It is the most wonderful time of the year. The biggest show of the New Japan Pro Wrestling year, Wrestle Kingdom, is back at its traditional January 4th date. But for the first time in history something historic is happening, Wrestle Kingdom will be two nights this year. It will be over eight hours of amazing wrestling in the Tokyo Dome. We will all be getting a serious lack of sleep watching it on NJPW World soon enough. Here is our #Preview: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night One.
The first night of Wrestle Kingdom is a completely stacked night of wrestling with lots of amazing build. The main card will have eight matches, five titles on the line and appearances by some of the best talents in professional wrestling. After an exciting year in pro wrestling in 2019, we should be off to an amazing start for 2020. Here is the preview of Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night One:
#Preview: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night One
Jyushin Thunder Liger Retirement Match 1: Team Liger (Jyushin Liger, Tiger Mask, Great Sasuke & Tatsumi Fujinami) W/El Samurai vs. Team Sano (Naoki Sano, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Shinjiro Otani) W/Kuniaki Kobayashi
It is still hard to fathom a professional wrestling world without Jyushin Thunder Liger. The 11-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion is a living legend and it is sad to think this is the second to last match ever for Liger. But the first match of his Wrestle Kingdom farewell should be a ton of fun.
This match includes legends like Great Sasuke, Naomi Sano, Shinjiro Otani and Tatsu,hito Takaiwa. Many of them have not been in New Japan Pro Wrestling for years. They all have a history with Liger. For example, Sano had one of the greatest matches in pro wrestling against Liger. That match occurred in 1990!
This match should be some nostalgic fun for some of the all-time greats. It is the perfect opener for Tokyo Dome. I just hope Great Sasuke does something really crazy as well.
Los Ingobernables De Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA & Shingo Takagi) vs. Suzuki Gun (Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr, Taichi & El Desperado)
It is weird to see some eight man tag action on a Wrestle Kingdom main card but with this match being Los Ingobernables vs. Suzuki Gun it should be a lot of fun. I would expect a lot of chaotic cheating in a very short order. It is weird to think this will be the only appearance on the main Wrestle Kingdom cards by EVIL and Minoru Suzuki.
This match is all about SANADA vs Zack Sabre Jr. The two have been putting on technical showcases to set up their January 5th match for the British Heavyweight Championship. Who will have the momentum heading into that encounter? How many lariats will Shingo hit? How many times will Sabre Jr. complain about the recent British elections? We should find out in this match.
Bullet Club (KENTA, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & YOSHI-HASHI)
It is time for some Bullet Club versus CHAOS action. I would assume that Yano might cheat a bit to help out his team. Just a hunch.
The main appeal of this match is a preview of the Never Openweight Championship between KENTA and Hirooki Goto. KENTA has been on fire since joining Bullet Club at G1 this previous August. KENTA also cost Goto the Intercontinental Championship at Power Struggle. It should be fun to see how they interact before their January 5th encounter.
IWGP Tag Team Championship: G.O.D. (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (c) vs. FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson)
It is amazing to think Guerrillas of Destiny have the longest IWGP Tag Team Title runs since 2014’s reign by Gallows/Anderson. Guerrillas have held the title in their current reign which has lasted over 300 days now. They have even defeated the title seven times in their current fifth title reign. Can they continue their dominance in 2020?
The challengers are FinJuice. While Juice Robinson might have his thoughts on his US Championship match on January 5th, this will be a potential showcase for David Finlay. The fourth-generation superstar had some bad luck in 2019 when he missed over six months to an injury and lost a chance at the New Japan Cup. He made up for the lost time when he teamed with Juice Robinson to win World Tag League over the veteran team of EVIL and SANADA. That was impressive. It would be more impressive to defeat one of the great NJPW teams in the Tokyo Dome.
IWGP US Championship – Texas Death Match: Lance Archer (c) vs. Jon Moxley
It was one of the shocking moments of 2019 when Jon Moxley made his debut in New Japan and won the US Championship in his very first match. Moxley has shown his wrestling skill with many excellent matches in the G1 and in multiple hardcore matches around the globe since leaving the WWE in early 2019.
Sadly just as we were about to get a Jon Moxley defense of the title at King of Pro Wrestling, Typhoon Hagibis prevented him from getting to Japan. He dropped the title without ever losing it. This allowed Lance Archer to pick up the title and run with it. He had some wonderful matches in G1 and won the vacant US Championship. Archer defended it against David Finlay. He attempted to win the World Tag League and encountered a surprise, Jon Moxley returned to challenge him for the US Championship. The match would be a Texas Death Match.
Moxley has certainly shown his skill in impressive hardcore matches at Fyter Fest and Full Gear in 2019. Texas Death Matches are pretty rare in New Japan. What brutality will both have in store for January 4th? And what will either have left when Juice Robinson gets his rematch on January 5th?
#Preview: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night One
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay (c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi
I cannot wait. This will be the match of the night. The emotion behind it will be off the charts.
Hiromu Takahashi was one of the best wrestlers in the world when he defeated Taiji Ishimori in an amazing Super Juniors Final in 2018. The run continued when he defeated Will Ospreay at Dominion 2018. It seemed to be the start of an amazing Junior Heavyweight reign until the tragic accident at the G1 Special in San Francisco where Takahashi broke his neck in a match against Dragon Lee. It seemed we might be denied seeing one of the great wrestlers ever again.
In his absence, Will Ospreay picked up the ball to have an amazing 2019. He competed in the New Japan Cup and made the quarterfinals. Ospreay had some of the best matches of the year as he defeated Shingo Takagi at the Best of Super Juniors final and Dragon Lee at NJPW Dominion. He even was a part of the amazing G1 Climax tournament. It was quite a year for arguably the best wrestler in the world.
As Ospreay successfully defended his Junior Heavyweight against Bushi at Power Struggle, the long-awaited return of Takahashi finally arrived. He has been gone for nearly 18 months from the ring and is coming back for the title he never lost. If you were worried he had lost a step, the Road to Tokyo Dome showed he is ready to go. Could the first major show of 2020 have the match of the year?
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Jay White (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito
Will Naito get his redemption in Tokyo Dome? It hasn’t been the best year for Naito in 2019. He won and lost the Intercontinental Championship on two occasions in 2019. He lost on the final night of B Block at G1 Climax to eventual winner Jay White. At Destruction in Kobe, he lost his International Championship to Jay White. White has been the thorn in the side of Naito this year.
Tetsuya Naito won a chance at Jay White at Power Struggle. But that wasn’t enough for Naito. He wants to be a Double Champion holding both the Intercontinental Championship and Heavyweight Championship at the same time. Naito will get his chance if he defeats Jay White on January 4th.
#Preview: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night One
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Kota Ibushi
It is a match monthes in the making. What can you say at this point about Okada? Since he regained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Jay White at G1 Supercard in April, he has gone on quite a run. He defeated SANADA twice, Minoru Suzuki and Chris Jericho in defense of his title. But he didn’t defeat Kota Ibushi.
Since Kota Ibushi signed on long term with New Japan Pro Wrestling, he has been on quite a run. He defeated Okada on the final night of A Block and went on to defeat Jay White to win the G1 tournament. Since then he has shown his confidence in defending his title shot successfully against EVIL and KENTA. Can Ibushi overcome one of the greats at Wrestle Kingdom? It will be a wonderful main event to end a great night of wrestling.