1/4 NJPW WrestleKingdom 12 in Tokyo – In-Person Report: Jericho vs. Omega, Okada vs. Naito, Cody vs. Ibushi, Tanahashi vs. White

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JANUARY 4, 2018

(A) 22man New Japan Rumble – Kakihara Masahito wins via pinball on Cheeseburger

New entries every 60 seconds, only about 40% of the crowd had made it in when the match began. The pre ticket sales reached over 30,000 and when I arrived at Tokyo Dome 3 hours before the gates opened the line for tickets was huge… couldn’t find the end of the line so I can’t really judge how many.

Pretty standard rumble, lots of pin falls as opposed to over the top eliminations. Liger was the first “surprise” entrant, and the crowded popped and clapped along.

Cheeseburger came out to a good reaction from the crowd. Kojima got the best reaction so far as he came out, followed by Tenzan who also got everyone clapping… still people trickling into their seats now 1hour after gates opened.

All the seats to the immediate left and right of the screens are taped off and plenty of space to add more arena seating if they wanted to.

Kakihara came out to another good reaction, people slowly started to get into the match but it defiantly has a “pre-show” feel.

Kakihara won with the final pin fall on Cheeseburger. After the match he took the mic and spoke about his battle over illness, and spoke about Takayama and his fight at the moment.

Arena seats and the lower bowl area are now just about full, a few empty areas in the upper bowl areas and scattered empty seats.
20minutes to go and still people are coming into the building.


(1) Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) defeated Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) (c) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship)

Slow starting match but picked up when Rocky (Roppongi 3K Manager) was taken out on the entrance ramp. Young Bucks controlled the early half of the match before Roppongi 3K made a come back mid-match. Lots of comedy spots with the crowd laughing in between the “ooo” and “Ohhh”s of some high flying.

Some high spots toward the end of the match with the Young Bucks coming out the worst of it prior to the finish. The Young Bucks hit the Meltzer driver for the win in about 20minutes to become 7 time champions.

It’s my first time in the Tokyo Dome but I don’t know if it’s the acoustics of the arena or not but it’s pretty quiet. Roppongi 3K were definitely more we’ll supported than the Young Bucks despite the large amount of people wearing Bullet Club shirts.

(2) Chaos (Beretta, Tomohiro Ishii, & Toru Yano) defeated Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa) (c) vs. Michael Elgin & War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Takashi Iizuka, & Zack Sabre, Jr.) vs. Taguchi Japan (Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Togi Makabe) for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship in a Gauntlet Match

Suzuki Gun and the team of Elgin & War Machine started the match. Suzuki Gun used their numbers to gain an advantage and just when it looked like War Machine were starting to take over ZSB took out Ray Rowe for the first elimination, next out was Chaos.

Still largely quiet during the matches, unless everyone shouts or cheers at the same time it seems like the sound is getting lost due to the size of the venue.

Yano took out Taichi quickly with the ref distracted using a low blow into a pin.

Taguchi Japan out next, I must be in a quiet section as no-one around has done more than clap 3-4 times… Juice is getting some nice Juice calls going though.

Makabe getting the crowd going with punches in the corner as Taguchi Japan use numbers to take out Yano.

Taguchi impersonated Nakamura Shinsuke but missed and was rolled up by Yano for the elimination.

Bullet Club out next to make it Chaos vs BC to decide the match. Ishii suplexed Bad Luck Fale for the biggest pop of the night so far as Chaos tried to take control of the match.

Barretta took out Tama Tonga to pick up the victory for Chaos.

Crowd is starting to warm up, due to distance I think chants are taking longer to start up but when big spots happen everyone is right in sync. The area I’m in is largely a pro Chaos area.

(3) Kota Ibushi defeated Cody with Phoenix Splash

Cody is being accompanied to the ring with Brandi Rhodes, wearing what looks like a cape? The match is being billed as the battle of the handsome… Cody getting a good reaction from the crowd with the ladies screaming.

Crowd twice as loud for Ibushi once he hit the ring. Lots of people shouting “Ibushi” around me, the crowd has finally woken up!

Cody managed to give Ibushi the wind up finger, not sure if it made air or not though for a mixed reaction from the crowd. Ibushi looked to have knocked out Brandi at ringside but she was playing possum to switch the tide of the match back to Cody. A couple of people around me got a little upset about it shouting ZURUI “cheater” a few times.

Cody performed a crossroads on the side of the ring which looked like Ibushi took it badly and everyone gasped in shock, Ibushi broke the count out at 19.

Whenever I watch NJPW it makes me realize how short 10 seconds on the outside is considering how much happens outside of the ring in WWE.

Ibushi seems legitimately hurt as the match continues with Cody dominating before Ibushi picked up the win after a Phoenix Slash to a huge pop from the crowd.

(4) Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) defeated Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith, Jr. & Lance Archer (c) for the IWGP Tag Team Championship

LIJ came out to a rather muted reaction again given that almost 60% of the crowd was in LIJ gear… if they win I’m sure the place will get nuts though. KES don’t have many supporters in the crowd and came out to some boos mixed with polite claps.

KES dominated he match, taking out Young Lions and anyone who got near them. Lots of near falls before LIJ turned the tides on KES and hit a magic killer to pick up the win to become champions to a big pop.

One extremely loud LIJ fan near me wen nuts while taking photos with an old disposable camera, his day is probably made. Good match, but how does this bode for Naito later on?

(5) Hirooki Goto defeated Minoru Suzuki (c) for the NEVER Openweight Championship in a Hair vs. Hair Match

Video package played pre-match before Goto came out to the usual loud clapping entrance, Goto came down the stairs on the stage with purpose. Followed by an angry as usual Suzuki with the belt.

Suzuki choked out Goto early on and laid a beating on him, Goto managed to regain consciousness before Suzuki again smacked Goto around and continued to attempt to choke him out.

Goto picked up some steam and took Suzuki to the top rope, Suzuki continued to choke him out before Goto hit a top rope Ushigoroshi. The crowded was on the edge of their seats throughout the match gasping and seriously concerned for Goto’s well being.

Goto picked up the win and Suzuki was escorted away from the ring by Suzuki Gun before he came back by himself to shave his head to a huge pop and a “Minoru” chant from the crowd.

(6) Will Ospreay defeats Hiromu Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA vs. Marty Scurll (c) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship

As per usual Hiromu was made to suffer throughout the whole match, and the crowd ate it up. Marty Scurll had woop woop chants going for his offense and Ospreay had the crowd in awe. Easily the best match so far tonight with some crazy high spots mixed in with some comedy with Hiromu being taped to the barrier.

Just when it seemed Hiromu was going to make a come back and win from behind he fell short as usual and the title was snatched up by Ospreay after Scurll failed in his attempt to cheat his way to victory.
Will Ospreay pins Marty Scurll to win the title for the second time.

(7) Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) defeats “Switchblade” Jay White to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship

Unfortunately I had to head back to Osaka from Tokyo Dome in time for a radio broadcast and had to leave just after the entrances. It’s a 2.5hr train ride back and I watched the rest of the matches on NJPW World with some LIJ fans on the train. My friend who I went with filled me in on crowd reactions.

The crowd popped huge for Tanahashi winning, as always the Ace is popular with the crowd but the result leaves me feeling like Jay White has been built up for nothing. Not sure he can recover from this to be anything after being hyped with promo videos and a dark new gimmick.

(8) Kenny Omega (c) defeats Chris Jericho to retain the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship in No Disqualification Match

Crowd was behind Kenny Omega with pockets of very vocal Jericho fans. Is this the beginning of a true babyface turn for Kenny Omega going forward as the face of NJPW fighting off the foreign enemy in Jericho.

(9 Kazuchika Okada (c) defeats Tetsuya Naito to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship

As was expect biggest pop of the night came when Naito came out, the place was 60-70% LIJ so it was no surprise. My friend said it was so loud near him during Naito’s entrance and the beginning stages of the match he thought he’d lose his hearing.

  • The result deflated most of the crowd although Okada’s 3 points:
  • How was being in the main event being? Question to Naito and bragging about winning.
  • Promising to fill the Tokyo Dome next year as there were still empty seats.
  • Promising to bring a rain if not just money but happiness, enjoyment and satisfaction in 2018
  • Managed to win over the crowd to some extent.

The result in the long run makes things more interesting going forward but how many LIJ casual fans are going to be turned off by seeing their hero losing is yet to be seen.

Biggest pops:
Naito Tetsuya
Kenny Omega/Chris Jericho
Tanahashi Hiroshi

My ticket was ¥9500 which is about $80 or so US, I was right at the front of the first level and could see the ring really well… except for the fact there was a massive light shining right into our faces, on top of that a security guard kept standing right in my line of vision meaning I had to watch the monitor a lot of the time when he was around.

Tokyo Dome was a cool venue to visit for the first time but I think the space sucked a lot of the noise out of the crowd and the sheer distance to the ring kept a lot of people quiet. After seeing Dominion, King of Pro Wrestling and the G1 Finals in Japan and NXT Takeover Brooklyn and Summerslam in New York last year I think as a venue it rates pretty low in my opinion.

The fact I had to miss the two main events due to my train times probably hindered my ability to truly enjoy the event, though.

Check back for more coverage of New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 12. In the mean time, check out this detailed report on the live stream at ProWrestling.net by Will Pruett: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 results.

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