So after spending all day avoiding spoilers at work on social media, I finally sat down tonight to watch Wrestle Kingdom 12! Usually when I do my “Quick Hits” stuff I would break down stuff that happened during the match. But when you have a show this long, that is quite the task to do. So instead of breaking down each match, I’m just going to throw out some random thoughts about what happened during the night.
Match of the Night: Junior Heavyweight Championship
To me there were two options for this: the Junior Heavyweight Title match or Jericho/Omega. I’m giving the nod to the Junior Heavyweights because they brought non-stop action throughout the match. There weren’t rest or reset stops. There weren’t points where one of the wrestlers was on the outside resting for multiple minutes. Some of the spots in the match where insane: Will Ospreay’s moonsault off the light structure, Takahashi’s apron powerbombs, then Kushida getting a bit of revenge by delivering one to Takahashi, Marty Scrull’s umbrella attacks. Everyone came out of that match looking great. When comparing Title matches from last year’s Wrestle Kingdom, I would say this one is the only one to top last year’s.
Surprise of the Night: Okada Retains The IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Man, I really thought this was going to be Naito’s time. The guy is hot. When I went to the ROH/NJPW Global Wars show back in October, the Los Ingobernables shirts were the best sellers right after the Bullet Club/Kenny Omega shirts. And in my opinion it seems like the crowd was fully ready to embrace Naito as the Champion. But Naito walked out of Wrestle Kingdom as Champ. I thought the match was a bit disappointing. It definitely picked up in the final 5-7 minutes, but I was expecting a little more. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by what I have seen so far from New Japan. But this was one of those times where it just seemed like the moment was right. Who does Okada defend against next? I don’t think it is time to go back to Kenny Omega quite yet. I wouldn’t go back to Naito again. If it was me, I would have had Naito win here, Omega get the Title at Dominion, and Okada win the G-1, setting up Omega/Okada at WK13. And the easy story there is that Omega can’t really consider himself Champion until he beats Okada.
Performance of the Night: Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho is 47 years old and he performed like somebody in his prime tonight against Kenny Omega. The one thing you always have to credit Chris Jericho for is he constantly finds ways to reinvent himself. Jericho was out there taking bumps on the floor, going through tables, taking chair shots and V-triggers. I didn’t expect that great of a performance from him. It easily had to be in the top 5 performances of his entire career. I hope we get to see another Jericho match in New Japan at some point.
A solid runner-up has to go to Cody Rhodes. He told a great story in his match with Kota Ibushi.
Letdown of the Night: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Jay White
This one is tough to call a let down. But you come to expect a lot from Tanahashi matches and this one just didn’t deliver. It was a combination of a lot of things. It was in a bad spot on the card. It followed the Junior Heavyweight Fatal 4 Way and was before the co-main events. Tanahashi is banged up. And Jay White just wasn’t properly introduced to the Japanese audience. It was a risk by New Japan to put White in that spot, but they were reportedly really high on him. Hopefully that doesn’t change. White isn’t a bad wrestler by any means. But New Japan should have built up White a bit more before building him up to face Tanahashi like that.
My overall thoughts on the show? It was good, but I liked last year’s Wrestle Kingdom better. I thought last year’s top four matches were better overall then this year’s top four. Okada/Omega last year was awesome, as was Naito/Tanahashi. Maybe I’m spoiled by what I got last year from New Japan. This show is still a solid 7 out of 10, but I was hoping with all the hype that they would completely blow me away.
Until Next Time,
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