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AEW’s FTR & WWE’s Karl Anderson drop their New Japan titles at Wrestle Kingdom 17

Compared to the debut of Mercedes Moné and the double main event, FTR and Karl Anderson’s title defenses were just subplots for New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 17.

Both were interesting, though. Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler have lost two of the three sets of belts they were collecting, and came into the Tokyo Dome on Jan. 4 to defend the IWGP Tag Team championship amidst rumors their AEW run could soon be coming to an end. Anderson just recently re-signed with WWE, and the fact his new employers let him finish out his program with NJPW while he’s appearing on Raw is pretty remarkable.

So how were they booked?

The Tag title match was up third on the card. After an initial striking exchange with World tag League winners Bishamon, Cash picked up the pace...

FTR couldn’t put Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI away with their superplex/splash combo, and the pin after they hit Big Rig on Goto was broken up. With the English-language announcers putting Bishamon over as the best tag team in the world (shots fired, but at who?), they pinned Dax following their own tandem finisher, GYR.

The two teams showed respect in the aftermath. Dax & Cash have now lost three sets of belts (the Ring of Honor, AAA, and IWGP) in the past month. On AEW television, they’re feuding with Gunn Club.

There wasn’t much respect in Anderson’s NEVER Openweight title defense. No other members of The O.C. (or any other ex-Biz Clizzers currently working for WWE) accompanied him for this showdown with his old Bullet Club teammate Tama Tonga. Anderson’s been trying to deny Tama a title shot, and after his signature NJPW entrance continued to play the heel by nailing Tonga with the belt before the bell.

The babyface came back, of course, and this one became all about hitting the Gun Stun. It was Tama who nailed one from the middle rope to set-up the finish, a second that the two men botched.

Anderson sulked off while Tonga celebrated, as his latest NJPW run looks over.

If you were looking for signs of how the AEW/New Japan partnership is going, or if a New Japan/WWE one is brewing... there’s not much to go on here. This mostly looks like closing out the runs of these performers than anything else.

Get complete results from Wrestle Kingdom 17 here.

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