Wrestle Kingdom 12
Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018
I remember the first Jan. 4 show I watched: Wrestle World 2003. It was during New Japan’s dark ages and featured a main event of Yuji Nagata and Josh Barnett. I even told Barnett this at a UFC Expo. I started watching New Japan in 2002, and since then, I’ve been following the promotion as closely as time would permit with a resurgence happening in the past few years.
So this will be my 15th Jan. 4 Tokyo Dome show that I will be following, but out of them all, I am the most excited for this one. Mainly because my favorite worker is in the main event, hopefully culminating in this chapter’s fitting end.
NEW JAPAN RUMBLE: The New Japan Rumble is pretty much a way to get people on the card and give the fans arriving early a nostalgia pop and so forth. It’s hard to really predict who will win this, as it can either go to an up-and-comer or a third-generation star. Hopefully, it will go to a third-generation star.
DELOS PREDICTION: No clue, but let’s go with Yuji Nagata.
IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson vs. SHO and YO (c): The Young Bucks weren’t in the Super Junior Tag Tournament, protecting this matchup for the Tokyo Dome. This should be a fun opener with a fresh match that, more or less, is the best match in the junior tag division. SHO and YO should retain to further establish them as the aces of the tag division. That is, unless, Gedo wants to really go all-in on an Elite about face to have them feud with Los Ingobernables de Japon and SUZUKI-gun
DELOS PREDICTION: SHO and YO retain the titles.
NEVER OPENWEIGHT SIX-MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP GAUNTLET MATCH: Tama Tonga, Tonga Loa and Bad Luck Fale (c)vs. Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson and Togi Makabe vs. Beretta, Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hanson, Raymond Rowe and Michael Elgin vs. Taichi, Takashi Iizuka and Zack Sabre Jr.: Truthfully, this match will be head spinning in all the wrong ways. Nobody knows where to start. In fact, no time to analyze just pick a team and hope they win. So, let’s go with SUZUKI-Gun? Maybe? Who knows.
DELOS PREDICTION: Taichi, Takashi Iizuka and Zack Sabre Jr.
SPECIAL SINGLES MATCH: Kota Ibushi vs. Cody: The fans are still waiting for the eventual Kota Ibushi vs. Kenny Omega match, so Ibushi will need some level of momentum going into it. Cody acts as a nice sub-boss for Omega. Cody’s run in NJPW has been average with his best match coming against the man widely heralded as the best in the world – Kazuchika Okada – but he hasn’t been mind-numbingly dull. Expect this match to be a fun and might be Cody’s best New Japan match since the match in Long Beach.
DELOS PREDICTION: Kota Ibushi
IWGP TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: Davey Boy Smith, Jr. and Lance Archer (c) vs. SANADA and EVIL: SANADA and EVIL own great chemistry in the ring, but the time isn’t right for them to win the IWGP Tag Team titles from Killer Elite Squad. The duo needs a better chase and giving LIJ most of the heavyweight titles seems too soon. Also, Killer Elite Squad needs to longer burn with the tag titles. Truthfully, though, the tag team division needs a rebirth and, hopefully, SANADA and EVIL can add to it.
DELOS PREDICTION: Davey Boy Smith, Jr. and Lance Archer (c)
NEVER OPENWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP – HAIR VS. HAIR – NO SECONDS ALLOWED: Minoru Suzuki (c) vs. Hirooki Goto: Oh, Hirooki Goto. A loss here adds to your wonderful choke-artist story, but would give you a new found lease on your bland character. Yet, your hair is far more flowing than Suzuki. Suzuki needs to get away from the NEVER Openweight title, so losing it to Goto, opens up a fresh feud with LIJ, which Suzuki specifically mentioned last in his return promo nearly a year ago. Now is the time for Suzuki to drop the belt, lose his hair, and go full on psycho without it.
DELOS PREDICTION: Hirooki Goto
IWGP JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR-WAY MATCH: Marty Scurll (c) vs. Will Ospreay vs. KUSHIDA vs. Hiromu Takahashi: This will be the car crash. These are four of the best junior heavyweights in the world, and they will share the ring together. This match features multiple storylines where none of which will actually conclude. It’s hard to really identify which storyline will see an “ending.” Pick one and hope for the best:
- Hiromu and Ospreay: I’m not a cat storyline
- KUSHIDA’s return to the top of the junior division
- Hiromu wants Mr. Belt back
- Ospreay beats Scurll…finally.
- Scurll continues his run in New Japan.
Which story will continue after this match? Probably Ospreay and Hiromu. That one is too much fun.
DELOS PREDICTION: Will Ospreay defeats Marty Scurll
IWGP INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Jay White: “Switchblade” Jay White may be the most awkward “heel” persona in quite sometime. He doesn’t feel natural in this role. He’s just dressed in black, but maybe he’ll grow into the role. His time, however, to beat Tanahashi in his kingdom. Tanahashi needs to bounce back at the dome and White isn’t ready to run the Intercontinental division. Just yet.
DELOS PREDICTION: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c)
IWGP UNITED STATES HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Chris Jericho: I’m not interested in this at all. North Americans casuals can enjoy this bout. Just kidding. This bout will test both men to the extreme. Jericho will be tested in his ability to produce at a high level in a big environment. Omega will be tested with an another opponent who is pushing 50. Both built an incredible match that nobody near the end of 2017 thought would come together, but it has and will likely produce a memorable match. The no disqualification stipulation allows the two to go a little more extreme with their actions.
DELOS PREDICTION: Kenny Omega (c)
IWGP HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito: Four years ago, these two had their main event spot taken away. Then Okada wasn’t viewed as the true ace of New Japan; Naito lacked the crowd support. Now both men are considered two of the new era “Big Three” with Kenny Omega. More on that later. This is more about Naito than it is Okada. Naito views himself as the top star of New Japan – something he said four years ago when he won his first G-1 Climax. The time is now for Naito to have a good run with the title. His first run was mainly to establish LIJ as the next big stable in New Japan. Now it’s his time. If he wins, expect me to cry.
DELOS PREDICTION: Tetsuya Naito