off Mutoh early, and they worked him over for a bit. Mutoh was eventually able to tag out to Otani. The teams went back and forth for a bit. Nothing in the match interested me much. Mutoh eventually hit Tenzan with a shining wizard. Otani then hit him with a missile dropkick. Mutoh hit another shining wizard. Otani then hit a powerbomb, but Kojima saved his partner. Tenkoji then hit Otani with a 3-D. Kojima then hit a lariat and Tenzan hit a moonsault: 1…2…3

This was an ok nostalgia match. I wasn’t really into it much, but the crowd seemed to appreciate it for what it was.
Match Rating: **1/4

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Togi Makabe
They wasted little time beating the shit out of each other. Shibata got control of the match and just laid into Makabe, like only Shibata can. Makabe nearly passed out from a sleeper, but he fought back with a pair of lariats to get back in the match. Makabe took out a table and powerbombed Shibata through it! The table broke! Back in the ring, Shibata got a sleeper, but Makabe escaped and hit a lariat. Makabe then hit a diving knee drop: 1…2…3

I really enjoyed this match (and I’m not a big Makabe fan), but this is definitely one of those situations where the bloated expectations caused me to be a tad underwhelmed. Obviously though, this was quite good. I really enjoy watching Shibata.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Shinsuke Nakamura © vs. Kazushi Sakuraba [IWGP Intercontinental Title Match]
STAN HANSEN came out to start the match. That is always nice to see. They started out slow, working a faux MMA style. An explosion of strikes came out of nowhere and Sakuraba then double stomped his FACE. Nakumura came back with some knee strikes. Sakuraba came back with a German, and Nakamura then accidentally slid into a nasty knee strike. Fuck. That was disgusting. Sakuraba then got a triangle choke, but Nakamura escaped and hit a running knee to the back of the head. Nakamura went for another, but Sakuraba avoided and tried for a cross armbreaker. This match rules. Nakamura came back with a DVD bomb. Sakuraba locked in a kimura. Nakamura escaped and hit a nasty knee strike. RUNNING KNEE FROM NAKAMURA: 1…2…3!!! Sakuraba kicked out at 3.1

I loved this match. I’m not the biggest Nakamura fan, but Sakuraba seemed to bring out my favorite Nakamura characteristics. This was a match you don’t see every day, and its uniqueness definitely helped to make it feel more special and important. Great stuff. Shibata and Sakuraba need to be challenging Okada soon.
Match Rating: ****

Hiroshi Tanahashi © vs. Kazuchika Okada [IWGP Heavyweight Title Match]
I somehow missed both Tanahashi/Okada matches from 2012. So, I may miss out on some callbacks to those matches. Okada is one of my favorite wrestlers in the world, and he has to be considered one of the world’s best as well. Tanahashi doesn’t tickle my fancy as much, but his resume of great matches is undeniable.

Okada’s entrance was something else. The dude is a fucking star. And here we go. Things started slowly. The first big move was a draping DDT by Okada. Okada hit a sliding kick for the first nearfall after that. Okada was dominating the early portion of the match. Tanahashi was finally able to slow Okada down. Tanahashi connected on a High Fly Flow to a standing Okada on the floor. Tanahashi started going after Okada’s left leg. Okada came back with a DDT, and he then locked in a submission. Tanahashi made the ropes. Okada dropkicked Tanahashi to the floor. Okada went for a tombstone on the floor, but Tanahashi avoided it. Tanahashi hit a Sling Blade on the floor. Back in the ring, Tanahashi was in control. He went for the High Fly Flow, but Okada got his knees up. Okada came back with the Air Raid Crash on the knee: 1…2…NO! Okada hit a diving elbow drop and then called for the Rainmaker. Tanahashi reversed the attempt into a High Tension suplex for a nearfall. Bridging Dragon suplex from Tanahashi: 1…2…NO! Another Sling Blade. High Fly Flow: 1…2…NO!!!!!!!!!!!. Amazing nearfall. Tanahashi went after the injured knee again and then locked in the Cloverleaf. Okada just managed to get to the ropes. I really thought he was going to tap. Both men struggled to their feet. Okada went for the Rainmaker. Tanahashi avoided it, but Okada then hit a tombstone. He called for the Rainmaker, but Tanahashi reversed it into a Sling Blade! Okada went for the tombstone again, but Tanahashi kicked out the injured leg and hit a tombstone of his own! Both men struggled. High Fly Flow to a standing Okada! Another High Fly Flow: 1…2…3.

Well, this was a hell of a thing. I remember being greatly annoyed that Okada lost this match, but I understand why they did what they did. At the very least, I appreciate Tanahashi never kicked out of the Rainmaker. Also, all is well that ends well, and we should have many, many months of Okada reigning over NJPW.

As for the match, it was everything you expect from a NJPW Wrestle Kingdom main event between these two great performers. This is one of the best matches of 2013. Seek it out right now.
Match Rating: ****1/2

Thanks everybody for reading! You can send feedback to my Twitter or to my email address: [email protected] Also, feel free to check out my own wrestling website, FreeProWrestling.com. Also, check out my Best of Chikara blog and an archive of all my 411 video reviews.

The 411: While I think some of the matches on this show are a little overhyped, this is truly one of the best wrestling shows that I have ever seen. From a pure in-ring standpoint, the matches pretty much speak for themselves. The show also had a great flow, and there was a tremendous amount of variety on the show. I cannot recommend this show enough. Watch it now.
411 Elite Award
Final Score:  9.5   [  Amazing ]  legend

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