Special Event: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17, Night 1
January 5, 2023 3:58 PM - Subscribe

The biggest night of Dave Meltzer's year comes around again, as New Japan Pro Wrestling has its first Wrestle Kingdom following the passing of honorary chairman Antonio Inoki. The only way to rewatch (legally) is on NJPW World, where a monthly membership costs 999 yen a month (roughly US$7.60). Many excellent matches, results below the fold.

Most of this text is cribbed from CNet's writeup:

-- Catch 2/2 (TJP and Francesco Akira) def. CHAOS (Lio Rush and Yoh) to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
-- KAIRI def. Tam Nakano to keep the IWGP Women's Championship.
-- FTR (Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler)'s losing streak continues, as they lost the IWGP Tag Team Championship to Bishamon (Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi)
-- Zack Sabre Jr. def. Ren Narita to become the first ever NJPW World Television Champion
-- Tama Tonga def. Karl Anderson for the NEVER Openweight Championship. Anderson made history as the first person to wrestle a match for NJPW while under contract to WWE, which has... implications for Forbidden Door 2023?
--Keiji Muto, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shota Umino def. Los Ingobernables de Japon
-- In the Four-Way Match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, featuring Taiji Ishimori vs. Hiromu Takahaski vs. El Desperado vs. Master Wato, Takahashi pinned Master Wato, meaning Ishimori lost the title without ever being pinned
--Kenny By-God Omega showed up cosplaying as Sephiroth (Nitter backup) to defeat Will Ospreay for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship.
--Jay White lost the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship to Kazuchika Okada, who has now won that title for a second time.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Also, this isn't a match result, but months and months of speculation came to a close as Mercedes Moné (f/k/a WWE's Sasha Banks) made her debut at the Tokyo Dome this year, as NJPW continues to build out its women's division. She entered exactly when most predicted she would -- right after Kairi retained the IWGP Women's Championship. She announced the two would be facing each other at Battle in the Valley on Feb. 18.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 3:59 PM on January 5

Zack Sabre Jr., a native Brit, called out UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during his entrance (Nitter backup), screaming "pay nurses, dickhead, pay nurses a living wage." 
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 4:04 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]

Master Wato wuz robbed.

Anyway, New Year Dash was yesterday. It's the show that sets up what is going to happen next in NJPW:

Minoru Suzuki, El Desperado and Ren Narita may have some sort of alliance that will see them take on the House of Torture for their three-man title.

The rest of the former Suzuki-gun are sticking together, possibly calling themselves "Just 4 Guys" and we may get Kanemaru/DOUKI vs Catch 2/2 and TAICHI vs Ospreay out of their match.

TMDK vs Bishamon and Zack vs Ishii plus Kosei Fujita goes from Young Lion to "young boy" member of TMDK much to Ryohei Oiwa's chagrin.

YOH vs Hiromu and maybe Naito vs Umino.

Jay White vs Hikuleo in a Loser Leaves Japan (!) match.

Takagi won the KOPW which now comes with a belt.

Omega and Okada teamed up! And possibly Omega vs Jeff Cobb for the US title. Also Okada agreed to meet Takagi for the IWGP title but they still haven't said when.

Also, Wrestle Kingdom is not done! Today at 5:00 PM JST they will announce the card for the 1/21 show in Yokohama. It will once again be NJPW vs NOAH, partially set up by KONGO crashing the LIJ post-match presser.
posted by LostInUbe at 5:18 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]

I wonder if Mercedes gets some kind of tune-up match before Battle In The Valley, an apéritif before Kairi rains joshi hell on her.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 6:10 PM on January 5

I think the only show that would make sense for her to show up at is the Stardom anniversary show in Osaka on February 4th. We still don't know what her contract status is but I don't think there are any US indy shows that would be big enough for her to appear at.

I know she is no slouch but can you imagine her taking either Kairi's backfist or even something like Tam's Violet Screwdriver?
posted by LostInUbe at 6:31 PM on January 5

Can I imagine it? I'm looking forward to it! This may just be me being nostalgic, but I've seen her get her head stomped in by Bayley after a 30-minute Iron Woman match, not to mention her fights against "stiff worker" Charlotte Flair.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:28 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]

can you imagine her taking either Kairi's backfist or even something like Tam's Violet Screwdriver?

Mercedes Varnado scorpions herself on basic dives so often that she clearly does not give the slightest shit about taking any move from anyone else; they can't possibly hurt her any more than she does to herself. I think she and Kairi will be very motivated to show out on the big stage.
posted by Etrigan at 8:33 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]

After reading that, the match we should most look forward to in Stardom is not Mercedes vs Giulia but Mercedes vs Mayu Iwatani.
posted by LostInUbe at 9:11 PM on January 5 [2 favorites]

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