Wrestle Kingdom 16 has come and gone with mixed reviews this year. The split night format has always received backlash but for me, this year was when things really fell apart. Even in the midst of COVID pressures last year, they managed two really great cards. However this year, people are struggling to find the time for New Japan in the West. This card hasn't really done as much as it could to change that.
Anyway... Let's have a look at some of the in-ring statistics from some of the more notable matches.
Katsuyori Shibata vs Ren Narita
In a change from advertised, Shibata took on protege Narita in a pro wrestling rules match. In doing so he threw 47 strikes whilst conceding zero strikedowns. Certainly interesting in light of Shibata's injury history.
Hiromu Takahashi vs El Desperado
This match started hot and didn't stick around too long. It was strike and reversal heavy as the top 2 juniors in New Japan put on a show different to much of the rest of the card. Interestingly, it was only Desperado who took to the sky, whereas Takahashi dominated the strikes.
Kazuchika Okada vs Shingo Takagi
This one was incredibly close with the main difference lying in Okada using Submissions for almost 100 seconds more than Takagi. Another noteworthy point is Takagi's propensity to spend time playig to the crowd to build his own momentum.
Very back and forth with a huge mid match peak from Okada. However he also spend two 3-minute periods with 0 offence, Shingo had one such period.
Okada was very much in the driver seat in terms of the cumulation of damage. From the 12th minute onwards Shingo was unable to match Okada's offence. The gap peaked around the 24th minute and Shingo managed to gain ground until the 34th minute when Okada took the match home.
This match started with a bit of a balanced rhythm until the 20th minute peak. Then followed a lull as the competitors recovered before building the intensity until the finish, which was also the second highest peak in offence of the match.
This match was particularly notable for it's high volume of striking and reversals.
Here you can see an overview of the match. You can see how the 'flow of offence's reflect each other.
Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay
Another match where Okada utilised a lot of submissions to negatively affect his opponent. However this time, his opponent out did him in terms of strikes so his submission use was necessary to give him more chance of winning! In terms of big offence Okada and Ospreay were essentially level in terms of grapples and dives combined. However Okada achieved more submission time of 10 seconds.
The way the two wrestlers acheived their offence differed in terms of spread. Okada hit more highs and lows whereas Ospreay was more consistent. Okada had three periods where he failed to achieve any offence for 2 or 3 minutes, just once for Ospreay. This was underwritten by the fact Okada achieved 4/5 of the highest offensive peaks in this match.
In terms of damage issued to the opponent, this match was incredibly close throughout. Ospreay was ahead in this metric for most of the match due to his higher percentage of offence and his use of high-value dives. However, Okada's greater use of big moves and in particular his two finishers meant he just pipped Ospreay at the last in terms of damage achieved.
This match was remarkably consistent in terms of the cumulative action, with the ebbs and flows of this one oscillating within a fairly narrow margin until the last 3 minutes.
This match is particularly noteworthy of the fine balance struck between the two competitors thus achieving a real feel of struggle. This was underlined by the high use of reversals. Ospreay's use of dives is particularly high for this metric.
Above is the overview of this match. You can see how the measured use of offence on both sides led to a consistent flow in the match as a whole. This also meant that neither of the two competitors ran away with the cumulative offence.
Comparing Okada/Ospreay and Okada/Takagi
Here we have the two big matches from Wrestle Kingdom compared. The Takagi match is more focused on striking and hitting big grapples. Whereas the Ospreay match was significantly more punctuated by spectacular dives and had a touch more strikedowns, when viewing through a per hour lens to flatten the differences in length.
Via the match stats for the matches as a whole we can see how they compare directly. The Takagi match had a higher rate of offence per hour, but the Ospreay match utilised reversals more. Fantastically, both matches used the same rate of big offence occurance.
The Takagi match utilised a peak in the middle of the affair, with a period of selling, before building again. Whereas the Ospreay match was a more consistent spread of ups and downs before having a small period of ups and downs at the finish.
Thank you for reading this article. It feels sporadically written! Like there are some really good points but also muddled at times... Which, fittingly, mirrors my experience of watching Wrestle Kingdom.