POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE 1/3: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 Preview, Number of Tickets Sold, Video Game Deal

A full preview of New Japan's Wrestle Kingdom 12 card from the Tokyo Dome that is headlined by Kazuchika Okada versus Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP heavyweight title and Kenny Omega facing Chris Jericho.

POST IT NOTES

**We will have tons of coverage throughout the night for Wrestle Kingdom 12. I will be doing a live show report on the site and we will also have a live thread going on in The Forum (with Wai and myself commenting throughout the show). We will also have a post-show with a complete rundown of the event on the POST Wrestling Café late Thursday once everyone has had an opportunity to watch the show. The Wrestle Kingdom review show is a Patreon exclusive, so if you are not signed up you can do so at Patreon.com/POSTwrestling and all subscribers will receive the show immediately after it is posted.

**For our “Double Double” subscribers on the POST Wrestling Café, we have just posted a POST Production video that was shot in between shows this past Monday night. If you are a “Double Double” subscriber, you can log in to Patreon to watch the video right now.

**A new edition of REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN is up on the site with Wai Ting and myself reviewing Tuesday night’s episode from Orlando with the announcement of the handicap match for the Royal Rumble following the A.J. Styles vs. Sami Zayn main event, more entrants into the women’s Rumble, the return of Becky Lynch, a very good tag title match and I outline a very simple-to-follow strategy for those wanting to avoid Wrestle Kingdom spoilers on Thursday. The show can be downloaded at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/01/03/rewind-a-smackdown-1-2-18-aj-styles-vs-sami-zayn-the-usos-vs-gable-benjamin-becky-lynch-returns/ and you can also listen on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and the TuneIn Radio app.

**We also have our special Wrestle Kingdom 12 Preview show that you can listen to at https://www.postwrestling.com/2018/01/02/njpw_wk12_primer/.

**This Sunday, we will present POST Wrestling’s “Worst of 2017 Show” with Wai Ting and myself joined once again by Jason Agnew and Dan “The Mouth” Lovranski to make our picks.

WRESTLING NEWS

**New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest card of the year (and one of their biggest of the past 15 years) takes place early Thursday morning from the Tokyo Dome and will be streaming in English and Japanese on New Japan World. The pre-show begins at 2 am Eastern and the first hour will include the New Japan Rumble with the show proper at 3 am. As a live event, this has been a big success and has as much general interest as any New Japan big card going back over a decade. Below is a look at the entire card:

*Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP heavyweight title:
By the time they get into the ring, the audience will have been in the building for upwards of 5+ hours and I expect this match to go long. Okada had the greatest year of any wrestler I have seen. The bar is enormously high for his title defenses. Okada has broken the records of longest IWGP title reign (surpassing Shinya Hashimoto) and most combined days as champion (surpassing Hiroshi Tanahashi’s record this week). The time feels right to switch the title and go with Naito, who is a hot commodity and translates flawlessly for the U.S market that New Japan is bullish upon. My belief is this will be the match of the show and it would be a phenomenal closing moment to see Naito toss the championship into the air in front of the Tokyo Dome crowd and exit. A Naito title win also sets up tons of new challengers with the winner of Cody vs. Kota Ibushi, Chris Jericho is heavily teasing something with Naito, there is Kenny Omega and all the challengers that Okada went through that have new life in the heavyweight title picture. The other argument is that business is very hot, Okada doesn’t feel stale in the slightest and you can keep this legendary title reign going although the Naito direction presents so many different directions and it is a much narrower view with Okada winning.

*Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho in a No Disqualification Match:
*This match has the most intrigue from the aesthetics of how this match looks, what surprises Jericho has for the match, a different side of Omega presented as the babyface in a brawl and also the booking as it will be noteworthy either way with the audience very intrigued with who wins the match and how. If Jericho is committed to more dates it creates a lot of scenarios from a rematch with Omega (and I would have Jericho win this one, if he is staying), a big title match with Naito and down the road there is an opportunity for Jericho and Omega to join forces that is way down the line but is something of interest. I’m strong on Omega having a big babyface run in 2018 and distancing himself from The Elite / Bullet Club as he is primed for a big run as a babyface. In terms of the match layout, it should feature blood and likely from Jericho as retaliation by Omega. Omega winning is the easy call if Jericho is one-and-done but the booking is contingent on Jericho’s status. This buildup has been outstanding and has been the special addition that makes this show feel bigger than recent Dome events.

*Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jay White for the Intercontinental title:
It is the biggest match of White’s career and even with Tanahashi phased down, it’s amazing that this is his singles match at the Tokyo Dome. It goes to show how invested they are in Jay White and have given him every opportunity to succeed as a top guy since his return in November. Tanahashi is a physical wreck and the extent of how badly will be seen in this match. This is a match that could be lost in the shuffle by the time the show is over. My gut says Tanahashi retains the title but White hangs with him. If White is given something big like kicking out of the High Fly Flow, which virtually never happens, it will go a long way for White and take Tanahashi to the edge. One scenario that could play out is White winning the title, Okada loses in the main event and White challenges Tanahashi’s most famous opponent and catches Okada as he reels from the big loss in the main event and that is your next program for the Intercontinental title.

*Marty Scurll vs. KUSHIDA vs. Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP junior heavyweight title:
This match is scheduled to be a single-elimination match as opposed to the first fall ends the match. Ospreay cut a promo at the Fan Festa and the message was that all four should go out to steal the show and prove they are the four best in the world. On paper, there is a ridiculous amount of talent in this match and it should have enough time to properly execute the match. The angles leading to the match have left Takahashi as the punchline and he’s my pick to come out of this with the title and have a sustained run. The title has landed on all four of these guys over the past year so it’s more the talent in the match rather than what they are fighting for that is intriguing. It’s the first time they have ever had a four-way for the junior heavyweights and it’s key that the audience is into the match and it translates well to the size of the Dome.

*Minoru Suzuki vs. Hirooki Goto in a Hair vs. Hair Match for the NEVER Openweight title:
The Dome show has become a show that Goto gets heated up and then eventually settles back into his regular spot and this feels like the latest example. The hair stipulation is a big deal and I feel you will get a lot of emotion down the stretch and for the finish. They have outlined that there will be no interference in the match so that eliminates the crutch of Suzuki-gun run-ins and seems tailor-made for Goto to receive his big win and then Suzuki has his head shaved. It isn’t one of the standout matches on paper but the two will probably have a very good outing and the stipulation enhances the match a lot.

*Killer Elite Squad vs. EVIL & Sanada for the IWGP tag titles:
I feel this is one match that is going to have to really overachieve to succeed. EVIL had some great performances throughout 2017 but his title match with Okada back in October didn’t cement him as a main eventer. They are in a difficult spot on a long show and K.E.S. hasn’t had that big blow away match since Lance Archer’s return from injury. A title change is possible with EVIL & Sanada winning titles and Naito in the main event.

*Cody vs. Kota Ibushi:
This is the only non-title match on the main card of the show and would have been up until a few weeks back when Cody lost the ROH title to Dalton Castle. This is a big one in terms of the booking and could set up a title challenger for either the IWGP or the U.S. title in the next few months, possibly at the Long Beach show in March or even at New Beginning. 2018 is a pivotal year for Ibushi. Ibushi has a very youthful look that is deceptive as he’s turning 36 this May and it’s time to either go all the way with Ibushi or not. Cody winning could lead to an Omega vs. Cody match while I don’t know if Omega vs. Ibushi should be so soon. I’m interested in this match a lot and could be the sleeper match of the show.

*Bad Luck Fale & Guerillas of Destiny vs. Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi & Togi Makabe vs Tomohiro Ishii & Beretta & Toru Yano vs. War Machine & Michael Elgin vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. & Takashi Iizuka & Taichi in a Gauntlet Match for the NEVER six-man tag titles:
There is a lot of talent in this match and my feeling is that everything is going to be rushed up until the final two teams and things will just start to get going when they finish the match. I don’t have high expectations for this one given the demands of the gauntlet stipulation and is going to be fast-paced and your head will be spinning. These titles change at such a rapid rate that any of these teams could win without any rhyme or reason other than having a title switch on the biggest show of the year.

*Roppongi 3K vs. The Young Bucks for the IWGP junior heavyweight tag titles:
I think this is going to be great and have been very impressed with 3K since their return from their excursions. The Bucks altered their New Japan matches a lot in 2017 with some great matches where they would work on the back, isolate body parts and it was done in a very creative way and led to their matches looking very different. Matt Jackson cut a great promo at the Fan Festa on Wednesday bringing up 3K’s days as the young lions and loading their bags under the bus with The Bucks still viewing them as young boys and not at their level. I’d lean 3K retaining the titles in this match and will, unfortunately, be forgotten by the end of the show but expect a lot from these four.

*New Japan Rumble:
This will be on the pre-show and will feature a bunch of surprise entrants, comedy spots and will probably go much longer than it needs to. Last year’s winner was Michael Elgin who entered #1 and lasted the entire match.

**One of the key numbers to pay attention to is the New Japan World subscriber number. Last year, they announced the number during the New Year’s Dash card and it was 60,000 subscribers with 45,000 of those coming from Japan. New Japan made a big push this year by bringing in Chris Jericho and turning down guaranteed money from FITE TV to broadcast the event in favor of directing all consumers to purchase New Japan World.

**New Japan announced at the Fan Festa on Wednesday that the number of tickets sold for Wrestle Kingdom stands at 32,600 at the Tokyo Dome. There will be walk-ups at the show, so the number could easily surpass 35,000, which was my prediction in November after they shot the Power Struggle angle with Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega.

**NXT has a special two-hour “Year in Review” episode tonight at 8 pm Eastern on the WWE Network. They will be announcing the winners of their year-end awards, they will air the Drew McIntyre vs. Adam Cole house show match from San Antonio in November with Shawn Michaels as the guest referee. There will also be a feature for the upcoming Andrade Cien Almas vs. Johnny Gargano title match for Takeover.

**Daniel Bryan spoke to SI.com regarding his future inside of the ring with the WWE. Bryan is of the belief that if he is not wrestling at WrestleMania then he never will be wrestling inside of a WWE ring again. Bryan’s contract with the WWE will expire later this year and it is one of the biggest stories to watch for 2018. If the WWE reverses course and clears Bryan, it will be a decision that will be scrutinized and if Bryan decides to leave the company and return to the ring then it’s going to be with enormous momentum wherever he decides to wrestle. There is also the issue of how comfortable a promotion like New Japan Pro Wrestling would be to clearing Bryan when the WWE won’t. It reminds me of the issue with Rashad Evans and how he was pulled from UFC 205 in November 2016 due to an irregularity found by the New York State Athletic Commission. It was troubling enough that the Ontario Athletic Commission also didn’t want to take the chance of licensing Evans the following month for a card in Toronto although Evans has fought since in both Las Vegas and Mexico City.

**On Wednesday’s edition of “Talk is Jericho”, Chris Jericho had Don Callis on the show to preview his match with Kenny Omega and the circumstances behind the match being put together. Among the notes during their conversation was that the first offer made to Jericho was a very low money offer that Jericho was taken aback by, later New Japan had asked Jericho to take care of his transportation costs and that had to be rectified and Kenny Omega was upset as well over these discoveries and even offered to take out part of his pay to cover some minor costs for Jericho. Before the reveal of Jericho at the Power Struggle card, Jericho had a quick phone conversation with Vince McMahon. McMahon gave Jericho his complete support to go ahead and do the show, citing the fact that everyone knows Jericho is a “WWE guy” and it helps Jericho and helps WWE whenever Jericho returns. McMahon asked Jericho for a heads up before the angle would be executed at Power Struggle. It would be impossible to dismiss the teases throughout this build of a Jericho match with Tetsuya Naito with Jericho taking subtle shots at Naito on the podcast and Jericho is always calculated with things like that and would suggest that Jericho is at least entertaining the idea of another match or else why tease something with no chance of a payoff. There was also a discussion on whether or not there too many titles in New Japan (there are) and Callis responded that he feels there are too many titles in wrestling as specifically said Impact Wrestling could stand to lose the Grand championship.

**New Japan World is going to be presenting Friday’s New Year’s Dash card for free through New Japan World. The Korakuen Hall event will air early Friday morning at 4:30 am Eastern and is one of the biggest angle-laden shows of the year where all the key feuds coming out of Wrestle Kingdom are put in place. Over the years, this has become one of the toughest tickets to obtain for fans traveling for the Dome event and trying to go to Korakuen Hall the next night.

**Jim Ross has confirmed that himself and Jerry Lawler are booked for the 25th Anniversary of Raw special but is unaware what they will be doing at the show on Monday, January 22nd.

**The WWE has announced that the first team for the “Mixed Match Challenge” will be Braun Strowman and Alexa Bliss from Raw. Shortly afterwards, they added that Bobby Roode and Charlotte are the second team to be announced. It appears they will be announcing the teams throughout the day. They have also announced that Enzo is going to be replaced in the tournament with the reason provided being the flu that kept him off television this week.

**New Japan Pro Wrestling has announced a deal with the “Fire Pro Wrestling World” video game with New Japan wrestlers integrated into the game when it is released for PlayStation 4 later this year. The announcement was made at the Fan Festa at Differ Ariake on Wednesday morning with Togi Makabe and KUSHIDA playing a demonstration model for the audience. The game will include a story mode where a player can start out as a young lion and move up the ranks of NJPW.  A user online translated the menu list and revealed the following names being part of the game: Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tetsuya Naito, Katsuyori Shibata, Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Togi Makabe, EVIL, Minoru Suzuki, Sanada, Toru Yano, Yoshi-Hashi, Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi, Takashi Iizuka, Kenny Omega, Bad Luck Fale, Michael Elgin and Tama Tonga.

**TJ Perkins returned on Tuesday’s episode of 205 Live and defeated Akira Tozawa. It was Perkin’s first match on WWE television since October 10th.

**MLW returns next Thursday, January 11th at the GILT Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. They have just added a women’s match between Santana Garrett and MJ Jenkins as well as a tag bout with Jason Cade and Jimmy Yuta taking on The Dirty Blonds. The card is headlined by a “Death Match” between Shane Strickland and Jimmy Havoc and will also feature a “Super Fight” between Low Ki and MVP. Tickets are available at http://www.mlw.eventbrite.com and will be available for streaming the following week at http://www.mlw.tv.

**Jim Ross turns 68 years old today.

REWIND-A-WRESTLE KINGDOM
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11 results
Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome (Attendance: 26,192)
*Michael Elgin win the New Japan Rumble
*Tiger Mask W (Kota Ibushi) over Tiger the Dark
*Rocky Romero & Beretta over The Young Bucks to win the IWGP junior heavyweight tag titles
*Sanada & EVIL & Bushi over Ricochet & Satoshi Kojima & David Finlay, Bad Luck Fale & Hangman Page & Yujiro, Will Ospreay & Yoshi-Hashi & Jado to win the NEVER six-man tag titles in a Gauntlet Match
*Cody over Juice Robinson
*Adam Cole over Kyle O’Reilly to win the ROH title
*Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano over Guerillas of Destiny and Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma to win the IWGP tag titles
*Hiromu Takahashi over KUSHIDA to win the IWGP junior heavyweight title
*Hirooki Goto over Katsuyori Shibata to win the NEVER Openweight title
*Tetsuya Naito over Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the Intercontinental title
*Kazuchika Okada over Kenny Omega to retain the IWGP heavyweight title

*****
REWIND-A-SMACKDOWN 1/2/18: AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn, The Usos vs. Gable & Benjamin, Becky Lynch returns
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/np7x6z/180102_RASD.mp3
*****
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 Primer: Preview & Guide to WK 12
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/26twfe/180102_NJPW_WK12_PRIMER.mp3
*****
REWIND-A-RAW 1/1/18: The Club reunites, Women’s Rumble details, Lesnar laughs at Kane
https://postwrestling.podbean.com/mf/download/wc5xc2/180101_RAR.mp3
*****
POST WRESTLING’s “Best of 2017 Show” with John Pollock, Wai Ting, Jason Agnew and Dan “The Mouth” Lovranski
https://www.postwrestling.com/2017/12/30/the-best-of-2017-show/
*****
REWIND-A-WAI – WWE Survivor Series – Patron-Only Show
(John Pollock & Wai Ting present the inaugural edition of Rewind-A-Wai with a review of the WWE’s Survivor Series card from 2005 with a brand-new intro. Sign up today at POST Wrestling  Café and receive this show immediately by clicking the link below.)
https://www.patreon.com/POSTwrestling
*****

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About John Pollock 889 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.