The Great Muta’s final match is tomorrow (Jan. 22), when he teams with Sting & Darby Allin against Hakushi, AKIRA, & Naomichi Marufuji at Pro Wrestling NOAH’s appropriately and awesomely named The Great Muta Final “Bye-Bye”. The man underneath the Muta gimmick, Keiji Muto, has at least a little left in the tank, however. And after today’s New Japan vs. NOAH-themed Wrestle Kingdom 17 show, Muto now has an opponent for his final match.
It happened after the main event in Yokohama Arena (the same building which will host Final “Bye-Bye”). Tetsuya Naito had just defeated Kenoh, winning the best of five series between his Los Ingobernables de Japón and NOAH’s Kongo stable in the process. As he was getting ready to exit the scene, Muto came out and challenged Naito to a match at his retirement show in the Tokyo Dome on Feb. 21.
The Los Ingobernables de Japón leader said he’d keep his schedule open...
Keiji Muto has decided on his opponent for his last match‼— Pro Wrestling NOAH Global (@noahglobal) January 21, 2023
Muto "Naito! I've decided on you as my opponent for my last match! Let's have a hot match!"
Naito "My answer is of course, tranquilo, don't be rash. I'll just leave 21 Feb free on my schedule”pic.twitter.com/YLsRieBN2m
... but during his post-show interview, he made it clear he’ll be there. Naito also warned the 60 year old legend that he’s not the same man Muto defeated at Wrestle Kingdom VI more than a decade ago (back when Naito was the “Stardust Genius” fans rejected, rather than the Tranquilo fan-favorite he’s become).
Booking Muto’s final match was the biggest piece of news to come out of Wrestle Kingdom 17 night two, but it wasn’t the only news. We should be getting a match between IWGP World Heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada and GHC champ Kaito Kiyomiya after their multi-man match ended in a no-contest and a brawl. Kiyomiya kicked Okada square in the face while breaking up a submission...
...leading to a one-on-one challenge from NOAH’s top titleholder to NJPW’s. Nothing official yet, but it’s pretty clear the Rainmaker wants a chance to give the 25 year old rising star a receipt.
Kazuchika Okada was SEETHING as he went backstage!!— Pro Wrestling NOAH Global (@noahglobal) January 21, 2023
Okada: "Don't film me! You bastard!"
Kiyomiya went out of control with Okada, resulting in a double DQ!
Kiyomiya said: "Let’s do a singles match!"#noah_ghc #njpw #NJPWvsNOAHpic.twitter.com/dIDSZQTBCs
Another backstage scene was the set-up for another future New Japan champion vs. NOAH champion affair, as GHC Junior Heavyweight king AMAKUSA challenged IWGP Junior Heavyweight champ Hiromu Takahashi. Takahashi accepted, so we’ll see when that goes down.
In the meantime, here are the full results from Jan. 21’s Night Two of Wrestle Kingdom 17:
• NJPW’s Ryohei Oiwa & Kosei Fujita def. NOAH’s Taishi Ozawa & Yasutaka Yano (pre-show)
• NOAH’s Masa Kitamiya & Daiki Inaba def. NJPW’s Tomohiro Ishii & Oskar Leube (pre-show)
• Both promotions joined for a tribute to Jay Briscoe to start the PPV. Will hopefully have more on this later when/if they release video. It was very well done, with Hiroshi Tanahashi and Naomichi Marufuji carrying framed pictures of Jamin Pugh as they lead their respective locker rooms to the ring for a ten bell salute before “Reach For The Sky” played. Jay & Mark Briscoe were Tag champs for both promotions.
• NJPW’s Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano, Satoshi Kojima & Takashi Sugiura def. NOAH’s Naomichi Marufuji, KENTA, El Phantasmo & Gedo
• NJPW’s El Desperado def. NOAH’s YO-HEY
• NOAH’s AMAKUSA, Junta Miyawaki & Alejandro def. NJPW’s Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato
• NOAH’s Kaito Kiyomiya & Yoshiki Inamura vs. NJPW’s Kazuchika Okada & Togi Makabe went to a no contest (see above)
• NOAH’s Tadasuke def. NJPW’s BUSHI (Kongo leads Best of Five with LIJ, 1-0)
• NJPW’s Hiromu Takahashi def. NOAH’s Hajime Ohara (Kongo vs. LIJ tied 1-1)
• NOAH’s Manabu Soya def. NJPW’s SANADA (Kongo leads Best of Five with LIJ, 2-1)
• NJPW’s Shingo Takagi def. NOAH’s Katsuhiko Nakajima (Kongo vs. LIJ tied 2-2)
• NJPW’s Tetsuya Naito def. NOAH’s Kenoh (LIJ wins Best of Five with Kongo, 3-2)
New Japan won the night overall with a record of 5-4-1. The Bushiroad-owned company also topped their Cyberfight-owned rival at Wrestle Kingdom 16’s NJPW vs. NOAH Night Three (last year’s final tally was 6-4-1).
Psyched for Muto vs. Naito and (probably) Okada vs. Kiyomiya?