The match to headline the Tokyo Dome on January 4th, 2024 will be SANADA vs Tetsuya Naito, with SANADA’s IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on the line.
He has held the title since defeating Kazuchika Okada earlier this year, although some lackluster title defenses have led fans to back Tetusya Naito for the title win once again.
Tetsuya Naito defeated Will Ospreay in the semi-finals of the G1 Climax, being knocked out by a stray kick before winning the match with a trio of Destinos.
He built upon that with a win over Kazuchika Okada in the final, a repeat of his victories in 2013 and 2017.
SANADA vs Tetsuya Naito
The first match of Wrestle Kingdom 18 has been announced, with Tetsuya Naito earning a match against SANADA for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.
The main event of Wrestle Kingdom 18 is rumored to be SANADA vs Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, assuming Naito does not lose his G1 Climax winner’s briefcase before January 4th, 2024.
SANADA left Los Ingernobles de Jopon earlier this year, defecting to form his own faction (Just 5 Guys). LIJ are lead by Tetsuya Naito, so this match makes sense from a storytelling perspective for Wrestle Kingdom 18.
After Tetsuya Naito defeated Kazuchika Okada in the G1 Climax Final, he has now booked himself the match against SANADA, ready for revenge against the former LIJ member.
This match is rumored to be Naito’s final foray into the main event, given the current state of injuries he suffers with on a daily basis.
With NJPW Gedo struggling to allow Tetsuya Naito his big moments in the past, the 2024 Wrestle Kingdom event could finally be the place to give him his crowning moments, on the biggest stage, as the champion of the world.
Without KENTA attacking him, of course.
It would be fitting if Tetsuya Naito won the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 18 with the “Stardust Press” – a finishing move that he stopped using because of the fans turning on him.
The Stardust Press is a corkscrew moonsault, similar to AJ Styles’ Spiral Tap move that he used in TNA.
While he has used the Destino to win multiple titles, a victory with the Stardust Press would prove to be the perfect ending to Naito’s road to the top of NJPW.
A win for SANADA would deflate the Tokyo crowd to end the show, although Naito fans are no stranger to things like this happening in NJPW.
SANADA and Tetsuya Naito have wrestled three times in NJPW – SANADA leads two wins to one, with the victories coming in the G1 Climax (2020) and New Japan Cup (2023).
Who do you think will win in the main event of Wrestle Kindom 18 in SANADA vs Tetsuya Naito? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.