Anybody else here staying up / getting up to watch Wrestle Kingdom live tonight from Tokyo? I see different start times for the NJPW World (njpw1972.com) streaming vs the Fite TV (fite.tv) streaming. I'm guessing it's because NJPW is showing the "Match 0" Gauntlet Match. What I do know is that I'm damn glad that we have computers to sort out "What time is it in Phoenix when it's xxx in Tokyo?" !!
I virtually never do predictions. But this time, with the advent of All Elite Wrestling (youtube.com) (We are all following that news, right?), it's even more of a crap shoot how WK will go. I do notice that half of the 10 matches on the WK card include The Elite & Friends, so I'm thinking we'll have a much better idea by the end of the show exactly how NJPW feels about AEW in general, & Kenny in particular.
Yup, it is an amazingly strong card. In the order that I'm most excited about :
-- However it turns out, Kenny will make the match with Tana interesting. I'm sure it'll be Kenny doing all the heavy lifting here.
-- Given what they already did in the tag match from 12/15, Kota & Ospreay will be killer. (Figuratively. Please don't die.)
-- I think Jay White vs Okada will be really good, with Jay going over ... by cheating, or course. Jay's year has been outstanding, his story & character are so perfect. Gedo will be more active in the match than I'd love, but that's OK. Do we get the reveal of his "Mole" inside of Chaos here, or will that be tomorrow at New Year's Dash? (I say it's Yoh.)
-- Naito has to go over on Jericho, but this will be brutal.
-- With the newly reminted "good guys" of Tama Tonga & Tonga Loa, there's going to be a lot going on in that IWGP Tag Team match. There should be fun stuff in there!
-- After Juice pleaded with Brandi to stay out of his match with Cody, we all know that won't happen. I just hope he's come up with a strategy to neutralize her -- Juice had a couple of great matches during the G1, & I'd like to see that rather than boobies-nonsense.
-- I enjoy the hell out of ZSJ, although not necessarily with Ishii. Hopefully everybody's safe, nobody needs stitches, & Zack wins it.
-- Kushida is really solid & talented, so that should be fine. (That's a really tough spot in this card though.)
-- Seems like we've seen those Jr Heavyweight Tag Teams plenty of times, but presumably they'll pull something out to make it special, be it shenanigans or otherwise. (Again, a super tough spot, following Ospreay / Ibushi.)
-- For the "damn near everybody else" Contenders match, I'd like to see the Elite team win, although I think Suzuki-Gun is more likely.
Tricky to determine when the "spoiler-free" window should expire, with the timezone issues & such. So, I'm going ahead & calling "Spoilers ahead!"
Yup, half of the matches on the card had Elite & Friends, & none of them won. All Elite & Friends belts were dropped, & all feuds hit a reasonable ending (or at least parking) point. Which tells me that NJPW has no immediate plans of continuing to interwork with any of the Elite guys. There were rumours floating around of AEW, ROH & NJPW having a meeting (either last night or today) about the possibility of collaboration, but we all know how rumours are.
Given that, overall it was a very strong show. Although one downside for me was that a lot of it felt very rushed -- I wasn't keeping super accurate match times, but all of the matches up til the last 2 were in the 10-20 minute range. Jericho / Naito was just barely beyond that, but was the right length. Kenny / Tana got the full time that they needed. Most of the others didn't seem like they got what they needed. (Winnipeg wrestlers know how to pace themselves? :-) ) I would have sworn that WK 12 (2018) was at least an hour or more longer.
Kenny pulled a great match out of Tanahashi. Perhaps I'm a philistine, but I often find Tana downright boring & unbelievable. This turned out to be the super-important, big time match that it needed to be. (No way was Kenny going to go out with a whimper.)
Ospreay / Ibushi was excellent. I was surprised that it went more "heavy hitting", but it was still great. We hope Kota is OK. There was an update from Chris Charlton today indicating that he has a concussion, but is generally OK. Some people worry about Kota's neck -- I worry more about concussions.
Switchblade / Okada was also really strong. When Okada came out to his Rainmaker entrance with the raining Okada bucks & blond hair, I was seriously concerned that they were going to have Okada go over, which would have been so wrong.
Jericho was in fabulous form, & he & Naito rocked it. I think Naito actually did drop Chris on his head on the ramp a bit more than would have been optimal -- I'm pretty sure I saw some abrasion on the top of Chris' head. So that table spot might have had a bit more "receipt" to it than originally planned.
The Heavyweight Tag Team Championship was less interesting than I thought it would be. The Bucks were doing their thing, but the reinvented Tama didn't seem to know what personality to show. And the whole thing was just super short on time. Schade.
Brandi actually spearing Juice, & slapping him around was a much more interesting interference than the usual "laying on top of Cody". Glad that was enough to get her tossed from ringside. Yea, Juice -- run with that fuckin' belt, you glorious motherfucker. :-)
NJPW's website doesn't have the post-match interviews up yet -- I always enjoy watching those. (Don't know why that wouldn't be up right soon after the show.)
And, we have New Year Dash later tonight. (The NJPW site says that this will be free, which is nice for non-subscribers.) There should be some fun stuff in there too. (I swear that last year they actually released a card for the show during the day of -- haven't seen anything about that yet, other than the Never Openweight 6-man.) We shall see.
I don't think the results really tell us anything about The Elite and friends. Cody was always going to lose because Juice winning the US Title at Wrestle Kingdom was the clear payoff. The Young Bucks were never going to win because we knew they were off to AEW and even if there is some sort of deal between AEW/ROH/NJPW, NJPW is going to want their titles on permanent guys.
I GUESS the only thing up in the air is Omega but I don't think losing means he's going anywhere. Tana winning is a perfectly reasonable result to set up a rematch at the Madison Square Garden show. In fact if I were a betting man I'd bet on Omega staying in Japan. The only question is whether NJPW allows him to also wrestle elsewhere.
So now we've had the announcement that Kenny is leaving NJPW. And apparently also Kushida, which is a shame for NJPW.
Perhaps Harold Meij isnt going to turn out to be as "good for business" in NJPW as it had initially appeared.
NJPW is going to have some serious "challenges" with their upcoming shows in LA & North Carolina, & the MSG collaboration with ROH. I'm betting a lot of people bought tickets to those events anticipating seeing The Elite. "Card subject to change" is going to be a bit of a "delicate" problem.
Thought it was a great show and the first (of hopefully many) where my friends and I watch it live. A bit easier as it started at 8am, so we had a Breakfast Kingdom Spread.
Ospreay vs Ibushi was great and I loved how Will is toning down his flying style a little bit. His twitter handle now has aerial crossed out. Just assassin (loved his Assassin's Creed jacket/hood)
To me it seemed obvious LIJ would win the jr. heavy tag match. It was a nice match but iirc the match a few months ago was better. Didn't expect ZSJr to beat Ishii. Thought the pitbull would finally get a win over Sabre. I hope their story continues (and goddamnit, push Ishii, especially if other guys are leaving)
the heavyweight tag belts. Good Guy Tama is funny. Other than that, yeah I expected LIJ to win this one too. Clean sweep coming up?
Juice-Cody was alright. Probably the worst match of the night and it was NOT bad at all.
Kushida-Ishimori was solid, could've used a bit more time. Ishimori looks badass and can keep the belt hot until (IF) Hiromu Takahashi returns.
Okada-Jay White. Loved the return of the rainmaker. Also, it shows that NJPW does not book like WWE, meaning the good guy needs to win at WrestleMania/Kingdom. I thought for sure Okada would win and get his hands on Gedo after the match, who scurries but cannot escape (Bobby Heenan style) But then again, they're all aboard the White train it seems so makes sense to win.
Naito-Jericho was a great brawl and Naito changed it up enough to not be the victim this time. Yup, clean sweep for the LIJ. All of them have belts now. Poor IC title
Tanahashi vs Omega was another great match. I enjoy Tana, he just breathes big time. Omega ofcourse can work like crazy. They had a good story and used great athleticism. I was happy Tanahashi won, again because I just like the way the guy looks and acts.
It felt like some of the matches were shorter than expected, but the show was never rushed in my opinion. And you basically get four hours (not counting the semi-preshow) of great wrestling.
They obviously are planning somewhat for the departure of the Elite and guys like Kushida. Will it work? I don't know. IF they also lose Naito and Okada it'll be hard. But they are doing many things right as shown by the WK booking. Building White as a legit threat (a year ago I thought he looked way out of his league) bringing in some new juniors, while pushing up Ospreay, Chaos now mingles with former enemies AND NJPW took back the Bullet Club and can mold them as they see fit instead of having a group of Americans use it for their own platform.