Wrestle Kingdom 7 Review

Wrestle Kingdom 7 Review!


Since January 4, chances are you’ve heard of the incredible buzz surrounding the annual Tokyo Dome show, Wrestle Kingdom. Many have called this year’s edition one of the best pro wrestling cards ever held! Samuel DiMascio and I both watched the full event and are ready to offer up an opinion on this big show. Is the show deserving of the high praise it’s getting? Find out below, as we tackle Wrestle Kingdom 7: Evolution!


Sam: “Anything with Bob Sapp is already an automatic win but when you throw in Akebono with Sapp you get double the amount of fun. They didn’t bring in Sapp and Akebono for their amazing ring skills but for being HUGE men that bring in just a little bit more people. Seeing their super fun interactions though was definitely a plus. I think this match started the whole show off on the right foot.” (Rating: **3/4)


Billy: “This was merely a match to get the crowd into the show, and on that level it succeeded. Bob Sapp has an undeniable charisma, even though his in-ring ability is sorely lacking at this point in his career. The interactions with Akebono and himself certainly brought the crowd to life. Solid, basic opener that served its purpose.” (Rating: **1/2)



Billy: “I’ve heard the NEVER championship best described as the equivalent to something like the NXT title, and is not generally defended on the big NJPW shows. As for the match itself, I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Shelton Benjamin gets a bit of a bad rap, and for good reason. His performances over the last few years have been pretty uninspired. But he actually put in some effort here and we got a pretty good match. Tanaka is still pretty solid in the ring, and my only real complaint was that the match seemed to end kind of suddenly.” (Rating: ***)


Sam: “This seemed like a very, very average WWE championship match on TV. Tanaka deserves better than this. Benjamin since leaving WWE has seemed like he doesn’t put in a hundred percent effort.”(Rating: **)


Sam: “So this was a pretty darn good tag title match. Interesting that three out of the four participants in this tag title matchup are gaijins. Archer looks like a beast. When the referee does a two count and Archer gets all up in his face saying, “What the f*ck?” I loved it. KES as a whole is an enjoyable heel gaijin team. Anderson is possibly the best American who hasn’t been picked up by the WWE. Goto can still deliver on occasion. All four men put on a well worked match that played to everyone’s strengths.”(Rating: ***1/2)


Billy: “This was a really good tag team match, and if anything, showed to me that Lance Archer has found his role. He is a MONSTER overseas and I was really impressed with how he came across here. Harry Smith also seems to be hitting his stride and I’m really digging the KES pairing. Goto came to work tonight and ‘Machine Gun’ brought the goods as well.” (Rating: ***1/2)


Billy: “The legendary Nagata and the awesome Suzuki tore into each other right off the bat, and continued to do so until the final bell. Stiff kicks, good psychology & good mat work made for a hell of a match. Plus, it’s always fun to pop for the Nagata armbar/eye roll. Good stuff.” (Rating: ****)


Sam: “Old men are pretty irritable. Don’t believe me, go watch this match. From the get go these guys are kicking each other in the face. Suzuki worked the leg and Nagata worked the arm. There was interference by Taichi while sorta annoying I did find it pretty fun to just wreck people with a chair as he tried to get to Nagata. You get the Nagata/Taker eyes when Nagata does the arm bar so that’s always something to enjoy. I didn’t find this great like some I still thought it was good.” (Rating: ***1/2)


Sam: “Super fun junior sprint. If you haven’t heard about the awesomeness of Low Ki dressing up as Agent 47 then you are missing out. It was one of the best outfits I have ever seen in a wrestling match. Added a sweet look to the match. These three are some of the top juniors in the world and it shows. Yes, some of the spots looked silly such as the top rope dropkick to break up a pin attempt or Ibushi doing a crazy dive to the outside while Ki and Devitt pretty much just stood there waiting for Ibushi to stop revving up the crowd and actually commit to the move but the spots looked cool. Cool enough to cover up the fact that they were over choreographed spots for the most part. If you are a fan of that fast junior style then you would be compensated with a quality match here.”

(Rating: ***3/4)


Billy: “Wow! Fast-paced, well worked and (again) alot of fun. First, Low-Ki coming out dressed like the lead character from the ‘Hitman’ game was awesome and added a great aesthetic element. This 3-way is in stark contrast to most 3-way matches seen here in the States, as there was action throughout, almost non-stop. I’m not sure if Ki is making any more appearances for NJPW after this, but this was a great way to go out if he doesn’t. Prince Devitt was great as usual, as was Kota. A few contrived spots, but nothing that diminished the match for me personally. Awesome junior’s match.” (Rating: ****1/4)


Billy: “Unfortunately, Daichi Hashimoto was injured and couldn’t compete here, which was supposed to be him sort of taking the place of his father, Shinya Hashimoto, among these other 3 legends. While we didn’t get that moment, we did get Shinjiro Otani and an almost unexpectedly great tag match featuring 4 of Japan’s most legendary names. It’s amazing to me that Mutoh is still so over, a real testament to the man’s aura. Fun match, and at the end we got a little interaction between Tenzan & Hashimoto, which I’m assuming will lead to something more. (Rating: ***3/4)


Sam: “This is a basic legends match-up. It was supposed to be the coming out party for Daichi Hashimoto but sadly he got injured and is replaced by Otani. Nothing wrong with that in the least in regards to the quality of the match but it does sadly push back Hashimoto’s debut which will have to happen at another big show. In case anyone was wondering Otani is still indeed a wrestling god. The man walks into chops like it’s no big deal.” (Rating: ***)


Sam: “Really fun brawl. Shibata looks like an assassin and Makabe looks like an animal at points. This match was pretty short but there is a lot to enjoy in the amount they put in. Just as it looks like Makabe is about done he goes into beast mode and starts lariating Shibata like there is no tomorrow. There’s also a lovely powerbomb by Makabe to Shibata through a table. Shibata stays in the position he was powerbombed in like rigamortis has already set in.” (Rating: ***3/4)

Billy: “Just a fun fight featuring two guys beating each other up. Short, but still good. Shibata used his MMA and Makabe was Makabe. I looked for Shibata to win this, but have no complaints with Togi going over. Would enjoy seeing a rematch.” (Rating: ***1/4)


Billy: “Unbelievable stuff. If you enjoyed Brock Lesnar vs John Cena from Extreme Rules last year than you will LOVE this match. First things first, Nakamura has an undeniable ‘it factor’ and it really comes through the screen when you watch him, in my opinion. Most Americans will know of Sakuraba through his fights in the UFC. Maybe the best worked MMA/wrestling ‘hybrid’ I’ve seen yet, and this will be a contender on many MOTY ballots. I loved this match; it had great mat work &absolutely BRUTAL strikes. Watch this–NOW.” (Rating: ****3/4)

Sam: “This was unreal. I have heard this compared to Lesnar vs. Cena but shorter, and that definitely is an apt comparison. I wasn’t sure about this match when I heard it with Sakuraba not just being older but also a man who hasn’t really done pro wrestling on a regular basis. Nakamura didn’t care about that though and worked a short match, about eleven minutes, in a style his opponent could flourish in. This match started with slow but incredibly engaging grappling. The turning point was a slap that changed the entire tone of the match. Sakuraba became a killer MMA zombie. Sakuraba delivered some absolutely vicious strikes. He threw palm strikes, double stomped onto Nakamura’s face, and delivered a knee to counter a Nakamura takedown attempt that looked like it literally killed him. That knee gave Nakamura a bloody mouth that created an amazing visual. While Nakamura got in more offense in this match probably than the man formerly known as the Gracie Hunter, it was Sakuraba who looked like he was going for the kill whenever he was on offense. It was moments like a beautifully performed Kimura that brought drama to this match. At any moment you thought Nakamura could have his arm broken during the Kimura. This match combined solid mat work and an insanely great second half for a classic Dome match. If this match doesn’t end up being in my Top 5 MOTY then 2013 will have been a hell of a year.

(Rating: ****1/2)


Sam: “This match was another great match out of Okada and Tanahashi that was a solid chapter to Okada vs. Tanahashi. I’m pretty positive these guys can’t have a bad match against each other. That being said it was probably my least favorite match of theirs. For 30 minutes they put on a show with drama and goodness. Tanahashi has worked the NJPW Main Event Style for so long that he is better than anyone else at it. It was easy to tell early on that these two were going to be wrestling for a while. That was one of the issues I had where it seemed telegraphed that it was going to be long where the work overs didn’t seem to have much of a purpose besides keep the match going forward. I loved the fact that they teased the Rainmaker but didn’t ever use it. It is a match ender and when Okada isn’t able to use it it makes the move seem more important later on. That being said they did enough stuff going forward to still bust out a great match.” (Rating: ****)


Billy:” As great as the previous match was, this was a sterling example of pro wrestling at its finest. The 3rd match in the awesome series featuring these two and they delivered big-time here. I would probably put their February 2012 match ahead of this, but that doesn’t diminish this in any way. Pre-match video package was great as well, and shows you just how far Okada has come in the last year. He’s legit one of the best in the world, and of course, Tanahashi is just awesome. Great psychology with both guys looking to avoid the others’ finishers. Tanahashi wins after hitting his 2nd High Fly Flow of the match. Great, great match and, not surprisingly, another early MOTY candidate.” (Rating: ****1/2)


Overall Thoughts


Sam:” Let me first address the statement that this is one of the best wrestling shows of all time. For me that is not so. Just last year there were one or two shows that were equal to or possibly even better than Wrestle Kingdom which were also by NJPW. That doesn’t mean that this show wasn’t a great show because it certainly was. Only match I would consider really skippable is Benjamin vs. Tanaka but everything else is at least worth a watch. Throw in the fact that you get a quality main event and an early front runner for MOTY with Sakuraba vs. Nakamura this is a must watch show for 2013.”



Billy: “During a Q&A that I held last week, I said that I had no problem putting this show alongside WM X-7, Bash ’89 and WWF Canadian Stampede as one of the best shows that I’ve ever seen and I still feel that way today. Not a bad match to be had–no filler matches , nothing that felt necessary to skip over–just a great top to bottom card. NJPW’s King of Pro Wrestling card can probably be put in the same category, but this is a must-see card for any wrestling fan. A true classic.”


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