AEW’s Bryan Danielson and New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Kazuchika Okada seemed to be on a collision course. Another match between two of the best wrestlers in the world felt like a lock for Wrestle Kingdom 18 — the 2024 edition of NJPW’s biggest show, their annual Jan. 4 visit to the Tokyo Dome.
But then, in their second encounter of the year, Danielson was injured. We’d later find out his orbital bone was actually already fractured before his tag team victory over Okada on the Oct. 25 Dynamite, but the fact AEW decided to write it into the story of that match gave fans hope Bryan would be cleared by Jan. 4 despite the usual recovery time for a broken eye socket.
It looks like those hopes will be realized. During New Japan’s Power Struggle event today (Nov. 4) in Osaka, after Okada successfully defended his NEVER 6-Man championship with Tomohiro Ishii & Hiroshi Tanahashi, a video from Danielson played on the big screen. He used both his current injury (for which he was sporting a bandage over his left eye from the surgery he underwent this past week) and the broken arm he suffered while defeating Okada at Forbidden Door back in June in his challenge for Wrestle Kingdom:
“Okada, you and I have been in the ring together two times. And two times, I’ve won — and two times, you’ve broken my bones. The last time, two orbital fractures. The first time, you broke my arm. But what happened after you broke my arm? I wrestled for another ten minutes and I tapped you out! Because no matter how many bones you break, you can’t break my heart. And you can’t break my spirit. I do have revenge on my mind. That’s why I’m challenging you — right now — for Jan. 4th, Wrestle Kingdom, at the Tokyo Dome. You and me, one-on-one, and I am going to get my revenge! I’m gonna break your arm. I am going to break your right arm. And you will never be able to do the Rainmaker ever again.”
That prompted a “YES!” chant from the crowd in the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. and got an immediate response from Okada.
Speaking in Japanese, he said it was he who wants revenge for the two losses he’s suffered to Danielson this year. New Japan’s current Ace then promised he would beat Bryan with his Rainmaker finisher, and ended his remarks with the American Dragon’s old WWE catchphrase.
An eye for an eye, an arm for an arm on the mind of the American Dragon!@bryandanielson has challenged @rainmakerXokada for Wrestle Kingdom 18!— njpwworld (@njpwworld) November 4, 2023
Sign up Now & Stay tuned to https://t.co/CcdQ1X9P52#NJPW #njpst #njwk18 pic.twitter.com/I8i8NSqSNY
Sounds like it’s on!