Wrestle Kingdom. The biggest night on the NJPW calendar. This year Kingdom is a two-night affair as NJPW runs the Tokyo Dome in back to back days. The legendary Jyushin Thunder Liger has one of his final ever matches, the Double Gold Dash Semi-Finals take place, and Hiromu Takahashi looks to reclaim the title he never lost, all on show number one.
Liger Retirement Match 1: Tiger Mask, The Great Sasuke, Tatsumi Fujinami & Jyushin Thunder Liger vs Ryusuke Taguchi, Tatsuhiko Takaiwa, Shinjiro Otani & Naoki Sano
The match was secondary here. This served its purpose of celebrating Liger’s career as he got to square off and team with some of his historic rivals. Sasuke was probably the highlight as he did some crazy stuff as usual but the focus here was all on saying goodbye to Liger. Liger being Liger he took the pin here as Taguchi pinned him
Winners: Ryusuke Taguchi, Tatsuhiko Takaiwa, Shinjiro Otani & Naoki Sano Rating: 5 out of 10
Did anyone at all care about these multi-man tags? no, didn’t think so
Zack Sabre Jr submitted BUSHI
Hirooki Goto pinned Yujiro Takahashi
And now, back to the good stuff
IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Guerrillas Of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (C) vs FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson)
This was a fine match. The story they told was of FinJuice overcoming the disadvantage they found themselves in and beating the long-reigning tag team champions. Everyone tried hard but this one wasn’t all that exciting. David Finlay pinned Tama Tonga to earn the biggest win of his career
Winners: FinJuice Rating: 3 out of 10
IWGP United States Championship: Lance Archer (C) vs Jon Moxley
A violent affair between these two that managed to stand out from the other matches on the card so far. They didn’t overdo the 10 count teases so it wasn’t as stop-start as these matches can usually be. Jon Moxley won after hitting the death rider through two tables on the outside. Good plunder brawl.
Winner: Jon Moxley Rating: 6 out of 10
IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay (C) vs Hiromu Takahashi
I never thought I’d say this about a Hiromu match but this one took it’s sweet time to get going. They told the story of Will being dominant and just being better than Hiromu. Hiromu fought back and persevered through everything Will threw at him to win back the title he never lost. When Hiromu was on offense I was reminded of why we all missed him but instead they told a story in this match that ended with Hiromu putting Will away with Time Bomb Two.
Winner: Hiromu Takahashi Rating: 4 out of 10
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Jay White (C) vs Tetsuya Naito
At this stage, you either love or hate Jay White. There is no in-between with him. As someone that finds him boring, I really wasn’t into this match as it didn’t deviate from his script and Naito doesn’t work as well from underneath. The fact they’re even doing BS heel manager interference in big wrestle kingdom matches now is kind of ridiculous too as that’s the sort of stuff people watch NJPW to get away from. Oh well, thankfully Naito won so I can pretend Jay’s match isn’t happening tomorrow
Winner: Tetsuya Naito Rating: Depends on your jay white tolerance
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (C) vs Kota Ibushi
I am not usually the biggest fan of Okada matches in his current reign but he wrestled Ibushi’s match here. And that means that they dropped each other on their necks a lot and hit each other very hard. It was tough not to be sucked into this match as the two got more violent as the match went on. Ibushi looked to have this won at times as he went into a mode known as “murder Ibushi” and hit Okada with some of the stiffest strikes I’ve seen in an NJPW ring. Okada managed to pull out the win as he managed to make a counter during a key spot and got the win with the Rainmaker to end this fun match
Winner: Kazuchika Okada Rating: 7 out of 10
This was an ok show. The main event really saved it from being totally skippable for me. Archer/Moxley had a good brawl in the middle and the opener was a nostalgia trip but otherwise, nothing was exciting, even Hiromu and Ospreay managed to avoid playing to Hiromu’s strengths.