Just in case someone hasn't watched yet and doesn't want to be spoiled, I'll hide behind tags. Hopefully I did them right!
Genuinely very pleased overall with WK. Thought there were great moments. I'll try to be brief about all of the matches:
Oleg Boltin vs. Ryohei Oiwa: Glad that Oiwa had a little showcase, but sad that before the draw, it was looking like Oleg was going to get the win. Still a cool little match.
New Japan Rambo: Not surprised by the finalists being SHO, Shingo, O-Khan, and Yano, but interested in some of the factional dynamics. Was glad to see KENTA, because man, do I love him. Wonder what will happen with Bullet Club and House of Torture.
Antonio Inoki Memorial Match: Yuji Nagata/Satoshi Kojima/Togi Makabe vs. Tatsumi Fujinami/Tiger Mask/Minoru Suzuki: Weird finish. Felt like it might have been a botch finish, but still glad to see all of those guys still go (along with Tiger Hattori). Kojima just defended the GHC tag titles with Sugiura against Marufuji and KENTA, so props to him.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship - Champions Catch 2/2 (United Empire's Francesco Akira & TJP) vs. 2022 Super Jr. Tag League Winners LiYOH (CHAOS's YOH & Lio Rush): Really surprised by this outcome. Thought that this would be a great capstone to YOH's journey over the past few years after SHO's betrayal. I guess it would have been more meaningful to have him take a title off of SHO, but still. The scoop win was weird, and even weirder that it was by TJP against YOH, who I really thought would get the push here. Maybe I'll get it later, but I don't get it right now. Lio getting busted open was a shock, but really did make him look like a badass.
IWGP Women's Championship - Champion KAIRI vs. Tam Nakano (Cosmic Angels): Man, feel bad for Tam that it was such a short match, after everything that she put into trying to promote the story between them. I get that Mercedes Mone's debut was a big huge deal, but it came at the expense of what felt like a minor burial for Tam. Happy for Tam that she got to be part of such an important match, but sad that it was overshadowed by Mercedes. KAIRI still has the prettiest elbow drop in all of professional wrestling.
Mercedes Mone debut: Cool moment! Like English commentary said, it was the worst kept secret, because everyone knew it was going to happen, but still was a blast to see. A good example of sometimes, even if the surprise is lost, you gotta give people what they want. Promo & backstage comments were a little weird, but Japan is a whole other beast from American professional wrestling, so I imagine there will be a slight adjustment period.
IWGP Tag Team Championship - Champions FTR (AEW's Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) vs. 2022 World Tag League Winners Bishamon (CHAOS's Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI): Figured that FTR was dropping the titles here, since they lost the AAA and the ROH tag titles recently as well. Still a great match. Really loved the Goto/Harwood bits. Getting to see the two of them trade strikes was a treat, and I would not mind seeing more of that in the future, but who knows?
NJPW World Television Championship - Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Ren Narita: Really was hoping that Narita would take it. He has made such leaps and bounds and has really come into his own over the last few years, especially upon his return to Japan. No disrespect to ZSJ, but thought it would have been better for a younger, up-and-coming talent to get this win, though ZSJ will really make this belt.
Zack to TMDK!: Okay, this was cool. We were all wondering where the pieces were going to fall after the dissolution of Suzuki-Gun, and I guess this is the first move. ZSJ heading this stable will help, especially after JONAH left.
NEVER Openweight Championship - Champion Karl Anderson (WWE) vs. Tama Tonga (Guerrillas of Destiny): The right man won, though I was pretty worried at first, considering how it took Tama a second to really get into gear. The emotion was there, though I know some of the gun stun stuff was not as crisp as it could have been. It felt personal, and I think that is what makes some of the less-than-perfect execution forgivable.
Mutoh's Last NJPW Match - Hiroshi Tanahashi/Shota Umino/Keiji Mutoh vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA/BUSHI/Tetsuya Naito): Not the outcome I wanted, but not altogether surprising. Was hoping that Mutoh would go out on his back for SANADA, who he trained, but guess it's cool that Shota got to get the win for his team.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship - Champion Taiji Ishimori (Bullet Club) vs. Master Wato vs. El Desperado vs. Hiromu Takahashi (Los Ingobernables de Japon): Really thought it was going to be Despy's time, but all four of them looked great and had standout moments. Was surprised by the outcome, but am okay with it, because I love Hiromu. Safe choice.
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship - Champion Will Ospreay (United Empire) vs. Kenny Omega (AEW): Easily the highlight of the night. Never been huge on Ospreay, but bringing back "Elevated" ruled. Definitely shocked that Omega won here. Don't know what that means for the future of the belt, but I'm very interested in how things pan out.
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship - Champion Jay White (Bullet Club) vs. G1 Climax Winner Kazuchika Okada (CHAOS): Boy, these guys had a rough time with following Omega vs. Ospreay, but I think they did a pretty good job. Jay is very, very good at being the champ to beat, and I thought that he really brought it with how desperate and crazy he got about fighting the match. Jay is really good at losing at Wrestle Kingdom, which is a weird thing to say or think about, but he just thrives on that psychology.
― Ucey in the Sky With Diamonds (hourspass), Thursday, 5 January 2023 23:39 (five months ago) link
Overall thoughts, adding some thoughts after New Year Dash:
*Wonder what the future holds for Li-YOH as a team. I heard rumors that Dragon Gate has made offers to SHO and YOH separately. I was sure that YOH was getting the titles here, but with this loss, what does that mean for his future? Will they really have him take the strap off of Hiromu? Is that why they gave it to Hiromu? To be a transitional champ? And what about SHO, for that matter? I was hoping SHO would win KOPW. They are so inherently tied to each other that losing one will surely affect the trajectory of the other, even if they are currently not teaming or feuding.
*The understanding I have is that Mercedes Mone is more of an attraction wrestler and not someone that is going to be competing in STARDOM regularly. Not sure if she's going to beat KAIRI at Battle in the Valley, and if she does, not sure who they will have beat her to regularly defend the title in Japan. I guess there are lots of other belts in STARDOM, but would be a shame for this belt, which was just created, to rarely be defended.
*Top Guys, out? Some rumors are saying that FTR dropped all their belts in preparation for going back to WWE, which, if true, is huge. They surely raised their stock outside of the WWE, but I would be devastated that the neverending list of dream tag matches for them to be part of would be shortened. Both of them are in their prime.
*Interested in Narita being saved by Suzuki and Despy at New Year Dash. With the dissolution of Suzuki-Gun, I wondered who would end up where, and seeing that Suzuki and Despy are allying with one of the most promising younger talents is really exciting. Baby Shibata could benefit a lot from Suzuki's experience and Desperado's versatility.
*Really hoping that Tama gets a long run with that NEVER belt. It's my favorite in NJPW, and I really think that Tama is proving that people should have believed in him all along. I've always been a big huge G.O.D. mark, so I am absolutely hyped that my guys are getting more recognition.
*Look, I love Hiromu, but what more is there for him to do in the Jr. division? He's a safe choice for champ, but really think that it's Desperado's time.
*What does Omega's title win mean here? I really hope it doesn't go back to how things were when Mox held the title and didn't get to defend it on NJPW. Also, what's next for Ospreay? He's already reached the top before. He's held pretty much every major belt that currently exists in the company (except the brand new TV title). And let me just say that I was devastated that Omega did the Kamigoye and Kota Ibushi is absolutely nowhere to be found.
*Between Jay's loss at the dome and his "Loser Leaves Japan" declaration match against Hikuleo, he's gotta be on his way out, right? Another rumor is he shows up at Royal Rumble, which would be worth me going to San Antonio for the second time in a month just to see that pop. Jay's another one where he's done pretty much everything there is to do. Wonder who will take over Bullet Club and "kick" him out? It won't be KENTA, but I want it to be KENTA.
― Ucey in the Sky With Diamonds (hourspass), Friday, 6 January 2023 00:10 (four months ago) link
two weeks pass...
one month passes...