NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11 – Review

Tiger Mask W defeated Tiger The Dark

This was Kota Ibushi vs ACH. It was pretty good for what it was. There were some cool spots, but it was just an exhibition to promote the anime series.  ACH seemed to be having trouble with his mask at times. Tiger Mask W won with the sitdown Last Ride.

IWGP Jr Tag Team Championship

Rocky Romero & Beretta defeated The Young Bucks

This was a good tag match that was well put together. It stayed away from the usual tag formula and had some really creative spots, like Nick Jackson cutting off the Strong Zero with a spring board dropkick.  This wasn’t the usual crazy spot fest that we usually get from The Bucks. They told a good story, and that story was the last chapter in the story of RPG Vice getting back on the same page. Their problems stemmed from Beretta being mad at Romero being the weak link and not taking things seriously. Beretta was taken out here, which left Romero to fight on his own and prove himself, eventually getting the win and becoming a seven time IWGP Jr Tag champion.

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship – Gauntlet Match

EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA defeated Satoshi Kojima, Ricochet & David Finlay, Yujiro Takahashi, Bad Luck Fale & Hangman Page and Jado, YOSHI-HASHI & Will Ospreay

Thankfully this was a gauntlet match as opposed to a cluster with all twelve guys in the match together. As meaningless as these belts have become, this at least allowed time for some guys to shine and put together a decent match. It was very cool seeing the likes of Ospreay, Page & Finlay make the long walk down the Tokyo Dome ramp for the first time in their careers. Ospreay & Page really stood out early in the match, having an excellent exchange. Page has really proven his worth in NJPW. Ricochet looked incredible later in the match. LIJ had a strong win with the mist from BUSHI allowing EVIL to finish the match. This was the start of a big championship winning night for LIJ.

Cody defeated Juice Robinson

Going into this I was expecting a silent crowd reaction. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, and there were at times, audible Cody chants. Cody looked very good here and is so much better as a heel. Robinson did a hell of a job selling here and the match turned into a fun exchange, with a simple story designed to introduce Cody to NJPW.  Cody ran his mouth a lot and was very entertaining as he worked over Robinson.  Cody got the win with Cross Rhodes.  This was a fine start for Cody. It’s important that NJPW don’t rush him and give him a chance to adapt to the style and get over before deciding on giving him a huge push.

ROH World Championship

Adam Cole defeated Kyle O’Reilly

Much like the previous match, there was a better crowd reaction here than expected. Cole’s “Adam Cole Bay Bay” antics are getting over with the crowd. This was a good hard hitting match, with them working a style more suited to NJPW than they usually do.  This was shorter than your usually ROH title match and seemed to end just as it was kicking into a high gear. Although it took a lot for Cole to put down O’Reilly, it was a very decisive win for Cole. This would indicate that O’Reilly’s time in ROH is likely coming to an end as his contract recently expired. Cole makes history by becoming the first ever three time ROH World Champion.

IWGP Tag Team Championship

Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii defeated Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa and Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe

This didn’t do much for me. This storyline has seen Yano & Ishii force themselves into this match and that’s exactly what this felt like. GOD & GBH were having a really good match with Yano getting involve and taking away from it. The amount of swearing during this ridiculous and the highlight of the match for me was Steve Corino cracking up on commentary to the point where he couldn’t speak.  GOD deserved to retain here, but instead we got a cheap Yano low blow win that devalued the titles, the world tag league and all the hard work that GOD have done to improve over the last couple of months.

IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship

Hiromu Takahashi defeated KUSHIDA

This was when the show kicked into high gear and we got the first of four matches that we thought couldn’t be topped by the next.  Hiromu looked like a star from the second his entrance music hit.  This match was outstanding. Hiromu is crazy and took some incredible risks. The story here saw KUSHIDA work over the arm of Hiromu, while KUSHIDA tried to fight through a head and neck injury after being powerbombed on the floor.  There was some fantastic drama here as Hiromu battled out of the Hoverboard Lock and some of the near falls in the last minute were top notch. Hiromu got the win when he hit the Time Bomb to begin his first reign as IWGP Jr champion and become an instant star.  KUSHIDA is one of the best in the world at the minute. This performance really solidified that.

NEVER Openweight Championship

Hirooki Goto defeated Katsuyori Shibata

In the lead up to this match we heard Shibata run down Goto in interviews and talk about what a failure Goto was. The story of the match here was Shibata taunting Goto and trying to bring the fire out in him until he finally did and instantly regretted it when it cost him the match. This was the physical, gritty, hard hitting war we expected. Goto battled through a sleeper and beat Shibata to the headbutt before putting him down with two GTR’s to finally get a somewhat big win.  If you like strong style wrestling you will love this. Shibata stated after the match that we will not challenge for the NEVER a title again. This will hopefully see Shibata move up into a bigger position while Goto will likely be around the NEVER title for the foreseeable future.

IWGP Intercontinental Championship

Tetsuya Naito defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi

As you’d expect, this was outstanding. Naito’s entrance was awe inspiring. He looked like a superstar and he got an incredible reaction from the crowd. Tanahashi promised a new version of himself complete with new music and new gear. He had new music, which was awful, other than that he was much the same. The storytelling here was excellent. Both guys went after the other knee, getting to the point where both guys struggled to get to their feet. Little things like selling the knee while the bridged is what sets guys like these apart from the rest. There were some amazing false finishes around the High Fly Flow and Destino. Naito got the clean win, and in many ways the biggest win of his career. The imagery after the match said it all. Naito stood over Tanahashi as he put his fist to the heart of Tanahashi and have a faint bow. Naito had done what he said he was going to do. He said he would prove that he had surpassed Tanahashi and that the ace was past it.  It will be interesting to see where Tanahashi goes from here, but as for Naito, he is a made man.

IWGP Heavyweight Championship

Kazuchika Okada defeated Kenny Omega

This is one of the best matches I have ever seen and it’s not a stretch to call this one of the best matches ever. Expectations for this were monumental, but they somehow matched them and maybe even surpassed them for some. This match lasted 46 minutes, but felt like 20. The final 20 minutes of this were jaw dropping. Every single thing they did had you on the edge of your seat and you couldn’t quite believe what was unfolding before your eyes. Everything from Omega’s moonsault into the crowd, to Okada landing in his head after a dragon suplex from the top, to the mind blowing counters and near falls. The image of Okada refusing to let go of the arm as Omega continued to knee him in the head is something that I won’t forget. The drama and emotion on display here was something else and the noise from the crowd was almost deafening.

Omega put on one of the all time great performances and put himself in the same conversation as top level performers like Shawn Michaels. Okada isn’t even 30 yet, is years from his prime and is already approaching legendary status. When it’s all said and done from him he will be remembered as one of the best ever.  Omega lost nothing in defeat. Both guys became mega stars after this match. It is something that will be talked about for years to come and will bring a lot of new eyes to not only both guys, but NJPW as a whole.

This was pro wrestling at its absolute apex and something that every single pro wrestling fan needs to see.I can’t imagine anything topping that this year. The bar has been raised to a whole new level after this.

This was one of the best NJPW shows ever. The final four matches of this were extremely special. We may have the 2017 show of the year award won only four days in.

 

Not a boxer but a pro wrestling fan. If there’s a ring I’ll watch it, so naturally I have a lot of opinions (complaints).