Wrestle Kingdom VIII at the Tokyo Dome
A Review by Kevin Wilson

Date: January 4th, 2014
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 35,000

You always know when the new year has begun, because that means very soon there will be another New Japan event at the Tokyo Dome! This one has the usual intrigue with the top wrestlers of the year facing off and a few special attractions to help spice things up. Here is the full card:

- Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tomoaki Honma, Captain New Japan, and BUSHI vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Super Strong Machine, Jushin Thunder Liger, and Yohei Komatsu
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson vs. KUSHIDA and Alex Shelley vs. TAKA Michinoku and Taichi vs. Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov
- IWGP Tag Team Championship: Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Rob Conway vs. Satoshi Kojima
- Yuji Nagata and Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Daniel Gracie and Rolles Gracie
- Minoru Suzuki and Shelton Benjamin vs. Great Muta and Toru Yano
- King of Destroyer Match: Togi Makabe vs. King Fale
- Hirooki Goto Return Match: Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito
- IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Let's get started!

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tomoaki Honma, Captain New Japan, and BUSHI vs. Manabu Nakanishi, Super Strong Machine, Jushin Thunder Liger, and Yohei Komatsu
Liger throws Komatsu at their opponents to start the match, and he nails Honma with a dropkick.  Everyone hits running strikes in the corner on Honma, Northern Lights Suplex by Komatsu but it only gets a two count.  Komatsu is stomped down by everyone until finally only Komatsu and Honma are in the ring. Honma catches Komatsu with an elbow and then a lariat, followed by a falling headbutt.  Honma tags in BUSHI, and BUSHI kicks Komatsu in the chest.  BUSHI picks up Komatsu, Irish whip from the corner, reversed, but BUSHI flips out to the apron and kicks Komatsu.  Missile dropkick by BUSHI, he picks up Komatsu and hits a scoop slam.  Crab hold by BUSHI, but Liger and Nakanishi immediately break it up.  Liger yells at Komatsu to get BUSHI, snapmare by BUSHI and he kicks Komatsu in the back before tagging in Tenzan.  Headbutt by Tenzan and he hits a Mongolian Chop.  Cover, but Komatsu kicks out at two.  Tenzan picks up Komatsu and they trade blows, Tenzan kicks Komatsu into the corner, Irish whip, and Tenzan delivers a heel kick.  Cover, but Liger breaks it up again and encourages Komatsu.  Captain New Japan is tagged in, he picks up Komatsu and punches him in the head.  Irish whip by Captain New Japan and he hits a back elbow, cover, but it gets a two count.  Captain New Japan picks up Komatsu, scoop slam, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Komatsu rolls out of the way.  Komatsu makes the hot tag to Nakanishi, Nakanishi chops Captain New Japan into the corner, Irish whip, and Nakanishi hits a lariat.  Another Irish whip to Captain New Japan but this time Captain New Japan moves out of the way.  Attempted Irish whip by Captain New Japan but Nakanishi slams on the breaks.  Captain New Japan goes off the ropes and hits a shoulder block, giving him time to tag in Tenzan.  Mongolian Chops by Tenzan to Nakanishi, he goes off the ropes but Nakanishi catches him with a spear.  Nakanishi knocks Tenzan’s teammates off the apron, he then goes off the ropes and delivers the LARIAT.  Cover, but it gets a two count. Argentine Backbreaker by Nakanishi to Tenzan, Captain New Japan comes in the ring but Nakanishi throws Tenzan at Captain New Japan.  This gives Honma a chance to come in the ring and he hits a backdrop suplex on Nakanishi.  Nakanishi tags in Komatsu, Tenzan kicks Komatsu and throws him in the corner.  Irish whip by Tenzan but Komatsu flips over him and hits a running elbow strike.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Headbutt to the midsection by Tenzan but Komatsu rolls him up for a two count.  Another roll-up by Komatsu but again it gets two.  Komatsu waits for Tenzan to get up but Tenzan catches him with a lariat.  Cover by Tenzan but it is broken up.  This leads to a brawl by all their team mates, while Captain New Japan stays in the ring to help Tenzan.  Komatsu fights off both but Captain New Japan catches him with a choke.  Honma then hits a diving headbutt, followed by a diving headbutt off the top turnbuckle by Tenzan as well.  Cover, but it is broken up.  While the wrestlers brawl at ringside, Tenzan puts Komatsu in a modified crab hold, and he quickly submits.  Your winners:  Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Tomoaki Honma, Captain New Japan, and BUSHI

Match Thoughts:  This was a dark match really just to show off Komatsu.  As an aside, Nakanishi looks really rough, looks like that injury took a lot out of him and I doubt he will be anything close to what he was even a few years ago in New Japan.  Anyway, New Japan is quite high on Komatsu, which you can tell as he had Liger constantly “encouraging" him and he did at times get in some offense against wrestlers that ranked well above him (like Tenzan).  Of course he eventually lost but he put up a fight.  It seems like a waste to have so many popular New Japan veterans in a dark match, especially since many were never even tagged in, but like I said it was designed just to give Komatsu a chance to wrestle at the Dome Show and the rest were there just so the crowd could cheer them during their entrances, otherwise they wouldn’t have been on the show at all.  Score:  5.0

The Young Bucks vs. KUSHIDA and Alex Shelley vs. TAKA Michinoku and Taichi vs. Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.  Nick and Matt attack Koslov and Romero as they are doing their national anthem (I am assuming), then attack everyone else as well.  They single out Taichi, double Irish whip and they hit a double armdrag followed by a double dropkick.  Shelley then gets double teamed as well but Matt is finally thrown out of the ring.  Now it is Nick being double teamed as Shelley and KUSHIDA connect with a double team strike combination.  Matt comes in the ring but he gets double teamed as well until Nick comes to his rescue.  They single out KUSHIDA, but KUSHIDA elbows both Nick and Matt to the mat with a springboard elbow strike.  They bounce off the ropes but are tripped up by Koslov and Romero from the outside.  Koslov and Romero then hit baseball slides onto Nick and Matt.  KUSHIDA comes back in the in the ring and knocks Koslov out of it, but Romero gets the better of KUSHIDA.  Koslov then come sailing back in the ring with a springboard elbow strike onto KUSHIDA.  Now Shelley is back in the ring but Koslov ducks his strike and Romero kicks him in the stomach.  They pick up Shelley, Irish whip to the corner and both wrestlers hit lariats onto Shelley.  Koslov rams Romero knee-first into Shelley and Romero follows with another lariat.  Koslov kicks Shelley in the head before hitting a jumping doublestomp, cover, but it is quickly broken up by Taichi and TAKA.  TAKA and Taichi take turns kicking Koslov while wearing his silly Russian hat.  Double Irish whip to Koslov, Taichi hits a lariat and TAKA follows with a jumping knee.  Knee by Taichi, cover, but he gets up before the referee can start his count.  TAKA picks up Koslov and goes for a suplex, he blocks it, so Taichi comes over, but Romero gets in the ring, then the Young Bucks, and soon it is both teams as one half does a suplex to the other half.  Most roll out except for the Young Bucks and TAKA, they knock TAKA out of the ring but Taichi returns and sends them out of the ring as well.  Matt gets on the apron and hits a springboard face crusher, but Romero sails out onto him with a tope suicida outside the ring. 

Matt kicks Romero while at ringside, Koslov runs in the ring and goes for a suplex but mm reverses it and both wrestlers tumble over the top rope to the floor.  TAKA gets in the ring and sails out onto the whole group with an Asai Moonsault.  They then get back up so that KUSHIDA and Shelley can hit somersault tope suicidas onto all of them.  Finally Taichi goes up to the top turnbuckle but the Young Bucks recover, join him up top and superplex him down onto the floor on top of everyone else.  So everyone is hurt at ringside, including some New Japan rookies that somehow got in the crossfire.  They all roll back in at the same time at the twenty count, KUSHIDA and TAKA trade elbows, TAKA goes off the ropes and hits a jumping kick.  I am not going to attempt to play by play this part as one by one every wrestler gets up, hits a few moves, then gets knocked down by the next person.  It ends with Koslov and Romero hitting a springboard doomsday device onto Matt, cover, but he barely kicks out in time.  KUSHIDA picks up Matt and puts him on his back, but KUSHIDA runs in the ring and rescues him. Shelley is in now as well as he and KUSHIDA hit a double team strike onto Koslov.  Romero then gets the same treatment in the corner as Shelley comes off the top turnbuckle with a body splash while KUSHIDA hits a standing moonsault.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  The Young Bucks come in the ring but are knocked back out by KUSHIDA.  They go back to Romero and hit a cutter/moonsault combination.  Cover, but the referee is too busy to make a count as TAKA tries to come in the ring with a chair.  Shelley is knocked out of the ring, Taichi grabs KUSHIDA and hits the Black Mephisto.  Cover, but the Young Bucks break it up.  They get the best of Taichi and TAKA, and they nail the springboard assisted spike piledriver onto Taichi.  Cover, but TAKA barely breaks it up.  TAKA pokes them both in the eyes but then gets a double superkick.  The Young Bucks go back to Taichi, deliver the More Bang For Your Buck!!  Cover, and they pick up the three count.  Your winners and still champions:  The Young Bucks

Match Thoughts:  This was really too chaotic to get into.  I mean I love high flying crazy affairs but this really went about two steps past that to it literally just being people hitting their big move, rotate wrestlers, hit your big move, rotate wrestlers.  There was no real psychology or meaning behind it, it just was. On the plus side, all of these teams work really well together and there were legitimately some cool moments in the match.  So it wasn’t bad or anything since it kept my attention, but the match was one of the biggest “spotfest” matches that I have ever seen in my 25 years of watching professional wrestling.  Score:  5.5

(c) Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship.  Archer and Gallows start things off.  They circle each other and trade clubbing blows and kicks, until Archer clotheslines Gallows out of the ring.  Anderson comes in the ring but he gets double teamed by Archer and Smith.  Smith and Archer get distracted, and are jumped by Anderson and Gallows.  Archer is knocked out of the ring by being booted off the apron, while in the ring Anderson stomps on Smith.  Smith headbutts Anderson but Anderson fires back with more punches and rakes his eyes.  Anderson tags in Gallows, Gallows picks up Smith and throws him into the corner.  Punches by Gallows in the corner and he hits a running splash.  Knee by Gallows, he picks up Smith and throws him out of the ring.  Tama Tonga punches Smith outside the ring until Gallows grabs him to pull him back in, but Smith snaps Gallows’s neck over the top rope.  Gallows cuts off Smith before he can make the tag, Gallows picks up Smith and hits a vertical suplex.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Gallows tags in Anderson, who kicks Smith in the jaw.  Mounted punches by Anderson but Smith reverses it.  Smith tries to make the tag again but he is cut off, then Anderson punches Archer on the apron.  Anderson comes back in the ring and he and Gallows double team Smith with a series of strikes.  Senton by Anderson, Gallows hits a running body press, and Anderson covers for a two count.  Anderson waits for Smith to get up and goes for the Stun Gun, but Smith blocks it and hits a backdrop suplex.  Smith finally manages to tag in Archer as Anderson tags in Gallows, and Gallows trades punches with Archer.  Irish whip by Archer to the corner, reversed, Gallows hits a splash in the corner but Archer fires back with a crossbody.  Lariat by Archer and he hits the F’n Slam.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Wristlock by Archer, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and walks the ropes, but Tama Tonga knocks him off.  Big boot by Gallows and he tags in Anderson.  Anderson punches Archer in the stomach and hits a few uppercuts, he goes off the ropes but Archer grabs him and tosses Anderson over his head.  Running splash by Archer to the corner, he puts Anderson up on the top turnbuckle, joins him, but Anderson punches him off.  Archer boots Anderson while he is still on the top turnbuckle and nails the Black Out for a two count.  Smith punches Tama Tonga and brings him in the ring, and with Archer they drop him with the Killer Bomb.  Archer picks up Anderson with Smith in the ring and they try to hit it on him also, but Gallows breaks it up.  They then try to hit it onto Gallows but Anderson recovers and boots Smith in the face.   Gallows grabs Archer but Smith recovers and hits a belly to belly suplex onto Gallows.  Anderson runs in with a big boot to Smith, but then Archer hits a big boot onto Anderson.  Archer waits for Anderson to get up and delivers a chokeslam, cover, but Anderson kicks out.  Archer picks up Anderson again and goes for another one, but Anderson reverses it into a Stun Gun.  Cover, but Smith breaks it up.  Gallows picks up Smith and drops him with a fireman’s carry flapjack, they then grab Archer and nail the Magic Killer.  Cover, and they pick up the three count!  Your winners and new champions:  Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows

Match Thoughts:  I went in with no expectations but thought the match was pretty solid.  First of all it was different than the first two matches and I am a fan of variety.  More important than that of course is that it was an entertaining and logical match.  No wasted time with limb targeting or headlocks, just ten minutes of clubbing and hard slams which is what I wanted to see.  None of these guys will be headlining Wrestlemania anytime soon but they are perfectly fine at heavyweight shit.  Some parts were a little repetitive and it didn’t have any memorable “moments” per se but very solid from start to finish.  I actually wouldn’t have minded it go a little longer since it was a title match, but on a show like this really only the main matches get time, it is one of the down sides of being on the Dome show.  Score:  6.0

(c) Rob Conway vs. Satoshi Kojima
This match is for the NWA Heavyweight Championship.  Conway poses to start the match because he is Conway, tie-up, Kojima pushes Conway into the ropes but he gives a clean break.  Side headlock by Kojima, Conway Irish whips out of it and hits a back elbow.  Conway punches Kojima while he is on the mat and hits two elbow drops, but Kojima avoids the third.  Punches by Kojima and he shoulderblocks Conway to the mat.  Backdrop suplex by Kojima, he goes for a lariat but Conway moves and drops Kojima crotch-first onto the top rope.  Conway dropkicks Kojima so that he lands on the apron, Conway goes out to the apron as well but Kojima kicks him and DDTs Conway onto the apron.  Stomps by Kojima out on the floor and he throws Conway back into the ring.  Conway gets up and manages to get Kojima into the corner before hitting a series of chops and elbows.  Kojima reverses things however and hits the rapid fire chops followed by an Irish whip, running elbow, but when he goes for the top rope elbow he is interfered with.  This gives Conway time to recover and he knocks Kojima off the top turnbuckle to the floor.  Conway goes out of the ring as well and throws Kojima into the railing before hitting a lariat.  Conway picks up Kojima and slides him back into the ring, Conway waits for Kojima to get up and nails a powerbomb.  Cover, but it only gets a two count.  Clubs to the chest by Conway, he goes off the ropes and gives Kojima a hard kick to the chest.  Flashing Elbow by Conway, cover, but Kojima kicks out.  Kick to the stomach by Conway and he hits a double chop.  Another double chop as he glares at Tenzan and he hits a third.  Conway goes off the ropes but Kojima blocks the lariat and delivers the Koji Cutter.  Brainbuster by Kojima, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Kojima takes off his elbow pad, Jax Dane gets on the apron though and puts Kojima in a sleeper.  Tenzan attacks Dane to even the odds, hitting a Mountain Bomb on the floor.  Back in the ring, Kojima waits for Conway to get up but Conway ducks the lariat and hits a spear.  Conway grabs Kojima but Kojima gets out of it, kick by Conway, he goes for the Ego Trip but Kojima gets out to the apron.  Conway connects with a series of elbows but Kojima ducks the lariat.  Lariat to the back of the head by Kojima and he gets back in the ring, Kojima goes off the ropes and nails the Western Lariat.  Cover, and he picks up the three count.  Your winner and new champion:  Satoshi Kojima

Match Thoughts:  First of all, Conway’s manager and NWA President Bruce Tharpe’s over-acting got on my nerves.  A real life heel using over the top antics to try to be a storyline heel.  Anyway, my main complaint here is it just didn’t feel like a title match.  I know, it’s just the NWA Heavyweight Championship, but they carted out Harley Race and it’s still the NWA which probably means more to fans in Japan than it does here.  But the match just felt kinda flat, Kojima worked his ass off to his credit and Conway wasn’t slagging either, but something didn’t click.  There was no real structure, although having Jax and Tenzan at ringside made sense and their brief encounter was the only part of the match really memorable.  So it was a perfectly fine wrestling match, it just lacked the feeling of significance or urgency to win the Heavyweight Championship after the long feud the two had.  Score:  6.0

Daniel Gracie and Rolles Gracie vs. Yuji Nagata and Kazushi Sakuraba
Daniel and Sakuraba start things off.  They feel each other out to start, waistlock by Sakuraba, Daniel gets a choke applied but Sakuraba quickly gets to the ropes.  Double leg takedown by Daniel as he gets in the side mount position, he goes for a triangle choke from his back but Sakuraba gets out of it and returns to his feet.  Sakuraba kicks at Daniel’s legs but Daniel gets him in a cross kneelock which Nagata quickly breaks up.  Sakuraba tags in Nagata as Daniel tags in Rolles.  Rolles gets a takedown onto Nagata and gets in the mount position, Nagata reverses it but Rolles gets into the ropes and forces a break.  Back up, Nagata throws Rolles to the mat and goes first for the leg and then for the arm, but can’t get anything locked on and they end up in the ropes again.  Kicks to the leg by Nagata and he slaps Rolles.  They trade shoves, Rolles gets a sleeper onto Nagata, Nagata gets to the ropes and Rolles eventually breaks it.  Rolles tags in Daniel, mounted punches by Daniel but the referee gets mad at him about the closed fists.  Knees by Daniel in the corner and he tags in Rolles.  Now it is Rolles that knees Nagata in the corner, but Nagata grabs Rolles by the side and takes him to the mat.  Nagata goes for the cross armbreaker but Rolles gets out of it and goes for a cross armbreaker of his own.   He gets it locked in but Sakuraba quickly breaks it up.  Rolles tags in Daniel, Daniel grabs Nagata but Nagata hits an elbow.  Kick by Nagata and he tags in Sakuraba.  Sakuraba punches Daniel repeatedly before taking him to the mat and going for the cross armbreaker.  Daniel gets a foot on the ropes to force a break, waistlock by Daniel and he tags in Rolles.  Knees by Rolles in the corner to Sakuraba and he applies a front facelock.  Front facelock takedown by Rolles and he keeps the hold applied on the mat, but Sakuraba rolls out of it and gets in the mount position.  Chops by Sakuraba, he picks up Rolles and makes the tag to Nagata. Nagata and Sakuraba take turns kicking Rolles in the chest, and Nagata nails the backdrop driver.  Cover, Rolles gets a shoulder up.  Nagata locks in the seated armbar, but Rolles gets a foot on the ropes for the break.  Back up, elbows by Nagata and he goes for another backdrop driver, but Rolles judo throws him to the mat.  Rolles uses his Gi to choke Nagata, and after repeated warnings the referee calls for the DQ.  Crowd not amused.  Your winners:  Yuji Nagata and Kazushi Sakuraba

Match Thoughts:  This match sounded intriguing on paper and like something that would be on the Dome event as a “special event”, but it fell flat.  First of all, understandably the Gracies weren’t overly comfortable with the pro wres.  MMA fighters doing pro wrestling matches always can be awkward unless they just go for it like Shamrock and Severn back in the day.  Daniel in particular looked out of place.  That would be less a big deal but the ending was really lame for such a big event.  I mean he had Nagata on the mat, he couldn’t put him in a legit hold?  And is he more “dangerous” choking someone with his Gi when he knows how to choke someone with his arm, or legs, or probably a dozen other ways?  On the plus side the crowd was into it until the ending, the “Gracie” name still means something in Japan so as far as having “names” on a big show it did its job.  It just wasn’t really entertaining.  Score:  3.5

Great Muta and Toru Yano vs. Minoru Suzuki and Shelton Benjamin
Yano lets Muta go first against Suzuki, and he blows green mist into the air to the crowd’s delight (I love how that always gets a reaction, even though he has been doing it for over twenty years now).  Wristlock by Suzuki to start, Muta gets out of it, headscissors by Suzuki but Muta wiggles out of the hold.  Suzuki tags in Benjamin, Muta and Benjamin tie-up, waistlock by Muta, reversed by Benjamin and Benjamin applies a reverse chinlock.  Muta gets a foot on the ropes and then rolls out of the ring to re-group.  Muta pulls a metal…. thing out from under the ring but the referee fusses at him and tells him to get back in the ring.  Muta tags in Yano, knee by Yano to Benjamin and he goes off the ropes, but Suzuki catches him and applies an armbar over the top rope.  Suzuki pulls Yano out of the ring and throws him into the railing, while elsewhere Benjamin chokes Muta with a chair.  Suzuki chokes Yano still at ringside while Benjamin slams Muta’s head into the railing.  Benjamin tags Muta over close to the fans while Suzuki punches Yano.  Benjamin returns while Taichi hits Yano with a steel chair on the floor.  Yano continues to be assaulted with the chair, Benjamin picks up Yano and slams him on the floor.  Suzuki slides Yano back into the ring, cover by Benjamin but the referee is still outside the ring chastising people.  He comes back in, cover by Benjamin but it gets a two count.  Mounted punches by Benjamin, he picks up Yano and hits a butterfly suplex.  Cover, but it gets another two.  Benjamin tags in Suzuki, Suzuki picks up Yano and knees him in the stomach.  Irish whip by Suzuki and he hits a running boot in the corner, snapmare and he kicks Yano in the chest.  Cover, but Yano gets a shoulder up.  Benjamin tags in back in, and Suzuki applies an armlock while Taichi chokes Yano from ringside.  Taichi continues choking Yano, Muta tries to come in with a chair but the referee stops him.  Suzuki applies an armbar to Yano while he is tangled in the ropes, then Benjamin goes out to the apron and knees Yano in the face.  Cover by Benjamin but it gets a two count.  Eye rake by Yano, he goes for a suplex but Benjamin easily reverses it.  Yano lands in the corner as Benjamin goes for a splash, but Yano quickly removes the turnbuckle padding and moves out of the way so that Benjamin goes into the exposed post. 

Yano tags in Muta, Irish whip by Muta to the corner and he hits the Shining Wizard.  Dragon screw leg whip by Muta and he throws Benjamin out of the ring.  Muta goes outside the ring as well and hits Benjamin in the head with a steel chair.  Suzuki comes over but he gets hit with the chair as well.  Muta slides Benjamin back into the ring, snapmare by Muta and he hits the Flashing Elbow.  Benjamin goes for a kick, Muta catches it but Muta hits a spinning kick out of it and tags in Suzuki.  Muta also tags in Yano, Suzuki charges Yano in the corner, Yano moves and thinks that Suzuki went into the exposed corner but Suzuki had slammed on the breaks.  Suzuki kicks Yano in the back, he picks him up, Irish whip, reversed, but the same thing happens again.  Suzuki picks up Yano and punches him in the face, he goes to go off the ropes but Yano grabs him and tosses Suzuki to the mat.  Benjamin runs in and lariats both Yano and Muta, then he hits a big splash in the corner on Yano.  Slap by Suzuki, then Benjamin hits a spinebuster.  Cross armbreaker by Suzuki, but Muta breaks it up.  Yano goes off the ropes but Suzuki does as well and he applies a sleeperhold onto Yano.  Muta breaks away from Benjamin as Suzuki goes for a Gotch-style piledriver, but Yano gets out of it and Muta hits a Shining Wizard on Suzuki off of Yano’s back.  Benjamin comes in the ring and gets a dragon screw leg whip, as does TAKA who comes in the ring as well.   Shining Wizard by Muta to Benjamin, meanwhile Taichi gets on the apron go try to give Suzuki a chair.  The referee gets involved to stop the chair from coming in, Muta tries to spray Suzuki with red poison mist but Suzuki ducks and Taichi gets hit with it instead.  Sleeperhold by Suzuki to Muta, as the referee tries to get him off since Muta is not the legal man.  Yano gets back into the ring, he misses with a steel chair swing and Suzuki applies the sleeper onto Yano.  Muta gets up but he doesn’t help and just looks confused at the pair.  Yano gets out of the sleeper and pushes Muta, Muta replies by trying to spray green mist into Yano’s face, but Yano ducks and Suzuki gets hit with the mist.  Akakiri by Yano to Suzuki as Muta leaves the ring, and Yano picks up the three count!  Your winners:  Great Muta and Toru Yano

Match Thoughts:   That was good mindless fun.  I can’t say I know what the ending was about although Muta has been known to stop caring/get confused, but I am not sure if they are saying the sleeperhold made him loopy or he just remembered he was Muta and didn’t give two shits about Yano.  Anyway the match had a logical flow to it, Yano was out-matched and tended to do poorly when he wasn’t cheating, Suzuki is familiar with Muta and his antics and I dunno what Benjamin was doing here.  I did like that the first time Suzuki ducked the mist and someone else ate it, then at the end someone else ducked the mist and he ate it.  Good placement on the card as it was different than everything we’d seen up to this point, and was an entertaining mid-card match.  Score:  6.5

Bad Luck Fale vs. Togi Makabe
This is a Last Man Standing match.  Makabe attacks Fale before the bell can even ring and the pair immediately begin trading elbows.  Punches by Makabe as he gets the better of the exchange and Fale falls out of the ring.  Makabe goes out after him and tries to throw Fale into the guard rail, but Fale reverses it.  Club to the back by Fale and he punches down Honma just for fun.  Fale hits a scoop slam on the floor before grabbing Makabe’s chain.  Fale wraps the chain around Makabe’s neck and drags him around at ringside while the referee tries to get him to stop.  He finally does, Fale picks up Makabe and hits a Samoan Drop.  Elbows to the back by Fale and he stands on Makabe while rubbing the back of his head with his boot.  Fale picks up Makabe and applies a modified camel clutch.  Fale picks up Makabe but Makabe falls back down as he holds his next.  Fale throws Makabe into the corner and punches him in the ribs.  Fale taunts Makabe while he is in the corner and punches him in the ribs some more.  Irish whip by Fale but Makabe moves when Fale charges in.  Punch by Fale and he goes off the ropes, but Makabe catches him with a lariat.  Makabe punches Fale into the corner and hits a running lariat.  Another lariat by Makabe, he mounts the corner and rains down punches onto Fale.  Makabe goes off the ropes and hits another lariat, he picks up Fale and hits the Schwein.  Makabe goes up to the top turnbuckle but Fale rolls out of the way of the King Kong Kneedrop.  Big boot by Fale and he goes to get Makabe’s chain.  Fale goes out of the ring after Makabe but Makabe kicks him in the stomach and takes the chain back.  Makabe wraps the chain around his arm and punches Fale twice in the face with it.  Fale tries to get away from Makabe but Makabe follows him and hits a lariat with the chain.  Makabe goes and gets a table and brings it to the ringside area, ramming it into Fale.  Makabe sets up the table and puts Fale onto it, he then goes up to the top turnbuckle but Fale is quickly up and gets on the apron.  Fale then grabs Makabe and throws him off the top turnbuckle back into the ring.  Fale goes in the ring as well and hits a running splash in the corner.  Body press by Fale and he asks the referee to start the 10 Count.  Makabe slowly gets back up, and Fale drops him with the Grenade.  Another count by the referee but Makabe makes it up at 8.  Kick to the stomach by Fale, he grabs Fale  and tosses Makabe with a Bad Luck Fall.  Another count, but Makabe is up at 9.  Fale clubs Makabe in the back, scoop slam, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but he takes too long and Makabe rolls out of the way of the diving body press attempt.  Both wrestlers are up at 5, and Makabe clotheslines Fale over the top rope to the floor.  Makabe goes outside as well but Fale fights him off.  Fale grabs Makabe and clubs him in the back before putting Makabe on the table that was set up earlier.  Makabe goes up to the apron but Makabe recovers and powerbombs Fale through the table (painfully since he overshot the able and Fale’s upper body went straight to the floor).  Makabe picks up Fale and slides him back into the ring, Makabe puts Fale in the corner and clubs Fale repeatedly in the chest.  Running lariat by Makabe, the referee starts the count but Makabe goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails Fale in the back of the head with the King Kong Kneedrop.  Makabe then positions Fale, goes up top again, and hits a second King Kong Kneedrop.  The referee starts his count and while Makabe easily gets up in time, Fale never even flinches and he is counted down.  Your winner by KO:  Togi Makabe

Match Thoughts:  This is literally the only type of match that Makabe can do.  He has the look, and the crowd support, but his offense is incredibly one dimensional.  He throws more lariats than Kojima.  I hadn’t seen Fale in years but he looked really different, and he made up for some of Makabe’s lack of originality even though he was a bit slow and…. lumbering, if that is a word.  The finish was very… absolute, which I liked, none of that two wrestlers slowly crawling to make it up in time, Fale was just knocked out cold.  He wouldn’t have made a 50 count.  So some good spots (the table powerbomb was rough and the Bad Luck Fall looked boss), some memorable moments, but Last Man Standing matches are notorious for being a bit slow and sluggish and this match suffered from that in parts.  Score:  5.5

Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata
This is Goto’s return match after being injured in the G1 Climax last summer.  Tie-up, Shibata pushes Goto into the corner and chops him in the chest before backing off.  Tie-up again, Goto pushes Shibata into the ropes but Shibata punches Goto down to the mat.  Goto returns to his feet, waistlock by Shibata, snapmare, and he kicks Goto in the back.  Shibata applies a figure four leglock but Goto gets to the ropes to force a break.  Kick to the leg by Shibata and he elbows Goto in the corner.  Shibata gets a running start but Goto has recovered and hits the Muramasa in the corner.  Shibata comes back with a kick of his own, more elbows by Shibata into the corner but Goto fires back and the two trade blows.  Uppercut by Shibata and he elbows Goto in the face hard before hitting  a running dropkick.  Goto rolls out of the ring but Shibata immediately goes out after him and slides Goto back in.  Kicks by Shibata to the chest and he kicks Goto in the face.  Knee to the stomach by Shibata and he goes off the ropes, but Goto goes off the ropes as well and hits a lariat.  Kicks to the chest by Goto, Irish whip, and he hits a lariat in the corner.  Goto goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving elbow drop, cover, but it gets a two count.  Goto picks up Shibata but Shibata elbows him off.  They trade elbows, Shibata goes off the ropes, Goto hits a lariat but Shibata doesn’t go down.  Big boot by Shibata, and Goto comes back with a lariat.  Another boot by Shibata and a lariat by Goto, more kicks by Shibata but Goto finally catches one and hits a roaring lariat for a two count.  Goto picks up Shibata and hits a backdrop suplex, cover, but Shibata kicks out at two.  Waistlock by Goto, reversed, and Shibata applies a Cobra Twist.  Goto gets to the ropes to force a break but Shibata hits a German suplex.  Shibata picks up Goto but Goto hits a backdrop suplex.  Goto picks up Shibata but Shibata snaps off a backdrop suplex of his own.  They trade backdrop suplexes until Goto lariats Shibata in the back.  Overhead kick by Shibata and both wrestlers are down.  They slowly get up, Shibata goes off the ropes but Goto catches him with a lariat.  They trade kicks/lariats with quick pin attempts until they collapse in the corner again.  Goto picks up Shibata and puts him on his shoulders, but Shibata slides off and applies a sleeper hold.  Shibata picks up Goto, he puts him on his shoulders and hits a fireman’s carry onto his knee.  Shibata sits up Goto and nails the PK, cover, but Goto barely kicks out in time.  Shibata picks up Goto but Goto fights him off drops Shibata head-first onto his knee.  Goto picks Shibata up and hits the fireman’s carry onto his knee twice, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Back up, Goto scoops up Shibata and nails Ura Shouten for a two count cover.  Goto drags Shibata to his feet  and goes for the Shouten Kai but Shibata reverses it and slams Goto hard to the mat.  Shibata picks up Goto, puts him on his shoulders but Goto elbows out of it.  Headbutt by Goto but Shibata comes back with a headbutt of his own.  Both wrestlers are down from the headbutt but Shibata is up first, he elbows Goto in the face but Goto fires back as they trade blows while still on their knees.  Shibata goes for the PK but Goto catches it and hits a lariat.  Cover, but it gets a one count.  Lariat to the back and then to the front by Goto, he goes off the ropes and one more lariat sends Shibata spinning to the mat.  Goto picks up Shibata and nails the Shouten Kai, cover, and he picks up the three count.  Your winner:  Hirooki Goto

Match Thoughts:  I really like Goto and I still don’t understand why he got skipped over.  He has the look, good moves, the crowd likes him.  Anyway this match was very “fighting spirit” in its layout, but again like the few matches it was the first one on the card like that so it came across as fresh.  A little excessive at times in my opinion, but at least it went both ways.  Goto was fired up in his return and was really busting his ass, and I am so glad to see Shibata back as he was really good as well.  The strikes were stiff as hell, the downtime was minimal, and it really came across as two men who thought they were the best and wanted to prove it.  An entertaining match, and hopefully the beginning of something good for Goto in 2014.  Score:  8.0

(c) Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi
This match is for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.  They feel each other out to start, tie-up, Ibushi pushes Devitt into the ropes, Devitt reverses positions with him and he kicks Ibushi in the stomach.  Devitt goes off the ropes but Ibushi kicks him in the chest.  One of the Young Bucks distracts Ibushi so that Devitt can kick him from behind, Irish whip but Ibushi delivers a dropkick.  Devitt rolls out of the ring to regroup but returns after a moment, armbar by Ibushi but he gets into the ropes to force a break.  Irish whip by Ibushi, reversed, and Ibushi is tripped from the outside and jumped by Bullet Club.  They stop beating on him after a moment and he rolls back in the ring, and Devitt stomps down onto Ibushi’s chest twice.  Devitt picks up Ibushi and throws him into the corner, stomps by Devitt and he delivers a running low dropkick while Ibushi is seated in the corner.  Devitt puts Ibushi onto the top turnbuckle and then into the Tree of Woe, which allows the Bullet Club to choke Ibushi from the floor.  Stomp by Devitt, cover, but the referee won’t count it due to the earlier interference.  Back up, Devitt applies the abdominal stretch.  Gutbuster by Devitt, cover, but it gets a two count.  Devitt picks up Ibushi and throws him into the corner.  Chops by Devitt, Irish whip, but Ibushi kicks him as he charges in.  Ibushi gets up on the top turnbuckle but Devitt elbows him, sending Ibushi crashing to the floor.  Outside the ring, Karl Anderson picks up Ibushi and powerbombs him onto the edge of the apron.  The Young Bucks kindly slide Okada back into the ring, scoop slam by Devitt and he goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Ibushi rolls out of the way of the diving double stomp and dropkicks Devitt out of the ring.  The Young Bucks get in the ring, but Ibushi hits both of them with an overhead kick.  Ibushi then goes out to the apron and hits a corkscrew Asai Moonsault onto Devitt and the rest of his cronies.  Ibushi slides Devitt back into the ring and hits a swan dive dropkick from the apron.  Cover, but it gets two.  Ibushi picks up Devitt and delivers a kick combination, knocking Devitt back down to the mat.  Standing Shooting Star Press by Ibushi followed by a second rope moonsault for a two count.  Ibushi waits for Devitt to get up, Devitt ducks the kick and goes for the Bloody Sunday, but Ibushi shoves him off.  Ibushi gets a steel chair thrown at his head by an off screen Bullet Club member, rollup by Devitt but it gets two.   Devitt charges Ibushi but Ibushi hits a spear followed by a German suplex hold for a two count.  Ibushi picks up Devitt and slams him in front of the corner, he goes up top but Gallows grabs his ankle and Devitt shoves Ibushi from the top turnbuckle down to the floor.  The referee has finally gotten tired of the Bullet Club and banishes them from ringside, and eventually they leave.  Devitt picks up Ibushi, sits him down in a chair, and delivers a running dropkick which sends Ibushi off the chair and into the guard rail.  Devitt slides Ibushi back into the ring, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving doublestomp to the back of Ibushi’s head.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Devitt picks up Ibushi but Ibushi kicks him.  Ibushi goes off the ropes but Devitt catches him with a dropkick.  Running chop by Devitt in the corner, Irish whip, reversed, but Devitt chops Ibushi when he charges in.  Devitt gets on the top turnbuckle but Ibushi dropkicks him, knocking Devitt down to a seated position.  Ibushi goes out to the apron, springboards up to be with Devitt, and he nails a standing avalanche Frankensteiner.  Cover, but Devitt barely kicks out.  Ibushi goes back up top and goes for the Phoenix Splash, but Devitt rolls out of the way and hits a lariat.  Devitt picks up Ibushi and nails the Bloody Sunday, cover, but it only gets a two count.  Devitt goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers the diving double stomp, cover, but again Ibushi gets a shoulder up.  Devitt picks up Ibushi and goes for the Bloody Sunday again but Ibushi slides down his back and hits an overhead kick.  Kick to the side of the head by Ibushi and he catches Devitt with a release German suplex followed by a lariat.  Sit-down powerbomb by Ibushi, cover, but Devitt gets a shoulder up.  Ibushi goes up top once again, and this time he nails the Phoenix Splash.  Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and new champion:  Kota Ibushi

Match Thoughts:  I really wanted to love this match, and some parts I really did, but the Bullet Club was just too involved in the first part of the match.  I understand they are the most active heel group, but it makes the match so disjointed when half of it has constant interruptions.  Once they were banished, the last half of the match was really entertaining.  Ibushi took some sick bumps as he usually does and hit his moves pretty crisply.  If you take out all the interference I would have liked it a lot more, but that was just too distracting to me and took out some of the fun.  Great spots, great ending run, but too disjointed to start out.  Score:  6.0

(c) Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito
This match is for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. They circle each other to start, tie-up, waistlock to Naito, reversed, and they jockey for position.  Side headlock by Okada, Naito reverses it, Okada gets in a headscissors but Naito quickly gets out of it and they are back on their feet.  Wristlock by Naito, Okada reverses it into a hammerlock and Naito gets into the ropes.  Irish whip by Okada, they flip over each other until Naito hits an armdrag followed by a dropkick.  Naito picks up Okada, snapmare, and he applies a reverse chinlock.  Elbow to the head by Naito and he applies a headscissors. Cover by Naito but it barely gets a one count.  Snapmare by Naito and he hits a running corkscrew senton.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Naito picks up Okada and drops Okada back-first on his knee before applying a stretch hold.  Okada manages to get a foot on the ropes to break the hold, strikes by Naito in the corner, Irish whip, and he hits a kick in the other corner.  He goes for a headscissors but Okada pushes him off to the apron and then hits a springboard dropkick off the side ropes.  Okada goes out of the ring after Naito and elbows him in the back of the head.  Okada takes Naito up to the apron while continuing to elbow him and he applies a stretch hold.  Okada then leaves Naito, walks up the apron, then charges back with a sliding dropkick.  Okada gets back in the ring with Naito slowly following, and Okada hits a neckbreaker.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Okada kicks Naito into the corner and stomps him down into a seated position.  Okada picks up Naito but Naito pushes him off and hits an elbow.  They trade strikes, scoop slam by Okada, he goes out to the apron and hits a slingshot senton.  Okada picks up Naito, snapmare, and he applies a neck submission hold.  Naito eventually manages to get a foot on the bottom ropes to force a break, Okada picks up Naito and rams him back into the corner.  Chops and elbows by Okada, he gets a running start, but Naito avoids the splash.  Naito charges in but he eats an elbow, Irish whip by Okada, reversed, Naito dropkicks Okada in the corner and then hits a slingshot dropkick from the apron.  Forearm by Naito followed by an elbow and a hiptoss.  Naito hits a dropkick, and a second one sends Okada into the apron.  Elbows by Naito and he punches Okada down to the mat.  Okada falls out of the ring and Naito goes out after him, but Okada catches him with an elbow.  Okada goes for a tombstone piledriver but Naito gets out of it and hits a tornado DDT past the floor and onto the ramp.  Naito picks up Okada and slides him back into the ring, Naito gets on the apron and hits a swan dive missile dropkick.  Side headlock takedown by Naito into a stretch hold, but Okada gets into the ropes.  Naito elbows Okada in the corner but Okada absorbs the blows.  More elbows by Naito and he headbutts Okada down in the corner. 

Okada suddenly picks up Naito, puts him on the top turnbuckle and dropkicks him off the top turnbuckle down to the floor.  Okada picks up Naito and slides him onto the apron before grabbing his head and DDTing him down to the floor.  Naito looks dead but manages to get back in the ring before the 20 count.  Kick by Okada, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the diving elbow drop.  Okada grabs Naito, Naito elbows him off but Okada catches his kick attempt and puts him on his shoulders, but before he can do a move Naito reverses it into a DDT.  Pele Kick by Naito and he grabs Okada from behind, Okada gets him off, Irish whip by Naito but Okada avoids the dropkick.  Koji Clutch by Naito but Okada manages to get a foot on the bottom rope to force the break.  Naito waits for Okada to get up and hits an enzigieri followed by a German suplex hold for a two count.  Naito picks up Okada, slams him in front of the corner, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Okada recovers and grabs Naito.  Okada brings Naito back inside the ring but Naito punches him to the mat.  Naito goes off the ropes but Okada catches him with a flapjack.  DDT by Okada and he applies the Red Ink.  Naito fights the hold off and eventually is able to get a hand on the bottom rope.  Okada picks up Naito and goes for a tombstone but Naito blocks it and elbows Naito in the face.  Headbutt by Naito and he goes for a kick, but Okada catches his foot and boots him in the face.  Irish whip by Okada but Naito hits a diving elbow smash.  Naito puts Okada up on the top turnbuckle and hits a Frankensteiner.  Naito hits the dragon suplex hold, but it only gets a two count.  Naito picks up Okada and drops him with the Gloria.  Cover, but Okada kicks out.  Naito quickly goes to the top rope but Okada rolls out of the way of the Stardust Press.  Okada waits for Naito to get up and boots him when he charges in, Naito charges Okada again and Okada catches him with a reverse neckbreaker.  Cover, but it gets a two count.  Okada puts Naito on his shoulders and hits the Heavy Rain, cover, but Naito barely gets a shoulder up.  Okada goes for the Rainmaker but Naito shoves him off and hits a uranage.  On their knees both wrestlers trade elbows, they get to their feet and keep hitting each other.  Headbutt by Naito but Okada hits an uppercut.  Another uppercut by Okada and a third, Okada picks up Naito, Irish whip, Okada avoids the elbow smash and goes for the Rainmaker but Naito ducks again.  Naito goes off the ropes but Okada delivers a dropkick.  Rainmaker attempt again but Naito reverses it with a roll-up for a two count.  Dropkick to the back of the head by Okada, he picks up Naito and drops him with the tombstone piledriver.  Okada grabs Naito and thinks about the Rainmaker, Naito is still ready for it so Okada dumps him on his head with a second piledriver.  Okada picks up Naito and finally nails the Rainmaker, cover, and he picks up the three count!  Your winner and still champion: Kazuchika Okada

Match Thoughts:  I loved the hell out of this match.  First of all, Okada is so smooth, he really is a complete package.  He has the size to be a heavyweight, but he is incredibly athletic (the height he gets on his diving elbow drop was unreal) and just is a natural.  Naito is no flake either of course and their chemistry is palpable.  Also, I love that Okada protects his finisher.  How many wrestlers with a strike as a finisher use it constantly throughout the match?  Even the greats like Mutoh, Sasaki, Misawa, Kojima, etc. are all guilty of it, but while Okada went for it a number of times he only hit it once.  And that was all he needed.  Naito on the other hand was always ready for it, and it took two tombstone piledrivers to make him hurt enough to not be able to reverse it.  Nothing here seemed wasted, it was always leading up to the ending that never seemed excessive… never went over the top with big moves.  If this is the future of New Japan, I think they are in pretty good hands.  Score:  9.0

(c) Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
This match is for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.  Tie-up to start, Tanahashi pushes Nakamura into the ropes, Nakamura switches positions but he gives a clean break.  Nakamura gets Tanahashi by the leg and tries to get his back, but Tanahashi gets into the ropes and the referee forces a break.  Back up, Nakamura gets Tanahashi into the ropes again but again he gives a clean break.  Nakamura tosses Tanahashi to the mat but misses the double knee drop and Tanahashi pushes him back.  Tie-up, knees to the stomach by Nakamura but Tanahashi catches one and hits a kneebreaker.  Kick to the knee by Tanahashi and a second one.  Kicks to the knee by Tanahashi, Irish whip, reversed, but Tanahashi elbows Nakamura as he charges in.  Tanahashi goes for a springboard crossbody out of the corner but Nakamura catches him with a gutbuster.  Snapmare by Nakamura and he hits a kneedrop, cover, but it gets a two count.  Kick to the chest by Nakamura, he picks up Tanahashi and he throws him out of the ring.  Nakamura goes outside the ring also and drops Tanahashi stomach-first onto the guard rail.  Nakamura slides Tanahashi back in the ring before returning himself, cocky cover by Nakamura but it barely gets two.  Nakamura kicks Tanahashi with his boot, Tanahashi fights back with an elbow strike but Nakamura knees him in the midsection.  Nakamura charges Tanahashi, Tanahashi kicks him back but Nakamura floors Tanahashi with a kick to the chest . Nakamura stomps Tanahashi in the corner, he goes for another chest kick but Tanahashi catches his leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip.  Irish whip by Tanahashi, reversed, but Tanahashi hits a jumping forearm smash.  Tanahashi picks up Nakamura, scoop slam in front of the corner, he goes to the second rope and hits a somersault senton for a two count.  Kicks to the knee by Tanahashi, Irish whip from the corner, reversed, but Tanahashi dropkicks Nakamura in the knee as he charges in.  Chop block by Tanahashi and he goes for the Texas Cloverleaf, but Nakamura gets in the ropes before he can flip him over.  Irish whip by Tanahashi but Nakamura blocks it.  Kick to the knee by Tanahashi, he goes off the ropes but Nakamura catches him with a boot and a spinning heel kick.  Back up, Tanahashi goes off the ropes but Nakamura knees him hard in the midsection.  Front sleeper by Nakamura and he knees Tanahashi repeatedly in the head.  Nakamura picks up Tanahashi and drops him with a front suplex, cover, but it gets a two count.  Knee to the midsection by Nakamura and he kicks Tanahashi repeatedly in the chest.  Nakamura gets a running start but Tanahashi rolls out of the corner to avoid the attack.  Nakamura also moves when Tanahashi goes for a splash, and he kicks Tanahashi repeatedly in the ribs while he is hung up on the top turnbuckle. 

Tanahashi eventually gets off and slides to the apron, but Nakamura delivers a high kick to the head.  Nakamura slides out of the ring, brings Tanahashi out with him and throws Tanahashi in the railing before kneeing him in the back of the head.  Nakamura puts Tanahashi on the apron while he is still outside of the ring and knees him hard in the head.  Nakamura then gets up on the apron and goes for a knee drop, but Tanahashi moves his head out of the way.  Tanahashi goes up to the top turnbuckle while Nakamura is still outside the ring and sails out onto him with a diving body press.  Tanahashi picks up Nakamura and slides him back into the ring, Tanahashi grabs Nakamura’s leg from the apron and hits a dragon screw leg whip into the ropes.  Tanahashi goes for the Texas Cloverleaf but Nakamura reverses it into a triangle choke.  Tanahashi muscles out of it and applies a high angle Texas Cloverleaf, but Nakamura gets a hand on the bottom rope.  Tanahashi picks up Nakamura and goes for the dragon suplex, but Nakamura headbutts out of it so Tanahashi hits a trapped German suplex hold for a two count instead.  Tanahashi picks up Nakamura, scoop slam, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Nakamura is up and kicks Tanahashi off the top.  Tanahashi skins the cat to get back in the ring but Nakamura catches him with a Lungblower.  Back up they trade elbow smashes, kick to the knee by Tanahashi but Nakamura keeps fighting back.  Knees by Nakamura and he stomps on Tanahashi while he is on the mat.  Tanahashi gets back up and gets kicked again, he gets Nakamura down with a dropkick to the knee but Nakamura delivers a Boma Ye to the back of the head.  Inverted Powerslam by Nakamura, he waits for Tanahashi to get up and charges in but Tanahashi avoids the attack.  Nakamura goes for the Landslide but Tanahashi reverses it with a Slingblade.  Tanahashi struggles out to the apron to climb the top turnbuckle, but again Nakamura is up and he joins Nakamura.  Nakamura gets Tanahashi on his shoulders but Tanahashi fights him off and goes for a sunset flip powerbomb, Nakamura goes for a monkey flip but they both end up falling to the mat.  Nakamura goes for an elbow strike but Tanahashi ducks and gets the dragon suplex hold for a two count.  Tanahashi quickly goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the High Fly Flow, cover, but Nakamura barely gets a shoulder up in time.  Tanahashi goes off the ropes but Nakamura catches him with a high kick.  Nakamura goes up to the second turnbuckle and hits a jumping knee to Tanahashi’s face.  Boma Ye by Nakamura, cover, but Tanahashi gets a shoulder up before the three count.  Nakamura waits for Tanahashi to get up so he can hit it again, but Tanahashi dropkicks Nakamura in the knee as he charges in.  Elbow by Nakamura but Tanahashi returns with one of his own and ducks the next Boma Ye attempt and hits a grounded dragon screw leg whip.  Elevated Texas Cloverleaf by Tanahashi and he converts it into a cross-legged Styles Clash.  Tanahashi goes up top turnbuckle and hits a High Fly Flow just as Nakamura is getting up, he then quickly goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a second High Fly Flow.  Cover, and he picks up the three count.  Your winner and new champion:  Hiroshi Tanahashi

Match Thoughts:  It had a hard match to follow, but this was a really good match as well.  It was more traditional with targeting a certain body part, but I liked that Tanahashi never forgot about the leg and really stayed on it from the beginning of the match right up until the very end.  There were a few moments that things weren’t smooth, which isn’t a chemistry issue but just them trying to do too much on the biggest stage.  The match did seem a little flat after the last match, Okada and Naito just seemed more hungry and had more energy in their match, while Tanahashi and Nakamura have been feuding for so long it’s hard for them to do something really new or fresh.   A solid match and a good main event, but it definitely was not the best match on the show.  Score:  7.0

Final Thoughts:

Best Match: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito. An early candidate for Match of the Year and the possible winner in 12 months. Just... an amazing match. They have great chemistry, great moves, had the crowd into it, and the ending never ventured into excessive like so many big matches these days do. This match alone made the event just watching, nearly a flawless match.

MVP: Kazuchika Okada. Okada appears to have it all as a wrestler - he has the look, the moves, the understanding of how to put over what he is doing, just everything. And he is only 26 years old, which is young for a wrestler in New Japan to already be well-stationed at the top of the card. He will be one to watch for many years to come if he can stay healthy.

Overall: Really, I only thought there was one below match on the entire card. Some were kinda sluggish (IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship and Makabe/Fale), some were disappointing for what the expectations were (Tanahashi/Nakamura and Devitt/Ibushi), but overall the matches still were at least decent and had some redeeming qualities. The only thing holding it back is in my opinion there was only one great match with then just a whole bunch of solid matches (although Goto/Shibata was really good as well). So I can definitely recommend it, it wasn't the best show ever but it was still overall entertaining and worth watching.

Grade: B

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review completed on 1/6/14