#AndNew: Title Changes on Night 2 of Wrestle Kingdom 14

Sunday 5th January saw the second night of Wrestle Kingdom 14 take place in the famous Tokyo Dome. Unlike the previous nights card, this was predominantly made up of title matches, bar the first match, which was Jyushin Thunder Liger’s second retirement match.

IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship

The first of the Wrestle Kingdom 14 title matches was for the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. This Roppongi 3k’s Sho and Yoh battle the devious Bullet Club’s El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori. From the first bell, it seemed as if the Bullet Club duo had the advantage, using every dirty trick in their playbook.

Credit: NJPW

However, this all seemed to change in the final moments of the match. El Phantasmo’s trickery was beaten by the team managed by the King of Sneaky Style, Rocky Romero. He used his smarts when he saw ELP push the referee Kenta Sato aside to grab the titles to use as a weapon. Sensing that his boys were in trouble, Rocky grabbed the titles, exacting retribution for earlier when he was knocked from the ring. ELP then went for his signature low blow, but this also backfired as he was met with something very hard: literally.

Sho revealed that he’d been wearing a gold cup, anticipating that he might get into some trouble in that department. It seems as if El Phantasmo was getting too predictable with his offence.

After that, momentum really was in 3k’s corner and after some amazing teamwork from the duo, Sho pinned El Phantasmo to earn Roppongi 3k their fourth title reign as IWGP Jr Heavyweight tag team champions. Hopefully the boys can keep the title for longer than their previous reigns.

NEVER Openweight Championship

After this, the next title that fans saw change hands at Wrestle Kingdom 14 was the NEVER Openweight Title. Hirooki Goto challenged champion Kenta after pinning him in the World Tag League.

Credit: NJPW

It was a match with a huge build-up ranging from surprise attacks before the World Tag League matches and of course Kenta’s famous post-match comments that audiences have fallen in love with.

Unsurprisingly, the match started with Kenta trying to avoid Goto at any cos,t trying to get him out of the ring and retain the title in the quickest time possible. However, Kenta forgot one big thing: Hirooki Goto is the Prince of the NEVER Title. It’s his baby.

With that desire to take back his beloved title, Goto turned the tide in his favour with his fast, athletic, and powerful offence.

Initially, it seemed like the newest Bullet Club member was going to come out with the win, using some amazing submissions and counters Kenta is known for. However, Goto has one of the biggest hearts in professional wrestling. Sometimes, that’s all you need to get the advantage over your opponent. All it took was a small second for Hirooki Goto to execute a picture-perfect ushigoroshi and then hit Kenta with his patented GTR.

It just seemed to end a very disappointing weekend for the Bullet Club. All members lost their titles at some point.

IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Double Title Match

However, it was the main event of the night which fans had spent weeks, even months anticipating: the battle to become the first-ever dual IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental champion. The two final matches of the night had resulted in Tetsuya Naito beating Switchblade Jay White for the Intercontinental title and Kazuchika Okada retaining his title against Kota Ibushi.

Credit: NJPW

The crowd was hot from the second the bell rang and the two just stood in the middle of the ring whilst Red Shoes Unno measured the crowd’s reaction, which was firmly in favour of the Ungovernable One, Naito.

This match was the perfect mix of story-telling, light and shade and obviously amazing wrestling from both competitors. It was a match that had fans on the edge of their seats as moves were countered. High-risk offence was implemented and finishers were unable to win the match.

There were many highlights of this match. Naito was unable to pin Okada with his patented Destino. In repsonse, Naito went for a move fans hadn’t seen in a long time: the Stardust Press. It is almost impossible to describe in a way that would let you appreciate the skill that went into it.

We also saw another side to the Rainmaker. Okada switched between being confident about his offence, to moments where you could see doubt creeping in. However, in the end, the over-confidence worked to his detriment.

After Naito kicked out of the world-famous Rainmaker, Okada did the reasonable thing and tried again. Okada hit one hell of a Rainmaker on the weakened Los Ingobernables de Japon leader. He proceeded to damage Naito’s already injured knee, However, Okada refused to capitalise. He went for another, and then another.

This small-time gap was all Naito needed to recuperate.

He was soon able to hit Destino to get the win. Naito made history by becoming the first man to hold the top two belts in New Japan and the Tokyo Dome erupted. That excitement was short-lived as KENTA came out and made a clear statement that he was after Naito. However, that cannot take away from what Naito achieved and what an amazing match the duo put on. It was also retribution from 2018; not only did Naito have to be part of a co-main event but also was defeated by the Rainmaker.

Naito fulfilled his Destino.