Connect with us

Opinion

A Beginner’s Guide to Wrestle Kingdom 13

Published

on

Wrestle Kingdom 13

Ready for WrestleKingdom 13? If not, Kevin Carroll has you covered in his Beginner’s Guide to the biggest New Japan event of the year!

In the world of professional wrestling, the fun never stops. That’s the beauty of the sport; there’s no offseason, and there’s always plenty of quality content coming down the pike so that our plates are never empty.

That said, if you’re a WWE fan, the late December into early January stretch could be a bit slow. TLC seems like an eternity ago, and the Royal Rumble is still about a month away. You may be searching for some quality pro graps to fill that hole in your schedule in the meantime, yes?

Well ladies and gentlemen, I’ve got some good news for you.

Because you see, WWE isn’t all that’s out there in the pro wrestling universe, and if you’re willing to stave off sleep for a while, you may just catch the best pure wrestling on the planet come January 4th.

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), oft-considered the #2 promotion in the world behind WWE, will run its annual Tokyo Dome show, WrestleKingdom 13, on Friday morning, 2:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (I know, the first time I watched it, I was alarmed at that start-time too).

What makes NJPW so special is that it strips away some of the hokeyness and pageantry that the WWE offers up, and instead highlights wrestling as pure sports, placing a focus squarely on the in-ring action. I was introduced to NJPW two years ago, and even though I haven’t become a die-hard or anything, I consider myself a follower and a lover of the Japanese approach to pro wrestling.

WrestleKingdom is NJPW’s version of WrestleMania, so it draws in a lot of first-time viewers and casual watchers the way ‘Mania does in early April each year. Naturally, first-timers may be thrown off by the different wrestlers and the much-different style, so that’s where I come in.

I’m no expert, I’m more of a layman, but I’ve decided to present you a match-by-match preview of WrestleKingdom through the eyes of a fan who knows juuuuust enough to offer such a preview. Hopefully, this opens some eyes and helps a few folks out as they prepare to pull an all-nighter and camp out for finest that Japanese wrestling has to offer.

Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay – NEVER Openweight Title

This match is going to take your breath away, and show you just how cool wrestling could be outside of the WWE.

Kota Ibushi is the reigning NEVER champion, which is roughly the 4th-most important heavyweight title in Japan. It’s a belt that could be won by anyone, regardless of weight class (New Japan has a junior heavyweight/heavyweight system).

Ibushi is a stud. He’s capable of working a stiff, strong style while also taking to the skies and flying with the best of them. If you’re a WWE fan, you would remember Ibushi from the Cruiserweight Classic back in 2016. If you have the time, go back and watch his matches. That’s only a small taste of what Kota offers in the ring.

Across the squared circle from him is Will Ospreay, a junior heavyweight. Ospreay may be the best “high flyer” in the industry today, at only 25 years old. Ospreay stepped up and challenged Ibushi after he had just won the NEVER title back in December, and now the two are primed to kick off WrestleKingdom with a big ol’ bang.

Suzuki-Gun vs. Roppongi 3K vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles

Okay, so there’s a lot to unpack here for a match that, in terms of importance and excitement, is probably the lowest-caliber contest on the card.

A little backstory here: Each of these three teams represent three of the big factions in New Japan. Suzuki-Gun is being represented by El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Sho and Yoh of Roppongi3K are from CHAOS, and BUSHI and Shingo Takagi are from the Los Ingobernables de Japon (Most everyone in New Japan is in a faction, more on that later).

The lads from Suzuki-Gun are the reigning champs, and their two challengers are challenging primarily because they’re really only the only junior heavyweight tag teams in New Japan. The tag team booking hasn’t been especially great in recent years from what I’ve noticed, so while the other matches all have some semblance of build-up, this one’s a little lacking. Not to say it won’t be entertaining, because I have a strong suspicion every match on the card will be, but it definitely gets better from here.

Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr. – RPW (Revolution Pro Wrestling) Heavyweight Title

This one’s interesting because it’s taking place for a title that doesn’t belong to New Japan, instead with the British promotion Rev Pro. As such, I don’t know too much about the booking and the backstory, but I do know these two dudes, and they’re both supremely different.

Ishii is perhaps the best embodiment of the term “strong-style” that you’ll find on this year’s WrestleKingdom card. Big Tom is nicknamed the “Stone Pitbull,” and not for nothing, either. The man will rock you with an open hand so hard, your teeth will rattle around in your mouth. He hits hard, and doesn’t care if you could take it or not, making his matches brutally entertaining to watch. He’s the champ in this matchup.

Across the ring, you have the submission magician in Sabre Jr. Like Kota Ibushi, Sabre was in that Cruiserweight Classic field a few years back, and he wowed the WWE crowd with his array of holds and submissions. He could win with roughly 12 different submission holds, so you never know just how his matches are going to go, which is a good thing.

Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon vs. The Young BucksIWGP Tag Team Titles

So to start, the Guerrillas (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) are the champs here, having knocked off the Young Bucks this past year. EVIL and SANADA from L.I.J won this November’s World Tag League tournament, earning themselves a spot in this match. The Young Bucks are here because you can’t leave the Young Bucks off the card, they make too much money for that.

The main story here is between the Guerrilas and the Bucks, who all used to be in the Bullet Club stable together. Now, the Bucks have joined the Elite after a hostile takeover by the Guerrillas and some other Bullet Club members. There’s plenty of bad blood there.

The World Tag League champs feel almost like an afterthought here, but EVIL and SANADA won the tag belts at last year’s WrestleKingdom, and could definitely do it again.

Cody vs. Juice Robinson – IWGP U.S. Championship

Hey, you recognize these guys! That’s Cody Rhodes and NXT’s CJ Parker!

Not anymore, as Cody’s been forced to drop his last name, and Mr. Parker let the Juice loose and turned into his current character, Juice Robinson. These two will do battle over Cody’s United States title, a heavyweight belt that’s been pretty much an afterthought recently.

This will be the most “WWE” style match on the card, probably not too long and not nearly as innovative as some of the other contests you’ll see.

Kushida vs. Taiji Ishimori – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title

Junior action! I’m not really sure how Ishimori got himself booked into this year’s Junior Heavyweight championship match, but I’m not complaining.

Kushida’s been champ for a few months, after Hiromu Takahashi had to vacate the strap after a brutal-looking neck injury this summer. I have a feeling that this match was supposed to be Takahashi-Ishimori, but Kushida is spectacular in the ring, so I have no issues. Get well soon Hiromu!

This match is always a threat to steal the whole darn show, because the juniors wrestle such a fast-paced, high-octane style that it’s impossible not to be entertained. Expect to have a lot of fun watching this one!

Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White

This one’s the only match without a title at stake, so you really have to be invested in the feud going on between Okada and White to enjoy this one. (I’m personally not feeling it, sue me!)

Okada, “The Rainmaker,” had his record-setting reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion shattered in June, and ever since then he’s been a little lost. Meanwhile, the CHAOS stable that he’s in charge of began to splinter, all due to one man: Jay White.

White came in and turned on Okada, aligning himself with the Bullet Club, alongside Okada’s longtime manager Gedo. (Gedo is also the head booker of New Japan, behind the scenes. Fun little factoid for you.)

Okada was beaten by White in the 2018 G1 Climax, a big round-robin tournament held at the tail end of summer, in an upset. Since then, White’s had Okada’s number in tag matches, so this will likely be the blow-off to their six-month long feud.

Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito – IWGP Intercontinental Title

Wait. Back up a second. Chris Jericho? He’s a WWE guy, how did he get here?

Ahhhh, he WAS a WWE guy. Now, he’s a deranged IC titleholder in New Japan, defending the belt against the leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Tetsuya Naito.

You already know all about Jericho. I really love Naito, he wears really dapper-looking suits to the ring and practices “tranquilo,” which basically means he’s super calm, the perfect foil to Jericho’s madman character.

These two have been feuding for just about a year going back to last January, where Jericho, fresh off a loss to Kenny Omega at WrestleKingdom 12, jumped Naito at the following night’s New Year’s Dash event.

Jericho beat Naito for the IC belt in June, and tried to decline a rematch, but it’ll be Naito-Jericho at the Tokyo Dome, and it should be a blast.

Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – IWGP Heavyweight Title

The evening’s (morning’s?) main event, Kenny Omega defending the most prestigious championship in all of wrestling against the winner of the G1 Climax, Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi won the right to face Omega by winning the Climax, and defending his title shot against guys like Kazuchika Okada.

Tanahashi is referred to as the “Ace” of New Japan, and a lot of people like to compare him to Joh Cena, which is pretty high praise if you ask me. He’s been heavyweight champ plenty of times, but he’s still evidently got some left in the tank as he preps to challenge for his 8th IWGP heavyweight title.

On the other hand, Kenny Omega is enjoying his first reign as champ after dethroning Okada back in June in a match hailed as one of the greatest of all time. But the fact is you could say that about most of Omega’s matches, it’s why he’s nicknamed the “Best Bout Machine.”

He’s defended the belt against Cody and Tomohoro Ishii, among others, since winning the belt. He’s one of the hottest commodities in the sport, and if WrestleKingdom is your first exposure to him…get your popcorn ready. The man is a modern marvel.

That’s the card! If you’re out there gulping down coffee and rubbing your eyes frantically in an attempt to stay awake like I’ll be, then I wish you good luck! Enjoy the show, and consider sticking around on NJPW World, New Japan’s subscription streaming service, a little while longer for the January 5th New Year’s Dash event, where a lot of new storylines for 2019 will be kicked off!


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
Advertisement
Comments

Blog

#RAWisDVR: Greg DeMarco’s ACCELERATED Look At WWE Raw for 2/18

How much of Raw was Fast Forward worthy on Monday? (A lot.)

Published

on

RAWisDVR WWE Raw

Greg DeMarco watches WWE RAW on DVR, and you get to see how much time he saved! In the process, he’s highly entertaining, because it’s Greg DeMarco!

The experiment continues! Monday’s Raw follows up WWE Elimination Chamber, but it’s also a holiday Raw. What will happen? Will Greg skip too much? Let’s see!

Triple H is in entering the ring

  • Raw is weird again–not showing entrances
  • Promo in a nutshell: this is a holiday Raw, and nothing of consequence will happen–but we will try to make you think it is!
  • FAST FORWARD some talking
  • NXT?
  • Having Ricochet, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano, and Tommaso Ciampa appear on Raw is great, but it immediately makes the 6 stars awaiting assignment look small time
  • No Velveteen Dream? I wonder if this is a set-up?

FAST FORWARD the entrances

Braun Noveltyman vs. Baron Corbin Sucks in a Tables Match

  • I FAST FORWARDed it, but they spent WAY too much time on Corbin walking.
  • He sucks at walking, too.
  • Corbin also sucks at sliding tables under rings.
  • Why would he do that, anyway? He needs a table to win!
  • The flaw in a Tables Match, at least for this experiment, is that you can FAST FORWARD when a table isn’t involved.
  • FAST FORWARD commercials, we’re already saving tons of time tonight!
  • I wonder if Abyss is the agent for Baron Corbin’s matches? I mean, that’s the Vortex Of Suck!
  • Strowman wins. You’re shocked, I know.
  • Paul Heyman is on the stage, as WWE tries to keep you from changing the channel.

FAST FORWARD the commercials
Timestamp 15:39 (Show time: 35:43)

Paul Heyman is on the stage

  • Heyman didn’t give us the proper intro, and it hurt the segment.
  • FAST FORWARD the video
  • Heyman is right, Brock Lesnar is a force of nature that we can’t do anything about. That’s why him as champion works so well.
  • This crowd doesn’t really seem to care all that much about Seth Rollins
  • ANOTHER INTERRUPTION – #FinnBalorsDick is out and dressed to fight

Alternate Names For This:

  • #RAWisINTERRUPTION
  • #PleaseDontChangeTheChannel
  • #RAWisWEIRD

FAST FORWARD the commercials and video

Finn Balor & Ricochet vs. Bobby Lashley & Lio Rush

  • “One of these championships” isn’t a great way to describe everyone’s favorite title
  • Lio Rush is here, presumably to distract Balor so Lashley can attack him (because WWE)
  • And there he is!
  • BTW, you don’t FAST FORWARD when Lio Rush is talking
  • Which NXT star saves Balor? Ricochet? Black?
  • Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand it’s Ricochet.
  • FAST FORWARD the commercials
  • Ricochet really needed an introduction for this audience
  • Evan Bourne mention by Renee Young?
  • Renee is basically telling us that no one watches NXT.
  • This crowd could give a shit about Ricochet.
  • Four amazing athletes and there’s enough stalling for me to FAST FORWARD?
  • FAST FORWARD the commercials, again?
  • If you’re worried about Ricochet on the main roster…your fear is warranted.
  • FAST FORWARD the talking, but I stopped to see what Drew McIntyre was

FAST FORWARD so much stuff!
Timestamp: 33:45 (Real time: 1:23:05)

The Major Brothers (Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins) vs. Lucha House Party’s Gran Metallik & Lince Dorado

  • This isn’t where Hawkins wins, right? A throw away Raw match?
  • “Tans don’t win championships, ask Eric Bischoff!”
  • BTW, if Corey Graves is going through personal strife, he’s BURYING himself in his work, because he’s on fire tonight!
  • And of course Hawkins loses.
  • FAST FORWARD time!

Charly Caruso interviews Heavy Machinery

  • TUCKER hits the highlights, OTIS drives it home
  • Lacey Evans literally just walks the fuck around! And does nothing else? Lars couldn’t handle this?
  • We’re not having matches now, just entrances? And Bushwhacker walking? Missed opportunity for me to FAST FORWARD.

FAST FORWARD the commercials

DIY talks to Bobby Roode & chad Gable

  • Johnny Gargano looks like he’s waiting to say his lines, but Tommaso Ciampa is sitting there maintaining his gimmick
  • See Renee, The Revival watches NXT!
  • And the entrance we do get is The Revival?
  • Oh we get Ciampa and Gargano entrances, too

The Revival vs. DIY (non-title assumed)

  • The fans in Lafayette have got to feel like they did something wrong, or wonder if they’re still watching dark matches
  • Literally 6 people are chanting “NXT!” Somehow I don’t see how this was a good idea.
  • While we’re here, anyone want to talk to me about how important it is to have defined Faces and Heels? No? Didn’t think so.
  • Classic Gargano? Not Vintage? Maybe Cole really is looking to finish this up.
  • FAST FORWARD the commercials and I am 5 minutes short of an hour saved
  • A “Saints Got Robbed” sign? Let it go, brother.
  • The announcers selling what it would mean if DIY wins has to be foreshadowing, eh?
  • This match is proof that you can’t just throw matches out and expect a reaction–you need to build characters first.
  • Great match–imagine if the crowd had a reason to be invested in more than the last two minutes!

Charly Caruso talks to Ricochet

  • Damn, Ricochet looks nervous
  • I hope that was done live, and not the best take in pretapes

FAST FORWARD the commercials
(These Kevin Owens videos are boring–this is supposed to get him over upon return?)
Timestamp: 59:27 (Real time: 2:01:15)
FAST FORWARD the promo, the commentary aside, DX package, commercials, and more entrances

Dean Ambrose vs. Drew McIntyre

  • Credit to McIntyre for trying to take the referee’s directions off camera, but this was WAY off
  • I don’t want to blame Ambrose, but shit this was oddly bad

FAST FORWARD
Timestamp: 1:04:24 (Real time: 2:22:23 )

Seth Rollins Talking to Charly Caruso

  • It’s about what you’d expect.
  • Whatever they’re doing with Ambrose here, it sucks.

FAST FORWARD the commercials and videos

Elias vs. Aleister Black

  • “Hello I am Eliath” Aleister Black here?
  • Elias is so good at cheap heat, and I 100% believe in cheap heat
  • And we let Aleister cut a promo? That’s totally bad for his character.
  • Black trimmed the beard, and it was a smart move
  • FAST FORWARD the commercials
  • “His tattoos tall a story about his life–dark and mean” yet I see flowers on his arm?
  • FAST FORWARD the chinlock
  • BLACK MASS is still a great finisher, even if this one was a bit awkward.
  • I really wonder if the time these guys have to work on their matches at the PC really is the key to NXT’s success

FAST FORWARD the commercials and entrances

Ronda Rousey vs. Ruby Riott

  • Holiday Raw means no Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair?
  • Did Ronda borrow shorts from Lacey Evans?
  • Someday Ruby Riott is going to be booked like a plucky underdog babyface, and she’s going to flourish
  • Even the commentary is off tonight!
  • And there’s the “WE WANT BECKY!” chants
  • Camera work, anyone? We just saw two different conversations take place in the ring.
  • Damn, Ronda took that Riott kick square to the head!
  • And Ronda has now kicked out of Ruby’s finisher TWICE. Once off the top!
  • Ronda was terrible tonight.
  • Raw ends with Ronda standing tall and nothing else.

Final Timestamp: 1:24:44
Real Time: 3:00:00
Time Saved: 1:35:16

Overall, this was just a weird Raw. Nearly everything seemed off, and as we march towards WrestleMania, nothing that happened tonight will be remembered.

 

 

 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
Continue Reading

Opinion

The Streak Part 8: Going For the Gold (2007-2008)

The Streak continues against Batista and Edge!

Published

on

The Undertaker The Streak WWE

The years of 2007-8 were banner years for the Undertaker at WrestleMania, for the first time ever, he found himself battling for the World Heavyweight Championship in back-to-back WrestleManias when he took on Batista and Edge. 2007 would also mark the first and only time the Undertaker won a Royal Rumble match, eliminating Shawn Michaels after an amazing match, their first encounter since their casket match at the 1998 Royal Rumble.

In 2008, Taker would find himself facing another undefeated WrestleMania Streak when he took on Edge, his former Ministry minion, who had had a career resurgence, bursting back onto the scene as the opportunistic, manipulative, and cunning Rated-R Superstar, who was also undefeated at WrestleMania.

WrestleMania 23 – Taming the Animal
The Undertaker vs. Batista

The match against Batista was something of a dream match for a lot of fans. Batista had risen through the ranks of WWE like a rocket as part of the Evolution stable with Triple H, Ric Flair, and Randy Orton. For Taker, this would mark the first time since 1997, that he’d battled for a title at WrestleMania.

For some reason, SmackDown GM, Teddy Long, is playing the ring announcer for this match. Batista comes out first, even though he is the champion and he shows no real intimidation of the Undertaker. The Druids come out first, ready to light the way for the Deadman and there are a LOT of them, lightning strikes and the Deadman cometh.

Batista does the smart thing and goes for Taker before Taker is really ready for him, hoping to get the Deadman off his game and give himself a chance of ending the match quickly and keeping his title. This match quickly degenerated into a brawl, but there was a weird moment when Taker was almost shadow boxing, like he’d gotten his bell rung a little and didn’t know where he was.

Batista really dominated the start of the match, ending the Streak seemed less important than keeping the title, which is how it should be. We’re about halfway into the match before Taker really starts mounting any serious offense, but it was the full Taker treatment. Old School is always cool to see.

I will give Batista his due, he’s never been a refined wrestler and definitely had flaws in his game, but he kept up with Taker step for step and actually seemed to have the Deadman on the ropes a few times. At one point, it looked like the Streak was going to end with a countout after Batista put Taker through the announce table, but Animal didn’t want to win that way and went after the Deadman, tearing apart half of ringside in the process.

The one odd thing about this match is that, despite Taker winning the Royal Rumble, this match was NOT the main event of WrestleMania, that spot was given to the John Cena vs Shawn Michaels WWE Championship match. This dream match was in the mid-card, which has always irritated me. The Deadman would sustain all this punishment and, for the first time in his career, win the World Heavyweight Championship, not the WWE Championship, at WrestleMania. The Streak is 15-0.

  • Rating: 8/10 It was a great match, just really bad placement.
  • Highlight: Batista not wanting to win on a countout.

WrestleMania 24 – Streak vs Streak
The Undertaker vs. Edge

This was another really interesting feud. Edge had gone from tag team competition to the mid-card before bursting into the main event scene after revamping himself as a manipulative, opportunistic superstar who would stop at nothing to get and retain the World Championship, which lead him to pick a fight with both Batista and the Undertaker, and using his relationship with Vicki Guerrero and her Familia to hang onto the title, but after Taker won at Elimination Chamber, it was time for Edge to pay the piper…or the Reaper. This match would also be a battle of the Streaks as Taker’s 15-0 Streak would be up against Edge’s 5-0 Streak.

Taker comes out first, in one of the rare cases that it happened, faithful Druids on hand to light the way. The fact that WWE was able to make an outdoor arena pitch black for this entrance is really cool. Edge, the champion, is accompanied, at least part of the way, by Vicki and Chavo Guerrero, Vicki in her wheelchair. Edge was actually smirking and cocky…until he got in the ring and what he was about to do fully hit him, then the smirk fell.

This match started with shoving and punching and stayed that way. This was a PHYSICAL match up. Edge actually countered Old School, but paid for it anyway when Taker was able to reverse in mid-air. We had an unintended snafu when Taker hit a Stinger Splash on Edge a little too hard and launched himself out of the ring and landed badly on his hip.  Edge tried to take advantage, but Taker battled back, despite a noticeable limp.

Things broke down when the ref got taken out. Edge tried every underhanded trick in the book to win, but Taker sat back up. It looked all over, except for the ref, but Charles Robinson, in the moment that made him a meme, sprinted down to the ring with all his might to make the count.

We also got our first look at Ryder and Hawkins as the Edgeheads, but even they weren’t enough to put away the Deadman. This was an amazing match up, Edge definitely proved that being in the main event was where he belonged and he could hang with anyone, including the Undertaker.

The end was surprise. Edge hit the dreaded Spear but Taker countered it into Hell’s Gate, which was TECHNICALLY illegal, but Robinson okayed it and Edge tapped out, the first time a Streak match ended on a submission. Taker is 16-0 and NEW World Heavyweight Champion!

  • Rating: 8/10 A really great match and a surprise ending.
  • Highlight: Charles Robinson running. The Edgehead getting their clocks cleaned. Edge tapping out.

 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
Continue Reading

Connect on Facebook

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending Today