Saturday, January 5, 2013

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 7 Review

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 7 Review
Wrestle Kingdom is New Japan Pro Wrestling's biggest show of the year. NJPW always holds a Tokyo Dome show on 1/4 and has done so since 1992, making this the 22nd 1/4 Tokyo Dome Show. This is basically NJPW's Wrestlemania and usually features their biggest match with lots of outsiders from all over the world.

I've attended two Tokyo Dome shows myself, but I actually think these shows are better to watch taped than in person. The Tokyo Dome is a baseball stadium and is just not a great place to watch wrestling unless you have the big bucks. There's nets in the way, the seats are turned to the outfield and I ended up spending most of my time watching the show on the screen when I was there anyway.

This is Part 1 of my Wrestle Kingdom 7 review. Part 2 is here:

The first two matches are dark matches. Usually there is just one dark match, but they added a second.

Wataru Inoue, Tama Tonga, Captain New Japan vs Tomohiro Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI and Jado
Tama Tonga is one of Haku's sons along with Camacho from the WWE. Inoue is a long time NJPW junior. Ishii is an underrated short and stocky power wrestler and Jado is a long time junior vet.
The pin
Tama Tonga won with a Future Shock DDT. Pretty much a nothing much. No heat at all for this and nothing interesting from it.

Ryusuke Taguchi, KUSHIDA and BUSHI vs Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV and Hiromu Takahashi
This is your basic, let's stick everyone on the show match. This is almost guranteed to have no heat whatsoever.

BUSHI got the win for his team with the 450 splash. Good match here but the crowd didn't really care as expected. Hiromu looked good and everybody pretty much did. Fun stuff. Rating:**3/4

Mika Komori of AKB48 was the special guest. She belongs to AKB48's B-Group, which is the third string of AKB.She's not one of the more noteworthy members and doesn't even have her on wikipedia page, so you know she's not really big news. AKB48 is japan's most popular group at the moment. They are your typical girl band and have their own show. They are mostly known for having 48+ members, sister groups and for having elections each year to determine their leader. The elections are shown on national TV and even appear on the news.

Manabu Nakanishi, MVP, Strong Man and Akebono vs Bob Sapp, Toru Yano, Takashi Izuka and Yujiro Takahashi
Strong Man is the roided out Jon Andersen. Nakanishi was one of NJPW's top guys throughout the early 2000's. Akebono is a former yokozuna, who was the top sumo wrestler in Japan for most of the 1990's. I really recommend checking out his matches with Takanohana or Musashimaru on youtube. Bob Sapp was a huge huge star in Japann in the early 2000's, but is now just an old name in Japan. He did K-1 and PRIDE FC. He was kind of like a Kimbo Slice, only on a much much larger scale. He is also a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion and main evented some NJPW shows. It should also be noted that him and Akebono had a huge K-1 kickboxing match years ago that set the record for the most seen kickboxing match ever. Yano works an old time drunk gimmick, Yujiro works this weird jerk gimmick and Izuka is a brawler veteran.
The finish
Manabu Nakanishi got the win with a torture rack. This was just for fun mostly and to get some names on the card. They did give it a little bit of a storyline with the Sapp/Akebono stuff and the announcer getting a shot in revenge on the heels for roughing him up on the last iPPV. Decent for what it was and nothing overtly complicated. The crowd liked it and it was a fine opener.

NJPW NEVER Openweight Championship - Masato Tanaka vs Shelton Benjamin
Tanaka won the first ever NEVER title match against Karl Anderson to become the champ. I reviewed this and it was alright . Tanaka was a star in ECW and Shelton was a WWE star and until recently a member of the ROH roster.

Masato Tanaka won with a Sliding D(a sliding elbow). Nothing that interesting here, but that's Shelton Benjamin. It was mostly built around spots and Yujiro's interference.

IWGP Tag Team Championship - Killer Elite Squad - Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer vs Sword and Guns - Hirooki Goto and Karl Anderson
Gotta love the Sword and Guns tag team name. Doesn't get much cooler than that.
The finish
Killer Elite Squad won with a double team powerbomb. Good match here with the three gaijin looking pretty good. Everyone got to hit some big moves and the KES stays looking strong. I'm not sure where Sword and Guns go from here but I'm up for a rematch. The only flub was Goto screwing up his Shouten was Archer was just too big. Rating:***

Yuji Nagata vs Minoru Suzuki
They had a band play Suzuki's "Kaze Ni Nare" song beforehand.
Ayumi Nakmura, who sings "Kaze Ni Nare", sang beforehand.

The finish
Yuji Nagata got the win in 17:03 with a backdrop. Good match but not what it should have been. Suzuki is always better in short doses and Nagata's been mostly schtick lately. I've seen them have better matches. What it really should have been is mostly a sprint. They showed have slapped the heck out of each other quickly and hard, Suzuki should have gotten the advtange and went for the kill, then Nagata fires up in killer mode and someone wins from there. Instead we got some crap with Taichi and some rest holds. Suzuki blew up about half way into this as he had nothing left in his slaps. Good stuff but too much schtick. Rating:***

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship - Prince Devitt vs Low-Ki vs Kota Ibushi
The finish
 Prince Devitt got the win with a Bloody Sunday. Pretty good highspot oriented match, but I still feel that this probably could have been better. They mostly went straight to the spots and no one did anything really out to of the ordinary. Loved Low-Ki's gear. The camera's missed some of the shots unfortunately, which hurt things, but it was overall good. NJPW rarely does 3-way matches, if ever, so this was interesting to see. Rating:***1/2

They showed Kazuo Yamazaki, a former great wrestler who could probably show up most of the people on the show, at the announce desk for intermission:

Since this is intermission and since there has been a lot of stuff already, I will call this the end of Part 1. Part 2 is here:

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