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CALDWELL'S NJPW TOKYO DOME RESULTS 1/4: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of New Japan's biggest show of the year - four title changes, former WWE/TNA stars featured, more

Jan 4, 2014 - 10:00:07 AM
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New Japan "Wrestle Kingdom 8" Results
January 4, 2014
Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


Top News: Tanahashi captured the IWGP Intercontinental Title from Nakamura in the main event. ... Okada retained the IWGP World Title in the semi-main event. ... Other title changes included Kojima capturing the NWA World Title from Rob Conway, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows capturing the IWGP Tag Titles from Killer Elite Squad, and Kota Ibushi capturing the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title from Prince Devitt. ... New Japan announced that the annual G1 Climax will conclude at the Seibu Dome in August.

Read More: More details on the Tokyo Dome show and pictures reported HERE via PuroresuSpirit.com.

- New Japan's biggest show of the year was available on Internet PPV through Ustream.TV at this link.

- The pre-show match featured a chaotic eight-man tag match won by Tenzan. Tenzan's team also featured Bushi, Captain New Japan, and Tomoaki Honma. The losing squad featured Jushin Liger, Super Strong Machine, Nakanishi, and Yohei Komatsu.

Live PPV Card

After the usual outstanding intro video package played, a live band playing traditional Japanese music opened the show on-stage. An English-speaking announcer introduced the show before a duo of English-speaking announcers broke down the 10-match line-up.

For the opening match, the Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA) were introduced to the ring in a replica of the Back to the Future car. Meanwhile, the announcing feed switched back-and-forth between the Japanese and Spanish-language broadcasts. This should be interesting.

Next out were TAKA Michinoku & Taichi, followed by Forever Hooligans (complete with Alex Koslov sporting a Samuel Shaw mustache), then IWGP Jr. tag champions Young Bucks out last.

1 -- IWGP Jr. tag champs YOUNG BUCKS (NICK & MATT JACKSON) vs. TIME SPLITTERS (ALEX SHELLEY & KUSHIDA) vs. FOREVER HOOLIGANS (ALEX KOSLOV & ROCKY ROMERO) vs. TAKA MICHINOKU & TAICHI -- four-team match for IWGP Jr. Tag Titles

Shenanigans during the pre-match ring introductions, then Koslov asked for everyone to stand for the National Anthem, but Young Bucks superkicked Koslov and Romero to jump-start the match. Superkicks flying already. TAKA and Taichi bailed in the opening minute to comically sit in on Japanese commentary. But, they couldn't be heard since the feed stayed with the Spanish-language announcers.

Koslov introduced his traditional Russian hat, which led to TAKA and Taichi stealing it and doing his dance move into kicks to the face. This led to an eight-man mid-ring suplex spot. All eight men sold the effects of the suplex as the crowd applauded. The spot sequences then moved to the floor, where everyone hit high-flying moves. Suddenly, Taichi was left alone in the ring. Taichi removed his pants to reveal traditional wrestling trunks, but Young Bucks delivered a superplex into a pile of bodies on the floor. Everyone sold, then the ref reached a 19 count, but everyone jumped back into the ring at the same time before a 20-count.

Time Splitters got a visual three count, but the ref was distracted by the presence of a chair. Young Bucks followed with a spike Tombstone Piledriver on Taichi, but TAKA broke up a pin. Young Bucks followed with More Bang For Your Buck on Taichi for the pin and the win.

WINNERS: Young Bucks at 10:38 to retain the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles. Creative, fun opening match. Just really well-done spotlighting New Japan's junior tag division.

Next out was Tama Tonga to lead out Bullet Club members Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows (recently D.O.C. in TNA's Aces & Eights stable) dressed in war-themed camouflage. Killer Elite Squad were then introduced on motorcycles, which came across like a rib on Doc.

2 -- IWGP World tag champs KILLER ELITE SQUAD (LANCE HOYT & DAVEY BOY SMITH, JR.) vs. BULLET CLUB ("MACHINE GUN" KARL ANDERSON & DOC GALLOWS w/Tama Tonga) -- IWGP Tag Title match

Lots of chaos early on to keep the action moving. Tags brought in Hoyt and Doc for a big mid-ring exchange won by Hoyt, but he could not secure a three count. Hoyt wanted a top-rope move, but Tonga crotched him out of the ref's view, drawing boos from the Tokyo Dome crowd. Moments later, Hoyt had the match won on Anderson, but Tonga pulled the ref out of the ring this time. So, Hoyt pulled Tama into the ring for a Killer Bomb combo with Smith.

K.E.S. wanted a Killer Bomb combo on Anderson, but Doc broke it up. A four-way brawl broke out before Hoyt stood tall in the ring and called for a chokebomb on Doc, which he emphatically delivered, but Doc kicked out of a pin. Hoyt tried again on Anderson, but Anderson reversed in mid-air to deliver to a cutter. Smith broke up a pin, then Bullet Club delivered a combination neckbreaker (Magic Killer) on Hoyt for the pin and the win.

Post-match: Tonga celebrated with Anderson and Doc in the ring as Smith freaked out ringside. Back in the ring, Anderson clutched one of the Tag Title belts before the heels stood tall in the ring, angering the crowd.

WINNERS: Bullet Club at 10:23 to capture the IWGP Tag Titles. Bullet Club 2-0 in the opening Tag Title matches.

Prior to the NWA World Title match, Harley Race was introduced to the ring. Race and referee Tiger Hattori shared a moment in the ring before Kojima was introduced, alongside Tenzan. NWA president "Instant Heat" Bruce Tharpe then appeared in the ring to antagonize the crowd. Rob Conway, backed by his NWA tag champ partner Jax Dane, was then introduced to defend the NWA World Title. Before the match started, Tharpe got in Race's face, so Race left-handed Tharpe in the mouth.

3 -- NWA World Hvt./NWA tag champion ROB CONWAY (w/Jax Dane) vs. KOJIMA (w/Tenzan) -- NWA World Hvt. Title match -- Harley Race ringside

The bell sounded and the crowd exploded. Major support for Kojima after all the heat built on Conway and Tharpe over the past year. Conway controlled early on, but did a strut in Kojima's face that upset the challenger and produced about 25 rapid-fire chops in the corner, popping the crowd. But, Jax interfered, saving Conway and distracting Kojima, allowing Conway to regain control.

Conway targeted Kojima's injured shoulder with chops, which upset the crowd and Tenzan ringside. Kojima, fired up, responded with a snap suplex for a two count. Jax then jumped on the ring apron and put Kojima in a sleeper, but Tenzan yanked him off the ring apron and back-dropped him on the floor. Back in the ring, Kojima dramatically removed his elbow pad, but Conway ducked and speared Kojima. Conway wanted the Ego Trip, but Kojima blocked. Conway tried again, but Kojima blocked again.

Kojima nailed a left-elbow smash, then fired up the crowd and nailed a running lariat. One, two, and three. New NWA World champion as the crowd roared in approval. Ringside, Tharpe threw a fit as Race smiled. Tharpe then angrily left his position as Kojima shook hands with Race and received the NWA World Title. Kojima and Race posed for the ringside photographers as Tharpe, Jax, and Conway retreated away from ringside. Kojima then returned to the ring to celebrate with the title belt.

WINNER: Kojima at 8:30 to capture the NWA World Title. Solid booking climaxing the NWA vs. New Japan feud over the past year with Kojima capturing the title. It will be interesting to see how the return match and follow-up fares after the satisfying victory for New Japan fans.

4 -- ROLLES GRACIE & DANIEL GRACIE vs. SAKURABA & YUJI NAGATA

The MMA-style exhibition started with Daniel controlling Sakuraba and trying to choke him against the ropes, but the ref asked for a rope break. Daniel continued to control Sakuraba, so Yuji broke up a submission hold, which actually drew cheers. Yuji and Daniel then battled mid-ring, trading submission hold attempts.

A shoving match broke out, then the "MMA heels" Gracies began working on Yuji while ignoring the referee's instructions. Rolles wanted a submission on Yuji, but Sakuraba entered the ring and stomped Rolles in the face, breaking it up. Yuji then lit up Rolles with a kick before Sakuraba tagged in to attack Rolles. Chaos broke out before Daniel used his gi to choke Nagata. The ref called for the bell, which the Gracies thought meant they won, but the ref apparently DQ'ed them.

WINNERS: Nagata & Sakuraba via DQ at 9:50. The Gracies made for good heels after they figured out the role mid-way through, but the "match" was awkward trying to fit MMA into a pro wrestling match context.

In-ring: Shelton Benjamin and Minoru Suzuki were introduced for the next tag match. TAKA and Taichi accompanied them to the ring. Once they hit the ring, Shelton shouted into the ringside camera: "Break his ass," continuing the theme of gaijin U.S. wrestlers freely cussing. Toru Yano was out next, followed by Great Muta dressed in an elaborate Japanese warrior costume. Once in the ring, Muta removed his full warrior mask to reveal a second warrior mask to compete in.

5 -- GREAT MUTA & TORU YANO vs. SHELTON "X" BENJAMIN & MINORU SUZUKI

Once the bell sounded, Muta spewed green mist into the air, drawing applause from the crowd. Muta and Shelton battled early on, establishing a slow pace as the announcers noted Shelton's WWE background. By contrast, Yano tagged in and the match broke down into chaos. Things eventually settled down with Shelton and Suzuki controlling Yano back in the ring.

Chaos broke out again before Muta delivered a running kick to Shelton in the corner. Muta chucked Shelton to the outside, then jabbed him with the edge of a folding chair. Back in the ring, Muta delivered a trademark snap elbow drop, but walked into a spinning heel kick from Shelton. Tags to Yano and Suzuki. Then, more chaos. Even TAKA got in the ring to join the chaos.

Muta tried to spew red mist in Suzuki's face, but Suzuki ducked and Taichi took the mist. Rough night for Taichi. More chaos, then Muta rubbed his head and green-misted Suzuki after Yano ducked. Yano rolled up Suzuki for the pin and the win. Post-match: Muta quickly left the ring and walked to the back as Yano goofily celebrated in the ring.

WINNERS: Yano & Muta at 12:06. Well, that was something. A spectacle tag match and Muta sure is showing his age at 51-years-old, but he still got in his signature moves to please the crowd.

[Intermission. G1 Climax 2014 will take place in August and culminate at the Seibu Dome.]

6 -- BAD LUCK FALE vs. MAKABE -- Last Man Standing match

Fale came out first, then Makabe walked straight to the ring and assaulted Fale with forearms to begin the slugfest. Makabe won the initial exchange, knocking Fale to the outside. But, Fale took control on the floor and tried to choke out Makabe with a chain.

Back in the ring, Fale set up for and delivered his signature Bad Luck Fall crucifix powerbomb. The crowd oohed, then tried to encourage Makabe to answer a ten count, which he barely did. Fale then climbed to the top rope, drawing oohs from the crowd, but Fale crashed to the mat attempting a top-rope move.

The match moved to the floor, where Fale wanted to splash Makabe through a table, but Makabe sprung on him to deliver a powerbomb off the ring apron through the end of the table, nearly over-shooting the table completely. After Fale crashed awkwardly to the floor, Makabe rolled Fale back into the ring to inflict more punishment. Makabe then came off the top rope with a King Kong Knee Drop, which was good enough to knock out Fale for a ten count.

WINNER: Makabe at 15:05. Good big-man match that surprisingly went 15 minutes. Fale has big upside breaking out from the Bullet Club bodyguard role. Bullet Club now 2-1.

7 -- HIROOKI GOTO vs. KATSUYORI SHIBATA

Before the match, New Japan ran a video package documenting their history going all the way back to training together as students. Shibata marched down to the ring first, then Goto was introduced to a big reaction. Once the bell sounded, the crowd roared in support of their favorite. After an early feeling-out process, Shibata blasted Goto with a kick strike that showed he meant business.

Shibata was unrelenting with strikes and attacks that continued to rock Goto. The ref checked on Goto, who sold a facial injury following one of Shibata's kicks, but Goto showed he was fine by nailing a big lariat. Goto followed with Daniel Bryan "Yes!" kicks before climbing to the top rope for an elbow drop that resulted in a nearfall.

Reset with a standing exchange of forearms. And clotheslines. And kicks. Goto won the exchange with a lariat, but Shibata escaped a pin attempt. Suddenly, both men started no-selling rolling suplexes, but Shibata smashed Goto in the face with a kick to put both men on the mat.

Both men to their feet at 10:00, where Shibata delivered a Death Valley Driver into a running kick to the chest. Nearfall. Shibata discarded his mouthguard, then walked into a DVD across Goto's knee. And a second. But, it was only good for a nearfall. "Increible!" the Spanish announcer declared.

Reset with Shibata attempting another move from the fireman's carry position, but Goto blocked. Shibata suddenly leaned into a big headbutt that rocked both men, prompting a ten count from the referee. Shibata broke the count, then forearmed Goto in the face. Goto responded with a massive lariat, then emphatically delivered a vertical suplex slam. It was good for the three count.

Post-match: The two men laid head-to-head on the mat selling the effects of the match. They helped each other to a kneeling position as the announcer declared this a classic match. Shibata then lifted Goto's hand in the air to show respect to the winner. Shibata then helped Goto away from ringside, the two friends leaving together.

WINNER: Goto at 15:36. Amazing match from bell-to-bell. It was at another level rarely seen in the U.S. and based on such a simple story of two long-time friends competing hard in the ring in Goto's return match from injury. (****)

Next up was the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title match. Kota Ibushi, who main-evented the first EVOLVE show four years ago this month, was out first. Prince Devitt was then brought out on-stage in a standing casket. Devitt emerged dressed as a zombie, slowly walking to the ring in a Giant Gonzalez body suit. Once Devitt hit the ring, the entire Bullet Club appeared on the ring apron to give Devitt some encouragement.

8 -- IWGP Jr. Hvt. champion PRINCE DEVITT vs. KOTA IBUSHI -- IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title match

IBushi kicked some bodypaint off Devitt early on, drawing Nick Jackson to the ring apron to protest Ibushi's offense. Doc Gallows then dragged Ibushi out of the ring and the Bullet Club put a beating on Ibushi that drew boos from the crowd. The ref just shook his head in frustration before checking on Ibushi. Back in the ring, Devitt worked on Ibushi, then knocked him to the outside again. Once again, Bullet Club beat up Ibushi, including Anderson delivering a big powerbomb across the ring apron.

Young Bucks "helped" Ibushi back into the ring, where Devitt went for a top-rope double stomp, but Ibushi avoided and knocked Devitt to the outside. Young Bucks tried to attack Ibushi, but he landed a double-foot kick. Ibushi then delivered a big splash to the entire Bullet Club on the outside.

Back in the ring, Ibushi missile-dropkicked Devitt for a two count. Ibushi followed with a German Suplex with a bridge for a nearfall. Ibushi wanted a top-rope splash, but B.C. ran interference, which allowed Devitt to shove Ibushi off the top turnbuckle to the floor below. The crowd got tired of this and so did the ref, who finally demanded that Bullet Club leave the ringside area. Devitt ignored the activity and delivered a big dropkick on the floor that sent Ibushi into the guardrail.

Back in the ring, Devitt missile-dropkicked Ibushi for a two count. Devitt wanted another top-rope move, but Ibushi blocked and snapped off a sick Frankensteiner for a close two count. Ibushi then tried a corkscrew splash, but Devitt avoided and clotheslined Ibushi. Devitt followed an inverted brainbuster, but Ibushi kicked out. Devitt followed with a top-rope double stomp, but Ibushi kicked out again.

At 15:00, Devitt went for another suplex, but Ibushi escaped. Ibushi then snapped off a German Suplex into a lariat before delivering a sit-out powerbomb for a two count. Ibushi tried to end it with a top-rope 450 Splash, and it was good for a three count. Ibushi is new champ.

WINNER: Ibushi at 16:24 to capture the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Title. It was hard to take this match seriously early on with Devitt wrestling in body and facepaint, plus the constant outside interference, but the second-half was better. It also gave the audience another satisfying loss for the Bullet Club after their earlier run. Bullet Club finishes 2-2.

Video Package: Past IWGP World Hvt. champions. Brock Lesnar was included in the photo slideshow. G1 Climax winner Naito was then introduced as the challenger to the IWGP World Title. A dramatic and elaborate entrance then brought out "Rainmaker" Okada flanked by his manager, Gedo. Okada showed Naito a lack of respect walking right by him to pose in the ring, then the two came nose-to-nose for a tense staredown.

9 -- IWGP World Hvt. champion KAZUCHIKA OKADA (w/Gedo) vs. TETSUYA NAITO -- IWGP World Hvt. Title match

The bell sounded and the two men paused to hear the initial crowd reaction. They followed with a long feeling-out process to set the tone of this being a long title match. The action picked up at 15:30 when Naito delivered corner clotheslines, which Okada no-sold and told Naito to bring it stronger. So, Naito headbutted Okada down to the corner, but Okada responded by dumping Naito over the top rope to the floor. Naito sold a knee injury on the floor, which Okada targeted back in the ring.

Okada did his signature Rainmaker pose to indicate he wanted to end the match, but Naito elbowed away. Okada came back with his own version of an STF submission hold, trying to wrench Naito's back, but Naito dove for the bottom rope to force a break. Naito came back moments later with a top-rope Frankensteiner, then tried the Stardust Press, but Okada moved out of the way in time.

Reset at 27:00 before champ and challenger went through a series of power moves and pin attempts, drawing in the crowd with each passing nearfall. They came to their feet and traded bombs before Okada snapped off a textbook dropkick. And another to the back of the head as they passed the 30-minute mark. Okada then dropped Naito with a Tombstone Piledriver before calling for the end. Okada delivered a second Tombstone, then lifted up Naito for the Rainmaker lariat. One, two, three and Okada remains champ.

WINNER: Okada at 31:00 flat to retain the IWGP World Hvt. Title, ending Naito's journey. The match felt like a 20-minute match stretched to 30 minutes. The finishing sequence was very good, but the lack of a strong emotional connection like Shibata vs. Goto hurt the match early on.

Video Package: Tanahashi being Tanahashi and Nakamura hanging out at the bar contemplating life before their Tokyo Dome main event.

Back in the Tokyo Dome, Stan Hansen was introduced to the ring as a ringside observer for the main event. Interesting seeing him in a New Japan ring. Back to the stage, where a rock musician emerged through the platform to play along with Tanahashi's theme song. Tanahashi rocked out on the way to the ring, then paced the ring as Nakamura was introduced with his own elaborate, quirky ring entrance.

10 -- IWGP IC champion SHINSUKE NAKAMURA vs. TANAHASHI -- IWGP Intercontinental Title match -- Stan Hansen ringside

After some intense back-and-forth early on, things got "personal" when Nakamura slapped Tanahashi around, then delivered a knee smash to the back of Tanahashi's head. Nakamura followed with an overhead suplex before nailing the Codebreaker. But, Tanahashi came back with a snap German Suplex for a two count. Tanahashi jumped to the top rope, then came off the top with his High Fly Flow frogsplash for a close two count.

Reset with Tanahashi calling for the end. But, Nakamura intercepted with a knee smash. Nakamura then came off the second rope with a flying knee strike. A Shining Wizard followed, but Tanahashi kicked out of a pin. Nakamura wanted to end it, but Tanahashi dropkicked the left knee and landed a forearm strike. Tanahashi then trapped the knee for a legwhip, putting Nakamura in jeopardy. Tanahashi tried to capitalize with a Texas Cloverleaf, but Nakamura blocked, so Tanahashi flowed into a modified Styles Clash.

Tanahashi started feeling it as he caught his breath before climbing up-top. He caught Nakamura with another High Fly Flow, then jumped off the top with a third Flow. This time, it was good for the pin and the win, drawing a mixed reaction in the audience. Tanahashi stands tall at the end of Tokyo Dome this year.

WINNER: Tanahashi at 23:25 to capture the IWGP IC Title. Very good main event. Both wrestlers are so good at what they do in the ring. The Goto vs. Shibata match set a high bar for the rest of the show, and I felt they came close, but not quite there. (***3/4)

Post-match: Nakamura was helped out of the ring, leaving Tanahashi to stand tall in the ring. Tanahashi thanked the fans and said he is happy to have won the title. Tanahashi started to leave, but the crowd called him back into the ring. Tananashi pulled out an imaginary guitar and led the crowd in an air-guitar number before falling down to the mat. Tanahashi then brought back out Marty Friedman from Megadeath to join him in a musical celebration. Tanahashi played to the crowd and celebrated in the ring to close the five-hour event.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The big matches delivered, the undercard was hit-or-miss, and the event production was top-notch. The event probably would have been four hours reducing some of the elaborate ring entrances, but it's Tokyo Dome, so that's understandable. Now the question is where they go from here with Okada still IWGP World champion and Tanahashi now IWGP IC champion.


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