• All Aboard the S.S. Strong Style: Wrestle Kingdom 9

    Shelly Deathlock cares too much about Japanese wrestling and, as Captain of the S.S. Strong Style, she’s here to welcome you on board and fill you in on what’s going on in the world of puro.

    Even though Tom Blargh is the resident puro expert on Wrestling On Earth — no, on the WHOLE INTERNET — he’s letting me take the reins and break down the card for New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 in a way we can all relate to.

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    Wrestle Kingdom 9 is New Japan Pro Wrestling’s 2015 Tokyo Dome show. The show has been annual for more than 9 years, but ever since they started calling it Wrestle Kingdom and numbering it, we’re up to 9. It’s always on January 4th, and it is always a good time.

    This year you can watch it on NJPW’s amazing streaming service NJPWWorld (for ¥999/month with no commitment, yes, seriously), or through Global Force Wrestling’s distribution of it on PPV. GFW’s broadcast will have Jim Ross and Matt Striker ringside in Tokyo providing English commentary, saying everyone’s name wrong, and being really, really excited.

    Here are the ten matches on the main card. Links go to wrestler profiles on http://www.cagematch.net for your convenience (and because I swiped the match listings from there, man, that site is almost as good as Wrestling On Earth).

    IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Four Way Match

    Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 16.22.06

    The players: reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) (c) vs. Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero) vs. Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA) vs. Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson)

    A funny thing: At Wrestle Kingdom 8, the Time Splitters came out in a Delorean.

    An important thing: At Wrestle Kingdom 8, the Time Splitters came out in a Delorean.

    Have these guys ever beaten Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one? No. But the Forever Hooligans are part of his stable, CHAOS, so that makes them the best, I guess, according to Nakamura-math.

    Kaomoji excitement level rating for this match: (((\(@v@)/)))

    Six Man Tag Team Match Because Reasons

    Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 16.22.24

    The players: BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck FaleJeff Jarrett & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) & Tomoaki Honma

    A funny thing: When Jeff Jarrett turned on Hiroshi Tanahashi to join the Bullet Club, it took Scott D’Amore, like, thirty seconds to open Jarrett’s guitar case so he could hit Tanahashi with a Bullet Club-branded guitar.

    An important thing: Tomoaki Honma was in the 2014 G1 Climax tournament (replacing Kota Ibushi, who had a concussion) and didn’t win a single match in ten shows so the whole internet is riled up and ready for HONMANIA to run wild.

    Have these guys ever beaten Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one? Unfortunately, Fale defeated Shinsuke for his IWGP Intercontinental Championship this year but don’t worry he got it back we’ve moved on.

    Kaomoji excitement level rating for this match: (; ̄Д ̄)

    Tag Team Match Because Toru Yano Hates Takashi Izuka Or Loves Him And Is Sad Or Something

    eightmanmatch

    The players: Naomichi MarufujiTMDK (Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste) & Toru Yano vs. Suzuki-gun (Davey Boy Smith Jr.Lance ArcherShelton Benjamin & Takashi Iizuka)

    A funny thing: Among other things, Iizuka is known for terrorizing commentator Shinpei Nogami and, among other things, spray painting him up like Doraemon.

    An important thing: OH BABY, TMDK and Marufuji from NOAH have joined up with Toru Yano in his endless quest (that nobody else in his stable, CHAOS, cares about, and also they all have championship matches at the show to worry about, so…) to take down Suzukigun, this is a pretty exciting big deal.

    Have these guys ever beaten Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one? Only Davey Boy Smith Jr. has a win over Shinsuke. And I don’t remember but I’m sure he cheated.

    Kaomoji excitement level rating for this match: ヽ(*⌒∇⌒*)ノ

    UWFI Rules Match Oh My God Oh My God Oh My God

    sakurabasuzukimatch

    The players: Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Minoru Suzuki

    A funny thing:

    An important thing: Since Sakuraba and Suzuki are both legitimate fighters with bad personalities they’re probably going to rip each other’s limbs off. This will be contested under UWFI rules, which means a wrestler can only win by knockout or submission. No bullshit. It’s going to be beautiful and brutal and you’re going to love it and I’m so genuinely excited I can’t even find anything funny to say.

    Have these guys ever beaten Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one? WHO CARES IT’S SAKURABA AND SUZUKI. (But actually? No.)

    Kaomoji excitement level rating for this match: (*˘︶˘*).。.:*♡ (ღ˘⌣˘ღ) ヽ(♡‿♡)ノ ( ´∀`)ノ~ ♡ ( ´ ▽ ` ).。o♡

    NEVER Openweight Championship Match

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    The players: Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Togi Makabe

    A funny thing:

    ishii

    An important thing: These dudes are insane and somebody’s jaw is probably going to get broken again. It’s gonna be so good, if you’re into STRONG STYLE FIGHTING SPIRIT.

    Have these guys ever beaten Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one? Makabe beat Shinsuke in a G1. While Ishii doesn’t have a win over Shinsuke, Shinsuke has said that Ishii is his biggest competition in NJPW in terms of putting on a great in-ring performance.

    Kaomoji excitement level rating for this match: (ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧

    IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match

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    The players: Ryusuke Taguchi (c) vs. Kenny Omega

    A funny thing: Kenny Omega wrestled a 9 year old girl, just in case your furious and irrational disdain for intergender matches isn’t already going to boil over and spill into a frothing angry mess all over the floor of the internets, losers.

    An important thing: Kenny Omega joined the Bullet Club so I guess we’re supposed to hate him now. Also he wrestled a 9 year old girl so IWGP junior heavyweight champ Taguchi should be no problem.

    Have these guys ever beaten Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one? Of course not, Shinsuke probably hasn’t been a junior heavyweight since he was fifteen.

    Kaomoji excitement level rating for this match: ٩(•̤̀ᵕ•̤́๑)ᵒᵏᵎᵎᵎᵎ!!!!

    IWGP Tag Team Championship Match

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    The players: BULLET CLUB (Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson) (c) vs. Hirooki Goto & Katsuyori Shibata

    A funny thing:

    shibatagoto

    An important thing: This is very important — best friends Goto and Shibata won the NJPW Tag League Tournament at the end of 2014 to get a shot at the IWGP tag team titles at Wrestle Kingdom 9. It seems like Shibata doesn’t care much as long as he gets to kick someone but Goto really wants a belt, he said so. I hope he finally gets one!

    Have these guys ever beaten Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one? Goto & Shibata both have wins over Shinsuke. In addition, they’re all the same age (and Goto and Shibata went to high school together!), so they’ve all been amaturely and professionally wrestling each other for many years. Karl Anderson also has a win over Shinsuke, but Doc Gallows does not. Huh. I wonder if he feels bad. Probably.

    Kaomoji excitement level rating for this match: \(^∀^)メ(^∀^)ノ

    Singles Match For No Real Reason Except Pride Probably

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    The players: AJ Styles vs. Tetsuya Naito

    A funny thing:

    naitoaj

    An important thing: Naito beat AJ Styles in the G1 tournament this year while Styles was IWGP heavyweight champ (before  Styles dropped the belt to Tanahashi, making Tanahashi the most prestigious IWGP heavyweight champ ever, THANKS AJ), which AJ insists was a fluke.

    Have these guys ever beaten Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one? Naito has beaten Shinsuke. AJ has never wrestled Shinsuke one-on-one, which, kami-sama willing, we’ll have the opportunity to see next year.

    Kaomoji excitement level rating for this match: ٩(●˙▿˙●)۶…⋆

    IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match

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    The players: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Kota Ibushi

    A funny thing:

    ibushigenerico

    An important thing: Shinsuke has beaten everyone who’s come for his IC belt and I think it may be welded to his soul at this point. Kota Ibushi just recently moved up to heavyweight (he is a former IWGP junior heavyweight champ), so this is his first shot at a title in his new weight class.

    Have these guys ever beaten Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one? No! In a stellar G1 match against Ibushi in 2013, Shinsuke was victorious. As far as I know, Shinsuke holds no wins over himself somehow, but I’d probably pay a dumb amount of money to watch Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Shinsuke Nakamura.

    Kaomoji excitement level rating for this match: ☆☆☆☆☆*:.。. o(≧▽≦)o .。.:*☆☆☆☆☆

    IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match

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    The players: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada

    A funny thing:

    tanahashi okada

    An important thing: As I mentioned previously, Tanahashi is the most prestigious IWGP heavyweight champion in the history of NJPW, with seven reigns, the most successful defenses of the title, and also the longest combined number of days as champion. Okada is a 27 year old former two time IWGP champion and two time G1 Climax winner (winning the G1 tournament is how you get a shot at a title at Wrestle Kingdom and get to carry around a briefcase with your contract in it!). Okada says Tanahashi’s sun is setting and he wants to be the “ace of the new era.”

    Have these guys ever beaten Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one? Boy, have they. They’re almost as good as he is. What a time to be alive!

    Kaomoji excitement level rating for this match:  $$$\(*T▽T*)/$$$  レインメーカー ♡

    – Want to hear more from Shelly Deathlock? Have any burning questions about puro that you just have to ask? Go bother her on Twitter at @indiandeathlock

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