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!
NEVER Openweight Championship: KENTA (c) vs. Hirooki Goto
Alright, so, if you’ve been following along the story of KENTA in New Japan, this was perhaps not the match you were thinking about months ago, or hoping for in all likelihood. When KENTA made his shock turn to join the Bullet Club and immediately make himself into the most hated man in New Japan, only for his friend Shibata to emerge to attack him in a stunning moment, and get laid out in the process… everyone was thinking about that grand return. Katsuyori Shibata has been trying his damnedest to get cleared to wrestle ever since suffering an extremely serious head injury that nearly took his life back in 2017 and effectively ended his career.
Shibata survived, went on to become New Japan’s head trainer at the new LA Dojo, and is clearly in much better health at this point. Enough for them to get physical with him in that iconic angle, and enough that they were really, really trying to make a match between him and KENTA on this night happen. But obviously it was not meant to be. The obvious backup plan was in play, as they ensured that Shibata’s best friend Hirooki Goto was also a part of the storyline the whole time. Goto will now be fighting to avenge his friend, rather than Shibata doing it himself.
They honestly teased us with a miracle that just didn’t end up happening and now I kinda wish they hadn’t, ’cause it’s just soured this match, making people wonder what-if as they watch it. And that’s a shame because it’s undoubtedly going to be an awesome and brutal fight all it’s own, one worthy of the Openweight title, which has for years had an identity as being the strong style championship.
If Shibata were in this match I would absolutely be predicting the comeback be capped off with a title change. But as it is… KENTA retains. He’s just too hot a heel, I respect Goto a lot but you need to give the rub of taking him down to someone else.