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NJPW ‘Wrestle Kingdom 12’ 1.4.18 Results & Review

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Wrestle Kingdom 12 is officially in the books and it was another very strong outing from New Japan as they continue producing some of the very best wrestling shows in the entire world. Does WK12 live up to shows of the past? Let’s find out.

The New Japan Rumble
Winner: Masahito Kakihara. The suprise final entrant was able to win the pre show rumble and dedicate his victory to Takayama, the world-famous wrestler/fighter who suffered a severe neck injury last year which has left him paralyzed from the neck down. Nice feel-good moment to open the show.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match
The Young Bucks def. Roppongi 3K (c) @ 18:49 via Nick Jackson Sharpshooter on Yohei Komatsu

Early on the Bucks tried to make 3K step out of their comfort zone and play their game. Little did they know, 3K was up to the challenge so it was up to the Bucks to change their game plan. This was a really nice back and forth that was set around both Matt and Yohei having injured backs which were constantly attacked by their opponents. 3K came out of this looking extremely formidable, even in defeat. The Bucks continue showcasing their adaptability, showing off that they can be more than spot guys.

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship Gauntlet Match
Chaos (Ishii, Yano & Beretta) def. Bullet Club (Fale, Tama & Tanga) (c) @ 17:02 via Beretta Dudebuster on Tama Tonga
After team Suzuki-Gun took care of War Machine & Elgin, Yano was able to advance his team to the final round after a sneaky roll up on both Taichi and Taguchi respectively. Once in the final stage it was Ishii’s strength and Beretta’s heart that pushed team Chaos to victory. A nice moment as we continue to see Beretta climb up the ladder of New Japan.

Special Singles Match
Kota Ibushi def. Cody @ 16:08 via Phoniex Splash

Possibly Cody’s best post-WWE match to date. He and Ibushi had a great back and forth consisting of major bumps to the outside including an insane Cross Rhodes from the apron to the floor. They worked with a solid heel/face dynamic that built to a satisfying conclusion of Ibushi picking up a big singles win.

IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
EVIL & SANADA def. Killer Elite Squad (c) @ 14:14 via SANADA Moonsault on Davey Boy Smith Jr.

The champions started off hot, attacking the challengers from behind and hitting EVIL with their finish just five seconds into the match. They controlled and dominated the LIJ members for the majority of the match until they made their comeback. The positive reaction to both EVIL and SANADA as they were both beaten down and their comeback was great to hear. They may have something special with these two as a tag team.

NEVER Openweight Championship Hair vs Hair Match
Hirooki Goto def. Minoru Suzuki (c) @ 18:05 via GTR

Suzuki-Gun lose all three title matches they participated in tonight. Minoru Suzuki has shaved himself bald which leads to the question: where does the faction go from here? They were ashamed across the board and they cannot be pleased with themselves. Despite the match being billed as Suzuki-Gun barred from ringside, the group still attempted to help their boss yet this time came up short. Goto managed to pull out the win, looking pretty strong in the process. This wasn’t the outcome that I expected but as long as Goto keeps his pedal to the metal from this point on I’ll be pleased with the result.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship 4-Way Match
Will Ospreay def. Marty Scurll (c), Hiromu Takahashi, KUSHIDA @ 21:18 via Oscutter on Scurll

Four junior heavyweights at the top of their game, throwing it all out there like there’s no tomorrow. The spots these guys came up with were so crazy and innovative that it was jaw-dropping on many occasions. The insane amount of callbacks to all their previous matches lead to great nearfalls that were easy to bite on from halfway through the match and on. To this point in the show both junior heavyweight matches were the standout matches and although that shouldn’t have been surprising, the quality of both matches exceeded expectations.

IWGP Intercontenital Championship Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) def. Jay White @ 19:43 via High Fly Flow

Up until this point, all titles had changed hands. Tanahashi would end the streak. Jay White looked very strong in his returning debut. He has a wicked amount of suplexes that he showed off and Tanahashi, even banged up, took them like the ace he continues to be. Tanahashi showed a lot of guts, taking White’s abuse for mot the match, and was able to overcome while still allowing White to look impressive in his return.

IWGP US Heavyweight Championship No DQ Match
Kenny Omega (c) def. Chris Jericho @ 34:36 via One-Winged Angel

An insane amount of hype surrounded this match and to say it delivered on everyone’s expectations would be an understatement. The 47-year-old Chris Jericho proved he still has a lot in the tank. The no disqualification stipulation resulted in a lot of great and innovative spots that I didn’t see coming. Jericho definitely had a grasp on how big of a deal this match was and made Omega look fantastic throughout the match. Omega, ever slowly turning into a babyface, took so much offense from Jericho. Chair shot after chair shot, blood running down his face and managed to overcome the onslaught. Definitely a match that needs to be seen by all wrestling fans no matter what promotion you’re most loyal.

IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match
Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Tetsuya Naito @ 36:26 via Rainmaker

By the time of the main event there had been several great matches, the best being the match before it, but nothing screamed match of the year contender like Wrestle Kingdom’s of the past. Boy, did this change things. The history between Okada and Naito is layered so deep in stories. The fans so desperately want Naito to be their champion. But the Rainmaker stands in their way. Never before has a G1 winner beaten the champion at Wrestle Kingdom and that streak continued tonight. As much as Naito tried, the Rainmaker stood victorious yet again. This looked like a surefire win for Naito after such a long and history making reign for Okada yet the reign lives on. Fantastic storytelling as they continue making Okada look unstoppable. The reign grows and grows, creating more animosity from the fans who can’t get behind Okada. He took three Destino’s from Naito but it wasn’t enough. After a third Rainmaker, Naito was unable to get back up and Okada remains the man to beat in New Japan. Incredible storytelling and a true match of the year contender to close out the show.

While it didn’t contain multiple match of the year contenders, Wrestle Kingdom 12 was a very consistent show up and down the card. They started off really hot, fell down to a level most expected and picked back up towards the finale. Despite its five-hour run time the show never really felt like it was dragging. Every match got a good amount of time and flowed pretty smooth throughout.

Recommended Matches
Okada vs Naito (Must-See)
Omega vs Jericho (Must-See)
Junior 4-Way (Highly Recommended)
Junior Tag (Highly Recommended)

Robert McCauley watches and enjoys giving his take on Japanese professional wrestling.

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