Wrestle Kingdom 12
New Japan Pro Wrestling
January 4, 201
Tokyo Dome
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: NJPW World

Meet our Wrestle Kingdom 12 previewers…

  • August Baker: August is hoping his very pregnant wife doesn’t give birth until after Jan 4, so to not interrupt this very important day in wrestling. Follow along on Twitter @augustbaker12 for updates on both these extremely crucial events.
  • Case Lowe: Voices of Wrestling’s official young boy. Tackling Dragon Gate coverage and the occasional New Japan review during Best of the Super Juniors season
  • John Carroll: Podcast host extraordinaire, they just celebrated the 2nd year anniversary of the DG-focused Open the Voice Gate (@openvoicegate) and wrapped up the first year of activity for the weekly rotating guest grab bag Wrestling Omakase (@wrestleomakase). If you never listen to their dumb voice you still might recognize them from just about every NJPW roundtable preview of 2017. Follow their Twitter @toshanshuinla if you like weeb garbage.

Pre-show New Japan Rumble

August Baker: This is always a fun time. It’s a real crapshoot on who wins. Could be someone serious, like Kojima. Could be a joke, like Cheeseburger. But I’m going really out in left field, and picking the guy who would actually gain the most from winning this silly thing. Prediction: Kitsuya Kitamura

Case Lowe: I am more than happy to be a part of the “Satoshi Kojima is winning the Rambo” train. I don’t feel like anyone else should win it, but there is also no reasoning behind that other than the fact that I really like Satoshi Kojima. The Rambo is always a blast. Looking forward to yet another incarnation this year. Prediction: Satoshi Kojima

John Carroll: The Rambo is funny and I guess mostly harmless, but it’s always 50/50 if I actually let the alarm wake me up for it or snooze it till 3 am when the real show starts. I would love it if August was right because Kitamura winning this dumb thing would be a really cool going away present as he heads off to the US on excursion, but I just don’t see it happening. Prediction: Satoshi Kojima

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh) (c) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson)

Baker: RPG3K isn’t the kind of act that needs to dominate an entire division, which means they need to lose sometime. Might as well be to the most established team in the world instead of a random Taguchi Japan team. Sho and Yoh are going to be the face of this division for 2018, but they need good opponents. If Roppongi wins this one, the only teams they haven’t beaten are the Suzuki-gun teams. There’s no shame in losing to the Bucks, and beating them at Sakura Genesis or whenever will be more important. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bucks defend the titles at the US show. Prediction: The Young Bucks

Lowe: No Cody, no Omega, no Scurll: with those factors in mind, I have no doubt that the Young Bucks are going to try to blow the roof off of the Tokyo Dome in a highly-anticipated, super fresh matchup. This will be the Bucks fifth year in a row fighting for the junior tag titles in the Tokyo Dome, but only their second straight 2 vs. 2 tag. Last year was evidence that the brothers from Rancho Cucamonga are still as good as any tag out there when they are given the right circumstances to succeed. Roppongi 3K has been a smashing success since their debut in my eyes, and I have no doubt that both of these teams are going to want to make a statement. I think this is the first of many matchups we’ll see between the two teams this year, and because of that, I give the Bucks the edge in this match. I disagree with this decision, but Gedo continues to seem hellbent on switching up these junior tag titles as much as possible. Prediction: Young Bucks

Carroll: The Young Bucks really are about 500x less insufferable when they’re working in Japan; I have no interest in watching them in ROH or PWG at this point, where it seems like every match they’re in is exactly the same regardless of who they’re even fighting, but in NJPW they act more like professional wrestlers than professional meme artists. Obviously a fresh matchup here is pretty cool, and it’s tough to complain about the booking: Roppongi 3K debut at King of Pro Wrestling and win the titles in their first match, then they go on and win the Super Junior Tag Tournament as champions (a very rare feat, obviously), and now they get challenged by the elder gaijin statesmen (who weren’t in said tournament, of course). A very logical build that hopefully will give this match a little more heat than your standard junior tag cluster. I would tend to agree with my colleagues on the results: a Bucks win sets up a rematch, which maybe you can even hold off on until the Strong Style Evolved show at the end of March in the US, and I think it’s about time for R3K to face some adversity here. Prediction: Young Bucks

Gauntlet match for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) (c) vs. Chaos (Beretta, Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano) vs. Michael Elgin and War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe) vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, Takashi Iizuka and Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. Taguchi Japan (Juice Robinson, Ryusuke Taguchi and Togi Makabe)

Baker: Who the fucks knows. Literally any team could win this. With New Year’s Dash the next night, the three previewers here have as much chance to winning these titles and losing them at the Dash as anyone else. If I have to rank the chances of these teams, Bullet Club and Suzuki-gun are at the bottom. Bullet Club because they made a joke about breaking their old record of 5 days, and SKG because, seriously, don’t give Iizuka a title. Other than that, it makes no difference who I pick, or who wins, or anything about this match. Prediction: CHAOS

Lowe: I’m sure Ishii loves being sandwiched between two of wrestling’s biggest goofballs. Elsewhere, Zack Sabre Jr is being weighed down by Suzuki-Gun, I fully expect Makabe to take zero bumps in this match, and Team Hanging With War Machine is just as awkward as before. That Tokyo Dome entrance ramp is a long one. I’m curious to see if Elgin and War Machine walk down it together, or stagnated, which would be delightfully awkward. It doesn’t matter who wins this, so my vote is going to the CHAOS team. It gives Trent a nice heavyweight win, and they seem to like to put these titles on Yano as much as possible. Prediction: CHAOS

Carroll: From well booked to, uh, the opposite of that, it’s the get-everyone-on-the-card NEVER six-man clusterfuck! Two years in now I think it’s pretty safe to say that these belts don’t really matter; they can be a fun distraction and add some spice to the main event or semi final of a Korakuen or something, but who could possibly care about them on the biggest show of the year? I’ll just go with August & Case here and say CHAOS is winning because sure, why not. Prediction: CHAOS

Cody (with Brandi Rhodes) vs. Kota Ibushi

Baker: Cody losing the Ring of Honor title telegraphs this match pretty hard. As champion, it was unlikely he was going to lose to Ibushi, even though he should. Without the title, it’s much more likely that Ibushi hands Cody his first singles loss in New Japan. Ibushi can get a win over a an “established” guy to set him up for some sort of title shot at New Beginnings, and Cody can go do whatever it is Cody does. Cody will no doubt have a major match at the Long Beach show, but that doesn’t mean he needs a win here. Prediction: Kota Ibushi

Lowe: Yuck. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Ibushi in the Tokyo Dome is a spectacle I have come to love and appreciate, but it’s almost a “who cares?” since he’s across the ring from Cody. Of course, if anyone is going to get a great match out of Cody, it will be Ibushi. This doesn’t have the heavy emotional attachment that the Cody vs. Okada match from this summer had, so if they have a great match, they’re really going to have to earn it. I fear seeing Cody with his hand raised at the end of this bout, but it wouldn’t shock me. That being said, the optimistic side of me says that Ibushi will be spending the year in New Japan, and this is how it starts. Prediction: Kota Ibushi

Carroll: People can like the Jericho-Omega thing as much as they want but anything that results in Kota Ibushi being stuck fighting Cody friggin’ Rhodes on the biggest show of the year can’t be that great in my book. The build to this match was, uh, interesting. If you haven’t been watching the translated backstage promos NJPW’s English Youtube channel has been putting up of late (which you should be watching in general as it will really increase your enjoyment of the promotion!) Kota’s reaction to Cody losing the ROH World Title after challenging him to a title match for Wrestle Kingdom was truly hilarious. His general confusion (“What kind of guy is he?”) and just the look on his face that I can only describe as a mixture of disgust and bemusement was really something. Anyway! I want to believe I live in a world that’s rational enough not to job Kota Ibushi to Cody friggin’ Rhodes here, so let’s be optimistic. Prediction: Kota Ibushi

IWGP Tag Team Championship
Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer) (c) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Evil and Sanada)

Baker: I skipped almost the entire World Tag League, and I know I wasn’t alone. The Heavyweight Tag division in New Japan might be the most boring division in professional wrestling. If these guys go out there and have a wild, smashmouth brawl, it should be pretty good. If it’s just a typical tag match with SANADA trying to play the babyface in peril, in the middle of a 5 hour show, after a lifeless Cody/Ibushi match, then the reaction may be dire indeed. As far a winner goes, this is going to be a major year for LIJ, and since they have nothing else for EVIL and SANADA right now, might as well make them tag champs. Prediction: EVIL & SANADA

Lowe: I’m still waiting for EVIL and SANADA to have the killer tag match that I know they’re capable of having. Perhaps, they’re just in need of the Killer Elite Squad. Believe it or not, the last time KES wrestled in the Tokyo Dome, Archer was sending Shane Haste straight to hell with a vicious chokeslam that we never got a payoff to. They’re back, three years later, and ready to put on another great performance. Both of these teams typically work together against smaller, more agile teams, but I’m hoping they can adapt accordingly. I don’t think there’s anyway SANADA and EVIL leave without the gold. Prediction: SANADA & EVIL

Carroll: Yeah, like August I didn’t watch a single second of the World Tag League until the finals, and I watched probably every other NJPW show that made tape in 2017. It’s just impossible for anyone on the entire planet earth to care about the heavyweight tag team division with how NJPW booked it last year. The only interesting thing that happened all year (until the WTL finals at least) was Killer Elite Squad’s return, and they immediately booked that into oblivion by giving us the same damn three-way on four shows in a row! That kind of incredibly lazy booking is unforgivable, quite frankly. But here at the Dome we at least have a fresh match with fresh challengers. Like my colleagues I can’t say I’ve been that impressed with the EVIL/SANADA duo so far, but an optimist would point out that plenty of other NJPW duos improved with time (Guerrillas of Destiny were awful at first but eventually grew into a pretty solid tag team, for instance). SANADA needs to learn how to play babyface in peril better now that LIJ are de facto babyfaces, but I have little doubt in EVIL’s ability to be the hot tag recipient at least. Anyway, hopefully everything starts clicking for them here, but I think the chances of this being kind of dull and lifeless are unfortunately pretty high. Prediction: EVIL & SANADA

Loser Hair Cut and No Seconds Deathmatch for the NEVER Openweight Championship
Minoru Suzuki (c) vs. Hirooki Goto

Baker: Please allow me to tell a little story. My first New Japan show was WrestleKingdom 9. Everyone was raving about it, and it had Jim Ross on English commentary, so I went to my local file sharing website and found a copy of it. I was entertained, but not blown away through the early matches. The first thing that made me sit up and take notice was the Minoru Suzuki vs Kazushi Sakuraba match. More accurately, the first thing that made me sit up and take notice was Suzuki’s gloriously stupid haircut. Promptly dubbed “Shark-hawk” by my then girlfriend, now wife, Suzuki and his ridiculous hair helped break me into the wonderful world of New Japan Pro Wrestling. I have an irrational attachment to it. I have more emotions about that dumb mohawk than I do most family members. Watching Suzuki get into the ring and take his towel off his head, revealing the fin-like mohawk and those ridiculous swirls underneath, just feels right.

Besides making me feel at ease, Suzuki’s hair also serves a very special purpose to the wider wrestling community. Suzuki is almost fifty years old. Look at his contemporaries. Kojima, Tenzan, Nagata, all the rest of the New Japan Dad’s, aren’t even on the WrestleKingdom card. It’s been years since any of them challenged for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. But not only is Suzuki on the card, he challenged Okada in 2017 and even took the champ to a time limit draw in the G1. What separates Suzuki from these others? It’s the hair. Only the toughest sonuvabitch is going to walk around with hair like that. To have a haircut that stupid mean you don’t care what others think. It projects an aura of badassness that mere muscles cannot. Suzuki’s hair doesn’t only make him stand out, it immediately marks him as someone not to mess with.

I was fine when this match was title vs hair, but when I heard Suzuki also put his sublime hairstyle on the line, I began panicking. Goto is the obvious winner of this match. Goto and Suzuki have been building to this match all year, and the only way there is a payoff is if Goto reclaims his title. But that means I must say farewell to a friend. Goodbye Shark-hawk. You will be missed. Prediction: Hirooki Goto

Lowe: I have a feeling this will end up being a better version of what Omega vs. Jericho could have been. I’m oddly excited for this match, not just because of the possible Shibata appearance as Joe outlined at the most recent Flagship, but because I do think it will be an excellent wrestling match. It’s playing into both men’s strengths at this point in their careers. Suzuki is going to use shortcuts, but he’s without seconds to do any real damage to the match. With Goto’s high impact, short bursts of offense, I could see this match being very similar to Suzuki vs. Yoshihiro Takayama from a few years back. Goto will flatten Suzuki for the finish, and I am all about that. Prediction: Hirooki Goto

Carroll: How could I ever top August’s story about Minoru Suzuki’s hair? I almost wanna pull out my lighter after that one. But anyway. There’s an emerging consensus that this match will be better than some people think, and while I get where that’s coming from, I think people are honestly not realizing how badly Minoru Suzuki has slowed down in the past few years. There’s a reason why so many of his matches revolve around gimmicks and interference at this point, after all. But maybe you liked his “serious” 2017 matches better than I did (personally, I thought both Okada matches as well as that Omega G1 match were probably the worst three “big” NJPW singles matches of the year), in which case I could see why you’re hyped for this. I have no doubt that Goto can deliver, but I can’t escape this nagging feeling that late 40s Suzuki just can’t go at the level some of you are hoping for anymore. Oh well! At least Goto shaving his hair will be funny. Prediction: Hirooki Goto

Four-Way Match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Marty Scurll (c) vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA vs. Will Ospreay

Baker: This should be a ton of fun. I want dives, I want flips, I want the craziest spotfest in years. Trying to pick a winner is tough because this could go any way. Marty is only here for Bullet Club representation, so I don’t think he wins. KUSHIDA is KUSHIDA, so you can never count him out, but I really want him to do something else this year besides be in the Jr Title mix. Let him mix it up with the heavyweights more. That leaves Will and Hiromu, which is the match they should have had anyways. They teased it over the autumn but never pulled the trigger, instead going for this four way instead. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Will and Hiromu main event one of the New Beginnings shows, or even a show like Wrestling Dontaku. Prediction: Will Ospreay

Lowe: Wow, it’s hard to believe Marty Scurll is the champion when you look at the rest of the talent involved with this match. I realize most of my preview has consisted of me bashing The Elite, but while I respect what they’re doing for the wrestling business, I have no interest in Scurll, Cody, or the Young Bucks when their names are attached to those previously mentioned. Normally I would complain about this being a four-way, as any possible singles match between these four sounds awfully more appealing, but I am certain that they’ll deliver something special. New Japan has a brief, albeit awfully great history of multi-man IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship matches at the Tokyo Dome. Hopefully Ospreay gets his hand raised. His contract (presumably) expires soon, so you might as well use him while you still have him. Prediction: Will Ospreay

Carroll: Yeah, I’ll go one step forward than Case and just say it: Marty Scurll sucks and I’m annoyed that his umbrella-clutching, plague mask-wearing try hard ass is this high up on New Japan’s biggest show of the year. The other three I’m fine with: Ospreay is good enough when he isn’t being a complete “look at how I can land on my feet instead of taking a bump!!” goofball, KUSHIDA is still really good, and Hiromu is one of the best wrestlers on god’s green earth. But geez, Scurll in here really drags things down for me, even more than just the four-way format. I’m sure it will still be pretty good at minimum and maybe even great, but I want Scurll far away from this belt from now on please. I’m gonna disagree with my two colleagues here and say that we should probably keep it simple on this prediction: whether it’s in a four way or not, I think New Japan would rather see their hot young star walk out of the Tokyo Dome with a victory and the junior title than the gaijin. Ospreay winning wouldn’t surprise me (KUSHIDA or Scurll winning would) but I ultimately still think Hiromu is the most likely. Prediction: Hiromu Takahashi

Available Now: Voices of Wrestling 2017 NJPW Year in Review eBook

IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Jay White

Baker: I really hope someone pulls Jay White aside and tells him “guy you worry about shooting up a school” isn’t a great gimmick. I really wonder if he is supposed to look badass, or if he’s supposed to look like someone who thinks he looks badass. There’s a huge difference between the two. We saw in 2017 with EVIL that a good worker can overcome a bad gimmick, but it puts the wrestler in a hole they shouldn’t even be in. I’m trying to stay positive, but I just have a bad feeling about this match. White has to get his new gimmick over while having a great match worthy of being third from the top at WrestleKingdom, and he has to do so in what will be by far the biggest match of his life. I’m not super confidant, but I hope I’m proved wrong. Prediction: Jay White

Lowe: Get in, get out. This needs to be a dominating, jaw-dropping display of dominance from Jay White. Having followed Jay White’s career closely since he first stepped foot in a New Japan ring, I have the utmost faith in him. I think he will be a major player in the company, and that upward trajectory begins on this night in what needs to be a borderline squash against Tanahashi. No one loves a great match more than me, but dare I say I don’t want a great match. I want the fresh blood, Jay White, coming in and catching the ace of the company by surprise. Prediction: Jay White

Carroll: Jay White felt like a weird fit for this supposedly psychopathic Switchblade character from the moment it became clear it was probably going to be him, and so far in his limited appearances he’s done little to convince me otherwise. I still think at the end of the day he’s going to be fine because he’s got the two most important qualities you need for success in modern NJPW- idol good looks and the ability to have good wrestling matches- but it might take him a while to reach true top star status and involve a severe toning down of this gimmick. But the fact that “Switchblade” is just a nickname and he’s still wrestling under his real name is already a good start there; it’s much easier to just slowly phase out aspects of this character and have him be himself when he’s wrestling under his real name anyway. As for this match here, a lot will depend on what shape Hiroshi Tanahashi is in given the recent knee injury. As long as he’s able to go I don’t think you have to worry about this match not delivering, given the incredible performances he put on with Tetsuya Naito and Kota Ibushi, among others, in 2017. White too should be more than capable of holding up his end of the bargain. Here’s where I’m gonna make my most out there prediction of the night though: I think Tanahashi is retaining, simply because a victory for the heel Switchblade and who I think is winning the next match would probably be too much of a drag for the live crowd. I also don’t think losing here would kill Jay White dead or anything, while others seem to disagree with me, but perhaps we’ll see! Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

No DQ Match for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega (c) vs. Chris Jericho

Baker: I’m predicting every single New Japan title will change hands on this card, except this one. People making the argument that Jericho should win make some compelling points. But even if Jericho has agreed to more matches, and I would be shocked if he hasn’t, Jericho isn’t a guy New Japan is going to build around. Omega is. I will be absolutely shocked if a 47 year old outsider comes in and wins in the co-main event of WrestleKingdom. Shocked. If there is going to be an extended program between the two, it’s much more likely to kick an angle off the next night at New Year’s Dash. Omega vs Jericho is the obvious main event for the US show, but Omega doesn’t have to lose the title here to do that. Prediction: Kenny Omega

Lowe: Unlike the prior match, I’m really hoping I’ll be able to pin a “great match” badge to this when it’s all said and done. Jericho being in New Japan is very cool. He’s obviously coming here to put on a great match, and I’m running with the theory that this isn’t just a one-off date. Jericho knows this is hot, he knows he can make money and stay relevant for a brief period in New Japan, and I think he’s going to capitalize on that. I really don’t want this to get bogged down by Elite nonsense. It’s hard for me to take Kenny Omega as a killer seriously when he’s flanked by Scurll or is taking orders from Cody. There’s no chance Omega is leaving with his hand raised. This is Jericho’s chance to make an impact. Expect a rematch in the US later this year. Prediction: Chris Jericho

Carroll: If you’re hyped for this, god bless you, but I just don’t care. The whole thing feels so incredibly forced to me: one day on Twitter these two guys who have nothing to do with each other are VERY MAD!!!, ostensibly because Jericho still considers himself the “best in the world”. Seriously though, does ANYONE still think of Chris Jericho in that way? I fail to see how even someone who only watched WWE would think Jericho’s the best after the disappointing Mania match with AJ, that interminable cage match with Dean Ambrose, and other subpar performances. If this was 2008 Jericho that’d be one thing, but come on, it’s a damn decade later now! So we’ve got these two guys who are suddenly mad at each other on Twitter for no real reason, a legitimately surprising video challenge, a pretty standard Monday Night RAW attack angle that honestly felt kind of hokey to me (and that the live crowd in Japan practically slept through), and another attack angle at a press conference. We’re supposed to be treating this like some kind of blood feud but it just doesn’t feel remotely earned to me. To be clear, I’m not arguing against doing this match from a business perspective, as I totally get why they did and I hope all the new Western eyeballs decide to stick around, but personally as a longtime fan I could not possibly care less about this match. It will probably be fine, it’s just not for me.

But yeah, as I alluded to in my last prediction I think Chris Jericho is walking out of the Dome with his hand raised, however that ends up happening. Does someone betray Omega? Is there another wrestler debuting to assist Jericho (you could bring in all manner of ex-WWE guys who got cut last year to give this a “WWE invasion” flavor)? Hell, Jay White needs a partner doesn’t he? It just feels to me like they’ve got something up their sleeve with this one, because Jericho doesn’t feel like a one-and-done (especially given all the verbal spats he’s had with Naito in the past few weeks!) but I also don’t think they would have Omega lose this one clean either. Given the very Western-style build-up, I think you can probably get away with some kind of interference finish here, and that’s ultimately what I think will happen. Honestly, the possibility of a major turn here or a new ally for Jericho is way more interesting to me than the match itself, so maybe once we get past the Dome I’ll be more interested in Jericho going forward than I was going into this match. Prediction: Chris Jericho

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito

Baker: I’m 95% certain Naito is walking away with the title here. That five percent though keeps nagging at me. It’s the five percent that says Okada is the Ace, and the Ace doesn’t lose at the Tokyo Dome. Tanahashi never lost at the Dome, until it was time for him to pass the Ace label to Okada. Despite what happens during the rest of the year, the Ace wins at the Dome. And even if Naito wins the title here, Okada is still the Ace. Okada will be the Ace of New Japan for years to come. And he may win every other Dome main event. But he needs to lose this one. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito

Lowe: Is it fair to expect five stars from this match? Yes. Since 2015, I’ve given every Wrestle Kingdom main event five stars. It’s no coincidence that all three of those matches have involved Kazuchika Okada. He’s the best wrestler on the planet, and will continue to be for years and years to come, but this is Tetsuya Naito’s night. This is not a situation like Wrestle Kingdom 9 when it was okay for Okada to lose to Hiroshi Tanahashi (which he did). Okada had not peaked. He did a year later (or so we thought), when he was finally victorious over Tanahashi and began his run as ace of New Japan. Naito is at his peak. A win here would catapult Naito into a white hot megastar, which is exactly what needs to happen. This is Tetsuya Naito’s night. Put the gold on him and let him run with it. Okada has done his part, and it’s time to step aside for the moment. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito

Carroll: If you can only know one thing about me, please let it be that I love Tetsuya Naito with all of my heart and soul. I loved No Limit Naito, I loved scrappy babyface Naito who had two of my favorite G1 finals ever (the Nakamura one especially, which he lost, is a match I adore), and above all else I loved El Ingobernable Naito from the moment he came back from Mexico with his new gimmick. I’m not saying this to try and pull a hipster “I liked Naito before you did!” card, because few things have made me happier than watching lots more people decide they love this man too in the past few years. But what I am saying is that Wrestle Kingdom 12 has all the makings of a coronation for Naito, and it will honestly and truly break my heart if it doesn’t happen. He’s earned this, whether through his unparalleled merchandise selling ability, the way he and his unit have single handedly kept NJPW fresh in the past few years (can you imagine if we were still on, like, Year Five of NJPW Sekigun vs. CHAOS vs. BC, with Suzukigun in and out of the mix but nothing else new other than I guess Taguchi Japan?), or the fact that he’s simply the greatest wrestler on the entire planet. This is Naito’s moment, his time to walk into the Tokyo Dome and beat Okada and kick off a great title reign. Okada had a great reign of his own, albeit one that felt like it dragged a little at times, but it’s time for him to pass the baton and do something else for a while. He’s only 30 years old, he’ll be back, but let’s give Naito his time in the sun.

Oh yeah, there’s no chance this match isn’t absolutely fantastic of course. Go back and watch their 2014 Dome match and see what they managed to do with a horribly booked build and a dead crowd; it’s four years later, they’re both even better, the match has been booked well, and the crowd sure as hell won’t be dead for it this time. Prediction: Tetsuya Naito