New Japan Pro Wrestling is set to start off the year with its yearly Wrestle Kingdom pay-per-view. To the fans that only watch WWE, think of this as their WrestleMania. Personally, I have been starting to watch NJPW this past year and I have been a fan of the promotion and you should take a look at it too. What […]
New Japan Pro Wrestling is set to start off the year with its yearly Wrestle Kingdom pay-per-view. To the fans that only watch WWE, think of this as their WrestleMania. Personally, I have been starting to watch NJPW this past year and I have been a fan of the promotion and you should take a look at it too. What better way than to see their biggest event of the year.
For the first time, the stacked card will be split into two nights back to back, which I think is a good call. It is a good way to give all the matches a respectable time while also giving the fans a rest without them sitting around for seven pus hours (take notes WWE, WrestleMania could be better like that).
Night 1 is set to take place on January 4 with the pre-show starting at 2AM (Eastern Standard Time) and the main card starting an hour later. Night 2 will take place the next day at the same time. 11 matches will take place for Night 1, with three matches on the pre-show with five titles on the line. It is also a special event as it’ll be the last time legendary Japanese wrestler Jushin Thunder Liger will retire once Wrestle Kingdom 14 concludes.
Here are my predictions for Night 1 of Wrestle Kingdom 14.
Stardom Special Match – Arisa Hoshiki and Mayu Iwatani vs. Hana Kimura and Giulia (pre-show)
Prediction: Hoshiki and Iwatani win
Starting out the show with a historic match. New Japan’s parent company, Bushiroad, recently bought Stardom, which is one of the top women’s wrestling promotions in Japan. Stardom and NJPW will still operate similar to WWE and NXT, as separate entities but owned by the same parent. This match will mark the first-ever Joshi (women’s) match in NJPW history.
It’ll be interesting to see how the crowd will react to this match, as it is a tradition for men’s and women’s wrestling to be on completely different shows. Still, it’ll be a high paced tag match to start the show. I have the team of Hoshiki and Iwatani winning here, mainly to the latter currently being the Women of Stardom Champion. It would not make sense to have the champion of your company lose it’s first match in this setting to promote the company.
Great Bash Heel (Tomoaki Honma and Togi Makabe), Yuya Uemura, and Yota Tsuji vs. Toa Henare, Alex Coughlin, Clark Connors, and Karl Fredericks (pre-show)
Prediction: Henare, Coughlin, Connors, and Fredericks win
A lot of names that are new to the New Japan scene outside of Great Bash Heel, who are established veterans. A lot of the young guys are actually recent graduates of the NJPW Dojo in Los Angeles. NJPW is looking to establish their brand in the US, so having the American side (outside of Henare) win here makes sense.
Tencozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima) vs. Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi (pre-show)
Prediction: Tencozy wins
A tag match here comprised of four veterans who have been former IWGP Heavyweight Champions and main-eventers in NJPW. Might not be recognizable to the average fan but at one point these were the top guys of the company. A toss-up here but I’ll give the win to Tencozy.
Jushin Thunder Liger, Tatsumi Fujnami, The Great Sasuke, and Tiger Mask vs. Naoki Sano, Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, and Ryusuke Taguchi with Norio Honaga as the special guest referee
Prediction: Liger, Fujnami, Sasuke, and Tiger Mask win
This is the first of two of Liger’s retirement matches (the second one will take place the following night). All of these guys have been a part of the legendary career of the Japanese superstar. Fujinami was Liger’s idol when he was growing up and helped him train to become a wrestler. Sasuke and Tiger Mask have also had great matches against Liger in the past.
On the opposing side, Sano was in a legendary rivalry Liger’s during the early 90s while the other guys have been a part of Liger’s career. Expect a nostalgic trip for the hardcore fans here with the superstar performing their signature moves. Liger’s team wins here to give the legendary wrestler his final win (spoiler for what will happen the following night).
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Evil, Sanada, Shingo Takagi, and Bushi) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., and El Desperado)
Prediction: Suzuki-gun wins
When watching New Japan, you’ll start to see a huge trend here. A lot of multi-man tag matches between different factions, with the continued story of getting the ultimate control of the company. Still, the multi-man matches that have been showcased in the company are fun to watch and it is something WWE should consider trying but I’ll save that for another article.
Here, I have Suzuki-gun getting the victory, with Sabre Jr. getting the victory. ZSJ will defend his British Heavyweight title against SANADA on the following night, so it only makes sense here for him to get the victory here to build him up for the following night.
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, and YOSHI-HASHI) vs. Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, KENTA, and Yujiro Takahashi)
Prediction: Bullet Club wins
Similar to the match above, there will be another faction battle as CHAOS goes up against members of the Bullet Club. Another similarity is that one of the guys in the match, KENTA, is set to defend his NEVER Openweight Championship the next night against Goto. With that, I think KENTA gets the pinfall victory to make him stronger for the next match.
IWGP Tag Team Championship – Guerrillas of Destiny (Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga) (c) vs. FinJuice (Juice Robinson and David Finlay)
Prediction: FinJuice wins the IWGP Tag Team Championship
FinJuice won the NJPW World Tag League tournament which earned them the right to face G.o.D. for the tag titles. New Japan’s tag team division has been hitting a low point in the last year, with the likes of The Young Bucks and Best Friends leaving for AEW. Tonga and Loa are one of the best tag teams in the world, in my opinion, and have held the titles for almost a year now but it might be time for a change.
Robinson has been performing very well for the company lately since he made New Japan his full-time promotion he’ll be wrestling for, so why not give him the titles to refresh the tag scene.
IWGP United States Championship – Lance Archer (c) vs. Jon Moxley in a Texas Deathmatch
Prediction: Jon Moxley wins the IWGP United States Championship
Moxley was stripped of the title after failing to make his scheduled appearance to defend it due to Typhoon Hagibis, which is common as NJPW has a strict rule whereby a champion must defend their title on a scheduled defense, no matter what. A last-minute US title match had Archer defeat Juice Robinson to win the belt. Moxley challenged Archer for it at WK14 in a Texas Deathmatch, which is Moxley’s specialty.
Archer has improved a lot since breaking out as a singles star in New Japan but Moxley has a larger international presence from his days in WWE (as Dean Ambrose) and now in AEW. The Deathmatch stipulation only makes it more obvious that Moxley will win. Expect a brutal match but a good one.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship – Will Ospreay (c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Prediction: Hiromu Takahashi wins the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Hiromu had to vacate the title due to s neck injury that caused him to miss 16 months of action. He returned to New Japan back in November to challenge Ospreay for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title.
The match can go either way here but I’m giving the win to Hiromu here. Ospreay has had one of the best wrestlers in 2019 and after having an impressive performance in the G1 Climax last year, he’ll look to graduate to the heavyweight division to challenge for the top title. Plus, it’ll be a good story for Hiromu to win here after being out for over a year with an injury.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship – Jay White (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito
Prediction: Tetsuya Naito wins the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Not only do Naito and White have an intense match for the IC title but there are more stakes attached. The winner will face either Kazuchika Okada or Kota Ibushi in their IWGP heavyweight championship on Night 2 (more on that match later).
Both guys also do have some history as White ended Naito’s fourth reign as IC champion back in September. I have Naito winning here to even the score and get his chance to win the Heavyweight title.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship – Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Kota Ibushi
Prediction: Kazuchika Okada retains the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Okada is one of the best wrestlers in New Japan (if not the world). He is currently in his fifth reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion and is considered one of the best champions in the belts history. Ibushi is a solid wrestler in his own right and won the 2019 G1 Climax to earn a title shot here. He no doubt deserves to be champion at some point but I have the ace of New Japan winning here, to set up the double champion match on Night 2.
In my prediction, I have Tetsuya Naito winning the IWGP IC Championship match and ultimately winning the second match for the Heavyweight title. It looks better to have him beat the top guy in Okada rather than a guy who just won the title not even 24 hours prior.
There are a lot of exciting matches to check out here at Wrestle Kingdom 14. For the past few years, the show has been home to many Match of the Years by various wrestling sites. The upper card looks to be amazing while the lower tag matches, while not having a lot of fanfare, could put on excellent performances too.
Like I said, if you haven’t check out a New Japan show, I suggest you do. What better way to start than in the New Year with their biggest show.