Wrestle Kingdom 13 Review
Date January 4, 2019
City Tokyo, Japan
Venue Tokyo Dome
Attendance 38,162 (paid)
1 .Will Osprey def Kota Ibushi From Wrestle Kingdom 13 (Never Openweight Title)
Not the athletic spectacle that most had anticipated but still very sound in their moves. There were flips for those who like that still but the match was still true to the Never Openweight mantle. The bout showcased the transition Osprey is willing to make to be a heavyweight. Osprey was stiff and adapted very easily to the style he was wrestling, getting Ibushi in the tree of woe and exchanging slap strikes was beautiful. Osprey busted open Ibushi with vicious stomps to Ibushi.
There was also a callback to their previous tag encounter with Ibushi going for a suplex from the apron into the ring only for Osprey to flip out. The facial expression on Ibushi’s face told the whole story of how unbelievably athletic Osprey is. The match was intense and had the big fight feel to it, with all the anticipation behind it.
Sadly Ibushi was given a concussion due to a massive beheading chop to the back of the head which did make it look like he was knocked out. Osprey followed up with a Stormbreaker and picked up the win and his first Njpw Heavyweight singles title. The lines were blurred here to if Ibushi was really hurt or if this was a work but nonetheless he was stretchered out to the back. The match was a great surprise in change of style and a great blend as Osprey seems to be fighting a stiffer style and instead of risking his career with high spots, wants to end his opponents! Honestly heading into the match we figured nothing will top it until the main event and that did seem to be the case.
2. Bushi and Shingo Takagi def Rappongi 3K And (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) From Wrestle Kingdom (Iwgp Junior Heavyweight Title Triple Threat)
The shortest match of the night and smartly placed after the super opener. The match was a full sprint which is exactly what the match needed to be. While it was short it did feel like it got over the point across quite well, which was to get Shingo over in the division as he seems to be someone they want to push.
Shingo pretty much threw everyone around, he was clearly bigger physically and visibly, it maybe farfetched to say that he’s a junior heavyweight but it seems he isn’t destined to be in the tag division for long. Roppongi 3k sadly didn’t get their Wrestle Kingdom moment for the second year in a row despite winning the biggest tournament in their division for a second year. Hopefully they get their moment next year.
Everyone got to do something here even if not as much as they’d like. It was a good match for its length for sure.
3. Zack Sabre Jr def Tomohiro Ishii Via Submission From Wrestle Kingdom 13 (Rev Pro World Title)
This was a fantastic match, a really great match seeing the length it was given. At just under 12 minutes Ishii and Sabre contested in a back and forth match with had several near fall.
Ishii is crisp in the ring, he is stiff but never to the level of injuring anyone and Sabre is obviously a safe wrestler. These two told a very effective story of Sabre countering any big move Ishii would throw at him. Sabre maneuvered his way around Ishii and outsmarted and out wrestler him in manly spots.
The finish looked brutal too, as Sabre locked Ishii in the octopus stretch and you could see Ishii falling to his knees and eventually verbally giving up. The Stone Pitbull couldn’t handle the pain and had to verbally quit, quite an accomplishment from the Brit. Sabre is geared up for a hell of a year. Next stop Roh world title??? Action per minute it’s hard to argue this wasn’t the most jam packed match.
4. Evil and SANADA def G.O.D and The Young Bucks From Wrestle Kingdom 13 (Iwgp Heavyweight Tag Title Triple Threat)
Fun match really, didn’t however feel like the Bucks final outing in Njpw. It was very predictable that the Bucks won’t be winning here, so I think a lot of the crowd wasn’t as into the match. It was a pretty good match but does however fall under the weaker matches of the night. Which says a lot considering in most shows this would be a very solid match.
I’d have liked it to be a 2v2 contest as opposed to a triple threat as it makes the match feel more important. Both the tag title matches felt like show fillers because of that same reason, the match also wasn’t all that long, barely going over 10 minutes. The three teams really showcased their athleticism here with SANADA being the highlight.
When it was said and done, no ones gonna be talking about this match but it was pretty good and definitely better of the two tag title matches.
5. Juice Robinson def Cody From Wrestle Kingdom 13 (Iwgp United States Title)
This wasn’t as bad as many are making it seem but it definitely wasn’t good. The thing is we were expecting an actual match as opposed to the many different “spots” we were given. The finisher kick outs are fine but without a greater story their just moves. Brandy a good heel here but the spear to Juice was too much for my liking.
Juice was made to look strong with kicking out of both the Cross Rhodes and the Pulp Friction. This match is meant to be for the title that’s designed for the non Japanese fans and I must say it’s quite disappointing. Id say the worst match of the night, just cause it had no substance to it.
Juice hitting 2 Pulp Frictions for the win but the dramatic moment at the end didn’t mean much as the match that had preceded wasn’t very intense. At Least Juice was a good guy throughout the match.
6. Taiji Ishimori def KUSHIDA From Wrestle Kingdom 13 (Iwgp Junior Heavyweight Title)
Really good stuff here, this was the first of what are yearly now considered the Big final four matches of Wrestle Kingdom. The final four matches of Wrestle Kingdom have in the past few years have been strong match of the year contenders and what not. This while a great match wasn’t on the level of those previous bouts. The problem here was the match had just gotten great when it came to an end. I enjoyed every match on the show given its length but if there was one match id have given 5 more minutes it’d be this one.
The match was still a great match but just short of the expectation but on the juniors. These two are for sure going to contest in future bouts if KUSHIDA doesn’t make the transition to WWE. The match was a technical one and was really good throughout, KUSHIDA hits a Back To The Future but goes for a second one which allows Ishimori to capitalize.
A hoverboard lock seemed to signal the end for Ishimori but he reserves it into a Bloody Cross for the win and the title. For a match that felt it could’ve used 3 or 4 more minutes at least this was pretty great and take nothing from these two, if they can do this in a 11 minute match, they can certainly do better.
7. Jay White def Kazuchika Okada From Wrestle Kingdom 13 (Singles Match)
This was one of Njpw three main event matches of the night. This was a shocker in many levels to me as a viewer. Firstly the old Okada returns after months of being broken in a match 3rd from the top. Secondly once I saw that the old Okada had returned, most would’ve figured Okada’s winning here and redeeming months and months of torment he’s been put through but no. Jay White defeats Okada in less than 15 minutes.
Now let that sink in, Okada went 35 minutes and defeated Tanahashi in the Dome. He beat Omega after 46 minutes and Naito after 35 minutes. Now imagine Jay White who returned little over a year ago, beats that man under 15 minutes. Too many days as champ, too many title defences and too many matches are starting to catch up to Okada. The crowd was super hot for this match, easily the most hyped match on the show, the story was of Okada wanting to just go all out too quick. Their were a dozen Rainmaker attempts and none connected, in the final moments Jay would counter a Rainmaker into the Blade Runner for the pin.
The match may seem a little basic with some would argue it was just a bunch of reversals but I’d argue the match was the moves, it was the crowd and the big payoff. Gedo was taken out early and some great exchanges later Okada was put down relatively clean. Unlike with the Jr match I think the short duration really helped here and made the match feel more personal. Really hot match here, one of the best of the night.
8. Tetsuya Naito def Chris Jericho From Wrestle Kingdom 13 (Iwgp Intercontinental Title No Dq Match)
Great great stuff here. Jericho bought one hell of a performance here, this was a really great match. It wasn’t anything like the No Dq contest from last year, this Jericho really brutalised Naito with some stiff kendo shots and unlike last year it wasn’t so heavy on foreign objects and what not.
This was like nothing else on the show, it was stiff hard and brutal at times. I mean the match began with a goddamn piledriver on the ramp to Jericho. You could argue by the end it may have gotten a little finisher heavy but it was the blow of and you could argue Naito needed to look really strong. Jericho loses but it took 2 destino’s to do the job. I feel like Jericho will stay around and if I had to guess I feel Okada or Tanahashi should be his next feuds.
After the match Naito acts heelish as he has in the past, let’s pray that this is the return of 2017 Naito. The Naito that was the hottest thing in the company by quite a bit. The Intercontinental Title will get over if Naito holds it and produces some excellent matches. Great Co-main and definitely shut up anyone who doubted in Jericho ability to deliver. Was even better than Jericho Naito previous match at Dominion.
9. Hiroshi Tanahashi def Kenny Omega From Wrestle Kingdom 13 (Iwgp World Heavyweight Title)
This delivered in every way imaginable. A match that really did the legendary arena justice. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kenny Omega told a compelling story of the contrasts in style between the two, Kenny showcased his superior speed and strength to over power and overwhelmed Tanahashi, but Tanahashi simply wrestled smarter and had Kenny exactly where he wanted him. Working Kenny’s legs to make sure he is unable to utilize his speed and strength to the fullest and connect with his V Triggers. In fact there were very few of the Cleaners Signature move here. Only a few V Triggers as opposed to the few dozens usually delivered in big matches.
Tanahashi was desperate to the point that he was willing to pull out all the stops to win the title once again. He sees Kenny laying on a table on the outside and even though he doesn’t believe that kind of wrestling is true to the art form, still decides to try and deliver a High Fly Flow to Kenny through the table. Kenny moves and Tanahashi crashed and burns. There was a brilliant spot where Tanahashi went for the High Fly Flow but Kenny literally at the very last second got his knees up to block the move. While may not sound like much it was simply incredible.
Kenny teased a dragon suplex from the top rope and people were expecting Tanahashi to land on his neck but luckily he flipped through and landed on his belly. Kenny had done the same to Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11, however Okada wasn’t fortunate enough to land on his belly. Kenny does another call back to the Okada match by hitting the V Trigger onto a Tanahashi that was leaning against the ropes and went for the One Winged Angel. Tanahashi however reversed and hit a 3rd High Fly Flow for the pin and the victory. This was ultimately the Tanahashi story and Kenny was an obstacle, Tanahashi keeps Njpw from becoming what he believes isn’t the Japanese way. A feel good end and I’m sure there were a few wet eyes in the crowd. The match is a very front runner for moty, I’d say that I don’t see anything that can top it but if there’s anything 2017 and 2018 have taught us, it’s to never underestimate the progress of the talent at hand.
Overall the show was fantastic top to bottom and will definitely be the show to beat in 2019. A stacked show top to bottom and delivered on it’s big bouts. Many people may have different favourite matches but one must expect the best matches would be either Jay vs Okada, Jericho vs Naito, Ibushi vs Osprey or Omega vs Tanahashi. Really amazing show but that’s to be expected of Wrestle Kingdom.
Wrestle kingdom 13 Rating: 9.5