The night kicked off like all the previous Wrestle Kingdom events, with the New Japan Rumble. An event much like WWE’s Royal Rumble, with one very big difference, wrestlers can be eliminated by pinfall and submission as well as being thrown over the top rope. A difference that made the match that much more interesting than WWE’s Rumble.
The New Japan Rumble ended with a feel-good moment when Masahito Kakihara won in his return to the ring, after a battle with cancer.
The main card was electric from beginning to end. It opened with the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship match between Roppongi 3k (c), and The Young Bucks, and ended with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship match between Kazuchika Okada (c) and Tetsuya Naito, which was, of course, a “barn burner.”
(I’m not going to break down all the matches, because Brendan Mizgala is covering that, and you can read his article here.)
There honestly was not a break on this card. Throughout the show, you didn’t want to leave your seat. In fact, the only time I did was during entrances, I didn’t want to miss a second of the action. Because it was non-stop, look away for a second, and you’re missing a big move.
The pacing of the matches was by far my favorite part of the event. Everything happens so fast in the New Japan style of matches, and strikes seem to land so much harder than in other promotions. I guess that’s why they call it “strong style.”
Another thing I loved about the New Japan style is that the art of selling is not lost over there. Someone gets hit with a strong punch, forearm, or knee, and they fall to their knees or even on their face and sell the spot. I can’t tell you how many times last night I actually thought someone was knocked out last night after a strong move.
By far though my favorite part of the entire night was the crowd.
For a long time now I have had a problem with WWE crowds. The way they hijack the show more often than not is getting old. Their constant chants and interrupting matches is distracting and takes away from what is otherwise a great match in the ring, or, at least what could be.
A lot of times when I’m sitting at home and watching the reaction of the crowd is what tells me if the match is worthy of my time or not. Maybe that is partially on me, but I’m sure I’m not the only one. Who, when watching a match, looks at the crowd to see if they are into it or not. If they are on their phones, or chanting things unrelated to the match, or superstars in the match, then it takes me away from the match at home.
Whereas with the New Japan crowd, they are invested in the match. They are there to watch the action in the ring and do nothing else. Which in turn makes me want to give the match my undivided attention, and that made everything that much more important.
Coming out of this event I only knew one thing. I want to watch more New Japan Pro Wrestling. I’m not going to lie, I watched to see Jericho vs. Omega, as I’m sure a lot of the rest of you did, and by the way that matches lived up to and exceeded expectations. Jericho and Omega, in my opinion, stole the show and proved why they are two of the best to ever lace up a pair of boots.
If you’ve never watched any New Japan Pro Wrestling, and you’re looking for a different promotion to watch, I strongly recommend this one to you. It’s different from WWE, and every other wrestling promotion I’ve ever seen. I know I’m going to be watching more often, and you should too. It’s worth the price you pay.