Wrestle Kingdom 16 – The not quite as big as last year Super-Duper Whiz Bang Preview!

Full Card Announced For NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 Night One

Howdy!

Been a minute, as has been the case recently. Work has overwhelmed me more than a bit with Christmas, etc. And while I don’t recap NJPW here anymore, I still am an extremely faithful fan of the company. And I can still write a bit.

So with that in mind and the big show(s) happening here late tonight and tomorrow night, I wanted to take the time to dash off a quick preview for those that are interested. It would be silly to not admit that New Japan has fallen off a bit over the last year or two – there’s about a million reasons for that, and we won’t spend too much time on it, because it’s WRESTLE KINGDOM, BAYBEE!!! 

Ahem.

Let’s take a look at this show, shall we?

This isn’t going to be my usual craziness, in that I’m a bit low on time to work with – I’ll be hitting the points we need to hit, but not much else. 

First off, here’s the basics of how to watch!

THE TIMES:

Wrestle Kingdom Night 1 & Night 2 begins in North America at these times:
11:00 PM – Pacific Time
12:00 AM – Mountain Time
1:00 AM – Central Time
2:00 AM – Eastern Time

That’s late Monday/early Tuesday for Night 1, and late Tuesday/early Wednesday for Night 2, depending on your part of the world.

Watch the show on NJPW World (njpwworld.com) for less than 10 bucks, and you end up getting the whole month to watch afterwards. Good times – not only do you get to watch what will almost assuredly be some of the best shows of the year, you get to check out all sorts of stuff afterwards! Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton will have the call in English live, so don’t miss out.

Now then, let’s take a minute to talk a bit about the current state of New Japan Pro Wrestling. 

THE STATE OF NJPW:

The current narrative I frequently see is that New Japan is ice-cold, with a million problems and not much going for it, having been replaced in North America in many ways by AEW. I categorically reject this thought process, but I am more than willing to admit that NJPW has problems that need to be addressed. 

First off, what happened in 2021? This is most important for those coming into this show without having watched a ton of NJPW this year. This year was marked with struggles up and down the card due to injuries, COVID, and yes, some questionable booking decisions. 

TOP OF THE CARD – WHAT HAPPENED: Let’s start with the World title scene. At our last Wrestle Kingdom, Kota Ibushi survived Jay White in the 2021 Match of the Year (your mileage may very GREATLY on this and I have zero desire to start any arguments; in my review, I gave it ***** and just rewatched the match literally today. It absolutely holds up as an epic with good overcoming evil and two incredible performances that ran the table for me.) and walked away with the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP IC titles.

His first defense was against Tetsuya Naito which he won, then a second against Junior Champion El Desperado, with the added stip that whoever won would be the first IWGP WORLD Champion, Ibushi having stated his desire to merge the belts. Ibushi’s defense was successful and he was named the first IWGP World champion, with the previous belts seemingly retired. 

Enter Will Ospreay. My feelings on Will are no doubt well-known here, but for the purposes of this preview, we’ll stick to the basic facts. Ospreay had turned heel and started the United Empire faction at the end of the 2020 G-1 Climax, which led to him winning the 2021 New Japan Cup, and him using that win to challenge Kota Ibushi for the World title at the Sakura Genesis show. Which he won. 

Ospreay would go on to successfully defend said World title against Shingo Takagi at Wrestling Dontaku. Soon after he would be forced to vacate the title due to a back injury, and Shingo would once again get his shot at the title against Kazuchika Okada, and Takagi would then become World Champion, a title he would hold for the rest of the year. 

So that’s what happened.

TOP OF THE CARD – HOW DID IT WORK OUT: This was absolutely the toughest and hardest-hit of all the aspects of New Japan this year. Both Kota Ibushi and Will Ospreay were out for long stretches, with Ibushi’s coronation at Wrestle Kingdom lasting a scant few months and his World title reign ending in his very first defense. My impression is that the plan was for Ibushi to regain the title at the New Japan stadium show in the summer, but Ospreay had already vacated the title due to injury less than two months after winning it, so he couldn’t win it back from Will. That’s where Takagi came back into the picture and won the title, giving it some stability for the rest of the year that was needed.  By the time that the stadium show had come around, Ibushi was on the sidelines with aspiration pneumonia, keeping him on the sidelines until the 2021 G-1, where he would win his Block, make the Final…..and dislocate his shoulder severely in the middle of the Finals, once again putting him on the shelf for at least two more months. 

Meanwhile, Tetsuya Naito was injured in the first round of the G-1 against Zack Sabre Jr, and another main-eventer hit the injury list. Along the way, there were multiple COVID infections, etc, while last year’s G-1 Finalist Jay White went to America and still has yet to return to Japan. 

And yet, and this is why I think some of the criticism against New Japan booking at the top is somewhat unfair, they did everything they possibly could to make this year work. The World title went from Ibushi (1st time) to Ospreay (1st time) to Takagi (1st time) – instead of retreating to proven main eventers, they took chances with new people on top. One could argue that we don’t know the results of that experiment yet, since restrictions on attendance make it harder to tell who is a draw, but the fact of the matter is that they tried their damndest to make it happen whenever they could, to see who would swim and who would sink with the World title.

For example, I don’t think it was ever in the cards for Shingo to get a World title reign this year – I’m relatively sure that he was supposed to do a job for Will and take a step back, but when circumstance dictated, he went over Okada and won the title. You can’t say they didn’t try to take a big swing there. They wanted to elevate someone, and they did. Takagi may never touch the World title again (something I think is a distinct possibility, honestly), but he did what was needed when it was needed and will always be a former champ for main event purposes. 

THE JUNIORS – WHAT HAPPENED: Hiromu Takahashi would walk away from Wrestle Kingdom with the title, but don’t worry – he would continue the 2021 narrative of sucking the very joy out of all existence and vacate the title less than two months later due to a torn pectoral muscle. El Desperado, his opponent in the 2020 BOSJ Final (and my 2020 MOTY), would win the vacant title in a 3-way match with El Phantasmo and BUSHI. 

Desperado would drop the title to Robbie Eagles, and then regain it. 

THE JUNIORS – HOW DID IT WORK OUT: With Hiromu away for a good chunk of the year, the other Juniors did a lot of the heavy lifting, with Robbie Eagles being a highlight. On the other hand, El Desperado’s very anticipated first title reign was sort of a bust – he lost to Ibushi in the annual matchup of Heavyweight Champ vs Junior Champ at the Anniversary show, then didn’t get the chance to defend the title for a long period of time due to COVID outbreaks. He dropped the belt in only his second defense, but regained it later on and stabilized the belt through the BOSJ and now Wrestle Kingdom.

Overall, the Juniors were also wracked by injuries and COVID, but were at least able to do a decent enough job of keeping the reigns stable. In keeping with the overall tenor of the year, Desperado and Eagles both were first time champions for the majority of the year. And we ended the year with the setup for what should be a classic between Desperado and Hiromu, so there’s that.

Oh, and SHO, one of the most promising juniors on the roster, turned heel joining the Bullet Club and formed the House of Torture as a sub-faction. And as to that…..

THE HOUSE OF TORTURE – F--- THIS S---: As the heading suggests, I won’t mince words here – a lot of the very legitimate criticisms I see of New Japan these days frequently comes back to the House of Torture, AKA EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, Dick Togo, and new member SHO. The House of Torture indulges in the absolute worst of New Japan’s booking, winning their matches through ref bumps, cheating, weapons shots, low blows, blah, blah, blah. Their matches are normally relatively repetitive and make it tough to become invested in anything that happens before the aforementioned shenanigans kick in. They are the most boring faction in all of NJPW and drag down their matches, and have helped to ruin (though not without repair) one of the most promising young juniors in SHO with their nonsense. 

And yet, they keep getting pushed over and over. EVIL was one of Shingo’s first challengers for the World title, EVIL was one win away from winning his Block in the G-1, EVIL and Yujiro (Yujiro! Arguably the worst pushed worker in NJPW!) made the Finals of World Tag League, SHO was one win away from the Finals of the BOSJ, and the trio of EVIL, SHO, and Yujiro won the NEVER Openweight 6-man tag titles from CHAOS, ending a 454 day reign. And now, on this show, EVIL will wrestle in title matches both nights, working against Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER title on Night 1, then defending said 6-man titles on Night 2. 

At the end of the day, I go out of my way to watch New Japan to AVOID garbage like the HoT, and when they come on, I don’t want them to lose, I would rather just turn it off and do something else. The more they get shoved into top spots in NJPW, the more I rebel against it.

THE TAG TEAMS – WHAT HAPPENED: Some really awesome stuff, actually. After the Guerillas of Destiny regained the titles for approximately the 87th time at Wrestle Kingdom, this was the year for the Dangerous Tekkers, Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi. They regained the titles from the GoD , dropped them briefly to LIJ (Naito and SANADA) before regaining them and hanging onto them going into WK. 

Meanwhile, and while I may be a minor voice on this one, I thought World Tag League was really awesome, honestly. LIJ and the Tekkers were definitely anchors, but there was great stuff from the United Empire (Great O-Khan and Aaron Henare), CHAOS (Hirooki Goto and an absolutely resurgent YOSHI-HASHI), and, of all teams, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Toru Yano. 

THE TAG TEAMS – HOW DID IT WORK OUT: The Tekkers had a fantastic year, putting on wonderful matches with LIJ, GoD, and United Empire. YOSHI-HASHI of all people got his first title in NJPW in the 6-man titles in 2020 and the belt must have been made of magic and fairy dust, because all of a sudden he could work again. World Tag League, as mentioned, slapped. While I was hoping to get the rubber match between the Tekkers and LIJ at Wrestle Kingdom, I expect an excellent tilt between the Tekkers and CHAOS, which we’ll get to a bit later. 

Alright, let’s finish this.

THE REST OF IT – WHAT HAPPENED: Foreigners were few and far between in NJPW this year. With New Japan Strong being the North American hub for NJPW, wrestlers like Jay White and Will Ospreay headed there for a good chunk of the year. Others, like Juice Robinson and David Finlay, along with White, made appearances for Impact wrestling, while Satoshi Kojima and Minoru Suzuki stopped by AEW. But the pipeline pretty much went one way. Unlike previous Wrestle Kingdoms, there are no Chris Jerichos, no Jon Moxleys, no former NJPW stalwarts like Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, etc. 

I’m not sure where my reaction is on this. On the one hand, dream matches were always fun and with wrestlers like Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, and more shaking loose from the tree and being seemingly free to work Japan, it’s kind of crappy to not have that. On the other hand, less guest star matches allows more folks to shine that deserve that spotlight, and NJPW has plenty of those. 

While I won’t go into it (I think I’ve passed the point where I need to make my feelings known) two of the IWGP World champions they chose certainly had baggage. Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi, for separate reasons, engendered strong reactions based on past actions, but that seemingly didn’t affect their standing in Japan. Both men will headline the Dome on separate nights, so it’s clear that they will be a big part of NJPW going forward, and it would be disingenuous to suggest otherwise. 

Factions in NJPW have always played such a huge part in the stories, and huge is one way to describe the Bullet Club these days. A whopping 16 men claim some affiliation to the Bullet Club these days, and that’s just too many. The sprawling nature of it has led to the House of Torture sub-faction, similar to the Elite back in the day. Of all the factions in NJPW, this is the one that needs to split into smaller units as soon as possible. 

Okada and Tanahashi remained Okada and Tanahashi, and thank God for that. 

Alright, enough of this. That’s what happened. Let’s talk about the matches we’ve got on tap for the next two nights. 

WRESTLE KINGDOM 16 – NIGHT ONE:

The New Japan Ranbo – If you’re not in a match on Wrestle Kingdom, you’re probably in this. A Royal Rumble match (with pins and submissions counting) in which the last 4 participants will then proceed to a Fatal 4-Way on Night 2 to determine who will be the first provisional King of Pro Wrestling title holder for 2022. The KOPW title, represented by a trophy and pretty much exclusively held by Toru Yano for it’s entire existence outside of a few months, is a comedy title which resets itself every year. Normally welcome comedy matches (outside of when EVIL gets involved, sigh) are the KOPW title’s domain. 
WHO WINS THIS? – Who the hell knows? Since he was Top 4 last year, Chase Owens may make it again. I’ll take Chase, Satoshi Kojima, Minoru Suzuki, and Toru Yano to make the 2nd day. Yano is a mortal lock to always be part of this thing every single year.

YOH vs SHO (w/Dick Togo) – Battle of the former tag partners. The two were multiple-time Junior Tag champs as Roppongi 3K, but SHO put YOH through the proverbial barbershop window and went heel with the House of Torture. YOH eliminated SHO from the BOSJ tournament en route to the Final this year, and SHO attempted to return the favor and murder him in the middle of said Final in the middle of an excellent YOH/Hiromu match. This is a very typical “bad blood former tag partners who hate each other now” match with a clear heel and a clear face. Unfortunately, as it also involves the House of Torture, the match will likely start very well because the two are both excellent professional wrestlers before descending into silliness. 
WHO WINS THIS? – I would assume that SHO gets the duke here. YOH got him in the BOSJ and I suspect that vengeance is on the menu, plus I think that SHO will be in the mix to challenge the winner of the Junior title match. It makes the most sense for him to win.

Hiroshi Tanahashi, Rocky Romero, Ryusuke Taguchi vs Bullet Club (KENTA, Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo) – Night two opponents collide here, as Tana will challenge KENTA for his IWGP US title in the semi-main event, while both sets of juniors are set to collide as part of a 3-way tag match for the IWGP Junior tag titles. 
WHO WINS THIS? – This one is kind of odd to me, in that it feels much more like a Road To match than an actual Wrestle Kingdom match, but regardless, it’s about getting set for Night 2 for the more important stake matches. I think that the Bullet Club probably wins this one to further stack the sandbags against Tana and the Mega Coaches going into the 2nd night. 

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, BUSHI) vs United Empire (Will Ospreay, The Great O-Khan, Jeff Cobb) – LIJ’s interactions with the United Empire, particularly Tetsuya Naito with both O-Khan and Cobb, have been delights to watch. This stems from the WTL/BOSJ Final night, where Cobb attempted to destroy Naito while O-Khan paired off with SANADA. The hotter issue is Naito/Cobb, but O-Khan and SANADA has some juice to it when it comes to ringwork. While I’ve never been the biggest SANADA guy, I really, really enjoyed a LOT of the Great O-Khan’s output this year and have high hopes for Night 2 on that front. Ospreay is in there to wrestle a match because he’ll be in the main event on Night 2 and since his opponent will have wrestled on Night 1, it’s only fair that Will does the same.
WHO WINS THIS? – BUSHI might as well paint the biggest f------ bullseye in history on his mask, because the only question in this one is which United Empire member gets to beat him. I’m going with Will, mostly because he’s in the World title match on Night 2, but I wouldn’t put it past Jeff Cobb powerslamming BUSHI into oblivion for the win either. But LIJ’s resident masked man is going down hard here.

Katsuyori Shibata vs ??? – SHIBATA! The man who almost died after his classic with Okada, the man who walked the ring and said “I am alive!” just to let us know that fact, THAT Shibata, well, he’s back. At the G-1 Final, Zack Sabre came to the ring dressed to wrestle, but had no scheduled opponent….until Shibata’s music hit and everyone in my living room went batshit crazy. Which was, you know, me. He and ZSJ did a 5 minute exhibition and it was the purest, most wonderful moment of the year in wrestling. And after that, a few shows later, he walked out and said that he would have a match at Wrestle Kingdom this year. NJPW confirmed this, that it would be under specific catch wrestling rules, no strikes allowed. Regardless, he will step through the ropes once more.
WHO WINS THIS? – I won’t lie. I got emotional watching Shibata come into that ring, I got emotional watching him work against Zack and I’ll probably be a blubbering mess watching this, and I don’t give a f--- who knows that. He was one of my favorite wrestlers in all of NJPW and that Okada match is still one of my favorites of all time. We have absolutely zero knowledge who he will wrestle, but I’m sure he’ll be the winner – I don’t have any evidence for this, I know absolutely nothing, but I kind of think that Yuji Nagata would be an interesting choice. Regardless, I cannot believe that in the year of our Lord 2022, I’ll get to see Shibata step back into a ring. It’s crazy to even contemplate it.

Tomohiro Ishii (C) vs EVIL (w/Dick Togo) – NEVER Openweight title match – I still don’t totally understand how this match came about, but it seems to be tied to the House of Torture/CHAOS feud that began with the 6-man titles and now extend to Ishii’s NEVER title that he captured from Jay White in the US. Ishii is, of course, one of the very best workers in the world, and EVIL is, of course, worthless protoplasm as alluded to earlier; I’m hoping that Ishii brings out the best. 
WHO WINS THIS? – Ishii. I refuse to predict EVIL winning anything.

Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi/Zack Sabre Jr) (C) vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto/YOSHI-HASHI)  – IWGP TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH CHAOS won World Tag League and therefore have earned the right to challenge the Tekkers for the belts. That’s pretty much it. 
WHO WINS THIS? – I hope that the Tekkers do. I think that there’s a decent chance that CHAOS is regaining the 6-man titles on Night 2, and they don’t need the tag belts as well. The Tekkers are on a roll right now and have good potential matches to go against both LIJ and the United Empire, and they really don’t need to be dropping the titles anytime soon. 

El Desperado (C) vs Hiromu Takahashi – IWGP Junior Heavyweight title match – Hiromu won the Best of the Super Juniors tournament and the right to challenge the champion, Desperado, for the strap. But there’s history here. Hiromu beat Desperado in the Finals of the BOSJ in 2020 in an absolute classic, and there’s a sense that since Desperado won the belt without beating Hiromu this year that our evil mariachi luchador is not, in fact, a REAL champion yet. This has been further exacerbated by their BOSJ match, in which they went the full 30 minute time limit draw to once again deny Desperado the victory he so desperately wants – as Hiromu made the BOSJ Final but Despy didn’t, this is his chance to finally get that victory that he absolutely needs.
WHO WINS THIS? – I’m torn here. Hiromu winning seems like a slam dunk. He’s a star, he’s a draw, it makes sense for him to be at the top of the division. Plus, Hiromu has always wanted to have the Juniors headline at least one of the Dome nights, and him denying Desperado to further carve a storyline path to get to an ultimate blowoff a year or so down the road is extremely plausible, similar to the long way they took with Tetsuya Naito to the Heavyweight title. But that having been said, unless that’s actually the long-term booking, I wouldn’t have Desperado lose again. He needs to get at least one as champion in the books against Hiromu. 

Shingo Takagi (C) vs Kazuchika Okada – IWGP World Heavyweight title match – Okada won the G-1 Climax and in lieu of taking the briefcase, he’s been carrying around the old IWGP title belt instead, claiming it’s more prestigious than the World title and saying that Shingo needs to beat HIM, not the other way around. Shingo, for his part, has been confident in his promos and spoken about his need to beat Okada to define his reign.
WHO WINS THIS? – But I wouldn’t count on that happening. I fully expect Okada to be headlining both nights of the Dome, and that means he’s got to get past Takagi here. Shingo has held this belt for quite some time and gotten a lot out of this reign, but Okada in the main is the money and I think that’s where he’s going to be. LOL Okada wins. 

And that will bring us to…..

WRESTLE KINGDOM 16 – NIGHT TWO

Mayu Iwatani/Starlight Kid vs Tam Nakano/Saya Kamitani – Stardom special tag team match – The women from Stardom are on the main card this year! After doing dark matches last year, the gist here is that every faction in the company drew straws and one rep from each was put into a tag match to work the main show. 
WHO WINS THIS? – The fans. It truly doesn’t matter who wins, this is absolutely a showcase match. Enjoy it.

Flying Tiger (Robbie Eagles/Tiger Mask) (C) vs Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori/El Phantasmo) vs The Mega Coaches (Rocky Romero/Ryusuke Taguchi – 3-Way Junior Tag Team title match – This one kind of ran threads through the Best of the Super Juniors this year, and the focus will likely be on El Phantasmo’s seemingly loaded boot. Meanwhile, Taguchi threw Eagles under the bus recently to amp up the animosity on that end as well. But I suspect most attention will be paid to the Bullet Club boys.
WHO WINS THIS? – You could talk me into almost anyone, but I decided to go with the champs retaining. It’s literally just a feeling, nothing behind it. 

The KOPW 4-Way – We don’t know who’s even going to be in it. 
WHO WINS THIS? – Who the hell knows? I’ll just pick Yano.

House of Torture (EVIL/SHO/Yujiro Takahashi) (C) vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto/YOSHI-HASHI/YOH) – NEVER Openweight 6-Man tag title match – So, what’s interesting here is that CHAOS had the longest 6-man title reign with the most defenses EVER, 400+ days, and really gave the straps a bit of legitimacy where they had been a bit of a joke title for a long time. House of Torture ended that reign because everything they touch turns to sadness. This is the rematch, albeit with CHAOS subbing in YOH for Ishii.
WHO WINS THIS? – I feel like the Night 1 outcomes will give us that answer. If Goto/YOSHI lose the tag title match and EVIL wins the NEVER strap from Ishii, it’s a no-brainer that CHAOS takes the belts back here. If they lose the tag title match and EVIL loses the NEVER title match, I can see HoT retaining or CHAOS winning, while HoT likely retains for sure if Goto and YOSHI beat the Tekkers for the tag straps.

SANADA vs The Great O-Khan – Part of the LIJ/UE war, these two meet in a singles match. GOK had a great year, down to working an amateur style vs Toru Yano of all people in a really fun match, and going to war with ZSJ in a **** G-1 match. He really turned a lot of heads for those that saw him over the last 12 months. SANADA is who he is. I don’t expect him to change at this point so if you’re into him, he’ll give you what you want, if you’re not, I don’t expect that to be rectified here. 
WHO WINS THIS? – I’m going with SANADA here, because I think Cobb is beating Naito and I expect UE and LIJ to split the difference on this night. 

Tetsuya Naito vs Jeff Cobb – Cobb had the year of his life in NJPW, working crazy great matches and going on an undefeated run in the G-1 Climax until finally falling to Kazuchika Okada on the last night. Cobb is a part of NJPW’s future and that was made apparent this year more than ever. Naito had a tough year, with an injury taking him out of the G-1 after his very first match, and upon his return, he failed to make the World Tag League Final. Cobb pounced on him and set this singles match up, clobbering him in a tag and throwing down the gauntlet. Jeff’s progress over the last year has legitimately been incredible to watch, as he’s gone from hesitant in various spots to a confident worker of the NJPW style. 
WHO WINS THIS? – Gotta be Cobb. I know that Naito would normally win a match like this, but I think Cobb is being groomed to be one of the World title challengers in 2022 after the aforementioned G-1 run, and he’ll kick off his year with a win over Naito to get going.

KENTA (C) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – IWGP US title match – KENTA had been pursuing the US title for quite some time. He finally got his shot against Jon Moxley and lost, but got a second shot later in the year against new champion Hiroshi Tanahashi at Power Struggle. He won the title from the Ace there, and Tanahashi has been doggedly attempting to get a rematch for the title since. KENTA finally agreed to the match with one stipulation – that it be a No-DQ match for the title. 
WHO WINS THIS? – The addition of the No-DQ stip would seemingly heavily favor KENTA, as he has the Bullet Club behind him and Tana doesn’t. As this is the Night Two co-main event, I suspect we’re going to see a LOT of gaga here, with various weapons being used and likely some brutal shots. I suspect we may be in for a hell of a match in this one. I’m going with Tanahashi to win the title, if only because the odds seem to be SO stacked against him, the mountain is there for him to overcome. 

Okada OR Takagi vs Will Ospreay – IWGP World Heavyweight title match – Ospreay was injured and supposedly vacated the World title, but then showed up on New Japan Strong in the US months later with an IWGP World title belt and claimed to be the ‘real’ World champion and said that he wasn’t going back to Japan and would defend the belt where he wanted to. Meanwhile, Okada went ahead and won the G-1 while Shingo won the vacated title. As a result of Okada choosing to carry around the IWGP Heavyweight title, we’ve got three guys carrying around title belts, and this will settle it once and for all who the real World champion is. Okada showed up in the US and wrestled Buddy Matthews on NJPW Strong, and Ospreay came out to lay down the Wrestle Kingdom challenge, which Okada accepted and Shingo later did as well. 
WHO WINS THIS? – Well, I fully expect this to be Okada vs Ospreay. It makes the most sense to me, especially given the full circle of their match from last year. Now, to pick a winner…..look, Okada is the best pick. Him ‘unifying’ all the belts makes the most sense, he’s still one of the best wrestlers in the world. 

But…..Ospreay could win here. He’s not on the joint NJPW/NOAH show, which could mean something (they don’t want their champ on there to do a job) or mean nothing (he’s losing and they don’t need him on that show as a result), who knows? Would they put Okada over him at two consecutive WKs? If they’re going the Naito route with Will, then maybe? But doesn’t the full circle result make more sense if Ospreay beats Okada? Would they do a two-night event with a foreign heel going over in the end for their biggest title? 

Maybe. Just maybe.

We’ll see.

And that’s it! Two stacked cards on back-to-back nights await us on NJPW World! Come hang out in the night threads and watch with us, it’s a good time. It’ll be excellent to see all of you. 

And it felt good to be doing a bit of writing again. Maybe I can start shaking loose some time to keep at it. See you all down the road and in the threads.

As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,

Rick Poehling
@MrSoze on Twitter
[email protected] for email