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NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling 2016 recap & match recommendations

New Japan Pro Wrestling

NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling went down this morning and as always I’m here with a quick results/recap/recommendations guide.

As always, I've got a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the folks in it, 3 is a match that's worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.

Mind you, these are not star ratings. They're not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you're best off skipping. I have my biases, of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.

Chaos (Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, & YOSHI-HASHI) over Bullet Club (Adam Cole, Bad Luck Fale, & Yujiro Takahashi) (3): Brawling chaos (no-pun intended) to start and when things settle down YOSHI-HASHI is doing his damnedest to cut Fale down but the big man is able to stack up all three Chaos-men and bowl ‘em over. Cole comes in and continues to bring it to Tacos, but he finally gets a tag to Ospreay and Will comes in hot.

Those two were fairly evenly matched, but tags are made and Ishii and Yujiro are certainly not. Ishii takes it to him but Bullet Club go three-on-one to turn the tide. All hell breaks loose again, culminating with a huge plancha from Ospreay. Ishii and Yujiro are alone again and it’s only a matter of time before the Stone Pitbull drops him with a vertical brainbuster for the win.

Really fun opener, a cut above the usual New Japan opening tag fare.

Bobby Fish, Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma), & Ryusuke Taguchi over Chaos (Beretta, Jado, Rocky Romero, & Toru Yano) (2): Comedy early on from Taguchi and Jado and then a different flavor of comedy from Makabe and Yano, as the GBH man has no respect for Yano’s need for a clean break. The Chaos-men attempt to isolate Makabe and beat him down; his teammates save him from a four-on-one beating on the outside but the turnbuckle pad falls down without any intervention from Yano and Makabe goes back-first into it.

Makabe finally his separation and tags Fish in, who proceeds to clear house on Chaos. Honma is next in and everything breaks down a bit before Rocky starts running the corner lariats on him, and then it’s time for everybody to do stuff in quick succession as is tradition for these kind of tags. Honma nails Romero with the diving Kokeshi and it’s over.

Not bad, but nothing essential here, you can safely take a pass on this one unless you’re really attached to any of these dudes.

Post-match GBH take their frustration out on Yano until Fish and Taguchi pull them off and presumably remind them that they won.

Team NOAH (Go Shiozaki, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Masa Kitamiya, & Maybach Taniguchi) over Team NJPW (Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi, Satoshi Kojima, & Yuji Nagata) (5): It’s NOAH vs. New Japan, so of course things are hot and crazy right from the jump. Taniguchi and Tenzan start it off in the ring as the brawling calms down and the old man gets the advantage for the 3rd Generation men. Kojima in, machine gun chops, but going for the Bakayaro Elbow Kitamiya cuts him off and the NOAH guys start beating on him four-on-one.

Nakajima in, beating on Kojima unholy in the corner, just brutal forearms and kicks, he and Kitamiya knocking Nagata off the apron and building the old man’s rage so that when he comes in he’s like a a god of fury, Nakajima fighting out of an exploder with back elbows only to get caught right into Shirome in an awesome transition.

Kitamiya breaks it up and he and Nakajima beat on Nagata but Blue Justice fights out for the tag. Shiozaki and Nakanishi in, trading chops like they think the other guy’s gonna bleed money if they open his chest up. 3rd Gen run hard on Shiozaki and Nakanishi calls for the lariat but it’s not enough to put Shiozaki away! Taniguchi in to try and save Shiozaki from the backbreaker rack but Nakanishi just throws Shiozaki at him like a sack of flour.

Kitamiya lays out TenCozy two-on-one, Taniguchi tries and fails to whip Nakanishi but gets him up for a back suplex and Shiozaki runs in for the combo neckbreaker. Shiozaki with a nearfall all his own off the Go Flasher when the other three 3rd Gen guys run in, but he puts Nakanishi away on another attempt with a lariat.

Another really awesome wild match for these two sets of dudes. Sooner or later it might get tired, but we aren’t there yet. Watch it!

And the nigh-obligatory post-match brawl, with Nakajima bee-lining for Nagata to close it out.

Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (c) over David Finlay & Ricochet to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship (4): Matt starting off yelling at Finlay about how he’s a young boy and his dad sucks at wrestling and even spitting in his face! Finlay gets fired up but after escaping a potential beatdown he decides to fall back and tag Ricochet in. He and Nick make Vader angry for a while and then Finlay comes back in and they clear the Bucks out of the ring together.

Ricochet comes up empty with a Sasuke Special but lands on his feet and more flips are exchanged. Finlay attempts a dive of his own but the Bucks slip in and superkick his face to death. So the Bucks beat on Finlay for a good while, with the recently graduated Young Lion gaining separation at one point only for Ricochet to get powerbombed onto the apron before he can tag in.

Finlay lands on his feet three back suplexes in a row and tags Ricochet in! Ricochet makes the Bucks feel the hurt and lands the Sasuke Special on his second try. Regalplex gets a tight nearfall, the Bucks deny him the Benadryller but a running cutter later and Finlay’s in like a freight train until the Bucks cut him off with some slick double-teams. Matt gets in Finlay’s face about being a young boy again, Finlay fires up but Nick superkicks him.

Superkick after superkick as Ricochet comes in and Finlay is laid out and into the rope-hung Swanton but he refuses to lay down. Finlay up for the Meltzer Driver but Ricochet counters it into a Benadryller! Fireman’s carry slam lungblower from the challengers gets another close nearfall and they look to follow it up with a Finlay Roll into a shooting star press but Nick gets the knees up.

Finlay firing uppercut after uppercut but the Bucks are able to cut him off and finish things with More Bang For Your Buck.

A damn good match that’s worth your time, although I’ll confess to being disappointed that they backed away from Finlay’s righteous anger early in favor of flips. They were nice flips, don’t get me wrong, but the anger was nicer.

Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Roa) over Briscoe Brothers (Jay & Mark Briscoe) (c) to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship (2): Tanga Roa going Bull Moose against Mark and then Jay early on. Tonga in and the Briscoes have the advantage a while but they cut Jay off and beat on him. Chicken in hot but Roa catches him on a moonsault and hits a running powerslam to keep the tide from turning all the way.

Mark on the defensive for a good while but eventually Jay comes in with a vengeance. Action spills to the outside with a torpedo-like suicide dive from the elder Briscoe and when they come back in, a double team onto a loose board nearly wins them the match. A young boy is under the ring physically beating the boards back into place, this is a new one entirely.

GoD turn the tide again, nearly winning with a release powerbomb/neckbreaker combo on Mark. Double superplex attempt leads to a Doomsday Device attempt but Tanga catches Tonga and stops the impact! Backdrop into a powerbomb from the Guerrillas and a pop-up Gun Stun into Guerrilla Warfare for the win.

Better than I expect from Guerrillas of Destiny, especially toward the end, but I feel like a lot of the early match meandered and then the stuff with the loose board, while entertaining on a novelty basis, kind of derailed the match despite the attempt to work it into the course of things. Bummed at the title change but whatcha gonna do.

The Bucks hit the ring after to beat on the Briscoes but Ishii comes in to even the score. He nearly lays out the new tag champs by himself but eats a Gun Stun and Guerrilla Warfare.

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay Lethal, KUSHIDA, & Michael Elgin over Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito) (3): Another chaotic start that soon settles on Lethal vs. EVIL in the ring. Tanahashi comes in but when he tries to clear LIJ out of the corner they trap him and BUSHI and EVIL clear the 1/100 Dude’s corner out on him. They take it to Tanahashi a while before the juniors tag in and go at it.

KUSHIDA with the lead, Naito tries to cut him off and he and BUSHI just eat a two-on-one tope con giro that catches KUSHIDA’s leg on the barricade hard. BUSHI cuts off a handspring with a lungblower back in the ring and KUSHIDA’s wrist is jacked enough that the ref checks on him. Naito throws Marty Asami aside and lays the boots on.

BIG MIKE saves the day, dragging KUSHIDA over for the tag and chucking Naito around the ring. He continues to clear house on LIJ until they come back on him, and from there we go into the “folks do cool stuff” portion of the match and then the finish, a Lethal Injection into the buckle bomb/Elgin Bomb sequence.

They’ve run so many of these Los Ingobernables vs. Tanahashi & Friends matches at this point that there’s no way I can call this anything near essential, but it was a fine way to spend a few minutes watching the graps.

Post-match EVIL wraps a chair around KUSHIDA’s neck and hits the home run swing before BUSHI adds injury to injury with a chair-assisted Codebreaker before getting on the mic and agreeing to give KUSHIDA a rematch for the title. (Hat tip to Chris Charlton for the translation there.)

KUSHIDA is stretchered out, to boot.

Katsuyori Shibata (c) over Kyle O’Reilly to retain the NEVER Openweight Championship (5): Intense grappling early on as they jockey for position on the mat, Shibata gets a kneebar but Kyle’s right at the ropes and makes the break. Another grappling exchange ends quicker, Shibata taking a full nelson to a snapmare and looking for a kick but O’Reilly dodges. Shibata goes to the arm, wrenching and stomping but O’Reilly won’t give him the armbar.

Kyle gets an edge by kicking Shibata’s leg out from underneath him and looks for an armbar of his own. He get the extension but Shibata rolls to the ropes and breaks the hold in agony. Kyle goes to town on the arm, hammerlock into the turnbuckles, hammer blows and stomps, wrenching and tearing. Snapmare into a keylock, Shibata fights out with kicks but he doesn’t have enough in his tank to stop Kyle’s return flurry and loses the exchange.

Shoulder armbreaker into a back suplex into a heel hook from Kyle, awesome sequence. O’Reilly laying running kicks to the chest in but Shibata stays cool and asks for more before catching one on his feet and leveling Kyle with one desperate forearm. Running corner strikes exchanged, culminating with Shibata’s hesitation dropkick. Half-halch suplex into a pin, no good.

Reverse chinlock into an abdominal stretch into the octopus into the grounded octopus but Kyle rolls into the ropes. Penalty Kick dodged, Yakuza kick lands and they go forehead-to-forehead. More boots traded, Shibata with a bodyscissors guillotine, O’Reilly slips out looking for a deadlift suplex but Shibata floats over and goes for the headbutt but Kyle dodges and catches the leg for a capture suplex.

Kyle with a guillotine of his own, really wrenching it in before converting it to a brainbuster for two and right into the cross armbar! From there to the triangle, Shibata’s fading, Kyle throws elbows to the dome! Shibata locks hands and tries to deadlift out but O’Reilly converts it back to the armbar! Shibata makes the ropes, then back on their feet Kyle goes back to the shoulder armbreaker only to get caught with a sleeper.

Kyle makes the ropes and Shibata immediately fires a back suplex, Kyle returns a German, Shibata with one of his own, rolling elbow from Kyle, Penalty Kick from Shibata and both guys are laid out! Forearm for forearm on their knees here, to their feet still throwing them, then double boots take them back to the mat. Lariat, Shibata out at one!

Penalty Kick from O’Reilly gets a tight nearfall. Strike rush from Kyle follows but Shibata nails him with a big slap and locks the sleeper back in until Kyle’s out on his feet. Penalty kick, bodyscissors sleeper and it’s over.

Fantastic match, absolutely go watch it. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how great Bobby Fish’s ringside cheerleading was, above and beyond the actual action.

Post-match, handshakes all around but EVIL interrupts Shibata’s celebration and lays him out.

Kenny Omega (c) over Hirooki Goto to retain the G1 Climax Challenge Certificate (5): Goto lays Omega out with the briefcase before the bell even rings! Pillar to post on the outside and a diving elbow takes it back in the ring. Omega turns the tide and distracts Red Shoes while the Bucks superkick Goto before returning the favor with a slam on the apron and a double stomp onto a table laid on top of Goto.

Missile dropkick nails Goto between the shoulder blades and Omega goes to work with a rear chinlock. Laying kicks in but Goto’s getting fired up and asks for more before coming in hot with forearms, so Kenny goes to the eye rakes and choking. The beating continues until Omega runs into a pair of corner boots and off the ropes for a kick to the chest. Goto follows up with strikes and suplexes but Omega lands on his feet on a German and spit in his face.

Finlay Roll into a moonsault for two and the huge Terminator tope con giro some time after. Omega feigns a foot injury from the barricade and the Bucks set the table up and put Goto on it only for YOSHI-HASHI to break it up like the people he is. Red Shoes sends the Bucks and Tacos to the back as Omega and Goto fight on the apron in front of the table before going to the turnbuckle.

Avalanche Yoshi Tonic from Goto after the struggle but it’s not enough to put Omega away. Kick to the leg and a pumphandle backbreaker put Goto back on the defensive and Kenny’s thinking running powerbomb over the ropes and through the table but Goto blocks. Suplex onto the apron, Omega looks to springboard back in but Goto knocks him off and through the table!

Goto looking for Ushigoroshi, Omega slips out, Goto nails him with a lariat, revolution Ushigoroshi lands for a nearfall! Sleeper in, Omega to the corner but Goto breaks it and kicks him before hitting Ura Shouten. GTR denied, Omega goes for a shiranui, denied, looking for a GTR of his own and Goto reverses to Shouten Kai!

Buzzsaw kick, up in the inverted headlock, Omega reverses to a victory roll pin. V-Trigger, release Dragon suplex, both men are out. Forearms on their knees and to their feet, Goto looking for a lariat but Omega lays him out with a boot! V-Trigger off the ropes, Aoi Shoudou! Another V-Trigger, up in the electric chair, Goto firing punches... WRIST-CLUTCH ONE-WINGED ANGEL!

Maybe a hair below their G1 match, but still great. And Goto grew some personality! It’s like a Christmas miracle.

Kazuchika Okada (c) over Naomichi Marufuji to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship (5): Marufuji going back to the arm early, Okada gets the break and does his thing. Okada presses the advantage, going after Marufuji’s neck, but after a dropkick takes him outside, Marufuji strikes back, hanging Okada neck-first over the barricade with a bulldog and slamming his face into the ringpost before nailing him with a superkick around the ringpost.

Back in the ring, Marufuji takes the champ to Chop City, aiming to turn his chest into ground meat. Okada fires back with forearms but a single chop takes the air out of his lungs and knocks him to the ground. Marufuji capitalizes on it with a figure four headscissors, adding a top wristlock in before Okada gets the ropes.

Okada finally gets out of the chop flurry with a boot and a running back elbow. More running strikes, a DDT followed by a kip-up, and a dropkick sends Marufuji spilling to the outside from the top turnbuckle. Violence on the outside, Marufuji looking for a Shiranui off the barricade but Okada slips out and nails him with a running crossbody into the first row!

Back in the ring, Marufuji gets feet up as Okada charges in and then lays him out with kicks. Okada looking to suplex Marufuji to the outside but he blocks and hits a PILEDRIVER ON THE APRON! Count-out nearfall, Marufuji catches Okada with a dropkick as he gets back in the ring but the champion has enough in him to get a flapjack as Marufuji comes off the ropes.

Reverse Neckbreaker sets up the diving elbow and the Rainmaker pose, but Marufuji fights out of the Rainmaker itself and traps Okada in a sweet arm-trap triangle choke. Okada stays alive and gets to his feet, so Marufuji breaks it with a lungblower himself!

Back to Chop Town but Okada is right in there with a forearm or an uppercut for every chop, Marufuji finds himself on the defensive but the power of chop is strong enough to keep him in it. German suplex into a Rainmaker but Marufuji fires a jumping knee to cut him off. Another knee in the corner knocks Okada out and Marufuji lands Shiranui for a nearfall.

Okada fights out of a second with a Rainmaker but he can’t capitalize! He maintains wrist control and goes again but Marufuji rolls him up into a small package for two! A third and Marufuji kicks his arm away and nails him with another knee but Okada catches a second and hits the Tombstone!

A second Tombstone, no, he changes the clutch... EMERALD FLOWSION! Rainmaker! It’s over!

Perhaps a bit longer than it needed to be, both the usual New Japan Main Event dawdling at the beginning before Marufuji laid the chops in hard, and then at the end I could maybe have used one less round of “Okada’s totally knocked out”, but regardless, it’s a match that’s very much worth your time.

Post-match Gedo calls Omega out and he obliges, coming out and telling Okada that he’s going to take everything away from him and treat him “like a little bitch”, just like they did in America.

There you have it, folks.

Not too surprising, but King of Pro-Wrestling blew the Destruction shows out of the water, with a great triple main event buttressed by another awesome NJPW/NOAH tag and a quality junior tag title match.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.

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