With the excellent Power Struggle event from Osaka now behind us, we were left with a clearer idea of what we can expect at New Japan’s biggest show of the year, Wrestle Kingdom from the Tokyo Dome. While only Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship has officially been announced, here are the other matches we can expect on what looks to be an incredibly stacked card.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Nakamura retained the IC title in a really good match with Shibata. It couldn’t outdo the incredible Ishii/Goto match and could have done with another five minutes, but it was still really good.
After the match, Ibushi came out and surprise German suplexed Nakamura. While Nakamura was recovering, Ibushi challenged for the title. Swagsuke accepted and Wrestle Kingdom’s potential show stealer is on.
ReDragon vs. Timesplitters vs. Young Bucks vs. Forever Hooligans 4-Way Tag for the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship
ROH’s ReDragon defeated the Timesplitters Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA to become the new IWGP Jr. Tag Champs. After the match, the Young Bucks and Forever Hooligans came out and challenged for the belts. All four teams had words, and it looked like they were building towards a 4-way title match for the Dome show.
Now, there is still the question as to whether ROH will allow Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish to perform on the show. Their current contracts do not permit them to perform on PPV for another promotion in the US. But, considering they were just made the champs, some kind of deal may have been worked out.
If this is the match we’re given, and they get a decent amount of time, this match has the potential to steal the show.
Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Kenny “The Cleaner” Omega for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Taguchi defeated Taichi after copious interference from TAKA and Desperado, and after being piledriven through a table to retain the title. After the match, Kenny “The Cleaner” Omega made his Bullet Club debut and challenged Taguchi for the Jr. Heavyweight title. Unfortunately, he challenged in English, and after he was done with his promo, Taguchi mentioned that he didn’t speak English. He nonetheless accepted the challenge.
Kenny Omega cleaning up the Jr. Heavyweight division is certainly something I can get behind. I’m really excited to see Kenny Omega in a new heel role. Hopefully, he can still do hadoukens. There’s an evil Ryu, isn’t there?
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe for the Never Openweight Championship
In what was easily the MOTN, and a top contender for match of the year, Tomohiro Ishii defeated Hirooki Goto in one of the most hard-hitting matches you are ever likely to see. Absolutely nothing fancy, not counting Ishii’s beautiful delayed top rope vertical suplex, just elbows after elbows and lariats after lariats. This match was so physical that Ishii started coughing up blood after an Ushigoroshi from Goto.
After the match, Makabe came out to check on Goto, and then faced off with Ishii. Nothing official was announced, as with most of these confrontations, but it looks like we’ll be getting Ishii vs. Makabe at Wrestle Kingdom. That will certainly be a great match, but It’s hard to imagine anything will top what we saw from Ishii at Power Struggle.
AJ Styles vs. Tetsuya Naito
After Styles put away the returning Yoshitatsu with the help from Jeff Jarrett, Yoshitatsu found himself on the wrong end of a classic Double J guitar shot. Naito, Tanahashi and Honma came out to save Yoshi, and Naito got right up in Styles’ face.
Styles vs. Naito? Sounds good to me.
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Minoru Suzuki in a UWF Rules Match
Sakuraba reversed a Suzuki piledriver into a roll up to get the win in his tag match with Yano against Suzuki and Iizuka. Suzuki was furious after the match, and challenged Sakuraba to a UWF rules match. UWF rules means no pins, only submission and knockouts. This match has quite a lot of build and history. Suzuki is regarded as a pioneer of MMA in Japan. He was one of the founders of Pancrase, the first mixed martial arts promotion in Japan. Sakuraba is one of the most famous mixed martial artists in Japan, having success in the Pride promotion. Despite their history in MMA, they never fought each other. That’s all about to change at Wrestle Kingdom 9.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
This is the only officially announced match at this time.
Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows vs. ??? for the IWGP Tag Team Championship
Jushin Thunder Liger vs. ??? for the NWA Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Also expected on the Wrestle Kingdom 9 card is an ROH singles match, an NWA singles match – not including Liger, that’s another potential match for the NWA Jr. Heavyweight Championship. At this point, it’s still unclear what role Katsuyori Shibata, Hirooki Goto, Tomoaki Honma, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, Toru Yano, Yuji Nagata, YOSHI-HASHI, Yoshitatsu, and about half of the Bullet Club will have on the show.
How they expect to fit all of that on a four hour show I have no idea!