Tomorrow is the day of New Japan’s annual January 4th Tokyo Dome show (As of 2006 renamed Wrestle Kingdom), their biggest show of the year, their Wrestlemania if you will. New Japan always tries to put out the best possible card with the best possible results for this show (as they should). With this piece I was planning on running through the card and give my opinion and thoughts on the matches and the buildup and what I think can come of it.
Without further ado: Here goes!
Dark Match: Bushi, Captain New Japan, Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Tomoaki Honma vs Jushin Thunder Liger, Manabu Nakanishi, Super Strong Machine and Yohei Komatsu.
This is just a dark match so nothing if anything will come out of it booking wise. A couple of old timers in Tenzan, Honma, Jushin and Nakanishi mixed win with some youngsters/up and comers in Bushi, Komatsu and comedy figure Captain New Japan. A traditional multi man match in the dark match spot to get the crowd going. Some of the old timers like Jushin and Honma can still go but others like Nakanishi and Tenzan have broken down with time. But it gets Bushi on the card and Komatsu gets some more experience which is good for him. Not going to be overly bothered with this match.
IWGP Jr tag team championship match: The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) (c) vs. Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero) vs. Suzukigun (Taichi and Taka Michinoku) vs. Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and Kushida)
This is a match I am personally looking forward to. The Young Bucks are a joy to watch as are the Time Splitters. The Suzukigun team and the Hooligans are also fun teams to watch but it’s hard to compete with Alex Shelley and the bucks. We have two face teams in this matchup in the Hooligans and the Splitters against two heel teams. I expect this to be a high flying, athletic and high pace match that will get the crowd going. I also expect both the Splitters to dethrone the Bucks or the Bucks to retain and keeping the Bullet Club with gold.
This is another bout I look forward to. Like I expect the junior tag match to be a high paced affair I expect this one to be a brawl. K.E.S. have really found themselves in New Japan as a pair of monster Gaijins in the last couple of years, and Anderson has hit steam in the last two years as well as a singles competitor, but teaming him up with DOC as the monster team of the Bullet Club was just natural. This is a heel vs heel affair and I expect these two teams to go to war over the tag team titles. I expect the club to pick up the belts.
And the new NWA partnering up with New Japan saga continues. I don’t really care for this match since I do not care about the modern NWA. Conway is a decent enough champ and Kojima is a beast despite his advancing age but I am not going to be as interested in this match as in other matches on this card.
Another match I am not as excited for compared to other matches on the card. Sakuraba is fun to watch, Nagata can still go in his old age but I just cannot connect with the guy. And then we have two BJJ masters with no prior wrestling experience on the other side of the ring. Meaning this is most likely going to be worked as a MMA fight rather than a wrestling match. I am still thinking this could be a sleeper darkhorse match though. They could surprise me but I am going into this match a skeptic. Expecting Nagata/Sakuraba to get the win.
This is going to be much more fun than the earlier match though! Suzuki and Yano have been up to hijinks against each other for the better part of the year and it is one of the more fun feuds going this year. Tag on Benjamin and Muta and you have yourself a tag match to cut off their string of singles matches. I expect hijinks and shenanigans galore and Yano and Muta coming out of it with the win.
Here you have my prediction for the worst match of the card, despite what I said about the Gracie tag. Makabe tends to be at his best in brawls but this match being contested under “king of destroyer” rules (has to be a knockout win)and being put against Fale I expect this match to be complete and utter tripe from bell to bell.
Hirooki Goto vs Katsuyori Shibata
The final part in the Goto vs Shibata series. This is Goto’s return after being pulled from the G! Climax tournament in the summer with a broken jaw, and he is back to pick up his series of matches with college roommate Shibata. I expect this to be just as physical and stiff as their older matches. But I don’t think the other ones can be topped. Will be a quality lead in to the main events. Expect Goto to get the win and then moving into one of the two singles title scenes open for him.
IWGP Jr Heavyweight championship match: Prince Devitt ( c ) vs Kota Ibushi
The first of the three main events. These two guys have chemistry and if this can be worked with minimum to no Bullet Club hijinks this can be one of the best matches of the night. Ibushi needs the win though since if Devitt wants to make that move up to the heavyweight scene, he needs to drop the Jr belt. The Bullet Club can still be booked to look strong without that belt.
IWGP Heavyweight championship match: Kazuchika Okada ( c ) vs Tetsuya Naito
This was one of the swerves of the build to the show. The fans were allowed to vote on which match should mainevent and the heavyweight belt was bumped down to co-main event in favor of the IC belt. These two guys are the one’s New Japan want to be the faces of their company for the next generation. Okada have been elevated since his return to Japan in 2011 and has had a good reign as champ and is on top of his game. And Naito is back from a knee injury and they seem set on making him the next Keiji Mutoh. Naito hasn’t connected with the crowd as well as hoped though but the match will without of doubt be quality. And being snubbed on the main event spot might push these guys to hit it out of the park. I expect Naito to win but I am rooting for the Rainmaker.
IWGP Intercontinental championship match: Shinsuke Nakamura ( c ) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
The main event of the night. If Okada and Naito are the guys New Japan want as faces of their next generation, then Tana and Nakamura are without a doubt the faces of the current one. They came up together and have a Orton/Cena or Austin/Rock relationship on screen, the two big rivals who are always circling one another, but seldom clash. This is their first singles match in about two years which only adds to the hype of it being for Nakamura’s IC belt and at Wrestle Kingdom. I expect this to be a great match and I expect Tanahashi to close the show with a new belt added to his list, also ending his dry spell when it comes to titles in New Japan.
There you have it! My predictions and thoughts on the Wrestle Kingdom 8 card.
Hopefully you enjoyed reading this.
Have any thoughts on the article or on the card? Hit me up in the comments section!
To infinity, and beyond!