Saturday, January 5, 2013

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom Part 2 Review

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom Part 2 Review

Part 1 is here:

Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima vs Keiji Mutoh and Shinjiro Ohtani
All four of these wrestlers are NJPW trueborns, but now Mutoh is with All Japan Pro Wrestling and Ohtani is with Zero-1. They both left around 2001 when NJPW got really crowded with talent and people from MMA were getting undeserved spots over wrestlers. Daichi Hashimoto, the son of Shinya Hashimoto was supposed to be in Ohtani's place, but he got injured. Tenkoji are a long time NJPW team, Mutoh was one of the biggest Japanese stars in the world in the 1990's and Ohtani was a great junior heavyweight who became a heavyweight and was never the same. This is basically an old NJPW tribute match. All four guys came out to their old music, except Ohtani who came out to Shinya Hashimoto's music.
Mutoh puts on Chono's STF
Tenzan won this one for his team with a moonsault. This wasn't a very interesting one for me. It was a tribute match and it stayed true to that title. A tribute to better times for all of them as wrestlers.

Mutoh poses with Daichi Hashimoto
Katsuyori Shibata vs Togi Makabe
Big singles match for Katsuyori Shibata here. He, along with Nakamura and Tanahashi, were supposed to be the stones that held NJPW together but he left to join his idol Akira Maeda and eventually do some MMA. Some people including myself, thought he was the best wrestler of the bunch, and alot of us looked forward to him headlining dome shows that never ended up happening. Supposedly, he wasn't welcome back with open arms in NJPW and Kidani of NJPW, basically signed him behind NJPW's back. I'm hoping for Shibata to get the big win here and hopefully end up headlining next year's Dome show.
Togi Makabe won with a King Kong Kneedrop. Disappointing result here. The money was obviously with Shibata winning and they really could have done some nice stuff with that, but Makabe winning really doesn't do that much. It's a good win for him, but he's always going to be limited. The match had it's good points and Shibata was really the key to it. Makabe wasn't bad at all and gave a good performance. The match went a little longer than it should have and the finish was pretty much abrupt. Rating:***

Whoever booked the Shibata match has some serious issues though. I know there's a ton of politics with Shibata as Kidani booked him behind NJPW's back and resigned for it, but there is no reason for Shibata losing. He was an instant main eventer and was interesting. He's a good worker, with a good look and very credible. He had the potential of being in some big money storylines and now it is gone. As I mentioned above, I was thinking that Shibata would be headlining next year's Dome and now he's likely not even going to be appearing again. Awful political booking here and this seriously brought the show down for me. NJ's bookers may have changed but this is straight out of the Riki Choshu playbook. What a stupid way to flush money down the drain.

What's even worse about this loss and a certain loss later in the show is that none of it helps advance NJPW's storylines. You easily could have done Shibata vs Tanahashi, Okada, Nakamura, or anyone else on the roster and it is already set. What does Makabe winning accomplish? Nothing. Makabe challenging Tanahashi isn't something we haven't seen before.

IWGP Intercontinental title - Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kazushi Sakuraba
Before we go too into this, let me say a few things. I haven't liked Sakuraba's run so far. He's looked lost out there and has been a candidate for the Worst Wrestler of the Year. However, I can get into Wrestlers vs Different Style fighters, as long as they are decent wrestlers.
Stan Hansen came out for this.

The finish
Shinsuke Nakamura got the win with the Boma-Ye. Pretty good match here and Sakuraba put out a good performance. I loved the explosiveness of it and at the root of it, it was basic pro wrestling. I think it was too short to give it a really great rating, but they put in a good effort and exceeded my expectations. Some really nasty shots here from both guys which really helped it for me. Rating:***1/2

IWGP Heavyweight Title - Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada
Okada has been the man in NJPW in 2012. He took the wrestling world by storm to capture the title, was in my MOTY, won my Most Improved award and got close to taking the Wrestler of the Year award. You couldn't have asked for more from Okada. He gave hope to NJPW and provided a new direction. Tanahashi has been great as well having his best year ever wrestling wise and really being the man he's pushed to be. This is the rubber match with both men getting a win over the other.
BREAKERZ sang before the intro's started.
"Itai(Painful)" - Mika Komori of AKB48
"Takai(high)" - Mika Komori
"Sugoi, honto?(Fantastic, eh?)" -Mika Komori

"Hai, DDT" - Komori
"DDT Kimashita(He did a DDT0" - Announcer

Okada has strange ears
Hiroshi Tanahashi beat Kazuchika Okada with the High Fly Flow. Not as good as their MOTY last year but a good match. The result though really brought it down. If you haven't heard, Okada may be headed to the WWE and this is why this may have happened. Whether he is or isn't, I feel it was the wrong call. The whole year pretty much built up to Okada winning, and then he loses. With an Okada win, any direction is open but with a Tanahashi win, there's not much really to do. Worse, if Okada does stay, they basically ruined him and he may become the next Goto. I get why they did it, but unless he's leaving immediately, I think it was the wrong call. Okada could have won and still dropped the title before he left, which could have made a new person without having Tanahashi lose.

As for the match, I really liked the first half but the second half dipped off for me. Too many High Fly Flow's for me. Okada didn't get much in towards the end and the ending was rather dry. If you listen to the crowd you could totally hear everyone get quiet right before the music hit. That tells me it was the wrong result. The match was still good and a perfectly acceptable Tokyo Dome main event, but it was going to be a struggle to repeat their last match. Rating:***3/4

Overall thoughts: Good show held back by stupid booking decisions. Okada and Shibata losing pretty much killed the show for me. I think they both should have won regardless of the risks involved and I think the show is going to eventually do more harm than good. I asked around after the show about which direction NJPW could go now and no one seemed to have a real answer, which is the first time in a while for NJPW. With Shibata and/or Okada winning there would have been infinite possibilities and almost all of them would have been fresh and interesting. However, we are now getting Tanahashi vs Karl Anderson, which I don't see people lining up to see. The other problem is Sakuraba lost, pretty much ending the Shooters vs NJPW angle that they have built up. I found this show to be a giant step back for NJPW.

If you want alot of decent to good matches, this is your show, but if you want smart booking, this isn't it. I've seen this labeled as the best show ever, but NJPW's King of Pro Wrestling from last year was much better. I'm sure it will be one of the better shows of the year but when compared with AJW Big Egg Wrestling Universe, AJW Dreamslam 1 & 2 and others, it doesn't compare. I'm not even sure if it's my favorite Tokyo Dome show ever.


  1. Great review and a great read. Do disagree slightly with the review of the last two matches - I cannot see how Okada/Tanahashi could be anything less than **** despite the previous booking of Laughter 7. It was an incredible 'big match'. Perhaps I'm more liberal or you're more strict with star ratings, diff'rent strokes and all.

    I'm a huge UWFi fan and was in awe of the Nakamura match, it felt like the old days of their invasion into NJPW, only better. Style isn't for everyone, but I loved it.

  2. I tend to not rate things as highly as a lot of other people. I usually don't give out 4 stars unless it was something that I think I'm going to remember for a while. My 5 stars criteria is even worse as it really has to be close to perfection. I've seen some people drop 5 stars to 20+ matches a year and I think it dilutes the value of that rating.

    I have no problems with anyone who would give the main 4 stars or more. It was a good match with alot of things in it that could be seen on that level. Had Okada won, it probably would have been 4 stars.

    I enjoyed the Sakuraba match as well. I've hated everything Sakuraba has done so far but he was really good here. Wrestlers vs MMA/Boxing/Other style fighters can be really good when done right. Especially wh MMA as their moves are all basic pro wrestling techniques.