New Japan kicks of 2014 with it's biggest show of the year!!
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 8
Tokyo, Japan 1/4/14
1.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - Fatal Four-Way - The Young Bucks vs. The Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA) vs. The Forever Hooligans vs. TAKA Michinoku & Taichi): ***1/4
The Young Bucks (members of Bullet Club) come into this match as the champions. Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA live up to their tag team's name by coming out in a Delorean (while KUSHIDA is wearing Marty McFly's Orange Vest)!! Alex Kozlov tries to sing the Russian National Anthem but the Young Bucks take him out with superkicks to get things going. This was a pretty entertaining opener with a lot of fast paced action, as you would expect. The Young Bucks eventually hit More Bang For Your Buck to score the win and retain their titles.
2.) IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles - The Killer Elite Squad (Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr.) vs. Bullet Club (Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows): ***
The Killer Elite Squad ride out on motorcycles while Bullet Club come out in cameo with Gallows carrying a rocket launcher/bazooka type thing. Archer & Smith Jr. are the champions coming in. Interestingly enough, this match is full of non-Japanese Talents. This was a fine match. Nothing really outstanding, but everyone did their stuff and put forth a solid performance. Anderson & Gallows pick up the win and the titles. This means that Bullet Club now has both New Japan Tag Titles.
3.) NWA World Heavyweight Title - Rob Conway vs. Satoshi Kojima: **3/4
Yes...that Rob Conway (from WWE) is the NWA World Champion. Bruce Tharpe does the announcing for Conway. Tharpe starts to get in the face of Harley Race, who will be ringside for this match, and Race (who's having a hard time getting around) punches him out. Then we get the match. Again, we have a match that was fine, but nothing really noteworthy. Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kojima's Tag Partner, takes out Jax Dane, who accompanied Rob Conway. Eventually Kojima gets the win over Conway to claim the NWA World Title! He posed for photos with Harley Race after the match.
4.) Kazushi Sakuraba & Yugi Nagata vs. Rolles Gracie & Daniel Gracie: DUD
Sakuraba & Nagata come out wearing masks, along with a bunch of little kids. Apparently The Gracies are a very well known Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Family. I should note that Daniel isn't an actual member of the family. I'm not going to say much, because this sucked, big time. The match ended in a DQ, I think? We might be getting a rematch? I don't care.
5.) Minoru Suzuki & Shelton "X" Benjamin vs. Toru Yano & The Great Muta: **
Yano & Muto come out to an awesome entrance involving dragons. Suzuki's Entrance Music is still EPIC! The match itself was ok. Muta can't do much in his old ago, Yano's matches (that I've seen) haven't been all that good, and Benjamin has been hit or miss in New Japan. Suzuki was fine in here, but he ended up getting the mist from Muta and small packaged by Yano for the win. Forgettable Match.
6.) King of Destroyer Match - Bad Luck Fale vs. Togi Makabe: **1/2
Basically this is a Last Man Standing/Knockout Match. Fale is also a member of Bullet Club. An average match, but definitely better than the last two. At one point they went to the outside and used an infamous Japanese Table, and the Table ACTUALLY BROKE!! Eventually Makabe finally knocks out Fale for the win.
7.) Hirooki Goto vs. Katsuyori Shibata: ****
If I've got the story right, these two have been best friends for many, many years (since childhood), and they're going at it in the Tokyo Dome to see who is the better man. This is also Goto's return from injury after suffering a dislocated/broken jaw during the 2013 G1 Climax. Both guys have pretty cool entrances. This was a really great match. Both guys hit really hard and both put forth great efforts. Goto finally picks up the win and they help each other up and are still friends after this feud.
8.) IWGP Jr. Heavweight Title - Prince Devitt vs. Kota Ibushi: ****
Devitt has an amazing entrance where he comes out in a casket (Like Undertaker from Survivor Series 2005) and is wearing face & body paint to make himself look like Carnage (the Spider-Man Villain). It's seriously awesome. Stop reading this review and go watch it (Seriously). He's also accompanied by the rest of Bullet Club. Thankfully the referee throws out Bullet Club after numerous attempts to interfere early on in the match. These two had a really good back and forth match before Ibushi is finally able to put Devitt away, winning the Jr. Heavyweight Title!
After the match, El Desperado comes out and basically challenges Ibushi for the title at a future date.
9.) IWGP Heavyweight Title - Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito: ****1/2
Naito got this title shot by winning the 2013 G1 Climax. Okada's entrance is always BOSS. If you're wondering why this match isn't the main event, their was a vote held to determine which match was the main event: this match for the Intercontinental Title Match. The IC Title won, so this match is now the Semi-Main Event. Despite that, this was easily Match of the Night. Okada always turns out awesome performances no matter who he's against. Naito really showed off his stuff here to. They have great chemistry, and it produced an awesome match. Eventually, Okada is able to outlast Naito, putting him away and retaining his title.
10.) IWGP Intercontinental Title - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: ****1/4
Stan Hansen comes out before the main event. Tanahashi is accompanied by Marty Friedman (longtime Guitarist from Megadeath) who performs his theme live. Awesome. Nakamura (the champion) comes out to these pole dancers. Their have been a lot WrestleMania Style Entrances tonight. This was a pretty awesome main event, which is exactly what you would expect from Tanahashi & Nakamura. Even though it wasn't as good as the IWGP Title Match, it still had a lot of great action, and eventually Tanahashi gets the win and the Intercontinental Title to close the show!
While I've heard a lot of people say this wasn't the best Dome Show (and I'm willing to bet that their have been better), it was still a pretty good one. The show started off good with some solid title matches, but then hit a rough patch in the middle with some matches that were definitely less than stellar. Thankfully, the last four matches were all really good and definitely delivered. A very good show on the whole from New Japan.