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New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 13 match recommendations: Steal away the night

NJPW World

For full results of Wrestle Kingdom 13, check here, but otherwise, on with the show!

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 (Beretta, Chuckie T, & Hirooki Goto) vs. David Finlay, Jeff Cobb, & Yuji Nagata vs. Most Violent Players (Togi Makabe & Toru Yano) & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Suzuki-gun (Davey Boy Smith, Jr., Lance Archer, & Minoru Suzuki) vs. the Elite (Hangman Page, Marty Scurll, & Yujiro Takahashi) (NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship #1 Contender’s Gauntlet Match) (2): Pretty standard undercard tag fare to open the show, starting with the Elite vs. the amateur wrestling trio of Finlay, Cobb, and Nagata and progressing prettymuch how you’d expect. Everybody gets a little shine, cheating men cheat, grappling men grapple, flying men fly, and so on. Good solid healthy fun, but if there’s anything on this card that you can skip, this match is it.

Kota Ibushi (c) vs. Will Ospreay (NEVER Openweight Championship) (5): Hot start, ducking kicks, fast-paced, to the floor, fakeouts, the whole deal into a stalemate! Ospreay with a WICKED kick to counter the Golden Triangle and following it up with the Space Flying Tiger Drop to take control for a while. Chops and power moves, spirit of the NEVER in full effect, Ibushi turns the tide, the match continuing hot and heavy, back and forth, WILD counter exchanges, in short, yes, this is everything you had hoped it would be, folks!

Will gets vicious in the back half of the match, Kota refuses to give an inch as blood pours from his nose, this is fantastic and you should get eyes on it ASAP, folks.

(A quick note, however, that your enjoyment of this match may well hinge on how Ibushi’s doing after being stretchered out— I’m writing this during the show from a hopeful position that everything’s fine and it was either just a precaution or to sell the match, but if he’s seriously hurt that may make a difference to your viewing experience, as I know it would mine.)

Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Shingo Takagi) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship) (2): RPG3K hot out the gates but the champions cut them off and take charge a while before LIJ take over. Shingo and SHO showing off their power game, the match breaks down, mist boys both misting, Takagi taking on everybody, this is short and sweet and doesn’t outstay its welcome. Not a match to go out of your way for, basically just a way to get some shine on Shingo, but good friendly violent fun all the same.

Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (RPW British Heavyweight Championship) (4): Trading advantage early, two men that know each other so well, trying to think three or four steps ahead of each other. Sabre pulling ahead but Ishii fires up stonefaced and walks through his offense. ZSJ stays on him, hold after hold, and a spinning armbreaker gets him control of the match for a moment but Tom refuses to just let him work the arm over and we get some really slick fast-paced jockeying for position and into our finish not too long after that.

I maybe could have used another five minutes of escalation but what we got ruled in any case. Great match!

Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (c) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) vs. Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (IWGP Tag Team Championship) (2): The match breaks down early with EVIL targeting Matt Jackson’s back on the ramp but the champs refuse to let him capitalize on it. The Bucks rally and take control for a good while, SANADA gets the tag and everything goes to hell in a most flippy way! Bullet Club interference, LIJ run them off but the champs pull advantage out of it anyway and we go to the finish in short order.

Much like the junior tag title match, this was short and didn’t really go much of anywhere, but still had its fair share of nice little moments. Not a bad match, but neither a match to be recommended.

Cody Rhodes (c) vs. Juice Robinson (IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship) (2): Rhodes looking for a cheap shot with the title belt but Robinson has it scouted and goes right to the jabs. Cody fakes out a bad knee but Juice recovers after initially falling for it and resumes control until Brandi Rhodes gets involved, begging him to hit her until referee Tiger Hattori runs her off. Cody gets Hattori tied up, Brandi interferes and beats Robinson down and Tiger ejects her!

Mano y mano, both men nearly finish with the other’s finishing maneuver and we just kind of meander to the finish from there. This was a bit of a disappointment, disjointed and it failed to hook me, especially compared to how enthused I was over their previous match at Fighting Spirit Unleashed.

KUSHIDA (c) vs. Taiji Ishimori (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) (4): KUSHIDA with the aerial assault early and so Ishimori brings his mat grappling game to bear to counter. Stepping on the gas, the sliding German suplex sets up a 450 splash but the champ counters into a cross armbar and finds a new lease on life! Indeed, that’s the story of the match, KUSHIDA countering Taiji’s big moves into submission holds, knowing that the one he lets through will be the one that ends the match.

This was really good but is another one that never quite reached the fever pitch it’s capable of. Worth throwing on the pile for sure, though.

“Switchblade” Jay White vs. Kazuchika Okada (5): Switchblade in hot, action fast-paced in the feeling out and things slow down after White hits the back suplex over the ropes! Keeping the pressure up, targeting the neck and back, Okada gets fired up and fights back, eventually returning the favor by knocking the Switchblade to the floor with a dropkick! Gedo gets involved and gets taken out and the action escalates back in the ring as both men land bigger and sterner moves in turn.

Into the Rainmaker’s trademark exchanges, we get a finish out of nowhere in the most wonderful way and this was just awesome. I was about ready to nitpick this being more of a prototypical New Japan main event than the feud called for, but I loved the way they approached it, like one of those matches on fast forward with every bit of vitriol and violence left in and most of the extraneous bits stripped out. An excellent match, and you should watch it!

Chris Jericho (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Intercontinental Championship No Disqualification Match) (5): Brawling right out the gate, taking full advantage of the stipulation with Naito beating the holy hell out of Jericho on the floor! Indeed, everything’s coming up Ingobernable until Chris wallops him with a kendo stick and takes control, dishing out a return beating of his own like the grumpy old man Y2J has become, including an absolutely wild DDT on a table at ringside.

Naito fires up after some disdainful slaps, and the tone of the remainder of the match is set, a back and forth brawl that I feel like very slightly overstays its welcome (by no more than a minute or two, so certainly not a major complaint) but is definitely worth getting eyes on.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega (c) (IWGP Heavyweight Championship) (5): Let’s be real, folks. I say this every year, but this is the main event of the biggest show of the year. If you have literally any interest in New Japan Pro Wrestling, odds are pretty even you’re gonna want to watch this regardless of what I think.

That being said... this is every bit as good as to be worthy of that kind of automatic viewing privilege. The story of the match, unsurprisingly, is the clash of styles between the two, the battle for the heart and soul of New Japan playing out between Tanahashi’s traditionalism and Omega’s anything-goes approach, and it’s rendered in loving detail here.

Watch this match, folks, you will not likely be disappointed.

There you have it, folks

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

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