Welcome to the Tokyo Dome.
Cobb suplexing two men...because he can.
A fun match to kick off the day. Nagata and Suzuki looked good in the match. I would love to see them go one on one again. Cobb is a monster. The Best Friends looked good early on. Killer Elite Squad are formidable powerhouses. Yano is the one true ball-shot Ace. Overall, a lot of people got to show off due to the relatively long length. You could probably put together an entertaining card just with people from this match. Yano nails a pair of low blows and schoolboys Smith for the win.
Ospreay has Ibushi trapped
A terrific match between two of the best in the world. Great strikes, great high flying, and great psychology. In the day following this show, people were circulating a gif of Will hitting Ibushi with a kick as Ibushi went for a Golden Star Moonsault to the outside. The idea is that "he's jumping when the guy isn't on the floor. They are bad wrestlers." Shame on those people. In reality, Ibushi started the move when Will was still on the floor. It makes sense in the context of the match. These two guys are geniuses in the ring. They know what they are doing.
The story of the match was that these two guys were very evenly matched, but Ospreay is still recovering from a severe rib injury. Would that make a difference? It turns out that Ospreay was able to stay one step ahead of Ibushi in some seriously spectacular sequences of counters just long enough to use his striking to put down Ibushi. Will Ospreay nailed Ibushi with a back elbow to the neck and a Storm-Breaker to get the pin and win his first Never Openweight Title. Post-match, Ibushi was stretchered out.
This is a great match. I'm not sure if it will meet the outrageous expectations that some fans had going into the show. Also, people that automatically think that flips equal bad wrestling will hate it, because of course they will. But if you go into this match with fair expectations, you will find a lot to like.
Takagi: Junior Human Tank
A good, but not great match. The biggest flaw being the format. All of these guys are very good, and they executed their moves well, but it's tough to really build an interesting narrative in a 3-way tag team match. Guys just aren't in the ring long enough to put together a proper story most of the time. Also, I don't like the rule of 2 guys in the ring and the 3rd team being on the apron waiting for a tag. Especially when the action breaks down and guys just don't bother to tag at all.
Roppongi 3K were in the ring the majority of the match. They did well as one would expect. Bushi and Kanemaru, in particular, felt like they got totally lost in the shuffle. They barely did anything. Takagi got put over as a huge powerhouse. There was a specific sequence where he hit 3 signature moves in a row. His version of a Gory Special and 2 Axe bombers on Sho. It leads to Sho kicking out clean. If Takagi is supposed to be such a powerhouse that probably should have been a broken up pin instead of just a clean kick out. Takagi picked up the win with Last Of The Dragon.
If you don't have time to watch the entire show, add this one to the skip list. It's okay, but all of these guys have better matches regularly.
Ishii counters Sabre
This is two masters of wrestling psychology going at it. Each with their unique specialties that when combined form amazing professional wrestling. They say styles make fights, and this match is an excellent example of that.
Zack Saber Jr is obviously one of the most unique wrestlers in the world. When we focus on his elite level grappling, it can be easy to forget that he's actually a very well rounded wrestler. His striking is excellent, and his selling has improved over time.
When it comes to selling though, Tomohiro Ishii is at a Hall Of Fame level. No one has better facial expressions than him. He can balance being an unbreakable stone wall of badass fortitude, while also vulnerable. Which makes him a perfect opponent for ZSJ.
There was a particular spot in this match that I would like to single out. A super-plex by Ishii followed by an arm breaker by ZSJ. It was absolutely beautiful. It's not really logical, but it's a great example of how you can intentionally break logic if your timing is good enough to create a very memorable moment. It's the art form of professional wrestling.
ZSJ won with a double armbar submission.
Nick Jackson takes flight
This was better than the previous Junior Tag Titles match. They did a better job of overcoming the triple thread tag stipulation and putting together some memorable spots. Sanada, in particular, had a string of planchas that was an enjoyable sequence. It goes without saying, but he's a hell of an athlete. LIJ wins with a Magic Killer and Sanada moonsault.
This was a very solid match. Not required viewing, but enjoyable.
A very predictable match. Brandy interference, brandy gets kicked out, punching spots, finisher trades, etc. Most fans probably pictured this exact match beat for beat before it actually happened. There was also a lack of intensity in the match, and it felt kind of short for a Tokyo Dome singles title match since it only went about 9 minutes. I find Cody's facial expressions just awful. Juice is a fine wrestler, but he needs a great wrestler to play with to maximize his gifts. Juice wins with a couple of Pulp Frictions. The second one felt unnecessary in a match that didn't really feel like a grudge match due to said lack of intensity. Overall, a dull package. On a 5+ hour show, this is easily the most skippable match of the night.
A well worked match. Kushida worked over Ishimori's arm, and Ishimori used his superior athleticism and strength. They didn't try to do too much here. Just a straightforward championship match by two technically excellent wrestlers. The thing that keeps it from being a really excellent match is a lack of big memorable spots. Still, the match is pretty good. It's not required viewing, but if you have the time give it a shot. Ishimori wins with a Bloody Cross.
Very cool white Switchblade gear
I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Kazuchika Okada is the greatest wrestler I've ever seen at finisher teases. He makes his finisher and his opponent’s finisher mean so much in a match. In a world where finishers are devalued via unnecessary kickouts and finisher spamming, the greatest wrestler of this generation shows exactly how to get the most out of finisher while still protecting them in every single big match that he's in. And this was no exception.
The story of this match is that Rainmaker Okada has his groove back, and but White is a very talented jerk who will take a shortcut even if he doesn't have to. In the end, despite a few attempts to break the rules that failed, White wins clean with his finisher because there is more than just flash, there is substance to Gedo's latest meal ticket.
This match was great. Not the greatest Okada Tokyo Dome match, or probably Okada's best 2019 match by the time it's said and done. But it was a very good, satisfying big match that positioned both Okada and White well for the rest of the year.
Naito gets spiked
This match was a badass brawl. Naito jumped Jericho before the bell. Jericho spiked Naito right on the top of his head on a DDT on a table. The match had great use of a kendo stick, great use of weapons, and very meaningful use of the IWGP IC Title. These two guys had a great ying-yang type of dynamic together. Jericho is a violent madman veteran, and Naito is a gifted athlete with something to prove to himself.
In the big picture of the overall show, this match needed to be more brutal and more intense than the rest of the card. And while it wasn't a deathmatch, more closely resembling a WWE extreme rules match, it delivered on the intensity that was promised. It really helped elevate the rest of the card in my opinion.
Naito wins with a belt shot and a Destino.
Tokyo Dome Main Event time!
Tanahashi is like the old heavyweight boxer past his prime. He has one last shot at glory. He might not be what he used to be, but he's a wily veteran, and he still has the puncher's chance. Omega is the champion in his prime. He needs to end the legend for the sake of his own legacy, but he has a fatal weakness: his knees.
This match was awesome. Both guys are masters of momentum, and getting the crowd invested late in matches. This very had a big match feel in every sense of the word, and it lived up to the Tokyo Dome main event setting a good standard for the rest of the professional wrestling world to try and meet the rest of this year.
Tanahashi won with the High Fly Flow.
The show gets an additional 4 Stars non-Wrestling rating. It's one of the biggest shows of the year. The show has an amazing atmosphere overall.
Wrestle Kingdom 13 gets an average match rating of 3.2, a total match rating of 32, and an overal show rating of 3.27. Those are pretty strong numbers in my rating system. By my estimation the show produced 4 match of the year candidates: Ibushi Vs Ospreay, Ishii Vs ZSJ, Jericho Vs Naito, and Omega Vs Tanahashi. A good way to kick off the year.