Welcome to POST Wrestling’s coverage of Wrestle Kingdom 12 from the Tokyo Dome.
We encourage you to chat about the show in the comments section as Wai Ting and myself will be popping in throughout the show.
We will also have our Wrestle Kingdom 12 post-show for all members of the POST Wrestling Café coming out Thursday evening for our subscribers. You can sign up right away for the POST Wrestling Café at www.Patreon.com/POSTwrestling.
NEW JAPAN RUMBLE
The first two entrants are Katsuya Kitamura and Bushi with a new entry every 1 minute.
Don Callis calls this the most complicated match that is put together by Gedo.
The third entrant is Delirious and is followed by Leo Tonga in the fourth spot.
Callis says that Tonga and Kitamura could be future champions for New Japan.
Manabu Nakanishi is the fifth entrant, then Chase Owens enters the Rumble in the sixth spot.
Owens eliminated Delirious with a package piledriver although there was some issue with Tiger Hattori counting Delirious’ shoulders and had to redo the count.
Bushi was eliminated over the top rope.
Yuji Nagata is out seventh to a big reaction. Nagata and Nakanishi double-teamed Tonga with Nagata pinning him.
Taka Michinoku enters next and during his entrance, Nagata pins Nakanishi.
Nagata is quickly pinned by three people at once, including Owens and Kitamura and this is followed by Owens eliminating Kitamura with a package piledriver.
The next entrants were Yoshinobu Kanemaru followed by El Desperado with three members of Suzuki-gun against Owens.
Owens is tossed over the top rope and eliminated.
Next out is Jushin Thunder Liger and he receives the biggest reaction of anyone so far.
Suzuki-gun gangs up on Liger.
Tiger Mask enters next.
Michinoku and Kanemaru are going for Liger’s mask while Tiger Mask tries to unmask Desperado.
The next entrant is Mr. Juicy Gino Gambino from Australia. He was added to the Bullet Club last year and mainly wrestles for Melbourne City Wrestling.
Liger is pinned out of nowhere, Desperado is pinned right after and then Gambino pins Michinoku. The eliminations are coming very quickly.
Henare is out next and is in the ring alone with Gambino.
Yoshi-Hashi comes out next followed by David Finlay.
Henare and Finlay double-team Gambino and pin him and then Henare is dumped to the floor and is out.
Finlay cradles Yoshi-Hashi and eliminates him via pinfall.
Yujiro is out next and he clotheslines Finlay over the top to eliminate him.
Yujiro is alone until the next entrant is revealed and it is Cheeseburger.
Satoshi Kojima enters the Rumble next and is followed by partner Hiroyoshi Tenzan.
The final entrant is Masahito Kakihara and the only real surprise among the entrants.
Kojima eliminated Yujiro.
It is down to Kojima, Tenzan, Cheeseburger and Kakihara.
Cheeseburger and Kakihara turn the tables and eliminate Tenzan and Kojima over the top rope to give us the final two that zero people would have picked ahead of time.
Kakihara hit a STO and pinned Cheeseburger and wins the New Japan Rumble.
WINNER: MASAHITO KAKIHARA AT 32:06
Kakihara was wearing a Kazushi Sakuraba rash guard and then put on a Yoshihiro Takayama t-shirt and addressed the audience. This was a nice moment with Kakihara being a cancer survivor and wishing Takayama well with his health battle.
The Rumble itself was just a fast-paced battle royal with little rhyme or reason for any of the eliminations and was just a way to get everyone a spot on the card. The match was nothing to go out of your way to see if you missed it. They did try to give Chase Owens a big run of eliminations but then he was just eliminated out of nowhere.
The main show begins at the top of the hour with a tremendous video package going through the card.
Jurina Matsui, who is a singer and pop actress, opens the show by addressing the crowd and pyro goes off.
ROPPONGI 3K VS THE YOUNG BUCKS FOR THE IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TITLES
Yoh stops Matt Jackson from applying a sharpshooter early and applies his own to Matt. The others enter the ring and Yoh and Matt each apply a sharpshooter and then slap one another with the submissions applied.
Sho and Yoh hit simultaneous tope con giros and Yoh was selling his back from the landing.
The Bucks attack Rocky Romero with a powerbomb onto the ramp.
The Bucks attacked the back of Yoh with a powerbomb onto the edge of the apron. They took Yoh onto the ramp but Yoh blocked a powerbomb and back body dropped Matt onto the ramp.
Nick dove over the top to the floor, missed Yoh and took out Matt on the ramp. This allows Yoh to finally tag in Sho.
3K nailed Nick with various strikes and set up for their finish that Nick countered with a DDT. This was a lightning-quick sequence and was strong stuff from the three.
Nick hit a Swanton off the top to the back of Yoh as he was draped on the middle rope and Yoh kicked out. Matt applied a sharpshooter with Yoh making it to the bottom rope.
Sho and Nick took turns kicking their opponents in the back and then they went at it. Nick scaled the ropes and hit a corkscrew to the floor onto Sho.
Matt is left with Yoh, they hit the Meltzer Driver and then instead of a pin, Nick applies the sharpshooter and Yoh has to tap due to his injured back.
WINNERS: THE YOUNG BUCKS AT 18:49 TO WIN THE IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TITLES
This was a very strong opener and the selling of Yoh throughout the match was very solid. Everything was focused on Yoh’s back and was a straight ahead, logical match and executed tremendously well.
The Bucks have now won the junior heavyweight tag titles seven times.
GAUNTLET MATCH FOR THE NEVER SIX-MAN TAG TITLES
Zack Sabre, Jr., Taichi and Takashi Iizuka vs. War Machine and Michael Elgin
Michael Elgin has new gear and is a mullet away from fully morphing into “Dr. Death” Steve Williams.
Kevin Kelly explained that War Machine doesn’t get along with Elgin.
Hanson missed a top rope moonsault and was hit with a running penalty kick from Zack Sabre, Jr.
War Machine recovers and goes for Fallout, Suzuki-gun stops Hanson on the turnbuckle and Iizuka attacks Elgin and War Machine with the Iron Fingers.
Sabre, Jr. applied a triangle armbar to Raymond Rowe and submitted him at 6:06. ZSJ did the Nate Diaz double biceps pose after getting the submission
Zack Sabre, Jr., Taichi and Takashi Iizuka vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Beretta and Toru Yano
Both teams brawled on the ramp before the bell rung.
Yano shoved Taichi into Iizuka, hit a low blow and pinned Taichi in 0:41.
Juice Robinson, Togi Makabe and Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Beretta and Toru Yano
Makabe is tagged in to a big reaction and is in with Yano. He hit a powerslam to Beretta.
Robinson and Makabe took turns hitting Yano with running clotheslines in the corner followed by one from Taguchi and reverse hip attack off the turnbuckle.
Taguchi and Yano were left alone in the ring.
Taguchi did the Shinsuke Nakamura mannerisms and went for the Bom A Ye, ran into a school boy by Yano and Yano pinned him at 3:29.
Tomohiro Ishii, Beretta and Toru Yano vs. Bad Luck Fale and the Guerillas of Destiny (champions)
Ishii attempted a brainbuster onto Fale and the audience was hot for the tease but Fale stopped Ishii.
They continued to fight and then Ishii hit Fale with the brainbuster.
Beretta did a top rope moonsault and was hit with a gun stun from Tonga in mid-air and looked incredible, but Yano made the save and it was a just a two-count.
Beretta then made his comeback and hit the Dude Buster onto Tonga and pinned him.
WINNERS: TOMOHIRO ISHII & TORU YANO & BERETTA AT 6:46 TO WIN THE NEVER SIX-MAN TAG TITLES
CODY VS KOTA IBUSHI
The audience was really hot before the bell even rang.
The first major spot was Ibushi going for a pescado to the floor and took out Brandi by accident. Ibushi was concerned and checked on Brandi, lifted her up and then Cody attacked Ibushi and it was all a ruse as Brandi and Cody laughed. Brandi leaned in for a kiss on the floor and Cody left her hanging and returned to the ring.
Cody attacked Ibushi’s neck with a chair. Ibushi fought back and he landed the Golden Triangle moonsault on the floor.
Cody stopped a piledriver onto the edge of the apron and instead hit Ibushi with a Cross Rhodes off the apron and down to the floor with Ibushi landing on his head. There is no one that sells near-paralyzation quite like Ibushi. The audience is rallying Ibushi to make it back into the ring and he does. Ibushi’s reaction is superstar level babyface on this show.
Cody hits a springboard into a huracanrana off the turnbuckle but Ibushi kicks out. Cody went for another Cross Rhodes and this time it is countered and Ibushi lawn darts Cody into the turnbuckle.
They trade strikes and Ibushi hits the Last Ride powerbomb for a near fall.
Ibushi hit a head kick, Cody blocked the Kamigoye but Ibushi adjusted, hit a straight jacket German and then followed with the Kamigoye and a Phoenix splash to pin Cody.
WINNER: KOTA IBUSHI AT 16:09
This was excellent, arguably the best match Cody has had since leaving the WWE and one of the best of his career. His heel work is tremendous and tonight he was working with a top-tier superstar babyface in Ibushi. Ibushi came off like a megastar to this audience and it’s clear he should be the elite mix of heavyweights within New Japan.
KILLER ELITE SQUAD VS EVIL & SANADA FOR THE IWGP TAG TITLES
The bell rang and K.E.S immediately hit EVIL with the Killer Bomb but Sanada made the save. This got the attention of the audience for the near fall off the bat.
Smith was attacking the young boys at ringside.
K.E.S had the advantage on Sanada. This went on for a long time until he caught Archer with a huracanrana and tagged in EVIL.
Archer hit a superplex to EVIL.
Sanada went for the Skull End to Smith and Archer stopped him. This led to Archer hitting a big chokeslam with Smith following with a Saito suplex and EVIL saved.
K.E.S hit the Hart Attack to EVIL and hit the Killer Bomb to Sanada and Sanada kicked out to the surprise of the audience.
Smith ran into Archer and allowed EVIL to hit the STO to Archer. Sanada and EVIL hit the Magic Killer onto Smith and it culminated with Sanada hitting a beautiful top rope moonsault and pinning Smith.
WINNERS: SANADA AND EVIL AT 14:15 TO WIN THE IWGP TAG TITLES
This was a very good heavyweight tag match and the final stretch was very strong with everyone on point and the desired outcome necessary for the tag division. I would say this match exceeded expectations.
MINORU SUZUKI VS HIROOKI GOTO IN A HAIR MATCH FOR THE NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE
Suzuki applied the rear-naked choke from the turnbuckle and drops Goto down to the mat. The doctor is checking on Goto.
Suzuki takes Goto to the floor and attacks him with a chair shot to the back. Suzuki slaps him as Goto appears to be lifeless laying on the floor. Callis called this a “ritual humbling by Suzuki”.
Goto tries to fight back with chops and Suzuki laughs them off and drops Goto with one forearm strike.
Goto blocks a PK and he hits a bulldog onto Suzuki.
Suzuki attempted the Gotch piledriver and was stopped by Goto, Suzuki went for the rear-naked choke again and Goto escaped and hit the Ushigoroshi.
Suzuki-gun attempt to storm the ring and are being stopped by the young lions. Taichi sneaks through with a chair but Yoshi-Hashi grabs him as Goto knocks Taichi off the apron with a forearm.
Suzuki lights up Goto with slaps, applies the rear-naked choke, he goes for the Gotch piledriver but Goto blocks it and breaks free. Goto is bleeding from the mouth.
Suzuki locks on a guillotine on the turnbuckle, Goto escapes and hits a super Ushigoroshi off the turnbuckle.
The two trade strikes, Goto hits a reverse GTR and then the proper GTR and pins Suzuki.
WINNER: HIROOKI GOTO AT 18:05 TO WIN THE NEVER OPENWEIGHT TITLE
They played up the drama a lot in this match with Suzuki taking so much of the match, teasing that Goto was done at various points and then building a believable and intense comeback for Goto to culminate with the title victory.
Suzuki-gun tries to take Suzuki to the back, but he returns with a chair, sits down and starts shaving his head. He puts the hair down on the chair and leaves a defeated man. This post-match was excellent.
In terms of action and story, this has been the best match on the show so far.
They released the big show dates through August:
Jan. 27th – New Beginning in Sapporo
Jan. 28th – New Beginning in Sapporo Night #2
Feb. 10th – New Beginning in Osaka
March 6th – Anniversary show in Tokyo
March 21st in Niigata
March 25th in Long Beach, California
April 1st – Sakura Genesis
April 29th in Kumamoto
May 3 and 4 in Fukuoka
May 18th – BOSJ starts
June 9th – Dominion at Osaka-jo Hall
June 15th – Kizuna Road
July 14th and 15th – G-1 in Tokyo
July 16th in Sapporo
Aug 10-12 G-1 at Budokan Hall
MARTY SCURLL VS HIROMU TAKAHASHI VS WILL OSPREAY VS KUSHIDA FOR THE IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
It is first fall to a finish.
Takahashi burst through the floor at the entrance like Rey Mysterio’s WWE entrance. Scurll came out with giant penguin wings on. Ospreay has dyed his hair purple.
Ospreay had suction cup therapy as he had marks all over his back from it.
All four were on the floor, Ospreay scaled up the lighting rig and moonsaulted off it onto the other three. This was a ridiculous spot with the height that Ospreay came down from.
Ospreay went for a springboard into the ring and landed in an armbar by KUSHIDA. Scurll broke the submission up.
Scurll went for the chicken wing to Ospreay while KUSHIDA went for the Hoverboard Lock to Takahashi and Scurll gave up his submission to break up KUSHIDA’s.
Scurll hit the Last Shot onto Ospreay for a near fall.
Scurll brought out athletic tape and tied Takahashi to the barricade on the floor. He took Takahashi’s other hand snapped the fingers. Scurll then had his own fingers snapped and had them taped up.
KUSHIDA locks on an armbar onto Ospreay and transitions to a triangle. Ospreay lifts KUSHIDA and slams him into the turnbuckle to break free.
Scurll used powder on KUSHIDA in the ring, KUSHIDA still managed to hit Back to the Future with Ospreay stopping the cover. Takahashi broke free and the place lit up as he made his comeback and featured a sunset flip powerbomb over the top and to the floor onto Scurll.
Takahashi hit the Time Bomb onto Scurll and he kicked out. Ospreay returned and joined Scurll to take out Takahashi and KUSHIDA with kicks. Scurll held up Takahashi for a OsCutter but Takahashi escaped and the transition was off but ended with Takahashi hitting a tombstone to Ospreay following a stumble.
Scurll took a Death Valley Driver from Takahashi on the apron, KUSHIDA with a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor onto Takahashi and then an insane springboard shooting star press by Ospreay to the floor.
Ospreay hit an inverted 450 splash to Takahashi for a big near fall. This is unreal.
Takahashi recovered and hit the Time Bomb onto Ospreay but Ospreay pulled the referee to the floor and attacked everyone with his umbrella. Ospreay was the one left and he hit Scurll with a standing Spanish Fly and finished him with an OsCutter and won the title.
WINNER: WILL OSPREAY AT 21:19 TO WIN THE IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
Phenomenal display by all four men in this one. Ospreay was the major standout when it came to ambitious spots and was near flawless in execution. The audience was really behind Takahashi and roared for his comeback after he escaped the barricade taping by Scurll. This was super fast-paced and yet another title change on the show.
HIROSHI TANAHASHI VS JAY WHITE FOR THE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE
White wrapped the right knee of Tanahashi around the barricade and kicked at the injured knee. All of White’s offense is geared around the knee as they return to the ring.
Tanahashi attacks White with a series of dragon screw leg whips to injure White’s knee. Tanahashi climbed to the top and hit a High Fly Flow to the floor.
White dumps Tanahashi onto the edge of the apron and is constantly asking Tanahashi, “are you the Ace?”.
White missed with a missile dropkick and Tanahashi hit another dragon screw leg whip. Tanahashi climbs to the top, White fights with him and Tanahashi hits the Twist & Shout off the turnbuckle. Tanahashi fires up and slaps White, hits a pair of sling blades.
Tanahashi hit the High Fly Flow, went back to the top and White got out of the way of the second one.
White uses a crucifix with downward elbows and he hit the Kiwi Krusher for a near fall.
Tanahashi stops White, hits the High Fly Flow to the back of a standing White and then follows with the High Fly Flow proper for the win.
WINNER: HIROSHI TANAHASHI AT 19:44 TO RETAIN THE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE
I never felt this went to the next level and for a Tanahashi match the Dome, I would say it was a disappointment as compared to year’s past. This was also a really long match late in the show and the audience hasn’t had an intermission to unwind. The match was fine by usual standards and structured well but on a loaded show, this was not in the upper tier of matches.
KENNY OMEGA VS CHRIS JERICHO IN A NO DISQUALIFICATION MATCH FOR THE UNITED STATES TITLE
Jericho came out to the Fozzy song “Judas” in his light-up jacket. He received a big reaction from his entrance. Kenny Omega is out in an elaborate outfit.
As Omega hugged The Bucks before the bell, Jericho attacked Omega from behind and they had to be separated to officially start the match. When the bell rang, the people popped big.
Early in the match, Jericho catches Omega and applies the Walls of Jericho with Omega getting to the rope.
Jericho is sent over the barricade by the announcer’s desk from a baseball slide dropkick, Omega goes for a springboard and crashes through the announcer’s desk as Jericho gets out of the way.
Jericho slapped referee Red Shoes and then applied the Walls of Jericho to his son / young lion Shota Umino.
Omega and Jericho continue to brawl, Omega places a table on top of Jericho and comes off the lighting stand with a double foot stomp onto the table.
Jericho is in control back in the ring, he lands a lionsault and gets a two-count. Omega fights back and it leads a tope con giro onto Jericho on the floor.
Jericho had Omega in the Walls of Jericho and then Omega used the cold spray into the eyes of Jericho. Omega was then thrown into a chair that was set up in the corner. Jericho repeatedly sent Omega’s head into the chair in the corner. Jericho taunted the crowd and gave them the middle finger to enormous heat.
Omega is bleeding from the forehead. Omega stops Jericho and hits him with a pair of snap Dragon suplexes. He can’t hit the One-Winged Angel and instead hits another snap Dragon suplex. Jericho then grabs a chair and blasts it over Omega as both go down.
Jericho climbs the turnbuckle with a chair and Omega dropkicks the chair into Jericho and follows with a flying V-Trigger knee and Jericho falls off the turnbuckle and goes through the table on the floor.
Omega hit a V-Trigger and double underhook piledriver, but Jericho kicked out. Omega hit another V-Trigger and then lifts Jericho for the One-Winged Angel but Jericho counters by rolling through and applies the Walls of Jericho. He pulls Omega to the center and drives the knee down onto the back and Omega crawls and gets to the rope.
Omega blocked the Codebreaker, he hit two V-Triggers and then hit the One-Winged Angel and just before the count, Jericho grabbed the bottom rope. Tremendous sequence.
Both men stagger up, Jericho hits the Codebreaker out of the corner and Omega kicks out.
A chair is on the floor as Omega catches Jericho on his shoulders and hits the One-Winged Angel onto the chair and pins Jericho.
WINNER: KENNY OMEGA AT 34:36 TO RETAIN THE UNITED STATES TITLE
This was incredible, a physical street fight that was different from everything else on the show and no matter what your expectations were going in, I imagine they were exceeded. Jericho was on fire throughout the match and felt like the most hated villain in all of wrestling throughout this match. This match could not have gone better. This has been an excellent show with the main event yet to come.
They announced the paid attendance for the show at 34,995.
KAZUCHIKA OKADA VS TETSUYA NAITO FOR THE IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
The Dome explodes for Naito’s entrance and treats Okada the same. This feels like an enormous match, and it is.
Okada is wearing pants as opposed to his usual trunks.
Okada’s first big spot is a dropkick to send Naito off the turnbuckle to the floor. Naito then took over after a neck breaker onto the metal barricade. Naito geared his offense towards the neck of Okada inside the ring.
Okaka killed him with a running boot on the floor and followed with a draping DDT off the barricade. Okada hit a massive flapjack inside the ring.
Okada calls for the Rainmaker just over 16 minutes into the match. Instead, he goes for the cobra clutch and Naito rolls out of it, but Okada re-applies it and takes Naito to the mat. Okada is torquing on the hold, but Naito gets his foot to the rope for the break.
Naito hit a great-looking reverse hangman’s neck breaker and the followed with a reverse rana off the turnbuckle.
Naito hit the Gloria, climbed to the top and then missed with the Phoenix splash.
Okada missed a big missile dropkick off the top. Okada then yanked Naito out of the corner for a big German suplex, Okada lifted him, Naito ducked the first Rainmaker attempt, but Okada hit it on the second try for a big near fall. Naito folded his neck upon taking the Rainmaker.
Naito came back and landed Destino, but both were down and Naito couldn’t go for the cover.
Okada is so spent that he can barely throw forearms at Naito as Naito slaps the hell out of Okada.
The Destino is countered by Okada and he hits his second Rainmaker of the match, but he is down this time while holding onto Naito’s wrist. Naito breaks free and hits the Destino for a massive near fall. The stadium is going nuts.
Okada lands the big dropkick with Naito coming off the ropes. Okada hits a tombstone, Naito ducks the Rainmaker and hits the Destino, holds onto the wrist and goes for another Destino, but Okada counters into another tombstone.
Okada lifts Naito, nails him with a massive Rainmaker and pins Naito.
WINNER: KAZUCHIKA OKADA AT 36:26 TO RETAIN THE IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
Both men are down and out, there are flashing a light into Okada’s eyes and it’s sold as though they went through a war.
Okada closed the show by praising Naito and the audience.