It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
No, I’m not talking about Christmas or New Year; I’m talking about the Japanese equivalent of WrestleMania with the 14th annual Wrestle Kingdom taking place in the Tokyo Dome! This year is even more exciting that usual as, for the first time ever, the event will take place over two days with just… so much wrestling in such a short space of time.
So please, sit back, relax and let me discuss the biggest points from the upcoming show! I’m not going through every single match for a few reasons:
1. There are multiple matches that may not actually be visible to those outside of the Dome as they will be dark.
2. Some matches aren’t hugely important so don’t need entire discussions dedicated to them.
3. There are four major points from the show that I want to discuss and, finally,
4. There are literally 20 matches. I REFUSE.
Moxley Takes Back What’s His
Jon Moxley is back in New Japan and the entire world can’t wait. Potentially wrestling two matches, depending on the Night One result, Lance Archer is currently in possession of the championship that Moxley never lost; the IWGP United States Championship. Jon was forced to vacate said title due to Typhoon Hagibis causing complete shutdown of travel.
So now, the Death Rider comes into Tokyo with a scheduled ‘Texas Death Match’ against the current champion and, if he wins will go onto face the man he originally defeated to win his first title in the company; Juice Robinson. Regardless of the result and if he wrestles for just one night or both, Jon Moxley is going to make a huge impact in the Japanese scene once again and will shine a light on All Elite Wrestling at the same time.
AEW and NJPW Together?
And speaking of AEW, one of the biggest matches fans are focusing on ahead of this weekend is the current AEW Champion Chris Jericho taking on Hiroshi Tanahashi; The Ace of New Japan. The match itself is certainly intriguing on its own but it all changed when the stipulation was announced. If Tanahashi wins… he gets a shot at Jericho’s title. The All Elite Wrestling Championship.
This could be huge. Now, it’s pretty likely that Jericho is going to win and this comes to nothing but a huge question wrestling fans have had ever since ‘The Elite’ left Japan is whether or not a partnership between the two companies was happening, or even just a viable discussion to be having. And up until now, we haven’t really had any concrete evidence that such a deal was in place. Until this stipulation.
Even the hint of it happening suggests that Gedo and his team, alongside the New Japan Executives, could potentially be open to working with Tony Khan and his locker-room. And if that happens, it could absolutely change the game on Wednesday nights. So, I have a feeling many fans will be keeping an extra special eye on this one on night two…
A Golden Lion is crowned?
IBUSHI COULD WIN.
Ibushi could win all the belts and I cannot wait. Please let it happen.
Anyway. This year’s WrestleKingdom is unique in that the main event of Night 2 will feature the IWGP Heavyweight Champion taking on the IWGP Intercontinental Champion with the stipulation of ‘Winner Takes All’.
BUT. What’s even more unique is that we currently don’t know the two individuals involved as, in Night One, Kazuchika Okada will take on Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship whereas, on the same night, Tetsuya Naito will face off against Jay White for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
So, as a result, whichever match-up we get on Night Two, it’s going to be special. But what will be extra special – what would potentially make the weekend perfect – is if finally, after years and years, Kota Ibushi climbs the top of the New Japan mountain and hold both of the company’s biggest titles. With everything he has gone through in his professional life, personal life and everything in between, what a way to start New Japan in 2020 it would be.
A Legend’s Final Bow
And going from emotion of happiness to emotion of sadness. The biggest story, by far, going into Wrestle Kingdom 14 is that it will be the final time the legendary Jushin Thunder Liger competes in a wrestling ring.
On Night One, he will stand alongside some of his greatest allies in his storied career and go up against his most formidable foes (where he’s most likely going to win) and, on Night 2, will compete in a tag team match alongside Naoki Sano against two of the hottest and in form Junior Heavyweights around just now; Ryu Lee (formerly Dragon Lee) and Hiromu Takahashi (where he’s almost definitely going to lose).
There are few individuals who have had such a legendary career whilst continuing to compete at the top of his game for decades. He has, of course, slowed down- he’s 55 pissing years old – but has still managed to have absolutely incredible matches in the last few years.
To put some perspective of his iconic status for the uninitiated; Liger has confirmed he is going to keep his mask on once he retires in order to maintain the hidden, mysterious persona he has accumulated over the nearly four-decade long career. A true icon of this industry and I doubt there will be a dry eye in the Tokyo Dome on Sunday morning.
I, for one, cannot wait.
You can find me on Twitter @McIverTheMark. Thanks for reading.