Wrestle Kingdom 13 is a couple of days away! We have rounded up a superstar New Japan panel to give their predictions for the big show. The Wrestle Kingdom 13 panel features ya boi Sir Sam, LOP’s own Matt ‘The Implication’ Maher and Rich Latta, Jeremy Donovan and the “Young Boy” Josh Smith from the Keepin’ It Strong Style podcast, Wilfred from the Wilfred Watches Podcast, Amy Olyer from the Dragon’s Den Podcast and Mike Grindle from Puroresu Road. Cheers to the boys at Keepin’ It Strong Style for organising all this, you can listen to them on the Social Suplex Podcast Network.
For more Wrestle Kingdom 13 coverage be sure to check out all of our work that is linked in the titles above and our preview podcasts at the end. Let’s get stuck in:
Pre-Show: Gauntlet to determine #1 contenders for NEVER Six-Man Titles
Jeremy: First off let me eliminate who I think is not winning. I believe the Bullet Club Elite and the team of Cobb, Finlay, and Nagata don’t stand a chance of winning this thing. That leaves Suzuki Gun, Chaos, and Taguchi Japan/Most Violent Perverts. The Chaos team is at risk of disqualification due to the unstable mental state of Chuckie T. The Suzuki Gun trio is a really strong team, but I feel like once again Suzuki will be outsmarted by Yano. Pick: Most Violent Perverts
Joshua: We will all miss the New Japan Rambo. But in its place, we get a match with ever so slightly more meaning. Moving this match off the main show opens up another singles opportunity at WK, so I’m all for it. Rambo at Dominion anyone? I see Suzuki & Goto as being the 2 biggest main card exclusions and predict the SZG & Chaos teams as the final 2. The popular pick seems to MVP’s, but I think seeing the Best Friends storyline play out at New Years Dash is the way to go here. Expect Chaos to present a united front and get the win. Expect to see the Chaos Mole/Best Friends implosion gets paid off in the main event of New Years Dash against the OG Bullet Club the next night. Pick: Chaos
Rich: Free Cheeseburger. Free Scott Norton. Free The Great Kabuki! Can I get that as a shock entrant? This will end up a higher end version of some of the past gauntlets, that have altered the momentum of past WK events. I’m willing to let New Japan prove they made the right call by putting this match here. I’ll take Suzuki Gun. Pick: Suzuki Gun
Wilfred: In a move from the typical Rumble match, I predict this to be lots of fun and I see Yano/Taguchi and Makabe winning to set the tone for the rest of the evening. They’ll probably go onto New Years Dash the next night and I think it’s a great time to get the 6 man titles off of G.O.D. and Taiji. Pick: Yano/Gooch/Makabe
Amy: This match is going to have a lot of high energy moments, sprinkled with a lot of fun. Cobb and Page will have another moment to shine together again, as their matches during WTL were power packed and fun. Taguchi always has a lot of fun spots within his matches, with a lot of creative elements. I think between Taguchi and Yano, we will get to see some entertaining spots that will add some delightful subterfuge and trickery. Yet, Yan will also be with his former partner Makabe, and we will see a darker side to him as they team up with their MVP side.
Pick: Taguchi/MVP winning, setting the tone for an MVP storyline in 2019.
Mike: I’m actually going to really miss the pre-show rumble, despite the fact it was usually rather naff, it was always charming and fun in its own way. That said, this will be a great high energy bout. I may have chosen Suzuki Gun for the win here, if it wasn’t for Bullet Club being champs since a heel vs heel title match at New Year’s dash seems unlikely. Instead, I feel pretty certain that Taguchi, Yano, and Makabe get the win here, and take the belts off Bullet Club the very next night. Pick: Yano/Taguchi/Makabe
Sam: Can I just start out by saying how crazy it is that Goto and mother f’n Minoru Suzuki got preshowed? That is a genuine Japanese national treasure that New Japan effectively tossed a participation award to. My first prediction is that some Young Lions are going to pay a steep price for Gedo’s booking choice here, I also hope that comedy Marty Scurll gets to face off with Suzuki so we get a shot of his face turning white when he realizes what he got himself in for. However, onto the winner of the match, I am gonna go with the status quo and pick Yano/Taguchi/Makabe to get the night off to a happy start. Pick: Old dudes.
Imp: Screw happiness, I’m bitter and miss our light-hearted Rumble! My annual Cheeseburger Dome pop is gone! That said, this 6 man title matches have always been a bit of fun time filling, so it doesn’t really matter that much. I’ll say Suzuki’s taking this and a few Young Lions with him in the process. Pick: Suzuki-Gun
Kota Ibushi vs. Will Ospreay for the NEVER Openweight title
Jeremy: This could be the first Wrestle Kingdom that opens with a five-star match! I expect these guys to go all out and set the pace for the night. I’m going with Ospreay on this one, mainly because he was originally supposed to win the Never title from Taichi and come into this match as champion. I feel like Ospreay winning the title will be a great way to transition him into the heavyweight division. Pick: Will Ospreay
Joshua: Ibushi vs Ospreay is maybe the most anticipated opening match for a major show in recent memory. They have a fine line to balance between putting on an all time classic, while not exhausting the audience early in. I expect a feverish sprint that leaves room for a rematch later in the year. I predict this to be star making match for Ospreay in the heavyweight division, but see bigger things on the horizon for Ibushi. Expect Ospreay to look amazing in a losing effort, and Ibushi picking up the big one in the dome. Pick: Kota Ibushi
Rich: This should be on later in the show. I caught an in-person preview in New Orleans over last Wrestlemania Weekend. This will be incredible on every level. FLIPS FLIPS FLIPS. My kind of wrestling. Anything less than a classic would be the most shocking event. The NEVER championship is going to have a new face whoever leaves with it. Pick: Kota Ibushi
Wilfred: Ospreay seemed to always be the guy to carry the NEVER title into 2019. The move for the NEVER title to become a truly transitional belt between weight divisions seems to be solidified with this match. Ospreay takes the belt and sees new challenges such as Shingo and others. Pick: Will Ospreay
Amy: This match has a lot of excitement and buzz built around it and with very good reason! Ospreay and Ibushi are electrifying together in the ring, both are extreme daredevils, with more regard to one-upping themselves and each other in the spirit of the sport, than they give to their own bodies. I think we will see a LOT of high flying maneuvers, and a LOT of strength testing, both in the form of chops and stiff kicks. They will climb scaffolding, and flip off of it. Ibushi might just see how far he can climb so he can moonsault onto Ospreay. This match is already anticipated to be a MOTN, if not a MOTY contender. This match is going to be EXHILARATING.
Mike: A dream match for sure, and somehow it’s only the opener. Ospreay seems set for big things in 2019… but I’m predicting those big things don’t include a win here tonight. Instead, I think Ibushi retains here, setting up a big celebration when the evening comes to a close. Pick: Ibushi
Sam: I mean isn’t the real prediction for this match the combined number of flips these guys hit? For the record, I pick 21 for a combined 7,560 degrees of rotation. In terms of who will win, I can only really see Kota Ibushi winning to retain his title as I think they have big plans for him in 2019 alongside Kenny Omega. However, it will not be without Osprey doing enough to ‘prove he belongs’ at heavyweight & probably win that Never strap at some point in the year. Pick: Ibushi
Imp: So I predicted on LOP Radio last week that Ibushi and Ospreay will both take mental neck bumps off/onto the apron. So really the question is which one of these crazy fellas gets injured first? My money’s on Ospreay, Kota’s too handsome to crack. Also, this match should do an awesome job of elevating both guys, Ospreay to heavyweight singles whatnot and Ibushi as a potential main event player. So my prediction is Ibushi and for neither man not be in any state to do much wrestling come New Year’s Dash the next night. Pick: Ibushi
Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado vs. Roppongi 3K vs. BUSHI and Shingo Takagi for the IWGP Jr. tag team titles
Jeremy: Roppongi 3K have spent most of 2018 chasing Kanemaru and Desperado. After many failed attempts at regaining their titles, I feel like it’s time for you Sho and Yoh to finally get their belts back and re-establish themselves as the top Junior tag team. Pick: Roppongi 3K
Joshua: A rematch of a very enjoyable 3 way tag from Power Struggle. Suzuki Gun are nearing a year long reign, and RPG 3K have spent the past year chasing. I’m thinking NJPW has singles plans for Shingo post WK. It’s time to coronate the premiere Jr Tag team in the division. Expect a fast paced match where all 3 teams look great, with RPG 3K finally regaining their titles. Pick: Roppongi 3K
Rich: I’m not about to lie to the public and tell you how awesome I think Kanemaru and Desperado are. (Spoiler, I only like their theme music.) They’ve had these belts way too damn long, and aren’t in Sho and Yoh’s league at all. If we can leave this to Shingo/Bushi and Sho and YOH as much as possible I’ll be happy. Pick: Roppongi 3K.
Wilfred: After an incredible Jr. Tag title run by Kanemaru and Despy; it seems appropriate to me that RP3K take the belts. Although, it may not be the same RP3K that we’re used to. I will stick to my guns that Rocky is the mole and RP3K will slowly move away from the Roppongi gimmick and be their own tag team, no longer in need of Rocky as a leader. Pick: Roppongi 3K
Amy: This match is all about Roppongi 3K. LIJ will put up a great fight, and we will get to see some of the strength and growth of new stablemate Shingo as he puts his locks to the test. Kanemaru and Desperado will be vicious in their attacks against both of their opposing teams, but Roppongi will rise on top in the end. Pick: Roppongi 3K
Mike: I’m certain that the belts are changing hands here, who they drop it to is a tougher question though. I’m going with the faces of the division: Roppongi 3k, to finally win back the gold here, as Shingo moves towards singles competition. Pick: R3K
Sam: Basically what everyone else said. The only story here is for the young plucky faces Roppongi 3K to finally chase down and beat that evil Suzuki-Gun duo on the biggest stage of the year. Should be a bloody fun match too. Pick Roppongi, Roppongi, Roppongi 3K
Imp: I can’t make up my mind, will Roppongi 3K get their seemingly destined grand victory? Or is this Wrestle Kingdom the rebuilding clean sweep for LIJ? The CHAOS boys are seemingly the near future if not present faces of the Jr tag division, however, I really wouldn’t be surprised if the Ingobernables ones really make a statement this Friday. So I’m going clean sweep, babaay! Pick: BUSHI/Shingo for the win!
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for the British Heavyweight title
Jeremy: Ishii and ZSJ have had an incredible series of matches against each other. ZSJ has been very dominant against Ishii in those previous encounters including submission and ref stoppage victories. I’m expecting the Stone Pitbull to avenge those losses and get a big win over the Submission Master. Pick: Tomohiro Ishii
Joshua: With this series sitting at 2-2-0, are Ishii & SZJ capable of firing a dud? So far the answer is no, and I don’t expect them to in the Dome either. This will be a great Strong Style War. I could see either man being a great representative as the King of RPW. But I’m flipping the coin and taking Ishii. I think Ishii beating a surging ZSJ would be a huge feather in his cap, predicting this to lead to an Ishii & PAC match in New York come April. Pick: Tomohiro Ishii
Rich: Who will leave as the champion of the British? Can we get Lanny Poffo to call this match for that line? Kidding. This will be one of the more intense matchups of the night. It could be submission filled, or they could flat out beat the hell out of each other. These guys have never had a bad match, but they’ve also never had that super high-end match. As long as Sabre doesn’t defend against the fun, it’s Ishii in the dome, he doesn’t disappoint. Pick Tomohiro Ishii
Wilfred: Right, I don’t watch Rev Pro so it’s hard to say who will win this, to be honest. I’m picking ZSJ because I think as a company such as Rev Pro; it makes sense to have ZSJ have the belt when PAC comes round. Pick: Zack Sabre Jr.
Amy: Ishii and ZSJ both trade in levels of pain, yet in different ways. In this match, Ishii will be avoiding whatever octopus hold ZSJ will try to spring on him, and ZSJ will try to avoid the stinging brutality of throat chops that Ishii does best. This is going to be a brutal match with a lot of exciting trades of pain and punishment. Pick: Ishii
Mike: It’s great to see Rev Pro being represented on the big stage, and it’s also great that these two talents have avoided being stuck in the multi-tags this year. This could really go either way, but I think Sabre starts his year off with a big win and makes the pitbull tap-out. Pick: Zack Sabre Jr.
Sam: While recording a Wrestle Kingdom preview with The Implications on his show Perfect 10 Wrestling, Imp dropped a potential storyline that I am absolutely in love with that this match feeds into. His theory is that over the next year or so Sabre will launch a hostile takeover of Suzuki-Gun and just as Suzuki took over and renamed it from Kojima-Gun in 2011, Zak will eventually take the stable and rename it Sabre-Gun. The first step on that path will be beating the guy that Suzuki lost the British Title to and I am so into this story I will absolutely not accept anything else. Sorry, Ishii. Pick: ZSJ
Imp: What Sam said, for it is my prediction he just described after all! Pick: ZSJ
Guerrillas of Destiny vs. The Young Bucks vs. EVIL and SANADA for the IWGP tag team titles
Jeremy: Based on the booking at the beginning of 2018 it seems New Japan was trying to establish Evil and Sanada as the top Japanese tag team in the company. However, due to Evil’s injury, the plans were derailed and never really gained any momentum. With Evil and Sanada winning the World Tag League for the second year in a row, it looks New Japan wants to once again try and establish them again. Pick: Evil and Sanada
Joshua: I see singles roles for both members of LIJ, and the Young Bucks to be preoccupied with outside endeavors in 2019. Predicting GOD to hit the superpower bomb on Matt and retain their gold going into Korakuen the next night. Expect the Bucks to put on a show in what may be their final Dome appearance. Pick: Guerrillas of Destiny
Rich: The Bucks had tag team classics with both teams separately, and will be highly motivated to make what could be their last Tokyo Dome match a great one. I don’t think they have a shot in hell at winning, but they’ll be making my winners, and the non-pin taking team look strong. GOD and Evil/Sanada can continue the feud after. Pick: Evil & Sanada.
Wilfred: G.O.D. will lose the belts. I see LIJ gaining belts again and proving that they are one of the best tag teams of the last 5-10 years. There is still plenty of time for each man to be singles title holders, but it won’t be this year. They’ll be very strong for the 1st part of the year with those belts. Pick: Evil and Sanada
Amy: This is going to be a fast-paced match of high energy and athleticism. All teams involved are absolutely stellar in skill, which will lead to all of us winning when we get to watch it! Young Bucks, while putting on an incredible show, will not regain those championships. G.O.D. will succumb to the intensity of the match, as Evil and SANADA, with their calm and collected endurance winning out overall. Evil will pull a Darkness Falls on Tama Tonga, while SANADA will lock Tonga Loa in a skull end. Pick: Evil and Sanada
Mike: There’s been a lot of talk on whether this will be the last Dome show for the Bucks. I don’t think it will be, but I also don’t think they pick up the win here regardless. Instead, I see Evil and Sanada’s decision to let the Bucks be involved in this match backfire, as G.O.D retain amongst the chaos. Pick: G.O.D
Sam: This is where I go a bit crazy and my next two picks will either see me crash and burn like the hack I am or look like a goddamn sage. The Young Bucks to win. That’s right, everyone has written them off because of AEW yet no one has one iota of a clue what the working relationship between NJPW & AEW will look like. Why did they get inserted into this match out of nowhere? If they are leaving why aren’t the with Scurll on the preshow? Because New Japan wants to hitch its western expansion to the hottest new thing in wrestling. Pick: The Bucks
Imp: With the uncertainty of AEW and whatnot, I’d be very surprised if either CODY or the Bucks walk out of Tokyo with gold. Especially given the… ‘lukewarm’ reception for the Bucks back at the World Tag League Final, any chance of a victory got SQUASHED with that reaction! As I said earlier though, I’m sticking with my bold prediction and going with the LIJ WK clean sweep. For the second year in a row, Pick: EVIL & SANADA
Cody vs. Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States title
Jeremy: I remember being so excited when Juice beat Jay White and won the U.S. title. I was looking forward to seeing what a Juice Robinson title run would like. But there was no run. It was a stumble and fall. Cody came out of nowhere and knocked Juice down to the bottom barrel. Juice losing the title seemed like a big misstep in my mind. Juice really needs to win the title back here or he will look like an absolute geek. Also with Cody signing with All Elite Wrestling, I don’t expect him to take the title with him. Pick: Juice Robinson
Joshua: A full circle story, Juice has a chance to erase his previous 2 losses to Cody. This will be a feel good moment with Juice being coronated by defeating a supremely protected Cody. More than just regaining his belt, Juice gets to prove he is on the level! Juice wins the belt with a 1,2,3 after landing the Pulp Friction. Pick: Juice
Rich: Juice Robinson has to wrestle his ass off for this to be great. In the ring, Cody has relied on smoke and mirrors to carry much of his big matches of late to varying degrees of critical acclaim. This match comes between just tons of great matches, and this looks to be the boom or bust match of the show. If it’s great? Best card ever status is attainable. If Juice can outperform the shenanigans in title-winning fashion, it will go a long way in making up for his short run late last year. Pick Juice Robinson.
Wilfred: Here’s the chance to give Juice the strong title run he deserved before injuring his hand during G1. I fully believe Cody will be completely freelance in 2019 and Juice will carry the gaijin flag for NJPW. Pick: Juice Robinson
Amy: Juice Robinson picking up the US title was one of my favorite moments in wrestling this year. The energy of the match against Jay White, the energy of the crowd, all of this led to a crowning moment of victory for Juice Robinson, and a buzzing anticipation for his US title run to come. While it was understandable to see the title taken by The American Nightmare, I do believe we will see a new American Revolution play out at Wrestle Kingdom, with Juice coming out on top. Pick: Juice Robinson
Mike: Juice suffered some harsh booking during the latter part of the year, but all will be forgiven if he picks up the win here. When these two met exactly two years ago, it was a glorified squash to showcase Cody’s arrival to New Japan, but now Juice gets the chance to prove he really is on Cody’s level, and I believe he’ll do just that. Pick: Juice
Sam: And yes based on what I predicted in the tag match I’m going all in on Cody here. If you were New Japan and you wanted to gain some notoriety and pick a guy to main event your US shows wouldn’t having your US Strap on the biggest name in the US Indy scene make sense? Juice is great but outside of New Japan fans who knows him? Is he going to sell out a 5,000 seat arena and draws those WWE fan eyes? Cody, on the other hand, is as big as it gets on the US Indy scene, has incredible name value and is at the helm of one of the most exciting ventures in modern wrestling history. It is also mutually beneficial on AEW’s side to have a partnership with the second biggest promotion in the world and feature one of their belts on a top star. It’s a wild idea but don’t write it off just yet. Pick: Cody
Imp: I get the impression CODY is going to be a little bit busy during 2019. Plus the American Nightmare doesn’t really lose any momentum if he loses here, compared to Juice where losing here could full on Goto his ass. Getting to the throne but can’t ever quite reach that crown. So screw that, become our US King, Juice! Pick: Juice Robinson
KUSHIDA vs. Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Jr. title
Jeremy: Ishimori made a big impact in his debut by attacking Will Ospreay and then following it up with a win against him in the BOSJ. Since then Ishimori has been simmering on the back burner. Now is the time to turn the heat up and give Ishimori a monster push by defeating the ace of the Junior Division. Pick: Taiji Ishimori
Joshua: There have always been big plans in place for Ishimori since his initial debut, and defeat of Ospreay his 1st night in the company. With rumors of Kushida possibly leaving NJPW, combined with his status as longtime accomplished Jr Ace, there can only be 1 outcome. Ishimori gets the title and continues the OG Bullet Clubs momentum on this show. This match will be awesome. Pick: Taiji Ishimori
Rich: This match just makes me miss Hiromu Takahashi I can’t lie. Kushida doesn’t excite me. He’s the regular sex of the junior division. That being said, Ishimori is overflowing with confidence and talent and is the perfect guy to let have the ball as the top junior. Pick: Taiji Ishimori
Wilfred: Taiji is the overwhelming favorite but not for me. Kushida holds the belt. I see a special appearance after this match happening by the rightful owner of the belt, setting up a future re-match of Kushida v Hiromu. The Tokyo Dome will erupt to the TimeBomb’s appearance. Pick: Kushida
Amy: Kushida and Ishimori are both well matched for this title match! This is going to be a match of high energy spots, flight, and one trying to outmaneuver the other. I do see Ishimori coming out on top with this one, which will also give the Bullet Club another belt (if G.O.D. loses the tag championship), which will pair well for their 2019 storyline. This will also give a fresh face to the IWGP Jr HW Title, and a fresh match for when Hiromu returns to reclaim it. Pick: Ishimori
Mike: It’s highly unlikely that New Japan had this match penciled in for the Dome before Hiromu’s injury and it’s likely the winner will be facing the returning Hiromu soon. The despicable Ishimori feels like the perfect foil for the returning hero, so I think New Japan put the belt on him here. Pick: Ishimori
Sam: Ishimori has been the NJPW new guy of the year for 2018 and has already built a solid rivalry with the true king of the Juniors. Ishimori to win and the Dome to erupt when Hiromu comes down that ramp to give his notice. Pick: Bone Soldier
Imp: Like Hiromu before him, Ishimori is beating KUSHIDA’s junior butt and taking that title. This is my dark horse for match of the night, both guys are excellent in the ring and Taiji has been just perfect as the Bone Soldier character. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt for the Bullet Club to at least successfully retain one title on the show. Pick: Taiji Ishimori
Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White
Jeremy: Jay White has Okada’s number going to this match. At every turn, Jay has left Okada laying. With all this momentum behind Jay, one would think this a building to him getting his first win in the Dome and continue his mega push. However, I believe because he has so much momentum he will be overconfident going to this match and underestimate Okada. I believe Okada will be back to Rainmaker status and will get some revenge on Jay. Plus the Ace never loses at the dome. Pick: Okada
Joshua: I can fully see the argument that Jay may get the big win here, but how can I bet against the Ace in the Dome? Jay has looked indomitable in the build and always one step ahead of Kazu. How will Okada respond? On this night we get the return of the Rainmaker! The real question will this match deliver? If it does, Jay gets made in defeat. And guess what, Okada’s just the perfect dance partner to elevate this man. Pick: Kazuchika Okada
Rich: The Ace isn’t losing in the dome. This is a rule I’ve been taught and conditioned to abide by and until I see them go against that I have no reason to think this changes now. Jay White cannot afford another lackluster performance on a big stage, and if he can’t do it with now Okada, he just doesn’t have it in him. New Japan is a great match promotion, especially when you are trying to break into that top 4 mix. I predict that Okada beats Jay like he owns him, to quote New Jack. Pick: Okada
Wilfred: This is one that I’m very confident on. Okada wins to begin his road back to the top. He’ll get some key wins in the 1st half of the year and probably recapture the gold at Dominion. Jay will now be a much more sinister heel and may reveal the mole that night, or the next at New Years Dash! Pick: Okada
Amy: I do not believe we are in for the end of Okada’s storyline just yet. This match will be intense, filled with energy, emotion, and fuel for fire as Okada seeks to avenge himself and his stablemates against the cutthroat Switchblade, Jay White. Gedo and Jado will be at ringside, and Gedo will interfere in this match somehow, causing Jay to get the win over Okada. 2019 will be all about Okada overcoming the brutality of the Bullet Club, and finding his redemption over Jay White. Pick: Jay White
Mike: Okada may have fallen from grace in recent times, but he’s still the top guy in New Japan, and the top guy doesn’t lose at the Dome. Jay White will try every trick in the book, perhaps even leading to a full Chaos/New Japan vs. Bullet Club brawl on the outside, but he’s not rising to Okada’s level just yet. Pick: Okada
Sam: I’m so torn on this one. I believe it will be a big year coming for Jay White but it is Okada in the Tokyo Dome if he didn’t lose last year how will he ever lose? Still, I’m gonna go with Jay White to get the coronation he didn’t last year. He has been the most consistent character on the roster this year and while I would like to see him hit that final gear in ring before he truly gets entrenched in the main event scene I think he will get the huge win here. Also, side bet, that white strap will look mighty fine around his waist at some point this year. Pick: Breath with the Switchblade
Imp: I’m so torn, Okada’s arc would fit perfectly with him getting his revenge here, however, White really can’t be losing again after Tanahashi beat him relatively easily last year. Plus as the new Bullet Club leader, I can see this being the perfect time to really make a statement with the Switchblade. But man, if this were WWE I’d be betting on the ‘Bullshit Ending’, but this is New Japan and in New Japan folks actually go over. So I’ll go with my gut and continue to predict the unhappy ending if possible, another heel wins! Pick: Jay White
Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental title
Jeremy: Going into the Dominion match, Naito didn’t really care much about Jericho. Naito’s Tranquilo lifestyle backfired on him and allowed Jericho to get the victory. Going into this match Naito is still being Tranquilo but this time he’ using his Tranquilo nature to get in the head of Jericho. Jericho has been completely rattled by Naito. This time Jericho’s rage will be his downfall and Naito will avenge his loss. Pick: Naito
Joshua: I absolutely loved the 1st match between these 2 at Dominion. With Naito initially claiming he wasn’t sure who Jericho even was the 1st time around, he sure learned. This time it seems both men are determined & have promised to “put each other out of wrestling”. Jericho’s made a career of making guys. That’s exactly what he will do here, 2019 will be the year of Naito’s resurgence. That resurgence will start with a trial by fire, expect a Memphis style brawl, with a high probability of color! Pick: Tetsuya Naito
Rich: Isn’t it hilarious that Naito’s road to redemption goes through that white belt he hates? Unless this feud is continuing, this should be a Naito victory for both guys to spin off into other programs in the aftermath. Chris Jericho will not be outperformed by anyone, at any age. It could be another brawl like Dominion, but maybe they shock us by having a straight wrestling match with Naito getting a big win when he needs it most. Pick Tetsuya Naito.
Wilfred: I’ve been torn on this. But as I mentioned on the latest episode of Wilfred Watches Podcast; Jericho is keeping the belt til MSG. It’s going to make a lot of folks upset but imagine him losing it at MSG, on American soil, before heading to AEW. Naito has yet to hit the bottom. This will be a low point in Naito’s storyline. This will be needed for him to head back to the top, eventually winning G1. Pick: Chris Jericho
Amy: This match is going to be insane. If there is one thing Jericho can be known for in NJPW, it is his sense of brutality, and the use of anything not nailed down to the ground to get his way. Naito will be brutalized in this match, but he will give it back in kind with strength, determination, and the final fulfillment of his DESTINOOOOO! This will also set up an awesome arc for Naito heading into 2019. Pick: Naito
Mike: There’s a fair amount of unpredictable matches on the Dome card this year, but I don’t feel that this is one of them, as Naito will surely get his vengeance on Jericho here. The build here hasn’t been as great as it was for their match at Dominion, and Naito returning to the IC title scene feels like a step back for some. Hopefully, Jericho’s brutality and Naito’s charisma comes together to create something as good as or better than their Dominion bout. Pick: Naito
Sam: This is gonna be a FIGHT. I re-watched their Dominion match before making these predictions and was blown away by how brutal, gritty and unpretty it was. I expect nothing less the second time. For prediction purposes, I think this is all part of Naito’s character arc where he learns to truly be tranquilo to what the fans think of him and then freed from all his shackles finally manages to get that big Wrestle Kingdom win for the IWGP Strap in 2020. Pick: Naito
Imp: The man who preaches ‘tranquilo’, being calm and not caring as much, lost in the main event last year trying to prove to the crowd that the Stardust Genius wasn’t a failure. This year he’s had a hell of a lesson from a man really genuinely doesn’t give a shit. But Naito has learned his lesson and come 2020 he’s going to be more than ready to take his crown. LIJ clean sweep! Pick: Naito
Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight title
Jeremy: This has been the hardest match to predict. There are so many reasons why either man could win this. Tanahashi has been on a hell of a run. The Ace of the Universe has risen back to dominance and once again finds himself main eventing the Tokyo Dome. With a freshly signed contract, it seems like Tana could be capturing the IWGP title for the 8th time. As of right now Kenny’s future is up in the air. Cleary New Japan is continuing it’s Western Expansion this year. Kenny has been the face of the expansion thus far and I don’t expect that to change. My gut is telling me that Kenny is staying in New Japan for another year and defeat the Tana in the dome. Pick: Kenny Omega
Joshua: Sitting at the top of what may be the greatest wrestling card (on paper) in history. Ace vs Omega. Possibly the greatest storyteller in wrestling history vs possibly the greatest big match performer in wrestling history, this match will deliver. I could write libraries about this match, but I won’t. The logical, statistical, and likely outcome is Kenny retaining in a 5 star classic. But with so many outside business dealings influencing this match potentially, it creates a believable scenario where Tanahashi rides again. I’m gonna go against my better judgment and pick the Ace of the Universe. Either way, expect a MOTY contender, and a changed New Japan landscape regardless of the winner. Pick: Hiroshi Tanahashi
Rich: Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kenny Omega will be the match of the night. Kenny Omega NEVER disappoints in big matches, and his last two Tokyo Dome appearances have been the stuff of legend. These two wrestling savants couldn’t be more different stylistically, but I am 1000 percent sure this is a MOTY candidate and will live up to the top billing. I’ve loved Tanahashi’s run back to the top, and while it was inconsistent at points, he rolls into this match as a clear favorite for a section of New Japan fans that are bending over backward to discredit Omega’s work and championship pedigree at every turn. I don’t think Omega is leaving, as he’s the big face joker of the wrestling world, and will get provisions to continue his career in Japan while serving as a top draw for AEW on occasion. Pick: Kenny Omega
Wilfred: Another hard decision here. Tanahashi is my heart pick, Omega is my mind pick. I’m picking Omega because wherever he may be going; it’s not ready yet. I see Kenny sticking around for 6 months before making the move out of Japan. Omega loses the belt at Dominion or MSG. Pick: Kenny Omega
Amy: This is an extremely difficult decision. I want Kenny Omega to win this match. His matches are explosive, innovative, creative, and his year in NJPW has been explosive. That said, all signs point to Tanahashi picking up the title here. Wrestle Kingdom is the house that Tanahashi built, and here, he will make history by winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from the current title holder, in the grandest stage of NJPW. That said, this match is going to be intense, angry, emotional, and riveting. I see an intense buildup between the two at the beginning of the match. Tanahashi will do a high fly flow off the top turnbuckle, injuring his knee. Kenny will dramatically roll his eyes to this, playing into the evil villain stereotype. Overall, Tana will win, stopping Kenny’s V-Triggers with a round of dragonscrews, before slingblading his way to the High Fly Flows that will win the match. Pick: Tanahashi
Mike: When Tanahashi surprised the wrestling world and won the G1 Climax once again, few, including myself, believed that he really stood a chance at defeating Omega at the Dome. Now, however, this match arguably feels like the most unpredictable on the card. That said, I think Omega retains here, cementing his legacy and his position within the company as Okada’s equal. Pick: Omega
Sam: This is another tough one, the past v the future of the company, the most beloved Japanese wrestler against the most beloved western one, the guy who saved the company against the man who has arguably done more than any to grow it. Truth be told I don’t care who wins, I just want to ride with both boys because I love both of them so much and want to enjoy what I have no doubt will be an amazing match. Having said all of that I think that Kenny Omega gets the win here to be fully legitimized as the second ace of the company. Only a few guys get to beat Tanahashi at The Dome and Omega is about to become one of them. Pick: Kenny Omega
Imp: So I’ve been writing my The Story of Hiroshi Tanahashi columns this holiday season, and one pattern continuously emerged, the past putting over the future. They have their arguments beforehand but come the night, Takayama laid down for Nakkers, Kojima for Tana, Nagata for Tana, Mutoh for Tana. Really the only time that didn’t happen in a Dome main event was during Tana & Okada’s multi-year arc, but I don’t really see The Ace doing that with Omega. Really, I feel Omega will be properly established as a top guy, a musketeer. With 2019 having Ibushi doing something similar, Naito stepping back up, Okada… maybe. The next two years of New Japan may see those four guys really set as the figure stones to build round, or not, Omega could always pop off to his friend’s house. Pick: Kenny Omega and Tana puts him over with respect afterwards.