The long-awaited night is finally here. For the first time, we’ll be to actually call this the January 5 Dome Show! Silly as that sounds, this is serious stuff here, a monumental and historic night for pro wrestling. Wrestle Kingdom 14 is one double the scope of everything that has come before it, a full weekend of wrestling greatness. And now we’re here on Night 2, where things are heating up more than ever before.
I’m Jordan Huie of the Overtimer, and it’s a good thing my sleep schedule was already a great big mess by the end of last year! Otherwise I’d never be able to stick with you for the entirety of these shows! It’s a great trade-off, if you ask me. I’ll be previewing the action for tonight, just as I did for Night 1, so let’s get to it!
Chris Jericho vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
And here we are… the last big dream match Jericho has left to do here in New Japan. Not to say that there isn’t plenty more he could theoretically do here, but the essentials were Naito, Okada and Tana. (And Omega when he got here but that’s it’s own story…) He couldn’t leave until he’d faced them all, no ifs, ands or buts.
A couple of months ago, this was already a dream match. This was already huge. And this was already destined to be great. But now… in the past couple of weeks, things have really changed. Chris Jericho is, of course, the AEW World Champion. This is his first time competing for New Japan since winning the title. And they’ve opted to make that part of the story.
Hiroshi Tanahashi made the challenge, with a foreboding promise to “Open the forbidden door”. Chris Jericho accepted, and even claims to have conferred with Tony Khan himself to make it official. If Tana can defeat Jericho at this event, he will get a shot at the AEW World Championship.
Let me preface by saying that nobody, not one person on this world, wants to see an AEW and New Japan partnership quite as much as I do.
To me, this would be the late Christmas present to end them all. It would be unbelievable news, a dream come true. And certainly, one wouldn’t think an AEW title could be defended in a promotion that AEW didn’t have some kind of alliance with.
Many are taking this stipulation being a thing in the first place as proof that there really is a partnership in place. After all, both AEW and New Japan would have to okay something like this being a part of the story. If nothing else, it’s very much a friendly interaction rather than hostile, and really the only positive sign I’ve seen since the big rift was made.
But it’s hard for me to think at this point that a shift on this front has happened so suddenly, and so quietly. That’s a quick leap from a flat no to a hard yes. I’m just not convinced.
Still, ultimately, there are two possibilities here.
The most likely is that they knew for a fact that Tana was losing, wanted to put this stip on to add more gravitas and uncertainty (and play off how much people want this alliance to be a thing) and AEW accepted because hey, they’re making a big deal about Jericho being their champion and to have him beat Hiroshi Tanahashi of all people at the Tokyo Dome of all places… that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Or. Option 2. Something has changed, and Tana’s about to earn his way onto an AEW card.
If nothing else, it’s a fantastic reason to root for Tanahashi, and now, I undoubtedly will be. I just don’t expect him to win. I’d love to be wrong. But I’m picking Chris Jericho to take the match.