Well, I suppose I can comprise and bring back the star rating system for this thread if need be. Considering the ranking on the list & what not. I'll try and co-op w/everyone else participating, what the hell?
Nominations from NJPW Wrestle Kingdom VIII:
IWGP Tag Team Championship
Killer Elite Squad(c) vs Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows - ***3/4
King of Destroyer Match
Togi Makabe vs Bad Luck Fale - ****
Hirooki Goto vs Katsuyori Shibata - ***3/4
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Prince Devitt(c) vs Kota Ibushi - ***3/4
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada(c) vs Tetsuya Naito - ****1/2
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura(c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi - ****1/4
Tag Championship dream match - for me - clicked. Unlimited slugfest from start to finish. Simplistic tag formula behind the sluggin' combined to make it a done deal. Had a blast. Thought it was pretty great. Nuff said.
I FUCKING KNEW IT. BEEF was on display in the King of Destroyer match and it worked. Holy heavens did it work. Unsure why nobody but myself cared for this going in, but gah. I cared. And I got what I wanted. Two bulked up hosses swinging for the fences, using power moves, Makabe's steel chain & a dastardly Japanese table to get the job done. Makabe is still vastly underrated. Another year, another great Wrestle Kingdom match. I don't ask for much. Only to get monsters beating each other up. This was so effective for what they set out to do. Fale has improved so much from where he was prior to the Bullet Club. He's a good beastly heel. Proved it here when he had to.
Goto vs Shibata. They do their beat the shit out of each other thing one more time and naturally, I dug it. Can understand the detractors. Def not the type of affair for everyone. Goto's selling on his jaw was swell & he proved to pull his weight for me in the end w/the finish. Felt highly believable & fitting. Especially after how Shibata was demolishing him in the forearm war. Shibata was unstoppable during every sequence of this. God damn did he come to fight for the big Tokyo Dome show.
I'm still big on Devitt's shenanigans w/Bullet Club adding fantastic parables to the story in context of his matches. Some bouts have felt tedious. Not this one. Ibushi couldn't do anything for the longest time thanks to the heels. Such an effective format. Crowd was getting restless. You wanted the playing field to be even. Sucked me right in. Devitt changing his style up to differ from previous matches vs Ibushi was key. Instead of working highly athletic in a spirited stalemate vs Ibushi, he provided a more methodical, tactical approach. Damn near busing throughout too. Ibushi had welts all over him by mid-match. Awesome. Great touch. Fits his character so much better. Ibushi was Ibushi. Great babyface. Great looking offense. Great way to take a beating and come back. Good work meets a really good story and it averaged out to a great match.
Jesus fuck did I love this. Different from their previous big matches from 2012. Much the same a la Devitt & Ibushi to keep things fresh. Only this was even grittier than the championship match that came before it. Wouldn't be surprised to read if some folks felt part of the first half of this match wasn't as enthralling as some other matches. It was slow. The pacing wasn't bad, but it was slow. They knew what they were working towards. Literal stalemate for 99% of this. Really, really liked the way it done. The approach was one I didn't quite expect. Although I knew the boiling point among both - mostly Naito - was at it's peak. Which is why the headbutts peppered throughout were top notch. Fantastic addition. Upped the intensity. Showed his unlimited frustration & will to do what he had to in order to win it all. Head/neck work by both was plenty great. Loved the targeting of the same area and it being used for both to try and win the match more w/their own submissions than their own "other" impactful finishers. Okada still had the benefit of a injured Naito from the head/neck area w/the Rainmaker, per usual. But the implication & false finishes w/the submissions was a terrific point of the match, for me. Unsure why Naito's submission gets no heat tho. I don't hold it against him. How in the hell could it? It's a submission. People watch. They know he's won by it. Yeah, clearly I'm annoyed by it. Whatever. It gets a rise out of me. All I give a damn about. Finishing stretch was something else. All the nearfalls, counters. It's on par w/what I expect. Highly engrossing. My fandom here certainly aided things. As it does for any other fan in wrestling. I was largely invested so when it came down to every sequence where I thought it was over, I was clinging onto the edge of my seat. Rainmaker counter into the attempted headlock for Naito's submission only to be countered back by Okada into another tombstone. Gorgeous. Fantastic match. Loved it. Thought these two killed it again, even if it wasn't their "best" match together. Quality remained a constant at the end of the day. Felt big. Came off big. The works. I won't deny Naito's emoting could be improved. Although he still makes me care regardless. I don't know what it is, but he does. Leaves me alone compared to everyone else. I don't really have to talk much about Okada here b/c he brought it per usual in that department. He showed his anger. His frustration too. That focal point to the match was a strong reason why I loved the match the way I did. This may sit as my MOTY for a tiny bit. Damn sure a good way to start. And just like that, I'm already differing from most folk. I swear, I don't try to.
Tanahashi & Nakamura make it look so easy. Their chemistry is beyond natural. In their blood to kill it w/each other on every outing. I had no gripes w/Nakamura's selling of the knee in this match. Wasn't nearly the same as it was when he worked vs Suzuki. He plugged away a lot at it still hurting him on a lot of cool down sequences. If he was no selling, he wouldn't even had bothered. Everything clicks in this match. Tanahashi keeping his sore ribs/mid-section alive w/his own constant notions to it were just as good. These two know what they're doing. Nakamura and those fucking kicks. Trading of the legit punch rocked my world too. Match here lacked a TINY bit of heat for me compared to Naito vs Okada. I think that being for the World Championship & being done soooo well (imo)
won me over a hair more. Not to mention I did feel partially, I assure you it's only partially, exhausted walking into the final match. Crowd was into everything here. As expected. So while there may have not been the increased drama from me at every single point of this match; the audience provided it. And that still went a long way w/me. What can you say? We all knew this was going to be great. It was. Sometimes things really can be that simple. Final note: TEXAS CLOVERLEAF STYLES CLASH.