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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: NJPWWorld.com Wrestle Kingdom Recommendations

January 3, 2017 | Posted by TJ Hawke
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Views from the Hawke’s Nest: NJPWWorld.com Wrestle Kingdom Recommendations  

NJPW made ALL* previous matches from all of their #OneFour (their Wrestlemania which has gone through various names but currently known as Wrestle Kingdom) shows for free! I went their catalog digging for gems. The matches are still up for free as of now (1/2/2017). Go watch them!

*Okay, it’s not all the matches, but there are various explanations for why certain matches are missing. People like Ogawa and Brock got their footage pulled. Any #OneFour matches that had official TNA involvement are not there. Still though, there are a lot of fucking matches.

I did not watch everything available. I generally sought out stuff that I thought I would enjoy or there was something random about the match that I found interesting (like Randy Savage working the 2000 #OneFour event). Here are the results of my digging. If the match is not here, it does not mean I think was bad or that I would definitely not like it! Do not @ me about Nakamura/Takayama’s matches! I will get to them soon!


Matches to Avoid: Randy Savage vs. Rick Steiner, Minoru Suzuki vs. Hiroshi TanahashiThe Great Muta vs. Power Warrior, Jushin Liger vs. Ultimo Dragon, Chris Jericho vs. Koji Kanemoto, Dick Togo, Gedo, & Jado vs. Jushin Liger, Great Sasuke, & Tiger Mask, Jushin Liger vs. Takashi Sugiura, Jushin Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto, Hiroshi Hase vs. Kensuke Sasaki, Shiro Koshinaka vs. Masahiro Chono


Matches That I Did Not Feel Passionately About Either Way: Chris Benoit vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Katsuyori ShibataKazuo Yamazaki vs. Shinya Hashimoto, Jushin Liger vs. Koji Kanemoto, Jun Akiyama vs. Yuji Nagata, Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa vs. Kendo Kashin & Minoru Tanaka, Masahiro Chono vs. Kensuke Sasaki, Genichiro Tenryu vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Jun Akiyama vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Averno & Great Bash Heel vs. Mistico & Apollo 55, Tajiri & Masato Tanaka vs. Akebono & Yuji Nagata, Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi


Recommended Matches

Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu – 1997


You can watch this here.

This was for Hashimoto’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

This was a very interesting battle that truly sneaked up on you as a very good match after a slow start. As you would expect with these two, it was a very physical contest. They did not ease their way into the match exactly, but they did take their time before either man really went for the win. That made the first half of the match a bit sluggish. They turned it on down the stretch though. Hashimoto ended up winning on a brutal brainbuster. (***1/2)


Yoshihiro Tajiri vs. Shinjiro Otani – 1996


You can watch this match here.

This was a rock-solid midcard contest that saw Tajiri going all out to impress. Tajiri had Otani off balance early and was in solid control. Otani finally managed to cut him off and had control for a bit. Tajiri made a snappy comeback. He seemed to have all the momentum, but Otani managed to keep him at bay long enough to hit the springboard spinning heel kick for the victory. Fun stuff. (***1/4)


Atsushi Onita vs. Kensuke Sasaki – 1999


You can watch this match here.

Fun fact: this was the greatest five minute match ever. Kensuke was just tossing Onita’s ass all over the fucking place. It was a mauling. Referees of sound mind and judgement would have stopped it immediately due to Onita clearly being in mortal peril. It was like watch a giant take on a rag doll.

Onita’s only chance was to get crazy. He hit Kensuke with a chair and then put him through a table with a piledriver.

Kensuke endured though. The match made its way back to the ring, and Kensuke went back to murdering him. Onita could not win. His ego clearly would not allow him to go down though so he threw a fucking fireball at Kensuke. That got him disqualified.

Onita then pulled the ultimate baller move and put back on his leather jacket to walk out. He cut a blistering promo on Kensuke’s mother or something because then Kensuke went right back after him. Onita was saved by some geeks in track suits, collapsed on the ramp, and then got pelted with trash as he finally made his way to the back. He had to crawl part of the way. My gawd.

This was all a certified shoot and my gawd if it wasn’t some of the very best stuff in the storied history of NJPW’s #OneFour shows. Dear lord. (****1/2)


Scott Norton vs. Keiji Mutoh – 1999


You can watch this match here.

This was for Norton’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

This was a really logical match, but it was shockingly low on energy and fun given the wrestlers involved. Thanks to the smart work involved though, it manage to turn out not that bad at all!

Norton worked really methodically on top, and it went for far too long. Mutoh’s comeback was all directed at one of Norton’s legs which was a good idea. However, it was not the shot of adrenaline that this match clearly needed.

Norton’s selling was done so well though and made what could have been a forgettable main event into something really satisfying.

He progressively got weaker and weaker so that his work progressively slowed down. Since he never conveyed a sense that he was suddenly crippled by Mutoh’s work, it made sense he was still able to pull off SOME stuff.

Mutoh’s determination to go after the leg repeatedly paid off, as Norton finally collapsed from the pain and then submitted to a figure four shortly thereafter. GOOD stuff. (***1/2)


Genichiro Tenryu vs. Kensuke Sasaki – 2000


You can watch this match here.

This was for Tenryu’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

This was wild and really stands out as being a truly unique main event for a major title in modern wrestling history. Something about Tenryu has always been magical. Part of that comes from the idea he never ever seemed to settle for the usual or for what was necessarily expected. He took chances and worked as if he never had a doubt in his mind that they would pay off. He was probably a once-in-a-lifetime performer in that way.

He and Kensuke were just slugging it out and jabbing each other to death here. Every blow meant something. Every strike could be the end. That strategy also allowed the more traditional pro wrestling maneuvers have a bigger impact down the stretch. It was remarkably executed pro wrestling.

Tenryu seemed to be on the path to victory, but Kensuke managed to pull off a brainbuster. A second one right after kept Tenryu down for the three. That concluded one of the great main events in #OneFour history. (****1/2)


Scott Norton vs. Don Frye – 2000


You can watch this match here.

My gawd, Scott Norton gave Frye a SHOOT Rock Bottom to start this match and then it was on. You’ve never seen two big hosses shoot on each other quite like this contest. Just very fun stuff. NJPW used to have really fun midcards for #OneFour. (***1/2)


Toshiaki Kawada vs. Kensuke Sasaki – 2001


You can watch this match here.

This was an IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Final match.

This was the finals of a one-night tournament to crown the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Sasaki went through two opponents to get here. Kawada only had to have one match. It led to a great sprint here where Kawada was clearly the fresher man, but Kensuke just kept fighting and fighting. He finally managed to string together some big movez before finishing Kawada with a brainbuster. This was a great contest and possibly an even better way of getting the belt on Kensuke. (****)


Shinya Hashimoto vs. Riki Choshu – 2001


You can watch this match here.

While this probably went a little long, this was an incredible spectacle. It was just a brutal fight with both guys laying into each other with the heaviest fucking shots (which were certainly deserved). It was so brutal that the people came into the ring to try to stop the fight after a certain point. They eventually succeeded in calling it off. That was a questionable finish to say the least, but this was a must-see battle, and one of the most compelling contests in #OneFour history. (****)


Keiji Mutoh & Shinjiro Otani vs. Jushin Liger & Manabu Nakanishi – 2001


You can watch this match here.

This was a really FUN sprint. Otani and Mutoh came into the match ready to bust their asses, and it paid off as they were able to almost always be a step ahead of Liger and Nakanishi. Liger and Nakanishi made spirited comebacks, but Otani and Mutoh were just too much for them on this night. They put them away in seven minutes when Otani made Liger tap. Good stuff. (***1/2)


Toshiaki Kawada vs. Hiryoshi Tenzan – 2001


You can watch this match here.

This was a IWGP Heavyweight Title Tournament Semi Final match.

This was a solid match with a good story keeping everything together. The fresher Kawada was able to get the advantage early on. Tenzan then delivered a BRUTAL headbutt that threw Kawada for a loop. That big move gave Tenzan the opening to get control. Kawada later fought back and eventually won with the folding powerbomb. Good stuff. (***1/2)


Jushin & Takuma Sano vs. Wataru Inoue & Koji Kanemoto – 2009


You can watch this here.

Because I am a mark, I really enjoy the idea of Liger and Sano teaming up nearly twenty years after the peak of their rivalry for an undercard tag match at #OneFour.

Something about that kind of direction is very human, and the cartoon world of professional wrestling can almost always benefit from an extra dose of humanity in their storytelling.

Anyway, Kanemoto and Inoue jumped them before the bell. Liger and Sano made a very spirited comeback and worked together very well as a team to put their opponents way. This was a strong example of effective undercard wrestling. (***1/4)


Hector Garza & Jushin Liger vs. La Sombra & Mascara Dorada – 2011


You can watch this match here.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Just eight minutes of flips and great things happening. Some of the spots were labored as fuck, but this was exactly what a midcard match on #OneFour should be like. Fast paced action with people working to impress. Bring the botches. I encourage it. Sombra won after hitting some corkscrew dive onto a standing Liger. (***1/2)

The final score: review Virtually Perfect
The 411
Diving into old New Japan matches is almost always a blast. The promotion has a history of very unique wrestlers and matchups on their biggest show of the year. All the recommended matches are well worth your time!

article topics :

NJPW, Wrestlekingdom 11, TJ Hawke