Just came back from the Friday #WWETokyo (the hashtag was printed on the ticket) event at the Ryogoku Kokugikan and thought I would type up some thoughts.
I got to Ryogoku a few hours before they let people in the building and went to a local restaurant to finish up some work. The restaurant and the surrounding area was full of people wearing WWE shirts. Seemed to notice a lot of Dean Ambrose shirts.
I only bought my tickets a few days ago after seeing WWE's facebook page say there were seats still available, although only the most expensive seats were available on the upper deck of the kokugikan. However, once inside, it was clear the WWE just hadn't put on sale tickets for some large sections of the second deck. I would have complained except our seats, even though bought at the last minute, were almost center to the ring with a nice view of the Titantron and ramp to the ring, so we had a direct view of everything. I have seen sumo several times at the Kokugikan but it was the first time for Pro Wrestling and the venue didn't disappoint.
Even with a less than full house, there was a long line at the one (large) merchandise booth.
The matches themselves were fairly solid. Jericho seemed to have been more popular than Itami during their match. Titus and Bo Dallas wrestled for a few minutes, Cass destroyed Enzo in a non match, Heath Slater and Rhyno put up a competitive match with Cesaro and Seamus, Samoa Joe and the Miz vs Ambrose and Seth Rollins was for me the match of the night. After intermission, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Asuka put on a good show against Alexa Bliss, Emma, and Nia Jax, Finn Balor and Karl Anderson also had a good match, which of course had a special electricity with their connection to Japan. The main event was Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns. The guys up in the back who kept yelling roman reigns sucks really made me want to root for Roman Reigns but in the end I still couldn't care enough about him either way. Bray tried to heel it up, but the audience, even considering the loud anti-Reigns group, seemed a bit mixed. Everyone's phones went up during Wyatt's entrance and the build up to the finish in most of the other matches seemed more dramatic and involving than the main event.
Aside from the anti-reigns hecklers, audience was really good, I thought. Years ago, I went to a fair number of Japanese pro wrestling events, enough to know the audience reaction is very different than how a WWE/US audience is. However, although I am sure us few foreigners were a bit louder than the vast majority of Japanese fans there, everyone knew what was going on, with people booed and cheered and heckled much like any other WWE event, even in this age of unclear heels and faces.
For a once a year event, it was well worth it. The only real complaint I would have was I purchased a program on the way out for 3,000 yen (a little less than US$30 with current exchange rates) which was basically a picture book of WWE stars printed before the brand shuffle a few months back. Guess it will be cool to look at and remember where I bought it, but the WWE could probably print a special program specific to these overseas tours.
Minor complaint overall, though. I have been wanting to go since I moved back to Japan a few years ago and I am happy I finally did.
Gotta be Smackdown. The Mr. Kennedy/MVP V Kane / Undertaker Feud: Building to 2 Huge matches at Armageddon. The Batista V Booker V Finlay Feud: The top notch match on Smackdown rekindled Batista after the survivor series letdown.