From reader Matt Storm
I attended last night's New Japan Pro Wrestling Fan Festival to promote Wrestle Kingdom 11 and here are some various thoughts.
- I haven't been to a WWE Axcess yet so I can't compare the two but this was well organized. There were plenty of long lines for talent doing autographs and pictures, especially for Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada. Due to those lines, time was very short for people to spend with them, leading to a very quick in and out situation. Nobody seemed disappointed or upset however.
- Gedo beating Kazuchika Okada at Tekken following the official reveal of the NJPW content in the upcoming Tekken 7 game was a sight to behold. Many popped when he won while some playfully booed.
- Cody received a pretty big ovation when he made his entrance and cut a promo on Juice Robinson.
- All three matches held featured veterans against young lions which included the anticipated debut of Tomoyuki Oka:
> Yuji Nagata defeated Tomoyuki Oka via submission with a crossface
I thought this was a great debut for Oka. He has plenty of room for improvement but he showed great poise and looked comfortable as could be out there. Nagata took him down right away but he countered into an armlock which got an audible gasp from the crowd. Oka kept attempting a kimura which Nagata prevented with stiff slaps to the face, laying them in any chance he got. Oka tried standing with him only to be lit up with kicks everywhere imaginable.
Midway through, Oka won the crowd over and you could see Kidani going nuts over him as he watched from the floor. Oka hit a belly to belly suplex and locked in the young lion's crab. Crowd went crazy thinking he would actually pull off the upset. A mid-ring exchange of forearms saw Oka drop Nagata for a close nearfall. Eventually, Nagata powered up and gained a nearfall with vicious body kicks. Nagata delivered an Xploder transitioned into the crossface and Oka was forced to submit.
> Manabu Nakanishi defeated Henare
This was a battle of World Tag League partners. Just from the tournament to this match, Henare showed nice improvement. Manabu was in molasses mode but they still had a decent match.
Story was Nakanishi being too powerful for Henare to get an advantage on. He hit a shoulder tackle out of the gate and beat Henare down with headbutts and chops galore. Henare took over when Nakanishi missed a kneedrop following a corner clothesline. Henare went after the knee with several kicks but Nakanishi refused to go down.
After several failed attempts, Henare finally suplexed Nakanishi to a good pop. A shoulder block was followed by the crab but Nakanishi powered out. Henare escaped the Torture Rack and got a nearfall off a rollup. Nakanishi delivered an ax handle that was nicely executed. He followed up with the Hercules Cutter out of the Rack for the pinfall.
> Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask IV defeated Hirai Kawato and Rysuke Taguchi
Solid match as Liger and Tiger were great as the grizzled, cranky vets that Kawato annoyed and gave many fits. Kawato worked the majority of the match and is still very, very green. I was more impressed with him here though than his World Tag League tour outings. Kawato worked over Liger in the corner until Jushin had enough and nearly caved in his face with a palm strike.
Taguchi tagged in as did Tiger and they had a nice series. Taguchi went into ass attack mode but Tiger avoided it and delivered a backbreaker. Liger threw Taguchi onto the floor, hit a baseball slide, and then locked in the Romero Special.
Liger worked on the neck and tagged in Tiger. They worked Taguchi over but he mounted a comeback in full ass attack mode. Kawato tagged back in but was immediately drilled with kicks from Tiger. Liger tossed him outside and threw him into a barricade. Just to show how grumpy he was, Liger then wacked Kawato with a chair a few times.
Kawato rallied as he and Taguchi dispatched Liger with an ass attack/dropkick combination. Kawato slammed Tiger for a nearfall. Liger broke up the young lion's crab on Tiger and the action broke down.
Kawato hit a missile dropkick on Tiger for a nearfall. He went for another dropkick but Tiger moved and he nailed Taguchi. Kawato survived the Tiger Driver but a Tiger Suplex put him away for the pinfall.
The final few minutes of this were excellent. Another match where the crowd bought into the rookie upset win.