Thursday, December 28, 2023

The History of NJPW WrestleKingdom (WK6)

The last WrestleKingdom show to not be a classic....

WrestleKingdom VI - 1/4/12

WK6 was a bit of a step back.  It was by no means a bad show; in fact every match was at the very least watchable.  But in the vein of a SummerSlam '93 there were neither highs nor lows.  It was one of those PPVs where it's hard to pick the best match because nothing really stood out from the pack.

The show started out quite promising, with Apollo 55 vs. No Remorse Corps.  This was a great opener with fast-paced, continuous action with crazy tandem offense.  All four worked well but once again Devitt was the standout - watching NJPW has given me a real appreciation for Devitt/Finn Balor that I wouldn't be able to fully process based only on his NXT run.

The blazing speed continued with Jushin Thunder Liger, Kushida, M├íscara Dorada and Tiger Mask vs. Atlantis, Taichi, Taka Michinoku and Valiente.  This was a spectacular Lucha showcase with all kinds of wild aerial moves.  A lot of fun througout, but the ending was abrupt and anticlimactic, kinda coming out of nowhere.

The five-minute Kazuchika Okada vs. Yoshi-Hashi was next; little more than a showcase for Okada's new Rainmaker character (his third gimmick in as many WK PPVs).  The crowd wasn't reacting to his stuff yet, and his Rainmaker clothesline was much less brutal.

The fourth match was a slugfest, as Stack of Arms (Masakatsu Funaki and Masayuki Kono) faced  Seigigun (Yuji Nagata and Wataru Inoue).  This was really good while it lasted and featured stiff MMA-infused offense.  Sadly it was too short to amount to that much and felt like they were rushing to fit everything in.  Five more minutes would've elevated this one.

Next up was MVP and Shelton Benjamin vs. Masato Tanaka and Yujiro Takahashi, in a so-so tag match.  Shelton still looked like his WWE self in 2012; lately he's looked sluggish and unmotivated, but maybe it's his current heelish character.  His offense here was was quite lively.  Tanaka brought out the obligatory table and kendo stick spots.  Not bad but not very memorable either.

The IWGP Tag Championship was next: Bad Intention vs. Tencozy.  This was a pretty good Tag Title match with lots of double teaming and relaxed tag rules.  Almost a tornado tag.  I'm still not convinced Albert was any better in Japan than in the US, and he returned to WWE only a couple months later.

Business picked up a bit with the final five matches, the first of which was Hirooki Goto vs. Takashi Suguira.  This wasn't quite at the level of their WK4 match, which felt like a main event.  This was shorter and felt more like a midcard match.  Still good and stiff, but lacked the drama and suspense of their previous match.


Next was Togi Makabe vs. Yoshihiro Takayama, which was a little plodding but had some good spots, such as Makabe spider-suplexing Takayama off the top rope.  Takayama is just very sluggish and his style is a little tough to get into.  Against an opponent like Nakamura who can sell like crazy for him, he seems more impressive, but against a brute like Makabe he just seems like a bit of a clod.  Not a bad match but not super exciting either.
A high-energy, compelling tag match was next: Shinsuke Nakamura & Toru Yano vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Go Shiozaki.  I loved the exchanges between Nakamura and Marufuji - they were crisp and extremely well-timed.  Shiozaki and Yano worked pretty well together too, trading big power strikes.  Yano plays a very entertaining douchy heel.  The ending was anticlimactic with Shiozaki just hitting two suplex variations in a row to pin Yano, but otherwise this was a really fun match.

The semi-main event was Keiji Mutoh vs. Tetsuya Naito.  I found this a little too methodical, as the early minutes reminded me of a run-of-the-mill 80s NWA match with all grappling and headlocks.  It was fine but went on a little too long.  They eventually broke out some big outside-the-ring spots, but the second half was much too repetitious, as though they had only mapped out a 15-minute match but were given 22.  Mutoh really relies way too much on the Shining Wizard, hitting it about six times in this bout.  He finally got the win with the moonsault.  I'm thinking Mutoh was probably too old by this point to still be in semi-main events.  This wasn't bad but I'd only give it about 2.5 stars.

Mutoh's forehead is looking like Abdullah's these days.

The main event once again saw Hiroshi Tanahashi defending the IWGP Heavyweight Title, against Minoru Suzuki.  This was a little underwhelming for me.  They worked well together but there wasn't a big sense of urgency to this match.  Their King of Pro-Wrestling match nine months later was significantly better than this one.  Suzuki's character performance adds a ton of drama whenever he's in there and this two told a good story, but it was lacking that extra oomph.  The closing minutes were strong as they turned it up a notch, but I didn't love this match overall and would probably rate it ***1/4.

The Champ's in trouble!

WK6 was the weakest entry since the first, with nothing bad but also nothing above 3 stars or so.  It was just a very middling show from start to finish and aside from the Nakamura tag match and the opener, was missing a real sense of excitement.

Best Match: Nakamura/Yano vs. Marufuji/Shiozaki
Worst Match: Okada vs. Yoshi-Hashi - Just too short to amount to anything.
What I'd Change: The first half of this show built things up well but then the second half didn't pan out as expected.  This show was again missing that must-see bout.  I'd have cut Mutoh-Naito down to 15 minutes and maybe given the Nakamura match more time to truly steal the show.
Most Disappointing Match: Goto vs. Suguira - given how good their WK4 match was I was expecting more from this
Most Pleasant Surprise: Probably the Nakamura match, which had more of a big-fight feel than I expected
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
Better than WrestleMania XXVIII? - No

Thanks for reading - subscribe to our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter, MeWe, Facebook and YouTube!


No comments:

Post a Comment