The main cards for both nights of Wrestle Kingdom 14 were announced earlier this month, and last night, New Japan Pro Wrestling revealed the pre-show matches for January 4 and 5, 2020. While there’s still no return in sight for the New Japan Rumble, these matches add another title defense to Wrestle Kingdom and get a few performers their first Tokyo Dome match.
The January 4 pre-show matches are the kind you normally see at the beginning of New Japan shows that aren’t Wrestle Kingdom, made up of mostly trainee wrestlers and veterans past their athletic primes. The first is an eight-man tag between the team of Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Yota Tsuji, and Yuya Uemura and the team of Toa Henare and three Young Lions from the LA Dojo, Alex Coughlin, Clark Connors, and 2019 Young Lion Cup winner Karl Fredericks. (The Young Lions here are the people making their Tokyo Dome debuts.)
The second pre-show match that night is Yuji Nagata and Manabu Nakanishi vs. TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima.) These teams recently faced off on the last night of World Tag League, where Nagata and Nakanishi got the win.
NJPW’s January 5 event has one pre-show match, a five-team gauntlet match for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship. There has been a gauntlet match related to these titles at Wrestle Kingdom every year since 2016, when the inaugural champs were crowned at WK 10. Wrestle Kingdoms 10-12 had trios title matches on the main card, last year’s WK 13 had a gauntlet match to determine number one contenders on the pre-show, and WK 14 will see the titles remain on the pre-show, but actually be defended at the Tokyo Dome.
Here are the teams looking to earn NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship gold on January 5:
- Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, and Ryusuke Taguchi, who have held the titles since January 30 and are in the midst of the longest reign in its history, but one that’s mostly been pretty forgettable
- Tomohiro Ishii, Yoshi-Hashi, and Robbie Eagles from Chaos
- Evil, Shingo Takagi, and Bushi from Los Ingobernables de Japon
- Taichi, El Desperado, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru from Suzukigun
- Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Chase Owens from Bullet Club