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The Weekly Brainbuster: The Top 5 Wrestle Kingdom Matches (through WK13)

This week’s Brainbuster takes a look at Matt’s Top 5 Wrestle Kingdom matches headed into this weekend’s 14th edition of the event!

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Kazuchika Okada WrestleKingdom Kenny Omega

This week’s Brainbuster takes a look at Matt’s Top 5 Wrestle Kingdom matches headed into this weekend’s 14th edition of the event!

Welcome to a special edition of The Brainbuster! No power rankings article again this week, some technical difficulties in my laboratory of statistics, but we move on! As of the writing of this we are just 12 hours away from New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 14! My alarms are set, I’m ready. In anticipation of what many wrestling fans agree is the best night of professional wrestling bell to bell in the world, lets take a look at the Top 5 matches in Wrestle Kingdom history!

Honorable Mentions:

1- Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion Minoru Suzuki vs Yuji Nagata
Wrestle Kingdom 1 – January 4th, 2007 – NJPW 35th Anniversary

Many viewed this match as the main attraction on this card, even though Hiroshi Tanahashi would defend the IWGP Heavyweight Championship later. Suzuki came in as the reigning champion and faced off against arguably at the time, one of the top recognized names in Japanese professional wrestling in the world. Suzuki would unleash a vicious assault outside the ring, both men ended up broken and bloody by the end. It was not to be for Nagata on this night as a referee stoppage ended his title hopes, and cemented Suzuki his second title defense of his reign.

2- IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Wrestle Kingdom 2 – January 4th, 2008

In a match up between two men who would battle for the title of Ace for the next decade, the reigning G1 winner and IWGP Champion faced the leader of RISE Shinsuke Nakamura. Two years prior, Nakamura lost his championship match against Brock Lesnar, but here he defeated his rival with the Landslide, a second rope Samoan Driver, hooking the legs to claim his second IWGP Championship. There would be many more Tanahashi/Nakamura matches through the years, but this one is truly a memorable match. What I most enjoy about it is you can (and have to) watch it with Japanese commentary, but you understand the story being told and that is vital to wrestling. Both of them are masters of their crafts, and not the last time they will appear on this match

The Top 5 WrestleKingdom Matches Through WK13

#5 IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada
Wrestle Kingdom 7 – January 4th, 2013

The match that started it all. The rejuvenation of New Japan Pro Wrestling. This match was made when Kazuchika Okada won the G1 in his first try in 2012. Tanahashi had been well established as the Ace of New Japan by this point, but remarkably, Okada was a former IWGP Heavyweight Champion already as well, besting Tanahashi at A New Beginning in 2012. They would clash again at Dominion with Tanahashi taking the title back. This match was epic in almost every way you could imagine. It told a great story with Okada trying to prove himself again and again, but Tanahashi tested Okada and the veteran had the answers to the test. Okada would continuously miss Rainmakers as Tanahashi had his rival scouted in their third match in a year. Okada kicked out of a High Fly Flow, avoided a submission loss by scratching and clawing to the ropes, but the second High Fly Flow ended the match after 33 minutes and the Ace retained.

#4 IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs AJ Styles
Wrestle Kingdom 10 – January 4th, 2016

I just watched this match again yesterday, and it was truly one of the most fun matches I’ve ever watched. That’s a lot of praise for the fourth match in a top 5 list, but that just tells you what you’re in for coming up. I had a tough time deciding between this or the next match for the third entry, but the aftermath of this match left a lot to be desired as both men would leave the company, sending shockwaves throughout the wrestling world, but, it did not allow either man to follow up this spectacle. The story here was that Styles regarded Nakamura as one of the best in the world, and he wanted to beat the best in the Toyko Dome. In November 2015, Styles aggravated a back injury in storyline as he was pulling double duty between ROH and NJPW, and that injury was mentioned several times here. Styles even went as far as to feign a pinched nerve after getting slammed into the turnbuckle, but attacked Nakamura from behind to a chorus of boos. Nakamura would lead a charge of his own, trying to Bome Ye multiple times, but Styles dodged them, before getting caught in the teeth off the middle turnbuckle. Nakamura couldn’t make the cover. Kevin Kelly reminded everyone that both men had failed to take advantage of several finishing moves throughout the match. Styles hit what we now recognize as the Phenomenal Forearm but couldn’t get three. Nakamura would end the match with a vicious Bome Ye and retain after 24 minutes. The atmosphere created by these two mega icons colliding in the Toyko Dome was truly the definition of dream match. They gave it their all, telling a great story, working over limbs and targeting injuries old and new.

*Every time Styles tried the Styles Clash he was booed out of the arena, due to the moves perceived danger in Japan after breaking the necks of several wrestlers months prior to this match. Eventually, Styles would connect on one, and eerily enough, Nakamura landed awkwardly on his neck and shoulder, but I believe it was a worked shoot for heat, as Nakamura appeared to attempt to protect himself. If it was a botch, its unfortunate, but I looked at it several times, and I do think it was an attempt to get sympathy for Nakamura and heat for Styles during the match.

#3 IWGP IC Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kota Ibushi
Wrestle Kingdom 9 – January 4th, 2015

Happening a year before the previous match, it was also bred from a challenger wanting to beat Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom for the coveted Intercontinental Championship. Kota Ibushi would humiliate Nakamura in November 2014 during a post-match speech with an amateur takedown suplex and challenging The King of Strong Styles for the Toyko Dome. It was billed as the student versus the teacher, as Ibushi idolized Nakamura and would even attempt the Bome Ye during the match. Nakamura had the entrance of a lifetime, coming to the ring in a red robe with a crown fit for a King, proclaiming himself Mr. Wrestle Kingdom in the process. This was a star making match for the young Golden Star Kota Ibushi, as he graduated from he junior division and delivered a once in a lifetime match here. Nakamura tried to ground the athletic high flyer with grapples and armbars, but Ibushi would take to the sky almost winning the championship with a Phoenix Splash- but he missed! Bome Ye connects! Kickout! Insane. The fans thought it was over. Near the end, both men exhausted, Ibushi lifts Nakamura off the mat with a dead lift german suplex which is burned into my memory and is the one thing I remember most about the match. Nakamura would finally strike his way to victory after multiple Bome Ye’s for the victory after 20 minutes. From the star making and career defining performance of Kota Ibushi, to the pageantry of Nakamura’s entrance, to the hard hitting strikes, the kickouts, and everything in between, this is a special match and one of my favorites, yet better is to come!

#2 IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada
Wrestle Kingdom 9 – January 4th, 2015

A rematch from two years prior. Kazuchika Okada would again win G1, challenging Tanahashi for the championship again. This match was special because it was commentated by Jim Ross and Matt Stryker and was the first main event in Wrestle Kingdom history to have English commentary. Historical standards aside, the history of these two established in just three calendar years made this match truly important in prelude, and memorable in execution. They played a similar story from two years prior with Okada trying to outsmart Tanahashi and taunt the champion, but again Tanahashi used his years of in ring knowledge and his history with Okada against him. Knowing the eyes of the world were on him, Tanahashi gave us a “Wrestle Kingdom Moment” leaping from the top rope across the barricade into the fans connecting with a High Fly Flow onto Okada in the crowd. You really have to see that to believe it. From there they would exchange blows, multiple High Fly Flows were not enough to put away the Rainmaker. Tanahashi tried flash pins, but those were not enough either. Tanahashi reversed the Rainmaker lariat into a dragon suplex, gets two. Okada with a dropkick that shakes the arena and Jim Ross by gawds the hell out of it. His added commentary added so much magic to this match. Okada can not put away Tanahashi, with the lariat blocked again, Tanahashi unloads with patented dragon screws, multiple High Fly Flows again, and pins Okada once more after 31 minutes of five star wrestling. Many argue this is the greatest match they ever had, and the greatest match in Wrestle Kingdom history, but in the words of Yoda Return of the Jedi…there is another.

#1 IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega
Wrestle Kingdom 11 – January 4th, 2017

This match is the definition of wrestling perfection. It is not only the best Wrestle Kingdom match of all time, it is in my top 10 matches ever. The story here was Omega challenging after winning the G1. Omega had taken over lead of The Bullet Club in January 2016, and won the IWGP IC Championship in February. He would go on to wrestle in the first ever Ladder match in New Japan, and would arguably be the most valuable wrestler in the company heading into this match. Omega would draw on his love of anime and video games (one of the reasons he moved to Japan in 2013), coming out with a large anime style gun attached to his arm, and a one winged angel crossed over his back.

Omega knew that the Rainmaker could end the match at any point, so he targeted Okada’s legs and arms throughout the opening and middle of the match. To me, that was amazing to see unfold. You don’t see that in major American promotions, few and very far between anyway. Omega worked on Okada’s arms and legs, kicking, twisting, and bruising them on the outside, everything he could think of to sap the power of Okada making the Rainmaker as useless as possible. Omega would also work the neck, softening the champion for his One Winged Angel, a direct elevated driver on the back of the neck. Omega was masterful here, working a story and a style reminiscent of a Ric Flair or Bryan Danielson, using his opponents strengths against him. The spectacle and historical importance of the two previous matches on this list were paled in comparison to the psychology of this one. Like I said, it compares to any of the best stuff Flair or Danielson ever did in any match. There were multiple crashes through tables, and hard assaults on the outside enough to end any match, but not this one. Omega sustained not one nor two but five Rainmakers and kicked out. Okada countered the One Wing Angel in one of the most athletic ways that even a contortionist should ask him how he did it. The escalation of this match was magical, with both men giving everything they had. I had several thoughts they were going the distance and time limit drawing, but it was Okada who survived an Omega Bome Ye knee strike and delivered a devastating Rainmaker that ended the match after 47 minutes. Omega was never able to hit the One Winged Angel. We were left to wonder if Okada could have survived if he hit it after the methodical breakdown that Omega delivered in this match. It is absolutely one of the greatest matches ever wrestled. Arigato! Arigato! Arigato!


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Opinion

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?

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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!


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Opinion

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!

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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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