NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 14 results, recap, grades: Double champion crowned after two incredible nights
Tetsuya Naito's journey culminated with a victory over Kazuchika Okada at the Tokyo Dome
Were there any worries that extending Wrestle Kingdom into a two-day event would lessen the magic of what is traditionally the best wrestling pay-per-view of the year, well ... those assumptions were proven wildly unnecessary. Over two nights, wrestling fans were treated to back-to-back cards of the exact kind of in-ring drama that makes the New Japan Pro-Wrestling product so special.
The story coming into -- and going out of -- Wrestle Kingdom 14 was always which of the four top stars would leave the two nights as both IWGP heavyweight champion and IWGP intercontinental champion. But the four-man tournament matches featuring Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Jay White and Kota Ibushi were far from the only matchups of importance happening at Tokyo Dome. Non-tournament highlights from Night 1 included an early Match of the Year contender when Hiromu Takahashi defeated Will Ospreay to capture the IWGP junior heavyweight championship and Jon Moxley taking home the IWGP United States title in a Texas Death Match war with Lance Archer. Night 2 saw Jushin Thunder Liger wrestle the final match of his storied career as well as a hate-filled NEVER openweight championship match between Hirooki Goto and KENTA.
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But Wrestle Kingdom 14 was, more than anything else, all about Naito and the culmination of his journey back to the mountaintop. A journey he completed by winning a match that will go down in the books as one of the greatest in professional wrestling history.
Overall Wrestle Kingdom 14 grade: A+
Naito becomes double champ, celebration short-lived
On Night 1, Naito faced off with IWGP intercontinental champion Jay White to earn his trip to the main event of Sunday. Ultimately, the story of the match between Naito and White was the methodical work White put in on the knee of Naito, and the punishment to Naito's knee would play into Night 2 in a huge way. Naito also had to overcome interference from Gedo, who was ringside with White, but ultimately managed to put White away, paying a heavy physical toll in the process.
Okada did not escape from night one unscathed. His main event IWGP heavyweight championship match with Ibushi would be the standout match of any other weekend as the two brutalized each other with massive strikes and high-impact moves. At one point, Ibushi's trademark violence hit points that were downright frightening as he delivered closed-fist shots to Okada, leaving the champion with little to do but cover up and hope the onslaught would be stopped. As Okada does in the biggest moments, he dug down deep to pull out the victory and advance to face off with Naito in the main event of Night 2.
When Naito and Okada finally stepped into the ring, they did so in the face of lofty expectations. Both men have spent years delivering matches that rank among the best of the best, not to mention the expectations that come with a NJPW Tokyo Dome main event. What they delivered was a tension-filled, emotional journey. Okada, clearly feeling Naito would never truly be on his level, brutalized the knee White had softened up the night before, including dropping Naito knee-first on a ringside table. Naito had to beat the 20-count to stay alive in the match, which he did but just in the nick of time.
As the two men hit the home stretch of the match, Naito was slowly earning Okada's respect. Okada began to desperately look for a Rainmaker while Naito tried to find the right position to land Destino. Both men would eventually hit their big moves, only to see the other kick out. Finally, Naito, sensing his moment and pausing to pound his chest, climbed to the top rope to hit the Stardust Press, another Destino and score the pinfall to become double champion.
Joy is often short-lived in wrestling, and this night was no different. After briefly having the opportunity to celebrate his victory, Naito was brutally attacked by KENTA. Having reached the top, Naito ended his night lying underneath a posing KENTA.
There's little left to be said about what Naito and Okada did in the main event. It was a truly legendary match that spoke to everything that is emotional and dramatic in pro wrestling. Not yearning for Naito to have his moment is to lack a soul. To not react to the back-and-forth drama of the match is to lack a heart. While wrestling can be stupid and campy with random, non-sensical angles inserted, it can also be Okada vs. Naito at Wrestle Kingdom 14 in the Tokyo Dome. Grade: A+
Below you can have a look at the full match card results from both nights of the Wrestle Kingdom 14 action.
Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night 1 main card results
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship -- Kazuchika Okada (c) def. Kota Ibushi via pinfall to retain the title
- IWGP Intercontinental Championship -- Tetsuya Naito def. Jay White (c) via pinfall to win the title
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship -- Hiromu Takahashi def. Will Ospreay (c) via pinfall to win the title
- IWGP United States Championship (Texas Death Match) -- Jon Moxley def. Lance Archer (c) via count out to win the title
- IWGP Tag Team Championship -- FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson) def. Guerrillas of Destiny (c) via pinfall to win the titles
- Chaos (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano & Yoshi-Hashi) def. Bullet Club (KENTA, Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens) via pinfall
- Suzuki-gun (Zack Sabre Jr., Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & El Desperado) def. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Sanada, Evil, Shingo Takagi & Bushi) via submission
- Naoki Sano, Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa & Ryusuke Taguchi def. Jushin Thunder Liger, Tatsumi Fujinami, The Great Sasuke & Tiger Mask via pinfall
Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night 2 main card results
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship & IWGP Intercontinental Championship -- Tetsuya Naito (c) def. Kazuchika Okada via pinfall (c) to win the title
- Chris Jericho def. Hiroshi Tanahashi via submission
- Jay White def. Kota Ibushi via pinfall
- NEVER Openweight Championship -- Hirooki Goto def. KENTA (c) via pinfall to win the title
- IWGP United States Championship -- Jon Moxley (c) def. Juice Robinson via pinfall to retain the title
- British Heavyweight Championship -- Zack Sabre Jr. (c) def. Sanada via submission to retain the title
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship -- Roppongi 3K def. Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo (c) via pinfall to win the titles
- Hiromu Takahashi & Ryu Lee def. Jushin Thunder Liger & Naoki Sano via pinfall
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