Way early this morning, New Japan Pro Wrestling had their annual January 4th Dome Show event, better known for the past 13 years as Wrestle Kingdom. The event started way back in 1992, and thus makes this the 28th edition of the event. Next year for the 29th, NJPW will move to two nights for their biggest event of the year, a move that has caused massive reactions online. I for one am not happy about it, as one night is hard enough to get up early/stay up late for. But two?
In result based news, The Elite (Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi and Marty Scurll), Kota Ibushi, Cody Rhodes, and Kenny Omega all lost their respective matches and titles. More over, Chris Jericho, Kazuchika Okada and Kushida also lost; putting added onus to see how this shakes out. All previously mentioned names are either heading to All Elite Wrestling, are rumored to the WWE or are free agents. Only Okada seems like a lock to stay in the promotion. Every title change was done in order to generate a younger core group of guys; save for the main event. The company is freshening up their new core, and proved it by giving Dragon Gate mainstay Shingo Takagi, and former NOAH stand out Taiji Ishimori titles.
In minor injury news, it appears as though everyone is ok following Wrestle Kingdom by and large; though Kota Ibushi did suffer a concussion. It’s not a serious one, NJPW announcer Chris Charlton claims, so he should be ok in a week or two.
With Omega being seconded by The Bucks for his bout with Tanahashi, it feels as if this is the end for Omega in New Japan, and that leads us to more speculation.
We should know more at the AEW rally, with reports that the WWE will have some lowkey officials there, it’s possible that the Elite want to drive home a point of emphasis.
According to Big Bad Davey Boy Jr. Meltzer, Kenny Omega was given a huge contract offer from the WWE. Meltzer describes it as “fantastic”. This is being done to offset the obvious and more-than-likely landing spot of the All Elite Wrestling promotion. While WWE may have had the bigger money offer, Omega has said time and time again he’s not about the money. He’s about the creative freedom, something the WWE doesn’t offer. I think the biggest influence on Omega is if he can continue to wrestle in Japan, which brings us to the next point.
Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling officials are meeting today in Japan to discuss the future. AEW is not going to be touring fifty-two weeks a year, and could easily send wrestlers to Japan for a few weeks and not really be missed. New Japan I’m hearing prefers to the Elite’s new promotion to ROH, as ROH was mostly made up of The Elite and NJPW talents for the better part of five years now. However they have contracts in place. The hope is that AEW and ROH can work together, but that seems like a long shot. I’m hearing that ROH is hoping to minimize the loss of the Elite by bringing in NWA talent like Nick Aldis; the promotions Worlds Champion, Willie Mack (if IMPACT signs off), Jazz, Jax Dane and Crimson, as well as wrestlers like Sam Shaw, James Storm and others. Part of this can be seen already by Billy Corgan agreeing to let Aldis defend his NWA World’s Championship (or Storm if he wins at the Pop Up Event).
In other ROH news, it appears as though ROH sought to add Davey Boy Smith Jr. to their roster before Smith agreed to stay with MLW. It’s said that ROH never had a real shot, as Smith is having a good time working with his cousin Teddy Hart and good friend Brian Pillman Jr.
Speaking of that Aldis title defense, he (or Storm) will face off with PJ Black at the Center Stage Event on January 12th, 2019.
In some minor, kick-in-the-dick IMPACT news, apparently the promotion again saw a rise in ratings on the network; hitting a new four month high. However they’ll soon be on Pursuit and this won’t matter.
In a scummy move, the WWE is bringing Hulk Hogan in for next Monday’s RAW. The move is being done to “bring Hogan in to honor Mean Gene” but really what they’re doing is far scummier. The WWE is bringing Hogan in now, because fans will be less likely to boo Hogan, as he talks about the beloved backstage personality ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund. This goes off without a hitch, expect The Hulkster to get more dates down the road.
In minor but interesting WWE belt news, a huge collector of titles named Belt Fan Dan Twitter has claimed the WWE is re-designing the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles after the leaked version over the summer landed with a thud. They’re also apparently re-designing the RAW and SmackDown Men’s Tag Team titles to add name plants.