Defrost's Flashback Preview To NJPW Wrestle Kingdom IX

Wrestle Kingdom 9 in the Tokyo Dome. Live on NJPW World or in English with Jim Ross doing Play by Play on PPV. The biggest non Wrestlemania show of the year. So what led us to where we are? What will the show look like? Perhaps the following matches can point in the right direction.

King of Pro Wrestling 2013 (Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan) 
IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
The Time Splitters (c) vs The Young Bucks vs Forever Hooligans

reDragon defends the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against Time Splitters, Young Bucks, and Forever Hooligans at Wrestle Kingdom 9

They get a lot of time for this match. A lot more time than they’re gonna get at the Tokyo Dome. Young Buck represent The Bullet Club. Forever Hooligans represent Chaos. Time Splitters represent the NJPW Sekigun. Two guys start in the ring, Alex Shelley and Nick Jackson to be specific, with the third team hanging out on the apron. That won’t last. It actually lasts much longer than expected to be fair. To describe these teams. The Time Splitters, Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA, are a much better version of the Motor City Machine Guns. Forever Hooligans, Rocky Romero and Alex Kozlov, are great together. Have an awesome act that can be goofy but really fun and makes me so happy Davey Richards is a dipshit so we got this team. And if you need me to explain the Young Bucks to you I really don’t want to speak with you. Shelley spends a good chunk of this match as the babyface in peril taking a beating from both the Bucks and Hooligans. Thinking about it that is a role Shelley often plays on that team. KUSHIDA really is the next Jr Ace of NJPW so it makes sense he’d be the guy who gets the hot tag. It is at that point where the whole concept of tagging goes out the window. There is a scary spot when we get to the obligatory everyone does a dive portion of the match. Kozlov goes for the tope con hilo, but gets his foot caught in the ropes. It looks like he smashes his head on the apron, but thankfully he was okay. Romero and Kozlov would play off that spot on the next PPV when Romero refused to allow Kozlov to try the move. The insanity continues and everything is so fast and precise it is impossible to describe. These guys are so great.

Your winners via pinfall at 18:56 when KUSHIDA pinned Alex Kozlov with a Horizontal Cradle and still IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Time Splitters

Star Rating: ****1/4

Road to Power Struggle 2013 (Tokyo Korakuen Hall)
Bad Luck Fale vs Tomoaki Honma

TenKoji and Tomoaki Honma take on the Bullet Club team of Jeff Jarrett, Bad Luck Fale, and Yujiro Takahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 9

This match at the Dome is a weird one since it was all based around Jarrett and Yoshitatsu and Yoshitatsu is out with a broken neck. There is no real point to this match now except getting guys on the card.

Tomoaki Honma is the greatest underdog wrestler in the world today. He never wins yet the crowd lives and dies with everything he does, and everything he does is quite great. Imagine if Barry Horowitz had the talent of Bret Hart. The way the crowd reacts to his hope spot is like Steve Austin diving off the zamboni onto Vince McMahon. It is insane.

This match here follows the playbook. Fale dominates, and in a lot of ways this is a squash. Fale at the time was being built to face Togi Makabe at Wrestle Kingdom 8 so he went through Makabe’s regular partner Honma along the way. Honma makes Fale look like an absolute monster here. Not sure why Fale had to grab a nerve hold in a six minute match. Honma gets the crowd behind him and puts Fale over. That was the lone goal of this match and that goal was met.

Your winner via KO at 6:32 with the Bad Luck Fall Bad Luck Fale

Star Rating: **

NOAH Great Voyage 2013 in Tokyo (Tokyo Ariake Coliseum)
GHC Tag Team Championship
Toru Yano and Takashi Iizuka (c) vs TMDK

Toru Yano teams with GHC Heavyweight Champion Naomichi Marufuji and TMDK from Pro Wrestling NOAH to take on the Suzuki-Gun team of Takashi Iizuka, Shelton X Benjamin, and the Killer Elite Squad at Wrestle Kingdom 9

At Back to the Yokohama Arena Takashi Iizuka turned on his tag team partner Toru Yano and joined Suzuki-gun. Here we take a look at happier times when Yano and Iizuka invaded Pro Wrestling NOAH and won their tag team titles. Ironically it is against the team of TMDK who will join Yano against Suzuki-gun at the Tokyo Dome. On top of that they’re teaming with GHC Champion Naomichi Marufuji who was once a tag team champion with Suzuki-gun leader Minoru Suzuki. Very interesting times to live in.

This is an insane, wild, and bloody brawl through the entire building. The crowd is super hot to see a NOAH team retake the titles from New Japan. TMDK are Shane Haste and Mikey Nichols two wrestlers from Australia. They are big guys who are super athletic. There is a dive off the top rope into the stands at the start of the match that has to be seen to be believed. It’ll remind you of Mike Awesome, but much more impressive. Yano and Iizuka are great as the invading heels. Bloodying up the home promotion heroes. Using weapons and biting and underhanded tactics. TMDK are great babyface. Bleeding all over the place and fighting back for the fans and for NOAH. The match kicks into another gear when TMDK make their comeback. The babyfaces go for broke and take the titles.

Your winners via pinfall at 16:26 when Shane Haste pinned Takashi Iizuka with the Thunder Valley and New GHC Tag Team Champions TMDK

Star Rating: ***3/4

The Skydiving J(Tokyo Nippon Budokan Hall)
UWA Jr Light Heavyweight Championship
Kazushi Sakuraba vs Shinjiro Otani 

Kazushi Sakuraba goes one on one with Minoru Suzuki in a match where you can only win by KO, Submission, or Referee Stoppage

No idea how applicable this is going to be for the Dome match, but it was already on my computer so I thought what the hell. Sakuraba was actually a last minute injury replacement here. This is long before Gracie Hunter Sakuraba.

Minoru Suzuki was an early pioneer of shoot fighting in Japan. Along with Matsukatsu Funaki he formed Pancrease. There Suzuki fought, and defeated, the likes of Ken Shamrock and Bas Rutten. Kazushi Sakuraba is the most famous Japanese MMA fighter. He was the first Japanese fighter to defeat a Gracie. Sakuraba fought Funaki and other fighters from places like RINGS. Sakuraba fought everyone except Minoru Suzuki. At Wrestle Kingdom 9 they wrestle under UWF rules. UWF begat UWFi which begat PRIDE FC.

Said match could be great or could be a train wreck. What is applicable is that this match with Otani is quite good and under 10 minutes long. Now to be fair Shinjiro Otani could have gotten a good match out of a tree stump in 1996, but 8 to 11 minutes really would be a perfect amount of time for his match with Suzuki. His best match since returning was with Shinsuke Nakamura and that went 11 minutes.

As a matter of fact if the match at the Dome is anything like this one we will be very happy. Sakuraba comes out strong with kicks and then suplexes Otani right on his head. The mat work between these two is great. Otani is going hold for hold with young Sakuraba who was not yet broken. I mean his ear fell off once. That only happens in comedy zombie movies. At one point Sakuraba gets in a rear naked choke and Otani starts foaming at the mouth. What’s really cool is when Otani tries something that’s “Pro Wrestling” like an Irish Whip and Sakuraba just refuses to cooperate. Then he just smashes Otani with kicks. Honest to God I think this may be the best 8 minute match I’ve ever seen. Otani starts striking back and his a missile dropkick off the top. You know a highspot dropkick may fell Sakuraba again at the Dome. Otani looks in the Crossface Chickenwing and takes it.

Your winner via submission at 8:15 with the Crossface Chickenwing and winner of the vacant UWA Jr Light Heavyweight Championship Shinjiro Otani

Star Rating: ****1/2

G1 Climax 23 Day 8 (Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan)
Togi Makabe vs Tomohiro Ishii

Tomohiro Ishii defends the NEVER Openweight Championship against Togi Makabe at Wrestle Kingdom 9

2013 was the first time Ishii entered the G1 Climax. Prior to 2013 he was an abnormally popular job guy. He’s always been awesome in the ring, but a combination of Shinsuke Nakamura’s instagram and his just awesomeness led him to become a cult favorite. Then the 2013 where he was so amazing he was named MVP of the tournament which included bonus money.

The psychology of this match is fairly simple. They run at each other as fast as they can and hit each other really really hard. It is, how do you say, a slobberknocker. As much as I love the guy and his matches there really isn’t a whole hell of a lot to say about it. His matches are great in their simplicity. Hit hard. Get hit hard. Show fighting spirit. Whoever doesn’t die wins. Leads to some amazing false finishes. Awesome.

Your Winner via pinfall at 14:00 with the King Kong Knee Drop Togi Makabe

Star Rating: ***1/2

Best of the Super Jrs XXI Day 1 (Tokyo Korakuen Hall)
Kenny Omega vs Ryusuke Taguchi

Ryusuke Taguchi defends the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship against Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom 9

At Power Struggle Kenny Omega was revealed as the newest member of the Bullet Club. Kenny has not wrestled since then. So no one really knows what to expect. Not even Kenny from what he’s saying in interviews.

Kenny wrestles this match the way he wrestled in DDT and prior NJPW appearances. He’s not a heel. It is a very athletic style. Though Omega always has this odd edge in his matches. He was never above sweeping the leg. Taguchi is the definition of a solid hand. For years he was in Prince Devitt’s shadow in Apollo 55. He can give you a great match. Had an amazing match years ago in the BOTSJ Final against Ibushi. Here he and Omega have a really good Jr Heavyweight style match in the main event of the first night of a couple of week long tournament. They put together a great finishing stretch. Taguchi has always been good at that. Watch his old matches with Minoru Tanaka to see that. Damn good match between two guys who’d worked together is a ton of tags during the Apollo 55 vs Golden Lovers run. Will be interesting to see how applicable this match is to their match at Wrestle Kingdom 9.

Your winner via pinfall at 16:19 with the Croyt’s Wrath Kenny Omega

Star Rating: ****

World Tag League Final 2014 (Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium)
World Tag League Finals
IWGP Tag Team Champions Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows(w/Bullet Club) vs Meiyu Tag

Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows defend the IWGP Tag Team Championship against Meiyu Tag at Wrestle Kingdom 9

Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows of the Bullet Club star in their own podcast on MLW Radio. They won these titles at Wrestle Kingdom 8. Meiyu Tag, Katusyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto, wrestled each other at Wrestle Kingdom 8. They have been friends since High School. This is the match where they became #1 contenders for the tag titles at Wrestle Kingdom 9. The entire year has been spent with Shibata and Goto developing as a team and suffering set backs until they could get themselves to this point. And now they can win the belts at the biggest show of the year.

This one is pretty simple. Meiyu Tag is better. Bullet Club cheats. The match is pretty much 20 minutes of that. I’m hoping this one gets a lot less time at the Tokyo Dome. It’s the same thing. Over and over. For 20 minutes. Shibata is the best part of this. Shibata is the best part of everything to be fair. At one point he has enough of this horseshit and just starts blasting everyone and tosses Goto back in the ring after the 1 on 23 attack. At least that’s how many people it feels like is in the Bullet Club these days. Last few minutes were fun. Just do that at the Dome.

Your winners via pinfall at 20:58 when Goto pinned Anderson with the Shoten Kai to win the 2014 World Tag League

Star Rating: *1/2

G1 Climax 24 Day 4 (Akita Prefectural Gymnasium)
IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles vs Tetsuya Naito

The Phenomenal AJ Styles goes one on one with the Stardust Genius Tetsuya Naito at Wrestle Kingdom 9

The G1 Climax is a round robin tournament taking place over a week or two consisting of several shows a day or two days apart. In the show prior to this Naito found himself covered by the crimson mask. So he comes into this match with a fresh wound. And wouldn’t ya know it somehow it gets opened up again. Actually how it get opened up is pretty awesome. AJ hits about the most beautiful dropkick you’ve ever seen right to Naito’s face who sells it by taking a bump that looks basically like a standing Shooting Star Press. After that AJ just goes to work on the wound. AJ does some awesome heel work here. Screaming at the ref. Making sure to get Naito’s bloody face right up into the camera. Smashing Naito in the wound over and over again. Meanwhile Naito keeps making his comebacks like a good babyface should only to get cut off by Styles at every turn. Until the time comes for the finish and Naito hits the Stardust Press to take the match.

AJ Styles lost three matches during the 24th G1 Climax. On the first night against eventual tournament winner Kazuchika Okada. Here against Tetsuya Naito. And on the final night against Hiroshi Tanahashi. By virtue of winning the tournament Okada was guaranteed a title shot at the Tokyo Dome. Meanwhile Tanahashi would defeat Styles for the title. Naito never received the customary title shot granted when you pin the champion. This did not sit well with him and led to the match at Wrestle Kingdom 9.

Your Winner via pinfall at 15:55 with the Stardust Press Tetsuya Naito

Star Rating: ****1/2

G1 Climax 23 Day 4 (Osaka Bodymaker Coliseum)
IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kota Ibushi

Shinsuke Nakamura defends the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Kota Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 9

The 2013 Tokyo Sports Match of the Year. The crowd in the Osaka Bodymaker Coliseum is the best wrestling crowd in the world. This is a classic match where you have a strong favorite in Nakamura and a beloved underdog in Ibushi. This was Ibushi’s first G1 Climax and he was still a Jr Heavyweight at the time. Shinsuke is a hard striker and the King of Strong Style. Ibushi is one of the two best high flying wrestlers in the world. Only Ricochet can touch him. The early part of the match goes the way you’d expect. Shinsuke dominates Ibushi on the mat. Then the smashing starts coming. Knees everywhere to Ibushi. His chest, his back, his face, his head. Then Shinsuke gets too cocky. He’s paint brushing Ibushi, pushing him around, doing vibrations. Then he eats an elbow and overhead kick from Ibushi and the momentum of the match changes. The story of this match is all about Ibushi forcing Shinsuke to take him seriously. It is not the high flying that does it. Ibushi does take over for a time coming off the top rope, but he goes to that well once too often and Shinsuke takes back over slightly annoyed yet still assured in his victory. However, Ibushi comes back. He comes back to the point Shinsuke is set up for Ibushi’s finisher the Phoenix Splash. Shinsuke is able to get the knees up and nail a desperate Boma Ye. Now Shinsuke is pissed. Now Shinsuke is gonna teach this indy wrestling Jr Heavyweight punk a lesson. He stomps the shit out of Ibushi. Then Ibushi rises up. Like a phoenix actually. And he starts bashing Shinsuke in the face. He starts throwing punches. Punches in Japanese Wrestling are super rare. Ibushi comes so close here. He set Nakamura up for his ultimate move the Phoenixplex. Shinsuke fights him off and hits a flying kick off the second rope. One Boma Ye after another is finally enough to stifle the fighting spirit of Kota Ibushi.

Your Winner via pinfall at 19:18 with the Boma Ye Shinsuke Nakamura

Star Rating: ****3/4

King of Pro Wrestling 2013 (Tokyo Ryogoku Kokugikan)
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

In the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 9 Hiroshi Tanahashi defends the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against the 24th G1 Climax Champion Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada

I called their match 6 months earlier the best match I had ever seen. Then I voted this Match of the Year for 2013. So I think highly of this one it is safe to say. The Prematch video for the match is epic. Chronicling their previous 5 matches, coming into this one they were tied 2-2-1, and just an immense presentation all around with the voice over and music selection. Okada is out to his Tokyo Dome version theme. Everything about the prematch here screams importance. The crowd is super hot. Fast start. Okada dodges a dropkick. Tanahashi blocks a dropkick. To the ropes and slowing it down and a stare down as the crowd buzzes. Tanahashi spends the next few minutes trying to cauliflower up Okada’s ears. Okada regains control, but then Tanahashi seemingly blows out his knee. It seems this match will come to a disappointing end… no it was a ruse. Tanahashi almost get the pin. The crowd boos this. The crowd early on seemed to be behind Okada. When such things happen Tanahashi starts working more and more heelish. Some wrestlers can react to such things and others must stay to the script. That’s Tanahashi is a great wrestler and the script followers not so much.

Tanahashi goes to the strategy he had used in their previous matches of attacking the arm Okada uses to deliver the Rainmaker Lariat. Just like the match 6 months earlier this allows him to survive the first Rainmaker of the match. Okada works the neck setting up for the Red Ink, the Tombstone Piledriver, and the Rainmaker. Tanahashi does not wrestle this match as the 100% 1/100 years Ace of the Universe. He wrestles it as a man desperate to win the Heavyweight Title. He wrestles as a hungry challenger. He is vicious in his attacks on the arm. He stomps and stomps on it and pushes the referee away when he tries to intervene. He uses underhanded tricks like faking injury. He uses the Gedo Clutch. Gedo being Okada manager the Gedo clutch being his finisher. He sells a desperation whenever Okada is on the offensive. He is great in this match just selling how much winning it means to him. He’s going so hard that his hair extensions fall out. This also puts Okada over huge when Okada does get the better of him. Tanahashi gave Okada his best shot and Okada beat the Ace of New Japan Pro Wrestling on his best day. That’s how you put a guy over.

Your winner at 35:17 via pinfall with the Rainmaker and still IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada

Star Rating: *****

And that is this look at Wrestle Kingdom 9. I hope everyone enjoyed reading this and I hope you enjoy the show in January 4th.