New Japan Pro Wrestling
Wrestle Kingdom 9
January 4, 2015
Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Japan
It’s Wrestle Kingdom time!!!
I don’t often do previews. One, because I don’t usually have time, but I’m on holidays at the moment and Wrestle Kingdom 9 is too enticing to pass up. Two, my predictions are almost always wrong.
As you probably know by now, you can catch Wrestle Kingdom live on NJPW World (Japanese broadcast only), on traditional PPV, and Flipps through Global Force Wrestling (English broadcast).
New Japan Rumble, also known as the New Japan RAMBO! (NJPW World Broadcast Only)
I’m really excited for the RAMBO. This is the first time New Japan has booked this kind of match on a Dome show, where a bunch of regulars are thrown together just to be on the card. It’s basically the same concept as the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal from WWE WrestleMania XXX. The way this one will work is there are 15 competitors. Every 1 minute, a new person will enter the match. It’s not known who will enter until the person’s music hits. The problem with that is a lot of the wrestlers’ music will be different due to copyright issues. Originally, all 15 members were to remain a surprise, but recently, Yuji Nagata, Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu “Slomo” Nakanishi, and Tiger Mask have all been confirmed. The rest of the participants will likely be New Japan regulars, such as Taichi, Desperado, YOSHI-HASHI, Yohei Komatsu, Sho Tanaka and so on, and probably one or two surprises, much like the WWE Royal Rumble.
I determined from the description on the New Japan website that it’s over the top rope eliminations, but it may also be pinfalls and submissions.
I expect Liger and Desperado will do something to advance their storyline and build up their upcoming match. I also expect the match to be over by the time Nakanishi makes it to the ring. Because he’s slow.
I also hope there’s a Kofi Kingston Royal Rumble spot somewhere in this match.
Prediction: Super Strong Machine makes a surprise appearance and wins the Rumble. He then unmasks, and it’s revealed he’s actually Sylvester Stallone in character as John James Rambo!
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs.Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and Kushida) vs. Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)
Having this match on first is a pretty neat idea as there will probably be a lot of new eyes on this who and there are a lot of familiar faces in this match. The Young Bucks can be found all over the place, from ROH to PWG. TNA fans will be familiar with Alex Shelley. Romero and Koslov have both worked in ROH. And of course reDRagon are the ROH tag team champs. KUSHIDA is the only Japanese competitor in this one, and even he got over well with ROH fans on the ROH/NJPW shows from earlier in the year.
Unfortunately, this match probably won’t go ver long, say bout 10 minutes at the most, so despite the talent and potential, it’s unlikely to steal the show. It will however, be one of the most fun-filled 5-10 minutes of wrestling you’re likely to see anywhere. Don’t expect too many rest holds, these guys will be doing as many crazy spots as they can fit in.
It’s hard to pick a winner. Any of these teams would make great champions, and they’ve all had turns at holding the titles already.
Really, I just hope this doesn’t happen again:
Prediction: Time Splitters regain the titles
Bad Luck Fale, Jeff Jarrett and Yujiro Takahashi (The Bullet Club) vs. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima (Tencozy) and Tomoaki Honma
Aside from Honma, this is the match I’m least interested in seeing. TenCozy were a great tag team, and Kojima is still good, but Tenzan is getting slower by the minute. The likely scenario is the Bullet Club come out looking strong, and Jeff Jarrett pins Honma. Because it’s Honma. My ideal scenario is Honma gets his
Wrestle Mania Wrestle Kingdom moment by hitting the ever elusive diving Kokeshi and pinning Jeff Jarrett to pick up the win for his team. We can only dream.
Another option is Honma goes back to his BJW days and fluorescent lights everybody to death. I’d be OK with that.
Prediction: Honma pins Jarrett after hitting a diving Kokeshi (In my dreams)
Toru Yano, Naomichi Marufuji and TMDK (Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste vs. Suzukigun (Davey Boy Smith, Jr., Lance Archer, Shelton X Benjamin and Takashi Iizuka)
This match should really be a showcase for the NOAH guys. Marufuji is the GHC World Heavyweight Champion. The chances of Iizuka pinning him are slim to none. “The Might Don’t Kneel,” but they do come out to Joker and the Thief by Wolfmother, a song I despised when it came out, but really like as TMDK’s entrance music. Hopefully TMDK, the Tokyo Sports 2013 Tag Team of the Year, will get an opportunity to shine on the big stage, and no matter the outcome, begin a cross-promotion feud with Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy & Archer).
Also Yano will looked confused.
Prediction: Ain’t no way NOAH’s champion is losing. Yano, Marufuji, Nichols and Haste
Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazushi Sakuraba (UWF Rules)
This will either be short and sweet, or short and the drizzling s**ts. For fans of the days of Pride and Pancrase, Suzuki vs. Sakuraba is a dream match up. Suzuki can really go when it counts, Sakuraba is a bit more hit or miss. I’m still scarred from the Sakuraba/Gracies abominations from earlier in the year. If the build up is anything to go by, this should be a very heated fight. Hopefully with lots of strikes and submission attempts, and not just 10 minutes of rolling around.
It’ll be interesting how this match is received by newcomers, as the style is quite different to a typical wrestling match. UWF rules means no pins. The participants can only win by submission or knockout.
Prediction: Minoru Suzuki
NEVER Openweight Championship
Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Togi Makabe
Stiff. Brutal. Violent. Possible bloody. What’s that saying that people say about objects that can’t be moved and forces that can’t be stopped? That’s these guys. Expect some brainbusters, delayed vertical suplexes, German suplexes of the spider kind, and lariat battles with neither guy going down.
Being an Ishii match, I expect nothing less than 4 stars. If he can pull a four and a half star match out of Yujiro Takahashi, he can do wonders with Makabe. Last year Ishii wasn’t even on the Tokyo Dome show. This year, he’s going to make sure that never happens again.
Prediction: Tomohiro Ishii
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Ryusuke Taguchi (c) vs. Kenny “The Cleaner” Omega
Taguchi needs a new nickname, the “Funky Transition”. As in, transitional champion. I can’t see Taguchi retaining the title here. Kenny Omega, after a big debut, in his first match as “The Cleaner” simply has to win. A loss would be completely deflating and ruin what could be an amazing run for Omega in the jr. division.
Taguchi as champion his been fine, but his run hasn’t set the would on fire. Kenny Omega is the kick in the butt the junior division sorely needs.
These two have met many times in the past. They had an excellent match in the 2014 Best of Super Juniors tournament, and they had amazing tag team matches as Apollo 55 (Taguchi & Price Devitt/Finn Bálor) and the Golden Lovers (Omega & Kota Ibushi)., so the potential to put on a great match is there. Hopefully the match won’t be soured by too much Bullet Club interference. A big, definitive win for Omega will make a much bigger statement than a win tainted by BC interference.
Cheap Plug: I had the pleasure of talking with Omega on J-Shoot about his upcoming match among many other things. You can check out the interview here.
Prediction: Kenny Omega
IWGP Tag Team Championship
Bullet Club (Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson) (c) vs. Meiyu Tag (Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata)
Interesting facts: Katsuyori Shibata has won a total of ZERO titles in his time in New Japan. Hirooki Goto has challenged for the IWGP Heavyweight title SEVEN times and come up short each one. He has, however, won the G1 Climax, and the New Japan Cup a bunch of times, and he’s a former IC champ and junior tag champ.
The point is, when it comes to the big matches, particularly with titles on the line, Shibata and Goto almost always come up short. Now, may finally be Meiyu Tag’s time. Anderson and Gallows captured the tag titles this time last year at Wrestle Kingdom 8, and while holding them for the entire year, their run with the titles has been lacklustre at best. And that’s not entirely their fault. Before Meiyu Tag came onto the scene and won the World Tag League, the tag division had pretty much dried up.
Exciting new champs is just the thing the division needs. And with the apparent NOAH/New Japan collaboration, the possible future match ups are very exciting. Meiyu Tag vs. TMDK, or Meiyu Tag vs. Sugiura & Tanaka are very enticing possibilities.
Prediction: Meiyu Tag finally don’t choke and win the titles. Red Shoes disapproves.
A.J. Styles vs. Tetsuya Naito
I don’t know why, but I keep forgetting this match is even on the card. That’s ridiculous because Styles and Naito have the potential to put on a show-stealer. I suppose the reason I forget about it is because there hasn’t been a whole lot of build up for it. Naito beat Styles in the G1, so I’m guessing it’s Styles’ turn for a win.I see Styles being an important part of the IWGP title picture in the future so a win here makes sense. Not much else to say about this one, so I’ll let Matt Striker take over.
Prediction: A.J. Styles
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Kota Ibushi
Some might say it’s too early for Ibushi to win the prestigious IC title, a title which Nakamura is directly responsible for making prestigious, with a little help from Tanahashi, but mainly Nakamura . They say he needs more of a chase for the title, that he’s only just become a heavyweight and needs to prove himself by winning a few matches first. I say nuts to that.
A win here for Ibushi will instantly propel him to the next level. The level of Nakamura, Tanahashi and Okada. If I have one complaint about New Japan over the year, it’s that they haven’t really made any effort to build new talent, or prepare talent for a time in the future when there may not be a Tanahashi or Nakamura around. In fact, I wrote all about it here.
For anyone who doesn’t think Ibushi has what it takes to play in the big leagues, they haven’t seen his 2013 G1 match with Nakamura.
Prediction: Kota Ibushi
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada
A couple of months ago, I expected the Tokyo Dome main event to be Kazuchika Okada versus A.J. Styles, as a big part of 2014 was focused on their rivalry, which would culminate with one last big match at the biggest stage of them all. But then things changed. Okada won the G1, earning him a title shot at the Dome. Tanahashi won the title from Styles, so Okada ended up challenging Tanahashi for the title. Initially I felt some slight disappointment when this match was announced. Tanahashi vs. Okada certainly isn’t anything new. They’ve met many times before in big match situations. Oh, I wrote all about that too. You can read about it here. That disappointment was quick to disappear when I remembered that every time these two face each other, they produce nothing less than greatness. Foe example, their last two singles matches together both earned five stars from the Observer. It’s also been over a year since the two have had a singles match together. The choice to make this the main event was clearly the right one, as this year’s Wrestle Kingdom looks to be the biggest in the years.
Prediction: Kazuchika Okada
One last thing that I would be remiss not to mention, of the elements that makes Wrestle Kingdom events so special is the pageantry. Case in point, the ring entrance of the Time Splitters at Wrestle Kingdom 8.
Yeah. That’s a Delorean. Your move, everybody else.