|Wrestle Kingdom 7|
|Promotion||New Japan Pro-Wrestling|
|Date||January 4, 2013|
|Wrestle Kingdom chronology|
Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome (subtitled "Evolution") was a professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by the New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) promotion, which took place at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan on January 4, 2013. It was the 22nd January 4 Tokyo Dome Show and the seventh held under the "Wrestle Kingdom" name. The event featured eleven matches (including two dark matches), five of which were contested for championships. Wrestle Kingdom is traditionally NJPW's biggest event of the year and has been described as their equivalent to WWE's WrestleMania.
For the first time, the event was made available for international market on internet pay-per-view (iPPV). The event drew 29,000 fans to the Tokyo Dome, supposedly down from the three previous years, though it should be noted that NJPW president Naoki Sugabayashi revealed that for the first time, the promotion announced a legitimate number of tickets sold instead of a "papered" number of attendees.
The event featured outside participation from All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) representative Keiji Mutoh, Pro Wrestling Zero1 representative Shinjiro Otani, and American freelancer Shelton Benjamin. Originally, Zero1's Daichi Hashimoto was announced as taking part in the event, but on December 27 it was announced that he had fractured his left forearm and would be replaced by Zero1 president Shinjiro Otani. For the first time in five years, the event did not feature wrestlers from Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL).
Wrestle Kingdom 7 featured eleven professional wrestling matches that involved different wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds and storylines. Wrestlers portrayed villains, heroes, or less distinguishable characters in the scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches.
On August 12, 2012, Kazuchika Okada defeated Karl Anderson in the finals to win the 2012 G1 Climax, winning the tournament in his first attempt, while also breaking the record for the tournament's youngest winner. Okada immediately announced his intention of regaining the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 7. Okada then signed a contract for the title match, which was then sealed in a briefcase, which he would be forced to defend until January 4. After successfully defending the contract against Karl Anderson and Hirooki Goto, the Wrestle Kingdom 8 main event was officially set between Okada and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The top two matches underneath the main event featured mixed martial artists Kazushi Sakuraba and Katsuyori Shibata. The two had made a surprise return to NJPW on August 12, 2012, and worked several matches during the rest of the year with both remaining undefeated. At the end of the year, Shinsuke Nakamura nominated Sakuraba as his challenger for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 8. Meanwhile, Shibata had entered a rivalry with Togi Makabe, which was set to culminate at Wrestle Kingdom 8.
In the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 7, Hiroshi Tanahashi made his sixth successful defense of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against 2012 G1 Climax winner Kazuchika Okada. In the semi-main event, Shinsuke Nakamura made his fourth successful defense of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Kazushi Sakuraba. The event also featured a three-way match, where Prince Devitt made his first defense of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Low Ki and Kota Ibushi. Low Ki wrestled the match as Agent 47 from the Hitman video game series, dressed in a suit, as a protest over NJPW suspending him for a year for refusing to wrestle a show in Fukushima because of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. NJPW was reportedly "furious" over Low Ki wrestling a title match in a suit without clearing it with them first to the point that even years later, the company was said to be open to bringing anyone back "with the exception of Low Ki".
Other title matches featured the Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) making their second successful defense of the IWGP Tag Team Championship against the winners of the 2012 World Tag League, Sword & Guns (Hirooki Goto and Karl Anderson) and Masato Tanaka making his first successful defense of the NEVER Openweight Championship against Shelton Benjamin.
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter called Wrestle Kingdom 7 "the best Tokyo Dome show the promotion has ever put on", praising the main event as a "classic world title match". Meltzer also noted that if NJPW were being truthful about the attendance number being the actual number of paid attendees, the show would have to be considered a "huge success" as the last time the company drew a larger attendance number of paid fans to the Tokyo Dome was in 2003.
The day after Wrestle Kingdom 7, Takaaki Kidani resigned from his position as NJPW chairman. Dave Meltzer wrote that while Kidani was an "enthusiastic supporter" of NJPW, his hero in professional wrestling was Eric Bischoff and like Bischoff, he wanted to be a part of the show. Kidani had been the one to sign Kazushi Sakuraba and Katsuyori Shibata and wanted to do a full invasion storyline with shooters. Meltzer noted that the last time NJPW had tried a similar storyline under Antonio Inoki it killed the company's in-ring product. At Wrestle Kingdom 7, Kidani wanted both Sakuraba and Shibata to win and he wanted to personally be in Sakuraba's corner as he became the new Intercontinental Champion. However, a conflict with NJPW bookers Gedo and Jado led to both Sakuraba and Shibata losing and Kidani announcing his resignation. While Kidani left his position inside NJPW, his company Bushiroad retained ownership of NJPW.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Caldwell, James (January 4, 2013). "Show results - 1/4 New Japan Tokyo Dome Show: Former WWE stars in undercard matches, Tanahashi vs. Okada, did any titles change hands?". Pro Wrestling Torch. http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/Arena_Reports_10/article_67650.shtml. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "New Japan Pro Wrestling Tokyo Dome report". Pro Wrestling Insider. January 4, 2013. http://www.pwinsider.com/article/74415/new-japan-pro-wrestling-tokyo-dome-report.html?p=1. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Hoops, Brian (January 4, 2017). "Daily Pro Wrestling History (01/04): NJPW Tokyo Dome cards". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. http://www.f4wonline.com/other-wrestling/daily-pro-wrestling-history-0104-njpw-tokyo-dome-cards-227681. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ Martin, Garrett (January 16, 2015). "Japanese Wrestling's Golden Age Comes to America". Paste. http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/01/japanese-wrestlings-golden-age-comes-to-america.html. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ Caldwell, James (January 4, 2013). "Japan News: Tokyo Dome Show Friday – several U.S. stars in action, available on iPPV for first time, full line-up". Pro Wrestling Torch. http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/Other_News_4/article_67634.shtml. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ (in Japanese) New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Archived from the original on March 27, 2013. https://web.archive.org/web/20130327083244/http://www.njpw.co.jp/match/detail_result_game2.php?e=657&c=5084. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ (in Japanese) New Japan Pro-Wrestling. December 27, 2012. Archived from the original on December 29, 2012. https://web.archive.org/web/20121229134252/http://www.njpw.co.jp/news/detail.php?nid=8758. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ Grabianowski, Ed. "How Pro Wrestling Works". HowStuffWorks, Inc.. Discovery Communications. Archived from the original on November 18, 2013. http://www.webcitation.org/6LDla2zy5?url=http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/pro-wrestling.htm. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ (in Japanese) Daily Sports Online. Kobe Shimbun. August 13, 2012. https://www.daily.co.jp/ring/2012/08/13/1p_0005291541.shtml. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ Caldwell, James (August 12, 2012). "NJPW: Former TNA wrestler wins G1". Pro Wrestling Torch. http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/quicknews/article_64211.shtml. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ Caldwell, James (September 6, 2012). "NJPW Video - Former TNA wrestler's Tokyo Dome main event contract signing". Pro Wrestling Torch. http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/quicknews/article_64921.shtml. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ Caldwell, James (September 7, 2012). "NJPW: Update on former TNA wrestler's Tokyo Dome main event quest". Pro Wrestling Torch. http://pwtorch.com/artman2/publish/quicknews/article_64953.shtml. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ Namako, Jason (October 8, 2012). "10/8 NJPW iPPV Results: Tokyo, Japan". Wrestleview. http://www.wrestleview.com/misc-news/36349-10-8-njpw-ippv-results-tokyo-japan. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ "NJPW 40th anniversary Power Struggle" (in Japanese). New Japan Pro-Wrestling. http://www.njpw.co.jp/tornament/12916?showResult=1. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ (in Japanese) Nikkan Sports. August 13, 2012. http://www.nikkansports.com/battle/news/p-bt-tp0-20120813-999989.html. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 Meltzer, Dave (January 14, 2013). "Jan. 14, 2013 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Return of the Rock, Tokyo Dome turmoil and big show review, biggest stars of 2012, Amazing Zuma bio, tons more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 6–18. ISSN 1083-9593.
- ↑ (in Japanese) Sports Navi. Yahoo!. November 14, 2012. https://sports.yahoo.co.jp/column/detail/201211140004-spnavi. Retrieved August 25, 2017.
- ↑ Meltzer, Dave (August 14, 2017). "August 14, 2017 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Takayama paralyzed, WWE financials examined, tons more". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Campbell, California: 62. ISSN 1083-9593.
- NJPW.co.jp (Japanese)