Wow, 2020 really feels underway now that both nights of Wrestle Kingdom 14 are behind us. I’m going to get my recommended matches out of the way before I start talking about fashion and spoilers, so if you want to watch before you read, here’s what I think you should do.
The Official Hunktears Fanfyte Wrestle Kingdom 14 Recommendation List
Can’t Miss: Kazuchika Okada vs Kota Ibushi, Jushin Thunder Liger & Naoki Sano vs Hiromu Takahashi & Ryu Lee, Chris Jericho vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito
Very Good: GBH & Tokyo Dojo vs Toa Henare & LA Dojo, Naoki Sano & Old Men vs Jushin Thunder Liger & Old Men, Lance Archer vs Jon Moxley, Bullet Club vs Roppongi 3K, Jon Moxley vs Juice Robinson, Jay White vs Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre vs SANADA, KENTA vs Hirooki Goto, Jay White vs Kota Ibushi
okay, spoilers ahead…
More New Japan Pro Wrestling:
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Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night One
Preshow: Toa Henare & LA Dojo def. GBH & Tokyo Dojo
Fashion: Nothing out of the ordinary here. Young Lions in their little black panties. Everybody else in their standard gear. It’s the preshow, though so like… you don’t really need to dress up.
Wrestling: Fun opener. I’m very excited about this group of Young Lions heading into 2020! Karl Fredericks in particular looked fantastic.
Preshow: Tenkozy def. Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata
Fashion: Again, preshow. Nothing special. I hope I look as good in little panties when I’m Nakanishi’s age as he does though! And gotta give props to Tenzan for still sporting that mullet.
Wrestling: Solidly entertaining old man battle.
Liger Retirement Eight Man Tag: Naoki Sano, Ryusuke Taguchi, Shinjiro Otani & Tatsuhito Takaiwa def. Jushin Thunder Liger, Tatsumi Fujinami, The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask
Fashion: I feel like if you’re going to pin Jushin Thunder Liger in his second to last match ever, you should wear a special outfit, Ryusuke Taguchi. Tiger Mask had his mask half red and The Great Sasuke had a beautiful custom Liger/Sasuke entrance mask. Sasuke’s was one of the best pieces of the weekend.
Match: A fun time. Not much else to say! I worry about everyone’s knees though.
Eight Man Tag: Suzuki-Gun def. Los Ingobernables de Japon
Fashion: BUSHI wore another damn war bonnet but EVIL had sweet vacation braids with cheap hair extensions in them, not to mention stars dyed into the sides of his head. A few possibilities on that one: EVIL tried to dye a pentagram into his hair and messed up, EVIL is trying to tap into the power of his heart (titty) chakra, EVIL is sending a message to me personally that he’d be willing to convert to Judaism for my love.
Match: Some great exchanges in here. I’m dying for an extended Taichi/Shingo rivalry in 2020. Like a really juicy one.
Eight Man Tag: CHAOS def. Bullet Club
Fashion: YOSHI-HASHI?? Sir??? Sir???? Excuse me?????? My man… You got yourself some beautiful new tights that I am absolutely loving, but walked to the ring in some kind of intro to sewing Emerald City local theater production ass coat. It doesn’t get more YOSHI-HASHI than that, does it? Also, Pieter, who is just a valet, showed up in an exquisitely 1960s-Las Vegas-showgirl-meets-Cruising (1980) feather number. It’s hard work having all the style for Bullet Club on her little shoulders.
Match: Eh. Whatever.
IWGP Tag Team Championship: FinJuice def. Guerillas of Destiny
Fashion: Juice Robinson’s whole “flamboyant” deal really works for me in a huge way, and Finlay getting in on it looking like a bearded Avril Lavigne is a treat. Their whole energy in these looks feels like they’re straight guys going to a gay club but they are respectful, into it, and down to dance until the place closes—like the drag bar scene in Magic Mike XXL but as a wrestling gimmick. David Finlay had little wallet chains on either side of his tights. I feel nothing but respect for these looks.
Match: Fun, entertaining way to go from the mid-card to the main matches. Enjoyable but not a must-see or something I’m going to rewatch.
IWGP US Heavyweight Championship: Jon Moxley def. Lance Archer
Fashion: I was sad to see Jon Moxley not wearing his little barbed wire shorts, but I enjoyed this leather jacket and little skinny jeans. Lance Archer, however? Lance Archer. Lance Fucking Archer. Talk about a glow-up of 2019. This man showed up to the Tokyo Dome giving the event the full respect it deserves. My man showed up straight out of a 1980s post-apocalyptic action cheesefest in one of the best looks of the night. This is how you dress for Wrestle Kingdom!!
Match: An absolute treat and probably the most fun I had all weekend. Both Lance Archer and Jon Moxley have a deep, deep understanding of how to be fundamentally entertaining while also doing the whole “oo I’m a scary violent guy” thing. Great stuff and the win via countout hopefully leaves room for a rematch!
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi def. Will Ospreay
Fashion: I think that Hiromu Takahashi and Will Ospreay are in two different leagues as performers, and their outfits for this match really exemplify that divide. Hiromu’s entrance coat ended up being my favorite piece of the whole weekend. The textures, the shape, the colors… It’s an incredibly well thought out, extra spectacular play on his usual colorful patchwork suit look. The silhouette and materials made it evocative of things like a Chinese New Year dragon costume and a Carnival festival outfit without directly referencing either. So it just felt massively celebratory and special. The tights he wrestled in looked hand-painted (they often are) in a kind of graffiti mural style we often see him in. These ones had a really beautiful floral motif along with swirls and storms. They were loud, intricate, and still somehow flattering.
Okay, let’s get to Ospreay. Will Ospreay got special gear made. That’s the correct thing to do. He had a special entrance coat. Another check from me. There was an element that had excessive amounts of drama (tiger head on his shoulder), some nice geometric patterning on the tights, and it felt worthy of a big stage. And honestly? It was fine. It all fit. It was mostly pretty flattering (the triangle patterning on the back of his tights made his butt look flat). But there was really no story to the look that I could glean. It just looked very neat and pretty. Why was there a tiger head on his shoulder? Why were there so many buckles and straps on his sleeves? Sure it looked cool, but is looking cool all you have?
I would argue that yes, all Will Ospreay has is looking cool (and he manages to mess that up a lot too. I mean, look at that dye job! Awful!) He is a fantastically athletic performer capable of some really impressive moves. And that’s fine. But up against someone like Hiromu Takahashi, whose entire being as a professional wrestler is lovingly, intricately planned out, perfectly crafted chaotic rainbow brilliance? Ospreay just looked like a scrub.
Match: Wow I talked a lot in that fashion section, huh? Listen, I didn’t like this match. I thought it was too long, too unpleasant, and played to no one’s strengths. Except for Takahashi’s strength in acting like he has died. It’s one of my least favorite matches I’ve ever seen from either of them.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito def. Jay White
Fashion: Love Jay White’s all white version of his gear. Something about it makes him feel extra loathsome to me. Naito wore a half skull half scary fox?? wolf?? rat (duh, year of the rat! thank you to Crasspants for correcting me) mask with a coat that didn’t do much for me.
Match: Really suffered from the overly long match before it, but it felt great to see Naito take it to those absolute bastards Jay White and Gedo.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada def. Kota Ibushi
Fashion: Kota Ibushi didn’t have anything special made for Wrestle Kingdom, which I would chide him for if he didn’t look absolutely perfect in just his little shorts. Sometimes nude is better!! Okada’s white coat and skirt combo glowing under the blacklight for his incredibly cool and awesome entrance was uh… very cool and awesome. Even though the camera failed to catch when he did the skirt reveal of: higher cut little panties! Good but not great. It was honestly hard for anyone to be super impressive after Hiromu’s fit.
Match: I was watching this with my good audio editing headphones on, so when the first half of the match turned out to just be slow grappling, holds, and submissions? I could hear their groans and panting clearer than ever. This was my cosmic punishment for completely excluding Kota Ibushi vs Kazuchika Okada from contention in the “horniest match” category. It was compelling, exciting, and also [redacted]. [redacted] [redacted] [redacted].
[six more paragraphs redacted]
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Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night Two
Preshow: NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship Gauntlet Match: LIJ def. Bullet Club, CHAOS, Taguchi & Makabe & Yano, Suzuki-Gun
Fashion: YOSHI-HASHI’s special green coat actually managed to feel special in this match. It’s a preshow match! Despy’s fringe looked extra nice though.
Match: It was a gauntlet match for the NEVER trios belts. Nothing of note happened.
Hiromu Takahashi & Ryu Lee def. Jushin Thunder Liger & Naoki Sano
Fashion: Hiromu wore the same coat and gear again, and it was all just as fabulous a second time around. Lee had a special Liger tribute entrance mask on, and also a Los Ingobernables baseball shirt that said “Dragon Lee” on the back. Pretty successful looks all in all.
Match: They went for it! Takahashi and Lee did not hold back! A good watch, but fuck. I’m sad! No more Liger?? I’m not ready for that.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Roppongi 3K def. Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo)
Fashion: Ishimori and El P looked pretty sleek and stylish in silver and black, as long as you ignore El P’s terrible glasses that he wears. SHO and YOH had complementary silver and gold tights, which were fine, but ALSO had athletic cups they revealed that had been painted gold (SHO) and silver (YOH). Much appreciated. There are also some really subtle elements, like how SHO’s hair is slightly tinted the orange that YOH’s hair is dyed, as if they couldn’t keep from snuggling each other long enough for YOH’s dye to set and be rinsed out.
Match: Fun, funny, entertaining. A nice amount of goofs. Not the kind of hard-hitting banger that got me so hyped on SHO during Best of the Super Juniors, but that’s not what this match was for. Loads of dick jokes and YOH flexed his titty at the camera as a victory celebration. Thank you YOH. Roppongi 3K also debuted a new entrance video, which I loved. No, R3K aren’t the most interesting tag team in history, but they are the most packaged boy band fan service tag team on New Japan’s roster, and I respect that.
RevPro British Heavyweight Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. def. SANADA
Fashion: Nothing that special, honestly. SANADA had his sexy fantasy pirate get-up (very Granblue Fantasy for my fellow gacha fiends) and ZSJ did the classic black panties and cool guy jacket. They both looked great, and it’s not like Zack’s a special outfit kind of guy, but not much to say about it! They know what works for them. I do have to say that I love this perm on SANADA. Really a good look.
Match: Not my favorite meeting of theirs, but a good one. I predicted that SANADA’s lawless hotness would win out over Zack’s angry handsomeness, and I was wrong!
IWGP US Heavyweight Championship: Jon Moxley def. Juice Robinson
Fashion: Juice and Mox had the same outfits on as the night before. They both looked fine. No complaints. The real show-stealer, though, was Minoru Suzuki, who emerged in a Suzuki-gun tracksuit only to drop his pants and do like… a little steppy step to get out of them? I think more fashion shows should have models steppy step out of their pants mid-change on the runway. An iconic fashion moment for sure.
Match: Just two absolute studs going for it. It’s rare to see two Americans wrestle each other in New Japan who both absolutely undisputedly fuck. Really enjoyable, but I can’t lie… Suzuki showing up, stripping and attacking Jon Moxley gave me my biggest jolt of serotonin of the weekend.
NEVER Openweight Championship: Hirooki Goto def. KENTA
Fashion: KENTA wore his usual gear. Nothing special. Even to defend his championship!? In the TOKYO DOME!?!? At WRESTLE KINGDOM!?!? Loathsome! Despicable! Horrid! Now, let’s get to Hirooki Goto. Goto wore a variation on his usual entrance look, but in a light blue with gold accents. I feel like my friend Keezy on Twitter said it best:
goto this fit is giving me fred flintsone vibes
— keezy (@sour_mamba) January 5, 2020
And you know what? Good for him! It wasn’t the best, but there was a real effort made, and I appreciate that.
Match: A solidly good watch. Not my favorite Goto WK match, but still a good one.
Special Singles Match: Jay White def. Kota Ibushi
Fashion: Regular gear, nothing special. Jay White did his My Chemical Romance “father took me to see marching band” or whatever look.
Match: I love seeing Kota Ibushi go dead eyed and monstrous. In the first thing I ever wrote about wrestling, I called him a “monster babyface” and I stand by that. It was a rough weekend for Ibushi supporters like me, and this match really stung. I hope they’re going somewhere good with it.
Special Singles Match: Chris Jericho def. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Fashion: Did you think Hiroshi Tanahashi would neglect to turn a fucking look for Wrestle Kingdom??? What world do you live in? The Ace had a special version of his gear that is apparently a reference to Kamen Rider. He also had some vacation braids of his own going into a high ponytail made of like? Gold plastic threads? It looked like the hair on a special My Little Pony unicorn toy from when I was a kid. But if Hiroshi Tanahashi isn’t a My Little Pony, what is he? Jericho had the classic Judas look going.
Bonus props to Tanahashi for appearing dressed as Judas in the preliminary video. He looked cuter than ever. A king.
Match: If I’m ever charged with murder, I want Hiroshi Tanahashi to be my defense attorney and for my trial to be the second to last match at Wrestle Kingdom before an Okada main event. I truly believe that Hiroshi Tanahashi is the once in a century talent New Japan PR has billed him as, but he is on the decline. He’s not as good as he used to be. That’s how time works. He’s not the astonishing star who got his teeth knocked out by Nakamura anymore. He’s not the ace who made Okada cry anymore. But he can still put on an incredible match when he has to.
Chris Jericho is similar—physically not the competitor he used to be, but adaptable and smart enough to still be one of the best in the world. Jericho is arguably better than he’s ever been. (Even if he promotes flat earth theories like a fucking idiot.)
For my money, this is up there among their best performances in recent years. It’s at least on the level of Tanahashi’s best Intercontinental Championship defenses in 2017 and 2018, the level of Chris Jericho vs Tetsuya Naito in that insane Dominion match. There’s a good chance that it’s better than all of those. It will be hard to knock this out of contention for my match of the year pick.
Double Gold Dash for the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships: Tetsuya Naito def. Kazuchika Okada
Fashion: Naito had a special fuzzy white coat made that said “todos o nada” on it. It kinda looked like a backwards snuggie. I love him in a white suit though! Okada had his same all white entrance look as the night before, and it did gift us a moment of the two of them standing in the ring in their white coats looking at each other. Naito opted for a pair of velvet trunks for his big win, while Okada kept the geometric panties on. I think it was very brave of him to decide to be cheeks-out for the whole weekend.
I’d made some jokes about New Japan introducing a Devilman inspired character, since Jushin Thunder Liger, the only wrestler I’m aware of who was inspired by a Go Nagai character, retired. Seeing Okada in his long white coat with a popped collar and blonde hair really did make me think of that classic shot in Devilman Crybaby where Ryu has a big white coat. Maybe it’s happening!!
Match: I loved this match. If it hadn’t been for Tanahashi and Jericho, it’d probably be my favorite of the weekend. It took everything Naito had to put Okada away, and it was such a satisfying win. He finally did it. Naito Two Belts. He’s the top star. The main guy. I couldn’t be happier for him. Here’s my beef though: they didn’t end the show with the LIJ rollcall. Usually when Naito wins a main event, the whole gang comes out and they do their big fistbump in the middle of the ring. But they skipped that so that KENTA could come and beat Naito up. Couldn’t they have saved that for tonight? Or for the post-match press conference? I wanted my Tokyo Dome Los Ingobernables de Japon feel-good moment. And we were robbed of it in a way that felt very unfair and uncool.
Match of the Weekend: Tanahashi vs Jericho. Fabulous stuff.
Fit of the Weekend: Gotta go with Hiromu Takahashi here.
Honorable Mentions: Lance Archer! You looked amazing king! and Pieter, way to go you didn’t even wrestle.
Worst Dressed/Biggest Bastard: KENTA, show Wrestle Kingdom some respect you absolute monster.