Wrestle Kingdom is the biggest PPV of NJPW’s Calendar and it starts on January 4th’s Weekend live on NJPW World. For the first time ever, Wrestle Kingdom will be consisting of two shows, going into New Year’s Dash the following night. This is the night where the history of New Japan can change as we know it. We covered Night 1, but now it’s time to cover the second night of Wrestle Kingdom 14.
Never Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Gauntlet
Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe (c) vs. CHAOS (Robbie Eagles, YOSHI-HASHI & Tomohiro Ishii) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Shingo Takagi & EVIL) vs. Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru, El Desperado & Taichi) vs. Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi & Bad Luck Fale)
For the past few years, the existence of the Never Openweight Six-Man Tag Champions has barely been acknowledged, even some people didn’t even think this title was going to be defended at Wrestle Kingdom 14. But we were proved wrong as the trios belt of NJPW will be defended in a gauntlet match featuring all of the top factions of NJPW going out in a gauntlet style of match, where the defending champions of Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, and Ryusuke Taguchi will face off against CHAOS, LIJ, Suzuki-Gun and Bullet Club. The stipulation of a gauntlet match means that once a team gets eliminated, the next team joins in the fight. This will continue the trend for the last two years of a gauntlet match. The real question is IF the winners of this match will lose the championship in the next show considering the history of this championship of the champions losing them after first winning at the Tokyo Dome.
Jyushin Thunder Liger’s Retirement Match: Jyushin Liger & Naoki Sano vs Hiromu Takahashi & Ryu Lee
Jyushin Thunder Liger and longtime rival Naoki Sano will face off against the returning Hiromu Takahashi and Dragon Lee under the name of Ryu Lee. The story of this match comes from the big selling point of this entire tour and that is the retirement ceremony of the legendary wrestler, Jyushin Thunder Liger. It was announced in March that Liger would be retiring from in-ring competition in 2020. Nobody knew who the final match would be against, many thought perhaps Minoru Suzuki. That would take place in October instead. In December, Ryu Lee would challenge the legend to a match. Liger would say he wanted to face Hiromu, who recently returned from a life-threating injury and the match would be made official with Liger bringing in his rival Naoki Sano into the fold. The 30-plus years of wrestling for the legend known as Liger will end on the night of January 5th as this is his final match. It’s guaranteed to be an emotional weekend for the fans of the Jyushin Thunder Liger and crying in the beginning of the show is a good way to start.
IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship Match
Bullet Club (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) (c) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
The Super Junior Tag League was a tournament that was held in October and the entire point of that tournament was to crown a new number one contender for the IWGP Junior Tag Team Champions.Winning that tournament would be Roppongi 3K; this would be their third tournament win in a row. They faced off against El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru in the finals. Now they get a rematch against the reigning tag team champions, who Roppongi lost their titles to in the first place. This is the second title defense in their over 200-day reign as champions as El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori make their team debut at Wrestle Kingdom. Roppongi 3K’s history at WK has been mixed, with a 1-1 overall record in the dome. While Ishimori has a 1-0 WK record, ELP is also making his WK debut. The numbers aren’t in favor of the champions but the dirty tactics of ELP/Ishimori, who have beaten their opponents through dubious ways before, could possibly do the same thing again and retain their titles. If Roppongi 3K wins this match, this would be the fourth time they’ve held the titles.
British Heavyweight Championship Match
Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs. Sanada.
The British Heavyweight Championship of Revolution Pro Wrestling is a championship that has become synonymous with being defended on NJPW shows. It’s become a title that has been defended countless times at big or small NJPW events, even in the UK. Zack Sabre Jr. has something to prove after a few months of humiliation. ZSJ had a very unsuccessful G1 Tournament, raging in promos and interviews over his losses. Sabre would then lose the championship to Hiroshi Tanahashi at NJPW’s Royal Quest and regain it at Destruction in Beppu. Sabre looks to start 2020 off with a new start by facing someone he has an unfortunate win/loss history with and someone that has spent the build up to WK humiliating him. The question is IF Sanada could win this championship for the first time. ZSJ’s history in singles matches at WK have been successful at 1-1 and Sanada is making his single’s match debut at Wrestle Kingdom. He is riding a massive high over months of humiliating ZSJ but will it just be a high that gets stomped on the ground? Sabre will be looking to make Sanada submit and finally pick up his first win over him.
IWGP US Heavyweight Championship
??? (c) vs. Juice Robinson
The next few matches will be determined on the first night of Wrestle Kingdom 14. The winner of the match between Lance Archer (current champion) and Jon Moxley will face off against Juice Robinson. The history of Juice Robinson with the US Championship is relevant since he lost the championship to Moxley. Since Mox couldn’t defend it at King of Pro Wrestling, the title was vacated. Lance Archer would beat Juice Robinson to crown the new US Heavyweight Champion. Juice Robinson one loss on the record books to both Archer and Moxley, but has a win over Moxley from the G1 Climax tournament. Lance Archer has been a dominant champion, but Moxley is unhinged and wants to avenge his loss over Juice Robinson and continue to bring NJPW into mayhem.
Never Openweight Championship: KENTA (c) vs. Hirooki Goto
One of the biggest stories that came out of NJPW last year was the debut of former Pr Wrestling NOAH & WWE star, KENTA. He made his debut for the company at June’s Dominion 6.9. KENTA would make his intentions clear as he would go into the G1 Climax and dominate in the tournament. In the tournament, the fans would turn on KENTA and he would see a lot of hatred coming his way. On the final night of the G1 Climax, KENTA would turn on CHAOS’ Tomohiro Ishii to join the Bullet Club. He would then be confronted by and accosted by Katsuyori Shibata, who was then jumped by Bullet Club. KENTA would then go on to have a feud with Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Championship and win the title. In the World Tag League, Hirooki Goto would get a major upset over KENTA. He then challenged him to a match at Wrestle Kingdom 14 to avenge the assault over his best friend, Shibata. Will Goto get his revenge and hold the NEVER Openweight Championship for the fifth time? Or will the reign of KENTA continue by him taking out Shibata’s best friend?
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Chris Jericho – If Tanahashi wins, he challenges Jericho for the AEW Championship
This is the co-main event of the show. In 2017, Chris Jericho would make his debut for New Japan and would face off against top talent in the copmany; Kenny Omega was first, Tetsuya Naito was second, then Kazuchika Okada. After the bout with Okada at Dominion 6.9, the story of Tanahashi/Jericho would manifest itself. Jericho would attack Okada after the match and Tanahashi would save Okada and go after Jericho. A few months would pass and at Power Struggle, Chris Jericho would officially set his sights on the Ace of New Japan, Hiroshi Tanahashi. Jericho would challenge him to a match at Wrestle Kingdom 14. At first, this was scheduled as a normal dream match. Several weeks later, the stakes would be raised. Tanahashi put it out there that he would like to challenge Jericho for the AEW World Championship if he won at WK. Jericho agreed, if he lost the match, he would let Tanahashi challenge for the AEW World Championship in the near future. This could mark the start of the potential partnership between both AEW and NJPW. This is a first-time-ever encounter and Jericho’s win/loss record at Wrestle Kingdom has been very unsuccessful with two losses, whereas Tanahashi has had multiple victories in the Tokyo Dome.
DOUBLE GOLD DASH
In the first match of the “Double Gold Dash”, we have a match showcasing the losers of both the IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championship matches from the previous night, as they face off in one on one action. Singles matches that have no particular title on the line could result in a potential number one contender match for the first upcoming tour of the year “The New Beginning.”
This leads to the main event of the evening with the Intercontinental and Heavyweight Champions facing off to become the first-ever dual IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Champion. We cover all of the individuals who will be part of the Double Gold Dash and the various history involved in a stand-alone primer.
Wrestle Kingdom 14 is the biggest PPV of the year for New Japan. Two nights filled to the brim with title matches, dream matches, the retirement of a legend, the redemption of Hiromu Takahashi and more. And this is literally the just the start of the year for New Japan Pro Wrestling. The next night will feature the always exciting New Year’s Dash event.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world and make sure to watch the NJPW LIVE on NJPW WORLD.