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NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Doc-Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2023

Will Ospreay and Kenny Omega.
Will Ospreay and Kenny Omega.NJPW

For fans in the United States, Wrestle Kingdom 17 took place in the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday from the legendary Tokyo Dome.

Not only was this arguably the biggest Japanese wrestling event of the year, but it was also notable because it featured talents from AEW, WWE, Stardom and Pro Wrestling NOAH.

This makes WK17 one of the biggest crossover events ever, but the focus was still on the NJPW stars and championships. It may have had people from other companies, but this was not being billed or booked as a Forbidden Door-like event.

Here is a look at the full rundown of results and grades for the show:

  • Kazuchika Okada defeated Jay White (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship) (A)
  • Kenny Omega defeated Will Ospreay (IWGP United States Championship) (A+)
  • KAIRI defeated Tam Nakano (IWGP Women's World Championship) (C+)
  • Hiromu Takahashi defeated Taiji Ishimori, El Desperado and Master Wato (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) (A-)
  • Keiji Mutoh, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shota Umino defeated Bushi, Tatsumi Fujinami and Sanada and Tetsuya Naito (C+)
  • Tama Tonga defeated Karl Anderson (NEVER Openweight Championship) (C+)
  • Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Ren Narita (IWGP Television Championship) (A-)
  • Bishamon defeated FTR (IWGP World Heavyweight Tag Team Championships) (B+)
  • Catch 2/2 defeated LiYoh (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships) (B+)
  • Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima and Togi Makabe defeated Tatsumi Fujinami, Minoru Suzuki and Tiger Mask (C)
  • Great O-Khan, Shingo Takagi, Sho and Toru Yano won the Ranbo (C)

Mercedes Moné

njpwworld @njpwworld

IT'S MERCEDES MONÉ!<a href="https://twitter.com/MercedesVarnado?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@mercedesvarnado</a> is in the Tokyo Dome!!!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/wk17?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#wk17</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/njpw?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#njpw</a> <a href="https://t.co/PD54lqLr1L">pic.twitter.com/PD54lqLr1L</a>

Unless you were asleep and this is the first thing you are reading Wednesday morning, there is a good chance that you heard about Mercedes Moné making her debut in New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

Most people assumed the former Sasha Banks would be part of the show in some capacity, but until she actually came out from behind the curtain, it was all speculation.

Not only did her arrival create a massive reaction on social media, but she immediately set herself up to be the next challenger for KAIRI's IWGP Women's World Championship.

This debut was handled beautifully. She came out, introduced herself as Mercedes Moné, and then proceeded to take out KAIRI before picking up the title belt and holding it high.

Uncle Dax FTR @DaxFTR

What a life. <a href="https://t.co/PPHHxmmnrr">pic.twitter.com/PPHHxmmnrr</a>

Unfortunately, some people might take the way the crowd reacted as a bad sign. Japanese wrestling fans are not as raucous as American fans, so a lot of new viewers might have thought she didn't get much of a reaction.

NJPW does not mic their crowds the same way WWE does because they do not often react the same way, so audience noise is much lower than what we are used to.

Appearing for NJPW and Stardom is going to bring a lot of new eyes to those shows, so Varnado's impact cannot be understated. The Boss has arrived in New Japan, and her legions of fans are going to follow. It's going to be very interesting to hear her first public comments about her WWE exit and new venture.


How Well Does the Show Translate For New Fans?

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For a lot of fans, this might be their first NJPW show. Not only is it the company's biggest event of the year, but it featured some notable stars familiar to fans in the United States.

The rumors of Moné's debut were enough to get a lot of people to sign up for the NJPW World streaming service, but the inclusion of Omega vs. Ospreay had a lot of fans buzzing, too.

This was a match we thought we would see at Forbidden Door, so many AEW fans likely watched the show just for that bout.

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Other familiar acts like Jay White, TJP, Lio Rush and Minoru Suzuki were also on the card in addition to some of the more recognizable NJPW names like Tanahashi and Okada.

While Japanese wrestling is presented differently in some ways, the basics are the same. It's easy for even the most casual of fans to watch a PPV like this and be entertained even if they don't know all of the talents appearing on the card.

The announcers did a good job filling everyone in on who these stars are without feeling like they were reading from a long script designed to inform new fans.

If this was your first NJPW show, comment down below with your thoughts about the event.


Overall Thoughts

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As a whole, Wrestle Kingdom 17 was a solid show. It definitely wasn't the best show in the company's history, but it was a great entry into the WK series and produced several memorable moments.

The debut of Moné is probably going to be the most talked-about moment from the show, but as far as the matches are concerned, there was a lot to like.

Omega and Ospreay put on a classic that was surprisingly bloody, Okada and White closed the show with a great performance, Sabre and Narita put on a technical showcase, and FTR dropped their last set of tag titles in a fun and competitive match with Bishamon.

Unfortunately, the first women's singles match to take place in the Tokyo Dome in 29 years was given less than six minutes bell-to-bell.

'Hysterical' Shane Haste @ShaneTMDK

Over 10 years in the making!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TMDK?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TMDK</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ZSJ?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ZSJ</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/mikeynicholls?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@mikeynicholls</a> <a href="https://t.co/ovWrC1QJZF">pic.twitter.com/ovWrC1QJZF</a>

Kairi and Nakano put on a hard-hitting fight in the time they had, but they should have been given a few more minutes to tell their story.

It makes sense to give Moné a lot of attention during her debut, but that doesn't mean the match had to be as short as it was. In fact, Moné's appearance took up more time than the bout it followed.

It was the shortest match on the entire show save for the three-minute exhibition during the pre-show. If NJPW wants to build its women's division into something that rivals other major companies, then it needs to give them equal booking for big matches like this.

Other than that decision, the rest of the show was enjoyable. We got to see some great pro wrestling and a few moments that will have fans talking for quite some time. It will be very interesting to see the buyrate for this show and whether subscriptions to New Japan World went up as a result of Mercedes showing up.

What did you think of this year's Wrestle Kingdom PPV?