Wrestling Review: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 (2020) (Day 2)

[Please note: there are full, important spoilers for all of night one, which I reviewed here. For your own benefit, do not continue reading unless you have seen night one, or don’t care about spoilers.]

It is uncharted territory for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) as for the first time ever we had a second night of Tokyo Dome action, for Wrestle Kingdom 14 and Double Gold Dash. History will be made when IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada face off against IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito in the main event, where the winner will be crowned as both champions simultaneously. Naito has famously stated that being dual champions is what he wants his career to be known for, whilst Okada has had a more blase attitude towards it all – Okada has the ‘gold medal’, why should he settle for a silver medal as well? The two men who did not win on night one one, Kota Ibushi and Jay White, will also face off against each other, with unofficial

The Pain maker, Chris Jericho, will also return to NJPW for the first time since Dominion in June 2019 to face Hiroshi Tanahashi, in a match that has just recently taken an interesting twist: Jericho is the current champion of AEW, an unaffiliated company to NJPW, but Tanahashi has claimed that if he can defeat Jericho, Tanahashi will deserve a chance at Jericho’s title. Another AEW competitor, Jon Moxley, the new IWGP United States Champion, will also be in action, as he defends his newly won title against long-time rival Juice Robinson. Robinson himself won the IWGP Tag Team Championships last night, alongside David Finlay, so neither Moxley nor Juice will be at 100 per cent.

Also on the card, the end of an era, as Jyushin Thunder Liger competes in his final match ever, teaming with long time friend and rival, Naoki Sano, against modern-day friends and rivals, Ryu Lee (formerly Dragon Lee) and new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Hiromu Takahashi. The NEVER Openweight title will also be defended, as KENTA faces off against Hirooki Goto; Zack Sabre Jr. defends the REvPro British Heavyweight title against SANADA; and the dastardly duo from Bullet Club, Taiji Ishimori and El PHantasmo, defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships against SHO and YOH, Roppongi 3K. All of this and more on the historic, second straight night of action from the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 14.

+ Kazuchika Okada (HW c) vs Tetsuya Naito (IC c) (IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championships Match): god almighty, this was nuts. History was on the line, and the winner would have to go through two monstrous matches over 24 hours. Okada will go down as the best wrestler of all time, but dammit, Naito must be so close behind him. Were Naito to win, it would pay off a 7 year storyline; if Okada edged him out, it would cement his legendary status in NJPW. The match was amazing, the aftermath was perfect for the winner, and I cannot wait to see what happens next
+ Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Chris Jericho: this was originally just a standard ‘special singles match’, but the links to AEW made it something really special. I didn’t give Tana much of a chance before the ARW title shot stipulation was announced, but it soon became a bit more evenly matches. Jericho knew exactly when to bust out his classic moves and mannerisms, but the Ace is the Ace for a reason, and even he knew when to mock AEW’s ‘Le Champion’. Tana had some greatest hits of his own, and in the end a would-be good match was great
+ Jay White (w/ Gedo) vs Kota Ibushi: Ibushi switching on his Ultra Instinct mode (not unlike Goku from Dragon Ball Z) is a terrifying thing to see, and even the live crowd doesn’t like their baby faced hero turning into that monster. The difference here compared to last night, however, is that White is such an asshole that the crowd was willing to let it slide a bit more. This was a match that really didn’t have to happen, but I am glad it did, because it was probably the best Jay White match, and another classic from Ibushi
+ KENTA (c) vs Hirooki Goto (NEVER Openweight Championship): I love these two in tags or singles, tournaments or non-title matches, grudge matches or exhibitions; they are just so good. KENTA is so easy to hate with his mannerisms, but then the speed and precision of his strikes make you have to respect him. Goto hit some monstrous lariats in this, and I was suckered into every single one of them. This was a great, stiff match to end (maybe?) their rivalry, at least for now
+ Jon Moxley (c) vs Juice Robinson (w/ David Finlay) (IWGP United States Championship): these two have such phenomenal chemistry that I was on the edge of my seat for everything. Juice is an underrated stiff-boi in my mind, and Moxley is still so special in NJPW. I really enjoyed this match, and the aftermath was somehow even better
+ Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs SANADA (RevPro British Heavyweight Championship): this was an incredible technical wrestling match. There were no Ibushi/Okada style strikes, but nor should there have been. The fluidity with which each man countered the other, and transitioned into their own unique offence was a thing of beauty. I loved this entire match, from start to finish
+ Jyushin Thunder Liger & Naoki Sano (w/ Yoshiaki Fujiwara) vs Ryu Lee and Hiromu Takahashi: I’m not crying, you’re crying. I can’t believe how good Sano and Liger still are, but if this was Liger’s final match ever than it was everything it had to be. Lee and Takahashi were a great team, and I expect to see them more. I have to list this as a positive, because I loved every second of it

Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo) (c) vs Roppongi 3K (SHO and YOH) (w/ Rocky Romero) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship): I certainly enjoyed this, but something about R3K are just so lacking when compared to how much charisma Phantasmo, and by extension Ishimori have. There was some fun shenanigans here, but overall I can’t say it thrilled me all that much
Gauntlet Match for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship: as far as gauntlets go, this was fine, although there was one particularly obvious botch (but I think that was the fault of the referee), and it was covered nicely. Shingo again looked a beast, Robbie Eagles looked great and even Yano looked good for his involvement. This was fine, and this was fun, but it was everything you would expect

Should you watch this event: God damn almighty, this was a great show. I was sceptical at only having one ‘big title match’ on this show, but I was proven so wrong. Even the two matches listed as negatives above were hardly ‘don’t watch this’ level, and the rest are all great. I loved this show so much.

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