One week removed from Wrestle Kingdom 10, “The Wrestlemania of Pro Wrestling”, read all about it, including the reasons why English commentary was at an all time low.
Now, before I get into it, I’ll say this: not a single match on this show was bad. They were all good. Any match excluded from this list, though, was just good to me. Ones included are the ones really worth talking about.
Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
I don’t know if there has ever been a better match that culminates a feud in the history of professional wrestling. I really don’t. There’s matches I like more, but is there a better match? Who knows. When a match is as good as Okada vs Tanahashi, it’s tough to put it in words. Perfection is one I’d use, and I don’t throw that around too often. These men put together a masterful match, that you should really watch if you’re a professional wrestling fan. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you skipped it.
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs AJ Styles for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
This match was probably the most hyped up, and most I’ve looked forward to a match in a LONG time, and you know what? It lived up to the hype. It was no Okada/Tanahashi, but that’s like saying The Godfather II is no Godfather I. They’re both fucking phenomenal, but some people have different taste. With the recent news, it sure doesn’t seem like this will be the last time these two meet in the squared circle.
Kenny Omega (c) vs Kushida for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega may be the most fun wrestler in the world right now. He encapsulates the goofiness of wrestling in the best way possible. The Bucks accompanying him to the ring and playing The Terminator theme on garbage cans was laugh out loud funny. Kushida is the right guy to take the title off of Omega before his run at the Intercontinental Championship, too. Kushida’s well known among NJPW fans, and universally liked, but I don’t think he’s appreciated enough for how good he is. Check out this match, and Kushida’s match with Kyle O’Reilly from Best of the Super Juniors last year to see what I mean.
Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs Katsuyori Shibata for the NEVER Openweight Championship
If you want to show a non-fan what Japanese “Strong Style” is, this is the match to do it. Holy shit were these two stiff. Like, so stiff, that it got to the point where I wanted them to stop. There was a spot where Ishii and Shibata were headbutting each other as if wrestling wasn’t fake, and it made me uncomfortable. I just kept hearing Will Smith’s voice from the Concussion trailer…”Tell da troof!”
Other than that spot, though, I loved this match. The moment where they went into no-selling everything, and eventually both collapsed before executing the next move was so realistically done (the collapse, not the no selling), that I actually laughed when it happened. The kind of, “Wow, that is so awesome” laugh.
reDRagon (c) vs The Young Bucks vs Roppongi Vice vs Aerial Dogfight for the IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship
This wasn’t a five star, emotional classic, but it was a bunch of flippy-doos, and I love me some flippy doos. The Young Bucks getting the win made me happy, and they once again took the titles off reDRagon without making them take a pinfall or submission. Aerial Dogfight, although needing a new name, are a great tag team, who are SUPER over. Roppongi Vice were great, as always.
Holy shit was this dreadful. I watched this pay per view in English, because I had a feeling the combination of Kevin “He Got ‘Em” Kelly, Matt “I’m Marking Out Bro” Striker, and Yoshi “…” Tatsu would be a trainwreck worth talking about. It was. There are so many things terrible about this team. Yoshi Tatsu was brought in to translate, and he pretty much never did that. He translated Ishii and Shibata yelling “C’mon!” at each other, and that was pretty much the extent of it.
Kevin Kelly is never offensively bad, but he’s not good. Every move and pinfall is, “He got ’em!”. Learn some synonyms, Kevin.
Matt Striker pisses me off the most. No, not because he called me out on Pay Per View once, but because he could be good. Like, REALLY good. Matt Striker isn’t necessarily a bad commentator, but he’s a bad personality. I was constantly taken out of the matches because he’s trying SO HARD to appeal to the “internet fans” with everything he says. Every sentence ends with a “wink wink, I watch wrestling and enjoy it too, guys”. He definitely knows who Yujiro Takahashi is.
I don’t know if the aftermath has ever been more obvious.
AJ Styles, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson, and Shinsuke Nakamura are all headed to WWE, which is just the coolest fucking thing ever.
Kenny Omega is chasing Nakamura’s title, and will likely win it before the end of the month. The Young Bucks and Kenny are now an offshoot of the Bullet Club called The Elite.
Hirooki Goto attacked Okada at the press conference, so he’s the next challenger.
Go out of your way to watch this show, and try to watch it in Japanese. I guarantee it’s a better experience listening to a language you don’t understand than listening to this commentary team.