Wrestling fans, it's my pleasure to bring you Wrestle Kingdom 5:
1) Wataru Inoue/ Tiger Mask IV/ Tomoaki Honma/ Tama Tonga v. Yujiro/ Tomohiro Ishii/ Jado/ Gedo - 2
Guess this looks like it was a prematch; Shockingly, doesn't look like that term spent in TNA did Yujiro much favors, his offense and game in the ring was as short sighted as it was in Dayton when i saw him a few years ago. TM & Ishii worked the best sequences of the match- not sure if Ishii has any ability but he should play up his rotund stature up better. Gedo's highspot was a reversal into an eyepoke- other than that, i've been done with you for years. Finish was sort of insulting, mostly because I didn't think anyone had a more pussy spear than Edge- but Inoue proved me wrong. Am I wrong for missing the days when Goldberg would make guys pee blood after his?
2) Koji Kanemoto/ Ryusuke Taguchi v. Kenny Omega/ Taichi- 4
As Taichi sat petting his strange hair on the apron, i wondered "Is he all gimmick or can he go?" I hoped for his sake, he could, as Koji stepped in and kicked him in the belly. Thought for sure we'd see a condom belched up. Kenny was a tour de force in this; he worked extremely hard. Everything he did, whether it's in between punches, hitting the ropes, setting up a dive, anything, he has some kind of action, he's just perpetual excitement, much what I would think getting drunk with Jeff Goldblaum would be like. Koji and he had a great match last year, they pick up where they left off. Taguchi felt as useless as a cassette player in this; i kind of didn't like the finish as I saw a better candidate moments before.
3) Giant Bernard/ Karl Anderson v. Beer Money v. Manabu Nakanishi/ Strong Man- 3
Overall, I thought this was kind of a mess. There were some individual moments I enjoyed. I razzed Nakanishi a while back for working the strong man gimmick 3 decades too late, but I guess with a partner literally seeping HGH from his eye sockets and in a midcard tag team, it's perfectly fine. I loved Bernard going for an avalanche in the corner on Beer Money while screaming "Mother Fuckerrrrrrrs!" delivering it like he's in a kill scene from a Tarantino movie. Anderson has improved too, nearfall with Beer's slingshot DDT worked wonders. Again, plauging the show is bad finishs, no different.
4) Jushin Liger/ Hector Garza v. La Sombra/ Mascara Dorada- 4
Was a nice treat seeing Liger still competing in this year- he's fought so many different people- the Luchadores are green but have potential- Sombra flies like a Tomahawk cutting through the air with grace and pain. Mascara botches his first attempt at a spot- Garza is so beefy, it's like seeing a retired male stripper, not that i know what that's like...believe me? And he still busts out a spinning splash from the top outside- I dug that. Hated how he stood there like in line for an awaiting subway train as Sombra set up his backwards splash. Fun lucha stylings that was shorter than I'd expected.
5) Hiroyoshi Tenzan v. Takashi Iizuka- 2
This stands true if you've seen one Iizuka match, you've seen them all. He does the same crowd brawl and weapons spot as normal. Tenzan was doing some good selling though, trying to play up his near career ending injury and yet he made it back. But I thought all the big sequences fell flat, the exposed buckle, the finish- they made a sleeper hold the prime piece of realty in this clunker.
6) Toru Yano v. Rob Van Dam - 3
I felt transported back to 2003 Hardcore division on Raw watching this. RVD took quite the schlacking, thought it's funny a guy that can actually wrestle is transported to Japan to do this, especially at this point in RVD's career. Yano is perhaps the worst guy I can think of offhand, save for Tomko, to take all this hardcore punishment. He just falls backward and blocks almost all of it. Actually both guys, there's several times where they have to hold whatever metal weapon the other guy is using to themselves, like a travel pack as if in Europe and don't want to lose their passport, guide book or blackmail pictures of their boss.
7) Yuji Nagata v. Minoru Suzuki- 6
This could be a 5 or 6, depending on your inclination. If you are watching a match between these two, you already know what you're getting into. This match is all about 2 things: Facials and shootfighting. Both men are known for making the craziest faces in Japanese wrestling and have a penchant for MMA-inspired attacks, be it kicks, punches or locks. There's 2 slap fights, it walks the line between feeling truly pissed off and a work. Nagata's crazy eyes face is now one of his highspots, but felt it was a wasted effort because Suzuki was simply laying on the ground catching his breath, not really reacting. Overall, what these guys do best, they put on display here and was a fun match.
8) Prince Devitt v. Kota Ibushi- 8
This is my favorite match I've seen from both of these guys. Had that big title match feel and never went into overkill mode. Both guys' selling and storytelling has improved since 2009 when i saw them regularly. They've been the toast of the Japanese town for a while but this is the best thing from both men. Their huge high risk moves here were breathtaking and Ibushi's handspring back flip double knees move was just so balls out. See this because you'll feel like juniors wrestling is back, even though it's been absent for a while.
9) Kazuchika Okada/ Hirooki Goto v. Takashi Suguira/ Yoshihiro Takayama- 4
Goto steps in and doesn't back down from Suguira at all; again, here, he doesn't look much like the longest reigning champion in Japan, perhaps a guy I wouldn't beep at in line for the ATM for taking too long but that's about it. Goto with the surprised headbutt. Okada's back; i'm sure they forget to get the parade planned. Frankly, he could have stayed in TNA, i didn't see anything to tell me his place was missed. Always fun to watch Takayama get mean with people.
10) Jeff Hardy v. Tetsuya Naito- 3
TNA didn't have a good showing this year. Crowd took a while to show they cared about this. Naito had some real dynamic offense, and started picking up the pace late in the match. Jeff seemed like he was just going through the motions like he was still in Orlando. His punches wouldn't have broken through a one of his paper maiche statues at I Magi Nation. Jeff botching a rollup early on didn't help his cause of viewers not thinking he was still on a high from the night before, or maybe even the week before.
11) Shinsuke Nakamura v. Go Shiozaki- 8
Man this was a fight. Nakamura was in full careless heel mode but he needed to get a win over Go to even the score. Go working over the leg with some really cool ideas, including chops and ramming it into the post. Nakamura's selling reminds me a lot of Orton except even more expressive. His knees are like swords, they pierce Go over and over again like a depressed high school girl with a razor blade. Loved the lariat spot and the back and forth with the knees and strikes that led into the finish, two of the young guns that make the future look bright for Puro.
12) Togi Makabe v. Masato Tanaka- 6
This had the vibe of an old Tanaka v. Awesome match, but I don't think these two had the chemistry they did. Seeing Tanaka look emaciated as an alley cat still strikes me odd. Lots of tables came into play and they were quite brutal. Tanaka went to town on Makabe's head with a flurry of elbows that made all Street Fighter fans surely recall the 100 hand slap of E.Honda. Tanaka takes neck bumps like he drinks coffee; every day and with gusto. Fun stiff match.
13) Satoshi Kojima v. Hiroshi Tanahashi- 7
At first I couldn't tell but seemed like they skipped the whole 2nd act; the leg and arm work on each guy was cool, like a blind and deaf man working together, each one could only do certain things but then Tanahashi didn't react to the leg the rest of the match. No huge classic style bumps outside but they kept to their own top moves for the near falls. Tanahashi getting all knees on a splash was one of the nastiest versions of that counter I remember seeing late in the bout. He also took a sickening head drop on the apron from a clothesline that probably made his after party hard to enjoy. Overall, this was a hard fought match that showed Kojima is certainly not past his prime and Tanahashi continues to provide unique, different matchups every time out which is one of his best qualities as a worker.