RADICAN’S NJPW “WRESTLE KINGDOM 13” REPORT
JAN. 4, 2019
THE TOKYO DOME
AIRED LIVE ON NJPWWORLD.COM & FITE.TV
Commentators: Kevin Kelly, Don Callis, Chris Charlton
(A) NEVER OPENWEIGHT SIX MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP #1 CONTENDER GAUNTLET MATCH: RYUSUKE TAGUCHI & TOGI MAKABE & TORU YANO vs. DAVID FINLAY & JEFF COBB & YUJI NAGATA vs. CHAOS (CHUCKIE T & BERRETA & HIROOKI GOTO) vs. SUZUKI-GUN (DAVEY BOY SMITH JR. & LANCE ARCHER & MINORU SUZUKI)vs. MARTY SCURLL & HANGMAN PAGE & YUJIRO TAKAHASHI
(a) Marty Scurll & Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi vs. ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb & David Finlay & Yuji Nagata.
The announcers mentioned this is Nagata’s 25th appearance in a row at The Tokyo Dome. Scurll hit his superkick off the apron and Page followed up with his running SSP to the floor to wipe out Cobb. He hit the Buckshot Lariat on Cobb, but he kicked out at two. Cobb fired back and hit an overhead throw on Cobb. The action broke down. Owens tripped Finlay from the floor. Page charged at Finlay as Owens held him, but ran into Owens. Finlay then rolled up Takahashi for the win. Kelly Owens a jerk on commentary.
(b) ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb & David Finlay & Yuji Nagata vs. CHAOS (Chuckie T & Berreta & Yuji Nagata.
Nagata and Goto exchanged blows and Goto wiped him out with a clothesline. Nagata went for the armbar, but Best Friends broke it up. Taylor hit a dive on Cobb and Finlay to the floor. He then held them up and Beretta wiped them out with an Asai Moonsault. Goto hit the Ushigoroshi on Nagata for a two count. Best Friends took out Nagata and hugged before hitting him with a double elbow drop. Nagata went for the White Eyes Armbar on Trent, but it got broken up and the fans booed. Goto and Cobb tagged in and went at it. Cobb caught Goto and hit a big suplex and a standing moonsault, but Chuckie T broke the pin up. Goto got the better of an exchange wiping out Cobb with a big lariat. Cobb cut off Best Friends and nailed them with a double German. The action broke down and Nagata broke up a sure pin on Finlay after Taylor had hit him with a piledriver. Taylor missed a moonsault and Finlay rolled him up for the win. That’s Finlay’s second rollup win.
(c) Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) vs. ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb & David Finlay & Yuji Nagata. Both teams brawled to the floor right away. Nagata and Suzuki ended up going at it inside the ring. Both men began exchanging slaps. Suzuki blocked an exploder and got an Octopus Hold, but Nagata tossed him off and hit an exploder for a two count. Smith caught Cobb with a Saito suplex with a bridge for a near fall. Nagata and Suzuki brawled on the floor. KES hit the Killer Bomb on Finlay to eliminate him.
(d) Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi & Toru Yano & Togi Makabe. Suzuki-Gun jumped their opponents as they made their entrance in the side entrance. Suzuki went after the English announce team and Callis went running.They built up to an exchange between Suzuki and Makabe. Suzuki decked Makabe with a big forearm and smiled. Makabe got up and ate another big forearm. Makabe smiled and got up and took another big forearm. They began exchanging forearms. Makabe finally decked Suzuki with a rebound lariat and both men were down. K.E.S. hit the Hart Attack on Yano, but he kicked out. They then hit a Total Elimination variation on Yano, but he kicked out again. Taguchi ran in and made the save for Yano. The action broke down with Suzuki and Makabe going at it. Suzuki got he sleeper on Makabe and went for the Gotch. Taguchi went for a hip attack, but Suzuki countered it into the choke. Taguchi escaped and hit the flying hip attack. K.E.S. went for the Killer Bomb, but Yano countered it. The action broke down and Yano hit a double low blow on K.E.S. and then rolled up Smith for the pin.
WINNERS: Toru Yano & Togi Makabe & Ryusuke Taguchi in 28:00 to become the new NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship Contenders
(Radican’s Analysis: This was rollup city outside of K.E.S winning a fall with the Killer bomb. Nothing memorable here. The action was fine.)
(1) NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPION KOTA IBUSHI vs. WILL OSPREAY
Will Ospreay made his entrance first. NEVER Openweight Champion Kota Ibushi then came out with pyro and he popped up from the stage Rey Mysterio style.
They went at it hot and heavy during the early going. Ospreay flipped Ibushi to the floor with his legs and then teased a dive, but ended up springing off the ropes. Ibushi ran into the ring and went for the Kamigoye, but Ospreay blocked it. Ospreay went for the Os-cutter, but Ibushi blocked it. Ibushi set up for The Golden Triangle, but Ospreay popped up on the apron and nailed him with a kick mid-flight. WOW! Ospreay got a running start and hit the Space Flying Tiger Driver to the floor. That was nuts! The announcers talked about how Ospreay grew up idolizing Ibushi. Ospreay had the upper hand, but he woke Ibushi by taunting him and hitting some light forearms. Ibushi fired back and hit a springboard corkscrew twisting moonsault to the floor to wipe out Ospreay at the five minute mark. They went back and forth in the corner and Ibushi rolled Ospreay up before turning it into a high angle German with a bridge for a two count.
Ospreay fired back with a springboard rolling kick, but Ibushi fired back. He went to springboard off the ropes, but Ospreay hit Cheeky Nandos for a two count. Both men began exchanging forearms in the middle of the ring. They yelled at each other and continued to exchange blows. Ospreay fired back with a kick, but Ibushi decked him with a big kick to the chest. They exchange some crazy counters. Ospreay went for a one man Spanish Fly. Then they tried to trade powerbomb attempts. Finally Ospreay hit the one man Spanish Fly and both men were down. What an exchange! Ospreay got up and nailed Ibushi against the ropes with a big kick to the head. He went for the Stormbreaker, but Ibushi turned it into a dragoncanrana for a near fall! They went back and forth. Ospreay hit a German, but Ibushi shook it off and Ospreay turned around right into a running knee aka the Boma Ye of Nakamura. Ibushi followed up with The Last Ride, but Ospreay kicked out. Ibushi went up top, but Ospreay clotheslined his leg out from under him and Ibushi ended up hung upside down. Ospreay sat down and stared at Ibushi. He slapped Ibushi and Ibushi slapped him back while hanging upside down. Ospreay then nailed him with several kicks to the head. That was stiff! Ospreay lifted up Ibushi and shoved him into the seated position up top. Ibushi was bleeding from his mouth, but he managed to fight out of the Razor’s Edge position. Ibushi then hit a double stop and Ospreay ended up upside down before spilling to the apron. Ibushi was really bleeding heavily from his nose after hitting the post. Ibushi set up for his German over the ropes back into the ring. He hit it, but Ospreay landed on his feet.
That was crazy. Ibush turned around with a look of shock only to take the Robinson Special. Ibushi blocked the Os-cutter and hit a Straight Jacket German with a bridge for a two count. Ibushi held onto his wrists for the Kamigoye, but Ospreay stepped out of the way. Ibushi went for his rapid fire strikes, but Ospreay decked him with a HUGE clothesline out of nowhere. Ibushi slipped out of the Stormbreaker twice and folded Ospreay up into the package tombstone for a near fall. WOW! Ospreay ducked the Kamigoye and hit a crescent kick. Ospreay then hit a running elbow to Ibushi’s head that appeared to knock Ibushi out. The ref really checked Ibushi out to make sure he was alright. Ospreay then hit the Stormbreaker for the win.
WINNER: Will Ospreay in 18 minutes to become the new NEVER Openweight Champion. (***¾)
After the match, Ibushi was put on a stretcher and taken out of the ring with his neck stabilized.
(Radican’s Analysis: This was intense and at times it felt like they went too far with the high risk maneuvers and physicality. The counter exchanges were insane at one point with Ibushi going for The Last Ride and Ospreay going for the Stormbreaker. Ibushi managed to avoid the Stormbreaker most of the match.
The beginning sequence set the pace and they went all out from there. The spot where Ospreay countered Ibushi’s German over the ropes into the ring by landing on his feet calling back to their tag match a couple weeks back at Road To Tokyo Dome was tremendous. The finish took the match down a notch for me, as I was worried about Ibushi being concussed. I wish NJPW would have just stopped the match or have had Ospreay just make the cover instead of hitting the Stormbreaker.)
(2) IWGP JR. HVT. TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS SUZUKI GUN (YOSHINOBU KANEMARU & EL DESPERADO) vs. L.I.J. (EVIL & SANADA) vs. ROPPONGI 3K (SHO & YOH w/ROCKY ROMERO)
Suzuki-Gun jumped L.I.J. and tossed them to the floor. SHO and YOH then went at it with Suzuki-Gun and cleared the ring. YOH AND SHO wiped out L.I.J. with a double dive. Suzuki-Gun took control and began working over YOH. SHO got the hot tag finally and ran wild. Shingo tagged himself in on Kanemaru and the fans fired up. He went at it with SHO and the fans fired up as they exchanged blows. Shingo hit a big double chop. They went back and forth and Shingo finally hit a big clothesline on SHO. SHO ended up hitting a double German on Kanemaru and Shingo. That was impressive. The action broke down and Desperado hit a spinebuster on SHO. Roppongi 3K caught Desperado with stereo jumping knees. Shingo took a combination of moves from SHO and YOH. They were ready to hit 3K, but it got broken up. The ring cleared and Shingo hit a double pumping bomber on SHO. He hit a Noshigami on SHO. He hit another pumping bomber on SHO. He then hit a third pumping bomber on SHO, but he kicked out. BUSHI hit a big dive to wipe out YOH. Shingo then hit Last of the Dragon on SHO for the win.
Winners: Shingo Takagi & BUSHI to become the new IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Champions. (**½)
(Radican’s Analysis: The action was solid and there were some fun exchanges between SHO and Shingo, but they had very little time to make this match stand out, but it was fine for the time they were given)
Kevin Kelly announced that more tickets would be added to NJPW’s show in Los Angeles at The Globe Theater on Jan. 30. He also announced a third show on the U.S. tour on Feb. 2 in Nashville.
Zack Sabre Jr. came out first to challenge for the Undisputed British Hvt. Championship against Tomohiro Ishii. Taka Michinoku did his signature introduction for Sabre. He then told Ishii to come over here. Ishii’s music played and he came down to the ring. Kelly said a new British Undisputed Hvt. Championship title would be presented to the winner of this match. Sabre got right in Ishii’s face and shoved him when he got into the ring before backing up. RPW referee Chris Roberts will be officiating this match. Both men looked like they were ready to go at it.
(3) BRITISH UNDISPUTED HVT. CHAMPION TOMOHIRO ISHII vs. ZACK SABRE JR. (w/TAKA MICHINOKU)
Sabre charged right at Ishii, but he got out of the way. Sabre eventually took control and went after Ishii’s arm. Sabre continued to work arm submissions on the mat and he began taunting Ishii. Ishii fired back and grabbed an ankle lock and Sabre screamed in pain, but managed to escape with an enzuguri. Ishii fired right back with a big running shoulder tackle. Ishii hit a superplex off the top, but Sabre got right up and held onto Ishii’s arm and twisted his arm with his legs. WOW! Sabre absorbed the punishment just to set up the move. They went back and forth off the ropes trading counters until Sabre got the Octopus Hold. Ishii tried to escape, but Sabre held on and hit a code red style powerbomb out of the Octopus Hold for a two count. WOW! Sabre got up and nailed Ishii with a big PK. Sabre went for the Zack Driver, but Ishii fought him off. Sabre kicked Ishii over and over in the chest, but Ishii just glared at him and obliterated Sabre with a chop. Ishii then hit the stacked powerbomb for a near fall.
Sabre kicked Ishii’s leg when he was going for a lariat. They went back and forth. Ishii headbutted a lariat and then hit another headbutt to Sabre’s chest a short time later. Ishii then hit a big lariat on Sabre with his injured arm, but only got a two count. Ishii set up for the Vertical Drop Brainbuster at the 10 minute mark, but Sabre got out of it and kicked his arm. Sabre got a choke, but Ishii flipped through. He went for the sliding lariat, but Sabre countered it and got the European Clutch for a near fall! SAbre duked a kick from Ishii. They went back and forth and Ishii hit the sliding lariat. Ishii went for the Vertical Drop Brainbuster, but Sabre hit a knee strike to Ishii’s head. They went back and forth and Sabre got the Octopus hold. Sabre then got a nasty double arm submission on Ishii and he went to the mat. He kicked at Ishii’s head and then wrenched back on the hold for the win. That was impressive.
Andy Quildan, the RPW president, presented Sabre with the new belt after the match. This is Sabre’s third reign with the title.
Winner: Zack Sabre Jr. in 11 minutes to become the new RPW Undisputed British Hvt. Champion. (***¾)
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a statement win for Sabre on NJPW’s biggest stage. He took the fight to Ishii right from the start and worked over Ishii’s arm. Ishii countered Sabre’s attacks and they had some great back and forth exchanged, but ultimately Sabre began working his arm over from the start and never really let up.
Ishii went for the Vertical Drop Brainbuster several times down the stretch late, but he couldn’t land it and Sabre ended up submitting with a nasty double arm submission that he transitioned into from the Octopus Hold. Sabre won in decisive fashion and beating someone like Ishii, who is just so tough and rarely submits, is a feather in Sabre’s cap to kick off 2019.)
(4) IWGP HVT. TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS G.O.D. (TAMA TONGA & TANGA LOA w/JADO & BAD LUCK FALE) vs. THE YOUNG BUCKS (MATT & NICK JACKSON) vs. L.I.J. (EVIL & SANADA)
The announcers discussed how this could be the end of Tiger Hattori’s run in NJPW. The Young Bucks came out first. Out next were World Tag League Winners L.I.J. Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa were out next wearing red and blue helmets and matching attire. They were flanked by Jado and Bad Luck Fale. G.O.D came out to a new rock heavy mix of their music. Nick and Tonga kicked the match off. Tonga offered Nick a handshake as he came off the ropes and NIck took a bump. Tonga has said he’s turning over the leaf and now he’s a good buy. Tonga tried to shake hands with his opponents, but nobody would do it. EVIL then shook his hand and pulled Tonga over the ropes creating a legal tag. Matt got slammed on the entrance ramp by EVIL. EVIL then got a running start and ran all the way down the ramp and wiped out Matt, who continued to sell his back. I think this might mark a full calendar year of Matt selling his back, but I’ll have to check on that. Loa and EVIL ended up going at it in the ring. EVIL had braids with blonde highlights. G.O.D. got the upper hand and isolated EVIL. They went for stereo leaps, but The YB cut off Tonga after Loa connected on EVIl. The action broke down and The YB ran wild. Matt dropkicked SANADA through the ropes and The YB hit a combination move on EVIL and the fans applauded.
Matt got a SharpShooter on EVIL. Nick tossed SANADA to the floor and nailed him with a step up senton to the floor. Loa was going to break up the submission, but Tonga stopped him because they don’t want to break the rules anymore. Loa pushed the ropes towards EVIL so he could break the submission, but Tonga didn’t like it. EVIL fired back after a misdirection off the rope and wiped out Matt with a clothesline. SANADA got the tag and ran wild. He fended off THe YB and put Nick in the paradise lock. Matt tried to attack SANADA from behind, but he tripped him right into Nick. SANADA hit slingshots to the floor on Loa, Tonga, Nick, and then both Young Bucks after fending off Matt’s attack and the fans fired up and chanted his name. WOW! The action continued at a rapid pace as all three teams went back and forth. Matt landed on his feet after taking a German from Loa and he nailed him with a spear. They did a Tower Doom Spot in the corner minus Nick, who waited for everyone to hit the canvas and then he hit a 450 on SANADA. Everyone was down after that spot. Jado got into the ring with a kendo stick and Fale tried to stop him. The Young Bucks hit a double superkick on Jado and then EVIL clotheslined Fale to the floor. The Young Bucks ran wild and hit a double superkick on SANADA when he came off the top. Matt ended up taking the Magic Killer late from L.I.J. SANADA then hit a moonsault on Matt for the pin.
WINNERS: EVIL & SANDA to become the new IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champions in 10:00. (***3/4)
(Radican’s Analysis: This match was a ton of fun and full of back and forth action. I got a kick out of Tonga trying to get Bullet Club to be good guys in 2019. The only thing holding this match back was that it only went 10 minutes even though it was a blast to watch while it lasted.)
Juice Robinson came out first to face IWGP U.S. Champion Cody Rhodes. Cody Rhodes was out next with Brandi Rhodes and Kevin Kelly talked about their roles in AEW. Cody kissed the mat once he got into the ring.
(5) IWGP U.S. CHAMPION CODY RHODES (w/BRANDI RHODES) vs. JUICE ROBINSON
Cody tried to hit Robinson with the belt before the bell rang. Cody faked a knee injury and hit the Goldust punch during the early going. Brandi got up on the apron a short time later, but Robinson fought off Cody. Juice got Cody up a short time later and hit the Juice Box. He went up top, but Brandi got on top of him. Robinson got off the turnbuckles and Brandi got in his face and taunted Robinson. Brandi finally left the ring. Cody caught Robinson going through the ropes with a kick and went for Cross-Rhodes, but Juice countered it. He went for Pulp Friction on the apron, but Cody shoved him into the ringpost. Cody went after Robinson’s shoulder and did some jumping jacks. Kelly pointed out that Cody was wearing Jaguars colors. Cody distracted the ref and Brandi hit Juice with the Bionic Spear. She then began punching him and the ref kicked her out of the match.
Robinson went for Pulp Friction, but Cody turned it into Cross-Rhodes for a near fall. They went back and forth. Robinson went for Pulp Friction, but Cody shook him off. Cody went for Cross-Rhodes, but Robinson countered and hit one of his own for a near fall. Cody countered Robinson’s big punch and hit the Disaster Kick. He then hit Pulp Friction. Callis said Cody didn’t get all of it after Robinson kicked out at the last second. The replay showed Cody hit it flush. Cody hit Juice with his weight belt. He taunted Robinson and slapped him across the neck. He told him to get up. Robinson and Rhodes began trading big Dusty Rhodes style punches. Robinson finally got on track and the fans fired up. Robinson went for the big left hand, but Cody countered it. Cody went for the Disaster Kick, but Robinson caught him with the left hand. He then hit another big left hand. Robinson hit Pulp Friction, but wouldn’t make the cover. He picked Cody up and hit a second Pulp Friction and it was good for the win.
Tiger Hattori took a bow to the fans after Juice left the ring, so this might be the end of the road for him as a referee.
WINNER: Juice Robinson in 9:00 to become the new IWGP U.S. Hvt. Champion. (**)
(Radican’s Analysis: This wasn’t very good. They did a lot of smoke and mirrors spots and Robinson got a decisive win in the end, but it was a really flat match.Robinson showed more of an edge in defeating Cody and hopefully he goes forward with a more serious push in 2019, as the U.S. Title has meant very little since Kenny Omega dropped it.)
Taiji Ishimori was out next to face KUSHIDA for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship. A little boy dressed like KUSHIDA came out next. Doc Brown then came out and dragged him into his lab. Smoke came up around little KUSHIDA and when it cleared, the real KUSHIDA appeared fully formed. Ryusuke Taguchi played the role of Doc Brown.
(6) IWGP JR. HVT. CHAMPION KUSHIDA vs. TAIJI ISHIMORI
The announcers talked about how Ishimori had KUSHIDA’s number. KUSHIDA said he would second Tanahashi in the main event if he won this match. Ishimori dropped down as they went off the ropes and KUSHIDA nailed him with a kick to the arm. KUSHIDA hit his hip toss/cartwheel combo a short time later and the fans applauded. He hit another running dropkick to Ishimori arm. He went for the Hoverboard Lock, but Ishimori countered it and grabbed the LeBell Lock. KUSHIDA tried to escape, but couldn’t. KUSHIDA finally managed to escape and Ishimori went back to work on him. They talked about Ishimori being left out of the tournament for the Jr. Hvt. Title and now he’s the #1 contender. Ishimori set KUSHIDA up in the ropes and hit a sliding German through the ropes and the fans fired up. He went for a 450, but KUSHIDA countered it into an arm bar. KUSHIDA transitioned into a triangle and hit several elbows. Ishimori got up and tried to get KUSHIDA onto his shoulders, but KUSHIDA countered it to a key lock. They went back and forth trading counters. KUSHDIA went for a springboard elbow, but Ishimori caught him. He then tried to hit a hurricanrana, but Ishimori held on. He went for a lung blower, but KUSHIDA countered it, threw his legs onto the ref’s shoulders and then hit another running kick on Ishimori arm.
KUSHIDA hit a kick to the back of Ishimori’s head, but Ishimori countered him and this time he connected with a lung blower for a two count. Ishimori went for another elevated lung blower, but KUSHIDA countered it and went for the Hoverboard Lock. He couldn’t fully apply it, but then Ishimori rolled and KUSHIDA got it in the middle of the ring. Ishimori struggled again and rolled through with KUSHIDA and got him onto his shoulders and hit a big DVD that almost looked like a modified Jackhammer and both men were down. Both men tried to regroup at the 10 minute mark. Ishimori got up and hit a running Meteora in the corner on a seated KUSHIDA. KUSHIDA countered Ishimori and went for Back to the Future and connected. He went for another one and Ishimori countered. KUSHIDA hit the baseball punch, but Ishimori shrugged it off and surprised KUSHIDA with a running double stomp as he came off the ropes. He then finished KUSHIDA off with the Bloody Cross for the win.
WINNER: Taiji Ishimori in 11:00 to become the new IWGP Jr. Hvt. Champion. (***½)
(Radican’s Analysis: There was some very good action in this match, but it seemed very much like the passing of the torch here with Ishimori shaking off KUSHIDA’s baseball punch and finishing him off a short time later. This result will add more fuel to the fire on reports that KUSHIDA is WWE bound)
(7) KAZUCHIKA OKADA vs. JAY WHITE (w/GEDO)
They had a fast exchange early and Okada caught White with his signature sliding dropkick. Gedo interfered and tripped Okada to give White the upper hand. White hit a Saito suplex that sent Okada over the top to the floor. White slammed Okada into the guardrail and then into the apron several times. White hit another Saito suplex. WHite worked a neck crank on Okada inside the ring. Okada fired up and hit some big forearms. White fired back with a slap to Okada’s face. Okada glared at White and charged at him in the corner. White hit another slap and put Okada in the seated position, but Okada nailed White with a slap of his own. Okada then caught White with an elbow off the ropes before playing to the fans. Okada hit a DDT, but White kicked out at two. Okada hit his signature corner dropkick a short time later and White went flying to the floor. Gedo tried to attack Okada from behind, but he was ready for it. He whipped Gedo over the guardrail. Okada then got a running start and wiped out Gedo and White with a big splash over the guardrail. That was impressive. Okada went up top and dropped his signature elbow. He then hit the Rainmaker pose, but White blocked his Rainmaker attempt and hit a STO and a big German. White followed up with a big uranagi, but Okada kicked out at two.
White went for the Blade Runner, but Okada punched out of it. White then nailed Okada with a big clothesline. White distracted the ref and Gedo got a chair and put it on the apron. Gedo then got up on the opposite apron and the ref tried to move him away. Okada ducked a chairshot and shoved White into a Okada. Okada then hit the Too Awesome Dropkick and the fans fired up. Okada went for The Rainmaker, but White ducked and hit the choke variation suplex. White followed up with his old finish The Kiwi Crusher for a near fall. He held onto Okada’s wrist and went for the Blade Runner, but Okada slipped out and hit a tombstone. The announcers noted the entire crowd was behind Okada. White hit a combination of blows and Okada went for a dropkick, but White held onto the ropes. White went for The Blade Runner, but Okada turned it into a backslide. White got up, but Okada nailed him with a dropkick! Both men countered each others finishers. Okada finally hit a spinning Rainmaker on White. WOW! Okada went for another Rainmaker, but White turned it into the Blade Runner for the winner. That’s a shocking result there.
Winner: Jay White in 14:00 (****)
After the match, the announcers said Okada can’t beat Jay White. Then they said nobody can beat White.
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a really good match. It’s amazing how far White has come after debuting his character in NJPW a little over a year ago. White has really taken to his character and developed his persona in recent months. He got the best of Okada in tag matches leading up to to this match and he beat Okada and Tanahashi during G1.
This win was a signature win for White. He had some help from Gedo during the match, but in the end he won on his own, which makes this victory even more impressive. I didn’t think Okada was going to lose on this stage in The Tokyo Dome and at Wrestle Kingdom. Okada came back with his old Rainmaker gear and it seemed like the Okada everyone knows was fully back after going through a period of disenchantment after his title to Kenny Omega at Dominion back in July.
For White to beat Okada on this night in front of this crowd, which was fully behind Okada is amazing. The back and forth counter sequences they did down the stretch around White’s Blade and Okada’s Rainmaker was great. What made the result shocking is that Okada had just hit a spinning Rainmaker and was going for his traditional Rainmaker, but White countered it and hit The Blade Runner and pinned Okada right in the middle of the ring.
For Okada not to kick out and for the match not to continue was the right call. Sure, these two could have had an even better match and gone over 20 minutes, but the way White won the match in decisive fashion means that everyone is going to be looking for answers when it comes to how to beat White in 2019. This match will be a thrilling moment to look back on in a few years when White is on top of NJPW.)
Tetsuya Naito came out first wearing his usual entrance gear, but with a wolf mask. Chris Jericho was out next with his Clockwork Orange style gear on. He wore a black jacket with spikes. Kevin Kelly noted Naito had his entrance gear off after Jericho attacked him while he took it off back at Dominion. Naito jumped Jericho while he was getting up on the apron and they brawled on the floor.
(8) IWGP IC CHAMPION CHRIS JERICHO vs. TETSUYA NAITO – No DQ match
The bell rang with both men brawling on the floor. They brawled up the ramp and Naito hit a piledriver. Naito took a turnbuckle pad off and hit Jericho with it. Naito hit a running rana and hit his pose and the fans applauded. Naito clotheslined Jericho to the floor. He teased a dive and stopped short like he was going to hit a pose, but then he ran towards the ropes only for Jericho to nail him with a kendo stick. Jericho went up the turnbuckles and hit Naito’s pose before hitting him with the kendo stick again. Jericho put the stick between Naito’s legs and stomped down on it. Jericho sent Naito to the floor with his inside out springboard dropkick to the apron. Jericho grabbed a camera and filmed himself flipping off Naito. They brawled into the announcing area and Jericho spiked Naito onto one of the tables. WOW! Naito bumped right onto his head, which looked crazy. Jericho rang the bell and tried to get Red Shoes to raise his hand, but he wouldn’t do it.
Jericho went up top and his a crossbody for a two count. He hit the Lionsault a short time later for a two count. Naito fired back with some slaps and hit his signature flying forearm and the fans gasped with both men down on the mat. The announcers talked about how Naito’s quest to rise to the top had been derailed by Jericho. They referred to his loss to Okada at WK last year. Naito set Jericho up in the ropes and hit a neck breaker over his knee. He then hit a twisting neck breaker on Jericho for a two count. Jericho blocked Naito signature dropkick in the corner and locked in the Walls of Jericho. Naito struggled and the fans fired up behind him. Naito finally used his legs to toss Jericho off. Jericho went for a Code Breaker, but Naito tossed him off and hit a swinging DDT. Naito followed up with a sloppy looking Gloria. He went for Destino, but Jericho countered it and got the Walls of Jericho. The fans tried to rally behind Naito again. He crawled to the ropes, but Jericho dragged him back to the middle of the ring. The announcer said the 15 minute mark had passed. Naito managed to get to the kendo stick and he hit Jericho with it until he let go of him.
Naito smiled and grabbed the kendo stick. He whipped Jericho off the ropes and nailed him with a baseball swing of the kendo stick to the gut. Naito pretended to be a batter and swung for the fences, but Jericho ducked and hit a Code Breaker for a near fall! Jericho grabbed the kendo stick and put it down. He then went under the ring and began tossing chairs into the ring. Jericho stood behind Naito with a chair and nailed him with it. He then cracked the chair over Naito’s back. Jericho tried to slam Naito into a pile of chairs, but he countered it with a DDT into the pile of chairs. Naito then hit a code breaker for a near fall. Naito went up top with a kendo stick, but Jerico tossed a chair at him. Jericho lifted Naito out of the corner, but Naito slipped behind him and hit a German on a chair. Naito then went for Destino, but Jericho shoved the ref and hit a low blow. He then made the cover, but Naito kicked out! WOW! Jericho dropped a chair and went to the floor and grabbed the IC belt. He yelled at Naito and told him to get up. Naito caught Jericho charging at him and dropped him onto the exposed turnbuckle. Naito then hit Destino, but Jericho kicked out at two. That was a good near fall.
Naito made his eye pose at the belt. HE then set up in the corner with the title behind Jericho. He nailed Jericho in the head with the title. Naito then hit Destino on Jericho for the win as Callis sold dismay on commentary.
WINNER: Tetsuya Naito in 22:00 (***½)
After the match, Jericho slapped a Young Lion at ringside. Red Shoes gave Naito the title and he raked his eyes. Naito left the ring without the title, but then he had a Young Lion go get it for him. He teased hitting the Young Lion. He then bowed before spitting in his face.
(Radican’s Analysis: This was a good match with the fans behind Naito and solidly behind the dastardly Chris Jericho. It seemed like at times they were a half beat off setting up some of their spots. They used a lot of weapons and this felt like a half baked hardcore match at times. I did like how well they teased Naito tapping out to the Wall of Jericho a couple of times during the match. The DDT spot on the outside with Jericho spiking Naito on the table was wild.
The finishing sequence of the match was nicely executed with both men kicking out of each others finishers before Naito nailed Jericho with the belt and hit Destino for the win. This match certainly didn’t feel like a memorable semi-main event at WK given some of the other semi-main event matches we’ve seen at WK in recent years.)
(9) IWGP WORLD HVT. CHAMPION KENNY OMEGA (w/THE YOUNG BUCKS) vs. G1 CLIMAX 28 WINNER HIROSHI TANAHASHI
THe bell rang and the fans started to stir and a Tanahashi chant began to ring out in The Tokyo Dome. Tanahashi looked annoyed before he locked up with Omega. Charlton said Tanahashi despises Omega. Tanahashi nailed Omega with a slap and Omega backed up before they locked up. Omega backed Tanahashi into the ropes and hit him with a light slap. Tanahashi plastered him with a HUGE slap. Omega fired back and went after Tanahashi with blows. They went back and forth and Omega went for the One-Winged Angel, but Tanahashi slipped out and got an abdominal stretch. Omega managed to toss him off, but Tanahashi rolled him up for a two count. Tanahashi went after Omega’s leg, but Omega grabbed his hair. Tanahashi managed to maintain control and he continued to go after Kenny’s leg. Omega hit a couple of slaps. Tanahashi fired back with slaps of his own while continuing to work over Omega’s legs. Omega finally got to the ropes and the fans applauded. Both men went back and forth and Omega caught Tanahashi with a big knee at the five minute mark. Omega took his time and hit some hard kicks to Tanahashi’s back and some stomps to his midsection.
Omega continued to target Tanahashi’s back and he hit a high angle suplex on the ring. He went to the outside and suplexed him back-first onto the apron. Kelly and Omega compared the Tanahashi vs. Omega feud to Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels. Omega whipped Tanahashi into the guardrail, but Tanahashi fired back as Omega charged at him and hit a dropkick. Tanahashi hit his back on the apron while going for the dropkick. Omega fired back and pushed Tanahashi into the apron. He then slammed Tanahashi right through one of the Japanese commentary tables at ringside. Omega set up and hit a springboard moonsault off the guardrail. He then helped out the injured Japanese ring announcer to his feet. Omega teased using a table, but Tanahashi fired back. Omega had asked the fans where his grace was in reference to Tanahashi saying he had no grace prior to the match. Tanahashi thought about using the table, but tossed Omega back into the ring showing that he has grace. They went back inside the ring and Tanahashi finally caught Omega with a dragon screw.
Omega fired back and set up for Rise of the Terminator, but Tanahashi slid into the ring and wiped him out. Omega sent Tanahashi to the floor with a snap rana. Omega set up and hit Rise of the Terminator, but he took a really hard landing as Tanahashi barely caught him. OUCH! They ended up back inside the ring and Omega hit a missile dropkick to Tanahashi’s back. Omega hit a snap dragon, but Tanahashi got right up. Omega hit another snap dragon and Tanahashi got up, but Omega decked him with a V-Trigger and smiled. WOW! Kelly mentioned Ibushi wasn’t at ringside because he suffered an injury earlier in the night. He went for You Can’t Escape, but ended up hurting his knee. Tanahashi popped up and cut him off up top and hit a dragon screw out of the corner. WOW!
At the 20 minute mark, Tanahashi applied the Texas Cloverleaf. He had a hard time sitting down on the hold due to the work on his back from Omega. Omega went for the ropes, but Tanahashi blocked it and really sat down on the hold! Omega managed to turn over, but Tanahashi lifted him into the Styles Clash. Tanahashi paused and connected with Styles Clash and the fans exploded. WOW! Tanahashi went up top and went for the High Fly Flow, but Omega got his legs up at the last second! WOW! Tanahashi sold his midsection and Omega sold his leg on the mat. Omega got up and went for a running V-Trigger across the ring into the corner, but Tanahashi got out of the way! They went at it near the apron and Tanahashi hit a dragon screw around the ring ropes on Omega’s leg! Tanahashi then hit a Sling Blade on Omega on the apron. WOW! The table on the floor was shown ominously in a replay that NJPW showed of the spot from a different angle. This time Tanahashi put Omega on the table. He went up top and went for the High Fly Flow, but Omega rolled off the table at the last second! WOW! Callis said so much for Tanahashi’s philosophy on commentary.
The ref began his count as Omega smiled and surveyed the damage to Tanahashi. Omega tossed Tanahashi back into the ring to break the ref’s count and the fans applauded. Kelly said Omega would be second guessed if he doesn’t win the match for throwing Tanahashi back into the ring. Omega set Tanahashi up over the middle rope. He went up top and nailed him with a double stop and the fans gasped. Omega then lifted Tanahashi up and hit a HUGE folding powerbomb. Tanahashi kicked out and Omega hit another. He got a 2 count and hung on for a sit-out powerbomb, but Tanahashi kicked out at the lsat second and the fans applauded. WOW! Omega choked Tanahashi, which is something he promised to do after the match previously. Omega set up for a V-Trigger, but Tanahashi surprised him with a Sling Blade. WOW!
They got up and began exchanging blows. The fans gasped with each blow from both men. Omega hit several big slaps and Tanahashi tried to power through them. Omega continued to slap Tanahasi, but he wouldn’t go town. Tanahashi fired back with slaps of his own. Tanahashi hit slap after slap to Omega’s face. Omega fired back and hit several big knees to Tanahashi’s ribs at the 30 minute mark. Omega fired back and hit a Sling Blade of his own and smiled devilishly. Omega hopped over the top rope and went up top. He sold his leg before hitting his own High Fly Flow, but Tanahashi kicked out and got up at one. HOLY S–T!!! Omega nailed Tanahashi with a big V-Trigger. Tanahashi went down to his knees. Omega and Tanahashi went head-to-head. Tanahashi hit a slap, but Omega fired back with a V-Trigger. Omega measured Tanahashi and hit a V-Trigger on a kneeling Tanahashi. Omega went for another V-Trigger, but Tanahashi blocked it and teased a dragon screw before drop kicking Omega’s other knee. Omega fired back and hit a poison rana. He sold his leg after getting up, but got a running start and connected with a HUGE V-Trigger against the ropes. WOW! Omega grabbed Tanahashi, who slapped him in the face. Omega hit a V-Trigger and went for the One-Winged Angel, but Tanahashi turned it into a poison rana. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. WOW!!! Tanahashi hit a dragon suplex, but Omega kicked out at 2. Tanahashi struggled, but got over the ropes. He set up and hit a standing High Fly Flow.
The fans applauded and Tanahashi went up top again. Tanahashi hit the High Flow, but OMEGA KICKED OUT AT THE LAST SECOND!!!! WOW!!! THIS IS CRAZY!!! Both men were down on the mat at the 35 minute mark. Tanahashi got up and went up top again, but Omega greeted him with a V-Trigger. Omega slapped Tanahashi across the back. They battled up top and Omega set up for a super snap dragon and connected. OH MY GOD. That was brutal! Omega sold his leg after impact. Omega measured Tanahashi and hit a HUGE V-Trigger against the ropes. Omega set up for the One-Winged Angel, but Tanahashi turned it into a modified Sling Blade. Tanahashi then hit a traditional Sling Blade. He went up top a the fans roared. Tanahashi connected with the High Fly Flow for the win. WOW!
WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi in 39:00 to become the new IWGP World Hvt. Champion (*****)
Tanahashi was presented with the title. After the match, Tanahashi got on the mic. He thanked the 38,000 paid fans in attendance. He said if he’s being honest he thought maybe he couldn’t stand on this stage, but it was thanks to Shibata and his friends and the people that stood with him that gave him the energy to make it back. He thanked the fans for bringing him back to the top. He said the IWGP Title once more will breath new life and begin a new stage together with the fans.
Tanahashi teased leaving, but got back on the mic. The fans chanted his name. He said he doesn’t have enough power to perform for the fans as he normally does. He said it breaks his heart, so he’ll do one song. He called for the air guitar and began shredding on guitar. WOW! What a moment! He collapsed when he finished.
He got back on the mic and said he would protect the belt. Tanahashi is now an eight time IWGP World Hvt. Champion. Tanahashi said just one song tonight and told the fans that he loves them. A big Tanahashi chant rang out in The Tokyo Dome. Kevin Kelly said Tanahashi’s journey to the top is complete. Tanahashi posed in every corner to salute the fans in The Tokyo Dome. Callis said he had a big smile and this is a great night for NJPW. Kelly said the second guessers would point out that Omega should have taken the count out. Callis said he applauds him for doing that. Kelly said Omega was the most physically dominant wrestler he’s ever called matches for. Callis said Tanahashi is more damaged than usual after the beating he took from Omega. Tanahashi walked up the ramp and fireworks went off. WOW! Kevin Kelly signed off as Tanahashi posed on the top of the ramp. Tanahashi finally gingerly made his way down the stairs and backstage.
(Radican’s Analysis: This was an amazing match between these two men. They went at it hard and heavy from the start, which was fitting given the spirited nature of their verbal battle leading into the feud. Tanahashi worked over Omega’s legs throughout the match and Omega in turn worked over Tanahashi’s midsection and back.
Omega was never able to hit the One-Winged Angel, but Omega did kick out of the High Fly Flow in a classic moment. With this win Tanahashi’s redemption story is complete on NJPW’s biggest stage. Tanahashi now gets one more run going forward when things looked so bleak for him early in 2018.)
Contact Sean at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch