By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Wrestle Kingdom 14”
January 4, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome
Broadcast live on New Japan World and FITE TV
Wrestle Kingdom 14 Pre-Show
The pre-show opened with footage from the press conference with a note that says the live stream will begin soon. Sixteen minutes past the top of the hour, the live stream started with entrances for the opening match… Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero, Chris Charlton, and Gino Gambino were on commentary…
Powell’s POV: I’ll be going light on the move by move coverage (especially during the pre-show) and focusing on match commentary. Buckle up, it should be a fun couple of nights.
1. Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Yota Tsuji, and Yuya Uemura vs. Alex Coughlin, Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks, and Toa Henare. Romero explained that there is friction between the two dojos that the wrestlers represent. Late in the match, Henare turned Tsuji inside out with a clothesline and got a two count. Henare followed up with the Rock Bottom uranage and scored the pin.
Alex Coughlin, Clark Connors, Karl Fredericks, and Toa Henare defeated Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Yota Tsuji, and Yuya Uemura.
Powell’s POV: The L.A. Dojo crew beat the NJPW veterans. I haven’t seen a lot of NJPW since the G1 tournament. The first thing that stood out was how jacked the L.A. Dojo crew was since I last saw them. There are some future stars on that team.
2. Satoshi Kojima and Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs. Manabu Nakanishi and Yuji Nagata. Late in the match, Tenzan and Nagata fought to ringside. In the ring, Kojima took out Nakanishi with a lariat and pinned him. All four men shook hands after the match. Kelly announced that they would be back at the top of the hour for the main show.
Powell’s POV: This was fine for a legends tag match, but if you missed it there’s no reason to go back to see it unless you’re a big fan of these wrestlers.
Wrestle Kingdom 14 Main Card
A video package with Japanese narration ran through all of the main card matches…
1. Jushin Liger, Tatsumi Fujinami, Great Sasuke, and Tiger Mask (w/El Samurai) vs. Naoki Sano, Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, and Ryusuke Taguchi (w/Kuniaki Kobayashi). This is the first of the two Liger retirement matches with the final match taking place tomorrow. Norio Honaga was the special referee. Kelly noted that Liger wanted El Samurai to be in the match, but Samurai decided it would be better to be in his corner. Late in the match, Taguchi hit Liger with a couple of kicks and used his funky weapon (his ass) a couple of times before pinning Liger clean.
Naoki Sano, Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, and Ryusuke Taguchi defeated Jushin Liger, Tatsumi Fujinami, Great Sasuke, and Tiger Mask in 8:55.
After the match, Liger bowed to each of his opponents and shared a moment with them. Liger shook hands with his teammates and then called everyone together. All eight men raised their arms in the middle of the ring. Tiger Mask and Sasuke hoisted up Liger, who waved to the fans…
Powell’s POV: The fans popped for each of the wrestlers, but they saved their biggest reaction for Liger on the first night of his retirement weekend. Even if you’re not familiar with all the legends, you have to appreciate the moment and the effort of the wrestlers. We saw a suicide dive, a top rope elbow, and a moonsault, a top rope double stomp attempt, a superplex, and other big moves. Here’s hoping the legends all feel okay once the adrenaline wears off. Taguchi was the youngest guy in the ring at age 40 and still works regularly, so if anyone was going to beat Liger then it made sense that it was him. Liger will team with Sano to face Ryu Lee (Dragon Lee) and Hiromu Takahashi in his final match on tomorrow’s show.
2. Shingo Takagi, Evil, Sanada, and Bushi vs. Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi, and El Desperado. Sabre led the Suzuki-Gun faction to the ring, so Suzuki’s entrance theme was not played. Sanada got the better of an early exchange with Sabre while the broadcast team reminded viewers that they would meet for the British Heavyweight Championship on night two. Sabre came back and got a near fall. Bushi tagged in and was quickly placed in a submission hold by Sabre, who got the submission win for his team. The broadcast team noted that Sabre got a win back from Bushi. Sabre blew a kiss to Sanada before heading to the back…
Minoru Suzuki, Zack Sabre Jr., Taichi, and El Desperado defeated Shingo Takagi, Evil, Sanada, and Bushi in 8:40.
Powell’s POV: A brief forgettable match. They gave viewers a taste of Sabre vs. Sanada, but this felt like a regular mid-card match and nothing about it felt Wrestle Kingdom special despite the fast pace. That said, the first two matches with all the entrances ate up a lot of time, so keeping this match short could help keep the show from going needlessly long.
3. Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, and Yoshi-Hashi vs. Kenta, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, and Yujiro Takahashi. A couple of rugby players came to the ring with the Bullet Club team and wore Bullet Club track suits. Ishii caught Fale with a headbutt and then gave him a brainbuster. Someone on the broadcast team yelled “holy shit” and added “oh my god.” Moments later, Goto performed the GTR on Takahashi and scored the pin for his team…
Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, Toru Yano, and Yoshi-Hashi beat Kenta, Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, and Yujiro Takahashi in 8:35.
Powell’s POV: Much like the previous match, this felt like a typical multi-person faction battle mid-card match from a regular NJPW event. It was fine for what it was. They spotlighted Kenta vs. Goto for the Never Openweight Championship for night two by having them glare at one another afterward. I assume things will pick up now that we’re moving into the title matches.
4. “Guerrillas of Destiny” Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa (w/Jado) vs. Juice Robinson and David Finlay for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles. Robinson and Finlay brought their World Tag League trophies to the ring with them. Robinson had a cheeseball mustache and a cop hat on (he’s either going for Village People or trying to land a spot in Breezango). The sound was cut on FITE during the GOD entrance. The teams fought on the stage and eventually made their way to the ring to start the match.
Late in the match, Jado hit Finlay with his cane from ringside, which led to Tonga getting a two count. A short time later, Robinson knocked Jago off the apron and hit Pulp Friction on Loa. Robinson hit Tonga with the left hand of God, then Finlay followed up with Sliced Bread No. 2 and scored the pin. Charlton noted that it was the seventh year in a row that the tag titles changed hands at the Tokyo Dome…
Juice Robinson and David Finlay defeated Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa in 13:45 to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: A good match and the best of the night thus far unless you have a soft spot for the hard working legends in the Liger match.
5. Lance Archer vs. Jon Moxley in a Texas Death Match for the IWPG U.S. Championship. The sound was muted for Archer’s entrance on FITE (but you can hear the muted entrances on New Japan World). Archer shoved some young lions at ringside, then entered the ring and flipped off Moxley. The wrestlers introduced weapons right away and hit one another with chairs, a kendo stick, and a trash can lid. Archer worked over Moxley with the kendo stick and barked at him to give up.
Moxley came back and used the kendo stick, then blasted Archer with a trash can to the face. Moxley set up two chairs and placed the trash can lid on top of them, then suplexed Archer onto them. Moxley followed up with a running knee to the head. Archer rolled to ringside and roughed up more young lions. Archer picked up one of the lions on the apron and chokeslammed him onto Moxley on the floor. Archer returned to the ring, then ran and dove over the top rope onto Moxley and a group of young lions on the floor.
Archer set up four chairs in the ring and ended up tossing Moxley onto them. Archer applied his EBD Claw, but Moxley escaped and put Archer in an armbar. Archer escaped and performed an overhead suplex. Archer charged at Moxley, who hit him with a lariat. Moxley DDT’d Archer, then motioned for the referee to count. Archer sat up at eight and got up to break the count. Moxley went for his finisher but Archer blocked it. Archer hit the Derailer and then chokeslammed Moxley onto a chair that was lying in the ring. Moxley beat the referee’s count, then held up both middle fingers.
Archer kicked Moxley, then pulled out a plastic bag and used it to suffocate Moxley while applying an EBD Claw. “He’s gonna kill him,” Gambino said. Archer released the hold and then threw strikes at Archer. Kelly noted that under normal circumstances, the referee would have made a three count while Moxley was in the claw. Archer went to ringside and set up two tables next to one another. Archer grabbed the helmet he wears to the ring and drove the spikes into Moxley’s forehead. The wrestlers fought on the apron. Moxley ended up hitting a Death Rider (a/k/a Dirty Deeds, Paradigm Shift) from the apron through the tables. Moxley returned to the ring. Archer was counted down.
Jon Moxley defeated Lance Archer in 11:00 in a Texas Death match to win the IWPG U.S. Championship.
After the match, Moxley took the mic and said he’s a gambler. He said he came to Tokyo to leave with nothing or everything. Moxley said he and Juice Robinson would settle the score once and for all tomorrow…
Powell’s POV: This was really fun and my new favorite match of the night thus far. The tag match was good, but the show needed a spark and this hardcore match provided it.
A video package set up the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Championship match…
6. Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. The bell rang and Takahashi charged at Ospreay just in time for the cameras to cut to a shot away from the ring (ugh). Ospreay avoided Takahashi. Ospreay got the better of Takahashi, then taunted him by slapping his head and then lying on the ropes. Takahashi rallied and performed a missile dropkick from the apron onto Ospreay on the floor. A short time later, Ospreay performed a double stomp to the back of Takahashi’s head, then performed a draping DDT for an early near fall. Both men went to ringside where Ospreay performed a neckbreaker.
There was a great sequence with Ospreay being suplexed at ringside only to land on his feet. Takahashi tried to suplex him into the ring, but Ospreay went through the ropes, got his feet, and performed a flip dive onto Takahashi at ringside. Later, Takahashi rallied until Ospreay caught him with a kick to the head. Ospreay performed a Robinson Special and went for the OsCutter, but Takahashi stuffed it. Ospreay countered into a slam for a near fall, then went up top and performed a shooting star press onto the back of Takahashi for another near fall. Ospreay performed an OsCutter and went for the pin, but Takahashi kicked out. Ospreay showed surprise and frustration.
Ospreay threw a hook kick to the face of Takahashi. Ospreay went for a strike, but Takahashi avoided it and then performed a powerbomb. Both men stayed down and then went face to face while on their knees. The wrestlers traded strikes from their knees, then got to their feet and traded forearms. Ospreay went for another OsCutter, but Takahashi caught him and turned it into a suplex. Takahashi performed a great Canadian Destroyer for a near fall. Takahashi hoisted Ospreay onto his shoulders and then ran him into the corner turnbuckle pad. Takahashi set up for his Time Bomb finisher, but Ospreay slipped out. Takahashi went for the move again, but Ospreay avoided it and threw a hook kick. Takahashi avoided the Stormbreaker, but connected with a standing Spanish Fly for a near fall.
Takahashi rallied and performed another Canadian Destroyer for a two count. Takahashi hit his Time Bomb finisher and went for the pin, but Ospreay kicked out. Takahashi blasted Ospreay with a running forearm. Takahashi hooked Ospreay’s leg while holding him up and then slammed him down and scored the pin…
Hiromu Takahashi defeated Will Ospreay in 24:40 to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: An outstanding match. Ospreay looked ruthless by targeting the surgically repaired neck of Takahashi early and often, and Takahashi was sympathetic and resilient in his emotional win to cap off his comeback. It really is amazing that the guy is able to wrestle, let alone at such a high level. That was special. As much as this match was about Takahashi, I really hope that 2020 is the year that Ospreay becomes a mainstay in the heavyweight title picture.
A video package set up the IWGP Intercontinental Championship match…
7. Jay White (w/Gedo) vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Naito wore a mask as part of his entrance. White came out being his usual dick self (that’s actually meant to be a compliment) and taunted Naito. White went to ringside once the bell rang. Naito goaded him into returning to the ring by grabbing the beard of Gedo on the other side of the ring. Naito got the better of the first exchange and then struck his pose in the middle of the ring. Naito followed up with a neckbreaker off the apron, then caught Gedo before he could interfere.
White eventually went on the offensive and mocked Naito by striking his pose in the ring. Naito came back and teased hitting White twice. White covered up both times, then Naito hit him once he dropped his arms. Naito used his legs to tie up the arms of White and then taunted him by slapping the top of his head. Later, White caught Naito with a Flatliner and followed up with a deadlift German suplex. White placed Naito on the top rope and set up for a superplex. Naito fought him off and both men returned to the ring. White went after the left knee of Naito as the match moved past the 20-minute mark.
White used a uranage slam to get a two count. Naito showed some signs of life, but White used a Saito suplex to dump him over the top rope and down to ringside. Back inside the ring, White performed a Kiwi Crusher for a near fall. White cut blocked Naito’s bad knee, performed an inverted dragon screw leg whip, and then applied an inverted figure four. Naito struggled and eventually reached the ropes to break the hold just past 25:00.
White punched the bad knee, then dragged Naito from the ropes and tried to apply a leg lock again, but Naito spat in his eye. White went for the move again, but Naito kicked him off. Naito caught White with another kick, then performed a spinebuster that left both men down. White caught Naito with elbows to the back of his head. White jawed at Naito, who fired back with punches. Gedo climbed onto the apron. Naito spat at Gedo, then caught White with an enziguiri and a DDT from the ropes. Naito hit Gloria for a near fall. Naito signaled for his Destino finisher, but White laid down. The fans booed and White smiled. White ended up shoving Naito into the referee. REF BUMP!!!
At 30:00, Gedo entered the ring. Naito got the better of Gedo, then took a low blow from White. Naito suplexed White. Gedo returned and Naito took him out with a couple of kicks. White hit Naito with a chair. White suplexed Naito and then set up for his Bladerunner finisher. White spat in Naito’s face, then performed another suplex. Naito got right up and hit Destino. Both men stayed down. The wrestlers jockeyed for position while going for their finishers. Naito performed a Poison Rana, then hit Destino for a good near fall. Naito went for another Destino. White fought him off and they jockeyed for position. Naito hit a brainbuster style move and then hit Destino for the win…
Tetsuya Naito defeated Jay White in 33:50 to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
Powell’s POV: A very good match. White continues to be one my favorite heels in the business, but I could have done without the ref bump spot since it didn’t really add much to the match. Naito going over sets him up in the main event of night two against the winner of tonight’s main event. Romero played up Naito’s knee injury while talking about the quick turnaround, so it will be interesting to see if it turns out to be a major part of the story of tomorrow night’s main event.
A video package set up the IWGP Heavyweight Championship match…
8. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Ibushi brought his championship certificate briefcase to the ring with him and had a pretty basic entrance. Okada had an elaborate entrance with rain falling on the big screen while he held an umbrella along with some other effects. Red Shoes was the referee (despite taking the bump in the previous match).
Ibushi had the first offensive flurry, which he capped off with a standing moonsault for an early two count. Okada came back a short time later and shoved Ibushi back first into the guardrail, then followed up with a draping DDT. Back inside the ring, Ibushi caught Okada with a dropkick. Okada performed a top rope moonsault and got a two count at 13:20.
Okada placed Ibushi on the ropes and then dropkicked him to the floor. Okada booted Ibushi to the face and knocked him over the barricade. Okada got a running start and then dove over the top of the guardrail and onto Ibushi. Okada brought Ibushi back inside the ring. Ibushi looked like he was going for a huracanrana and instead landed on top of his head. Ibushi still managed to perform a piledriver. Both wrestlers got to their feet. Ibushi performed a double stomp onto Okada.
At 22:30, Okada performed a tombstone piledriver. Once both men got to their feet, Ibushi started no-selling Okada’s offense. Okada dropkicked Ibushi, who popped right back up to his feet. Ibushi fired shots at Okada, who covered up on while on the mat at 25:00. The referee stepped in and stopped Ibushi from throwing punches while Okada was under the ropes. The wrestlers fought on the apron. Okada got the better of it and performed a tombstone piledriver on the edge of the ring.
Ibushi beat the referee’s count by returning to the ring. Okada caught Ibushi with a German suplex. Okada set up for a Rainmaker, but Ibushi countered with a lariat of his own. Ibushi performed a German suplex form the middle rope. Okada came right back with a tombstone piledriver and went for a Rainmaker, but Ibushi once again blasted him with a lariat. A short time later, Ibushi connected with a Kamigoye or a near fall. Ibushi went for the move again, but Okada caught him with a dropkick.
The wrestlers traded forearms while on their knees and continued once they got to their feet. Ibushi got the better of the exchange with a series of punches and kicks that knocked Okada to the ground at 35:00. Ibushi threw another kick and then fell to the mat. Ibushi was back on his feet first and placed Okada on the top turnbuckle. Ibushi set up for a tiger driver from the ropes, but Okada blocked it and knocked Ibushi back into the ring with forearms. Okada leapt from the ropes and into a powerbomb from Ibushi, who picked up a two count.
Ibushi went to the ropes and went for a Phoenix Splash, but Okada avoided it. Okada hit Ibushi with a Rainmaker clothesline for a great near fall. Ibushi ducked a Rainmaker and then blasted Okada with a V-Trigger knee. Okada came right back with a sit-out tombstone piledriver and then performed another Rainmaker and scored the pin…
Kazuchika Okada defeated Kota Ibushi in 39:25 to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
The broadcast team noted that the main event of night two was set with Okada vs. Naito meeting for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
After the match, the belt was strapped around the waist of Okada while Ibushi laid on his back with his hands over his face. Okada pointed down at Ibushi in a respectful manner. Tetsuya Naito walked to ringside. Once Ibushi was out of the ring, Naito entered the ring. Naito took the mic and asked Okada if he remembers what he said to him after their main event. Naito said he would achieve his goal by beating Okada to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at the Tokyo Dome. Both men looked at one another while holding their respective title belts and then posed. Naito left the ring.
Okada took the mic and spoke in Japanese while Charlton translated. Okada thanked the people who turned out. He thanked Ibushi for the fight of his life. Okada said he doesn’t give a crap about Naito’s desire to make history. Okada said he is the strongest IWGP Champion of all-time. “And he’s damn right,” Kelly said. Okada thanked the fans for coming to see the greatest pro wrestling in the world and hoped they would again tomorrow. Okada said he would make it rain one more time tomorrow. Kelly noted that there was not a confetti parade because it was being saved for night two. Okada played to the crowd while the broadcast team discussed the night two main event. The broadcast team continued to talk while the Dome cleared out and they eventually wrapped things up…
Powell’s POV: An excellent main event to close night one. I wasn’t a big fan of the undercard with the exception of Liger’s match, but the tag title match was good, the Moxley vs. Archer match was very good, and the big three matches delivered in a major way. Night two looks even better on paper and it will be fun to see if this is finally Naito’s year or if they continue to ride Okada. Join me for live coverage of night two tonight beginning with the pre-show at 11CT/midnight ET. Dot Net Members will eventually hear my audio review (or one big audio review of both shows), but it’s time for some sleep. Goodnight, good morning, or whatever the hell it is, and I’ll see you again late Saturday night. Let me know what you thought of the show by giving it a letter grade and by voting for the best match in our post show polls available on the main page.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Frank Zarrillo discussing his film "The Wrestler: A QT Marshall Story", which includes appearances by Matt Riddle, Damian Priest, Gerald Brisco, Kevin Kelly, Steve Corino, and many more, the involvement of Marshall's wife and mother, and much more. Stick around after the interview for Powell's audio review of Wednesday's AEW Dynamite television show...