In just a few hours, Wrestle Kingdom 13 will be taking place live from the Tokyo Dome, and as always, it’s a show you simply can’t afford to miss if you’re a pro wrestling fan. It’s a fantastic card, featuring 10 matches, many of which could very well steal the show, including the opener of Kota Ibushi vs Will Ospreay for the NEVER Openweight Championship. Think about that. That match is opening the card and it’s one of the more highly anticipated bouts of the show. There’s a reason right there why WK is can’t miss.
While the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards haven’t come out yet for 2018, it’s a safe bet that if not the winner (Dominion will provide stiff competition), Wrestle Kingdom 12 will finish in the top two. It follows a pattern that has seen NJPW’s answer to WrestleMania win each of the last three WON awards for event of the year (in addition, NJPW has won the award every year since 2012), dating back to Wrestle Kingdom 9. That card featured Kenny Omega winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, AJ Styles against Tetsuya Naito, Shinsuke Nakamura against Ibushi and the main event of Hiroshi Tanahashi defending the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Kazuchika Okada. The following year, at WrestleKingdom 10, Styles fought Nakamura, Katsuyori Shibata defeated Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Championship, Hirooki Goto battled Naito and for the second year in a row, Okada vs Tanahashi main evented, only this time with Okada as champion. Even more stellar matchups awaited at Wrestle Kingdom 11, the 2017 card of the year, as CHAOS won the IWGP Tag Team Championship, Hiromu Takahashi won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, Goto won the NEVER Openweight Championship, Naito faced Tanahashi and of course, Omega vs. Okada main evented the show in six star fashion.
Chances are you’ve heard about or seen at least one of those matches from the past three years, even if you aren’t a huge NJPW fan. Matches like that, ones that transcend their promotion and seep out into the pro wrestling zeitgeist are what makes Wrestle Kingdom a must-see card every year. Even if you haven’t been following NJPW for the past 11 months that precede it.
But fear not, because a few months ago, NJPW launched a new mini-series on their Youtube channel called The Wire. Designed to keep fans up-to-date with the latest news in the promotion, The Wire, narrated in English by commentator Kevin Kelly, debuted in September with a piece previewing an upcoming bout between Okada and Tanahashi. It’s since focused on other card previews but in addition, there have been several more mini-documentary type features including a look at Tanahashi’s comeback, Jay White turning on CHAOS for Bullet Club and Chris Jericho‘s first IWGP Intercontinental Championship defense. There are currently 21 videos in the playlist and none of them are longer than six minutes apiece.
Over the past few weeks, NJPW has put out several videos recapping some of the biggest matches for this year’s Wrestle Kingdom. Each video shows match highlights, backstory and some include press conference or interview snippets. There are four featured matches: Okada vs White, Omega vs Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, KUSHIDA vs Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr. for the Rev Pro British Heavyweight Championship. Of note here, is that this is the first time in WK history that the top title of NJPW’s British partner, Rev Pro, will be defended on the card. And if you didn’t know that, that little fun fact is just one of the things you’ll learn by checking out The Wire, full playlist embedded below.
While nothing quite compares to watching NJPW every week and following the stories as they unfold on TV and NJPWWorld, if you are looking for a quick catch-up or even just a little refresher course, the Wire is the perfect way to do so. All you’ll need is 15 minutes to watch all four videos and you’ll be all set to head into Wrestle Kingdom in a few hours with an understanding of the main storylines featured on the card.