Wrestle Kingdom is no doubt the biggest wrestling event of the year that isn't the phenomenon known as WWE WrestleMania.
While the WWE is still the biggest company in professional wrestling, its largest competitor is no longer also from the United States, as was the case for so long with WCW. It’s New Japan Pro Wrestling.
It has only been in recent years that given easy access to the product has resulted in NJPW gaining major traction and popularity in the western civilization.
It’s now a popular alternative for many wrestling fans to WWE. While Vince McMahon’s promotion leans more towards the ‘entertainment’ in ‘sports entertainment’, NJPW presents wrestling more as a sport. The storylines are less fanciful; the wrestling itself is about showing heart and ‘fighting spirit’.
And just like WWE has its yearly mega-card with WrestleMania, NJPW has a yearly extravaganza. Every January 4 since 1992, NJPW has held an event at the Tokyo Dome - usually a baseball stadium or large concert venue - with a record attendance of 55,000 for 1998’s edition. In 2007, the traditional show was christened as Wrestle Kingdom.
If you’re primarily a WWE fan, you owe it to yourself to try NJPW at least once. You might just fall in love with wrestling all over again.
How to watch: Fans can watch Wrestle Kingdom 13 via NJPW’s streaming service, NJPW World, or buy the pay per view on Fite, an MMA/boxing/pro wrestling streaming service. NJPW World costs 999 yen a month (approximately $13.13 AUD as of January 3) and includes an extensive back catalogue plus access to future shows as well. Major shows, including Wrestle Kingdom, have an English commentary team.
When does it start: Wrestle Kingdom 13 starts at 4pm Tokyo time on Friday January 4. That’s 6pm Melbourne and Sydney time, 5:30pm in Adelaide, 5pm in Brisbane, 4:30pm in Darwin and 3pm in Perth.However the main card will begin one hour later at 5pm Tokyo time; at 4pm the pre-show will begin, which features a gauntlet match to determine the #1 contenders to the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships.
FULL WRESTLE KINGDOM 13 CARD & PREDICTIONS:
Main event: Kenny Omega (c) v Hiroshi Tanahashi - IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Pick: Hiroshi Tanahashi
Chris Jericho (c) v Tetsuya Naito - IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Pick: Tetsuya Naito
Kazuchika Okada v Jay White
Pick: Kazuchika Okada
Kushida (c) v Taiji Ishimori - IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Pick: Taiji Ishimori
Cody (c) v Juice Robinson - IWGP United States Championship
Pick: Juice Robinson
Guerillas of Destiny [Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa] (c) v Los Ingobernables de Japon [Sanada and Evil] v The Young Bucks [Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson] - IWGP Tag Team Championship
Pick: Guerillas of Destiny
Tomohiro Ishii (c) v Zack Sabre Jr. - RevPro British Heavyweight Championship
Suzuki-gun [Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado] (c) v Roppongi 3K [Sho and Yoh] v Los Ingobernables de Japon [Bushi and Shingo Takagi] - IWGP Junior Tag Team Championship
Pick: Shingo Takagi & BUSHI
Kota Ibushi (c) v Will Ospreay - NEVER Openweight Championship
Pick: Will Ospreay
Pre-show: Togi Makabe, Toru Yano and Ryusuke Taguchi v Yuji Nagata, Jeff Cobb and David Finlay v Hirooki Goto, Beretta and Chuckie T v Minoru Suzuku, Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr. v Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi and Marty Scurll - Gauntlet match to determine the #1 contenders for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship