NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 Review

There are very few times when I am happy to wake up at 6.30am but when Wrestle Kingdom is the incentive I am more than willing. This card is absolutely stacked so I expect one or two fantastic matches as a very minimum.

New Japan Rumble

It was slightly better than the standard New Japan Rumble as this one had a story. Chase Owens had a good showing before falling to the numbers of Suzuki-gun, and Masahito Kakihara won after beating cancer. Cheeseburger finishes second in back to back years. **1/2

IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Titles - Roppongi 3K vs Young Bucks

This was a good way to kick off the main card. I had a couple of issues with the stream but I caught the most of it. Both teams had one member that was selling a back injury and they worked it well. It even played out in the finish as the Young Bucks won with a sharpshooter. I personally would have had 3K go over here to establish them as a force but the match itself was very good, it told a great story, the pacing was on point, and the finishing stretch was really well executed. ***3/4

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Titles, Gauntlet Match - Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr, Takashi Iizuka & Taichi) vs Michael Elgin & War Machine vs CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & Beretta) vs Togi Makabe, Ryusuke Taguchi & Juice Robinson vs Bullet Club (Guerrillas of Destiny & Bad Luck Fale) 

The order I have listed the teams are the order that they came out. This was pretty much what you would expect from this type of match. It started off as a back and forth match until Sabre Jr got the submission. Then came the Yano show. He hit the low blow roll up on Taichi to eliminate them. Fuck Taichi. He also got the elimination on Taguchi with another roll up. The last team in were Bullet Club and we got a solid bit of back and forth before Beretta picked up the win with the Dudebuster on Tama Tonga. It was a solid affair with Beretta picking up his first title in the heavyweight division. ***

Cody vs Kota Ibushi

Cody comes to the ring in a fetching cape/hood combination. Very dashing. I went into this hoping that it would be better than the usual Cody affair and I was not disappointed. Ibushi brought out the very best in Cody, in all fairness he brings out the best in everybody though. Cody was better here than at any point since the Okada match from the US shows. Cody did some nice heel work and at one point he hit a Cross Rhodes off the apron to the floor, and it looked like he had straight up killed him. It was a spectacular spot. In the end Ibushi was able to fight back and hit a straight jacket German followed by a big knee and a Phoenix Splash for the win. Excellent match. ****1/4

IWGP Tag Titles - Killer Elite Squad vs SANADA & EVIL

KES hit their finisher on EVIL immediately and almost picked up the instant win, and that set the tone for the first half of the match. It took the LIJ pairing roughly 8 minutes to get into the match but when they did the quality of the match picked up considerably with the closing stretch being excellently executed. This had a classic heels vs face dynamic and it benefited from it. Good match. ***1/2

NEVER Openweight Title, Hair vs Hair Match - Minoru Suzuki vs Hirooki Goto

Suzuki promised that there would be no outside interference here, and while that wasn't quite true it was minimal. The match was much better because of this. It also benefited from being a different beast entirely to anything else on the card. I think people's mileage on this will vary greatly but I love a match that involves two double hard bastards kicking the shit out of each other. It starts off with Suzuki in control and there is a moment where he calls Goto a bitch before slapping the moustache off his face. There are some great strike exchanges in this. Suzuki also hits one of the stiffest dropkicks in recent memory, it's right on the button. Goto fights back and hits a second rope ushigoroshi that looks brutal, before hitting a pair of GTRs to pick up the win. Suzuki-gun tried to get Suzuki out of there but Suzuki refused and took his punishment. I thought this was excellent. ****

IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title - Marty Scurll vs Will Ospreay vs KUSHIDA vs Hiromu Takahashi

Scurll comes out with an awesome winged suit. Quality stuff from the Villain. New Japan isn't renowned for it's multi person matches but rest assured that they nailed this one. This was a proper spectacle that didn't really let up for any part of it's duration. Every single person gets their shit in and nobody comes out of this looking bad. Ospreay flies around like the laws of physics don't apply to him. There are crazy spots aplenty too. Ospreay does a moonsault off some stage set. Takahashi does his sunset flip powerbomb to the floor spot, which is still craziness, and KUSHIDA responds with one of his own. The closing stretch is a whirlwind of flying bodies, near falls and finishers and it is quite something to behold. Ospreay picked up the win after he hit the Oscutter. This match exceeded my already pretty lofty expectations. ****1/2

IWGP IC Title - Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Jay White

I was hoping this would be the night where Jay White had his breakout match in New Japan and took the title. This would have created a new star and let Tanahashi have some time to heal his ever growing list of injuries. This didn't happen, though, and Tanahashi retained in a match that felt way more run of the mill than it should have. It definitely wasn't a bad match but it was nowhere near the standard that Tanahashi has set in years past. This wasn't the big break that for White that it should have been. ***

IWGP US Title, No DQ - Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho

Honestly, I went into this match with some trepidation as the build up had been so well executed that I was concerned they may not live up to it. I needn't have worried. They wasted no time going at each other and were soon on the outside, where Omega attempted a springboard only to send himself through the announcer's table, completely flattening Don Callis in the process. Jericho loses it and attacks Red Shoes and his son. Crazy Jericho. Omega lays a table on the prone Jericho and hits a double stomp from the scaffolding. Jericho tries to powerbomb Omega through a table but he fights it off so Jericho powerbombs him on the floor. He then takes a camera from one of the ringside photographers and takes some pictures of himself flipping off the crowd. It should be noted that Jericho worked heel and got some real heat. It was great. Jericho hits a picture perfect lionsault and looks pleased as punch with himself for it. Jericho then proceeds to beat the hell out of Omega with a chair that is set up in the corner to the point that Omega is busted open. Omega fights back and goes for the One Winged Angel but Jericho doesn't want any part of that shit and chucks a chair in his face. Jericho then beats Omega with the chair until it breaks, then hits him with the frame. Jericho goes up top but Omega cuts him off and hits a knee that sends Jericho through the table that had been set up earlier. Omega starts kneeing Jericho's face in and hits a tiger driver for 2. Omega goes for the One Winged Angel but Jericho counters it into the Walls of Jericho. Jericho then changes it to a full on Liontamer. Nice touch. Omega fights back and hits a pair of V Triggers and the One Winged Angel, but Jericho grabs the rope to break up the pin. Omega misses a moonsault and Jericho hits a Codebreaker but Omega kicks out. In the end Omega hits a One Winged Angel onto a chair and that is all she wrote for Jericho. I have to say that this match was leaps and bounds above what I thought they would be able to produce and it turned out to be an absolute classic. This version of Jericho hasn't been seen in a long time and he looked the best he has since his feud with Shawn Michaels. Watch this match. *****

IWGP Title - Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito

Well this show has been incredible up to this point and there is still this to go. Could it hold up to the standards of the rest of the show? Well, yeah it could. The match started quite slowly but it didn't last too long as they ended up on the outside and Naito hit a neckbreaker over the barricade and another on the apron. Naito continued to work the neck but Okada fought back and went after the neck of Naito, hitting the draping DDT off the barricade. The attacks to the neck continued as Naito hits a second rope poison rana. Naito misses a stardust press and the neck work continues. Okada hits the Rainmaker but Naito kicks out! Naito is selling the effects of all the beatings his neck has taken, and he is selling it well. Naito counters a tombstone but Okada applies the cobra clutch, only for that to be reversed into a Destino, and both men are down. They trade strikes and Naito spits at Okada and slaps him into next week. Okada tries to hit a neckbreaker but Naito reverses it into some kind of whirly bird destroyer that looked crazy. Okada counters a Destino into a Rainmaker and holds on to the wrist and goes for another but Naito reverses that into another Destino, only for Okada to kick out at the last second. Naito hits a series of uppercuts but Okada manages to hit his picture perfect dropkick. Okada hits a tombstone and goes for a Rainmaker but it is reversed into a Destino. Naito tries to follow it up with another Destino but that gets reversed into a jumping tombstone and follows that up with a Rainmaker! Okada retains the title! That match was fantastic and the finishing sequence was a fucking masterpiece. While I'm a bit surprised that they had Okada retain, that doesn't take anything away from what was another 5 star match in this once in a lifetime title reign. *****

Overall Grade - A+

An incredible show from top to bottom. None of the matches even approach being bad and the majority of them range from very good to MOTY contenders. What makes this show even better is that it doesn't have any matches that are similar to each other, every single match is its own individual entity. It really is a show that should be witnessed by all wrestling fans. There is a very good chance that this ends the year as it's best show.