NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 Review and Repercussions - Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 Review and Repercussions - Triple Threat POV

Posted by Robert DeFelice Friday, January 12, 2018
Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling.

This week, Robert DeFelice, Callum Wiggins, and Jonathan Maldonado will be giving their thoughts after last week's incredible Wrestle Kingdom 12!

What a show! Okada shockingly retains, while Alpha vs. Omega shocked the wrestling world to its core! Let’s discuss…

Question 1: Before we cover the two main events, what other match or matches stood out to you?

MALDONADO: This year’s edition of Wrestle Kingdom delivered so many great moments, it’s hard to distill them into particular favorites. However, my match of the night outside of Okada/Naito or Jericho/Omega had to be Hirooki Goto vs.Minuro Suzuki for the NEVER Openweight Championship. It was a brutal showcase that wove an incredible story of a manic desperation to win into every strike. That hanging chokehold in the corner...shivers.

I also especially enjoyed Cody Rhodes vs Kota Ibushi, particularly for Rhodes heel work. Does anyone else get a strong Joker vibe from this dude? More than a few times the cameras caught Rhodes in the midst of some deranged facial expressions that made me wonder how much better he’d have been in Suicide Squad than Jared Leto. The action was perfectly paced and Ibushi did a wonderful job putting The American Nightmare over in a spot where he really needed it.

Finally, I think opener nailed it. The Young Bucks bucked the idea that they avoid ring psychology in favor the flippy stuff and put on a clinic against Sho and Yoh of Roppongi 3K. It was a great way to open up WK12 and set the tone for the rest of the evening.

WIGGINS: Wrestle Kingdom 12 overall was a fantastic event, with an undercard card that was overall very good and nicely varied. Every match had something unique about it to help it stand out from the pack.
Personally, three matches that stood out the most to me in a positive light. The opening match, for both Matt Jackson and Yoh's excellent selling of their back injuries, Suzuki vs Goto for its pure blood-curdling violence, and Ibushi vs Cody because it was an impressive performance for the heir to the Rhodes Dynasty, one that he has needed in NJPW for a long time.
However, something that sadly stood out in a negative sense was Tanahashi vs White. For his own well-being, Tanahashi has to drop the IWGP Intercontinental Championship soon, but White clearly isn't ready for such a prominent role. Hopefully, White's induction into the CHAOS faction will help build on his undoubted potential in the coming years.

DEFELICE: Without a doubt, the Fatal Four Way Match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship was my favorite. NJPW has always had a way of presenting the juniors and this match was such a fun masterpiece of chaos and exactly the kind of match you expect with this particular championship at stake. Also, honorable mention goes to Cody vs Ibushi. In a time where I feel like people are too hard on Cody, I saw a lot of critics praising him for this one and that made my heart happy.

Question 2: Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega competed in an absolute war. Did it live up to your expectations? What is next for both men in New Japan Pro Wrestling?

DeFELICE: I loved everything about the match. It felt like an old-fashioned western pro wrestling brawl. I was truly surprised because when the match was first announced, I was expecting a technical masterpiece. On the contrary, they delivered a match so unique to anything else on the card that of course, it was going to be your lasting impression. Chris Jericho‘s mannerisms were so much fun to watch and Kenny played his role perfectly. I haven’t really paid attention to a pro wrestling show since this and this match really left an impression on me.

I believe that Kenny will continue his ascension to the World Heavyweight Championship, and his personal journey to take this brand the next level by delivering classic matches, and more importantly, classic stories like the one told here.

Chris Jericho has made his intentions clear. He wants to be the Brock Lesnar of NJPW WORLD. This is a perfect role for Chris, as it fits his schedule while allowing him to expand the wrestling world and keep things fresh which is always his first priority as an artist of many talents. I look forward to his rivalry with Tetsuya Naito, and I hope that this is just a beginning of a long run on top in NJPW.

MALDONADO: Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega was a masterclass, plain and simple. For those of us, and there are legions, who have followed Jericho from the beginning, this heel run has been both a welcome return to form and a revelation. Jericho is unmatched as a heel without restrictions and he over delivered. There’s no one else who can make storytelling a literal weapon and move set, especially when tasked with taking on a much younger and far superior opponent.

For 35 minutes the Alpha and Omega went to war and invited us along for the ride. If professional wrestling is nothing more than combat theatre, these two owned the stage and held the audience rapt throughout their performance. While Jericho nailed every heel tactic imaginable, Omega somehow found a new gear while actually slowing his style to accommodate his opponent’s work rate.

From here Jericho goes on a bit longer with NJPW which hopefully leads to the WWE embracing rather than distancing its #1 competition. It cannot be lost on the WWE that one of its top stars has chosen to spend at least part of his twilight with NJPW just ahead of WrestleMania season. As the Japanese outfit continues its North American push, look for Jericho to be a key component of their strategy.

WIGGINS: From the moment the bell sounded, this match captivated me right up until that vicious One-Winged Angel on the steel chair. Chris Jericho is one of my all-time favorites, someone who despite his popularity still doesn't get the credit where he deserves in the discussion of the "Greatest of All Time". Even at 47-years-old, this epic match proved once again that there will never be another Chris Jericho, and we should treasure him while we still can.

The match was laid out perfectly by a legendary ring general in Jericho and creative visionary like Kenny Omega. Every spot had a purpose, Jericho's pandering brought the crowd alive, and you felt throughout that this was deeply personal. An absolute triumph.

I'm excited that Chris Jericho is staying in NJPW longer - he looks reinvigorated and hungry, and a feud with Tetsuya Naito is another opportunity to add credibility to one of Japan's biggest stars. As for Kenny Omega, an IWGP Heavyweight Championship run must be on the horizon. But for now, expect him to continue to grow the legacy of the US Heavyweight Title against worthy challengers.

Question 3: The IWGP Heavyweight Championship match was absolutely incredible! Who do you think is next in line to challenge Kazuchika Okada? Can he be stopped? Where does Naito go from here?

WIGGINS: Another awesome main event, proof if ever it was needed that Kazuchika Okada is the greatest wrestler on the planet right now. He might not have the charisma or flashy move-set of some of his contemporaries. But when it comes to stringing together the perfect story from bell-to-bell, he's unparalleled.

It appears the next stop for Okada is a title defense against SANADA - a chance to lend some credibility to a very talented competitor, who captured the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships with EVIL at Wrestle Kingdom 12. Okada should overcome that with relative ease, but with the New Japan Cup nearly here and the wear-and-tear on his body, his record-breaking reign could be coming to an end soon.

Honestly, I think NJPW dropped the ball on not having Tetsuya Naito win the title - the timing felt perfect, but he now needs to be built up again. A feud with Chris Jericho is a great starting point, matching wits with a wily veteran. Naito will be back in championship contention soon, but for which title remains unclear.

MALDONADO: That’s the million dollar question right there. Where exactly does Okada go from here? We all believed Naito’s time had come, especially as he geared up for a second Destino to finally dethrone the unstoppable Okada. But alas, it was not meant to be on this night.

It seems like Naito will move on to feud with Jericho, which by all means such be a money program. These two are bound to have a lethal chemistry between them. Where it eventually leads is interesting as both can make a case to legitimately challenge Okada after the feud runs its course, depending on who comes out on top. It’s not hard to imagine Jericho putting over Naito in this scenario, eventually leading to an Okada vs Naito II program, but I don’t think he should be relegated to a serious of putting guys over for the sake it. A Jericho run with the title, or at the very least a title challenge would do wonders for the company.

In the meantime, what do we get from Okada? An Ibushi feud? There seems to be little else for Okada to accomplish as the top guy in NJPW so it’s interesting to see where we go from here. Whatever it ends up being, I’m sure it’ll rock the wrestling world all over again. Dare I say Okada vs Omega IV with an Omega victory and dual title holder à la Seth Rollins?

DeFELICE: The rise of Tetsuya Naito Was something that was being buzzed about long before the bell rang and even watching from my iPhone screen, his popularity radiated and appeared palpable from the minute he arrived in the dome. I thought for sure a new champion would be crowned. Then, it happened. Finishing sequence so smooth and yet so surprising that I audibly gasped in a way that not a lot of pro wrestling makes me do anymore. let me present it the way it appeared in my head.

“Destino! He maintains control! Okay, here we go, one more to hammer it home and we’re done here. DESTIN—OH HOLY SHIT! OKADA CAUGHT HIM… HE ACTUALLY WON…”

I turned off the stream with the full belief that title belongs to Kenny Omega and they’re simply just waiting for the right time. However, Naito was robbed. It seems like he is staying right in the thick of things with this feud with Jericho brewing. I’m totally looking forward to that, but that doesn’t change the sour taste in my mouth that this finish left.

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?
Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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Robert DeFelice is a journalist and marketing student. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram as well as his apparel website Time Killer Apparel and his pro wrestling blog PandemoniuMania.


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