Wrestle Kingdom 18 looks to set to be one of the biggest shows in NJPW history, with a huge main event already set for the Tokyo Dome.
IWGP World Heavyweight Champion SANADA will defend his title against G1 Climax winner Tetsuya Naito, in a huge clash between former LIJ teammates. However, the under card of the January 4th show looks to be even more impressive, with stars like Will Ospreay, Kazuchika Okada and Shota Umino all poised to make a big splash in the Tokyo Dome.
It looks as though 2024 could be the year of AEW at Wrestle Kingdom 18. With rumors that the second night of the event could be hosted by AEW in the US (more on this later in the article), it seems obvious that the show ill feature a number of matches involving AEW wrestlers.
Here are some of the AEW wrestlers we think will make a huge splash at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 18.
AEW Wrestlers at Wrestle Kingdom
One of the biggest matches reportedly planned for Wrestle Kingdom 18 is the long-awaited rematch between Kenny Omega and Will Ospreay. Kenny Omega is the biggest AEW star planned for Wrestle Kingdom, following on from his huge victory at the event in 2023.
Omega has faced Will Ospreay twice in 2023 already. He defeated Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 17 to win the IWGP US Championship, but dropped it back to the Englishman in Omega’s home country of Canada at Forbidden Door 202. Both those matches were some of the best matches of 2023, so the rematch at Wrestle Kingdom 18 should be up for match of the year just four days into 2024.
While SANADA’s championship defense against Tetsuya Naito will main event the show, expect Kenny Omega vs Will Ospreay to be the second-biggest match on the card.
After his win over Kazuchika Okada at Forbidden Door 2023, it looks like Bryan Danielson will be making his debut at Wrestle Kingdom 18 next year.
Danielson has never had the chance to wrestle in the January 4th show in the Tokyo Dome show, and appearing at that event was one of the reasons he left the WWE in 2021. Triple H was even trying to negotiate with NJPW to get Danielson his dream, but it was not enough to stop him from signing with AEW.
The rematch with Kazuchika Okada seems the obvious choice for the AEW star at Wrestle Kingdom 18. With Danielson forcing Okada to tap out at Forbidden Door, The Rainmaker will be intent on getting his win back and proving to the world that he is indeed the best wrestler in the world – maybe of all time.
Except Bryan Danielson to lose this match (not that he ever needs convincing to put another man over), but hopefully this time the match won’t be tarred by a major injury (like a broken arm), so we can get the seven-star match that both men know they can put on.
If Eddie Kingston can hold on to the NJPW Strong Championship until January next year, he has a brilliant chance of being a part of the annual Wrestle Kingdom show for the first time.
Kingston in an unapologetic lover of Japanese wrestling. He has cited Toshiaka Kawada as his inspiration in wrestling, and has noted over stars, like Jun Akiyama and Misuharu Misawa as the reasons why he first became a pro-wrestler.
While he nearly retired from wrestling during the pandemic, Eddie Kingston had worked incredibly hard to get to the level where him missing out on the Wrestle Kingdom 18 would be a huge loss for NJPW, not just for him.
Eddie Kingston could defend his NJPW Strong Openweight Championship in a multi-man match at Wrestle Kingdom 18, although his opponents are yet to be confirmed.
Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta
The Blackpool Combat Club have made numerous appearances in NJPW this year, even teaming with Shota Umino to challenge Okada, Tanahashi and Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Championships in a five-star match earlier in the summer.
Despite suffering a concussion against Rey Fenix at AEW Grand Slam, Jon Moxley should be convincingly recovered in time for Wrestle Kingdom 18. With his fellow BCC member Bryan Danielson looking set to face Kazuchika Okada at the event, it would make sense for Moxley to lead his group into a huge “faction warfare” match against another of the top teams in NJPW.
My pick for this would be Bullet Club. David Finlay has been on a roll in recent months in NJPW, performing well in the G1 Climax, and impressing in a number of matches over the year.
Pitting the trio of Jon Moxley, Claudi Castagnoli and Wheeler Yuta against The Bullet Club’s David Finlay, Alex Coughlin and Gabe Kidd would be a huge match for all six men in the bout, and give Bullet Club one of their biggest wins since Finlay took over as leader from Jay White.
AEW Could Host Wrestle Kingdom 18 Night 2 In The US
With NJPW putting on a two (or even three) night extravaganza for their annual Wrestle Kingdom show, it looks like AEW could play a key part in Night Two of Wrestle Kingdom 18.
One Twitter User leaked an image promoting the Upcoming “Wrestle kingdom 18” show at Japan’s Tokyo Dome on January 4th. However, it also advertised that a second night of the event would take place in the United States, with Wrigley Field in Chicago playing host to the event.
The user claimed his source was a “higher up i AEW”, and sent them a “test run graphic” that could be shown at Wrestle Dream 2023 this sunday.
“SUPER EXCLUSIVE: My source(who is a higher up in AEW) has just sent me this test run graphic. This could be the major news for Sunday!”
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.