Day 2 of Wrestle Kingdom! We crown the Double Champion, Le Champion faces the Ace and Jyushin Thunder Liger’s final match!
Tetsuya Naito and Kazuchika Okada will main event today for the historic Double Gold Dash! KENTA and Goto come to a head, so we’ll see if KENTA’s new nature will help him prevail.
Should also be interesting to see what happens with Jay White and Kota Ibushi. Whoever loses this will have to deal with two huge loses to kick off their year. Uphill battle in the future for someone.
Let’s see if Day 2 comes off stronger than Day 1!
NEVER 6 Man Gauntlet:
- Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens vs YOSHI-HASHI, Robbie Eagles & Tomohiro Ishii: CHAOS team moves on via Vertical Drop Brainbuster
- YOSHI-HASHI, Robbie Eagles & Tomohiro Ishii vs Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado: CHAOS team moves on via Cradle Counter
- YOSHI-HASHI, Robbie Eagles & Tomohiro Ishii vs EVIL, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi: LIJ team moves on via Darkness Falls
- EVIL, BUSHI & Shingo Takagi vs Toru Yano, Ryusuke Taguchi & Togi Makabe (c): Shingo wins via Made in Japan @23:20 – ** 1/2 – TITLE CHANGE!!
- Liger the Final: Ryu Lee & Hiromu Takahashi vs Jyushin Thunder Liger & Naoki Sano w/Yoshiaki Fujiwara: Hiromu wins via Time Bomb @12:15 – *** 1/2
- IWGP Junior Tag Titles: El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori (c) vs Roppongi 3k (SHO & YOH): Roppongi 3k wins via Spiked Shock Arrow @14:10 – *** 1/2 – TITLE CHANGE!!
- RevPro British Heavyweight Championship: SANADA vs Zack Sabre Jr (c): Sabre retains via European Leg Clutch @12:30 – *** 3/4
- IWGP US Championship: Juice Robinson vs Jon Moxley (c): Moxley retains via Death Rider @12:50 – *** 1/4
- NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto vs KENTA (c): Goto wins via GTR @16:10 – **** – TITLE CHANGE!!
- Jay White vs Kota Ibushi: Jay White wins via Blade Runner @25:00 – *** 3/4
- Chris Jericho vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Jericho wins via Liontamer @22:25 – ****
- Double Gold Dash: IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championship Winner Takes All: Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Kazuchika Okada (c): Tetsuya Naito wins via Destino @35:35 – ***** – TITLE CHANGE!!!!!
NEVER 6 Man Gauntlet – Last year we had a gauntlet match to crown number 1 contenders, and this follows a similar suit. A few of the teams were significantly less believable than others. The Bullet Club team is all the B Squad, so no one cares about them. Which sucks since Yujiro has the best theme song of all of them, don’t believe me? Look up Harlem Nights on YouTube. The Suzuki-Gun team was undersized, so even though the Holy Emperor is love and life, there wasn’t a lot of hope on this one, and Eagles with the cheeky Cradle counter makes sense. LIJ was the most legit team here since EVIL and Shingo are legit contenders for singles titles and BUSHI…well he’s part of the team too!
A little controversy on the finish between the CHAOS team and LIJ team, since after Darkness Falls the kick out and 3 count were close, but the referee said Ishii was down for 3. The champions came out last, and Makabe looked pretty great in this short stint. Makabe hit his 10 count punches, had a few power spots with Shingo, and showed he’s got a little bit left in the gas tank. Shingo took a good bit on punishment and ate Taguchi’s Bum-a-Ye, Dodon and fought out of the Ankle Lock. BUSHI hits the black mist, Shingo goes for the Pumping Bomber followed by Made in Japan, and we have new NEVER 6 Man Champions! This could be a great night for LIJ.
Liger the Final: Ryu Lee & Hiromu Takahashi vs Jyushin Thunder Liger & Naoki Sano w/Yoshiaki Fujiwara – This was more than the usual feel good retirement exhibition. Hiromu kept trying to push Liger to get the angry version out. Sano had a brief moment where he did a top rope Double Dropkick as well as a running one, but this was mostly a match between Hiromu and Liger. Liger had some nostalgic moments with the Surf Board, Romero Special and the Shotei strikes, but alas Liger went out the old school way and a Time Bomb sealed his fate. A really good match, even without the emotional weight.
IWGP Junior Tag Titles: El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori (c) vs Roppongi 3k (SHO & YOH) – Nice pacing to the match, even following the stream dying right after the Liger match concluded. Each man got most of their signature offense in, Taiji with his Sliding German Suplex and his rope sliding combo. ELP pulled off his Assist Spinning Neckbreaker, but it was all about 3k today. Rocky had the genius idea to have the boys wear cups, so when the Bullet Club team went for a low blow, they were prepared. ELP was stunned, Taiji got hit with the 3k and ELP got put away after a few combination moves, capped off with a Shock Arrow/Foot Stomp combo. Nice match, especially when we haven’t seen the Junior Titles very often in the last 6 months.
RevPro British Heavyweight Championship: SANADA vs Zack Sabre Jr (c) – This was definitely a special technical match. Different pace, different feel with the match being a ton of mat based counters, roll through spots and hold for hold moments. Poor Hattori got a workout with the locomotion pinfall attempts. The finish was a little abrupt, but worked for the match since there are so many similarities between the two, that the ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ feeling of the match implied that a hold was going to win, possibly out of nowhere. Great stuff, and a great change of pace between other matches on the card.
IWGP US Championship: Juice Robinson vs Jon Moxley (c) – Juice hits a plancha before Moxley gets into the ring and takes it right to him. Early use of chairs gives Juice a small upper hand, but Moxley stems the early Juice offense. Juice managed to hit everything, Juice Box, Left Hand of God, and just ever so shy of hitting Pulp Friction. Moxley fought back well, urged Juice to hit him and keep fighting, just good tough guy stuff. Dirty Deeds, floating over into a Death Rider as well, was a cool way to finish the match. Not as good as Moxley’s first match against Juice, but much better than the Deathmatch yesterday.
-Minrou Suzuki’s music hits, he comes to the ring and lays out Moxley. He stakes his claim to the US title. So I guess this proves the reports of him leaving to be at the very least, wrong on the timeline. Suzuki versus Moxley should be interesting.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto vs KENTA (c) – This match was a nice combination of King’s Road and Strong Style. This match showed KENTA could absorb some stiff strikes and give them back, to silence anyone thinking he was a little too soft in this return. KENTA landed Busaiku Knee, Double Footstomps and his Hesitation Dropkick, but it wasn’t enough to keep Goto down. Goto hit the Ushigoroshi, GTW and wins the match with GTR, after a fantastic strike exchange between the two. Damn good match, though I would’ve preferred KENTA to win.
Jay White vs Kota Ibushi – Well this was interesting. A match one would’ve expected to be a little shorter because both men went over 30 minutes yesterday, Jay really dragged certain sections out. Kota Ibushi tapped into his dark side/extra health bar twice in the match, and there were plenty of great spots…but Jay gonna Jay. Ref bump, Gedo pulled the referee out, chairs, brass knuckles, general interference, it was all perfect for the Bullet Club agenda, but it was less charming in this match. Too much interference, too many spots felt like they took a little too long to set up, just a little off at points. Great character work from both, and the ring work was solid…but it definitely makes you wonder where they’ll take Ibushi’s story moving forward.
Chris Jericho vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – So the first couple things to notice are, Jericho’s music was altered…doesn’t he…own his own music? Did he not give New Japan broadcast rights like every other match? Also…God he looks terrible, especially compared to Tanahashi.
Either way, we get a really good match. Early on there were moments on the outside, where Jericho did his flip the bird into the camera gimmick, and they wiped out English Commentary, because that’s the Japanese Spanish Announce Table. Back in the ring, there was actually a really great back and forth. Tanahashi countered the Judas Effect every time, and Jericho had an answer for the High Fly Flow each time. Even hitting a Codebreaker, which was a little low, so it was more of a Chodebreaker. But both men went to steal one another’s moves, traded low blows when the referee was bumped and it was a really fun match with good action. Jericho transitioning from the Walls into the Liontamer to get the win has a lot of layers. Between the name of the move and the fact that it’s a modified Boston Crab (the Young Lion finisher), it’s moderately insulting. This does however bring Jericho’s win/loss up to 3-3 since he returned the last few years. So no AEW championship shot for Tanahashi.
Double Gold Dash: IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championship Winner Takes All: Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Kazuchika Okada (c) – As we’ve grown to expect, this wasn’t going to be a short match. The progression in the story was fantastic. Naito showed his undying resolve and Okada went from just wanting to prove he’s the best, to things turning a little to him wanting to send a message while taking out Naito.
Okada pulled out most of his tricks against Ibushi, so we didn’t really see any special moves, more just his attitude slowly changed as the match went on. Naito though, he pulled off the Stardust Press which he doesn’t try often and was his old finisher before his Los Ingobernables persona. This was a classic back and forth, but you knew it was going to be great when Naito kicked out of the Rainmaker. It happens so infrequently anymore, and the match hit one final gear before Naito figured out a way to hit a second Gloria and then the official Destino, to become the first ever dual singles champion!
-As Naito was closing the show, KENTA slides in and attacks him. Go 2 Sleep and poses on his chest with the belts, like he did with Shibata. KENTA would be a fresh challenger, and a nice way to kick off a decent length title reign for Naito. Hopefully.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Now this felt like Wrestle Kingdom! Even the gauntlet on the Pre-show worked for what it was supposed to, and everything else was pretty good to great. Most of the matches had a different style, so bringing different flavors, and good quality all helped to make this show feel larger than just a normal show.
Liger went out on his own terms, still being able to put on a great match, and not just by getting carried for a couple spots and nostalgia pops. KENTA had a great showing in the loss, which helped to make the finish of the show work fairly well. Ibushi will have his issues coming back, but this might be the beginning of his year or so long rebuild. Ibushi will most likely get a run with the Heavyweight title, just hard to see it coming any time soon.
Los Ingobernables is in an interesting position, since everyone except SANADA has gold. So with New Year Dash still shrouded in mystery, we might get some interesting shifts in stables. A lot to enjoy, a lot to think about and a lot of good building up for the rest of the year. Since Wrestle Kingdom is always seen as the final chapter of the previous year’s stories, this ended pretty great.
2020 chapter will begin tomorrow, and there’s a ton of directions things could go. But one thing is for sure, we start with Tetsuya Naito as IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champion!