NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 18 results: Vetter’s review of Sanada vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP World Hvt. Championship, Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson, Will Ospreay vs. Jon Moxley vs. David Finlay for the IWGP Global Title


By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

New Japan Pro Wrestling “Wrestle Kingdom 18”
January 4, 2024 in Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome
Streamed live on New Japan World

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 18 Pre-Show

Chris Charlton, Walker Stewart and Rocky Romero provided commentary.

1. Yoh, Toru Yano, Great-O-Khan and Taiji Ishimori co-won the 2024 KOPW Ranbo at 31:00. Chase Owens and Great-O-Khan opened. Gabe Kidd is No. 3 and his teammate, Alex Coughlin, is No. 4. Jeff Cobb was No. 5 and he tossed everyone around. Cobb’s teammate Henare is No. 6 at 5:30. Both Kidd and Coughlin were tossed! Tomohiro Ishii is No. 7. Mikey Nicholls is No. 8, and his teammate, Shane Haste, is No. 9. Yujiro Takahashi is No. 10. Cobb was tossed at 12:30.

Henare was tossed. Master Wato is No. 11 and he kicked at Owens, who was still in. Yoshinobu Kanemaru is No. 12. Yoh is No. 13 at 16:30. Sho is No. 14, and he immediately brawled with Yoh. Fujita Hayato is No. 15 and Chris Charlton went nuts. Taiji Ishimori is No. 16. Haste and Nicholls were tossed. Ishii was tossed. Douki is No 17 at 22:30. Douki and Hayato locked up along the ropes and were both tossed. Toru Yano is No. 18 at 24:00 but he was hesitant to get into the ring.

Iizuka, who retired a couple years ago, is No. 19, and his appearance got a huge pop. He beat up Yano on the entrance ramp, and he fought with the HoT in the ring. Taichi is No. 20. Yujiro was pinned at 29:55. Iizuka shook Taichi’s hand, but then bit him on the forehead. They were both tossed and we are down to five people for four slots: Yano, Ishimori, Great-O-Khan, Chase Owens and Yoh. Everyone tried to work over O-Khan. O’Khan tossed Owens, so we have our final four!

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 18 Main Card

1. “Catch 2/2” TJP and Francesco Akira defeated “Bullet Club War Dogs” Clark Connors and Drilla Moloney at 9:40. When we last saw Catch 2/2, they had lost a casket match. So, TJP was in the casket; he came out in a macabre outfit that had me thinking of “Mortal Kombat,” or perhaps Charon, the ferryman of Greek mythology. TJP was chained to the guardrail early on; he got free and hit a doublestomp on Drilla as he was tied in the Tree of Woe. Akira nailed a top-rope Spanish Fly. TJP scored the pin. New champions! That went too quickly.

2. Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Zack Sabre Jr. to win the IWGP TV Title at 8:52. Walker Stewart pointed out that Tanahashi hasn’t won this belt. Sabre is 3-0 in the Tokyo Dome. Tanahashi hit a top-rope crossbody bock at 2:30. He went for the High Fly Flow but Sabre got his knees up, rolled up Tanahashi, and got a believable nearfall! Tanahashi applied a Texas Cloverleaf. They traded mat holds. Sabre applied an Octopus stretch at 8:00. They traded more rollups, and Hiroshi got a rollup for the pin out of nowhere! I was shocked. Sabre gave Tanahashi the belt and left.

3. Yuya Uemura defeated Yota Tsuji at 10:58. Charlton pointed out that Yuya has not had a singles match in NJPW since his return from excursion. Yota hit an Electric Chair Drop for a nearfall at 3:00. Yuya hit some dropkicks, then a high back suplex at 7:30. Yuya came off the top rope but Tsuji caught him with a superkick and got a nearfall. Tsuji hit a curbstomp at 10:00. Yuya hit a German Suplex and a uranage. Yuya hit his head-capture suplex for the pin! A good match and a big win for Uemura.

4. “House of Torture” EVIL and Ren Narita defeated Kaito Kiyomiya and Shota Umino at 7:27. Shota came out on a motorcyle, and Charlton quipped that he’s a “Japanese Badass.” The entire House of Torture came out together, and EVIL used a scissors to cut up a NOAH T-shirt. They started fighting before the bell. Both Kiyomiya and Shota applied submission holds early on and the bell rang, but it was just Yujiro ringing it. Dick hit his knife-edge chop to Kaito’s groin for a nearfall at 2:30. EVIL choked Shota with a shirt at 5:30, and he hit an Everything is Evil uranage on Kaito. Ren hit Shota in the head with a push-up bar and scored the cheap pin. I admittedly hoped for more here.

5. Tama Tonga defeated Shingo Takagi to win the NEVER Openweight title at 13:54. Charlton said that the NEVER title changes hands 45% of the time! They traded punches and Exploder suplexes early on. Shingo nailed a flip dive to the floor at 3:00! In the ring, Shingo nailed a top-rope superplex, and they were both down at 6:30. Tama nailed the Tongan Twist, then the Supreme Flow frogsplash for a nearfall. Shingo nailed a standing powerbomb with a jackknife cover for a believable nearfall at 8:30, then a Pumping Bomber clothesline. Tama nailed the Gun Stun out of nowhere and they were both down.

Tama nailed a brainbuster but Shingo popped up at one! Tama nailed a hard clothesline! Shingo hit a huracanrana. Shingo nailed a Gun Stun, then the Made In Japan sit-oiut powerbomb for a believable nearfall at 12:00, and this crowd was HOT. Tama nailed a Styles Clash! He hit another Gun Stun for a believable nearfall. This has easily been the best match of the show. Tama nailed a Jay Driller for the pin! New champion!

**** Nick Nemeth (f/k/a Dolph Ziggler) and Ryan Nemeth walked to ringside, wearing suits, and sat in the front row.

6. “Guerrillas of Destiny” El Phantasmo and Hikuleo (w/Jado) defeated “Bishamon” Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi to win the Tag Team Titles at 9:45. ELP has some pink in his hair and he opened against Y-H. Hikuleo hit a double suplex. ELP hit a Frankensteiner, sending Goto flying onto Y-H at 3:30. Hikuleo hit a double clothesline. Romero speculated on what the Nemeths are doing at ringside. Bishamon hit the Shoto team slam on ELP for a nearfall at 6:30 but Hikuleo made the save. ELP hit a moonsault to the floor on Yoshi-Hashi. In the ring, Hikuleo hit a chokeslam and ELP hit the springboard frogsplash on Goto for a believable nearfall at 9:00. ELP hit a piledriver. Hikuleo hit a top rope frogsplash to pin Goto. New champions!

7. El Desperado defeated Hiromu Takahashi to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title at 14:26. Desperado dove through the ropes and barreled onto Hiromu to start the match. Hiromu hit a shotgun dropkick off the apron to the floor.  In the ring, Hiromu hit a Falcon Arrow for a nearfall at 3:00, then a Death Valley Driver into the corner. Desperado applied a Stretch Muffler, but Hiromu quickly reached the ropes. Desperado worked over the legs, but he couldn’t hit the Angel Wings. He again applied a Stretch Muffler at 8:00. Desperado hit a series of hard forearm strikes. Hiromu hit some superkicks. Desperado hit an Angle Slam, then the Angels WIngs for a believable nearfall at 13:30. Desperado hit a Jay Driller, then the Angels Wings for the pin. Another new champion!

8. David Finlay defeated Jon Moxley and Will Ospreay at 22:16 to win the IWGP Global Title. Both Moxley and Ospreay attacked Finlay. They brawled to the floor and this felt like a 2-on-1 fight. Moxley hit a snap suplex at 3:30. Ospreay and Moxley slammed Finlay through a table at ringside, and they got in the ring and traded forearm strikes. They traded back supllexes. Moxley hit a series of punches in the corner and he applied a crossarm breaker, but Ospreay powerbombed him into the corner to escape at 7:00. Finlay hopped up and shoved Moxley head-first into the ring post. Ospreay hit the heel hook kick to Finlay’s face.

Moxley stood up and was bleeding from the forehead. In the ring, Finlay hit some crossface blows on Moxley at 9:30. Ospreay hit a handspring-back-double Pele on both opponents! Moxley nailed a dive through the ropes. Ospreay hit a top-rope moonsault to the floor onto both men. Ospreay went for a springboard move, but Moxley caught him with a forearm strike, then the Death Rider for a believable nearfall at 12:00. Moxley hit a piiledriver on Finlay onto Ospreay’s chest! Finlay slammed Moxley across the top of an open chair, then he slammed Ospreay onto Moxley to get a nearfall at 15:00.

Ospreay hit a Stundog Millionaire on Finlay. Moxley hit a Death Rider on Ospreay. Finlay tried to steal a win on Moxley but only got a nearfall. Finlay hit Obliviion on Moxley. Ospreay hit a Hidden Blade and all three were down at 17:00. They got up and Finlay hit forearm strikes on each opponent, so they beat up on him. However, at 18:30, Alex Coughin and Gabe Kidd hit the ring and attacked Moxley and Ospreay! Romero pointed out it is all legal. Ospreay nailed a top-rope stunner on one of the War Dogs. Ospreay hit a top-rope Swanton Bomb onto the War Dogs, who were lying on a table at ringside! Coughlin’s butt went through the table.

In the ring, Moxley hit a pair of Death Riders on Finlay. Ospreay hit a Hidden Blade on Moxley for a nearfall. Ospreay hit another Hidden Blade and a Stormbreaker on Moxley, but Finlay hit the Oblivion on Ospreay for a nearfall!! Finlay hit a modified Go To Sleep on Ospreay for the pin!! What a match.

* Finlay confronted Nick Nemeth at ringside and shoved him, so Nick punched him and they had to be separated!!!

9. Kazuchika Okada defeated Bryan Danielson at 23:23. Danielson still has his eyepatch on. Intense mat wrestling to open. Romero spoke about the “wear and tear” on Danielson’s body while competing in the Continental Classic. They went to the floor, where Okada hit a DDT at 4:30. He charged at Danielson, but Bryan caught him with a jumping knee. Bryan slammed Okada’s arm in a door on the guardrail. In the ring, Danielson hit a Northern Lights Suplex for a nearfall at 7:00, and he stomped on the left arm and he targeted it. Okada hit a neckbreaker over his knee at 10:30.

Danielson nailed a top-rope butterfly suplex and applied a Crossface, but Okada got a foot on the ropes at 12:00. Okada nailed a Tombstone Piledriver on the ring apron, and they both were down. In the ring, Okada stomped on Danielson’s eye, as the eyepatch is now off. Okada hit a picture-perfect dropkick to the eye at 14:30, then a top-rope elbow drop. Danielson hit his elbow strikes to the side of Okada’s head. Danielson hit a running knee for a nearfall at 17:00 and he went back to the crossface. Danielson tied Okada up on the mat and shouted for him to tap out!

The crowd was HOT, and Okada reached the ropes at 19:00. Danielson held Okada’s wrists and stomped on his face. Okada nailed the Rainmaker, and both men were down. Okada hit a German Suplex. Danielson hit a roundhouse kick and a Psycho Knee at 22:00 and he fired up. Okada hit a swinging side slam and a dropkick. Okada nailed the Rainmaker clothesline for the pin. I didn’t think that was it. A fantastic match.

10. Tetsuya Naito defeated Sanada to win the IWGP World Title at 25:40. The crowd was HOT before they locked up, and they opened with mat reversals. Sanada clutched at his right shoulder, and Naito targeted it. Naito tied up Sanada’s head and shoulders on the mat. Sanada hit a high back suplex at 8:30 and they were both down. Sanada hit a dropkick that sent Naito to the floor, so Sanada hit a plancha on him. In the ring, Sanada hit a TKO stunner, and he applied the Skull End sleeper on the mat at 11:00.

They fought to the floor, where Naito placed Sanada’s feet on the guardrail and he hit a neckbreaker at 14:00. In the ring, Naito hit a Frankensteiner. Sanada placed Naito’s feet on the ropes and hit a swinging neckbreaker at 16:00 and they were both down. He went for a moonsault but Naito got his knees up. Naito nailed a Destino at 19:00. He went for a second one, but Sanada caught him and slammed him face-first to the mat. Sanada hit the moonsault (barely grazing Naito.) He nailed a second moonsault for a believable nearfall at 20:30. He set up for Deadfall, but Naito hit a German Suplex.

Naito hit another Destino! He more or less hit a third one but only got a nearfall at 22:00. Sanada nailed the Deadfall swinging faceplant and they were both down, and this crowd was HOT. Sanada hit a Destino but he couldn’t hit a Deadfall. Naito hit another Tornado DDT at 24:00. Sanada got an O’Connor Roll for a nearfall, then a Shining Wizard! Sanada couldn’t hit Deadfall, but Naito hit Deadfall! Naito nailed a Brainbuster! Naito hit another Destino for the pin. New world champion!

* Naito grabbed the mic but before he could speak, EVIL and Dick Togo attacked. Sanada helped fight off the HoT. Naito got the mic back and spoke and fired up the crowd, but he didnt’ say anything groundbreaking, either.

Final Thoughts: Four really good matches here. I figured Okada would get his win back against Danielson, and I figured that with Ospreay joining AEW, FInlay was winning the three-way. The big surprise was Zack Sabre Jr. losing his belt to Tanahashi. With Sabre defending it all over the world, I think this is a mistake. I also thought Sanada would retain.

I’ll go with the three-way for best, Okada-Danielson for second, and the main event for third. That said, the main event was closer to being in the same league as the top two than I would have expected. Don’t overlook the fantastic Tama-Shingo match, which really woke up the crowd after a series of short, less-meaningful matches.


Be the first to comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.