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Please click through for the Best and Worst of NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9.
Best: As Jim Ross Says, “Dance With Who Brung Ya”
The opening four-way tag team match for the IWGP Junior Tag Team titles was exactly what it needed to be. That sounds like simple praise, but in wrestling, there’s a real beauty in filling the role you were designed to fill. And at the end of the day, that comes down to all four of the tag teams involved being unique ingredients that play off each other extremely well. The Young Bucks are the chaotic troublemakers, Forever Hooligans are the hot-tempered powder keg, the Time Splitters are the lightning-quick sentimental favorites, and reDRagon are the technically-gifted champs with something to prove. The one thing they all have in common? Speed. Holy crap, this match was fast-paced. I mean, I’m used to seeing Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA set up offensive combos really fast, but a one-fall match with four teams added a real urgency to this. reDRagon ended up retaining the titles… I’m okay with this, because I think I know who I’d like to see them feud with next. More on that later.
Best: Enjoy The Silence
Here’s my take on the English commentary with Jim Ross and Matt Striker: As a cohesive unit, they worked fine. The two-man booth is usually necessary for one man to cancel out the other’s weaknesses, and that’s what happened here. JR can’t keep up with the speed of the junior heavyweights, but Striker can. Conversely, Striker can’t relate the GOOD GAWD ALMIGHTY passion of Kota Ibushi kicking out at 1, but JR certainly can. So, as a whole, this worked. And Matt Striker did something impressive and unexpected… he actually said OUT LOUD that he would occasionally just shut up and let the moments happen. That’s rare, and extremely necessary for Japanese wrestling. However…
Worst: Matt Striker On His Own
Man, he was doing pretty well up until the second match, and then it was just WORD VOMIT. The overuse of the word “legendary” was pretty annoying, but the real gripe is his pronunciation. “KenSOOkay Sasaki.” And for a guy who seems to respect Tenzan so much, he doesn’t know his first name. Hiroshi Tanahashi does not share a name with HiroYOshi Tenzan.
Worst: Jeff and Karen Jarrett
Being booed or hated isn’t the worst thing you can be on a wrestling show. You need bad guys for wrestling to work. The worst thing you can be on a wrestling show is just sort of… there. You’re occupying space, and that’s it. The King of the Mountain is a pretty cool guy, but he and Karen were just wastes of space here. ESPECIALLY Karen. Oh my God, she took forever and a got-dang day to get out of the ring. I thought Bad Luck Fale was going to accidentally bump her into the corner and break her in half.
The long-term build is absolutely one of the most important facets of wrestling. Storylines live or die by how well they deliver on something they’ve been working towards for months. Remember how PISSED you were when Triple H screwed Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam, and then continued f*cking wih him for the remainder of the year? Imagine they hadn’t let that stew until WrestleMania. Imagine that they resolved it all at Night of Champions the next month. It would have sucked. It had to happen at The Big One so 70,000+ people could scream “YES” at the top of their lungs. It wouldn’t have been worth the purple and yellow victory confetti that I still have saved in an envelope if it wasn’t such a journey.