New Japan Pro-Wrestling has expanded its signature show, Wrestle Kingdom, to take place over two nights this year, culminating with Tetsuya Naito being crowned the promotion's first double-champion in the main event on Day 2.
The match between Naito and Kazuchika Okada was set up on Wrestle Kingdom 14's first night. Naito beat Jay White to win the IWGP intercontinental title, and Okada successfully defended the IWGP heavyweight crown in an epic bout with Kota Ibushi.
AEW stars Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho journeyed to Japan to take part in the show. Moxley wrestled both nights and left as the IWGP United States champion. Jericho was able to avoid giving Hiroshi Tanahashi a shot at the AEW title thanks to getting a clean submission win with the Liontamer.
Wrestle Kingdom 14 Results - Day 1
Eight-Man Tag Match: Suzuki-gun defeated L.I.J.
Eight-Man Tag Match: Chaos defeated Bullet Club
Eight-Man Tag Match: FinJuice defeated Guerillas of Destiny
Texas Deathmatch for IWGP U.S. Title: Jon Moxley defeated Lance Archer
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Hiromu Takahashi defeated Will Ospreay
IWGP Intercontinental Title: Tetsuya Naito defeated Jay White
IWGP Heavyweight Title: Kazuchika Okada defeated Kota Ibushi
Wrestle Kingdom 14 Results - Day 2
Tag Match: Hiromu Takahashi & Ryu Lee defeated Jushin Thunder Liger & Naoki Sano
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title: Roppongi 3K defeated Bullet Club
British Heavyweight Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. defeated SANADA
IWGP United States Title: Jon Moxley defeated Juice Robinson
NEVER Openweight Title: Hirooki Goto defeated KENTA
Singles Match: Jay White defeated Kota Ibushi
Singles Match: Chris Jericho defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi
IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Title: Tetsuya Naito defeated Kazuchika Okada
One of the biggest stories heading into Day 2 of the event was built around the Jericho-Tanahashi match.
If Tananshi defeated Jericho, he would receive a shot at Jericho's AEW title. This led to speculation some sort of partnership between the two promotions had been worked out.
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Randall Ortman of Cageside Seats) reported the move did indicate some type of change in the relationship between NJPW and AEW.
Meltzer later reported the agreement is currently limited to the storyline for Jericho's match with Tanahashi. The leader of the Inner Circle did walk to the ring at Wrestle Kingdom wearing his AEW title.
Once the match got started, both men went to work and broke out some high-risk maneuvers, although Jericho's attempt at a frog splash didn't end well.
One of the best sequences of the match saw Tanahashi block the Judas Effect into a German suplex for a near-fall and attempt a clothesline off the ropes, but Jericho was able to catch him and lock in the Liontamer for the first time.
Tanahashi was able to take control after working his way out of that Liontamer. He attempted a High Fly Flow off the top rope, but Jericho was able to roll through on the landing to lock in the submission for a second time leading to the finish.
Moxley's match with Robinson was originally going to happen in October at King of Pro-Wrestling, but he was unable to fly into Japan due to Typhoon Hagibis. This matchup was set up on Day 1 when Mox captured the IWGP U.S. title for the second time in a Texas Deathmatch against Lance Archer that could only end when a wrestler couldn't answer a 10 count or by submission.
After taking care of business on the first night, Moxley finally got his hands on Robinson in a match that turned into a hardcore showdown with all sorts of weapons involved.
Moxley got the pin after reversing Robinson's attempt to hit the Pulp Friction into the Death Rider. He hit a second one for good measure to get the three count.
New Japan didn't waste any time setting up Moxley's next feud, with Minoru Suzuki attacking the U.S. champion after the match.
In quite possibly the biggest match in NJPW history, given what was on the line, Naito and Okada put on an epic show that went nearly 36 minutes and saw both men kick out of the other's finisher multiple times.
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Okada had been champion for nine months since beating Jay White at the G1 Supercard during WrestleMania weekend last April at Madison Square Garden. It was his fifth IWGP heavyweight title reign since 2012.
Naito last held the heavyweight belt in 2016 before losing to Okada at Dominion. The 37-year-old finally got his revenge for that defeat by becoming the first dual champion in NJPW history, but the moment was short-lived due to a post-match attack from KENTA, who celebrated holding the two titles:
The next major shows for New Japan will be The New Beginning on Feb. 9 in Osaka-Jo Hall and a 48th-anniversary show on March 4. It seems likely that at least one of those events will feature the Moxley-Suzuki match and Naito defending his belts against KENTA.