The biggest PPV of the year for any company outside of the WWE is New Japan's Wrestle Kingdom event which always takes place on January 4. Next year we will have the unlucky number 13 edition of the yearly spectacular event and I thought like I did with Wrestlemania I could offer some prediction for Wrestle Kingdom. Looking at this past years card we saw a number spectacular matches including Tanahashi & Naito and Jericho vs Omega which both left fans talking for weeks after the event. To be fair these two matches left fans talking for different reasons as many fans believed that Naito should have won the World Title at the event. However, now let's look at the type of card I see for the event next year:
Wrestle Kingdom 13
New Japan Rumble
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship:
(c) Suzuki Gun (Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs Roppongi 3K
IWGP Never Openweight 6 Man Tag Championship:
(c) Young Bucks & The Villan vs Los Ingobernables vs Togi Makabe, Dave Finlay, and Toa Henare
Tomohiro Ishii vs Minoru Suzuki
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship:
Will Osprey vs Jushin Liger vs (c) Kushida vs Hiromu Takahashi
IWGP Intercontinental Championship:
(c) Tetsuya Naito vs Juice Robinson
IWGP Tag Team Championship:
(c) Killer Elite Squad vs Golden Lovers
IWGP Never Openweight Championship:
(c) Hirooki Goto vs Jay White
IWGP United States Champion: Rematch from New Japan Cup
(c) Zack Sabre Jr vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Loa) vs Chaos (Briscoe Brothers & Yoshi Hashi)
Hangman Page vs Toru Yano
IWGP World Championship Match:
(c) Cody vs Kazuchika Okada
Recently I spoke with someone about what makes New Japan different to the WWE and the more I got to thinking about it the more I thought it would make a good article. Now I will be the first to admit that I don't know a lot about New Japan but I do feel like I know enough to discuss this as most of it is based around opinion. In my opinion things in New Japan breakdown to two things first of which is the booking style and the other is the underlying talent within the roster. Even though they did in fact loose some top stars in recent years both the roster & the ability of Gedo to book covered the wholes that were made.
Though I will point out that a lot of non NJPW fans think that the shows are overrated and the matches are slow or not as good as they are made out to be. In all honesty some matches are overhyped and overrated by the NJPW loyalists, but its also possible that if you are use to watching US wrestling and don't normally watch any other type of wrestling it will be hard to get interested in NJPW. Even though some might not understand the idea that there are many different types of wrestling I will point out that it is almost impossible to compare WWE & NJPW because they are just too different from each other. Fact is I feel as though New Japan has more of an old school wrestling feel where the main focus is the wrestling and it's legit. Let me explain a little more as I mean that Japanese wrestling fans respect wrestling and look it as a respectable & honorable to do which is the opposite for American wrestling fans. This means it is easier to keep fans interested because of how much respect they have for those who work in the ring & the incredible talent is just icing on the cake.
Going hand and hand with the incredibly talented roster is bookers so good that they sent one of them to Pro-Wrestling NOAH to help keep that company alive. Now I know from prior knowledge that Gedo & Jado looked to Dusty Rhodes as a "mentor" type with not just there in ring style but booking as well. Though in some cases I do have to question the booking choices made by New Japan much of what I do with the WWE I do also have to praise them for brining the old school style into the new age. Basically New Japan goes the simple way and shows how good wrestling can be if you don't overthink things. It does also pay having as good a roster as they do, but the booking is the more important part, because if you have good players but a bad coach then the team wont win.
For anyone living under a rock that may not know who Zack Sabre Jr is well he is one of the most skilled mat wrestlers in the world and still hasn't found his potential in my opinion. The reason I think that Zack still has untapped potential is him still being a fresh face in Japan and relative unknown in the states. Though I do know that he spent time in PWG and was the companies World Champion, but I mean as far as a national scale he isn't the most known name. However, based on recent events his status in Japan might be getting a boost recently with his performance in the New Japan Cup.
During the tournament Sabre made Naito, Tanahashi, Sanada, and Ibushi all submit which is an incredible accomplishment due to the status of the talent he defeated. Now I know that at this point he has come up short against Okada, but is definitely still looked at as a credible challenger. Looking at the booking they made sure that Sabre would be looked at as a credible challenger and gave him the biggest push possible.
For fans that are new to Japan and are use to the WWE style of booking this seems a foreign due to the amount of investment they put in Sabre for such a short gap. But that is likely the reason they gave him such a push at the New Japan Cup. Now with Tanahashi as the next challenger for Okada many would think that Sabre falls back down the card, but I think due to his solid performance in the Main Event he will be sticking around for the time being even if it will be a while before his next shot.
Honestly, I didn't expect to find this match in any form due to how long ago this match was but after watching this match I am happy I found it. There is no doubt that this feud between the Golden Lovers and Bullet Club has been one of the most interesting things going on in wrestling right now. Also just thinking about the fact that Omega and the Young Bucks have really been together in some form or fashion for over two years at this point means a lot of history is on the table in this match.
The only thing that I will add is that even though this style is very different then the one that is prominent in other promotions. It is tough to not think that Kenny & the Bucks are among the Best Wrestlers in the World and though they have critics anyone who thinks they don't have talent is crazy.