It’s time for a review of the first major wrestling show of 2019. I’m here to review New Japan’s biggest show of the year. Wrestle Kingdom 13 started at 3 AM my time, so I didn’t see it live. I could have stayed up or woken up early, but I chose sleep and watch it during the day on Friday. The main card had a run time of four hours. Every match is a title match except for one. Let’s get to it.
Wrestle Kingdom 13
January 4, 2019
Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan
The show began with Ospreay making his entrance. The Tokyo Dome was packed and it was loud. He got a superstar reaction. He’s up against the Never Openweight Champion Kota Ibushi. They are two of the best in the world and this is a great choice for an opener.
The announce team for the English broadcast on New Japan World are Kevin Kelly, Don Callis and Chris Charlton, who is a translator that is also a New Japan historian.
Never Openweight Championship: Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay
They worked at an incredible pace early with Ospreay sending Ibushi out of the ring with a monkey flip. Ibushi back in, he blocked a cutter attempt and hit a dropkick that sent Ospreay out of the ring. Ibushi went for a moonsault off the turnbuckle, but Ospreay kicked him in the chest to knock down Ibushi on the floor. Ospreay with a Space Flying Tiger Drop that is a handspring into a moonsault onto Ibushi on the floor. Good job by Ibushi moving to the side a bit to catch him. The announcers did well to put over the story that Ospreay idolized Ibushi (Ospreay is 11 years younger) and learned to wrestle by doing his moves. Ibushi hit a hurricanrana that sent Ospreay out of the ring. Ibushi hit a springboard corkscrew moonsault onto Ospreay on the floor. That was impressive. Back in the ring, Ibushi hit a springboard dropkick followed by a delayed German Suplex into a bridge for a two count. After an Ospreay rollup, Ibushi kicked him in the chest, but Ospreay came back with a rolling kick to put Ibushi down. Both guys were down selling for a bit. They got back to their feet, exchanged forearms to the face and Ibushi won that battle with a chop to the chest. Ospreay came back with an enziguri kick, then they got into this amazing sequence of moves where they kept countering high flying move and Ospreay hit a Spanish Fly into a slam for a two count. When Ibushi got back to his feet, Ospreay kicked him in the head. Ospreay wanted a Stormbreaker slam, but Ibushi countered with a hurricanrana into two. Ospreay got back into it with a German Suplex of his own. Ibushi recovered quickly with a running knee to the face as Kelly noted that was shades of Nakamura and he was right to say that. Ospreay looked dazed as he laid there on the mat.
Ibushi hit a Last Ride Powerbomb for a two count. Ospreay took control back when he set up Ibushi upside against the turnbuckle in the Tree of Woe spot. They got into a slap fest, so Ospreay had enough of that and kicked Ibushi in the head repeatedly. Ospreay put Ibushi on his shoulders on the top, but Ibushi fought out of it with a double stomp to the back of Ospreay on the turnbuckle. Ospreay landed on his feet to counter a German Suplex attempt and Ibushi had a bloody nose. Ospreay with a leaping kick to the head. Ospreay went for the Oscutter, Ibushi blocked it and Ibushi hit a German Suplex into a bridge. Ospreay with a kick to the head, Ibushi with a clothesline and Ospreay nailed him with a huge lariat. Ibushi managed to come back with a jumping Tombstone Piledriver for a two count. Ospreay with a kick to the head followed by a very stiff elbow to the back of the head of Ibushi. That looked nasty. Ospreay picked up Ibushi and hit the Stormbreaker spinning slam for the pinfall win at 18:13.
Winner by pinfall and New Never Openweight Champion: Will Ospreay
Analysis: ****1/4 Awesome match. There was a nice mix of showcasing their incredible athleticism and adding in some vicious strikes as well. These guys are two of my favorites in New Japan and they worked well together. If they got a bit more time, maybe they could have had a five star match. It was still a great opening match. That final elbow to the head by Ospreay was brutal. I assume Ibushi was fine, but that looked very dangerous. I think Ospreay is going to be in the main event of this show in two years. They’ll use this year and next year to build him up. He’ll be ready for main events by then. I don’t see him leaving New Japan before that since he’s only 25 years old. Ibushi has been impressive for a long time. I’d love to see it again in a rematch.
I’m fast forwarding through entrances to just focus on the matches, so I apologize for the lack of details on that stuff. This is going to be long enough.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships: Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado) vs. Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh) (w/ Rocky Romero) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Bushi and Shingo Takagi)
I don’t know that much about some of these guys. The duo of Sho and Yoh were in control early as they knocked the others out of the ring followed by a somersault dive out of the ring. Kanemaru and Desperado went back in with knees to the ribs. Kanemaru and Desperado hit a double team neckbreaker for two. Yoh hit a nice superkick to break free as the face in peril. Sho with a clothesline out of the corner and a dropkick. Bushi back in with an enziguri kick, but Kanemaru knocked him down. Takagi tagged to a good reaction from the crowd and a hard chop to the chest. Takagi with a stiff clothesline on Sho. They did a double German Suplex spot with Sho hitting the move. Everybody took turns hitting kicks and clothesline. Desperado with a spinebuster. Sho and Yoh put Desperado down. Sho and Yoh hit a double team knee strike off the middle ropes for two. Yoh hit a dropkick and tried to fire up the crowd, which was dead for a lot of this. Takagi took down Sho and Yoh with something that wasn’t show. Takagi hit a slam followed by a running clothesline to the back. Takagi with another running clothesline for a two count. Bushi hit a suicide dive out of the ring. Takagi had Sho on his shoulders and hit a situout slam called Last of the Dragon for the pinfall win at 6:51.
Winners by pinfall and New IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Bushi and Shingo Takagi)
Analysis: **1/2 It was good action for the most part, but also a bit disjointed at times. It was supposed to be two guys in the ring while others are on the apron where they are supposed to tag in, but the rules were not followed very well. The crowd reacted to Takagi as a star, so he’s a guy to keep an eye on in the future since he was put over big.
RevPro British Heavyweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (w/Taka Michinoku)
Sabre with a kick early on and Ishii came back with a belly to back suplex. Sabre slapped on an armbar. Sabre stomped on the arm of Ishii multiple times. Ishii got in some forearms, but Sabre grabbed the arm and pulled Ishii down to the mat. Sabre slapped on an Ankle Lock, then Ishii rolled through into an Ankle Lock of his own. Ishii charged in and ran over Sabre with a shoulder tackle. Sabre with a boot to the face, but Ishii came back with a clothesline followed by an overhead suplex across the ring. Ishii hit a superplex off the top, but Sabre recovered quickly and drove his knee to the arm of Ishii. That was a clever spot. Sabre worked over the right arm of Ishii again, they had a cool exchange of counters leading to Sabre slapping on an abdominal stretch. Sabre managed to hit a sunset flip into a Powerbomb for a two count. Sabre with a running kick to the chest. Sabre kicked Ishii repeatedly, so Ishii decked Sabre with a hard chop to the chest. Ishii hit a Powerbomb for a two count. Ishii with a headbutt to the head followed by a running clothesline for two. Sabre with a jumping kick to the head, Ishii went for a sliding lariat, Sabre covered using his legs to keep Ishii down and that got a two count. Ishii with a running clothesline. Sabre with a guillotine choke and another armbar on the right arm of Ishii. Sabre puled back on both arms of Ishii and Ishii gave up at 11:37. It is Sabre’s third time holding that title.
Winner by pinfall and New RevPro British Heavyweight Championship: Zack Sabre Jr.
Analysis: ***1/3 It was a solid match that was at a slow pace because that’s what Sabre does. Sabre’s style of wrestling fits him because he’s good at it, but there are times when I am bored during his matches. Pulling back on the arms all match isn’t that exciting to watch, but at least it played into the finish. Ishii’s hard-hitting style is entertaining and he’s impressed me in the last few years.
IWGP Tag Team Championships: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) w/ Bad Luck Fale and Jado vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Sanada and Evil) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)
This is the second triple threat tag team match. Tanga Loa had a brief run in WWE as Camacho. His is Tonga’s brother and their dad is Haku/Meng. The Young Bucks are also brothers.
Tonga did a handshake with Evil and Evil tossed him out of the ring. The ring emptied quickly as they brawled around ringside with Evil slamming Matt onto the ramp followed by a clothesline. It slowed down as they went back to the ring with Tonga hitting a neckbreaker on Evil and Loa hit a headbutt off the top. The Bucks got back into it with Nick hitting a dropkick and a jumping kick to the head. Matt with a senton over the top followed by a flipping neckbreaker back in the ring. Matt slapped on a Sharpshooter on Evil while Matt hit a moonsault on Sanada on the floor. Sanada got his chance to get into the match with some impressive moves including a dropkick and slingshot attacks on both Samoans. Sanada hit slingshot attacks over the top on both Young Bucks, so he did four of them in a row. Nick Jackson got back into it with a neckbreaker off the top. Tonga with a slam, Tonga got taken out and Loa hit a German Suplex on Evil. They did a Tower of Doom suplex spot to take five guys out while Nick went up top with a corkscrew splash. Fale and Jado got involved, but they were taken out. Tonga with a Spear on Sanada to break up a double team attempt. Nick hit a step up hurricanrana that was impressive. Bucks hit a double team superkick on Sanada. Tonga dropped Matt with a cutter. Evil and Sanada with a Magic Killer on Nick and Sanada went up top with a moonsault on Nick for the pinfall win after 10:16 of action.
Winners by pinfall and New IWGP Tag Team Champions: Los Ingobernables de Japon (Sanada and Evil)
Analysis: ***1/4 Good tag team match with a hot final few minutes. Sanada and Evil are the best team in current NJPW, so it made a lot of sense for them to hold the titles again. The Young Bucks doing the job makes sense since it is expected they are done with New Japan since they are helping to run the new AEW promotion.
IWGP United States Championship: Cody (w/Brandi Rhodes) vs. Juice Robinson
Cody and Brandi were wearing teal colors of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars because the All Elite Wrestling owner Tony Khan is a co-owner of the Jags with his billionaire dad. Brandi is a fine-looking woman and is a welcome sight on a show with all dudes.
Juice was in control early with a spin kick and a spinebuster followed by double knees to the ribs. Juice went up top, so Brandi went into the ring to protect her husband. She dared Juice to hit her, but he told her to get out of the ring. Cody with a kick to the chest while on the apron and Cody shoved Juice into the steel ring post. Kelly noted that Cody’s in the Jaguars colors. Juice wanted a suplex, Cody distracted the referee and Brandi hit a Spear that barely connected. Brandi attacked Juice with punches, so the referee told her to leave the ring. The referee told her to go to the back. Cody hit the Cross Rhodes neckbreaker for a two count. Good nearfall there. Juice managed to counter a Cody move and he hit a Cross Rhodes of his own for a two count. Cody hit the Disaster Kick off the ropes. He went for Pulp Friction, which is Juice’s finish, and he covered for a two count. Juice worked over Cody with punches, Cody with a kick to the head and Juice hit a left hand of God to stun him. Juice with another lefty punch to the face. Juice hit the Pulp Friction, which is like a jumping Unprettier, and he didn’t cover right away. Juice hit Pulp Friction for a second time leading to a pinfall win at 9:03.
Winner by pinfall and New IWGP United States Champion: Juice Robinson
Analysis: *1/2 It was a below average match where they didn’t take any risks and simply accomplished the goal of having Juice win the title. The crowd wasn’t into the match that much like when Brandi got kicked out, there was barely a reaction. The stolen finishers thing didn’t work that well. If that was Cody’s last match in New Japan for a long time, it wasn’t very good. I know he has a torn meniscus knee injury that will lead to surgery after this match is over (Kevin Kelly mentioned it) and maybe he wanted to keep it safe because he’s needed in a huge role for AEW. I was hoping for a better match.
In case you aren’t paying attention, every title has changed hands on this show with three more title matches still to come.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kushida vs. Taiji Ishimori
Kushida is going into this match as a 6-time Junior Heavyweight Champion that has been a focal point of the division for many years. Ishimori did an eye rake, Kushida came back with a hip toss and a low dropkick. Ishimori took down Kushida by the arm and slapped on a Lebell Lock like what Daniel Bryan uses. Ishimori remained in control with a leaping attack off the top rope. Ishimori kicked Kushida into the ropes and hit a sliding German Suplex off the ropes into the ring. Ishii went for a 450 Splash off the top rope, but Kushida caught him and slapped on an armbar submission. Kushida slapped on a key lock submission on the left arm. Ishimori jumped up, did an armbar takedown, Kushida back up, tried to kick the arm, but Ishimori avoided that and got in a kick. Kushida tried a headscissors, Ishimori blocked it and tried a slam, but Kushida broke free. Kushida kicked Ishimori while Ishimori’s feet were against the referee. That was a clever spot. Ishimori came back with a power move where he picked up Kushida and Ishimori drove his knees into Kushida’s face. Kushida came back with an armbar on the left arm. Ishimori managed to power out of that and hit a Death Valley Driver off the shoulders. Both guys were down selling. Kushida rolled through into a brainbuster, but Ishimori blocked another attempt. Ishimori with a knee to the face and a stiff forearm by Kushida. Ishimori came back with a jumping double knee attack. Ishimori hit the Bloody Cross, which is another double knee move to the face, for the pinfall win at 11:17.
Winner by pinfall and New IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion: Taiji Ishimori
Analysis: ***1/2 Very good match where they did a lot of great counter wrestling all match long. I’ve seen a lot of Kushida, so I know he’s amazing, but I haven’t seen as much of Ishimori. He is a strong dude that can do it all just like Kushida. It would have been nice to see them get another five minutes because it felt like they were building to something more when it ended earlier than I wanted it to. This match did a good job of putting over Ishimori in a big way by beating Kushida, who has been the focal point of the Light Heavyweight division for years.
The announcers put over Ishimori huge as a star after he debuted in New Japan in May last year. He’s a member of Bullet Club.
There was a video package hyping up the match between Kazuchika Okada and Jay White, who had Gedo with him. Gedo used to support Okada, but then he turned on him and he’s with White now. Gedo is also the booker in New Japan.
The reaction to Okada for his entrance is amazing. It is weird that he is not in the main event, but that’s how it is this year. The crowd popped because Okada is back to wrestling in trunks again. The little things matter.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White (w/Gedo)
This is the only non-title match on the main card. Okada was in control with a running kick to the face. White took control after Gedo tried a trip and White tossed Okada into the turnbuckle. White hit a belly to back suplex over the top rope to the floor. White worked over Okada by sending him into the guard rail repeatedly. Back in the ring, White hit another bell to back suplex for two. They got into a slapfest with Okada gaining some momentum after an elbow smash to the chest. Okada with a splash against the turnbuckle followed by a DDT for two. Okada set up White on the top rope and hit a dropkick to knock him down to the floor. Okada sent White into the barricade and a clothesline knocked him over the barricade. Gedo hit Okada in the back, so Okada tossed Gedo gently over the barricade. Okada hit a running cross body block onto both guys outside the ring. The crowd was fired up. Back in the ring, Okada with a body slam and an elbow drop off the top rope onto White. Okada did the Rainmaker pose to a big pop. White came back with a flatliner followed by a German Suplex. White hit a uranage slam for a two count. White picked up Okada and decked him with a clothesline for two. White distracted the referee, so Gedo put the chair on the apron and he distracted the referee. White wanted a chairshot, Okada avoided it and pushed White into Gedo. Okada hit two dropkicks on White and he got a lot of height on them. White came back with a Dragon Suplex on the head of Okada. Rough landing there.
White hit the Kiwi Crusher slam for a two count. White went for the Bladerunner finishers, Okada got out of that and he hit a Tombstone Piledriver. White with a chop, a whip into the rope, Okada dropkick missed and Okada hit another impressive dropkick. He gets so much height on those. Each guy went for their finishing moves, there were counters from each and Okada hit a spinning Rainmaker. The crowd exploded after that. Okada wanted the Rainmaker, but White avoided it and hit the Bladerunner neckbreaker for the pinfall win at 14:20.
Winner by pinfall: Jay White
Analysis: **** Great match as usual any time Okada is in a match. White is pretty good, but not really at Okada’s level. Few wrestlers ever are at Okada’s level, though, because he’s an all-time great talent already. It was a huge win for White to go over Okada, so they accomplished the goal of trying to elevate White in this match. White’s only 26 years old and they are clearly grooming him for a main event level spot with a win like this. I think Okada’s going to get back to the main events and win back the IWGP Heavyweight Title again because he’s too good to not be in the main event picture.
After the match was over, White told him that it was over. Callis said that the Okada era may be over because he’s had too many matches and taken too much punishment.
There was a video package for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship match with the legendary Chris Jericho defending against Tetsuya Naito. Jericho barely defended the title this year, but he obviously has a lot of credibility and is a big name. It was made a No DQ match on Thursday.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship No Disqualification Match: Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito
Jericho was posing on the apron with Naito attacking him from behind as payback for Jericho’s cheap attacks. Naito hit a piledriver on Jericho on the ramp. They went back into the ring with Naito exposing a turnbuckle by taking a pad off. Naito with a clothesline that sent Jericho out of the ring, but Jericho came back with a kendo stick to the head. Jericho hit Naito with the kendo stick two more times, then he went to the middle rope and hit Naito in the head with the kendo stick. Callis put over Jericho as a top star, which he is. Jericho with another kendo stick to the head leading to Callis laughing (he’s a friend of Jericho for over 20 years) and Jericho hit a springboard dropkick off the apron that he has done so many times. Jericho grabbed a camera from ringside, gave him the middle finger and kicked Naito. Jericho with a suplex on the floor. Jericho went over to the row of tables where the announcers were and Jericho hit a DDT on the table, which didn’t break. Naito sold it with a headstand style bump. That drew a huge reaction from the crowd because it looked nasty. Back in the ring, Jericho did a lot of stalling leading to a cross body block. Jericho with a back elbow and a Lionsault off the ropes for a two count. Naito started a comeback with punches followed by a jumping forearm to the face. Naito with a low dropkick to he back of Jericho while he was seated. Naito with a spit to the face and a neckbreaker into the knee of Naito. Naito with a regular neckbreaker in the ring for a two count. Naito went for an attack against the turnbuckle, Jericho avoided it and slapped on the Walls of Jericho submission. Jericho did his “ask him” bit that he always does. The crowd was loud as they cheered for Naito, who broke free. Jericho came back with an enziguri kick, Naito blocked a Codebreaker and hit a swinging DDT off the ropes. Naito hooked the arms of Jericho and dropped him with a high angle slam. Naito went for Destino, but Jericho blocked it and slapped on the Walls of Jericho submission again. Naito broke it by attacking Jericho with the kendo stick.
Naito sent Jericho into the ropes and did a baseball swing with the kendo stick right to the ribs of Jericho. Naito with another kendo stick shot to the head. Jericho avoided a kendo stick shot and hit a Codebreaker for a two count. Awesome nearfall right there. Jericho left the ring to get another weapon. Jericho tossed five steel chairs into the ring. He grabbed three more and sent them in the ring, so eight chairs in total. Jericho hit Naito in the back with a stiff chair shot. Jericho picked up Naito and Naito hit a DDT onto a pile of chairs. Naito came back with a Codebreaker of his own, which was a cool spot leading to a two count. Naito to the ropes, Jericho threw a chair at him, Naito avoided a suplex and hit a German Suplex into the chairs. Naito wanted Destino, Jericho avoided that, Jericho shoved the referee, low blow kick by Jericho and another Codebreaker for just two. Callis complained about the slow count of Red Shoes the referee, but it was a regular speed count. Jericho had the title, Naito avoided the attack and sent Jericho face first into the exposed turnbuckle. Naito hit the Destino slam for one…two…and no! Jericho got his shoulder up. That was a very believable nearfall as well. Naito picked up the IC Title and he charged at Jericho with the title. He knocked down Jericho with it. Naito hit Destino again for the pinfall win at
Winner by pinfall and New IWGP Intercontinental Champion: Tetsuya Naito
Analysis: ****1/2 That an excellent grudge match with the perfect stipulation that set them up for a big match worthy of a championship. Jericho was fantastic as the heel that pissed off the crowd and did cheap tactics throughout. Jericho’s actions also helped Naito in a huge way because when Naito got his momentum and ultimately came away wit the win, it meant a lot more because of how well Jericho did. I continue to do be amazed at how awesome Jericho is at 48 years old. Last year he had a five-star match with Kenny Omega at Wrestle Kingdom and this year it was nearly that good. Naito is a great wrestler in his own right, but I thought Jericho’s greatness really shined throughout this match. That final sequence was outstanding with several believable nearfalls for both guys. The crowd was so into it and so was I. It was a huge match that lived up to the hype.
After the match, Naito celebrated the win while Jericho slapped one of the ring boys at ringside. Jericho is such an awesome heel. Naito left as the IWGP Intercontinental Champion.
Analysis: Jericho’s future is unknown at this point. He has no Fozzy music commitments right now after they toured most of last year, so I think his focus is on wrestling. He might be part of the AEW promotion with Cody, he could go back for another run in WWE, he could do more work in New Japan or he could take it easy because at 48 years old, he can afford to pick his spots. I think it will be AEW for Jericho, but I don’t know more than anybody else right now.
That’s seven title matches and seven title changes with one more title match left as the main event.
There was a video package about Kenny Omega defending the IWGP Heavyweight Champion against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Omega was the champion and Tanahashi was the 2018 MVP in New Japan as the G1 Climax winner that had a great year.
Hiroshi Tanahashi made his entrance to a big pop. He is 42 years old and he went into this match as a 7-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion. He is one of the best Japanese wrestlers ever. I think a fair comparison to an American wrestler is to say he’s been like NJPW’s John Cena for the past 15 years and Tanahashi is only one year older.
Kenny Omega had a cool entrance with the IWGP Heavyweight Title around his waist. He’s arguably the best wrestler in the world that has had several match of the year contenders in the last few years. He’s also a Canadian from Winnipeg like Chris Jericho, so I’m a big fan of him representing my country. Omega had on a One-Winged Angel style outfit. The Young Bucks were with him, so they helped Kenny take his gear off to begin the match. The crowd was loud for both guys.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
There were several strikes from both guys early in the match with Tanahashi getting a rollup for two. They exchanged strikes again and then Omega buried a knee to the ribs followed by an elbow drop. Omega hit a running backbreaker for two. Omega with forearms to the back, Tanahashi with chops, Omega with a hard chop and another forearm to the back by Omega. There were several hard kicks to the back by Omega followed by hard slaps to the face and a high angle back suplex by Omega. Tanahashi left the ring, so Omega gave him a back suplex on the end of the ring apron. Callis noted to Kelly that they were both in the WWF and this feud reminded them of Steve Austin and Bret Hart in 1997. I like that comparison. Tanahashi got back into it on the floor with a running dropkick. Omega picked up Tanahashi and gave him a body slam onto some tables where announcers and media members were. Omega hit a moonsault off the guard rail onto Tanahashi outside the ring. Omega set up a table on the floor outside the ring. They went back into the ring leading to more chops from Omega and Tanahashi bounced off the ropes with a forearm to the face. Omega with a kick out of the corner, but when he tried it again, Tanahashi delivered a dragon screw leg whip that took Omega down. Tanahashi with a dropkick that sent Omega into the turnbuckle. Body slam by Tanahashi followed by a somersault senton for two. Omega with a running attack where he jumped over Tanahashi and slammed him face first into the mat with a kitaro crusher. Tanahashi went back into the ring with a dropkick. Omega came back with a snap hurricanrana. Omega ran the ropes with a somersault dive over the top to the floor onto Tanahashi. That sounded like a rough landing for Kenny as he hit the ramp hard. Kenny was selling a right knee injury. Omega brought Tanahashi into the ring to break the ref’s 20 count. They were out longer than that earlier, but there was no count.
Omega went up top and hit a dropkick to the back on a standing Tanahashi, who looked dazed on his feet. Omega with two Dragon Suplexes on the head of Tanahashi followed by a V-Trigger knee to the face that was very loud. Omega with a rolling senton and then he tweaked his right knee again, so Tanahashi did an arm drag to the right knee with Omega screaming in pain to sell it. Tanahashi with a swinging neckbreaker. Tanahashi slapped on the Cloverleaf submission on the legs of Omega. The match was at the 20-minute mark as Omega tried to break free of it. Tanahashi teased doing a Styles Clash, the crowd popped when they saw what was coming and Tanahashi connected with the Styles Clash. Tanahashi up top with the High Fly Flow Frog Splash, but Omega got his knees up to block it. That drew a big gasp from the crowd. Omega was selling the right knee injury. Omega went for a V-Trigger knee, Tanahashi moved and Kenny hit the turnbuckle wit his knee at full speed. Tanahashi hit a leg whip to the right leg into the middle ropes. With Omega on the apron, Tanahashi hit a Slingblade takedown. Tanahashi set up Omega on the table outside the ring. Tanahashi went up top, jumped off, Omega moved and Tanahashi hit the Frog Splash through the table. That was a brutal bump. The referee was counting Tanahashi, but Omega chose to toss Tanahashi back in before the 20 count. Callis was frustrated by that because he wanted Omega to just win by countout as Kelly pointed out that there will be second guessing if Omega fails to win.
The action returned to the ring with Omega up top again and he hit a double foot stomp to the back of Tanahashi. Omega hit a Powerbomb for a two count, so he did it again with another Powerbomb for another two count. Omega picked up Tanahashi and this time it was a sitout Powerbomb for two. Omega was frustrated by it. Omega wanted a V-Trigger again, but Tanahashi came back with the Slingblade takedown leading to both guys down in the ring selling their injuries. When both guys got back up for another slugfest, the crowd was cheering loudly again. They exchanged strikes again with Tanahashi covering his ribs. Omega unloaded with slaps, chops, a forearm and then Tanahashi had slaps of his own. Omega came back with knees to the ribs as they hit the 30-minute mark. Omega hit a German Suplex, but Tanahashi no sold it and fired up. Omega came back with a Slingblade of his own along with a wry smile on his face. The crowd was booing as Omega went up top and he hit his own High Fly Flow Frog Splash that was good for just a one count. Tanahashi was back to his feet, Omega with a V-Trigger knee to the head followed by more knee strikes to the ribs. After Tanahashi went after the knee again, Omega hit a reverse snap hurricanrana to put Tanahashi down again. Omega hit a V-Trigger running knee right to the face. Omega picked up Tanahashi on his shoulders, but Tanahashi countered to a reverse hurricanrana of his own! Holy shit, that was great. The crowd was screaming for Tanahashi to win. Tanahashi hit a bridging Dragon Suplex for a two count. Tanahashi went up top and hit a cross body block to put Omega down. Tanahashi went up top again and he hit the High Fly Flow for the one…two…and no! Omega kicked out. The crowd was going crazy for this and so were the announcers. That was the 35 minute mark. There is a 60-minute time limit for this match.
They were both down for about one minute selling injuries. Tanahashi went up top and Omega hit him with a running knee again. With Tanahashi on the turnbuckle and facing out towards the crowd, Omega hit a suplex with Tanahashi flipping over and landing onto his stomach. That was an impressive move. Omega connected with a V-Trigger against the ropes. Kenny went for the One Winged Angle, but Tanahashi kicked his way out of it followed by a Slingblade for a two count. Tanahashi went up top again, he jumped off and he hit the High Fly Flow for the one…two…and three. Tanahashi wins! New IWGP Heavyweight Champion. The match went 39:14.
Winner by pinfall and New IWGP Heavyweight Champion: Hiroshi Tanahashi
Analysis: ***** That was f’n awesome. What…a…match. A five-star performance again from Omega while Tanahashi proves that he’s still got it in his early 40s. Since they went about 40 minutes, they went at a slower pace earlier in the match and then when they got the final ten minutes, they turned it up another level. That’s what it means to be in a big match in the main event of NJPW’s biggest show of the year. I liked that there was a lot of psychology in the match with Omega selling that right knee injury the entire match and it ended up costing him the match because he was selling like he was in so much pain. Tanahashi sold the ribs well after he went through the table, so that added to the match as well. I liked the spot where Omega hit the High Fly Flow, yet it only got a one count because it let us know Tanahashi still had a lot left. Kenny working as more of a heel helped the match too because the fans were fully behind Tanahashi. Once again, that’s adding to the story. They aren’t just going out there for 40 minutes to do flips or high spots. They told a very believable story in this championship match that felt like more of a fight.
Analysis x2: The five-star rating is as high as it goes for my ratings of matches. If I had to compare it to Omega/Okada at Dominion last year, I would put that match ahead of this one, but this is still a five-star match.
That’s eight title matches and eight title changes.
Tanahashi and Omega were both down after the match was over. They were exhausted while also selling the injuries in the match. Omega was helped out of the ring by the Young Bucks as Tanahashi’s hand was raised and Tanahashi was handed the IWGP Heavyweight Title as the new champion.
Omega was shown at ringside with the Young Bucks by his side as they helped Kenny make his way backstage.
Analysis: There are a lot of rumors out there about Omega’s future. He’s a free agent very soon, she could take a huge deal from WWE to see what he can do in the biggest wrestling company in the world. Omega loves it in New Japan, so he might stay where he is. Another option is AEW since he’s close friends with Cody and the Young Bucks. If they had Kenny it would be a huge boost for that startup company. Last year I didn’t think he was going to WWE. This year I think he might do it, but I think his love of New Japan may keep him there too.
Tanahashi did a promo post match. The translator let us know that hat he thanked everybody for coming to the show and he celebrated with the title. Tanahashi did his air guitar routine to a big pop.
The show had a run time of 3 hours, 59 minutes.
Five Stars of the Show
1. Hiroshi Tanahashi
2. Kenny Omega
3. Chris Jericho
4. Tetsuya Naito
5. (tie) Will Ospreay
5. (tie) Kota Ibushi
Wrestle Kingdom 13 gets a 8.5 out of 10. Awesome job by New Japan.
The great matches delivered with Omega/Tanahashi, Naito/Jericho and Ospreay/Ibushi as the best matches. Going into the show I assumed they would be the best matches, so kudos to all of those guys for delivering on the big stage. There were several other very good matches too, so it’s a definite 9 out of 10 type show for me. I think some of the undercard could have been better considering the talent in those matches, but in some cases, it was not getting enough time to have a match or they were just off.
If you missed the show and you get AXS TV, which will replay everything this weekend, make sure you check out Omega/Tanahashi, Naito/Jericho and Ospreay/Ibushi because they are awesome matches.
The big story, in terms of storylines, is that all eight champions lost their titles, so this was a chance for NJPW to reset some of their feuds following Wrestle Kingdom.
You can tell that certain guys like Jay White, Will Ospreay and maybe Zack Sabre Jr. are going to get big pushes this year. We know NJPW is losing Cody and the Young Bucks. If they lose more, like Omega, then they need to build up others, so it felt like that was a goal of this show. Put over some “new” faces. It’s a smart strategy.
I hope you enjoyed this review. I’m planning on writing more about New Japan this year, so here’s hoping they have another big year for us.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below. Go Los Angeles Rams.