Best match: Omega vs. Okada in a walk, but Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA and Tanahashi vs. Naito were both amazing, and any other night would be there.
Worst match: there wasn’t one, really.
Everything about the show was GREAT in my opinion, except who won the last two matches. I have no complaints otherwise, than to say they made some bad angle choices all over the place. Cody was fine over there, so that’s a good thing in his first night. I was absolutely blown away by Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA, and I already expected big things.Takahashi came across like a big, important star to me in this match. It was so so great, and honestly, I wanted to watch it again immediately after it was over.
The tag matches are what you expect from NJPW in that regard, and I didn’t think they put enough emphasis on Ospreay but honestly, every other choice (until the last two matches) were either exactly what I wanted or what I thought should happen. I was very glad Goto got the win after the year he’d had, LIJ had a banner year, and them with the NEVER belts could be really interesting, I’m always in favor of Ishii getting anything, and like I said Takahashi felt like a real star here to me.
The last two matches were off the charts incredible, to the point that I’ll be stopping people for like a year to ask them if they’ve seen them yet. Tanahashi vs. Naito was so smart and perfect in the way they built off everything and used everything so well. I thought it was incredible. Omega vs. Okada more than lived up to the hype we all had for it, in my view. They probably had the match of the year already, honestly, and for a lot of people it might be more than that. It’s a match I think I’ll wind up rewatching over and over and over again. I’ll probably see it at least 20 times before the year is over.
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I hated that Tanahashi and Omega lost, though. Those are the only complaints I can muster about this show, but they are complaints. I feel like NJPW spent a lot of energy and effort telling us this was Tanahashi’s restart, his time to come back and be the ace he’d fallen away from, and instead he loses immediately. It kind of feels like the Cena credibility problem in the fact that it used to be a big thing to beat Tanahashi, but now so many have done it, I don’t know what it really does for someone. Maybe he needs time to recover or rest or whatever, and I guess they wanted LIJ to all have belts, but it just felt like a mistake to take the guy who’s been the cornerstone, and should still be a big deal, and have him lose on that stage.
Omega, I’m sure, will get a win fairly soon, and probably the belt, based of this show. But man, this is the first time I’ve really thought Gedo made a large mistake in his booking. This show, especially, was one that a lot of people outside the typical NJPW sphere paid attention to, and while I’m sure Kenny will probably win the belt fairly soon (good Lord willing), it comes across as not being as important because it wasn’t at a major show.
On top of that, the Bullet Club lost every match, except Cody’s debut, so it makes them seem weak. They made sure there was basically no interference in the Omega match, too. Had Omega won, I would have understood that. But, obviously, he didn’t. Now, New Year’s Dash may completely change things, but this is one of those moments where NJPW feels like WWE in the sense that the guy who needs the win will get it on the show after the biggest one of the year so everyone doesn’t see him win it.
Omega is obviously a star at this point, and there’s no disputing that, or how they’ve built him this past year, but it just seems like a poor choice to keep the belt on Okada, who doesn’t seem like he gains anything from it instead of solidifying someone who we all know could have excellent, fresh main event match ups with anyone on the roster (Ishii, Elgin, Tanahashi, Shibata, and so on.) Maybe I’ve got too much of a Western understanding of the idea here, or maybe I’m too lost in the WWE woods to understand the idea, but for a show that’s last half was spectacular and almost perfect, I can’t help but feeling those last two decisions were mistakes.
I guess it doesn’t change too much, though, because I’m going to wind up watching regardless. And I’m probably going to wind up watching that Okada vs. Omega match again before the day is over.
– Jonathan Beckner
Best bout: Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada
Worst bout: New Japan Rumble
Less than halfway into the main event, I found myself thinking “this is the most complete match I’ve ever seen.” I’ve seen plenty of longer matches that felt like they told such a less compelling story, and thousands of shorter matches that had so much less energy. It has to be the best match I’ve ever seen, but I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like watching it again. Not because I’m a diehard Omega fan, though I am, but because this result made a dream that I’ve had running through my head for a while now seem essentially impossible.
For the last few months, I’ve had the urge to pursue a career in wrestling. I’ve spent the better part of the last decade writing and playing music (since I was 14, I’ll be 23 in a few weeks), and I was sure that I would dedicate my life to that pursuit, but wrestling just hit me. The idea of putting something I’m really good at on the back burner and trying something I might never be able to succeed in was, and is, scary, but that urge just won’t go away. I’ve been getting in better shape, working on promos, and trying to learn Japanese. My mind’s entirely wrapped up in this world.
I know the point of working in the wrestling business — and any business, for that matter — is supposed to be making money, but that just doesn’t drive me at all. Legacy and self-expression are the only things I really care about, and particularly building a legacy with what I see as the premier wrestling company in the world, New Japan Pro Wrestling. The ultimate end goal for me would be main eventing the 1/4 show, and winning the IWGP title. And not just because of the historical significance of both the show and the belt, but because of the implications of a westerner being given that validation.
I, like Omega, have had an affinity for Japanese culture since I was a kid, and to be embraced by that culture would mean a great deal to me. Now, I’ve known for a while that it’s more insular and nationalistic than would be ideal, but I’ve never really felt like an outsider couldn’t reach the top of the mountain, if the circumstances were right.
And I’m getting the feeling that that was false hope. Omega’s fluent in Japanese, he’s engrossed himself in the culture, he has the most global appeal of anyone in the company, and there’s no one in the world who can outwork him. And I’m sure he’ll win the title at some point, and main event a few smaller shows, but I don’t get the feeling they’ll ever really give him that crowning moment. I get the sense there’s a ceiling, and if you’re not Japanese (or perhaps Brock Lesnar, which I’m certainly not), you can never be the guy. A guy, but even if you’re the most compelling talent in the business, there’s a ceiling. And I just don’t know if I could handle spending years working towards a goal that I could never achieve.
This show was great. Shibata/Goto and Tanahashi/Naito were excellent, and the main event was profoundly incredible. But I had a lot less hope when it was over than I did when it began, and I’m not really sure what to think at this point. I’ll be watching New Year’s Dash when it comes on in a few hours, but NJPW has lost some of the luster to me. I know all of this might sound naive, because I’m looking at things through very idealistic eyes, but this is just what I took away from WK11.
– Tyler Shillman
Gigantic Thumbs Up
Worst Match: New Japan Rumble *1/4
An almighty cluster of a match with a lot of awkward moments, some of the old fellas looked terrible, but had some decent moments and the closing stretch between Cheeseburger and Elgin was good.
Tiger Mask W vs. Tiger The Dark ***1/4
Did some nice stuff, but didn’t get a great deal of time, seemingly, and didn’t reach the heights it could’ve. Nice gentle main card opener, relatively speaking, which is what it was supposed to be.
Barretta & Romero vs. Young Bucks ***3/4
Really good match. Worked with the big building in mind, built well, loved the spot where Romero missed his trademark clothesline numerous times then hit it, Barretta somersault bump to the outside was nuts, lots of nice stuff towards the end, really liked it.
Trios Title Gauntlet Match ***1/4
Disappointed Ospreay’s time was limited, match was rushed and a bit of a cluster, but was decent. Hot Potato Tag Titles continue to change hands.
Robinson vs. Cody ***1/2
Really liked it. Nice solid match while nothing overly adventurous. Loved Cody’s heel mannerisms and Robinson’s fire and selling.
Cole vs. O’ Reilly ***1/2
Thought there was some good action, but place was as dead as a door-nail and that really hurt it.
Tag Title Three Way ***1/2
Good match, really picked-up towards the end, Ishii & Yano are quite the odd pairing.
Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA ****1/4
Great match. First time watching Takahashi wrestle — very impressed. KUSHIDA’s always great. Well-paced despite being fast or hurried at times, let it breathe, good emphasis, lots of spectacular back-and-forth action. Sunset flip powerbomb to the outside is as nutty a transition move into the heat as you’ll see, senton splash dive was equally as nuts, KUSHIDA’s relentless pursuit of the Kimura was great. Super stuff.
Goto vs. Shibata ****1/4
Their matches aren’t always entirely my cup of tea – as lots of striking sequences and displays of the Japanese fighting spirit aren’t really my thing, but I loved this one. Plenty of heavy selling, lots of double-downs, superb emphasis, lots of drama, spot where Goto lit him up with kicks then Shibata dropped him with a single forearm was great, as was the sleeper spot where Goto reached for the rope then Shibata trapped the arm — great match. Little disappointed and surprised Shibata lost the title so soon after regaining it.
Tanahashi vs. Naito ****1/2
Adored this match. Didn’t do as much as you see in a lot of New Japan main event level matches, but the pacing and rhythm was fantastic, emphasis applied was great, dragged considerable drama out of what they did, loved the two submission false finishes, loved the stand-&-trade kicks to the knees spot. Wonderful match. Despite not physically being what he was, mentally Tanahashi is amazing.
Best Match: Omega vs. Okada *****
For a long time I didn’t think it was going to match Tanahashi-Naito — at least in my mind. I thought the layout was really good, but even after the moonsault over the barricade and double stomp on the table, it didn’t seem to be flowing quite as well as it could, and was just lacking that spark to take it to the next level. After the back drop through the table I thought it was there, although it quickly faded. But once Okada hit the dropkick they just took it to a crazy level.
Final stretch was incredible, a few minutes after the first Rainmaker I thought they’d gone too long and the match was past its peak, then after the second they took it even higher. Just insane match. Favourite spot had to be Omega kicking to try and free himself from the attempt Rainmaker to no avail. Was horrified by the top rope dragon suplex, though. Don’t ever want to see that again. Plus missile dropkick to the back of the head was nasty. Incredible action, great drama, great emphasis — one of the best matches I’ve seen.
– Tom Griffiths
I was lucky enough to be at the Dome tonight. People were swearing it was the greatest thing they had ever seen. I was in a curry house afterwards and people were shaking their heads as if to say to themselves “wow.”
I don’t want to take anything away from Okada as his athleticism and timing remain unmatched, but that was an astonishing one man show from Kenny Omega. Having just watched the match back on Asahi, I’m even more convinced. I’m talking an all time great performance.
Common sense told me being WK it wasn’t Kenny’s time yet but he came out a bigger star than he went in and they protected his finish. Absolutely a 5* match, live and even more so watching back on TV. You could spend all day listing the spots, callbacks, teases and general brilliance. I’d say there’s not been a match like that since Punk v Cena at MITB.
Although the atmosphere in the dome was actually pretty damned good, even in the nose bleeds, it undoubtedly detracts regardless of how good the matches are. That said, it was a terrific show, solid to the top half and taking off from there, WK style. Both semi-mains were at least 4 1/2*, maybe higher, Tanahashi v Naito being another masterpiece from two true story tellers.
– Martin Cox
I enjoyed the PPV very much, though the middle part of it sucked my energy.
I love 4/6 of the guys in the heavyweight tag match but that match wasn’t necessary. Cody vs Juice wasn’t bad but it shouldn’t have been on the show but it was a good bathroom break match. I want more for Kota Ibushi but he has to choose to get that.
I really don’t know how many more years in a row NJPW can keep up the insane high quality in the final matches of Wrestle Kingdom. But I’m gonna enjoy the run.
Worst match: Cody vs. Juice
Best match: Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada
– Trevor Dixon
Wow what a show, those last four matches were all main event caliber all over the world and it just got better and better after each one. Three arguable five star matches topped off by maybe the best match I’ve ever seen. I give it about 20 thumbs up.
Best Bout: Okada/Omega
Worst Bout: Cody/Juice
– Todd Parker
Newer NJPW fan, first live WK show, watched via NJPW World.
I’d like to start by raving about the guys that I hadn’t watched much, if anything, of before last night. Hiromu Takahashi impressed the hell out of me, and part of that was that he looked like he belonged in that big fight atmosphere. Rocky Romero looked like a million dollars and managed to get me invested in a running angle with Beretta that I knew literally nothing about based one this one match. The Guerrillas of Destiny and Shibata looked like beasts.
Match of the night was Okada/Omega. Omega’s transformation to a top guy is complete. Hard hitting spots, moments of pure tension, and a crowd that was masterfully worked into a frenzy. A great story was started here, and I can not wait to see these two men have another war down the line.
The difference in my opinion between this and the previous match was that I felt that the conclusion of the Naito/Tanahashi match was never really in doubt. Theirs was a story reaching the conclusion. The latter match felt it could go either way until the very end, and was able to hook me in emotionally such that by the end, I was almost ready to weep.
That being said, Naito was the MVP last night. It was clear early on that one of the stories of this show as a whole was Los Ingobernables de Japon’s domination. They dominated on every match they were in. Naito slammed shut the book of his history with Tanahashi, and as amazing as Omega’s ascension has been Naito’s future looks even brighter. It was obvious who the people came out to see at Tokyo Dome, and he deserves the credit for it.
Great show, one of my favorites ever. NJPW set out to hook in more consumers like me, and they absolutely nailed it with this show. I can’t wait to come out for NJPW when they come to CA this summer.
– RJ Zavala
Really I’d give the entire show a major thumbs up. It was well worth staying up all night for and I just finished watching it again.
Cody’s debut was great, of course Naito/Tana was fantastic. Not sure I liked seeing the entire Bullet Club go down, though. Especially the YB.
The main event of course was beyond extraordinary. Very much admired the fact they protected Omega’s finisher, despite the various counters and setups.
My one nitpick is I would’ve loved to have seen a similar setup that we saw in the G1 final where he used prior Bullet Club member’s finishers en route to executing his own. That was brilliant storytelling and I think that would’ve the icing on the cake, even if he never did execute the OWA.
– Alex Soto
MOTN: Tanahashi vs. Naito
Worst: Young Bucks vs. Beretta & Romero
Made it till 6 a.m. last night, and watched the final two matches this afternoon after avoiding any spoilers and not going on the site or Twitter. I watched the undercard in English commentary so I could follow along better and stay awake easier, and then the last two matches (this afternoon) with the Japanese as I don’t think anything matches the Japanese commentary when the main events go into those final 10 minutes of near fall spots. Really love having the option of both though to switch back and forth or rewatch with the other commentary.
MOTN for me was Tanahashi vs. Naito because of the overall pace and psychology of both guys working over each other’s knee, but the last 10-15 minutes of Omega vs. Okada from around that dragon suplex off the top rope was absolutely incredible.
Loved the KUSHIDA vs. Takahashi match and Shibata vs. Goto match as well. You could really feel the crowd come alive once the NEVER match came on. That’s what felt like was missing on the undercard, one of those Makabe vs. Ishii type matches to get things going.
The last four matches on the show were all awesome, undercard and most of the American vs. American matches were pretty forgettable. The G.O.D tag match was hilarious just for all the swearing and Corino cracking up at Tama Tonga going on a rant throughout the whole match. Cody vs. Robinson was decent, but mainly forgettable. Still glad to see Cody get a chance as this character though instead of the stupid Stardust gimmick. Cole vs. O’Reilly was a bit disappointing too. Japanese crowds just never seem into the “gaijin vs. gaijin” matches, feels like when you send cruisers out on Raw.
Thought the Young Bucks match was terrible, was the worst match of the night for me given that they were given a single tag match slot and could have put on a great match. Was glad we didn’t get an eight-man tag for once to start the show, but the psychology of the match right from the start with a countout tease after their first offensive move of the match (I know “psychology” + “YB” don’t go together) was “minus five stars” and the match just had absolutely no flow or pace except for going through the motions of double team spots, you could barely call it a “tag” match as all four guys would just be in there at any given time. It made ECW seem like they had stringent rules in comparison.
Definitely big thumbs up for the last four matches, just wish they’d had another good strong style match a bit earlier in the card to even things out. Looking forward to the review later.
– Tim Dudley
Best match: KUSHIDA vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Worst match: Juice Robinson vs. Cody
I thought this was a really good card! The first half was what I expected it to be. Good wrestling but none of the matches really blew me away. I think things really picked up at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship bout. I really enjoyed Wrestle Kingdom and I thought it was worth staying up for.
– Joshua Hadley
Thumbs way, way up
Best match was Tanahashi/ Naito for me — beautiful storytelling and gorgeous wrestling that kept the crowd hot from start to finish and had some really clever callbacks to their previous matches. Some of the best, most consistent storytelling I’ve seen in wrestling.
Okada/Omega was great but took too long to build up — the first 10 or so minutes were very forgettable and, as I fear may be the case with a lot of Okada matches, things only really started to hot up in the last 15 minutes or so. That being said, it was still incredible to watch and had some crazy spots.
I would probably go IC match > NEVER > Heavyweight > Jr. Heavyweight, with all four being 4.5 stars or above
Worst match was probably Cody/ Juice. Juice tried his hardest, but Cody is completely unremarkable.
– Jack Tainsh
Obviously the thoughts will be flooding in giving Omega/Okada ****** and the such and giving this whole show thumbs up for it’s performance and booking,
But I just want throw down my opinion of the three corner tag for the heavyweight tag championships, what an amazing character showcase it was, everyone got some of their stuff in, and it turned into one of the most un-comedy wrestling comedy matches of the card with the overkill of profanity by all members of the cast!
And also props to Yano and Ishii’s character dynamic, the Stone Pitbull appears to only be there to clothesline some heads and doesn’t care much for the titles, while Yano’s pretty chuffed with himself to have so much gold.
– Sean Ellis
Thumbs WAY Up!
Best Match: Tanahashi vs. Naito
Worst Match: None. New Japan Rumble was slow and gimmicky but still fun stuff. I mean, where the hell else are you going to see Billy Gunn, Elgin, Liger, Tenzan, Nagata, Scott Norton and Kobayashi….in 2017 nonetheless!!!!
Really enjoyed every match on the show, last four were all excellent.
Only minor bugaboo was that the Cody/Juice match worked the the leg/knee too much, given how Naito/Tanahashi played out and the match they were telling. So it felt as though they might have diluted the story a tad and was easily preventable given that it was basically a showcase match for Cody.
– Jeff Parker
Best Match: Omega/Okada
Worst Match: If you’re counting the trios gauntlet as separate matches, then Yujiro/Page/Fale vs. Los Ingobernables. If the trios gauntlet all counts as one big match, then Tiger Mask W vs. Tiger the Dark.
I watched this live, so tiredness probably factored into the undercard feeling so saggy to me, but the last four matches definitely made up for it. I had the Jr. Hvy title match at ****, the NEVER and IC matches at ****1/2, and the main event at *****.
I’m not sure how my feelings on the main event will change when I give it some space and then watch it again. I definitely think the match was lopsided, with the first 15 or 20 minutes just being an extended warm-up for the really crazy stuff. But the really crazy stuff was SO crazy that it blew me away even more than I thought these guys were capable of. If I had to compare the feeling of that last half of Omega/Okada to anything, it’d be the PWG BOLA ’16 Night 2 trios match, or the Dudleys/Hardys/E&C TLC match — matches where they burrow into a style and push right through it into overload territory, to the point where it cycles back around from “too much” into great again.
– Patrick Tobin
Best Match: Okada vs Omega
Worst Match: NEVER Trios Gauntlet Match
There was nothing really “bad” on the show. It took a while for the crowd to get into the show though, probably because of all of the foreign wrestlers on the undercard. The four top matches had something for everyone as far as wrestling style goes. The Jr & NEVER title matches were very good, and easily could have been match of the night on any other card.
But it is so hard to choose between Naito/Tanahashi and Okada/Omega for match of the night. I had to give it to Okada/Omega because I was more invested in that match, but the IC Title match was also amazing. Depending on your view of wrestling, you can pick either one and still be right. Omega set out to have the best match he could have at the dome, and I think he succeeded. I believe that at some point this year, he will have that Heavyweight title. He’s ready, and the fans are ready as well.
– John Mannix
This is without question the best show that I have ever watched live. To be fair, I only got into the NJPW stuff last year, and my word is it the best wrestling I’ve ever seen.Thumbs are so far up that they are in the clouds right now.
Anyway, the show.
New Japan Rambo/Rumble (no idea which one it’s called)
Fun way to open the show, happy that Big Mike is back, glad that he won. Thumbs up.
Tiger Mask W vs. Tiger the Dark.
Was six minutes long with no heat whatsoever from the crowd, fun spot fest, but wasn’t particularly into it. Thumbs middle.
Bucks vs. Roppongi
Really great match, great story, didn’t expect the happy ending. Thumbs up.
6 Man Gauntlet match
Not quite the cluster I was expecting it to be, still great fun. Opening between CHAOS and the Bullet Club was real good, considering there was the some total of two guys there that I like (Ospreay and YOSHI-HASHI). Disappointed that there was no face off between Ospreay and Ricochet considering as, well, we all wanted to see it. Vader probably felt a longing for it too.
CHAOS eliminated first, a pity, Jado didn’t even get to Flair flop. BC gone soon after, setting up a terrific finish between LIJ, and reigning champs Ricochet, Kojima and Finlay.
Pleased that SANADA got a belt. I’m absolutely on the bandwagon of “Yes, that guy is a superstar in the making.” Thumbs up.
Cody vs Juice.
Bathroom break match. Okay, couple of good spots, Cody worked hard for heat. Thumbs middle.
ROH Title match
Good match, not much time to work, honestly expected more heat from the crowd, considering Kyle has worked in NJPW for a long time and Cole got himself over pretty quickly after his debut.
Cole won, everyone knows what that means. Thumbs middle.
Tag Team Titles
Missed most of this match owing to stream issues. Caught last five minutes.
Seemed good, was surprised that I was one of the only people I know who picked Yano/Ishii to win, especially considering Yano’s Dome record. Thumbs middle, will watch full match on Friday.
KUSHIDA vs. Hiromu Takahashi.
Fantastic match. Almost any other show and this would be match of the night. Almost any other promotion and this would be their MOTY.
Was slightly surprised to see Hiromu win, expected KUSHIDA to win, Hiromu to take BOSJ and then the title. I love it whenever KUSHIDA pulls out the armbar counter from a dive, it’s such a cool spot. Thumbs way, way up.
Shibata vs. Goto.
Stiff as heck. Paves way for Shibata to win the New Japan Cup. YAY! Thumbs way up.
Tanahashi vs. Naito for the IC belt.
I don’t know why I expected anything less from Tanahashi. I thought because he was older that he wouldn’t have this good of a match. I thought because his career was winding down he wouldn’t have this good of a match. I forgot one simple thing about the Ace of the Universe though: It was a big show.
He pulled probably Naito’s second best performance of all time from him after the Kenny Omega match in the G1’s. It was fantastic, terrific, all the superlatives I can think of. At this point, it was match of the night. Thumbs super duper up.
Okada vs. Kenny Omega for the IWGP Heavyweight Title.
This is probably the best match I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched all of the Kobashi vs. Misawa matches, all of the Okada vs. Tanahashi matches, the best Manami Toyota matches, Akira Hokuto vs. Shinobu Kandori, all the great Toshiyo Yamada matches, all the best matches in the history of the fed.
They do not compare to the way I was feeling both during and after this match. I have seen all the previous January 4 shows in the lead up to this. Nakamura vs. Ibushi was the best NJPW Tokyo Dome match I had ever seen before this one.
The story telling, the absolute beating that both men took during this match, the near falls. I cannot really describe this match. It is just something else. Thumbs have officially broken off they are so far up.
Best Match: Okada vs Kenny Omega.
Worst match: Tiger Mask W vs Tiger the Dark
Kenny Omega was perhaps the most protected that I have ever seen a wrestler be in a match before. He hit no One Winged Angels, and not a single Croytes Wrath. It took FOUR rainmakers to keep him down. And for a measure on how good I thought this match was, I bought the first one as the finish.
For the record, if this were the fed, Kenny would hit at least two One Winged Angels. Those guys have no idea how to protect a move. Also: Was a sense of Misawa/Kobashi 99 in the main event. The champ taking all the punishment I can humanly imagine before somehow walking out with the belt.
Now I’m gearing up for LIJ vs. CHAOS gang wars part 2. Guess Gedo’s been watching some Dragon Gate.
– Christy Pankhurst
What an amazing last four matches!!
Show started a bit slow. I liked the Bucks tag — 3.5 stars. Like ishii and Yano, good mix with the serious guy and the joker.
KUSHIDA is amazing and always shows up on the big shows. Really liked this match even though they missed a thing or two. 4.5 stars.
Tanahashi vs. Naito was awesome. Right when I thought Tanahashi had it won, it got even better!! 4.75 stars.
Omega and Okada was insane. Almost bordering on going too far with that dragon suplex off the top rope. As amazing as it was, that spot could have been left out and it still would have been a classic. I’m happy Okada seemed ok for the rest of the match. That missile dropkick off the top was just awesome and Kenny’s springboard moonsault was Ibushi-esque. Those last like seven minutes were so crazy, Okada as always has the best finishing sequences. 5 stars.
Great show and great crowd. They weren’t into the foreigner vs foreigner matches which I guess were the intermission. But when the business end of the card came around they were into everything. Better than most US crowds.
– Kyle Jaworski
I found WK11 to be the best WK yet, even surpassing WK9. The undercard was good and the big four main events all delivered. KUSHIDA vs. Takahashi was a fantastic way to start off the main events — 4 1/2*. Shibata vs. Goto was an incredible hard hitting match that lived up to what’s expected of big NEVER matches. The ending 20 or seconds were crazy. I’d go 4 3/4*.
Naito vs. Tanahashi was incredible with great storytelling and psychology, the crowd was eating everything up — 5*, however Omega vs. Okada was even more spectacular and it seems unfair that they both get the same rating. One of the best matches I’ve ever witnessed. It got an emotional investment out of me I’ve never had before. Just beautiful stuff for 46 minutes, absolute 5* classic in my eyes. Just a very easy watch PPV that delivered well in all matches.
– Hunter Dunn
Best Match: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega
Worst Match: Cody Rhodes vs. Juice Robinson
What a main event match! After things slowed down with a mostly dead crowd for consecutive gaijin vs. gaijin singles matches, YTR picked them back up. And from Takahashi/KUSHIDA on it was one great match after another, culminating with an absolute classic in Okada vs. Omega.
– Lou Pickney
Best Match: Omega Vs. Okada
Worst Match: Robinson Vs. Cody
I will be blunt. I have been watching wrestling for 25 years. I’ve seen Shawn Michaels WrestleMania matches, I’ve seen Misawa classics, I’ve seen matches from all styles and promotions from around the world, and quite frankly, and I can say this with absolutely no hyperbole whatsoever, that Omega/Okada was better than all of those matches in every way imaginable. If the rating system used was originally four stars and a fifth star had to be created when Terry Funk came around as the legend said, then you might as well start going by a six star scale because anything below that would be a disservice to this match and the competitors in it.
I also had the Goto/Shibata and Tanahashi/Naito matches at *****. I find it amazing that NJPW can put on a five hour show and it can feel so fulfilling and yet WWE can put on a six and a half hour show and it can feel so empty.
– Jamie Sullivan
I was at the Tokyo Dome tonight for Wrestle Kingdom 11. Here are some notes from the stadium:
The New Japan Rumble was lots of fun, the crowd was into it. Liger and Scott Norton got the biggest reactions.
Cody vs. Juice Robinson got a great reaction from the crowd considering it was a bout between an unknown and an under-carder. While exiting, Cody climbed on the the players dugout on the right side and gestured to the crowd. He got a huge ovation from the fans seated there.
O’Reilly vs. Cole on the other hand got the least response from the crowd. It was clearly a mistake putting two all-foreigners singles matches back-to-back. Cole’s victory got little reaction as well.
Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA was when the crowd came alive
Tanahashi’s new theme BOMBED. Tanahashi tried to get the crowd chanting “GO ACE!” There were fans behind me giggling at his efforts.
The Okada vs. Omega match was amazing. I didn’t realize it was going long until the announcer announced they were on the 30 minute mark. That announcement got a big reaction. As did the announcement for 35, 40 and 45 minutes. The crowd knew they were experiencing something special.
– Lak Gill
Best Match: Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega
Worst Match: NEVER 6-Man Gauntlet
I felt like this year’s Wrestle Kingdom had a weaker undercard than the past two years, but once we got into the final stretch you just had great match after great match.
Will be tough to top Okada vs. Omega for MOTY.
– Kevin Chiat
Best: Okada vs. Omega
Worst: Cody vs. Juice
I thought the first five matches ranged from average to just plain boring, but then the show turned around bigly. Everything from the ROH Title match on was so damn great it made me have to give the show a big thumbs up. The last two matches were especially spectacular. Tanahashi/Naito demonstrated truly brilliant wrestling psychology while Omega/Okada put on an athletic clinic that should further cement them as two of the best of this generation.
Although I liked a lot of the booking (especially Omega being kept strong in defeat to build to a rematch and LIJ all being champions) I’m a bit baffled by the undercard booking. Why proven guys like Ishii, YOSHI-HASHI, Ospreay and Ricochet were buried in multi-man matches while guys like Rocky Romero, Cody, and Juice Robinson got so much more of the spotlight just doesn’t make sense. Even if they weren’t given long undercard matches it would definitely have made the first hour much more entertaining.
– Nick Randall