With Power Struggle (check out match recommendations here if you missed them) in our rear view mirror, New Japan Pro Wrestling have confirmed a whole heaping swathe of matches for Wrestle Kingdom 13, so let’s list ‘em out and break ‘em down, folks.
Wrestle Kingdom 13 (January 4, 3AM Eastern / 12AM Pacific
- Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Shingo Takagi) vs. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship)
- KUSHIDA (c) vs. Taiji Ishimori (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship)
- “Switchblade” Jay White vs. Kazuchika Okada
- Chris Jericho (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Intercontinental Championship)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenny Omega (c) (IWGP Heavyweight Championship)
The big one is the match that Chris Jericho said mere days ago in the post-match press conference for Power Struggle was never going to happen… is happening. It’s not a shock that Tetsuya Naito would get his rematch for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship on the biggest stage New Japan has to offer, but I’ll admit to being kind of surprised that they went and confirmed it with so little fanfare.
Especially since there’s an interesting angle to Naito actively wanting the title he so badly mistreated during his first reign with it and it could have been cool to see that play out with dueling promos over the course of World Tag League and the end-of-year Korakuen Hall shows before finally wringing the rematch out of Y2J. But hey, the first one was very good and however we got there a second one is likely more of the same, so I’m not complaining too much.
Also in the category of “obvious main event level matches”, Kazuchika Okada finally getting a chance to avenge both his G1 Climax loss to and betrayal by “Switchblade” Jay White has clearly been the direction for a while and should be a very hot matchup on a cold Friday morning in January.
I have some mild trepidation that it might turn into faction warfare at some point after the way the Bullet Club OGs interfered in matches during the G1 Climax, but a) it’s Wrestle Kingdom and NJPW is good about not doing things like that on the big show and b) AJ Styles vs. Minoru Suzuki in the 2014 G1 is one of the best matches in New Japan history even with run-ins from both men’s factions in the middle, so I’m not too worried either way.
And with Super Jr. Tag League out of the way, we’ve got our junior heavyweight matchups. Ishimori vs. KUSHIDA is a very logical decision given how Taiji has been so strongly presented without yet winning the title, although I’d personally like to see the Time Splitter reign until Hiromu Takahashi is healthy enough to reclaim his crown, but the tags are a little more curious.
A triple threat makes absolute sense, usually at least one of the junior title matches at Wrestle Kingdom every year is a chaotic multi-participant match, and getting both Roppongi 3K and our shiny new Los Ingobernables de Japon team in the mix is very logical, but that it’s a straight rematch of the Super Jr. Tag League final feels a bit off. Like, if this was the match, why not build the finals as a draw between LIJ and RPG3K so they both had equal claim to the title match?
That’s a small quibble though, and overall Wrestle Kingdom 13 is shaping up to be a hell of a show as always. We’ve just got to get through World Tag League so we can see what our remaining heavyweight title matches will look like and we’ll be golden.
There you have it, folks
Like the way Wrestle Kingdom 13 is taking shape, Cagesiders?