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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: Wrestle Kingdom 14


When the stars align and the storm is at its most perfect, there's no way you don't take the shot that's right there. From the moment Wrestle Kingdom 14 was announced to be a two-day event (because January 4 fell on a Saturday), to all the right wins, up to the very end when KENTA steals the spotlight, shooting your shot is the theme of this year's festivities.

It may be the recency bias talking, but even just the way this Wrestle Kingdom was laid out over two days might have made it the best one so far. If you take everything involved with the Double Gold Dash aside, you'll find a card that progresses logically and organically over the course of the weekend, starting small on the first day and ending with the most important things. It doesn't feel like a WrestleMania, usually stacked with too many things that WWE likes to pretend are all important; you really feel like each match has their place and time under the sun. (It's also the best way to deal with a card that would've surely been gargantuan had it only been one day.)


NJPW (by way of its booker Gedo) usually frustrates a good part of the audience with its famous refusal to budge from its long-term storytelling, but on this weekend, again, everything fit perfectly and the company largely hit the story beats they needed to. (Well, almost everything, and only if you were calling for certain things to happen.) 

Perhaps it really was time for things like Hiromu Takahashi winning back the Junior Heavyweight championship after being on the sidelines for so long, or Tetsuya Naito winning both nights to get the respect he deserves on the very main event of a Wrestle Kingdom. Or we won't ever know if those were for the express purpose of being the feel-good moments we crave from our big wrestling events.

And while Wrestle Kingdom is generally a good jump-off point for any new fans wishing to dip their toes into the waters of NJPW, the (largely) uplifting emotional ride Wrestle Kingdom 14 gives everyone—and even the immediate conflict that KENTA sets up before the night even ends—makes it a better entryway than previous years.

That said, the decision to finally go with Naito after a lot of public clamor likely means we're in for, at the very least, an interesting year of NJPW. Can't wait to sit back and watch it all unfold.

Wrestle Kingdom 14 Grade: A+

Match of the Night



All the matches from Wrestle Kingdom 14 are good. The main event of Day 2 is the best. But if you want something that stands out, it's the Junior Heavyweight Championship match, wrestled by two men who feel like they still have a lot to prove. It's even more amazing when you find out that Ospreay wrestled a good part of the match on a messed up foot. If you're cherry-picking matches to watch from this show for whatever reason, make sure this match is on your list.
Photo from 411Mania


*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry, one of the four hosts of the Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast, and is associated with Philippine Wrestling Revolution. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, and he likes taking your wrestling questions over on his Curiouscat account.

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