New Japan Pro Wrestling will present their annual Wrestle Kingdom event on January 4th from the famed Tokyo Dome. Wrestle Kingdom is the NJPW equivalent to WrestleMania. It’s the big event that not only ends the currents feuds but can also lay foundations for new ones as well. This Thursday will be the 12th incarnation of Wrestle Kingdom, and it’s shaping up to be a barn burner. Two matches have set themselves apart from the pack as what will be the two main events.
Going into the event, the most significant buzz surrounds the bout between Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho. Omega has become one of the faces of NJPW along with Kazuchika Okada, using their series of matches to catapult interest in the promotion. Chris Jericho is a nearly thirty year veteran of the sport that has worked for every major company all over the world. It was a shock to see Jericho appear on screen at this Fall’s Power Struggle event to challenge Omega. Y2J would follow this up with an attack on Omega at an event in December to punctuate his challenge.
The IWGP Heavyweight Championship will be on the line pitting champion Kazuchika Okada versus Tetsuya Naito. Okada has put on a campaign this year that would rival any title run in history. The quality of his matches and diversity of his opponents has allowed Okada to flourish. Naito has once again found himself heading to the Tokyo Dome with the title in his sights. After years of working his way up the ladder to achieve his current level of notoriety, Wrestle Kingdom feels as if it will be the passing of the torch to Naito as a “top guy.”
The two main events are surrounded by one of the best cards in the recent history of Wrestle Kingdom. The Young Bucks will once again find themselves in a Junior Tag Title match, for the fifth year in a row. NJPW legend Hiroshi Tanahashi will defend his Intercontinental Championship against “Switchblade” Jay White. Former Ring of Honor Champion Cody Rhodes will go toe to toe with a former ally turned rival of his Bullet Club teammate Kenny Omega, in Kota Ibushi. Marty Scurll will defend his Junior Heavyweight Championship in what will be a blinding pace fatal 4-way.
The beauty of Wrestle Kingdom and in a broader sense New Japan is the fact it’s still treated like a sport. From the commentary team to the wrestlers, to the fans, everyone plays their part. When the WWE can get tiring and feel like it’s just a show on cruise control, NJPW tends to be a breath of fresh air. If you’re looking for something to reinvigorate your love of professional wrestling or just want to try something different, subscribe to New Japan World. This Thursday is shaping to be an excellent card and may turn out to be one of the best in the history of Wrestle Kingdom.