With their annual Tokyo Dome show expanding from one night to two, New Japan added a new wrinkle to Wrestle Kingdom 14. The winners of Jan. 4’s IWGP Intercontinental & Heavyweight title matches would meet on Jan. 5. So would the losers, which is interesting - but not as interesting as seeing who will become the first man ever to hold the IC & HW straps at the same time.
With night one and its pair of main events in the books, we’ve got our night two matches set.
In Saturday’s penultimate match, Tetsuya Naito won the Intercontinental belt from Switchblade Jay White. It was a bit sluggish in the first fifteen minutes or so, but business picked up in the second half. White kicked out of Destino once after a poisoned rana, but was unable to hit his own finisher. After a counter, Naito got his in again to move on to tomorrow’s Double Gold Dash final.
The Heavyweight title fight was the kind of epic New Japan and Kazuchika Okada are known for, and the only question is how far above five stars Dave Meltzer goes when rating it for Wrestling Observer.
Honestly, I’d go seven - but that’s just for the champ’s entrance.
The match itself built and built for almost 40 minutes. G1 Climax winner Kota Ibushi was a man possessed, weathering The Rainmaker’s signature moves and popping back up without missing a beat. He may have even been flashing some heel-ish swagger.
Big moves and jaw-dropping spots followed - not all of which were executed perfectly, prompting some fear among viewers about things like Ibushi’s neck. But most of them were, and built an intense closing sequence that saw the challenger use Okada’s own finisher against him...
... while kicking out of multiple Rainmakers himself. The finish came when the champ brushed off a V Trigger (and Kota’s use of his Golden Lover partner Kenny Omega’s move will surely be analyzed by those looking for signs about the state of the AEW/New Japan relationship) and went right into his finishing sequence. A sitout Tombstone and another Rainmaker sent Okada on to a showdown with Naito for all the gold.
The Intercontinental champ then came out for a staredown. Naito reminded Okada and the fans that he came up short against The Rainmaker at Wrestle Kingdom 12, and vowed we’d get a different result tomorrow. He then left, and let the current Ace thank Ibushi and the sellout crowd of 40,000+.
All I'm saying is #Naito2Belts— Ringsiders (@ringsiderspod) January 4, 2020
Time for Tranquilo to hold the IWGP Intercontinental Championship & IWGP Heavyweight Championship simultaneously!#njwk14 #wk14 #njpw #NJPWWK14 #WrestleKingdom14 #WrestleKingdom pic.twitter.com/6xMbRH60JV
Double Gold has long been a story about Naito, and we’ll see if he can finally achieve that goal tomorrow. It’ll also be interesting to see what’s next for The Golden Star & Switchblade in the consolation prize, and if Okada can deliver yet another main event classic.
Get all the results from night one here, and join us back here in 18 hours or so for night two!