NJPW WrestleKingdom 18 Results & Review (January 4 2024)

It’s time for the biggest show in Japanese Puroresu on the calendar, WrestleKingdom! It’s the 18th installment, with a big time main event with SANADA and Tetusya Naito battling for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and Bryan Danielson battling Kazuchika Okada, and of course, the surprise appearance of Nick Nemeth, the former Dolph Ziggler!

Pre-Show NJPW King Of Pro-Wrestling Title 2024 Right To Challenge / New Japan Rambo Match

Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs. Takashi Iizuka vs. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Toru Yano vs. Taichi vs. Yujiro Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori vs. Mikey Nicholls vs. Fujita Hayato vs. Shane Haste vs. Chase Owens vs. DOUKI vs. YOH vs. SHO vs. Jeff Cobb vs. Master Wato vs. Gabe Kidd vs. Great-O-Khan vs. HENARE vs. Alex Coughlin

The Match:

Great O Khan and Chase Owens started this Rumble match off, I’m not enjoying the fact that Kevin Kelly isn’t commentating for NJPW anymore!

Gabe Kidd was out 3rd, and he smacked O’Khan upside the head. Alex Coughlin was in next, I’ve seen him before, the dude is strong as an ox. Gabe and Coughlin worked together. Jeff Cobb was in 5th and Cobb is a little tank, and the crowd responded accordingly to him. There’s so many stables in New Japan, no wonder Tony Khan has so many too.

Henare was 6th and was a house of fire. Everyones a tough guy aren’t they? Henare and Cobb eliminated Gabe and Coughlin! Tomohiro Ishii was in 7th, followed by Australia’s Mikey Nicholls. Shane Haste was in 9th, which was a tad predictable as his TMDK Tag Team partner entered before him. Yujiro Takahashi from House of Torture was in next. Not a whole lot is happening in the ring other than brawling. TMDK managed to eliminate Jeff Cobb after working together. Master Wato was in next as Henare was eliminated off camera by TMDK. Yoshinobu Kanemaru was in 12th, I feel like I’m just talking about people entering the match! These matches always go on forever, no wonder this show is 5.5 hours long.

YOH was in next, who got beaten with his own slippers! SHO was in next and got confronted by YOH on the entrance ramp and they’re fighting over a wrench? YOH got choked by SHO on the ramp with the wrench and Fujita “Jr” Hayato was in next, and the commentator popped for him and I had no clue who he was. This English commentator is a real nerd by the way. Taiji Ishimori is in next, and Shane Haste got accidentally eliminated by Mikey Nicholls. Ishii then got Mikey eliminated. Ishii then got eliminated soon after. Douki came in next and soon got eliminated along with Hayato.

Toru Yano was next, is this ever going to end? I’m not trying to be negative but boy this is already 30 minutes deep. Yano wouldn’t enter the match, and Takashi Iizuka is in next and everyones freaking out because this man is apparently supposed to be retired. Everyone charges at him and he’s just biting everybody! Taichi was in next, and Iizuka is knockong people out with a big iron claw. Iizuka and a few others got eliminated, and there were 5 remaining. Chase Owens is eliminated, and it’s down to the final 4, who all win the match, I assume to battle in a 4 way at New Years Dash. 

Winner/s: Great-O-Khan and Taiji Ishimori and Toru Yano and YOH in 32:40.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match

BULLET CLUB War Dogs (Clark Connors & Drilla Moloney) (c) vs. Catch 22 (Francesco Akira & TJP)

The Match:

TJP rises from a casket during his entrance, he appears to have been reborn as The Aswang. I can’t believe the Bullet Club are still a thing after all this time, apparently on May 3rd last year, the group celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary. I assume this thing will be together for a long time to come still. TJP shows off his new mask and red bloodshot eyes and spits mist in the air as Connors and Moloney freak out a bit. TJP goes on the attack and Catch 22 dominate early on. Moloney copped a cutter off an electric chair and rolled to the outside and stood up! Are you kidding me dude? Come on.

Bullet Club War Dogs just laid TJP out with a spear to his gut whilst he was being held up for a stalling suplex! After screwing around for a while on the outside, it finally became a proper tag team match. There was a heat on Akira for a while before TJP got a hot tag and laid waste to the Bullet Club. Moloney hit the Drilla killer and TJP stopped the referees pin. Surely Catch 22 get the win here. 2×2 knees and yep, new Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions!

Winner/s: NEW IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions, Catch 22 (Francesco Akira & TJP) via pinfall in 9:38.

NJPW World Television Title Match

Zack Sabre Jr. (c) (w/Mikey Nicholls & Shane Haste) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

The Match:

Hiroshi Tanahashi is a star. The aura he carries during his entrance, with the ring jacket and outfit he wears – he’s cool. Hopefully Zack can have a less boring match than he did with Bryan Danielson. Zack does do a lot of of intricate things, which is always interesting, because at least here with Hiroshi, the pace of the match has kicked into another gear.

Tanahashi hit a crossbody, then missed the frogsplash, and ZSJ got a near fall as the fans were starting to really get into this. ZSJ kept on Tanahashi with some submissions. I hope Hiroshi wins to be honest. They’re doing a great job in making pin reversals, submission reversals all interesting and suspenseful. Tanahashi and ZSJ went back and forth with pin attempts and YES Hiroshi Tanahashi beats Zack Sabre Jr. and wins the NJPW World Televsion title!

Winner: NEW NJPW World Television Champion, Hiroshi Tanahashi via pinfall in 8:53.

Singles Match

Yota Tsuji vs. Yuya Uemura

The Match:

Good to see Yuya Uemura again, after seeing him as a regular in TNA Wrestling last year, he had a fun little team with Joe Hendry that ended abruptly when Yuya won a briefcase in the Feast or Fired match, and had the briefcase where he was fired. It was good because he got to show an entertaining side of himself. Tsuji hit a mid air spear on Yuya that was rough as guts. Yuya did a good job selling and fighting from underneath. After a solid back and forth, with a heap of suspense, Yuya Uemura hits a bridging double underhook suplex and he gets a huge victory.

Winner: Yuya Uemura via pinfall in 10:57. 

Tag Team Match

Kaito Kiyomiya & Shota Umino vs. House Of Torture (EVIL & Ren Narita) (w/Dick Togo, SHO, Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Yujiro Takahashi)

The Match:

Shota Umino is like the Japanese Rod Stewart. House of Torture cuts a Pro Wrestling NOAH shirt in half. House of Torture actually come across pretty cool. We’ve had a few babyface victories so far, so it would be good if the heels went over here. There’s a referee bump as the House of Torture go about ruining the match and ganging up on Kiyomiya and Umino.

Dick Togo hit a big low blow on Kiyomiya, and the match gets back under way as the referee recovers. Umino is pretty impressive, and showed a lot of fire throughout. Ren Narita and EVIL end up picking up the win for House of Torture after the cheating got too much.

Winner/s: House Of Torture (EVIL & Ren Narita) via pinfall in 7:06.

NEVER Openweight Title Match

Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Tama Tonga

The Match:

This looks like it’s going to be one of ‘those’ strong style matches where it’s going to be a stalemate for a lot of it. Tama Tonga seems like hes built for WWE. He’s got a good look, he looks like a Tongan version of Seth Rollins. Shingo hit a sweet dive to the outside. I wish I could understand why it’s called the Never Openweight Title. Shingo really gave it to Tama throughout and was real physical. He tried to hit ‘Made in Japan’ but Tama reversed into a Togan Twist, then hit a splash off the top rope for a near fall.

Shingo went for Made In Japan again, and Tama Tonga hit a Cutter which was a tremendous reversal. Shingo kicking out at one after the Implant DDT was a wag of the finger for me. Shingo looked to close in on Tama and Tama kicked out of the Made In Japan. Tonga hit the Styles Clash, then a Cutter, and it was another 2 count. Tama then finally finished Shingo off and it was over, new champ!

Winner: NEW NEVER Openweight Champion, Tama Tonga via pinfall in 13:46. 

Nick Nemeth, the former Dolph Ziggler, and his brother Ryan show up and sit down in the VIP section to quite the reception from the audience!

IWGP Tag Team Title / NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team Title Match

Bishamon (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) (c) vs. Guerrillas Of Destiny (El Phantasmo & Hikuleo) (c) (w/Jado)

The Match:

Trading forearms doesn’t mean anything anymore man. I’m not seeing any video packages before matches, or hearing a lot of talk from the English commentators on what the stories are going into these matches. I think Bishamon will probably retain here considering all the title changes we have had so far. Hikuleo should go to WWE someday. Dude has the height, if he worked on his physique.. he could be something over there!

This wasn’t a bad tag title match, I am guessing they don’t care too much about tags in Japan. Some of the spots where Bishamon collided with one another were poorly concieved. Going to have to say, the production team have missed several important spots on this show! Hikuleo hit a frogsplash off the top rope and we have new champions! 

Winner/s: NEW IWGP Tag Team / NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team Champions, Guerrillas Of Destiny (El Phantasmo & Hikuleo) via pinfall in 9:47.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match

Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs. El Desperado

The Match:

Hiromu Takahashi’s entrance gear is insane. El Desperado NAILED Takahashi with a flip to the outside during Hiromu’s entrance. That guard rail at ringside looks like a nightmare to bump into. Why are the crowd so far away from the ring? Takahashi took control just after the outset and dominated Desperado with power moves.

Of all the companies, NJPW and Impact are the only ones that seem to keep Cruiserweight style wrestling within one division, with the more impressive types being able to hit up the main event scene like Alex Shelley. El Desperado is great at hiding the clapping of his leg and side on strikes. He closed in and hit Angels Wings on Takahashi for a near fall. Desperado hit a double underhook piledriver, then another Angels Wings to get the win. Another new champ!

Winner: NEW IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, El Desperado via pinfall in 14:21.

IWGP Global Heavyweight Title Three Way Match (vacant title)

Jon Moxley vs. David Finlay (w/Gedo) vs. Will Ospreay

The Match:

Great, a Jon Moxley match. This is going to go forever too because it’s a Will Ospreay match and they’re all going to kick out of everything. David Finlay better win this one. Now it makes sense, this will lead to the first Global Champion being crowned, I’m guessing this is because Ospreay renamed the United States Title the United Kingdom Title or something along those lines.

Finlay got put through one of those cute Japanese tables. Now they’ve taken Finlay out, Will motions to the ring to Moxley and it’s on for young and boring. Sorry, I don’t like Jon Moxley.Ospreay and Moxley did a bunch of good stuff together, a trading of different suplex’s whilst occasionally no selling one another. Moxley got shoved into the ringpost by Finlay, and what do you know, Moxley is bleeding. The match has actually been very good. Moxley hit a Death Rider and Will kicks out because he’s clearly special. Moxley piledriving Finlay on Ospreay’s chest was actually very creative. Moxley throws a bunch of chairs in the ring. Moxley copped a Urinage onto the frames of some chairs which didn’t look nice. Ospreay got hit with a Death Rider and then he no sold it, and hit the big elbow and Moxley kicked out when Finlay pinned him. I don’t like the no selling of finishers bro.

The Bullet Club War Dogs ran in and attacked Ospreay and Moxley. They set up some tables. The War Dogs are put on the two tables and Ospreay hit the hidden blade after a Death Rider by Moxley on Finlay and Moxley kicked out at one and that’ll be it for me. They had the perfect finish soon after this but they had to go even further because Ospreay has to be killed to lose a match. Match was great for most of it, but then it becomes overkill. 

Winner: NEW IWGP Global Heavyweight Champion via pinfall, David Finlay in 22:17.

After the Match David Finlay talks crap to Nick Nemeth and they end up in a fight. I guess we know where Ziggler is headed! 

Singles Match

Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada


These two did battle at AEWxNJPW Forbidden Door 2 last year, which Danielson won despite having an injury suffered during the match. It kind of made Okada look bad, to be honest, but as is usual with those shows, the AEW talent always beat the bigger name NJPW talent and the bigger name NJPW talent always beat midcarders. I expect Okada to win this.

The Match:

Danielson wearing that eye patch is so concerning. I wish he would let himself heal. Long feeling out process between the two. Okada kicked Danielson in the eye, which is what I want to see. Bryan works on Okada’s arm, and screams he’s going to break it, because Danielson’s arm was broken last time. At one stage Okada hit a tombstone on Danielson on the ring apron! The commentators called Bryan Danielson “the greatest American professional wrestler to ever live”, mate, that’s a bit much.

Okada pulls off Danielsons eye patch and gets more aggressive. Okada hit a big elbow drop with his sore arm, and Okada is looking to end this. Danielson hit the knee for a very near fall, then locked in the Labell Lock. Okadas selling in a modified Rings of Saturn where his eyes made it look like the pain would make him face away, was great. Danielson hit the knee, and went for another but he missed. Okada hits another Rainmaker and gets the win.

Winner: Kazuchika Okada via pinfall in 23:24.

No wonder it’s 5 hours.

IWGP World Heavyweight Title Match

SANADA (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito

The Match:

This does have a big fight feel, I think Sanada has that look about him that makes him feel like a Main Event guy, whilst Naito is already a legend. I have a feeling this is going to go 40+ minutes. These two are quite polished. Natio had the tide turn when he hit a hiptoss backbreaker. Naito’s heat lasted for some time before SANADA went for Naito’s knee and mounted a comeback.

SANADA worked over Naito for some time before Tetsuya got lucky and gained back control as they spilled to the outside. Naito hit a STIFF neckbreaker on the outside, then a frankensteiner on the inside of the ring, and SANADA appeared to be in trouble. Poisonrana by SANADA, then a Shining Wizard, and copped knees on a Moonsault! SANADA overshot another Moonsault after a TKO, but then hit another one and got a 2 count. This is a good main event.

Naito hit some of his big moves a few times for a near fall. This was really good to be honest, as they got toward the end of the match. Tetsuya Naito got the win in the end after a dramatic last few minutes to become the new IWGP Heavyweight Champ!

Winner: NEW IWGP World Heavyweight Champion via pinfall, Tetsuya Naito in 25:42.

Final Thoughts:

I enjoyed this show more than I did for WrestleKingdom 17, the best match was definitely Naito Vs SANADA, and I also enjoyed Tanahashi’s big victory as well. Of course, further thoughts will be found at the WZWA Network YouTube when I do a video review with Pro Wrestling Content Creator, my friend from Wales – Rhystlemania! Thank you for reading.

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Karlifornia is a Freelance Journalist for RealProWrestling.Com and TheRockpit.Net and Host on the Insiders Edge Podcast through his YouTube channel, the WZWA Network. He has been a die hard Pro Wrestling fan since 1998, and his favorite time period in wrestling is the Attitude Era/Monday Night Wars.

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