Wrestle Kingdom Season Is Here: Check Out The English Commentary Team And First Announced Matches

The time has flown right by, because here we are again, talking about Wrestle Kingdom. New Japan Pro Wrestling’s annual January 4 spectacular from the Tokyo Dome is less than two months away, so news about the show has already started to trickle out. If you’re coming into this blind, I suggest you look back at my introduction to NJPW and my coverage of this year’s G1 Climax tournament. Otherwise, let’s get to some of the juicy details!

First of all, we have confirmation of the English-language commentary team. Matt Striker will be returning to his post, but NJPW will not be bringing back Jim Ross as his partner. Instead, Ring of Honor’s very own Kevin Kelly announced on his podcast that he’ll be at the Tokyo Dome for commentary duty. Dedicated NJPW viewers will recall that the Kelly/Striker duo has previously been utilized at New Japan’s King of Pro-Wrestling last month.

As for matches, we already have four confirmed title bouts and one more in the rumor mill. Let’s look at the sure things first:

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. I’ve lost count of what verse this is, but it’s the same as the first verse. I have no doubt that this main-event will be great, but they need to go to great lengths to differentiate it from their previous clashes.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. A.J. Styles. In NJPW’s current Big Four, these are The Other Two. I believe A.J.’s deal with New Japan might be winding down, so it’ll be interesting to see what’s in store for his Bullet Club.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs. KUSHIDA. Unlike last year, Omega goes into Wrestle Kingdom as the champion. KUSHIDA could be the unsung hero of the whole company, so he’ll put up a worthy fight.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: reDRagon (c) vs. The Young Bucks vs. Roppongi Vice vs. Matt Sydal and Ricochet. The four-way, one-fall match for the junior tag team titles has become something of a Wrestle Kingdom tradition, so look for it to open the show. If Sydal and Ricochet deliver a match on par with what they’ve been doing in Dragon Gate, we might just get new champs.

As for a possible addition, PWInsider is reporting that Michael Elgin’s victory in the ROH Survival of the Fittest tournament means that he’ll be cashing in his world title shot against Jay Lethal at Wrestle Kingdom. It’s not yet confirmed, but it makes sense when you consider that Ring of Honor will be setting up a Japanese tour in 2016, not to mention that Elgin won a lot of hearts and minds during his G1 Climax run. That’s about half the card spoken for right there, what else could be in the works? Time will tell, but I’m really hoping that Minoru Suzuki decides that he’s had his fun ruling Pro Wrestling NOAH like a mad emperor and crashes the main-event.