NJPW Reviews

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 10 Review

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome to Wrestling With Words’ review for New Japan’s biggest event of the year: Wrestle Kingdom 10! Unlike most of our reviews, this time around we’ve selected a panel of all star staff members to bring unique takes on the action that takes place throughout the show and give our best reactions and ratings. Without further ado, here is our panel:

  • Al (@amcmahon_www) – One of the owners here at Wrestling With Words alongside Trask. Interestingly enough, this time last year Al knew nothing about New Japan, and has decided what better time to get into reviewing it than his first Wrestle Kingdom experience!
  • Tanner (@Tanner1495) – A founding member of the site, Tanner brings with him six plus years of New Japan knowledge, and also has a wonderful article out right now about the rise of one Kazuchika Okada, who will defend his IWGP Heavyweight Championship later on in the main event of the evening.
  • Skillcrane (@naturalbornheel) – The grizzled veteran of our reviewing panel, Skillcrane has numerous years of knowledge of the product of New Japan and is equally as enthusiastic as Tanner and Al about what’s in store for Wrestle Kingdom 10!

(IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship) reDRagon (c) vs. The Young Bucks vs. Matt Sydal & Ricochet vs. Roppongi Vice

Skillcrane: Dome atmosphere feels very big. Multi-screen set-up, huge lighting rigs, etc. Cody Hall making his presence felt. Young Bucks start off against reDRagon. Double dropkicks on Fish. Keeping him in their corner. Fish & O’Reilly take out the Bucks and Sydal tags in to face Trent. Gutwrench from Trent before he goes flying over the top rope to splash Bucks. Trent tripped off top rope by blonde. Kyle O’Reilly hits a dropkick to even things up. Tag in to Trent who double foot stomps The Bucks. Ricochet & Sydal in to make this wrestling thing look easy. Match quickly turned into the expected spot fest, but I’m not complaining. I signed up for this when the match was made. Cody interference to Razor’s Edge Sydal out of the ring into the outside opposing team. Swanton off the top rope onto Rocky by Matt, then hurricanrana by Sydal to pull Nick down. Ricochet out of the ring to knock down Cody Hall. Attempted double shooting star press by Sydal that was derailed by reDRagon. RD double teaming Nick but Hall pulls out Fish to break the pin, then O’Reilly takes out Hall. Back and forth between Bucks & RD. 6 man suplex silliness. This one is impossible to keep track of, and was exactly what I expected. Double shooting star press from Sydal & Ricochet interrupted by Young Bucks. YB steal the match at the end. Just back and forth non-stop motion from all teams w/Sydal & Ricochet really shining here. **1/2

Suck it count: lost track at 10 (including one by Rocky) 

Tanner: What is becoming a yearly tradition now at Wrestle Kingdom, we start with a four way opening tag. The first half is pretty dull with these teams actually working HEADLOCKS, four exciting junior tag teams doing headlocks! However, the last half of this match was actually quite fun and everyone ended up getting their shit in. The Cody Hall interference didn’t offend me so I was cool with it. Not as fun as the previous two years, but still a good time to be had despite the time. ***1/4

Al: Per usual, we get the cookie cutter Wrestle Kingdom opener. Nothing exciting happens during the beginning moments of the match, but things pick up towards the conclusion and we have a fun little match. As Tanner mentioned, Cody Hall interferes and it’s nothing incredibly offensive, but the Young Bucks end up picking up the win here, which if you know me, you’ll know I am NOT a fan of that decision. ***

Winners and NEW IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions: The Young Bucks

(NEVER Openweight Six Man Championship) Toru Yano & The Briscoes vs. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro)

Al: When this match was announced, I’ll be honest, I had no reason to really care about it. However, once they threw in the fact that we now have the NEVER Openweight Six Man championship, it at the very least adds some intrigue to all of these six man matches that are essentially a must-have on a New Japan show. I think things went a tad bit too long, but otherwise I’m perfectly cool with Yano and The Briscoes picking up the win here. The last thing we need is more Bullet Club members holding gold. **

Tanner: This match is for the fresh looking NEVER Six Man Titles. It is cool to finally see DEM BOYZ in the Tokyo Dome, but I would have never thought that they would be teaming with Toru Yano to get there. This match had some bright spots such as Jay and Mark being Jay and Mark, but other than that this was practically a throw away that went a few minutes too long. Happy to see Briscoes holding some gold together though, hopefully this means we get Toru Yano visiting the farm out in Delaware soon! **

Skillcrane: Fale, Tama Tonga & Yujiro (w/NOT MAO aka Shiori-chan)

Mao is not present at WK10, so I immediately need to deduct a point off the overall show total, but Dem Boys & Yano are here to make sure that the show goes over big still.  Sweet new red tracksuits on former Young Lions.
Jay & Mark bring Red Neck Kung Fu to the Dome, doing short work of the Yujiro. Fale & Tonga run in, Fale getting gotten to by Yano’s silliness. Tama sneaking up on Yano in his impish way to distract.
More importantly, during all this, Mao is Retweeting every single person who is mentioning she isn’t present. 
Mark screaming “I’m gonna kill you boy!” & he backs it up. Not much of a match, but it ended as I had hoped, with Jay, Mark & Yano taking the new belts, meaning they will be obligated to make more appearances for NJPW. Blessed. ***
Winners and Inaugural NEVER Openweight Six Man Champions: Toru Yano & Jay and Mark Briscoe

(ROH World Heavyweight Championship) Jay Lethal (c) vs. Michael Elgin
Tanner: I am a supporter of the #BigMike movement and I have never gotten in to Lethal’s work like some have in the last couple of years. This match started off good with Elgin just beating the hell out of Lethal and it being all fine and dandy, but once Lethal took control it kind of fell flat. I have to give credit to Lethal though, he landed sternum first onto the guardrail and it looked like it hurt like nothing else. The finish fell flat on its ass as Lethal goes over via hitting Elgin with a damn book and a Lethal Injection. **
Al:  There’s one word I can use to describe this match in a nutshell: Eh. Incredibly bland and the finish fell entirely flat on it’s face. It’s a shame too, I was really hoping that Big Mike would find his footing with Lethal here in Japan, as he tends to do with most stars, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Not a good showing by either man, in my opinion. **
Skillcrane: Starts off with Lethal making sure Elgin knows he is the champ. Slap to his chest. Elgin standing suplex with one arm. Lethal kicked out by 2. ONE ARM press slam from Elgin. Seriously, this dude is JACKED for WK10. Big Mike making sure that people will be talking after this one. Gratuitous attempted powerbomb on the side of the ring apron, interrupted by Truth Martini. Lethal with a less than perfect shot out of the ring to take out Elgin. Guard rail took the full force of Big Mike & was gotten to. Slingshot into the ring & landed on Big Mike’s massive shoulders only to get dropped by him. Lethal tries to get Elgin in a camel clutch, but Elgin is stronk & powers out of it, dropping Lethal on his back against the turnbuckle. When Elgin slams Lethal to the canvas, Lethal bounces as if he was a rubber ball being bounced on the floor. Elgin is a powerslamming machine, then gives Lethal a series of German suplexes & a big ol’ Stan Hansen lariat. A dead lift to a falcon arrow by Big Mike off the ropes, buckle bomb by Big Mike, but Truth slips Lethal the Book Of Truth & Lethal hits Big Mike with the book to knock him out & steal the victory after a Lethal Injection to retain the ROH heavyweight belt. **1/2
Winner and STILL ROH World Heavyweight Champion: Jay Lethal

(IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship) KUSHIDA vs. Kenny Omega (c)

Al: One of the matches I was looking forward to the most on this card. Kenny Omega went from being nobody to me to being one of my favorite wrestlers upon getting into New Japan. That being said, I don’t think there was a reason for him to have taken the title off of KUSHIDA during the summer, and I’m happy to see that KUSHIDA climbed to the top of the mountain again. Incredible effort by both men in this match, and at least the Bullet Club interference wasn’t anything too offensive when it did happen. ***1/2

Skillcrane: Taguchi came into the ring dressed as Doc Brown. This should be the only use of Taguchi from now on. Let him exist as a prop in a match & nothing else. KUSHIDA had a much less involved entrance than a couple years ago especially. I was hoping for more, but hopefully the match makes up for it. Doc Taguchi is taken out early by Omega. KUSHIDA smashed by a trash can courtesy of the Bucks. Omega hits the More Bang For The Buck spot off the top of the guard rail in a great spot. The Bucks start playing the bottom of the trash cans like they are drums. They did a good job of selling Omega’s arm & shoulder, which progressively took more & more damage. Chicken wing held onto by TAGUCHI as he & Omega fly off the ropes.

Omega unable to use left arm, Thanks to the abuse dealt out by KUSIHIDA. Omega hit the One Winged Angle to a bridge bridge but KUSIHDA is able to reverse into a Kimora. The crowd made what may be their first real pop of the night during this match. Taguchi must’ve hit 88 MPH, as he is back up to keep the advantage game even. One-armed powerbomb by Omega. KUSHIDA was able to get a roll on Omega at the end to regain the championship.
Omega really looked great in this match, really showcasing his athletic ability & getting a ton of air, while still managing to play the dastardly heel & choking KUSHIDA with his wrist tape. I really like this & thought they stepped up appropriately for Wrestle Kingdom. ***1/2
Tanner: Man, Omega was something during this match, right? We get more Bullet Club shenanigans which I expected but COME ON. KUSHIDA was good in this match, I can only hope that he is finally given a proper reign with the junior title now on his THIRD REIGN! The match in my eyes had some cool stuff, but was another match brought down by Bullet Club stuff and Omega being Omega. **3/4

Winner and NEW IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion: KUSHIDA

(IWGP Tag Team Championship) Bullet Club (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) (c) vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma

Skillcrane: “8 Wrestle Kingdoms in a row. That’s Undertaker style.”
Unfortunately this match fell victim to the streaming monster & technical issues & looking at my Twitter TL, I wasn’t the only one. First part of match was a mess in terms of being able to make sense out of what was happening due to this, but a King Kong Knee drop continued the dream that Makabe & Honma started with the World Tag Leagues, & new tag team champions, GBH! What I did see may have been the best match so far on the card, & the crowd was very vocal during the match.
(Unrated due to not being able to see entire match)
Al: Much like Skillcrane, I had technical issues during the match with New Japan World, but I had absolutely no reason to be invested or to care in this match. Regardless of whether Honma was wiped clean of the allegations or not, that entire scenario derailed any momentum he had going for me personally. It was a cool moment, but I just don’t see it lasting outside of a month or two myself. Solid match, probably the best on the card thus far, but otherwise, not much to care about. ***1/2
Tanner: Finally, this match was real good and actually had no Bullet Club shit ruining it! I think the most surprising part of this match was Makabe not being completely terrible in it, hell he may have even been good. Anderson has definitely cut a few pounds since the last time I saw him, which is always good. Gallows also threw some nice ass punches in this match and I love me some good looking southern punches. Great Bash Heel pick up the win to with the tag straps in the match of the night so far. ***1/2

Winners and NEW IWGP Tag Team Champions: Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma

Tetsuya Naito vs. Hirooki Goto
Tanner: With the big four matches coming up, I expect the match quality to be a bit higher, and this match did not disappoint. Naito, EVIL and BUSHI start the match off by jumping Goto and Captain New Japan and just destroy them. Naito knows how to lay it in, and Goto had some heavy looking shots as well. The table spot at the beginning of the match was nuts, because damn who would ever take a spot like that? Naito struggling out of multiple moves and still being hit with them was awesome, as a lot of the time when someone wrestles Goto they just lay still for his moves and it is weird. The finishing stretch with the ref bump I thought worked fine in the confines of this match and made for an entertaining finish. Even though I think Goto going over was the wrong choice, I can’t complain because this match was great. ****

Skillcrane: Naito came out in a white Tony Montana suit with a butterfly collar, complete with a white monkey style mask, flanked by a suited up EVIL & Bushi. Goto came to the ring like he meant business. Los Ingobernables made sure to take advantage of the pre-bell time to jump Goto, then distracted the ref to continue the damage. EVIL placed a chair over Goto’s head & hit him with another chair, then Naito tried to drive Goto through a table but it totally no-sold. Goto was triple teamed but fought valiantly, with a Code red from the top rope that damn well probably should have murdered Naito, but he was able to kick out. Inzuguri & flying forearm by Naito.

Fireman’s carry/neckbreaker/knee by Goto. Goto hit Naito with a HUGE lariat bump, Bushi & EVIL ran in after conventiently taking out the ref, but Bushi sprayed EVIL accidentally. Naito attempted a low blow to steal the win, but Goto kicked out. Goto was able to fight against all odds & get the win in between getting abused by los Ingobernables.
This match was the first really exciting match for me of the card. So far Wrestle Kingdom has not had the big show feel of the successors, but this is hopefully the start of a beautiful turnaround. ***3/4
Al: Credit to Naito and Goto where credit is due. They ended up getting me really invested in this card again after some truly lackluster matches. While the card looked great on paper, it ultimately failed to deliver on a lot of levels thus far and feels like your standard New Japan show. Goto and Naito set the pace here though for the rest of the matches left on the evening. The chair and the table spot that Goto took at the beginning of the match was absolutely brutal, too. I’m not sure I entirely agree with Goto going over here, but I’m still firmly behind Naito and hoping that somehow, he makes his way back into the IWGP Heavyweight Championship picture sooner rather than later. ****

Winner: Hirooki Goto

(NEVER Openweight Championship) Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tomohiro Ishii (c)

Al: I need this match to deliver. With only the Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championship left on the card, I’m desperately hoping for something great here. In so few words, this was a hard hitting, brutal match all around. We got a skull cracking, fist throwing, all out brawl, and I couldn’t be more happy not only with the match but the result as well. What I will say, however, is that the finish fell flat on it’s ass and definitely needed to be better than what it was, but an entirely acceptable effort and match all around. ****1/4
Tanner: OH MY SHIT! What can I say about this match? Like I jokingly throw around about two guys throwing potatoes but these two lads were throwing some damn potatoes. My lord, Ishii and Shibata are probably New Japan’s best at the moment and this match just had a whole package. Kicks, backfists, elbows, SHOOT AS SHIT HEADBUTTS, dropkicks, it was beautiful. You know how sometimes you witness something so chaotically beautiful a single tear rolls down your face even though you are not happy nor sad, just existing in a state of euphoria? Well, this match did that to me and it was just a hell of a match. WATCH THIS SHIT IMMEDIATELY!!! ****3/4

Skillcrane: Started off as I hoped, with a beautiful elbow/forearm exchange. Ishii did his best to hurt Shibata, but Shibata no-sold. Ishii then sat down & let Shibata do his worst. Kicks to each other’s backs in what could only be chalked up to ego, but damn did it make me smile. They then had a chop contest, & if someone’s chest didn’t get caved in then I don’t know how they survived. Kick, elbow & clothesline according to Yoshi. Shibata NAILED a penalty kick & he put Ishii in a spider hold & rubbed his boots in Ishii’s face.Ishii was able to withstand any forearm shivers dished out by Shibata & he also threw some boot scrapes to Shibata’s face. The more abuse they dealt out to each other, the more amped up the other became.

This was a tete-a-tete type of war. A triangle by Ishii was turned into an arm breaker submission attempt by Shibata. Lariat, no sell, boot to face, no sell, another lariat, another no sell. German for German. I love this shit. Ishii hit Shibata with a dropkick off the top rope & a HUGE clothesline. How are these two not dead yet? Shibata cutting off Ishii’s wind. Shibata went for the PK kick but ishii hit him with an evil headbutt to the chin. When I say they were actually cracking skulls at this point, this is not hyperbole as you could hear the sounds of their bones cracking each other. Shibata hit the PK & we have a new Never open-weight champion! The Dome is lit up, brothers. ****1/4

Winner and NEW Never Openweight Champion: Katsuyori Shibata

(IWGP Intercontinental Championship) Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. AJ Styles

Al: Absolutely. Freaking. Incredible. You want a match that’ll make you believe in how awesome wrestling can be after a card full of lackluster matches, well, here you are my friends! An incredible effort by both Styles and Nakamura, with Styles taking some absolutely outrageous bumps that never should have happened. Matches like this make me excited to be a wrestling fan. ****1/2

Skillcrane: If you aren’t hyped for this one, you aren’t breathing. This is by far the biggest match of the card in my mind. As I said in my review, anything less than blowaway would be a disappointment. This had a big match feel.

AJ came out with the BC bandana covering his face, skeleton style, while Shins came out wearing his sister’s blouse, but I’ll let him slide. To quote site co-founder Al, “AJ Styles needs to tell his stylist to tone it down on the mid 40s mother who needs to talk to a manager to bitch about everything hair style”. But enough of the catty part of the review.
As a figurative “shots fired” start to the match, AJ shot a virtual bullet to Nak & Nak swallowed it. I’m already loving this. AJ let heel tendencies get the better of him after they had a rather admirable beginning, a fair contest that turned sour. The story of the match from AJ’s perspective was to keep Nakamura’s knees compromised. Nakamura, in turn, tried to do as much damage to AJ’s already less than healed back.
AJ had trouble with the snap suplex, so he had to try sticking with the leg attacks on Nak. AJ attempted several calf killers, getting one on that was transitioned to an armbar attempt by Nak. AJ got Nak into a torture rack to a spinning bomb then Nak was able to get a Boma Ye off the ropes to AJ’s chest & neck. Now is time for the forearm flurry & AJ almost got a pin on AJ after they went down. Boma Ye but AJ kicked out again. The crowd was getting really loud at this point. AJ hit a crufix followed by his very own Boma Ye to Nak before going to the top for a 450 splash. There was a very close pinfall attempt, but Nak was able to kick out at the last moment. AJ had Nak in a headlock that he got into a Bloody Sunday & Nak did an absolutely beautiful flying armbar to traps AJ’s leg in a triangle. HOLY SHIT I’M POPPING! Blood Sunday & the Dome crowd went insane.
AJ hit the Styles Clash to a prone Nakamura, but decided that just wasn’t enough & went for a Super Styles Clash off the top instead. Nak got Styles onto his shoulders & spiked AJ into the mat. Nak delivered a fire Boma Ye to the back of AJ’s skull then another in quick succession. Nak hit AJ with another Boma Ye to get the pin. The Dome EXPLODED. AJ & Nak knuckled up after as a show of respect. Big ol’ “Yea Oh!” from the crowd to lead Nak out of the ring & down the aisle. Fuck me, that was a beautiful piece of work from these two. My heart is happy. ****1/2
Tanner: I don’t even know, what a great damn match. I honestly did not expect Styles and Nakamura to mesh this well together, but they have an undeniable chemistry. Styles is a damn crazy to bust out the shit he was busting out with the back problems he has been suffering over the last couple of months, but my goodness you have to admire his dedication to the craft. Nakamura carried himself like the biggest damn attraction since The Beatles and it was awesome. This match had three distinct acts in it and it they built an incredible story together, this one is for the books as well, my goodness watch the damn thing. ****1/2
Winner and STILL IWGP Intercontinental Champion: Shinsuke Nakamura

(IWGP Heavyweight Championship) Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Al: An incredible thirty-six minute story was told tonight between Tanahashi and Okada, and finally Okada was able to capture sweet vengeance after the now iconic image of him leaving Tokyo Dome in tears after losing his coveted IWGP Championship last year to Tanahashi. You couldn’t ask for more out of these two ring warriors, and this was truly a special main event that was worthy of the grandeur of the Tokyo Dome and Wrestle Kingdom 10. You had emotion, a compelling story, and two of the best workers in New Japan today. Just like a recipe for baking, mix those ingredients together, and you’ll find the product comes out to perfection. *****
Tanner: FINALLY! Okada has dethroned Tanahashi and has taken the throne as the ace of New Japan Pro Wrestling. This is one of those moments you tell your kids about when you so desperately want them to like wrestling as much as you did/do. I don’t really have words to describe the match, as it felt like a good sequel to a series of never ending movies. Now, this is not to say the match was not good, because it was, but I think the moments and the big picture is much bigger than the match could be. Definitely watch this match, heavy yes from me. ****1/4

Skillcrane: Since this was such a huge match, with years of history, it only seemed appropriate that they took a long time building the tension before they touched. The beginning was full of lots of slow, worked holds, giving the impression that this one may be going the distance. Lots of back & forth, with no solid control either way until momentum switched after Tanahashi clipped the back of Okada’s leg to neutralize the Rainmaker. Okada leapt the guardrail onto Tanahashi as a callback to one of their previous battles.

The real heat started when Tana hit multiple dragon screws & rammed Okada’s other leg (one on the turnbuckle). Tana hit a high fly flow that left Okada down. Gedo started losing his mind on the outside of the ring as the ref count reached 19 before Okada could get back in. Tana hit another high fly flow on Okada’s leg then continued torturing him with a cloverleaf & dropkicks. Okada broke things up to get a White Noise, but since Tana’s body was dropped onto Okada’s hurt leg, it did equal damage to both.
A forearm contest got the crowd chanting along & Okada hit 3 running dropkicks on a seated Tanahashi. Okada jumped well across the ring from the top to hit a gorgeous double dropkick on Tana, followed by a not-so-perfect leaping elbow that would make Macho Man sad. The camera pulled out for the Rainmaker, Okada tombstoned Tana but he rolled through for a reversal pin attempt before Okada could hit the move. Tana hit Okada with more dragon screws, followed by dropkicks, a cloverleaf attempt, a slingblade, a neck breaker, then finally a high fly flow, but alas Okada was able to get out of the way in time.
Okada hit a tombstone, grit his teeth in pain, hit the Rainmaker pose, the crowd went absolutely nuts, Okada hits the rainmaker, then a kickout by Tana that brought people to their feet. Okada hit another high fly flow, but again Tana kicked out. This time Tana hit Okada with his own weapon, nailing him with a Rainmaker. He follows up with not one but 2 high fly flows. Every single person in the Dome was engaged. Another high fly flow by Tanahashi was met with a dropkick to the ribs. He then hit Tanahashi with a German, then a slap by Tana, but Okada maintained wrist control, hitting THREE HUGE Rainmakers & getting the pin. This was a glorious moment to witness, not only did Okada get the IWGP heavyweight belt for the 3rd time, but he got his first victory at a Wrestle Kingdom against Tanahashi & this completed his redemption story. ****3/4
Winner and STILL IWGP Heavyweight Champion: Kazuchika Okada


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