1/4 NJPW WRESTLE KINGDOM 17 REPORT: Radican’s results and analysis of entire card including Ospreay vs. Omega, White vs. Okada

By Sean Radican, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @SR_Torch)

Wrestle Kingdom 17 sets records


JAN. 4, 2023


Announcers: Kevin Kelly, Chris Charlton, Gino Gambino

The announcers mentioned the attendance was expected to be north of 25,000 fans, which is bigger than the last two Wrestle Kingdom events combined.

(a) BOLTIN OLEG vs. RYOHEI OIWA – Three Minute Exhibition

This is Oleg’s first match in front of people. Oleg showcased some nice amateur throws to take down Oiwa. Oleg hit a slam for a nearfall and the three minute time limit expired.

WINNER: n/a at 3:00 – match went to a three minute draw.

(Radican’s Analysis: Oleg was presented like a big deal and this could be a fun moment to look back at 10 years from now if he becomes a big star.)

(b) NJPW RAMBO – Final Four advance to Jan. 5 to crown the first KOPW 2023 Provisional Champion

Eliminations can take place via pinfall or submission or by being tossed over the top to the floor. Sho was out first and each subsequent entrant into the match is a mystery. Hikuleo was out next. Evil was out next with Dick Togo in his corner. Tomohiro Ishii was out next and then Great-O-Khan. Out next was Douki. Togo saved Evil from being pushed to the floor by catching him. Ishii was about to be eliminated off the apron by Togo and Evil, but Rocky Romero made his entrance and saved him. Romero knocked Evil off the apron to eliminate him. Kenta power walked to the ring, which looked incredibly funny. Ishii was waiting for Kenta, who took his time getting into the ring.

Yoshinobu Kanemaru was out next. The announcers speculated where the disbanded Suzuki-Gun members would end up. Aaron Henare was out next. Ryosuke Taguchi was out next and the crowd clapped when his music played. Ishii got eliminated by being knocked over the top to the floor. Jeff Cobb was out next. Douki and Kanemaru both got tossed to the floor and they were eliminated. Shane Haste was out next.

Mikey Nicholls made his entrance next. Romero tried to do a rope walk, but Nicholls dropkicked him to the floor to eliminate him. TMDK teamed together to hit a Time Buster on Taguchi to eliminate him. Kelly scolded Rocky at ringside for going up top. Yujiro Takahashi was the next entrant in the Rambo. Cobb whipped O-Khan into HIkuleo and he went over the top to the floor for the elimination. Toru Yano was the next man into the match. Haste eliminated Cobb by throwing him over the top to the floor. Nicholls got shoved into Haste, who was up top and Haste went to the floor and was eliminated. O-Khan and Henare then worked together to eliminate Nicholls by tossing him over the top to the floor.

ELP was out next. He got a double nipple twist on Henare and he fell off the apron to the floor and was eliminated. Taichi was out next. Shingo was out next. He’s the KOPW 2022 Champion. The announcers said the KOPW Champion usually enters last. The match is down to the final five. Shingo and ELP went at it and the fans started a daddy chant. Shingo hugged ELP, but managed to block a low blow. Shingo knocked ELP to the floor, but he landed on the barricade. He asked Kenta and Takahashi to put him back on the apron and they did. Shingo and ELP ended up going at it on the apron. Yoh tried to knock Shingo to the floor, but Shingo dragged ELP in his way and he got eliminated. That left the final four men in the ring.

O-Khan was shown with the new KOPW Provisional Championship belt.

WINNERS: Great-O-Khan and Sho and Toru Yano and Shingo Takagi at 30:37 to advance to a Four-Way match to crown the new KOPW Provisional Champion at New Years Dash.

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a very boring match and nobody was working particularly hard.)


Tiger Hatori was out to referee the match. Kojima hit a Koji-Cutter on Tiger Mask and tagged in Makabe who ran wild. Makabe and Tiger had a very awkward exchange and Makabe sat down on Tiger and it was good for the pin.

WINNERS: Toki Makabe & Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima at 9:10. (n/a)

Fujinami spoke after the match in Japanese. He wished the fans a happy new year. He said this is a very special Antonio Inoki event and he thanked the fans for attending the show. He said the fighting spirit would be carried to the main card. He told the fans to kick it off in style with the Inoki signature chant.

(Radican’s Analysis: This was fine for what it was with the veterans paying tribute to Inoki.)


(1) THE UNITED EMPIRE (TJP & Francisco Akira) vs. Super Junior Tag League Champions LIO RUSH & YOH – IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Championship match

Yoh wiped out Akira and TJP with a dive to the floor as they made their entrance. Rush and Yoh then worked together to hit a combination of moves on TJP. Rush took an alley oop facebuster on the LED ramp and he came up bleeding from the eyebrow. Yoh took a sustained beating before making the hot tag to Rush. Akira took a combination of moves capped by Final Hour from Rush, but TJP came in at the last second to make the save. They set up Akira for 3K and hit it, but TJP made a blind tag. He hit a splash on Yoh and sent Rush to the floor with a dropkick. He hit a detonation kick on Yoh, who kicked out at the last second. Yoh and Rush hit 3K on TJP, but Akira pushed Rush into the pin to break it up. Akira countered Yoh and got an inside cradle for the pin.

WINNERS: TJP & Francisco Akira at 10:29 to retain the IWGP Junior Hvt. Tag Team Championship. (***½)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a great way to kick off the main show after a lackluster pre-show. It looked like Rush and Yoh were going to win, but Akira pulled out the win with a flash rollup pin on Yoh.)

The announcers mentioned the reign of Akira and TJP is now over 197 days.

Kairi got an elaborate entrance for her title defense. This is the first time since 1994 that two women have wrestled for a championship in The Tokyo Dome. Druids danced around Kairi as she made her entrance.

(2) KAIRI vs. TAM NAKANO – IWGP Women’s Championship match

They had a fast exchange early and Nakano caught Kairi with a dropkick and the fans applauded. Kairi posed and smiled right in Kari’s face. Kairi dragged her to her feet by the hair and they began trading blows. Nakano hit a flurry of forearms, but Kairi changed direction and wiped her out with a big spear. Nakano sent Kairi to the floor and wiped her out with a dive off the top. She also wiped out a couple of attendants at ringside as well. Kelly brought up the rumors on social media in reference to Sasha Banks, but he did not bring her up by name. Nakano hit the Steiner Screwdriver on Kairi for a nearfall that had the crowd gasping. Kairi eventually went up top and hit the Insane Elbow for the win.

WINNER: Kairi at 5:47 to retain the IWGP Women’s Championship match. (**¾)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was really good while it lasted, but they didn’t get much time at all to tell a story.)

After the match ended, the lights went out and Sasha Banks appeared in a video going under the name Mercedes Mone. She wore Japanese-themed red and white gear with a headdress that looked like the Statue of Liberty. Kairi got in her face and raised the title. The fans gasped and applauded. Mone offered a handshake, but then dropped her into a twisting arm crank. Mone put the title on top of Kairi and called for the mic. She congratulated Kairi on making history. She said she knows a thing or two about making history. She said she is here in NJPW and Stardom to make some more. She then introduced herself as the standard, the conversation, the blueprint, and the CEO of this women’s division. She told Kairi to enjoy her belt while she can because at Battle in the Valley in San Jose she was going to leave her bankrupt. She said you can bank on Mone at Battle in the Valley on Feb 18. Banks posed and then danced with the title. The announcers said tickets just sold out instantly in a joking manner, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they do sell out with a Mone title match on the marquee.

(Radican’s Analysis: I really enjoyed Mone’s debut and she was thrust right into a big match to help push NJPW’s U.S. PPV Battle in the Valley. This is a big get for NJPW even if Mone only wrestles for them part-time.)

(3) FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) vs. World Tag League Champions BISHAMON (Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi) – IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Championship match

Bishimon ended up on the floor and Wheeler wiped them out with a huge dive through the ropes. The announcers mentioned Wheeler’s difficult travel to Japan. FTR went for the Big Rig, but Goto fended them off. FTR got on a roll and hit the Big Rig on Goto, but Hashi made the save at the last second. Wheeler suplexed himself and Hashi over the top to the floor Davey Richards style. Goto and Harwood went at it in the ring. Goto hit a headbutt and a suplex. Hashi got the tag and went at it with Dax. He went for Karma, but Dax countered it. They traded counters until Dax hit a piledriver for a nearfall. FTR then hit a spiked piledriver on Hashi, but Goto came out of nowhere to make the save! Both teams went back and forth and Goto and Hashi hit the Shota team slam on Dax for the win.

WINNERS: Yoshi-Hashi & Hitooki Goto at 10:10 to become the new IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champions. (***3/4)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was really good, but didn’t get enough time to become the show-stealer it could have been. This was great while it lasted.)

Both teams shook hands after the match. Kelly said it’s time to put Hashi and Goto in the conversation for best tag team.

Zack Sabre Jr. made his entrance sporting a blond haircut. Katsuyori Shibata was shown on Japanese commentary. Charlton mentioned if they went to the time limit a rematch would take place at a later date to determine the first NJPW World TV Champion.

(4) REN NARITA vs. ZACK SABRE JR. – 15 Minute Time Limit NJPW World TV Championship Tournament Final

The match started at a fast pace. Both men began grading hard kicks to the back. Narita gave himself up for a kick to the back. Sabre then sat down and gave up his back and Narita absolutely blasted him with a kick to the back. Both men hit kick after kick to the head and showed fighting spirit. They traded penalty kicks and each man kicked out at one. Narita finally hit an enzuguri and both men were down. Sabre got a nasty arm bar, but Narita kicked his way out of it.

Both men traded Germans and began to stumble. Narita no sold a kick and got up, but walked right into a pinning combination from Sabre for a nearfall. Sabre got a sudden arm submission and it was good for the win, as he got a quick tap out from Ren.

WINNER: Zack Sabre Jr. to become the first NJPW World TV Champion at 10:32. (***1/2)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a short but fun match to watch with the hard-hitting exchanges. Hopefully must of the title matches are like this one. They definitely t kept things moving quickly with the 15 minute time limit.)

TMFK came down to the ring after the match. They offered Sabre a TMDK shirt. Sabre teased throwing the shirt away and then put the shirt on. Sabre hugged Nichols and Haste. Sabre is a nice pivot as the centerpiece of the faction after Jonah signed with WWE recently.

(5) KARL ANDERSON vs. TAMA TONGO (w/Jedo) – NEVER Openweight Championship match

Anderson hit a Bernard Bomb on the ramp early. He took his time and set up for a Gunstun on the ramp, but Tonga blocked it. They ended up on the apron and Anderson caught Tonga with a kick to the head. Anderson controlled the action, but Tonga fired out of the corner with a big clothesline to get the upper hand. They traded counters and Tonga hit a springboard Gunstun out of the corner. He then hit a sloppy traditional Gunstun and Anderson said F it brother I’m here to do the job and sold it like it knocked him into another galaxy. Tonga then made the pin for the win.

WINNER: Tama Tonga to become the new NEVER Openweight Champion at 9:36. (**)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was fine, but Anderson selling the Gunstun at the end didn’t do any favors for Tonga getting a nice singles win on this stage.)

(6) LIJ (Tetsuya Naito & Bushi & Sanada) vs. SHOTA UMINO & HIROSHI TANAHASHI & KEIJI MUTO – Keiji Muto Last match in NJPW

Muto insisted on starting the match and told Umino and Tanahashi to go to the corner. The fans fired up with chants as Naito teased starting the match against Muta. Sanada then backed them away to start the match. Sanada did the Too Sweet to Muta, but then went right after his knees with a dropkick. Sanada quickly hit the Muta Moonsault, but Muta kicked out at the last second. Muta fired back and hit a shining wizard to ground Sanada. Muta hit a slam and went up top, but Tanahashi begged him not to do it. Muta ended up not going for it.

Umino hit a flurry of offense on Naito and fired up inside the ring. LIJ all got submissions on the ring at the same time at one point. Tanahashi wiped out LIJ all bu himself. He then held up Bushi for a shining wizard from Muta. Umino won with the Death Rider on Bushi.

WINNERS: Shota Umino & Sanada & Keiji Muto at 9:20. (***)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a fun send off for Muta and a nice spotlight moment for Umino in getting the win.)

(7) TAIJI ISHIMORI vs. MASTER WATO vs. HIROMU TAKAHASHI vs. El DESPERADO – Four-way IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship match

Charlton said there had been an incident backstage and encouraged people to go to NJPW’s website for more details. He said Naito was involved. Ishimori relaxed on the floor as the other three went at it. They all went after Ishimori on the apron, but it backfired. Ishimori took care of all three men and walked down to the ring to try to get a count out win. Wato, Desperado, and Takahashi ran down to the ring, but Ishimori wiped them all out with a dive and nearly got a count out win.

They went to a sequence of dives capped by Takahashi wiping out everyone with a big senton to the floor. They built up to a big sequence with Desperado decking Wato with a punch and everyone was down. Charlton said LIJ had been confronted by Congo from NOAH. Desperado hit Pinoche Loco and went for a second, but Takahashi countered it into a Timebomb for a nearfall. Wato nearly finished off Desperado, but Ishimori note up the win. The red got distracted and Ishimori hit Wato with a chair shot. Wato nearly had the match won several times. He hit an insane Everest German on Takahashi. He went after Takahashi, but got countered and Takahashi hit Time Bomb 2 for the win.

WINNER: Hiromu Takahashi at 16:43 to become the new IWGP Hvt. Champion. (****)

(Radican’s Analysis: This match was a lot of fun. Wato got a big spotlight here and had the fans fired up for the nearfalls he was getting before Takahashi ultimately got the win.)

Kenny Omega came out first. His back was to the audience. He put out one arm and a wing appeared on the tron. The camera panned around Omega and he smiled. Omega was introduced as The Cleaner Kenny Omega.

Will Ospreay was out next. The tron said the return of the aerial assassin. Piano music players before going into Ospreay came out wearing his Assassins Creed style great surrounded by The United Empire.

(8) WILL OSPREAY vs. KENNY OMEGA – IWPG U.S. Hvt. Championship match

Don Callis joined the English commentary team. Ospreay sent Omega to the floor and hit a slingshot splash during the early stages of the match. He then whipped him hard into the guardrail. Omega fired back and shoved Omega off the apron and he flew back-first into the barricade. This is only Omega’s second singles match in the last year. Omega hit You Can’t Escape on Ospreay for a two count. Omega exposed one of the corners and sent Ospreay flying into it back-first a short time later. They went at it on the apron and Ospreay went for an Os-Cutter, but Omega hung onto the ropes and Ospreay crashed into the apron and fell to the floor. Omega set a table on top of Ospreay’s back on the floor and nailed him with a double stomp. The table shattered on Ospreay’s back upon impact.

Ospreay fired back and went up top. He hit a sky twister press to the floor and the fans exploded in cheers and gasped all at once. WOW! Omega went for a dragon suplex off the top, but Ospreay landed on his feet. He hit the Robinson Special and then the Os-Cutter. Ospreay had to gather himself before making the cover and Omega kicked out at two. WOW! What a sequence! They battled up top and it looked like Ospreay was going to hit a Spanish Fly, but Omega turned it into a DDT. The members of United Empire ran to Ospreay on the floor to be sure he was alright. Ospreay came up bleeding like crazy from the head after the DDT spot. The ref counted and Ospreay stumbled around, but Omega nailed him with a dropkick through the ropes. Omega followed up with Rise of the Terminator and the fans went nuts.

Omega set the broken table up against the guardrail and drove Ospreay’s head into it. The ref checked on Ospreay and Kenny shoved him away and nailed him with a snap dragon suplex. Omega hit another snap dragon suplex and ended up sitting against the bottom rope. Omega set up for a V-Trigger, but Ospreay grabbed his leg. Omega gave up on hitting the V-Trigger and hit a tiger driver for a nearfall. Omega then hit a big V-Trigger that sent Omega to the floor as the 25 minute mark came and went. Omega went up top, but Ospreay stumbled back into the ropes to crotch Omega on the exposed steel. Ospreay tried to slap himself back into it, as he had trouble climbing the ropes. Ospreay got up top, but Omega slid under him and tripped him jaw-first into the exposed turnbuckle. Omega set up and hit a V-Trigger to the back of Ospreay’s head in the corner.

Omega put Ospreay up top and set up for a One-Winged Angel. Ospreay tried to fight out of it, so he turned it into Croyt’s Wrath. Omega hit another big V-Trigger inside the ring for a nearfall. The fans fired up behind Omega. Omega hit a V-Trigger and told Ospreay to stay down. Omega hit another V-Trigger. Omega went for another V-Trigger, but Ospreay caught it. Ospreay tried to fire himself up and he stumbled around. Ospreay hit several kicks and chops. He blocked a punch from Kenny and flipped around into a Liger Bomb for a tremendous nearfall. The fans gasped when Omega kicked out and then began clapping. Ospreay hit the Chelsea Grin. He followed up with a Hidden Blade to the back and then front of Omega’s head. He then hit a super Os-Cutter, but Omega kicked out at the last second and the fans gasped! WOW!

Ospreay went for a Strombreaker and they traded counters until Ospreay managed to catch Omega with a Styles Clash. Ospreay measured Omega and hit a big Hidden Blade to the front of Omega’s head, but he kicked out. Omega countered a Stormbreaker and hit another V-Trigger. Omega held onto his wrist and Ospreay hit another Hidden Blade. Both men went down and Omega held onto Ospreay’s wrist. Ospreay smiled when he realized Omega was holding onto his wrist. They began trading forearms while Omega hung onto Ospreay’s wrist. Omega finally ducked a forearm and hit a Straightjacket German with a bridge for a nearfall. Omega hung onto Ospreay’s wrists and hit a Kamigoye. He then hit the One-Winged Angel for the win.

WINNER: Kenny Omega at 34:38 to become the new IWGP U.S. Hvt. Champion. (*****)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was an amazing match that lived up to the war of words these two have had for years and in recent months building up to this match. Both men took turns going on big runs during the match, but neither man could put the other today until the end when Omega hit his finish. Hearing the fans cheer and gasp during the match was such a welcome sound to my ears. For anyone wondering if Omega still capable of raising the bar against someone like Ospreay, he answered those questions tonight. He’s still every bit the big stage performer he has been in the past.)

Jay White came out first for the main event followed by Kazuchika Okada.

(9) JAY WHITE vs. KAZUCHIKA OKADA (w/Gedo) – IWGP World Hvt. Championship match

Rocky Romero came in on commentary. White controlled the action early and mocked the fans by clapping. They went to the floor and White picked up Okada and dropped him gut-first onto the apron. Okada mounted a comeback and got on track back inside the ring after hitting White with his signature flapjack. Okada brought White over to the ramp. Gedo tried to distract him, but Okada ended up hitting Gedo and White with a double DDT. White fired back inside the ring and hit a deadlift German. Okada fired up and no-sold several big chops from White. He eventually caught him with his signature dropkick off the ropes.

White went after Okada’s eyes and they traded counters. Okada went for the Money Clip and got it partially, but White had it blocked. Okada ended up lifting White up into a twisting tombstone and then a discus Rainmaker. Okada locked in the Money Clip again on the mat. Okada set up for a dive a short time later, but Gedo got up on the apron to block his path. Okada nailed him with a punch and went up top and hit a flipping senton to the floor to wipe out both Gedo and White.

Okada dropped an elbow off the top at the 20 minute mark and hit the Rainmaker pose. He went for a Rainmaker, but White sat down to block it. Gedo got in the ring and White went for a low blow, but Okada punched him before he could hit it. Okada set up for a Rainmaker, but White spit in his face. Okada threw a big Rainmaker, but White ducked it and hit a Uranagi and both men were down. Okada and White struggled and ended up against the ropes. White ended up dumping Okada over the top to the floor with a Saito suplex. White brought Okada back into the ring and hit a sleeper suplex. White hit a Regal-plex with a bridge for a two count. White hit a cross-arm Bloody Sunday and said that’s it. He went for a Blade Runner, but Okada countered it into a German and held on. Okada hit a backslide right into a Rainmaker on White. The 25 minute mark came and went and Okada hit a second Rainmaker.

White ducked a Rainmaker attempt, but Okada hit a dropkick. They traded counters and Okada hit a sitout Tombstone. He went for a Rainmaker, but White countered it into a Bladerunner for a nearfall. WOW! Okada blocked a Bladerunner and White hit him with The Jaymaker. He hit another Jaymaker. White hit the Rainmaker pose and they even did the camera pain. White went for a Jaymaker into a Bladerunner, but Okada blocked it and hit a Rainmaker for a nearfall. What a sequence!

White and Okada traded shots from their knees and White called Okada a coward. They got to their feet and continued to trade as the 30 minute mark came and went. White continued to try to rattle Okada, but he couldn’t. They traded blows until Okada hit a jumping Enzuguri. He went for Cobra Flosion, but White blocked it. Jay went for a Jaymaker, but Okada countered it into a Bladerunner. Okada then hit the Cobra Flosion. He let out a primal scream and the fans fired up. Okada went for a big Rainmaker and connected flush for the win.

WINNER: Kazuchika Okada at 33:03 to become the new IWGP World Hvt. Champion. (****½)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was an excellent main event, but they could not top the previous match between Omega and Ospreay. The crowd seemed flat at times, but they did a really good job of telling the story of White trying to get Okada frustrated so he could take advantage and get the upper hand, but Okada wouldn’t not go for it.)

After the match, White grabbed the belt and didn’t want to let the ref have it. He finally let the ref have the belt. Red Shoes put the belt around Okada’s waist. White crawled over to Okada as he posed for the crowd and grabbed his boot. White dragged himself to his feet and looked Okada in the face. He said some words and then fell backwards and Gedo helped him out of the ring. Okada then resumed his pose and the ringside photographers took pictures. Okada watched White head to the back.

Shingo Takagi got into the ring and said let me interrupt things here. He congratulated Okada for becoming champion again. He said he didn’t come down here just to say that. He said one year ago to this day, I lost that belt to you and I haven’t forgotten. He said he made up for it with his KOPW reign last year. He said he had more than a fitting resume in 2022. He said anyone that watched that match knows how strong Okada is by now. He said Okada is more than worth the price of admission. He said how about something for an even higher ticket price. He then challenged Okada for the title for a match on Jan. 21. He said he will take the KOPW belt with him.

Okada said since he interrupted him why doesn’t he get the hell out of there. The announcers said they were unsure of the exact date for the challenge from Takagi. Okada thanked the fans for their support. He said White still had a big advantage in their singles series. He said for one year and the fiftieth year of NJPW, thank you very much. Okada said it’s great to see so many people. Okada appeared to get emotional talking about Inoki. He asked if Inoki had seen the fights tonight. Okada said Inoki’s spirit will continue to burn and he hopes that Inoki will continue to have a watchful eye over them. He said in year 51 for NJPW and beyond there’s plenty to come. He said they would make sure the lights are bright enough for Inoki to see in heaven. He said as long as the fans love NJPW, they will keep fighting for them. Okada said he will keep being the IWGP World Hvt. Champion as he makes it rain. Okada’s music played and he posed on the turnbuckles.

Rocky Romero said all is right in the world for now. Charlton said Shingo will present a great challenge for Okada. Okada walked up the ramp and grabbed the mic again. He said you can’t end it quite like this. He said we have to end it the right way. He said since we’re all allowed to raise our voices. He then led the crowd in the Inoki chant.

Kevin Kelly signed off and plugged New Year Dash.

Email Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch

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