New Japan Pro Wrestling once delivered an incredible show with King of Pro Wrestling! The main event of WrestleKingdom 12 looks to be set in stone with Tetsuya Naito set to challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. With Okada retaining his championship at King of Pro Wrestling, he seems certain to break the record for the longest IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign of Shinya Hashimoto. We also saw two new champions crowned with Sho & Yoh bursting onto the scene to become new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, and Will Ospreay finally became the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Takahashi, SANDRA & BUSHI) defeated Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Leo Tonga & Yujiro Takahashi). Grade: B- A good opening match here, nothing too special but still enjoyable with its share of great spots. In a wonderful spot Darryl distracted Fale allowing BUSHI to mist him and score the win with a roll up.
Chaos (Hirooki Goto & Toru Yano) defeated Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr). Grade: C+ While a count out victory is usually disappointing on a PPV, this was okay with the low blow after Suzuki tied Yano up with rope. The highlight here was Suzuki-Gun going crazy and destroying everything in their path; with Yano taking the NEVER Openweight Champion it seems Minoru Suzuki has his next feud set.
Roppongi 3K (Sho & Yoh) defeated Funky Future (Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi) to become the New IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions. Grade: A- This was amazing and the entire match made Sho & Yoh out to be absolute stars! The in-ring action was unbelievable and as high-flying as ever as you’d expect from the competitors involved. This was the perfect way to build Sho & Yoh as the new up-and-coming stars of the New Japan Tag Team Division.
Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith & Lance Archer) retained the IWGP Tag Team Championships defeating Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) & War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe). Grade: B- All hell broke loose early on and these teams threw everything at each other; while we have seen this match (or combinations of it) a few times before, these teams mixed it up well with lots of great weapon spots. A really fun match, NJPW are really going in hard with Killer Elite Squad.
Bullet Club (Kenny Omega, Cody, & Marty Scurll) defeated Chaos (Jado, YOSHI-HASHI & Beretta). Grade: C+ Not the best match any of these men will ever have, although perhaps this was the right spot for it on the card. Almost a comedy match at times it was entertaining and worth a watch given the talent involved, but this was nothing really special.
Kota Ibushi & Juice Robinson defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi & Togi Makabe. Grade: B- The main focus of the match was all on Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi, and rightfully so. These two look certain to face off sometime in the near future, and I cannot be more excited for it. In saying that it was Robinson who hit the Pulp Friction for the win.
Will Ospreay became the New IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion defeating KUSHIDA. Grade: A- This was fast-paced and unbelievable! Ospreay and KUSHIDA are both two of the every best wrestlers in the world today and they showed that here. Ospreay’s championship win is well overdue and beyond deserved. After the match Hiromu Takahashi came out to challenge the new champion but Marty Scurll came out and took him out snapping his fingers; The Villain challenged the new champion, and I can’t wait for that match.
Tetsuya Naito defeated Tomohiro Ishii to Retain his Tokyo Dome IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match Right. Grade: A- Naito focused much of his attack on the injured knee early on which made sense given the events prior to the match; these two men put on an incredible match with great back and forth, before it took Naito two Destinos to get the win. Naito winning this match all but confirms that he will be in the main event of WrestleKingdom 12, and rightfully so; Naito is so over with the crowd.
Kazuchika Okada Retained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship defeating EVIL. Grade: A. What else would you expect from a Kazuchika Okada IWGP Heavyweight Championship defence? Once again he put in a stellar performance here with EVIL playing more than his part as well. The call-backs to EVIL’s shocking upset victory were perfect here telling the story that perhaps EVIL could do the impossible again. This psychology combined with incredible in-ring action made this a memorable match.