The Roads To Wrestle Kingdom 12 – Preview

If anyone follows my twitter for more than… 2 minutes, should know that I am pretty interested in Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling to be exact. This interest goes so far that more than often I used the hashtag #NJPW on twitter on a completely wrong context…

Out of this reason I decided to make a little article about the upcoming Wrestle Kingdom 12 event, the biggest annual NJPW Event, which brings a lot of stories with it that have been built up over the year 2017 and beyond!


For people who do not know New Japan Pro Wrestling: It is a Wrestling Promotion founded in 1979, which is currently known as one of the best promotions in the world, delivering high-quality matches on every big event and seen as a great alternative for people who do not watch or are not a fan of WWE. However, it so far wasn’t able to gain so that much attention from Western fans until recently where the match-up Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho, latter mostly known from the WWE, was announced which caused a huge buzz bringing a huge amount of attention to New Japan.

This blogpost is mostly meant for people who are not familiar with New Japan’s Stories or style of storytelling, as New Japan handles Wrestling storytelling very differently from companies like WWE. I will go through every match on the Card and explain in details the story that led up to this match, occasionally with my opinion on that story.

So let’s jump right into it, the entire Card of Wrestle Kingdom 12 can be found here:

https://www.njpw1972.com/tornament/14309?showCards=1

I will skip the New Japan Rumble as it isn’t that important and is just a warm-up to the main show.

1st Match: Roppongi 3K (c) vs. Young Bucks, IWGP Junior Heavweight Tag Team Titles

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Yohei Komatsu (YOH) & Sho Tanaka (SHO) vs Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson

The Story around the Junior Tag Title belts has mostly been driven by the feud between Roppongi Vice and the Young Bucks.

Starting at Wrestle Kingdom 11 Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Beretta) would win the titles via a Roll Up (not via their finisher: Strong Zero). They would quickly lose their titles but win it back again from Suzuki-Gun’s Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru before they would lay out a challenge to the Young Bucks again at Wrestling Dontaku. Reason for that is the aforementioned finish at Wrestle Kingdom 11, Roppongi Vice wants to defeat the Young Bucks properly with their finisher at Dominon, the Big Summerevent of NJPW.

However, this doesn’t work out and Roppongi Vice lose their titles at Dominion. In a final effort, Roppongi Vice would challenge them again at the G1 Special in the USA but the result stays the same.

After the loss, Rocky Romero would reveal the plan he had for Roppongi Vice which included that Roppongi Vice would disband if they couldn’t get the Tag Team Titles again to let Beretta move up to the Heavyweight division.

This would mark the end of Roppongi Vice, after one last match in Japan they would ultimately disband and Beretta would start making a name in they Heavyweight Division which includes him fighting Kenny Omega for the IWGP US Title.

Now what does this have to do with Roppongi 3K vs. Young Bucks at Wrestle Kingdom 12? Well, it turns out that Rocky Romero wasn’t done yet…

At the finale of the G1 Climax tournament, The Young Bucks would lose their titles again, this time against Ricochet and Ryusuke Taguchi, only for them to be confronted by Rocky Romero announcing their next challenger: Roppongi 3K.

At King Of Pro-Wrestling, Rocky reveals Roppongi 3K as 2 former Young Lions (Rookies in New Japan): SHO and YOH.

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From left to right: Yohei Komatsu (YOH), The “Director” Rocky Romero and Sho Tanaka (SHO)

Roppongi 3K, formerly known as the “Tempura Boyz” would immediately dominate the Junior Tag Division, they take the titles on their Debut match and shortly afterwards win the Super Junior Tag Tournament. After that though, the Young Bucks appear yet again and challange Roppongi 3K for the titles. With that we have the interesting lead-up to a match of a young Duo who now have to fight against the people who disbanded their predecessors along with their coach who obviously has quite the grudge against the Young Bucks for that.

 

2nd Match: NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Titles Gauntlet Match

NEVER_Openweight_6-Man_Tag_Team_Championship.jpgThis a Gauntlet Match with 5 teams participating:

  • Current Champions: Bullet Club (Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, Bad Luck Fale)
  • Taguchi Japan (Ryusuke Taguchi, Juice Robinson, Togi Makabe)
  • CHAOS (Beretta, Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii)
  • War Machine (Raymond Row, Hanson) and Micheal Elgin
  • Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Takashi Iizuka, Zack Sabre Jr. )

It is here to mention that the Faction “Los Ingobernables de Japon” (in short LIJ) is not present due to all of their members with the exception of BUSHI are part of another match inside the Tokyo Dome.

The Trios title of New Japan usually never has a big story following it. In 2017, the title has mostly been dominated by LIJ, who are tried to fought off by Taguchi Japan. In the upper half, Taguchi Japan would be mostly succesfull, but would always loose the titles in the next defense against LIJ.

Now in the latter half of the year LIJ held the title without any interruptions, until Decembre 17th, in the first “Road to Tokyo Dome” Show, where Bullet Club would win the titles from LIJ.

On the practicality of this title change, everyone should realize that this titlechange was necessary to make sure the LIJ members are free for their later matches on the card with the exception of BUSHI. Unfortunately this also means that BUSHI is not part of the Wrestle Kingdom 12 card.

However, next to the obvious reason, there have been several hints of an upcoming Bullet Club vs. LIJ feud. BUSHI vs. Bad Luck Fale on the Day of the World Tag League Fianls was a bit odd, and LIJ was up against BC in those WTL Finals as well. This doesn’t mention one of the most importants hints for that feud yet, Bad Luck Fale getting a win over Tetsuya Naito but not getting a rematch against him for the briefcase the G1 Winner (who was Naito this year) receives. I will talk about this more when we get to the IWGP Heavyweight title, but this all smells like an LIJ vs. Bullet Club feud, which ends with Tetsuya Naito vs. Kenny Omega for the IWGP Heavyweight Title at Dominion 2018.

Anyway, this title-match should be part of a nice opener sequence with the Jr. Tag Titles, nothing more that can be said here.

3rd match: Cody vs. Kota Ibushi, Special Singles Match

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Now for the people who do not know. This was first meant to be a match for the ROH World Title that Cody held at the moment, HOWEVER, Cody would lose that title on ROH Final Battle to Dalton Castle, resulting in this match just being a “Special Singles Match” for Wrestle Kingdom 12.

In an interview after Road to Tokyo Dame Day 2, Kota Ibushi asks what Cody is fighting here for, if he doesn’t have the title anymore. So let’s concentrate on exactly this question: What is Cody fighting for here?

It is here to mention that the challenge for this match came from Cody himself who wanted to face Kota at the Tokyo Dome for apparently no reason. However, looking at the confrontation and the past, we might get the one or another hint…

 

This from right after Power Struggles Main Event: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental Title which Kota lost. Right afterwards Cody would confront Ibushi congratulating him on his effor and that he couldn’t hold back even though “Kenny (Omega)” said he should stay way from Kota.

And here we have probably a main point about what is happening here. Cody and Kenny Omega had the one or another argument inside Bullet Club. Most notably Cody trying to throw the towel at Dominion 2017 in the Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega match and Kenny trying to do the same at the G1 Special where Okada was up against Cody. After Kenny won the title at the second day of the aforementioned G1 Special, he would even steal the title from Kenny, but would “come to his senses” and give Kenny the belt. However, even with this matter dealt with, Kenny and Cody occasionally butting heads should be kept in mind here.

There is also a connection between Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi. For people who do not know, they were a Tag Team in Japan called the “Golden Lovers”, who were known for their deep friendship that went so far that there even rumors going around that Kenny and Kota are a couple in real life. However, every Golden Time comes to an end, and so Kenny and Kota would disband their team peacefully. After a while, something happens with Kenny though. He becomes part of the Bullet Club and thus turns heel, which disconnects him from his time with Kota. This climaxes in 2015 where AJ Styles, the Ace of the BC back then, would fight Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight Title, with Kenny being at ringside. During the final phase, Kota would go on the Top Rope for a Pheonix Splash, however, he gets distracted by Kenny who goes up on the Ring Apron, which gives AJ the opportunity to counter Kota’s move and win the match.

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It is here to mention that Kenny didn’t interfere, it was just them looking at each other which distracted Kota.

After the win, it can clearly be observed that Kenny doesn’t feel quite right about this…

This was 2015, in 2017, Kota Ibushi would return to New Japan at the G1 Climax. After the Finals Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito an interesting scene would play out backstage.

 

So this all gives us the sign that the connection between Ibushi and Omega is still alive and might get a whole program in 2018. To go back to the topic at hand, Cody vs. Ibushi might be the opening match to that feud.

Cody explicitly mentioning Kenny as well as them butting heads over the last year might mean that no matter the winner, Kenny will pay attention to this match and its outcome. Out of that reason I believe that Kota will win as this would maximise the attention Kota will get in the Bullet Club.

The match itself is a bit underdog to me. With that I mean, that I was never really too impressed with what Cody did in New Japan, while I am a big fan of Kota Ibushi. We will probably get a really good match here, however, I doubt this will come even close to what I consider the highlights of this card…

4th Match: Killer Elite Squad (KES) vs. Los Ingobernables des Japon (LIJ), IWGP Tag Team Titles

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Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. EVIL & SANADA

Here we have the reason why LIJ is not present in the fight for the NEVER 6-Man Title. With EVIL and SANADA in this match, Hiromu Takahashi in the Jr. Title match and leader Tetsuya Naito in the Main Event, the only free member would be BUSHI and you can’t fight for a Trios Title alone…

The background for this match is LIJ winning the World Tag League over Guerrilas of Destiny, which gives them a title match for the Dome. K.E.S have gotten the title only recently at King Of Pro-Wrestling in Octobre, winning in the Fourth Bout in a row against both War Machine and Guerrilas Of Destiny.

There isn’t much to say here other than what I just mentioned… Something noteworthy here is that this is a Heel vs. Heel match-up, which is rare for New Japan outside of tournament formats.

The match itself will probably be very nice, SANADA and EVIL, as part of the LIJ faction, have great coordination with each other and we can look forward to some fun spots! However, I doubt it will be extra-ordinary, most Tag Team Matches were under the level of the Junior Tag Team matches, I am pretty sure this one will be no exception…

 

5th Match: Minoru Suzuki vs. Hirooki Goto, NEVER Openweight Championship, Hair vs. Hair

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Minoru Suzuki and Hirooki Goto have an interesting story. Suzuki, who with his faction “Suzuki-Gun” has returned in January this year. Goto, the “Samurai of New Japan” in a way, as both his attire and his embodiment of fighting spirit show,

Goto and Suzuki were the only 2 champions over the NEVER Openweight Title this yeah, outside of Shibata before Goto would take it from him at Wrestle Kingdom 11.

However Goto’s title reign wouldn’t last long, after defeating the newly debuted (in Japan) Zack Sabre Jr., he would lose the title to Minoru Suzuki on one of the Wrestling Dontaku Events in April. Ever since, Suzuki has changed the image of the title. Lots of special stipulations, Lumberjack Deathmatches to Bull-Rope Deathmatches and every normal match for the title would be interfered by the rest of Suzuki-Gun.

So at Dominion in Osaka Jo-Hall, where Goto would fight Suzuki again in a Lumberjack Deathmatch… and loose again, thus dropping out of the title picture for the NEVER Title. However, at RevPro/NJPW Global Wars Day 1 on November 9th, Goto would once again pin Suzuki in a tag match. However, what would usually be the foreshadowing to another title shot, quickly turned into another fight FOR the titleshot, as Suzuki straight out refused to give Goto the title shot.

Goto would continuously demand a titleshot, but Suzuki would mostly answer with disdain and disrespect, going even so far to not even calling him by his name anymore. However, Goto would continue to challenge Suzuki, even going so far as to put his hair on the line. For people who do not know, the hair of Samurai in japanese culture is a very important part of their pride, so to say. For Goto, embodiment of fighting spirit, his own hair is very important to him, and Suzuki would understand that.

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While Goto does not have a so-called “Chonmage”, the idea of Goto’s character is clearly based on it, it was a symbol of status and pride in the Edo-Era.

As such, Suzuki would finally accept the challenge as a hair-vs-hair match. The loser of this match will lose his hair. But it wouldn’t stop here, Suzuki himself would mention that this is going to be 1 vs. 1, with no interferences, and he is also putting his own hair at stake, which is more of a mockery to Goto’s pride, as…

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…the hair exists, but… it’s nothing in comparison to Goto’s Samurai Hair…

I find this story genuinely interesting, as Suzuki is like the perfect bad guy for Samurai Goto. It’s a fight of dishonor vs. honor and absolute sadism vs. pride.

As this a 1 vs. 1 encounter, I am fairly certain that this will be a great match! Suzuki’s great work in 1 vs. 1 only is fantastic and almost terrifying to look at… I am very much looking forward to this match!

6th Match: Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay vs. KUSHIDA vs. Hiromu Takahashi, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, Fatal 4-Way

 

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This year has been wild for the Junior Division. The return of Hiromu Takahashi has brought fresh air into the division and given KUSHIDA a new rival in the first half of the year.

On the Best Of Super Juniors 24 this year, KUSHIDA would fight for another title shot, after loosing at Wrestle Kingdom 11 to Takahashi and getting squashed in 2 minutes by him at Sakura Genesis. Will Ospreay would be his opponent in those finals, and in an absolutely amazing match and the best Junior Heavyweight match this year, KUSHIDA would defeat Will Ospreay once again, continuing a story of Ospreay not being able to overcome KUSHIDA in title matches and tournament finales.

KUSHIDA would then wrestle Takahashi at Dominion in Summer for the title again and with the implementation of his new Finisher “Back to the Future”, would win the title back and reclaim the position as Ace of the Junior Division. However, this would be only the start of a very exciting second half of 2017.

After a titledefense against BUSHI, Takahashi would come out again to challenge KUSHIDA, would however get interrupted by Will Ospreay who just knocks Takahashi out cold in the ring… Ospreay is once again challenging KUSHIDA, making aware that he has pretty much never won against KUSHIDA, and that he will always stand up after a loss. KUSHIDA once again accepts the challenge, and in King Of Pro-Wrestling in Octobre, they would face off. Once again, an awesome match and with a very happy ending for Will Ospreay who would finally win the Junior Title, overcoming KUSHIDA on the long road to his first title reign.

However, Takahashi would come out again to challenge for the title, to only get interrupted again… by another one of Ospreay’s Nemesis’, MArty Scurll, The Villain, who snaps Takahashi’s finger apart, before then issuing a challenge to Ospreay. Scurll has ended several of Ospreay’s title reigns, with Ospreay almost never being able to retaliate, yet he would accept the challenge.

At Power Struggle 2017, Ospreay and Scurll would face off, and in a very hectic back-and-foth, Ospreay would be too late to react to a roll-up and not be able to kick out at the right time. This was such a shocking moment, that the audience was completely silent unless Marty Scurll would officially be announced as the winner…

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Three things are certain in life: 1) Death 2) Taxes 3) Scurll beats Ospreay

Ospreay, obviously devastated by the loss on his first title defense, demands the referee to check again if that was really a 3 count. This puts KUSHIDA on the plan, who defends the referee and says right into Ospreay’s face that he lost. Ospreay, who doesn’t want to admit his loss, demands a rematch with Scurll, while KUSHIDA demands a titleshot himself. However, a fourth contender would appear, who was there the whole time: Hiromu Takahashi. this time though, he is prepared for any interruptions.

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Ospreay, KUSHIDA, Takahashi all want a match… and then Takahashi suggests making this a 4 way match, which Marty agrees to. So we have a 4-way match at Wrestle Kingdom for the IWGP Jr. Title.

The Junior Division did not let you blink today, and all 4 Champions of this year come together at WK12 to fight for the title. I personally love how it all fell into place. Ospreay’s rivalries, KUSHIDA’s fight for the ace, Scurll’s reign over Ospreay and Takahashi’s rise all came together in this year in a very logical sense.

About the match itself, according to NJPW, this is the first ever Fatal 4-Way in this Promotion and it’s promising to be a good one. Ospreay, KUSHIDA and Takahashi are the best the Junior Division has to offer, and while I am not a big fan of Scurll, his in-ring work is fantastic! There is no doubt to me that this will be a great match and a potential Show-Stealer…

I am also dying to see an Ospreay vs. Takahashi match-up and this is the closest we’ll get for now….

7th Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White, IWGP Intercontinental Championship

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In 2012, Wrestle Kingdom 6, Tanahashi would get challenged Kazuchika Okada, newly returning to New Japan after an excursion, having only wrestled 1 match after his return, that was… not good, to say the least. However, Tanahashi would give the clearly missguided rookie his title shot at the next big event, “The New Beginning in Osaka”. In what would be called the “Rainmaker Shock”, Okada defeats Tanahashi in a 20-minute long match, setting the foundation of one of the biggest rivalries in NJPW-history.

Why am I mentioning this? In 2017, these 2 things happened:

  • In Wrestle Kingdom 11, Hiromu Takahashi returning from excursion defeats KUSHIDA (Ace of the Junior Division) for the Junior Title
  • In King Of Pro-Wrestling, Roppongi 3K, who are the returned YOH & SHO from excursion, defeat Ruyusuke Taguch & Ricochet for the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Titles

Notice a tendency? I am pretty sure both incidents reminded Tanahashi of what happened in 2012, and now, at Power Struggle, another newly from excursion returned rookie would challenge him again in the form of “Switchblade” Jay White.

Tanahashi would not see any other way than accepting it, as this whole situation surely reminds him of 2012. He would mention at a press conference, that it has to “stop” that Wrestlers come home from the excursion and they would immediately be a star. At Wrestle Kingdom 12, he will seek to stop that trend as he faces Jay White!

The match itself will be interesting. I have never seen Jay White wrestle outside of a single match against Will Ospreay that was really good. I am confident that Tanahashi and White can put on a great match

 

Co-Main Event: Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho, IWGP US Title

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The question of “Who is the best Wrestler in the world?” has started jumping boundaries in 2017. After Kenny Omega brought a lot of attention to New Japan with his trilogy against Kazuchika Okada, people actively started giving NJPW so much attention, that soon we can see it as a big rival to WWE. However, what surely helped that was that at Power Struggle 2017, Chris Jericho would appear on-screen and challenge Kenny Omega for the IWGP United States Title.

A match-up, which would be called “Alpha vs. Omega”, a what seems like a Once-In-A-Lifetime, just without the advertising of it and as such that turns out to be a lie at the end *cough*. It’s something a lot of Western Fans, not familiar with NJPW, see as the Main Event. This went even so far that NJPW themselves are calling this a Double Main Event now, which has caused slight anger from the Wrestlers in the Main Event. Wether this is justified or not, we’ll talk about that later.

Jericho would once again appear at the World Tag League finals, viciously attacking Kenny Omega, blood would even get involved there.

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After that incident and another brawl at a press conference, the match would be announced as a No Disqualifiquation Match, meaning that we’ll see something quite brutal probably.

The US Title itself has been introduced this year, in the G1 Special in the USA, where Kenny Omega would win the title, and so far never drop it. He went through some of the best New Japan has to offer, so after asking for a challenge at Power Struggle, Chris Jericho just seemed like the perfect opponent. A worldchamp known in the american scene taking on the american (well, canadian, for both actually) champ of the american title.

The match itself… to be honest, I doubt it will be a showstealer. I have seen some of Chris Jericho’s work in WWE, and while I like it, I am not sure if it will be enough for a showstealer. Then again, WWE is known for not letting Wrestlers use their full potential, and Chris Jericho already had a run in New Japan a whole while ago. So let’s not be too sure about anything!

 

Main Event: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito, IWGP Heavyweight Title

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“New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s New Top Star… is me”

On August 26th 2007, over 10 years ago, Kazuchika Okada and Tetsuya Naito would face off for the first time on television. Both were still Young Lions back in the day, had no gimmicks, were rookies, it would be the start of their career. Naito would win with  Boston Crab, both would give their thoughts and what they aim for in the interview afterwards, looking forward to fight each other again.

Those 2 Wrestlers would then follow a trajectory, promising them a road to the top. However, that road would be bumpy, for both.

Kazuchika Okada would challenge Hiroshi Tanahashi on January 4th 2012 and cause the Rainmaker Shock, claiming the IWGP Heavyweight Title from the ace back in the day. He would soon be challenged by Tetsuya Naito at the 40th anniversary show, marking their first Main Event encounter for the IWGP Title. Naito, who has trouble catching up with Okada shooting to the top, would not be able to catch the title and fullfill his dream this time. He would get mocked for attempting, as Gedo would call Okada, the Rainmaker, on a “whole other level”.

Okada’s rivalry with Tanahashi would continue, but Naito would be able to rise at the same time, winning the 2013 G1 Climax, over Tanahashi himself. Tanahashi, who is desperate to get back to his position as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, is willing to throw his career away and never challenge for the title again if he is not able to win at King Of Pro-Wrestling 2013 against the current champ Okada. He would pull all the taboos, faking injuries, targeting Okada’s arm viciously, do everything to win, but it would all be for nothing, as Tanahashi would lose and Okada would finally fix his position as the new ace of NJPW, with his next opponent, the rising star Naito, who would finally fullfill his dream at the Wrestle Kingdom 8 Main Event…..?

Things do not go as planned… after Naito would win the G1 Climax 2013, the crowd reaction would worsen on the Road to the Wrestle Kingdom 8 Main Event. The crowd looses faith in him, stop believing in Naito’s dream All until Power Struggle, where Naito would enter the arena for a final stare-off with Okada before Wrestle Kingdom 8. This would happen in complete silence, followed by loud booing as he claims himself as New Japan’s New Topstar in front of Okada.

Following that, NJPW would react with a fanpoll on who should Main Event Wrestle Kingdom 8. Okada and Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight Title, or Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Title? On January 1st, the results would come in….

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Tanahashi and Nakamura win the poll 2:1

New Japan would try to save the situation by calling Wrestle Kingdom 8’s 2 last matches a “Double Main Event”, but everyone knows what is the actual case here:

Naito and Okada’s main event was stolen.

At Wrestle Kingdom 8, Naito would lose the match and would loose his dream as well, as more devastating losses would follow. backed up by a dissapproving crowd. Okada’s also affected, his desired title run as the new ace would get cut short by AJ Styles, who then gets challenged and defeated by Tanahashi out of all people. At Wrestle Kingdom 9, it would be Naito vs. AJ Styles and Okada vs. Tanahashi in the Main Event. Naito would be handily defeated, while Okada can’t control his anger at Tanahashi for not keeping his promise to never challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight title again.

Both Naito and Okada would lose that night, hitting rock bottom in their career. However, both would stand up again, in their own way…

Naito would go on an excursion in 2015, to CMLL, to find himself and distance himself from his failed career. Meanwhile, Okada would be able to finally defeat AJ Styles at Dominion 2015, who claimed the IWGP title from Tanahashi again, and would start his ride to the top again.

At the same event, Naito would officially re-debut, however he is different now. He doesn’t care about his fans, he doesn’t care about the others. He only cares about one thing, being New Japan’s Top Star. At the Following G1 Climax, he would reveal himself as the Ingobernable Naito Tetsuya, pinning Tanhashi with his new finisher, “Destino”, which he would use to go through the tournament. He wouldn’t win the tournament, ironically it would be Tanahashi who wins, but the new Naito is leaving impressions.

At Wrestle Kingdom 10, Okada would challenge Tanahashi again, on the biggest stage of them all. Okada would finally overcome Tanahashi, and finally claim his position of the true ace of New Japan, while Naito would lose his match against Hiroki Goto. However, even with that loss, Naito is not shaken, he would win the New Japan Cup and challenge Okada for the title at Invasion Attack 2016. With the help of his stable, Los Ingobernables De Japon, he would finally win the title, but more importantly, he had the crowd behind him, even as he uses unfair methods and opposes the rules during that match.

At Dominion 2016, Naito would enter the arena, under slight booing, but much louder chants and cheering. The Osaka crowd, that were one of the foundations of his downfall in 2014, changed his mind, and even as he looses the title against Okada that night, he wouldn’t be overlooked anymore, The eyes are on him.

He would continue his redemption, as he claims the Intercontinental Title and abuses it in front of the crowd, spitting at the company for stealing his Main Event at Wrestle Kingdom 8. This of course provocates Tanahashi, who would promptly challenge Naito for the belt at Wrestle Kingdom 11. However, for Tanahashi, this would mean the loss of the main event spot and he brings up the possibility of another poll for the Main Event. Surely, Naito, who wants that spot as well would agree, right? No, he wouldn’t, he straight out rejects the poll and pulls Tanahashi down to the Co-Main Event spot, humiliating him at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in front of the biggest crowd in New Japan Pro Wrestling, as he defends and continues his terror reign over the IC Title.

At Dominion 2017, Naito would lose the title yet again, but he made his point. His IC run left a message, and now he has one more goal, the Wrestle Kingdom 12 Main Event. He powers through the G1 Climax 2017, with another win against Tanahashi, and defeating Kenny Omega in the finals, who denied him a spot in the Finals of the G1 Climax 2016.

All the while, Okada would make his current run the longest reign in the history of the IWGP Heavyweight title, with legendary matches against  Kenny Omega, Katsuyori Shibata and more, establishing himself as the most dominant Wrestler in New Japan in this year.

Now we’re at Wrestle Kingdom 12, with Naito and Okada, the only ones defending their title at Wrestle Kingdom 11, in the main event spot, that will not be taken away from them again.

10 years worth of story have been leading up to this point, and I’m missing out a lot of details here. If you want more, you should look up the Youtube Channel of Showbuckle, who made videos, detailing the rise of both Naito and Okada.

With all that in mind, I believe you should understand, why Naito’s and Okada’s reaction to NJPW announcing the Jericho vs. Omega match as a Double Main Event. Naito has especially been upset about it, as he was the most affected from Wrestle Kingdom 8’s “Double Main Event”. However, I firmly believe and am on Naito’s side on this matter. Naito and Okada fucking deserve this Main Event, I do not believe in the “Double Main Event”, I believe in the true Main Event of Wrestle Kingdom 12

The match itself… I have no doubt in mind that this will be worth a Wrestle Kingdom 12 Main Event. Both Okada and Naito have had several 5-star matches this year, and while the chemistry was a bit missing in their last 2 matches against each other, both have grown and improved so much in the ring, that I can not wait till Wrestle Kingdom 12 for this match.

Needless to say, this is by far my favourite story of Wrestle Kingdom 12. There is so much development and backstory, that gets me invested in both characters, both are intriguing, both have me interested, and I can’t wait for them to finally clash.

It is here to note, that a victory of Naito would mean the following things:

  • The first IWGP Heavyweight titlechange in Wrestle Kingdom, since Wrestle Kingdom V, 7 years ago
  • The end of the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada
  • The first loss of Okada as IWGP Heavyweight Champion at Wrestle Kingdom

However, Okada’s dominance shows, on the way to Wrestle Kingdom 12, he would dominate Naito in the Tag Matches, even developing a new Submission hold to counter the Destino, which Naito is not able perform on him anymore afterwards. However, tables turn at “Road of Tokyo Dome Day 2”, the last event before Wrestle Kingdom, where Naito would clarify, that he is more than ready for Okada and he is just taking it easy on the way to Wrestle Kingdom 12, countering Okada’s new submission and finally landing a Destino on him.

This match is most likely to kill me, and once again, I can’t wait for this match!


So, that was longer than I wanted…. Wrestle Kingdom 12 in the preview looks sick. In case, I have intrigued you to watch this event live, you can watch it on njpwworld.com

Follow this handy guide by Rasslin’Rantin, it only costs less than 8€ per month to get access to everything New Japan!

Other than that, look out for the Youtube Channels of Showbuckle and Real Neat Puro to get to know New Japan and their ways of doing things more!

I hope you enjoyed this Preview to Wrestle Kingdom 12, and wish you a good time eventually watching Wrestle Kingdom 12. But in case you don’t and are not interested in Wrestling, I still wish you and everyone…

..A Happy New Year!

See ya, Bye Bye then~

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