New Japan Pro-Wrestling typically makes it clear what direction they’re headed in when it comes to their championships programs and what their stars will be doing at major shows. Their upcoming Wrestle Kingdom 18 event at the Tokyo Dome on Jan. 4, 2024 is certainly no exception.
The IWGP World Heavyweight title match is basically set when the late summer G1 Climax tournament produces a winner. Four other matches were set-up at last Saturday’s Power Struggle, the last major show before the annual Tokyo Dome extravaganza. And now they’re official!
The biggest is the rematch between Bryan Danielson and Kazuchika Okada, set-up by a quickly-accepted video challenge from Danielson at Power Struggle. NJPW’s announcement proves all involved are confident Bryan will be cleared by Jan. 4 from his latest injury.
Danielson’s AEW co-worker (and Blackpool Combat Club teammate) Jon Moxley will also be in action. He and Bullet Club leader David Finlay will both challenge Will Ospreay for the... a new championship. After Finlay destroyed Ospreay’s IWGP United States & United Kingdom titles after Saturday’s main event, New Japan management confirmed at a press conference today (Nov. 6) that they’ll be creating a new title to replace them. NJPW Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi said they’ll announce details soon.
The Moxley/Finlay feud will continue at New Japan’s show in Texas this upcoming Friday (Nov. 10), when Mox is joined by BCC’s Wheeler Yuta for a tag match against Finlay & his Bullet Club teammate KENTA at Lonestar Shootout.
Two Junior Heavyweight championship matches were also confirmed after they were established at Power Struggle. Here’s what’s been announced for Wrestle Kingdom 18, which starts at 2:30am ET. on Jan.4:
• SANADA (c) vs. Testuya Naito for the IWGP World Heavyweight championship
• Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada
• Will Ospreay (c) vs. Jon Moxley vs. David Finlay for a TBA title that will replace the IWGP US/UK one
• Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. El Desperado for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship
• Bullet Club War Dogs (Clark Connors & Drilla Moloney) (c) vs. Catch 2/2 (TJP & Francesco Akira) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team tiles
And here’s what’s coming out way from Garland, Texas’ Curtis Culwell Center — and streaming on Fite — at 8pm ET this Friday at Lonestar Shootout:
• Eddie Kingston (c) vs. Satoshi Kojima for the NJPW Strong Openweight championship
• Mayu Iwatani (c) vs. Stephanie Vaquer for the IWGP Women’s title
• Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Trent Beretta for the NEVER Openweight championship
• Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs. Mike Bailey for the NJPW World Television title
• El Phantasmo & Hikuleo (c) vs. West Coast Wrecking Crew (Jorel Nelson & Royce Isaacs) for the NJPW Strong Openweight Tag Team championship
• Mistico vs. TJP
• Toru Yano vs. Joey Janela
• Jon Moxley & Wheeler Yuta vs. David Finlay & KENTA
• Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, KUSHIDA & Kevin Knight vs. Bullet Club (Chase Owens, Gabe Kidd, Clark Connors & Alex Coughlin)
• Atlantis, Tiger Mask & Mascara Dorada vs. Ultimo Guerrero, Rocky Romero & Hechicero
• Fred Rosser vs. Tom Lawlor