The main event of Wrestle Kingdom 13 (for full results, check here) was, as promised, a battle for the heart and soul of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Very much in the vein of a classic New Japan main event, albeit with perhaps a little more vitriol than average, the match saw Omega in control for much of the early goings, taking things to the floor for a wild body slam into the announce table. Tanahashi takes control after, walking things back to his style of match and making the ideological clash at hand clear as day.
Action continued as an even-handed back and forth until an absolutely brutal dragon screw out of the corner took Kenny’s leg out from under him. The 1/100 Ace pressed the attack until he made the decision to play the Best Bout Machine’s game and try to put the IWGP Heavyweight Champion through a table on the floor, but instead he crashed through by his lonesome after Kenny rolled away.
From there we wove the anything-goes abandon of Omega’s matches with Tanahashi’s visceral traditionalism, binding the two styles together into a melange of excellence, both men pulled to try things in the other’s vision, not out of desperation, but out of a natural syncretization, the end result a pidgin between the two extremes.
And, in the end, traditionalism won out with a High Fly Flow, as it has so many times before, to crown Hiroshi Tanahashi a record eighth time as IWGP Heavyweight Champion and become the first man to take the G1 Climax briefcase to the Tokyo Dome and convert it into a victory.
For Omega, the loss comes at a time when his own future in New Japan is very much in the air, with a WWE offer reportedly on the table and his friends in the Elite (all of whom also lost at Wrestle Kingdom) starting their own promotion. Is this a sign, or is this just the story New Japan chose to tell? Only time will tell on that one.
There’s one other detail I’d like to note here that may be telling about the future of NJPW— Omega/Tanahashi was forty minutes or so long, which is not surprising at all for a New Japan main event. No, the surprising part is that it came after an undercard full of snappy, sprinty matches that, all told, lead the show to come in just a hair under four hours from the intro video to the final note of Tanahashi’s air guitar celebration, easily the shortest Wrestle Kingdom main card of the NJPW World era.
There you have it, folks
Excited to see the 1/100 Ace as IWGP Heavyweight Champion once again, Cagesiders?