Welcome, welcome, to all you puro veterans, virgins, lovers and haters out there. Ah, there’s a special kind of magic in the air this week without a doubt, and that’s because we are on the very eve of the biggest non-WWE wrestling show of the year, New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 8! It’s an exciting time for both Japanese wrestling devotees and rookies alike, as wrestling takes center stage in Tokyo for one magical night. We have a match between two young legends in the making, a match between two generational rivals, and a cornucopia of other delights for your eyes and ears. And before the show airs, we’re going to walk you through each match, as our esteemed panel of Japanese Wrestling experts lay out the backstory for each match, as well as what match each one individually exciting, (or not.) So by the end of this preview, you shouldn’t just be able to enjoy this show even if you’ve never seen Japanese wrestling before, but you should also be able to be an insufferable know it all to everyone you’re watching it with.
So without any further ado, let’s do a motherfucking preview!
Now then, before we get started there are two items of business. Firstly, if you’re just here trying to figure out how you can actually order this show then scroll down to the bottom of this post for full details and a walk through of what to do, as well as when and how it will air.
The second piece of business is introducing our panel of Japanese wrestling experts. First up is Defrost, who you might know well from our previous New Japan coverage, or for his recurring columns of Rajah.com where he breaks down the most significant feuds of all time. Then there’s DDT, a man who rants as easily as most of us breathe, and who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Japanese independent scene. And rounding out our panel is Thumbster, who is our enterprising man on the street in Japan. None of these three like the same things in a wrestling match, and yet they’re all here. It should be fun.
So with all that said, let’s get to the preview!
Defrost: Yano is a troll. And he has spent the better part of 6 months trolling Minoru Suzuki. You need to understand one thing about Minoru Suzuki. He is an ill natured man. So when Yano handcuffs him to the railing causing him to be DQed, runs around the entire arena so Suzuki can’t get to him, or shill his DVD while Suzuki is irately beating Young Lions this makes Suzuki ill nature even more iller. So when Yano said that he had a surprise for Suzuki at the Tokyo Dome there was much speculation over who his partner would be. Minoru Suzuki thought it would be Bob Sapp. Some thought it might be AJ Styles. Then Yano revealed it to be the legendary Great Muta.
The Great Muta has not been seen in NJPW since the 1/4/08 Tokyo Dome. This reveal did not help Suzuki’s ill not. Also not helping was on the last NJPW show before the Dome after Suzuki’s promo talking all about not being afraid of Muta, Yano then came out dressed as Muta. Many Young Lions were beaten.
DDT: The Yano-Suzuki feud rolls on, as Suzuki continues to hold his grudge over those series of victories Yano has over him. I have high hopes for this match; not as a classic, but as gimmicky fun, which is Yano’s forte. Suzuki’s always down for a match like that, coming to New Japan has done wonders for Shelton’s career, and of course, a rare Great Muta siting, as Mutoh tries to hype up his Wrestle-1 promotion. Expect hijinks and fun in this one, kids.
Thumbster: Now there’s a few things you need to know in this match. Minoru Suzuki is a good shoot wrestler and can kick anyone’s ass anyday. But there’s one man. ONE MAN who, for some reason, Suzuki had a lot of hard time dealing with. And that is Toru Yano. Almost every time when these two have a singles match, Yano would outsmarted Suzuki and stand tall in the end and will mock Suzuki will no one can do. So the feud are far from over. Both of them then agree to have a tag match in this and Yano then state he will bring his partner who’s “X” that oppose to Shelton “X” Benjamin, who is still doing the goofy X sign for some reason. But this X is way better than Benjamin since he’s GREAT FREAKING MUTA!
There’s actually a history here because Suzuki and Muta are pretty much feuded with each other from their All Japan time. So while it not make much sense for Muta to Tag with Yano, they have a same enemy so it works, right?
Defrost: The rules are there are no rules. Always liked that phrase. Even though there are always rules. In this case it is basically just a Last Man Standing Match. Fale has been doing a gimmick where he uses a Splash Mountain bomb in the Border Toss style leading to ref stoppages. Makabe has been feuding with the Bullet Club dating back to the G1 Climax in August leading to this match with the Underboss of Bullet Club. They have been brawling with each other for months now so it is time to get to the big show to end it.
DDT: At first I was ready to write this one off, as I have not been particularly impressed with Fale before. However, Makabe’s charisma has carried his opponents before, and maybe it will wash the stink of Bullet Club off of Fale. Just keep this short, sweet, and chalk full of bombs; it will be alright.
Thumbster: For some reason, Makabe will get his single match in WK almost every year. But for those past years, his opponents were always “something” like Tanaka, Takayama and Shibata but this year… Bad Luck Fale? I mean yeah, he’s big, he’s bad, and he will get a heat. But single match in WK. I call this a biggest risk. But you gotta give some prop to NJPW to never let him get pinned even once since come back as Bullet Club member. So he do look strong. But still… you know
Defrost: These two childhood friends have spent the better part of 2013 beating the unholy fuck out of each other including their match from June in Osaka that many consider the Match of the Year. In two of their three matches they went to a double knock out. The stiffness in these matches can actually reach unpleasant levels at times. They were supposed to have their fourth match on the last day of the G1 Climax but Hirooki Goto broke his jaw in a match with Hiroshi Tanahashi and obviously didn’t make that date. How Goto got hurt against Tanahashi and not in a match where headbutts sound like gun shots I’ll never quite understand, but the world is a mysterious place. This match will mark Goto’s return from that injury. And what better way to come back from a broken jaw than by working with your best friend? Your best friend who is going to hit you in the face as hard as he can.
DDT: The war to settle the score; I believe these two are 1-1 in singles matches against each other, and this will be the blow-off that Goto’s injury prevented from happening late last year. The matches between the two have always been good, so I’m expecting no less from here. Honestly though, I don’t know who a victory helps, as they are both sort of stuck in this upper-mid card rut that only Shibata can really break out of, but New Japan won’t ever trust him to do so due to his history of walking out on them before.
Myself, I’ll just sit back and enjoy the violence.
Thumbster: Now we’re talkin’. A singles match that is worth being on the card. A one year long feud between two classmates who have a same dream and who will finally have their big match in the Tokyo Dome. Nothing cooler than that. Not to mention how their series matches always good to amazing. Shibata was like nobody from last year and thanks to G1 Climax he’s now completely out of Saku’s shadow. While Goto seems to look determined as ever. If you want to know the appeal of feuds in Puroresu, this match might be your answer.
Defrost: Be vewy vewy quiet Sakuraba is hunting Gwacies. In the 1990s Kazushi Sakuraba was a lower midcard pro wrestler with the shoot style promotion UWFi. Then UWFi’s penchant for grandstand challenges bit them in the ass when Yoji Anjo, the second biggest star in the company to Nobuhiko Takada, went to Rickson Gracie’s dojo with a cadre of Japanese press to challenge Gracie to a fight. Problem was Gracie accepted. And beat the ever loving shit out of Anjo.
This ruined UWFi’s claim to be “real” wrestling and the promotion swiftly went from a huge money maker to out of business. In its wake rose the Pride FC with the idea of doing a Takada vs Rickson Gracie fight. Needless to say things didn’t go well for Takada. The Gracies dominated the Japanese fighters. Until Sakuraba rattled off a string of victories over the Gracie family including in a 90 minute all time classic against Royce Gracie. This made Sakuraba arguably the biggest sports star in Japan. This match is an attempt to capture some of that in a pro wrestling setting.
DDT: Many moons ago, there was a Brazilian Clan of Great Warriors, who challenged the legitimacy of Pro Wrestling. Many a wrestler took the Warrior-Clan up on their challenge, but all were sent packing in humiliating defeat. Then, wrestling found an unlikely champion; a young no-name, called Sakuraba by those who cared to remember. Laughing, the Great Warrior-Clan sent their disciples to crush this upstart; they were not members of the Clan, but they were skilled in the Clan’s deadly arts. They were larger than the Champion; bigger, stronger, more experienced in fights. It should have been an easy victory. Instead, it was a crushing defeat. The Champion stood over their battered, defeated forms and loudly declared to the world, “Pro Wrestling is STRONG!”
Seething at the arrogance of this child who did not know how big the world was, The Warrior-Clan sent their chief trainer and one of their own to put the child, Pro Wrestling, and indeed all of Japan in its place. And when the Clan’s warrior, one Royler by name, arrived in the traditional gear of his discipline, everyone knew, everyone KNEW, that Sakuraba’s fifteen minutes of fame were up. They knew it….right up until the time Sakuraba placed Royler in his secret Double-Wrist Lock technique a Judo submission hold, and the judge called a stop to the bout before permanent damage was done.
Sakuraba was labeled a Great Hero; no longer the champion of pro wrestling, he was now the Champion of all Japanese Martial Arts; the proof of their legitimacy and effectiveness.
Now the Great Warrior-Clan seethed and raged; Royler never submitted, he gotten out; this was robbery. This Sakuraba was no fighter; he was a pro wrestler, and they would prove it. They sent warrior after warrior at Sakuraba; first Royler’s brother Royce, who had been the Clan’s representative in the states. After over an hour of combat, the exhausted Royce threw in the towel. Then came Renzo, who emphasized what he believed to be a more practical form of the Clan’s deadly arts; Sakuraba broke his arm. Then came the young Ryan, who arrived with two things: great courage and an injured shoulder. Sakuraba took pity on the brave warrior, avoiding the injured arm and coming out victorious.
The Warrior-Clan finally acknowledged Sakuraba as an equal, a warrior worthy of respect.
Unfortunately, between the wrestling and the battles, Sakuraba’s body began to deteriorate, and over the years his performances began to suffer more and more; his skill remained unquestioned, but his physical ability was lacking. And in the year 2012, Sakuraba knew that to revitalize his Fighting Spirit, he needed to return to the place where it all started, return to his roots and start over from square one.
New Japan Pro Wrestling.
And revitalize his Fighting Spirit he did; with his friend and fellow warrior Shibata, he engaged the likes of Nakamura, Goto, and recently Yuji Nagata, the Old Man of New Japan. Sometimes he won, sometimes he lost, but Sakuraba had finally regained at least a sizable portion of his old form. It could not have happened at a better time.
The Great Warrior-Clan has returned to their old tricks, and sent two members to crush New Japan at the height of their glory. All that stands in their way is the New Japan’s stalwart defender Yuji Nagata, and their old nemesis, the Champion of Japanese Martial Arts; Kazushi Sakuraba.
….I apologize dear reader. I apologize for giving you that epic bit of self-indulgence in the guise of a history lesson. The reason I apologize is that I fear I may have hyped this match up for you in true cheesy comic book faction, but here’s the sad truth about wrestling matches where half of the participants are MMA fighters. They always come in one of two types; they are either really, really good, or they are really, really shitty. And the ones that are really, really good are almost always ones where the MMA fighter either was a professional wrestler, or has had significant training as a professional wrestler, something neither Daniels nor Rolles, to my knowledge, have. This match will be an exhibition, and maybe even have some swank grappling in it. But I honestly do not have very high hopes for this match.
Thumbster: Last year when Sakuraba made his way to NJPW, a lot of people were excited about it and he had a good showdown with Nakamura. Then a feud with Nagata happened, which excited the crowd once again because they are were in the same generation during the NJPW vs. UWFi feud a loooong time ago. But when they actually wrestled, it didn’t turn out well. Saku didn’t come back and kick Nagata’s ass like his fellow ex-MMAer Masakatsu Funaki did. He just came back and did some midcard matches with Nagata and people stopped caring about it. Than a wild Gracie appears! Like out of nowhere. But Gracie is, like, a big name in Japan anyway and it’s Saku vs. Gracie so this match got attention from the crowd again. But I still can’t imagine how this match will turn out, or I just don’t want to…
Defrost: Harley Race will be on hand to present to championship belt to the winner. At April’s Invasion Attack iPPV Conway first appeared in NJPW beating Kojima. With NWA President Bruce Tharpe Conway has come in and made several successful defenses of this title. As mentioned this is Kojima’s second crack at the title, and between that and NJPW being the stronger promotion one would think a title change is quite likely here.
DDT: During the 2013 World Tag League, Kojima pinned Rob Conway, earning an NWA Title re-match. No matter how many times I see Rob Conway in New Japan, nor how big a fan of his I have been since literally his days in Ohio Valley Wrestling, seeing Rob in Japan is weird to me. There’s not a lot to say about this one; Rob has grown increasingly comfortable working in Japan without ever blowing people away and Kojima remains the best opponent for Conway to have, due to his experience with other styles outside the New Japan one. Give this one a shot, it may surprise you.
Thumbster: So sometime in the middle of this year there was a weird VTR from the NWA shown during an NJPW event with a guy who introduced himself as “Bruce Tharpe desu” “Nihongo ga hanasemasu” “wakarimasuka?” (I bet he didn’t understand any of that). Anyway, it turns out that he’s president of NWA and he’s going to “invade” NJPW by bringing his “best” talent to Japan. And that guy turns out to be… Rob Conway… and he didn’t change much from his “Just, look at me” time from WWE. But he’s NWA World Champion! And that’s what important.
This title has so much history in Japan that even though it’s not-so-important in the USA, it’s still famous in Japan. So it would be stupid for the NWA to not have their title defense in the Tokyo Dome. Oh, I also need to talk about Satoshi Kojima. After a boring year with his partner Tenzan in the Tag division, he rose back like a phoenix thanks to the G1 Climax and he looked good as ever. So I really have some high hopes for Kojima to entertain me in this match.
Defrost: For the past 15 months the Hooligans, Time Splitters, and TAKA/Taichi have had a slew of matches trading this title back and forth amongst each other. This title really needed new blood injected into it because even though the matches were always good there is only so much cake you can eat until you’re sick of it. So in come the Young Bucks the newest members of the Bullet Club. They were brought in for the Tag Team Super Jr Tournament that they promptly won. Then beat TAKA and Taichi for the tag titles. After the match all the challenges were thrown around and that brings us to this match at the Dome.
DDT: There was a time when the New Japan Jr. Heavyweight/Cruiserweight division was the deepest in the world, and their Jr. Tag Titles were the pride of the company. That time has long since gone by, and this match represents the husky remains of that once great division; literally the only four regular Jr. teams in New Japan are facing off in this match.
Having said all that, there is a lot of talent in this match; the Young Bucks are perhaps the best team in the world when it comes to “brainless fun” matches. Suzukigun combine smart ring work with great character work, the Time Splitters are down to have a good match with anyone, and Forever Hooligans….well, they are there. They’ve got that going for them, I guess.
Having said that, don’t be surprised when the audience reacts lukewarmly to everything except the ending; it’s the Tokyo Dome, and Junior matches rarely get a warm reception for whatever reason. Still, for the official beginning of the show, you can always count on the juniors to kick a show off to a good start.
Thumbster: For several years now that IWGP Jr. title match would always be an opener. Because the match can always hype the crowd up and that’s nice way to start the show. Problem is Jr. Division always be a weak point for NJPW for sometimes now. Since all we got to see from this year are Time Splitters vs. Forever Hooligans over and over. Luckily, for some reason, NJPW finally gives the titles to TAKA and Taichi, the two who have chase this title for a loooong time now and NJPW didn’t stop only just that. They bring in The Young Bucks as a Bullet Club stable member and took a title right away. So this match has become like a clash of big 4 factions in NJPW: NJPW army, CHAOS, Suzuki-Gun and Bullet Club so things looks exciting and we can’t really tell who is going to win. Not a bad start.
Defrost: Anderson and Gallows won the World Tag League in December so they are #1 contenders. This is odd in being an all heel gaijin match. That’s really all there is to this one.
DDT: K.E.S has grown on me recently. Lance Archer has finally stopped trying to wrestle like a Cruiserweight, and it has improved his ring work tremendously. Davey Boy has continued to improve and has really come into his own as a powerhouse. It is a good thing that they’ve undergone this massive improvement, for it will fall onto them to carry their dullard opponents of the Bullet Club to anything resembling good.
I’ve never made it a secret that I don’t think much of the Bullet Club (and yes, that includes Prince Devitt, who has contracted Davey Richards’ “Try-To-Hard” syndrome) but Karl Anderson may very well be the worst. As a blue collar babyface he was passable, even good in the right situations, but as a heel he was always the drizzling shits, even during his reign with Giant Bernard in Bad Intentions.
Now he looks to recapture that magic with Doc Gallows, the former Festus/Luke Gallows. I was never a big fan of his, either, so if I was to declare any match on this card to be a bathroom break, it would be this one. But hey, I’ve been surprised by far less talented wrestlers before, so maybe I will be again.
I’m not holding my breath.
Thumbster: Well, the Tag division is pretty much in the same situation as the Jr. Tag one, they are weak and not that interesting, since it’s pretty much K.E.S. and Tencozy fighting for these belts over the course of a year. This year’s Tag League was so skipable that I never recommend anyone to check it out. So this year winner is… Karl Anderson, (yes, again,) and Doc Gallows… or Luke Gallows from WWE and D.O.C from TNA.
See, Japan always loves big gaijin (foreign wrestlers) and this guy just perfectly fits in. He’s pretty much taken Giant Tensai’s place and makes this team Bad Intentions 2.0. But the match might be fun, because K.E.S. are pretty good team and Anderson is a solid worker when he needs to be. But the interest isn’t there…. like …. at all.
Defrost: The Real Rock n Rolla vs The Golden Star. These two have been rivals for years, but there is a new dynamic in place. Prince Devitt is now a heel. The leader of the all evil Gaijin stable: The Bullet Club. Meanwhile things are different for Ibushi as well. This is his first singles match against Devitt since signing a contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling. What to expect out of one of their matches in the past was easy. now it is very open. Will it consist of the usual amount of Bullet Club interference? Or will the members of the Bullet Club have already been taken out by the time this match hits the ring from damage from their own matches? How will Devitt do having to wrestling another Junior having spent so much time this year wrestling Heavyweights?
It is amazing how with a few tweaks you can take something that has been done to death and make it fresh again. I guess that is a perk of having bookers who actually have a clue unlike some other feds I can think of. Probably the easiest pick on the show with Ibushi almost the certain winner.
DDT: Ever since he started to actually win the big matches instead of simply coming close before failing, Prince Devitt has bored me. Now he’s wearing a lyte-brite jacket, doing this Rock’N’Rolla shtick, and in addition to boring me, I want to slap him and tell the little prick to grow the fuck up and act like a man. Between his act and Bullet Club’s complete void of charisma, it is literally like looking at a second-rate copycat of a Dragon Gate heel stable, which is itself an almost grotesque parody of a good old Memphis-style heel stable.
So yeah, a copycat of a parody, performed by five personality voids who somehow roped the Young Bucks into this mess. And people wonder why I don’t like them.
Fortunately, this match has Kota Ibushi, who prescribes to the “brainless fun” school of wrestling that is the foundation of his home-promotion DDT, the most glorious place on Earth. He has dragged Devitt to fun before, and if anyone can make this Bullet Club bullshit work, it’s him.
All hail our lord and savior, Kota Ibushi; may he save us from the great unpleasantness that is Prince Devitt and his death grip on the Junior title.
Thumbster: Remember when I said that the Jr. Division is a weak point of NJPW? Well, these are two men that can’t be counted in that. These two men are like perfect rivals, they are almost the same age, same build and everything. Some of you might complain that this is their 100th time they facing each other but trust me, it will not be the same. Devitt spent all this year becoming the best heel in wrestling with his Bullet Club stable. He then started fighting bigger guys like Tanahashi and Okada and was able to match up with them to the point that he became too strong for any other Jr. wrestlers and he stopped defending his Jr. Heavyweight title since no one worthy enough to challenge him.
Meanwhile, Ibushi was keeping himself in low card matches in DDT was and doing some his usual wacky stuff. He didn’t even compete in Best of the Super Jr. this year, (while his tag partner Kenny Omega did.) Then boom! He’s in G1 Climax and goes on to have legendary match with Nakamura and to change his status in world of wrestling forever. Then he became the first ever wrestler to sign a dual contract deal with both DDT and NJPW. Heck, NJPW even made his new theme song and merchandise. And what would be a better start for the Golden Star than taking on The Real Rock N’ Rolla? For me, this match makes this a triple main event.
Defrost: Now if you are not an avid follower of New Japan Pro Wrestling you may be wondering why this is not going on last. Well lets take the long way around to explain that. While Okada was toiling away on Alex Shelley’s couch Tetsuya Naito was main eventing in CMLL and making a triumphant return to NJPW. Naito and Yujiro Takahashi, No Limit, would win the IWGP Tag Team Championship before doing their breakup angle. Naito struck off on his own having great matches with Hiroshi Tanahashi, and getting over to the point he semi main evented Wrestle Kingdom VI against the legendary Keiji Muto.
Also at Wrestle Kingdom VI Kazuchika Okada made his infamously horrid return. When Okada came out later that night to challenge Hiroshi Tanahashi the crowd boos and there were cat calls telling Okada to get out of wrestling. Then he won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Even though the match where he won the title went well fans were dubious. It would be Okada’s first title defense that calmed those nerves. His first title defense came against his opponent at the Tokyo Dome Tetsuya Naito. From there it seemed like they would be linked as rivals just as Tanahashi and Nakamura had been. However, in months later in the G1 Climax Naito tore his ACL. When he came back he was rusty, and his fans chalked it up to that but there does seem to be something missing.
He won the G1 Climax, the premier tournament in wrestling and this year was the greatest wrestling tournament in term of match quality of all time, beating Ace Hiroshi Tanahashi. However, he is nowhere near as over as he was in the Summer of 2012. The situation is very similar to the one face by Masahiro Chono in 1994. He had seen injuries pile up, the worst of which was caused by a Steve Austin Tombstone Piledriver, and he lost something with the crowd compared to Shinya Hashimoto and Keiji Muto. So he went from a clean cut wrestler to the black wearing future leader of nWo Japan everyone came to love. Naito is in a spot where NJPW made strides in growth when he was gone. He missed the entire rise of NJPW on iPPV. He stayed the same while times changed. So the fans did not take to him as they had before.
So NJPW decided to put it to a vote. What match should be the main event. And overwhelmingly they chose Shinsuke vs Tanahashi. Now the last two times Okada and Naito wrestled the matches were off the charts great. They come into this one with a chip on their shoulder and a point to prove. This is my pick for MOTN going in.
DDT: Poor Naito; poor, poor Naito. His triumphant return from injury and rise to the main event has been stymied by one simple truth; the fans don’t care about him. Oh he tries; he has good matches, athletic moves, and takes the fight to vicious dirty outsiders like Masato Tanaka, but as Cewsh has pointed out in other reviews, when your facial expressions for happy, sad, and mad are all the exact same, you know there’s a problem. It also doesn’t help that your generational rival is Yujiro Takahashi, who is literally your polar opposite (tons of personality but little-to-no in-ring ability).
As such, despite Okada being excepted as a legitimate main event star by the New Japan fans, they voted the Intercontinental championship match to main event over the World championship.
Now this is a shame, as the only other singles match these two had was about two years ago, and it is one of the best these two ever had. In fact, that match was singularly responsible for turning Okada from someone forced down the fans throats to someone who they thought truly capable of carrying the company.
Now, Naito has shown that he hasn’t lost a step, and Okada has grown more comfortable in his role and confident in his abilities. There is no reason to believe that lightning won’t strike twice at the Dome, and it is in fact the match I am most looking forward too.
Thumbster: So NJPW did something interesting this year. They let people vote for which match will be last on the card and, sadly, this match loses even it has the biggest build up of the year and is the match that represents the next generation of NJPW. But what’s done is done. We have to move on and enjoy the show. I’m not going to speak much about Okada, since everyone should know how great he is by now. If you don’t, go find any match of his with Tanahashi and you will understand. As for Naito, many people seem to think that he’s the reason why this match didn’t end up last. Some people think he’s not yet ready and that he isn’t good as he was prior to his injury. And the worst is, people started to boo him.
So this is another big risk that NJPW are going for, (not as much as Fale’s,) but you know what? I, for some reason, think that this match will turn out fine. Because as time has passed, Naito seems to get what he needs to do. People have started to warm up to him once again (Naito’s chants are somewhat even with Okada’s now,) and lastly, he’s really good in big time matches and not all wrestlers have that. So I think the future of NJPW will be bright. No matter who walks out as the champ.
Defrost: For the third time since 2005, Generation Rivals clash in the main event of the January 4th Tokyo Dome show with Stan Hansen overseeing the proceedings. These are the two men who have led New Japan out of the wilderness of the dark times and, with Kazuchika Okada, are the top stars of the company. Their rivalry has spanned many years including a tag team title reign together and 12 singles matches in a 6 year period. Shinsuke holds a slight edge with a 6-5-1 record against Tanahashi however he has dominated Tanahashi in the Tokyo Dome. In 2005 they were tapped to main event the Dome at a time NJPW was quickly careening toward rock bottom. It was a showcase of the future for the now defunct IWGP U-30 (Under the age of 30) Openweight Championship. After 25 minutes of action Shinsuke forced Tanahashi to tap out to the Cross Arm Breaker.
Then, 3 years later, Shinsuke again challenged Tanahashi. This time for NJPW’s biggest prize the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. It was a long a winding road to get there. Tanahashi was supposed to have taken on Brock Lesnar for the title 9 months earlier but Lesnar left with the belt. Tanahashi would lose and regain the title probably in Shinsuke’s place.
Shinsuke, who had long been hurt by his Super Nova period and still miscast as an Inoki style shooter, had gone abroad and returned to Japan as NJPW’s newest savior. He brought back a new finisher the Land Slide which was basically a Fireman’s Carry Falcon Arrow, and as is the traditional when Japanese wrestlers leave the country came back with much more muscle mass. Disaster would strike in the semi finals of the 2007 G1 when in a match with Yuji Nagata, Shinsuke totally destroyed his shoulder. He needed surgery to put it back together. Tanahashi would win the tournament and regain the IWGP Title.
They finally crossed paths at the Dome where Shinsuke would beat Tanahashi with his new move. However, not long thereafter Shinsuke lost the title to Keiji Muto. Muto would lose it at the Dome to Tanahashi and from that point forward there was no debate that Tanahahsi was undisputed Ace of NJPW. Meanwhile, Shinsuke went through a profound transformation. He turned heel. He went to Mexico. He stopped being Kaz Fujita 2.0. And he unleashed his inner Swag.
From that point forward Nakamura has gotten insanely over with the NJPW crowd. For the last 18 months Nakamura has built up the relatively new IWGP IC Title to the point it can main event the biggest show of the year. Kinda like what Taz and RVD did for the ECW TV Title. Tanahashi and Nakamura are at the peak of their popularity and working ability. This should be the best of their Dome main events even if it does have a Rock/Austin Wrestlemania 19 vibe to it.
DDT: There are two important stories here. The first is the Intercontinental championship itself; New Japan has tried to get a secondary title over time-and-time again, with the U-30 and Greatest 18-Club coming immediately to mind. I wish it had a different name, but I can’t argue with the results; the IWGP Intercontinental Championship is by far the most successful secondary title New Japan has ever had, and proof of that is its status in the main event of the biggest show of New Japan’s year.
The second story is yet another meeting between the generational rivals who defined New Japan for nearly the last decade; Nakamura and Tanahashi.
At this point there is almost nothing to say that hasn’t already been said a dozen or so times; these are the two men who took a company on its last legs and turned it into the second-most successful wrestling promotion in the world. Every time they lock up, we have gotten a match of the year candidate. It has become almost routine for them to do so. The best part of it all is, though, is that they always know to space the singles matches out, so fans never feel over-saturated on this pairing. It’s always exciting to see this rivalry renewed, so strap in boys and girls, because we are in for a ride.
Thumbster: Remember when MVP was the first NJPW Intercontinental champ? Let’s forget about that. And here we are. The real main event. The forever rivals. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura. These two have so much history that I will not write here because I can make a whole article out of that. It’s like Cena/Orton in Japan (with more good matches of course!) While they are known for being biggest rival to each other, they never directly met in a singles match for almost 2 years. Tanahashi mostly went on to have epic matches with Okada, while Nakamura has gone on to become most charismatic wrestler ever and take his intercontinental prestige to the moon.
The moment that these two stood face to face once again, and Tanahashi said “Sashiburi” (It’s been awhile) you knew something special is going to happen and it might end up being the best January 4th Tokyo Dome show you will ever see.
Ah, wonderful, you have decided to join the ranks of the puro geeks. Well let’s get you started.
First of all. go to this website. It is not the usual link for NJPW iPPVs, because for some reason that channel is airing the show in Spanish.
Then, simply click on the orange button at the top right, which will open up a sign in screen, like so:
You can either sign up using your Facebook account, or register a new account with Ustream. If you click on “Sign Up” it will take you to this screen:
That’s all you need to do before you’re ready to go. Then you can click on that orange button again, and move on to purchasing the show. Now, the show costs 3,000 Yen, which doesn’t help non Japanese people very much, but it calculates out to about $28.70.
When you press said orange button, you’ll see this screen:
Just put in your information and you’re good to go. No translation needed. Once you’ve purchased it, you can just revisit the link at 3:00AM on January 4th, or any time after that and the show will start immediately.
Kick back, have fun, and enjoy boys and girls!
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