New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest show of the year, WrestleKingdom, took place on January 4th, and it’s making news all around the world. Not only was it a great show, but it was a shot across the bow to other wrestling companies. New Japan wants to expand more internationally in 2017, and WrestleKingdom 11 was a showcase for the best wrestling in the world. Not only will I be talking about WK11, but also New Year’s Dash, the traditional post-WrestleKingdom show that sets direction into the new year. For the record, I watched both shows with English commentary. Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are easily the best English commentary team New Japan has used. With rumors that Corino is leaving ROH to do other things, I hope they find a worthy replacement.
New Japan Rumble
This was a fun way to open the show. All the New Japan dad’s were there, along with several legends and ROH’s Cheeseburger. There was however only one real threat in the Rumble, and that was Unbreakable Michael Elgin, returning from having his orbital bone broken by Tetsuya Naito. Elgin won pretty handily, entering first and running the gauntlet. There were a lot of fun bits here, and with only 14 entrants, it didn’t overstay its welcome. Rating: *** Winner: Michael Elgin
Tiger Mask W vs Tiger the Dark
This was a fine opener, but nothing special. Tiger Mask Ibushi hit all his normal spots, which mostly defeats the purpose of wearing the mask. At this point, Tiger Mask W’s identity is about as secret as Mr. America’s was. Tiger the Dark was ACH, and it will be interesting to see if he keeps working for New Japan or if this was just a one time deal. This was as good as any match involving two cartoon tigers could be. Rating: *** Winner: Tiger Mask W (more…)