Alex Coughlin, Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks, & Toa Henare vs. Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma), Yota Tsuji, & Yuya Uemura
Makabe is the kind of person they always want to find something for on the big shows, so this makes as much sense as anything.
What’s on the line: respect especially for Katsuyori Shibata and his students at the New Japan Dojo in Los Angeles.
Marcos’ Pick: This is really anybody’s game but I am thinking the Henare and company take it, probably by way of a Toa Bottom on one of the Japanese Young Lions.
Demo’s Pick: I think the LA Dojo team will win the first match. If only because the company is really pushing this US expansion and having them look strong will help going into the New Beginnings tour.
Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata vs. TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima)
World Tag League spill out. A chance for the old guard to have a WK14 moment.
What’s on the line: Tag ranking and possible title shot at New Beginning
Marcos’ Pick: TenCozy because I think it just make sense for the hard-hitting pair to get a title shot soon.
Demo’s Pick: TenCozy will take this fight. While it would be nice to see Yuji Nagata get a win, this is purely a chance to have the old guard on the card
Great Sasuke, Jushin Liger, Tatsumi “the Dragon” Fujinami, & Tiger Mask IV vs. Naoki Sano, Ryusuke Taguchi, Shinjiro Ohtani, & Tatsuhito Takaiwa
Jushin Liger’s retirement tour enters its final step as he teams with some faces from his past against some other faces from his past.
Story line: A chance for all the veterans to show that they can still go.
Marcos’ Pick: He has been putting over younger people throughout his farewell tour, and will on Sunday, too. Therefore, these legends showcase seems designed to give a Liger a win and his last hurrah. His teammates will win too, but he gets the pin.
Demo’s Pick: Liger (and his team) will most definitely open up the show on a high note. This will be a moment for the crowd to pour on him all the deserved adulation that his career has more than earned.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA, & Shingo Takagi) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, Minoru Suzuki, Taichi, & Zack Sabre, Jr.)
LIJ and Suzuki-gun have been at each other’s throats off and on for most of the year, and with two nights of Wrestle Kingdom, that made this tag team match a most logical decision.
What’s on the line: One-part bragging rights to one part setting up more interest in SANADA’s title match against Zack Sabre, Jr. on night two.
Marcos’ Pick: Suzuki-gun pick up the tag team win here to set up SANADA winning on night two.
Demo’s Pick: I 100% agree that LIJ will take the L on night one, this will then set up the heat for Sanada vs ZSJ.
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, KENTA, & Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Chaos (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, & YOSHI-HASHI)
Much like the eight-man tag preceding this, these stables have a lot of history, we are headed into a title match on night two, and we have time to fill.
What’s on the line: A Chaos win here gives Goto much-needed momentum headed into his NEVER Open weight Championship match against KENTA on night two.
Marcos’ Pick: Chaos pick up the win here to set up Goto falling short the night after.
Demo’s Pick: This is a hard one to call. I would like to say CHAOS wins this one, making Goto look strong heading into the match with KENTA the next night, but I also believe that Goto will also win that match, so should they go 50/50? I’m gonna say Bullet Club
FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (c) (IWGP Tag Team Championship)
FinJuice won World Tag League, simple as that.
What’s on the line: The IWGP Tag Team Championship scene has been well moribund and a win here is a chance for FinJuice to inject some much-needed energy into things.
Marcos’ Pick: NJPW really has a decision to make if they keep the belts on the GOD they have to book another team at their level. I do not see FINJuice winning here. Although it would be an unpredictable change.
Demo’s Pick: FinJuice is a cute pairing, but let us be real…they are not going to beat G.O.D. In addition, Juice has the US title match on night two and they would not put the idea of another dual titleholder over their main card people. However, I agree, NJPW absolutely has to figure out a way to book a team to realistically feud with The Guerrillas
Jon Moxley vs. Lance Archer (c) (IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Texas Death Match)
Mox had to vacate the title back in October after Typhoon Hagibis prevented him from attending King of Pro-Wrestling and defending his title against Juice Robinson. Archer won it, and then Mox showed back up at World Tag League Final to beat the holy hell out of him and call his shot to reclaim his title. With both men showing an utter disregard for the rules, the match was made an unrestrained, standing-ten-count-or-submission only Texas Death Match.
What’s on the line: The winner of this match does not just take the title home, but also the status of being New Japan’s baddest geijin.
Marcos’ Pick: Lance Archer’s bastard tough and meaner than almost anybody, but Jon Moxley is both ultraviolence personified and on a roll in AEW, leading me to think he is going to reclaim the title he never lost.
Demo’s Pick: Hey, I like Archer, but I definitely think there is something brewing between AEW and NJPW. I agree that Moxley wins his belt back…and sometime in the future Archer crashes AEW (pure speculation).
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship)
It has been a long year and a half for both men. Last July, Hiromu broke his neck taking a Phoenix-Plex from Dragon Lee, and Ospreay has spent the intervening time moving in and out of the heavyweight division. He followed up his second Best of the Super Jr. tournament win by winning the title and entering the G1 Climax as reigning champion and has held the title since.
What’s on the line: The title, of course, but Hiromu’s career hits a pivot point with this match— he’s looked as good as he ever has since returning from his neck injury, but a win here would be a definitive statement that he’s back and Will is, despite his protests, definitely a cat.
Marcos’ Pick: My pick for match of the night. I can’t hide that my level of interest in what New Japan have to offer has been waning, but Will is one of the best wrestlers of his generation, period, and Hiromu one of the most innovative. This match is going to be killer, and I must think that Hiromu Takahashi walks out with the title around his waist.
Demo’s Pick: Ospreay has without a doubt been one of the best wrestlers in the world this last 18 months, and this match will be a bonafide banger, but The Ticking Time Bomb reclaims his spot atop the Jrs. Division.
”Switchblade” Jay White (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito (IWGP Intercontinental Championship)
Naito has gone from disregarding the Intercontinental Championship so thoroughly that he threw it around like garbage to reclaiming its honor from Chris Jericho and having designs on being the first man to ever hold both the Intercontinental Championship and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. White has met with success at every turn in his career, and while not without setbacks, he definitively positioned himself between Naito and his dream by winning the title.
What’s on the line: The winner not only gains the title but moves on to night two’s main event, while the loser will challenge the man that leaves night one’s main event without gold.
Marcos’: The Stardust Genius has cooled off dramatically since the height of his popularity, but I have to think this is the time. Tetsuya Naito walks out with his fifth Intercontinental Championship reign and a chance at validating his dream. He is also my Dark Horse Pick to be Double champion.
Demo’s Pick: I am a huge Naito mark, and I definitely think he takes the IC belt from White (who has had a stellar year) enroute to facing Okada on night 2.
Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Kota Ibushi (IWGP Heavyweight Championship)
Ibushi won the G1 Climax and, after successfully defending his briefcase, will head on to challenge the IWGP Heavyweight Champion at the biggest show of the year. These two men have been vicious and at each other’s throats at every turn of late, all building up to the biggest match on the biggest stage imaginable.
What’s on the line: Not just the title, and not just a berth in the Double Gold Dash on night two, but also arguably the future of New Japan Pro Wrestling is on the line. The Rainmaker has been the golden boy ever since his return from excursion back in 2012. The Golden Star is the man that was never supposed to be tied down to New Japan Pro Wrestling, and now whoever leaves this match the victor seems likely to be the face of the company.
Marcos’ Pick: I have been thinking Ibushi will get a run with the main belt since he opted to stay in Japan rather than head to AEW. In addition, I still do. Nevertheless, since a win here is not the same as winning the IWGP Heavyweight title on a one-night Wrestle Kingdom, I think The Rainmaker capitalizes on a reckless decision by Kota to move on and face Naito. Then Ibushi chases Naito again!
Demo’s Pick: Well given my previous thoughts on the IC match, it should be plainly obvious that I think Okada is taking this one in what will be a classic. I do think Ibushi will eventually claim the top spot, but NJPW massively dropped the ball by not going all in on Naito two years ago when he was at his peak, so Naito and Okada both winning on night 1 sets up a chance for them to correct themselves on night two