Konnichiwa wrestling fans! I’m back again for my annual review of NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom PPV event. Last year was my first time watching a NJPW event, and needless to say, it was one of the best shows I had ever seen in my life; miles ahead of anything the American promotions conjured up in 2015. So as you can imagine, the anticipation was high as I sat down to watch NJPW Wrestle Kingdom X with my father last night. Before I go any further, this review will contain spoilers, so if you have not seen the show yet, you really shouldn’t be reading this. Also, I will not be calling all the action, as the show was over 4 1/2 hours long (the entire show was 6 1/2 hours if you include the preshow!) and I could probably extend this review to over twenty pages if I did.
The biggest difference this year was having no Jim Ross on commentary (sad face), and instead having Kevin Kelly, Matt Striker and Yoshi Tatsu. I’ll let you know how they did later. I’ll be posting an “excitement” rating (1-5 stars, 5 stars being the best) for each match. The rating does not reflect how great the match was, although I generally rate a match by how entertaining it was; so your ratings may differ.
There was a Rumble on the pre-show, but I didn’t watch it because (almost) five hours of the main show was enough already. Participants included Jado, Captain New Japan, Cheeseburger, The Great Kabuki, Hiro Saito, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jushin Thunder Liger, Kazushi Sakuraba, King Haku, Manabu Nakanishi, Máscara Dorada, Ryusuke Taguchi, Satoshi Kojima, Shiro Koshinaka, Tiger Mask, Yoshi-Hashi, Yoshiaki Fujiwara and Yuji Nagata. Jado won the match by last eliminating Ryusuke Taguchi.
Match #1 – reDRagon (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs. Aerial Dogfight (Matt Sydal and Ricochet) vs. Roppongi Vice (Baretta and Rocky Romero) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) (with Cody Hall) – Just like the previous year, the opening match was a tag team contest between the American wrestlers working for ROH, and others working exclusively for NJPW. The match was for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship, the first of eight (!) title matches. Two former WWE guys in Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne) and Trent Baretta involved.
Cody Hall escorted The Young Bucks, and you guessed right, he’s Scott Hall’s son. With some experience he could easily be in WWE following in his dad’s footsteps. He interfered on The Young Buck’s behalf. I also noticed how certain entrance themes were changed, and a message would display saying the music was altered due to copyright issues. Might just be NJPW not being allowed to use ROH entrance themes. Anyways, the match was a spot-fest, so I’ll list the better spots below:
- Nick Jackson doing a crotch chop and screaming “SUCK IT!” in a squeaky voice which echoed around the arena to no reaction.
- Matt Jackson using Baretta’s arms to crotch chop himself in front of Rocky Romero.
- Ricochet and Sydal’s simultaneous standing moonsault on Nick Jackson; first real spot.
- Kyle grabbing Matt’s arm and clinging on to the rope upside down as Nick decides not to save his brother and suicide flip over them on to Fish and Aerial Dogfight. Then a super kick to Kyle’s head to save his brother.
- Worst worked spot of the show. Rocky dived over the rope landing on Nick, which Nick TOTALLY no sold as he decided .. err no, the next spot is more important, so he stood up and grabbed those around him, as all four stared at Matt Sydal who was setting himself up on the turnbuckle. I hate it when they make the spot completely obvious. Matt Sydal did the moonsault, with all four men clearly trying to catch him. Someone needs to tell these guys to stop the “group hug” spot because it looks bad.
- Ricochet tried to do a suicide dive of his own, but instead Cody Hall swiped his leg out. He picked Ricochet up for the Razor’s Edge and launched him to the outside on top of everyone except The Young Bucks. 1-0 to the Bad Guy.
- Ricochet’s Northern Lights Suplex transitioned in to another Suplex. COMBO!
- Springboard 450 by Ricochet after Sydal planted Nick. Matt pushed Sydal in to Ricochet to break the pin up.
- The defending champions looked to be the aggressors as they combined to torture Sydal with move after move.
- A rather interesting combo by Kyle, as he threw Nick down to the mat, keeping hold of him and coming back to his feet again two more times (hard to explain it), til Kyle and Fish did their double spike DDT in to a flying German suplex with extra momentum. Nice.
- Biggest spot of the match! Octuplet Suplex! Yes, reDRagon and Roppongi Vice delivered a suplex to The Young Bucks and Aerial dogfight at the same time. Nick overselling the suplex like it was a tombstone off a skyscraper.
- CLOTHESLINE CITY! Rocky Romero delivered ten clotheslines in a row.
- Aerial Dogfight’s simultaneous Shooting Star Press’ on Roppongi Vice.
- More Bang For Your Buck finished the match, giving The Young Bucks their fourth reign as Jr. Heavyweight Champions.
A great way to start the show. Despite it being full of action, the fans were pretty quiet for it. It’s hard to read a Japanese crowd sometimes, they could have been silent out of respect, or simply because they had no one to cheer for. This was something you usually see on the Independent scene in America, or in Ring Of Honor. I also enjoyed the use of Cody Hall, who seemed to fit in to the grand scheme of things without taking away from the excitement.
The downfall was the positioning for certain spots, and at times, no-selling from The Young Bucks. What’s the point in anyone doing a massive aerial move if you’re going to run around like nothing happened two minutes later? More selling required. I give the excitement rating because everyone played their part, but I honestly can’t give it anymore than that.
Excitement Level: ****
The Young Bucks celebrated their fourth title win as reDRagon looked on bewildered as they lost the belts without being pinned. A rematch is highly likely between the two teams. It seemed the other tag teams wanted anyone but The Young Bucks to win.
Match #2 – The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe) and Toru Yano vs. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Yujiro Takahashi) (with Shiori) – This was to crown the inaugural NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship. The commentators expressed their disgust for Takahashi, a Japanese wrestler allied with Bullet Club, a stable supposedly for American wrestlers. Takahashi came to the ring with Shiori, who was looking rather hot. The camera kept panning to her cleavage, so she’s the eye candy for the evening. They also mentioned Tama Tonga being the son of Haku (the other one, not Micah/Camacho who works for TNA). Bad Luck Fale is the silent heavy of the group.
For the second match in a row, Bullet Club jumped the gun and attacked their opponents before the bell. Most of the action coming from the Briscoes to begin with, til Yano got the tag. The Japanese fans sprang to life as Yano fought Fale. Yano’s kinda like The Miz (a “movie star”), except he’s charismatic and funny. Bullet Club worked Yano over for a while. Tonga surprised the Briscoes with a double dropkick. Bullet Club riled the Briscoes up while working Yano over. Matt Striker blatantly called his own commentary annoying at one point; thanks for the honesty Mr. Striker. Yano began the comic relief with his comeback, showing his ability to see opponents with “eyes in the back of his head”. Yano kept his intensity up by taking out the Bullet Club on his own; the crowd firmly behind his amusing expressions as well. Mark and Takahashi worked in the ring for a while, with Mark displaying his “redneck kungfu”. Takahashi flipped him over after an attempted Karate kick, Mark landed on his feet and countered a T-bone suplex.
After a long time on the apron, Jay finally made his way in as the legal man. Jay delivered a sweet Death Valley Driver on Tama. Jay lost the advantage a short time later after a Tama twist, followed by a “dangerous” Alabama slam. At this point I noticed how Yoshi Tatsu was leaving all the commentary to Kelly and Striker, only speaking up to ask a question, or to answer one of Striker’s questions, usually with “yeah”, or a sentence or two which can only be made clear if you listen really carefully. Tama sat on Jay’s shoulders for a long time as Jay tried for the electric chair drop, but was unable to as Tama grabbed the ropes. Yano appeared outta’ nowhere and threw a chair at Tama, who let go of the ropes. Mark climbed to the top and the Briscoes hit the classic Doomsday Device, picking up the win and becoming the first NEVER Openweight 6-man Tag Champions.
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