After winning the TNT title for a second time in his hometown of Seattle, Darby Allin made it clear that he’d be continuing the open door policy for challengers that made his first reign so much fun.
So far, it’s resulted in successful defenses against Mike Bennett, and last night (Jan. 13) on Rampage against Juice Robinson. Both men are best known for their time in other promotions, but they’re currently working on contracts signed by Tony Khan. Darby’s next challenger won’t be, however.
But while he’s currently signed to and has deep roots with New Japan, this guy’s also worked for the some of the same U.S.-based promotions Bennett & Robinson has. In announcing him, Khan pointed out KUSHIDA’s history with the other wrestling brand he owns...
This Wednesday, Jan 18— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) January 14, 2023
Wednesday Night #AEWDynamite
Live on @TBSNetwork
8pm ET/7pm CT
TNT Championship Open Challenge@DarbyAllin vs Kushida
TNT Champion Darby Allin will defend the title in an open challenge Wednesday vs former ROH World Television Champion Kushida! pic.twitter.com/ZXkY5aApv8
In addition to that ROH TV title run, KUSHIDA also won the NXT Cruiserweight championship during his two-plus years with WWE. Before that, his New Japan resume includes six stints with the IWGP Junior Heavyweight crown — along with pretty much every accolade a non-heavyweight can earn.
KUSHIDA promised to “make the U.S. my main battlefield” in 2023, and between working Impact’s Hard to Kill PPV last night and this, he’s off to a good start. He also has multiple independent dates lined up for March, including GCW’s return to New York City on the 17th.
That’s not the only title match that got added to the Jan. 18 Dynamite card last night, either. Jeff Jarrett’s crew’s attack on Paul Walter Hauser and theft of his Golden Globe Award is the set-up for Jay Lethal to challenge Orange Cassidy for his All-Atlantic belt, too.
Here’s everything set for next Wednesday’s show:
• Bryan Danielson vs. Bandido (Danielson must continue to win to ensure he gets an Iron Man match for the AEW World title against MJF at Revolution on Mar. 5)
• Darby Allin (c) vs. KUSHIDA for the TNT championship
• Orange Cassidy (c) vs. Jay Lethal for the All-Atlantic title
• Ricky Starks vs. Jake Hager
• Hangman Page talks with with Renee Paquette
• The Young Bucks vs. Top Flight
• Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale