For the first time in my life, I decided to tune into a wrestling promotion that wasn’t a WWE run show. New Japan has been a promotion that has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years thanks to matches like the Okada vs Omega trilogy in 2017. What sold this show for me though was Chris Jericho heading back to Japan to challenge Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Championship in a no DQ match. In what NJPW deemed a dream match, this was a match I did not think we would ever see.
As I was watching this match in the wee hours of the morning, I could not think but this was the closest thing New Japan could get to a WWE style match under NJPW billing. The no DQ match introduced multiple chair spots, a crazy table spot on the outside and Kenny Omega spraying cold spray in the face of Jericho to blind him. The difference though that made me love this match so much is that the wrestling was still one of the main focuses of the match. Each wrestler showed to the entire world why they are two of the greatest wrestlers of all time in both and in ring and story telling standpoint. I knew after this match, I was going to be continuing into New Japan in the future.
However, Jericho vs Omega wasn’t the only great match on this absolutely stacked card. Cody vs Kota Ibushi was an extremely fun match and it had a really awesome spot where Cody hit his infamous Cross Rhodes on the apron to the floor. It was one of the coolest moments of the entire night and it was something that I never saw before. Also Ibushi high flying finisher to get the win showed to me why he is one of the most underrated talents in the world today.
The Junior Heavyweight Championship match with Marty Scurrll, Will Ospreay, Hiromu Takahashi and Kushida was another phenomenal match that to me proved why Will Ospreay is one of the top talents in the entire world at such a young age (24). His moonsault off the light fixture went with Cody’s Cross Rhodes as one of the coolest moves of the night and made my jaw completely drop. Ospreay overcame some great heel work by Marty Scurrll and great performances by Kushida and Takahashi and was able to regain the championship for the second time.
The final match I wanted to highlight from Wrestle Kingdom 12 was the main event between Kazuchika Okada and Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. First off I just want to say that this match was an absolute battle! Okada has held the championship for over 560 days making him the longest reigning champion for this title in New Japan history. This shows that to beat him you have to pull out all the stops. Without a doubt, Naito pulled out all the stops to try and win the championship for the second time in his career. Naito continued to target the neck of Okada and he was able to kick out of multiple Rainmakers (Okada’s finisher) which is one of the best finishers in all of wrestling. In the end, after both traded finishers in an absolutely incredible final exchange, Naito fell victim to one last Rainmaker and Okada was able to retain and close the show.
Overall, Wrestle Kingdom 12 will go down as one of my all time favorite wrestling shows that I have ever watched and it turned me into a fan of New Japan in an instant. Although WWE will always be my #1 go to promotion when it comes to wrestling, I am glad that I gave this incredible promotion a chance and witness some of the best talent in the entire world perform. I look forward to seeing what New Japan decides to turn out in the rest of 2018 as they just gained a large amount of new fans from Wrestle Kingdom 12, including me!