Wrestle Kingdom 9 at the Tokyo Dome
A Review by Kevin Wilson
Date: January 4th, 2015
It's time for the annual Tokyo Dome show! There are very few certainties in life, but one of those certainties is that if it is January 4th, in Japan there is a wrestling event at the Tokyo Dome. As usual this is a unique event, as it was also being shown on PPV here in the United States for the first time ever. So that is exciting as well. I watched the Japanese stream via the awesome NJPW World personally, but if you are new to puroresu, it may be easier for you to get into with Striker and JR on commentary. Anyway, this event had its usual invaders, this time Jeff Jarrett and the Bullet Club, but the top of the card was actually very focused on New Japan wrestlers. I've already watched the event so I can promise that some of these matches are simply fantastic. Here is the full card:
- IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly vs. Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA vs. Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov vs. Young Bucks
No further delay, let's get right to it.
(c) Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly vs. Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA vs. Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov vs. Young Bucks
KUSHIDA kicks back Romero, then pulls down the rope so Romero falls out of the ring so Shelley can hit a jumping knee off the apron. Shelley and KUSHIDA kick Matt out of the ring, they set up Nick but Shelley is knocked out of the ring. Shelley kicks O'Reilly as he jumps off the apron and then sends Fish into the guard rail. Romero gets a running start and sails out onto Shelley with a tope suicida. Koslov then follows suit over the top rope, followed by the Young Bucks. KUSHIDA then comes off the top turnbuckle with a plancha onto everyone, he slides Matt back into the ring and Shelley hits a lariat in the corner. Outatime by KUSHIDA and Shelley, cover, but Nick breaks it up. KUSHIDA and Shelley double team Nick and he rolls out of the ring, double Irish whip to Matt in the corner and Shelley and KUSHIDA both deliver kicks. KUSHIDA puts Matt onto his shoulders but Koslov breaks up the festivities. Matt kicks back Koslov as O'Reilly comes in the ring, but Nick superkicks O'Reilly and then Koslov as well. Nick goes for a jumping knee on Koslov but Koslov catches him, but Matt runs in the ring to help Nick down. Shelley kicks Matt and puts Matt on his shoulders while Koslov puts Nick on his shoulders, and Romero comes off the top turnbuckle with a double lariat on both of them, but Matt and Nick land on their feet and superkick Shelley and Koslov. Double superkick to Romero, Matt picks up Romero and with Nick they nail the Meltzer Driver. Cover by Matt, but it is broken up. Fish and O'Reilly are in the ring with KUSHIDA, double Irish whip to KUSHIDA but KUSHIDA hits a double handspring elbow strike. Matt and Nick both superkick KUSHIDA, then Matt powerbombs Koslov into the turnbuckles while Nick kicks him from the apron. Matt and Nick go for the More Bang for Your Buck but Fish stops him and O'Reilly tags himself in (a real tag!). Shelley grabs Fish from behind but O'Reilly runs in and elbows Shelley. O'Reilly and Fish take turns attacking Shelley in the corner and they hit the Decapitation. Matt runs in the ring but Fish hits a wheelbarrow suplex on him, Fish then gets up top with Nick and hits a modified superplex. O'Reilly grabs Koslov (who is still legal all this time) but O'Reilly hits a schoolboy for a two count. O'Reilly kicks Koslov, then Fish grabs him and hits a suplex. O'Reilly picks up Koslov and with Fish they deliver the Chasing The Dragon, cover by O'Reilly and he picks up the three count. Your winners and still champions: Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly
Match Thoughts: I may have mixed up Matt and Nick sometimes in my play by play and I don't feel bad about it, everything was happening quite fast. But for the record I do know which one is which. I love that through all the madness, that Koslov was the legal man for the bulk of the match and they remembered that, even with all the interference it looked like they kept track of who was legal. Anyway this was really just a spotfest but it was a fun spotfest, some of these guys have some fun moves. The Young Bucks are ridiculous but they are ridiculous by design (you don't name a move after Dave Meltzer unless you have some humor about your match style) and needless to say the action stayed moving throughout the match. A good way to open the event and get the crowd into it even if it wasn't overly substanceful. Score: 6.5
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, and Tomoaki Honma vs. Jeff Jarrett, Yujiro Takahashi, and Bad Luck Fale
Match Thoughts: Fan service, but that isn't generally a bad thing. I am surprised that Jarrett and company were defeated so quickly and so thoroughly... I mean Jarrett and Fale were dispatched so all three of the good guys could have their way with and easily defeat Takahashi with little push back. I enjoyed it, I just thought since this was advertised in the States as being presented by GFW that Jarrett would have more of a presence. But the action was fine, and it was super neat-o seeing Honma pick up the pin here, he deserves it. Short, but it popped the crowd and was a fine match for the undercard. Score: 6.0
Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Shelton Benjamin, and Takashi Iizuka vs. Toru Yano, Naomichi Marufuji, Shane Haste, and Mikey Nicholls
Match Thoughts: Another short feel-good match. You know if New Japan is going to have short multi-man matches to open the card, maybe this was the best way to go. They get to show off a few moves, the good guys dominate, and they get a quick pin while the crowd cheers. There wasn't a lot of substance here and not everyone was even legal during the match, but the action was fast and it had some nice spots. Archer's chokeslam was epic and the turnbuckle pad spot made me laugh, and two memorable spots in a five minute match ain't half bad. New Japan is starting the show off right, I'm impressed, this was nothing that will stand the test of time but for an undercard tag match it was just what it should be. Score: 6.0
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Minoru Suzuki
Match Thoughts: They get an A for effort but this type of match is just hard to make exciting for me. It was a nice change of pace, the match was located in the right place on the card as it differed from everything before it, and for the style of match it was good. Both these guys are older, if this exact same encounter happened 15 years ago it would have been epic, but on this stage it almost felt out of place. Sakuraba kicked Suzuki's arm so many times it should have fallen off, but he just didn't have an answer to the sleeper and its not the first time that Suzuki won a match quickly with that move. I could never watch a card full of matches like this as it does take a certain type of fan to find them entertaining, but for what they were going for I thought it was fine, just a bit repetitive and it didn't feel as epic as it probably should have. Score: 5.5
(c) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe
Makabe lariats Ishii in the back of the head, he puts him up on the top turnbuckle and joins him, going for the spider suplex. Elbows by Ishii and he turns around while on the top turnbuckle, he lariats Makabe but Makabe brings himself back up and gets Ishii onto his shoulders. Avalanche Samoan Drop by Makabe, cover, but Ishii barely gets a shoulder up. Lariat by Makabe, but Ishii doesn't go down. Makabe goes off the ropes and hits another one, Ishii goes for a jumping kick but Makabe blocks it. Makabe levels Ishii with a lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. Makabe picks up Ishii but Ishii knocks him back and hits a release German suplex. Makabe springs to his feet but Ishii knocks him back down with a lariat and picks up a two count cover. Both Ishii and Makabe go for lariats and they trade short range lariats, chop to the head by Makabe but Ishii knocks him to the mat with a headbutt. Ishii picks up Makabe and hits a sliding lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. Ishii picks up Makabe and goes for the brainbuster but Makabe blocks it, jumping kick by Ishii and a cover, but Makabe kicks out at two. Ishii goes off the ropes and lariats Makabe in the back of the head, lariat from the front by Ishii, he goes off the ropes but Makabe catches him with a dragon suplex hold for a two count. Ishii and Makabe trade elbows while kneeling on the mat, they both slowly get up and Ishii hits a headbutt. Makabe headbutts him back and clubs Ishii in the chest, but Makabe clubs Ishii to the mat. Polish Hammer by Makabe, cover, but it gets a two count. Ishii gets back up but Makabe knocks him back down with a lariat. Cover, but Ishii gets a shoulder up. Makabe positions Ishii near the ropes, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and he hits the King Kong Kneedrop. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and new champion: Togi Makabe
Match Thoughts: This was certainly a man-sized match. I have to mention that New Japan is doing a good job here of mixing up the matches, as this was the first clubberin' match on the card. And a clubberin' match it was, if you don't know what a clubberin' match is then just watch this one. Lots of lariats, lots of chops, but a few big moves like suplexes and powerbombs so it wasn't strictly strike based. If anything they overdid it as it got a bit repetitive by the end, but they ended the match before I got the urge to fast forward. Makabe is a bit dull but it worked in a match like this as Ishii was game to just trade blows back and forth for ten minutes. Not Ishii's best match but a very solid one, these guys both hit hard and don't mind getting hit hard, they will be sore for awhile after this match. Score: 6.5
(c) Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Kenny Omega
Taguchi slides Omega back into the ring, he gets on the apron and hits a swandive dropkick. Cover, but it gets a two count. Taguchi hits a trio of rolling vertical suplexes onto Taguchi but Omega blocks the last one and slides away. Waistlock by Omega, reversed by Taguchi, Omega goes off the ropes and he kicks Taguchi in the leg. Omega goes off the ropes and he hits the Kotaro Krusher for a two count. Omega picks up Taguchi, he applies a full nelson but Taguchi elbows him off. Clubs to the back by Omega, he picks up Taguchi and goes for a powerbomb, but Taguchi hurricanrana's Omega into the turnbuckles. Taguchi slams Omega to the mat, cover, but it gets a two count. Taguchi goes up to the top turnbuckle but Omega recovers and joins him. Taguchi elbows Omega off but Omega rejoins him, but Taguchi pushes him off again. Taguchi jumps off but Omega catches him with a dropkick to the face. Omega picks up Taguchi around the waist and then hits a sitdown powerbomb for a two count. Omega picks up Taguchi, he puts him up on his shoulders but Taguchi slides off and goes for the Dodon, but Omega rolls him up for a two count. Jumping knee kick by Taguchi and he hits the Dodon, cover, but it gets a two count. Ankle hold by Taguchi, but he breaks it up when the Young Bucks try to interfere. Taguchi gets rid of them and drops Omega with the Milano-saku Dodon's Throne, cover, but it gets a two count. Taguchi poses before picking up Omega, he tries to get Omega up on his shoulders but Omega blocks it. Omega goes off the ropes, Taguchi goes for a hip attack but Omega catches him with a rapid German suplex. Running kick by Omega, he gets Taguchi up on his shoulders and nails the Katayoku no Tenshi. Cover, and Omega picks up the three count. Your winner and new champion: Kenny Omega
Match Thoughts: This was a weird match. I didn't really like it. For a title match, for one thing it was just too goofy. I know Omega is goofy and I really don't mind that, but I think it works better if he has a straight man to pair with and here Taguchi was also goofy. It was like it wasn't a title match, both were posing and doing moves that were for show and neither were really focused. The ending stretch was good, they finally started acting like they really were trying to hurt each other, but up to that point it felt more like opening Kikutaro shtick instead of TOKYO DOME CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH like you would hope. I liked Omega better as funny DDT wrestler, or if he went more serious in New Japan, but he was just kinda a tweener in this match and it never connected. Some of the action was fine but Taguchi is a bore and Omega didn't click here. Score: 3.5
(c) Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows vs. Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata
Shibata gives Anderson an additional dropkick, Goto picks up Gallows and with Shibata they hit a double backdrop suplex. Cover by Shibata but it gets a two count. Shibata picks up Gallows and holds him for Goto, Goto goes off the ropes but Anderson cuts him off with a big boot. Gallows throws Shibata into the corner, he hits a body avalanche and Anderson follows with a big kick. Backbreaker by Anderson and Gallows hits an elbow drop. Cover by Gallows, but it gets a two count. Gallows puts Goto on his shoulders and Anderson delivers a big kick to the head. Gallows picks up Shibata and with Anderson they hit an assisted neckbreaker, cover, but it gets a two count. They go for the Magic Killer but Goto breaks it up, and Goto knocks Gallows out of the ring. Anderson goes for the Gun Stun, Goto blocks it and goes off the ropes, he blocks it again and hits the fireman's carry onto his knee. Shibata follows with a quick PK, but Gallows comes in the ring and hits a lariat on both of them. Gallows grabs Shibata and hits a chokebomb, cover, but Shibata gets a shoulder up. Gallows picks up Shibata and slams him in front of the corner, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Goto punches him before he can jump off. Shibata comes over and together they slam Gallows to the mat. Shibata picks up Gallows, Goto goes off the ropes but Gallows boots him back. Gallows grabs Goto but Goto hits a headbutt, and Goto hits a lariat. Anderson comes up on the apron but Shibata kicks him down to the floor. Goto puts Gallows on his shoulders and throws him off as Shibata kicks Gallows in the ribs. Shibata goes off the ropes and nails the PK, cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winners and new champions: Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata
Match Thoughts: This is what it needed to be, which was a heavyweight sprint. Shibata and Goto are still a newish team and show those signs as sometimes they mess up, but there is no mistrust, they just keep plugging along and in the end they got the win together. Gallows was a mammoth in this match, sometimes in long singles matches he can be a bit dull but here he was able to hit all his big moves while never slowing the match down. I am glad to see Goto and Shibata win it, I think they deserve it as they are both really entertaining to watch. Just a good, wholesome fast paced heavyweight tag match, it didn't really have that memorable moment like some of the other matches on this card have had but it was very solid and entertaining. Score: 6.5
AJ Styles vs. Tetsuya Naito
Naito puts Styles up on the top turnbuckle, he joins him but Styles pushes him off. Swandive elbow smash by Styles from the apron, he picks up Naito and goes for a suplex, but Naito blocks it. Styles flips Naito over his head and hits a neckbreaker, cover, but it gets a two count. Styles waits for Naito to get up, waistlock by Styles but Naito elbows him off and reverses it. Styles reverses it back and he hits a German suplex, but Naito rolls him up when he goes for his next move. German suplex by Naito, cover, but it gets a two count. Naito picks up Styles, elbows and kick by Styles but Naito hits an enzigieri. Irish whip by Naito and he hits a jumping elbow strike. Scoop slam by Naito, he goes up to the top turnbuckle but Styles is up in time and knocks Naito down to a seated position. Styles joins Naito on the top turnbuckle and goes for an avalanche backdrop suplex, but Naito mostly lands on his feet. Calf Killer by Styles, but Naito makes it to the ropes to force the break. Styles grabs Naito's leg but Naito elbows him off, Styles grabs it again but Naito hits an enzigieri. Side slam by Naito, he picks up Styles with a waistlock, but Styles muscles out of it. Naito reverts it to a dragon suplex hold, but it only gets a two count. Naito picks up Styles but Styles rakes him in the eyes and hits the Pele Kick. Bloody Sunday by Styles, he picks up Naito and goes for the Styles Clash, but Naito blocks it by picking up Styles and dumping him over the top rope to the floor. Styles returns to the ring after a moment and sits in the corner, Naito approaches but Styles grabs him by the tights and puts him out on the apron. Naito trips Styles from the apron and hits a slingshot dropkick. Naito puts Styles up on the top turnbuckle, he joins him and goes for a Frankensteiner, but Styles catches him and nails the avalanche Styles Clash. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner: AJ Styles
Match Thoughts: This was a really good match as both of these guys have great chemistry with each other. The story here is that after Styles legitimately injured Yamamoto with the Styles Clash, it is now seen as even more dangerous. So you can imagine an avalanche style version is certainly the kiss of death, and I liked how it was setup.... if Styles had put Naito up on the top turnbuckle with that intention the setup would have been really contrived. Styles's leg work on Naito was good, leading to the attempted Calf Killer finisher, and Naito remembered later in the match to limp around a bit so it wasn't forgotten. Some big moments here and it felt like it went about the right amount of time. Entertaining match overall. Score: 7.0
(c) Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi
Nakamura drops Ibushi out on the apron, Nakamura grabs him but Ibushi elbows out of it. Ibushi goes for a swandive move but Nakamura delivers a jumping kick to Ibushi's shoulder. Nakamura waits for Ibushi to get up and hits a heel kick followed by a front suplex and grounded knees to the head. Nakamura charges Ibushi but Ibushi moves out of the way, knee to the stomach by Nakamura and Nakamura gets up on the top turnbuckle. Ibushi joins him but Nakamura knocks him out to the apron. With Nakamura still up top, Ibushi hits a springboard Frankensteiner for a two count cover. Ibushi picks up Nakamura but Nakamura elbows him off, but Ibushi snaps off a dragon suplex. Standing corkscrew moonsault by Ibushi, cover, but it gets a two count. Ibushi picks up Nakamura but Nakamura blocks the powerbomb attempt, kick by Ibushi and he tries again, but he settles for a sunset flip for a two count. High kick by Ibushi, he picks up Nakamura and he hits the sit-down Last Ride for a two count. Ibushi goes up to the top turnbuckle and goes for the Phoenix Splash, but Nakamura rolls out of the way and hits the Boma Ye to the back of the head. Nakamura kicks Ibushi into the ropes and kicks him repeatedly in the head. Slap by Ibushi and he punches Nakamura into the ropes. Nakamura pushes the referee into Ibushi and delivers a hard right of his own, and Nakamura snaps off the cross armbreaker takedown. Ibushi blocks him from fully locking in the cross armbreaker and stomps his way out of the hold. Ibushi picks up Nakamura and applies the sleeper before hitting a sleeper suplex. Ibushi goes for the Boma Ye and nails it, cover, but Nakamura kicks out at one. Ibushi punches Nakamura in the back of the head but Nakamura gets back up and kicks Ibushi back into the corner. Repeated kicks by Nakamura and he steps on Ibushi's face. Ibushi catches a Nakamura kick and slaps him, knee to the stomach by Nakamura and he hits Ibushi to a seated position, but Ibushi stomps on Nakamura's stomach when he goes for the Boma Ye. Nakamura rolls out to the apron, but Ibushi springs up to the top rope and suplexes Nakamura over the top rope back into the ring. Cover, but it gets a two count. Ibushi picks up Nakamura and goes for the package suplex, but Nakamura elbows out of it. Mounted elbows by Nakamura, he goes up to the second turnbuckle and hits a Boma Ye. Ibushi gets back up and both wrestlers knee each other, but Nakamura gets Ibushi on his shoulders and hits the Landslide. Boma Ye by Nakamura, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Shinsuke Nakamura
Match Thoughts: I'm not sure at what point in this match it went from "normal match" to "I hate you and wish you were dead", but when that switch was hit the magic started. I've never seen Ibushi be so dickish before, he just got tired halfway through the match of Nakamura toying with him and started returning the favor. Nakamura didn't stop either of course so it ended with two wrestlers not only trying to win but also trying to embarrass and hurt each other at the same time. Ibushi hitting the Boma Ye, later he no-sold one, hitting that insane suplex off the ropes I've never seen before.... Ibushi came to fight. Even beyond that it was a good hard hitting match, but it was after they went to the 'next level' that business really picked up. I just enjoyed everything about it, it had the swagger and emotion you want combined with precise strikes and WOW moments. A great, great match between these two, Ibushi proved that he belongs wherever the hell he wants to be, no one can ever doubt him again after a match like this. Score: 9.0
(c) Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada
Tanahashi picks up Okada, scoop slam in front of the corner and he hits a somersault senton off the second turnbuckle for a two count. Tanahashi goes off the ropes but Okada catches him with a flapjack. Okada charges Tanahashi but Tanahashi knocks him back, Tanahashi goes for a rebound crossbody but Okada moves out of the way. Okada applies a modified chinlock but Tanahashi gets a foot on the ropes to force a break. Okada picks up Tanahashi and hits a scoop slam, he goes out to the apron and hits the slingshot senton. Cover, but it gets a two count. Tanahashi slowly gets back up, elbows by Tanahashi but Okada shrugs them off and hits a hard elbow of his own. Tanahashi and Okada trade elbows, uppercuts by Okada, Irish whip, reversed, Okada goes for a kick but Tanahashi catches it and elbows Okada in the leg. Okada elbows Tanahashi as he charges in and dropkicks Tanahashi to the mat. Okada picks up Tanahashi, he puts him on his shoulders but Tanahashi reverses it with a Sling Blade. Cover, but it gets a two count. Tanahashi charges Okada but Okada picks him up and puts him on the top turnbuckle. Tanahashi knocks Okada back but Okada jumps up and joins him. Okada tries to get Tanahashi on his shoulders but Tanahashi elbows out of it, headbutts by Tanahashi and he knocks Okada to the mat. Tanahashi goes for the High Fly Flow but Okada rolls out of the way and hits a running uppercut. Cover, but it gets a two count. Okada picks up Tanahashi and he hits the Reverse Neckbreaker, cover, but it gets a two count. Okada picks up Tanahashi and hits a scoop slam, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the diving elbow drop. Okada picks up Tanahashi and goes for the Rain Maker but Tanahashi ducks it and rolls up Okada for a two count. Elbow by Okada and they trade big boot attempts, but Tanahashi catches one and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Tanahashi kicks Okada in the leg in the corner, Irish whip, reversed, but Tanahashi dropkicks Okada in the knee as he charges in. Okada rolls out of the ring to re-group but Tanahashi goes out after him, Irish whip by Tanahashi, reversed, but Tanahashi moves when Okada charges in and Okada goes sailing over the guard rail. Tanahashi goes up to the top turnbuckle and he dives off with a plancha over the railing onto Okada.
Tanahashi picks up Okada and drags him back to ringside, sliding him into the ring. Tanahashi goes up to the top turnbuckle, he waits for Okada to get up but Okada charges in. Tanahashi aborts his dive and he hits the Sling Blade. Tanahashi quickly goes back up top and he hits a diving crossbody, but Okada rolls through it and goes for the tombstone. Tanahashi reverses it and hits a tombstone of his own, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a High Fly Flow to Okada's back. Tanahashi goes up top again and hits another High Fly Flow, cover, but Okada gets a shoulder up. Tanahashi goes for the Cloverleaf but Okada kicks him off. Tanahashi picks up Okada and he delivers an uppercut followed by a Sling Blade. Waistlock by Tanahashi and he goes for a Rainmaker but Okada ducks it and hits a Rainmaker of his own. Cover but Okada, but Tanahashi barely gets a shoulder up. Okada picks up Tanahashi and elbows him, but Tanahashi elbows him back. They keep trading elbows as they get up, Okada gets up Tanahashi in the tombstone but Tanahashi reverses it with a victory roll for a two count. Dropkick by Tanahashi and he slaps Okada to the mat. Okada ducks one however and he slips in a backslide for a two count. Trapped German by Tanahashi, but it gets a two count as well. Tanahashi grabs Okada from behind and goes for the dragon suplex but Okada gets out of it and hits a German suplex hold for a two count. Okada goes for the Rainmaker but Tanahashi ducks it and hits the dragon suplex hold for a two count. Tanahashi goes off the ropes but Okada levels him with a dropkick. Okada picks up Tanahashi but Tanahashi again ducks the Rainmaker, Tanahashi rolls out to the apron and pulls Okada's leg through it so he could hit a dragon screw leg whip. High Fly Flow by Tanahashi while Okada is twisted in the ropes, and Tanahashi hits a dragon screw while Okada is lying on the mat. Tanahashi goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a High Fly Flow as Okada is sitting up, he goes up top again and hits another High Fly Flow. Cover, and he picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Hiroshi Tanahashi
Match Thoughts: A great main event, but not up to the level of the previous match as there were some little things here and there that I didn't really like. For example, Tanahashi is the first person ever to kick out of the Rainmaker, which with the way the match was structured made sense, but they immediately went into a trading elbows spot. Tanahashi didn't act dead like it was a desperate kickout, it just set the match back to even again and it made it seem like it would be much much harder for Okada to win the match. I also wish Tanahashi had a better variety of 'near the end' moves as winning the match with three High Fly Flows just seems excessive, he hit at least five in the match, depending on if you count the crossbodies. As for the things I liked, these two have great chemistry, and the time just really flew by as none was wasted. They work together as well as any two wrestlers in New Japan and couldn't have a bad match if they tried, their matches are almost art at this point. It also had some memorable spots, like Tanahashi diving off the turnbuckle over the guardrail, not bad for a 38 year old. This made Okada a more sympathetic character as he was crying as he left the ring, as he still has issues beating the company ace, so it also set the stage going forward as any major main event should do. So overall more good than bad, it just wasn't quite as good as some of their other matches in recent memory. Score: 8.0
Best Match: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi. This match had it all. It had the brutality, the drama, the emotion, the awesome moves, just everything. The funny thing is I think the rematch could be even better which is why I didn't go even higher with my score, since it took half the match to establish that Ibushi could be just as mean and brutal as Nakamura was. But it worked within the story of the match, Ibushi was his normal self and then the mean streak came out and I was on the edge of my seat in awe. A must see match for any fans of any wrestling ever.
MVP: Kota Ibushi. I've seen a lot of Ibushi matches and I've always liked him. The 'knock' on him was that he was too lanky to be credible to go against the heavyweights of the world, which is why he mostly did Jr. Heavyweight stuff even though he is tall and quite strong. Well New Japan finally saw the light last year and this match established what his fans already knew - Ibushi can stand up to anyone. He was just as tough, just as brutal, just as deserving of a win against Shinsuke Nakamura, one of the most respected wrestlers in New Japan. Ibushi took it to him, held is own, and in the end out-shined him as well. Henceforth Ibushi can go toe to toe with anyone he wants, I am not saying he has a IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his near future but there is no match he would go into that he could be seen as an underdog. Great showing and proof that a wrestler can start as a flippy indy wrestler and end up stealing the show at the Tokyo Dome.
Overall: From top to bottom this is one of the best cards I have seen in a long time. Every match accomplished what it set out to do, with the only letdown being the Taguchi/Omega match. There was also great variety here as you had heavyweight sprints, regular heavyweight matches, clubberin' matches, a Pancrase style match, a spotfest, storylines, drama... you name it, it was here. Then to top it off you have two matches that will be on most people's Top 20 lists when the year ends, and maybe more as I know some people liked Ishii/Makabe and Suzuki/Sakuraba more than I did. So whether you see the Japanese version of the American version with good 'ol JR, you need to see this event, it was just awesome fun from start to finish.