Strong Style: Thy WrestleKingdom come!


More WrestleKingdom action!

Welcome once again to another week of Strong Style, Japanator's look at New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV.

This week we are once again back at the Tokyo Dome and WrestleKingdom 11. AXS is doing a special early presentation of the big card from January 4th, 2017 and this week we look at the semi-main event as well as the tag titles are on the line! Let's jump right into it!

Since this is an American exclusive, we get a cool introduction of what we are going to see this week. Loving the new intro and wish they'd keep it! I get surprised when they show a small video of Naito plugging the show on AXS.

IWGP Tag Team Titles: Guerrillas of Destiny vs. G.B.H. vs. Yano/Ishii

Oh boy, what a story here. G.B.H. won the tag titles last year beating Anderson and Gallows. After beating that same team in a rematch Tama Tonga said he'd find a new partner, who turned out to be his brother Tanga Loa, and they beat Honma and Makabe for the belts. Then late last year Makabe and Honma won the World Tag League tournament by beating Loa and Tama, so Global Bash Heel won the right to get the shot here. HOWEVER, literally, days before this show, Yano, who wasn't booked for WrestleKingom 11, got mad and decided to steal the title belts and then stole the World Tag League trophies as well. In response to both teams wanting to kill him, Yano was put into the match and selected fellow CHAOS member Ishii to be his partner.

Got that? There will be a quiz later worth a quarter of your grade for the year.

We begin things with a look at the CHAOS teams entrance video showing off a bunch of people from past WrestleKingdom shows. Guys like Muta and the Briscoe brothers are shown so there is some context to that I don't know and they don't explain. Yano is carrying all the stolen stuff while Ishii is just here to murder people. As Honma and Makabe are introduced Yano gently slides in the corner behind Ishii because he knows he is in for it. When the Guerrillas comes out Yano just bails to the far side of the ringside area with his goods and hides. It doesn't take long as the Guerillas just circle around ringside and start to beat the crap out of Yano while Togi and Honma go after Ishii in the ring. Soon Yano rolls in the ring and both opposing teams start on the thief!

The bell rings and we start officially with Roa and Honma. Honma gets a few shots in and then a slam. Like clockwork, he immediately goes for the falling headbutt and misses. Roa starts throwing kicks and punches and he seems fired up tonight because he is cursing up a storm in the ring! Unfortunately, they edit it out which is a shame because hearing it on the other feed is hilarious!

Yano tags in off of Loa and immediately pulls the turnbuckle pad right off. Honma feels it as he gets whipped into that corner twice and then Yano bounces the poor guy's head off the buckle as well. Ishii comes in and beats the slobber out of Honma in the corner. He drops Honma with a slam but a pin gets two. Yano comes in and does nothing before tagging Tama. Okay. The guerrillas take Honma and Roa holds him for Tama to strike but Honma moves and Roa gets a hit and falls to the floor. Tama picks up Honma but Honma locks in the front face lock and muscles Tama up in a suplex. Before he can try for the pin CHAOS both come in to break things up.

Honma tags in Makabe and he flattens everyone! He has people in all four corners getting hit. CHAOS collides into each other on the attack and then the Guerillas come in and try to double team on Makabe. Honma comes in to even the sides and we have a brawl. Honma and Makabe both land northern lights suplexes on the Guerillas but only get a two on either. Loa and Honma roll out and Tama and Togi start going at it in the ring. Togi tries to bounce off the ropes but Tama does the same and runs around Togi to confuse him. Make turns and Tama lands a DDT. Loa and Honma come back in. Loa goes down with Honma getting the headbutt, but Loa is back up and gets a powerbomb on Honma. Honma gets back up but Ishii comes in and flattens them both.

Tama and Yano then come back into the ring but the Guerrillas take out both Yano and Ishii. They turn their attention to Honma and hit him with a jacked up spike powerbomb. Pinfall nearly gets three. The guerrillas set Honma up for their version of a magic killer but Makabe comes in to break it up. The Guerillas try a double clothesline on Togi but he breaks right through it and takes them both down. Togi and Honma hit the double clothesline on Tanga Loa and Honma follows it up with the kokeshi headbutt from the top rope. A cover attempt is broken up by Tama who has recovered.

Tama tries for the stunner but Honma holds on it to block but Tama hits another one to take him down. The Guerrillas hit a reverse spike DDT and take Togi out. Honma comes in and gets hit with a spine buster but Yano made the blind tag. They attack Yano but Ishii comes in. Ishii is then hit. Ishii is picked up for a double suplex but Yano gives them both a low blow! He scoops up Tama and gets the pin! That sneaky sunuvagun just won the tag team titles!

We get some words from both guys knowing how big this match is for both guys. Tanahashi said he failed to win the IC title when Nakamura vacated, while Naito has never said he wanted the belt, and that it just kind of fell in his lap. Naito says that Tanahashi is over the hill and is finished.

IWGP Intercontinental Title: Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

I recently read that Naito and Los Ingobernales were New Japan's biggest merchandise seller currently. Makes total sense then to put him against the biggest star of the company at the biggest show of the year. The buildup for this is that way back over a decade ago when Tanahashi was just getting going in NJPW, Naito was his young boy and a big fan. They have faced each other more than once over the next 11 years or so, but this is the highest profile match between them. Naito also doesn't admire Tanahashi much anymore and thinks his time is up.

Tanahashi comes out to his new music that is...meh. As he comes down the ramp playing air guitar, josh Barnett brings up and interesting point as to if either guy is trying to win the Intercontinental title or win for other reasons. Naito has said he didn't want the belt and is aiming more to defeat Tanahashi in the Tokyo dome, while Hiroshi only hinting not winning the belt last year when it was vacated, but may just be "chasing his own career" as Josh puts it. These two have wrestled ten times with Tanahashi winning seven of those matches, as well as only losing once in the Tokyo Dome since 2008. Bizarre we have a title match and the second biggest match on the card where the belt seems secondary to both guys. Anyway, Naito comes out by himself surprisingly and wearing a burgundy suit with white shoes. Also of note here is Japanese actor and Bodybuilder Ken Yasuda is the guest ring announcer.

We come back from break as the bell rings. Slow start obviously with Naito. Naito avoids the lock up but Tanahashi is calm. Again Naito avoids the lock up. Tanahashi just blocks Naito in the corner before they finally lock up. Tanahashi pushes him to the corner but hits a punch right to the liver by Tanahashi! He punches him right in the gut! There ya go Ace! He tries whipping Naito into the ropes but he holds on. Tanahashi charged but hit with a boot to the face and thrown outside. Naito looks to run the ropes, but just decides to do his "tranquillo" poses instead of doing anything. Tanahashi comes in and Naito nails him. Naito locks in a headlock but Tanahashi reverses into an armlock and into his own headlock. Naito tries to push him off but Tanahashi holds on to the hair! They are into the ropes and Naito gets whipped in and nailed with a dropkick, and another and then into an armdrag.  Tanahashi gets into the corner and tries for the second rope but Naito dropkicks him right in the knee.

Naito goes right for it with a few shots at the knee of Tanahashi before picking the leg and putting it on the top rope and driving an elbow into it. Tanahashi tries for a reversal but Naito dropkicks him in the knee again! Naito slams the knee down a few times on the mat before picking him up. Tanahashi tries to counter with strikes before Naito grabs the leg and tosses to the ref who catches it and Naito nails him! Creative. Naito locks the figure four in on Tanahashi but Tanahashi gets to the ropes. Naito drops a couple of elbows and some paltry kicks to the head. Tanahashi gets up and lands some forearms but Naito just stomps the knee and just spits on Tanahashi.

Tanahashi gets into the corner and Naito charges but Tanahashi counters with punches. Tanahashi then does a leaping forearm shot that floors Naito to the mat. Tanahashi gets a short forearm and a slam before hitting the second rope senton but only gets two. Naito gets up and Tanahashi lands some liver punches. Naito grabs Tanahashi and picks him up and drops him on the knee. Naito goes for something off the ropes but Tanahashi lands a short dropkick to Naito's knee! Tanahashi begins attacks on Naito's legs. Naito tries to bail but Tanahashi grabs him and gets a dragon screw leg whip on the apron. Josh points out that Tanahashi is actually going after Naito's good leg here as Naito's other leg was the one he had ACL surgery on a while back and has a wrap under his kneepad. So by going after the good leg, Naito has to protect using his weaker leg. Smart thinking. Naito goes down but Tanahashi grabs him and lands the slingblade on the apron! Naito smacks the apron with his head and goes to the floor. Tanahashi goes UP! High fly flow from the top to the floor!

We come back with both guys on the floor. Tanahashi is the first to move and he gets back into the ring. Tanahashi gives the "tranquillo"  pose to Naito! Kind of like Tanahashi being a dick here. Both guys back in the ring and they are both hobbling badly now. Hiroshi gets in a knee kick and then tries to go to the top rope. Naito just falls on the ropes and Tanahashi falls and crotches himself on the buckle. Naito just starts hammering the knee before he climbs up. Rana off the top and Naito with a German suplex and bridge for two!  Naito goes for gloria but can't get it as Tanahashi counters it. Naito hooks him and gets gloria in this time. Naito tries the tornado DDT but Tanahashi blocks it but Naito hits the dropkick to the knee for that.

They grapple and counter each other before Naito wins the struggle and ends up locking in a different version of an Indian deathlock than I've ever seen. Naito grinds down hard on it before Tanahashi reverses it around and sits up. He finagles the lock and turns it into the cloverleaf! Tanahashi sits down on it hard before Naito is able to get to the ropes.  Tanahashi pulls him back but Naito is in the ropes and gets a dragon screw leg whip. Tanahashi gets in two slingblades but only gets a 2 count. Tanahashi goes up but Naito sits up, Tanahashi takes a dive and hits it anyway. He goes up for another one but Naito rolls out of the way! He hits destino! He tries it again but Tanahashi counters into a neckbreaker and they are both out.

They stagger up and Naito hits a forearm and now they are trading back and forth Rapid fire until Naito stomps the knee, but Tanahashi hits Naito in the knee. Now they are trading kicks to the knee (neither will ever be able to adventure again). Tanahashi pops up with a slap and nails a dragon suplex for two! Tanahashi goes up and hits high fly flow to the back. He goes up again and dives and lands on Naito's knees! Dude, stop doing that! Don't go for it again!

They are in pain and struggle up. Naito lands the enziguri and gets a reverse DDT off the ropes but only two. Naito picks him up and lands destino again and scores the win! Naito retains the title! Ref presents Naito the belt and he just tosses it aside. Naito poses over Tanahashi in the ring but taps Tanahashi a few times, possibly out of respect? He then leaves the ring without the belt.

We get backstage words and Naito says that an era is over and Tanahashi is done. He is in Naito's past and ancient history. Michael Elgin shows up! He says Naito to be happy he has the belt because he is going to win it back and an eye for an eye after Naito broke Elgin's eye socket months before.

Both matches were very good, but edits were made here. Seems odd to me that they edit all of the swearing in the tag match when Josh literally is talking about Ishii "tearing shit up" in the match. It was a crazy mess of a match but it was all right. Naito and Tanahashi's match was very good and Josh pointing out the weird circumstances in a title match where neither guy seemed to care about the belt. Fun show!

Next week we have both NEVER titles on the line for action so join us for that!

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Soul Tsukino
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Soul Tsukino lives in the state of Maine. When not enveloping himself in a new fiction story he also comments on happenings in the animation and Otaku fan scene. A creative writer since he was yo... more + disclosures



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