Good Morning you sleep deprived psychopaths that stayed up for this historic Wrestle Kingdom! With all of the hype leading into this show, as well as, the extra eyes because of the inclusion of Chris Jericho, the expectations are through the roof. Do we see as many title changes as last year? Do we get another match to shatter the star ratings? Does the overwhelming assumption that Tetsuya Naito will win, influence Gedo’s booking?
Time to put up or shut up, let’s get to the matches.
New Japan Rumble
The Rumble isn’t supposed to be a wrestling clinic, it’s supposed to be the fun pre-show starter for the crowd. Some veterans, some lesser known wrestlers and a few surprised. Gino Gambino of Melbourne City Wrestling was a surprise, and further helps solidify the relationship those two companies have, as well as, Masahito Kakihara, former UWF and NJPW veteran. His shirt was supporting Yoshihiro Takayama who recently was injured in the ring and a press conference with Minoru Suzuki sadly revealed the spinal chord injury can’t be remedied and he will remain paralyzed from the shoulders down. Kakihara also overcame his own battle with cancer, so all in all, even though many newer and casual fans don’t know him, the win was a bittersweet moment and a great gesture from New Japan.
Rating: * 1/4 (Bronze IV)
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Roppongi 3k(c) vs The Young Bucks
In what was a more reserved match for the Young Bucks, we saw a lot of call backs to former RPG Vice matches (like the double sharpshooter spot). But an early injury to the back of YOH, would prove to be the downfall for Roppongi 3k. Not that many super kicks, a couple nice sequences and a Meltzer Driver, get the job done for the Young Bucks. The now 7 time Jr Tag Team Champions, doesn’t really leave a lot left for them to do. Maybe they’ll move up to the heavyweight ranks?
Rating: *** (Gold V)
NEVER Openweight 6 Man Tag Team Championship Gauntlet: Tama Tanga, Tonga Roa & Bad Luck Fale (c) vs War Machine & Michael Elgin vs Zack Sabre Jr, Iizuka & Taichi vs Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson & Togi Makabe vs Toru Yano, Trent Baretta & Tomohiro Ishii
Suzuki-Gun (Sabre, Iizuka and Taichi) eliminate Warmachine and Elgin first when Sabre puts Raymond Rowe to sleep with a sleeper hold transitioning into a triangle armbar. Making short work of Suzuki-Gun, Chaos hits the ring next, a scuffle ensues and Yano pulls a classic Yano and gets the elimination by rolling up Taichi. Taguchi Japan hits next, and gets most of their usual stuff in. Taguchi has the coaching moment where they all hit Yano in the corner, then Taguchi pays homage to Shinsuke Nakamura and goes to hit a Butt-a-ye, but Yano catches him for the roll up victory again. The champion Bullet Club team comes down last and immediately takes it to Chaos. A bunch of back and forth, big moves, Tama Tanga even hits a beautiful cutter out of nowhere on Trent Baretta during a moonsault. But Trent hits his Dudebuster finish on Tama and…NEW NEVER 6 Man Champions, Trent, Yano and Ishii. Entertaining, but sloppy in spots, but it’s kinda what’s expected from a gauntlet match.
Rating: ** 1/2 (Silver II)
Kota Ibushi vs Cody w/ Brandi Rhodes
Now this match was the biggest question mark on the card. We all knew why Cody wanted to fight Kota, but coming off his loss to Dalton Castle, it wasn’t clear how this match would be. Early on Cody dominated Ibushi with great character work and even had Brandi feign being knocked out (to distract super babyface Ibushi) during a dive that hit her also. A few weapons, a lot of heel tactics, but Kota makes his come back. Cody really holds his own in this match, so many of the knocks on his in-ring ability may get quieted a little. Ibushi wins after a Kamigoe Knee Strike followed up by a Phoenix Splash.
Rating: **** (Platinum V)
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Killer Elite Squad (c) vs EVIL & Sanada
Well the air was nearly taken out of the Tokyo Dome when KES hits a big assisted powerbomb on EVIL, immediately, and almost gets the win, before Sanada slides in to break it up. This match was rough, KES attacked everyone that moved, learning well from their leader Minoru Suzuki that Young Lions are meant to get beaten up. EVIL and Sanada got dominated for about 3/4ths of this match, but finally turned it around. As soon as Sanada kicked out of the Killer Bomb, you had to think they had a good chance at winning. The LIJ members hit the Magic Killer followed by Sanada hitting a beautiful moonsault from the top turnbuckle on Davey, for the pinfall victory. NEW IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, EVIL and Sanada!
Rating: **** (Platinum V)
NEVER Openweight Championship + hair vs hair: Minoru Suzuki (c) vs Hirooki Goto
In a match that confused people early, it eventually got better. Suzuki had Goto in a hanging sleeper from the middle rope and it looked like Goto legit passed out. No most people would assume that would be a cause to end the match (especially since that’s how Rowe lost for his team during the Gauntlet match). But instead the ref checks Goto, the doctor checks and Suzuki proceeds to beat him back to life. So overcoming the initial confusion, the match was a classic NEVER match, with hard hits and fighting spirit. A combination of the Young Lions and Yoshi-Hashi managed to keep Suzuki-Gun at bay, so we finally get a mostly legitimate match. An avalanche Ushi Goroshi, followed by some hard strikes and then a GTR, sealed the victory for your NEW NEVER Openweight Champion, Hirooki Goto.
Rating: *** 1/2 (Gold III)
IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship Fatal 4 Way: Marty Scurll (c) vs Kushida vs Will Ospreay vs Hiromu Takahashi
A little slow in the beginning, but it continued the storyline of the rest of the participants disrespecting Hiromu. There are too many huge spots to go over them all, but the spots were all fairly well laid out. Ospreay climbed up an outside structure and hit a big moonsault, later on in the match hitting a big shooting star press. It looked like Hiromu was going to win with the Time Bomb, but Scurll pulls out the ref and starts laying people out with the umbrella. He missed Ospreay and gets caught with an Oscutter. So NEW IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion…Will Ospreay. Entertaining match, but a few spots were fumbled, so what could’ve been ranked higher, loses a little bit because of the poorly executed spots. Still a damn good match though.
Rating: **** 1/2 (Platinum II)
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs “Switchblade” Jay White
The match had a nice methodical tone to it. Jay White’s character showed that he is very calculating and will pick apart an opponent if given an opportunity. White’s constant questioning of if Tanahashi really was the Ace, helped to bring out a resiliency we haven’t seen in Hiroshi for a few years. Nice psychology in the match, Jay White got over pretty well as a worthy heel, but the match didn’t have any amazingly special moments. Tanahashi kicked out of a Kiwi Krusher, and wins the match in his typical fashion of back to back High Fly Flows. The first champion to actually retain tonight, is the “former Ace” Hiroshi Tanahashi, in a perfectly fine match.
Rating: *** 3/4 (Gold I)
IWGP US Championship No Disqualification: Kenny Omega (c) vs Chris Jericho
Well this wasn’t a straight up match for the most part, it was more of a fight. Quickly moving to the outside, there was a big miss from Omega through a table, lots of chairs and Kenny even brought back the cold spray. During the fighting on the outside Chris Jericho busted out the Liontamer on a Young Lion who was just trying to help (I appreciate the pun). The match got very close during the last 10 minutes or so. Lots of flase finishes, suspenseful moments with Omega in the Walls of Jericho on the borderline of tapping. It was definitely a fun match, nothing noticeably bad, a lot of “sports entertainment” moments, but all in all it lived up to the Dream Match moniker. Kenny Omega gets the win and retains the US Title, after a second One Winged Angel (first was too close to the ropes so Jericho grabbed the ropes so he didn’t really kick out).
Rating: ***** (Diamond V)
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Tetsuya Naito
To be fair, the very beginng sequence was awkward. It could be played off as Naito playing mind games, but it looked weird to put it nicely. And aside from a few slow transitions from catch to suplex or submission, the match was tremendous. It had to follow an impressive bout between Jericho and Omega and definitely pulled it out. It builds nicely, Okada goes to the Cobra Clutch early, Naito tries to hit his old finisher the Stardust Press twice, to no avail and for the most part, the match stays in the ring. We saw some innovative moves and ways to transition into their respective finishing moves, but to most of the IWC’s surprise…Kazuchika Okada wins with his signature Rainmaker. Naito finally got his main event, but couldn’t pull off the victory.
Rating: ***** 1/4 (Diamond V)
This show on a whole was a little better than last year’s Wrestle Kingdom. Many of the overall favorites won their respective matches, which will help New Japan maintain a burgeoning western audience. The Okada match may leave a few people sour, but it was a great match, and Okada’s ability can’t be questioned.
Tomorrow’s New Year’s Dash kicks off 2018’s storylines, so any returns, new challenges or possible dissolution of stables, will prove for plenty of entertainment. Watch this Saturday on AXS TV, or sign up for New Japan World–you’ll be doing yourself a favor to watch this. In summation of this show, I’ll just say what the Japanese female commentator repeated about 5 billion times, “Sugoi” (Awesome).
AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.
With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.
1. Johnny Gargano
Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?
WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.
2. James Storm
This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.
Watch your Money and your Alcohol.
Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”
3. Big Cass
Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.
Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.
4. Bronson Reed
The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.
Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?
5. Bray Wyatt
And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.
To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.
– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!
King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy
As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!
I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI. Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.
Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.
I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”
Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match
Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!
Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect
On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.
Swanton Bomb From The Heavens
When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.
Hardy Wins The WWE Championship
In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.
Straight Edge Problems For Hardy
The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.
The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE
Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.
Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut
From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.
This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.
As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.
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