We are fast approaching Wrestle Kingdom, the biggest show of the year for New Japan Pro Wrestling. The card has been finalized for 13th installment of NJPW’s annual Tokyo Dome spectacular and it’s shaping up to be another can’t-miss event. New Japan has made a habit of locking in “Show Of The Year” honors just days into the new year, but the card for Wrestle Kingdom 13 might even exceed them all. If you’re not too familiar with New Japan Pro Wrestling, this is the perfect opportunity to take the plunge and we’re eager to explain why.
The Main Event
The marquee bout of Wrestle Kingdom 13 will see IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega defend against New Japan’s ‘Ace’ Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi won this year’s G1 Climax tournament. This win gave him the opportunity to headline the Tokyo Dome show against the Champion Omega. This will be somewhat of a clash of ethos…Tanahashi represents the tradition and prestige of New Japan. Omega represents the present/future and influence of the West into the Japanese style.
This could be one of the last opportunities for Tanahashi to walk into a Tokyo Dome main event, so you can guarantee that he will leave everything in the ring. Omega is already fast becoming one of the best in-ring practitioners in New Japan’s history, his unbelievable run of bouts against Kazuchika Okada solidified his status as the ‘Western’ face of New Japan as they look to build on their expansion into the United States.
Other bouts on the show are potential show stealers, so there is no way that Omega and Tanahashi won’t walk into the main event and try and outdo all that comes before them.
Return of The GOAT
Omega’s fellow Canadian Chris Jericho will also be taking part on the card. Jericho’s ability to trick fans and make himself the talking point of pro wrestling in 2018 has been nothing short of impressive. Jericho is the company’s IWGP Intercontinental Champion, he will be defending against Tetsuya Naito. As the leader of Los Ingoebernables de Japon, Naito is the definition of cool in New Japan.
Naito has a strong technical ability and can change the pace and style of a match seemingly at will, Jericho is the master of the ‘less is more’ approach, especially at this point in his career. Whilst this may not be an in-ring clinic (no detriment to the two performers) this will be an element of the card where character and pacing/storytelling will be at the forefront.
The Dream Match
The match that has me extremely excited was only just recently confirmed. NEVER Openweight Champion Kota Ibushi will be defending against Will Ospreay. As the resident UK writer for this website I have been following Ospreay’s career for the best part of 5 years.
The ‘Aerial Assassin’ is one of the most exciting talents in the world and when you put him in the ring with a talent the caliber of Kota Ibushi you’re likely to get excellence. This is an opportunity for Ospreay to ‘move up’ and mix it with the Heavyweight Division in New Japan.
Ospreay has been one of the shining beacons of the Juniors over the past couple of years but his athletic abilities could translate extremely well to a different weight class, although the NEVER title is technically ‘openweight’ it has up to now been a heavyweight and ‘strong style’ flavored division.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
There’s also a IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship that catches the eye. Champion KUSHIDA will be defending against Taiji Ishimori. Ishimori joined the BULLET CLUB as the new Bone Soldier and has been flourishing in the Juniors ever since. Taiji had a very impressive showing in the Best of The Super Juniors 2018, losing only to Hiroshi Tanahashi in the final.
KUSHIDA is a name that you may be aware of, he is reportedly being looked at by WWE as a potential NXT signing…NXT overseer Triple H is supposedly a big fan of the Japanese star.
If this doesn’t convince you then check out the full card below:
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship Kenny Omega (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
- IWGP Intercontinental Championship Chris Jericho (c) vs Tetsuya Naito
- Kazuchika Okada vs Jay White
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship KUSHIDA (c) vs Taiji Ishimori
- IWGP United States Championship Cody (c) vs Juice Robinson
- RevPro British Heavyweight Championship Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs Zack Sabre Jr.
- IWGP Tag Team Championships Guerrillas of Destiny (c) vs The Young Bucks vs. EVIL and SANADA
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado (c) vs Roppongi 3K vs BUSHI and Shingo Takagi
- IWGP NEVER Openweight Championship Kota Ibushi (c) vs Will Ospreay
- WrestleKingdom 13 Pre-Show Gauntlet Match to become Number One Contender for the NEVER Six-Man Titles
You can watch the show via FITE TV or NJPWWorld. If you have any questions about New Japan just hit us up in the comments