Wrestle Kingdom 17 kicks off what should be a strong year for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
2023 is three days old and professional wrestling is set to go into full swing with Wrestle Kingdom 17. The showcase brings out the best talent from New Japan Pro Wrestling, but this year’s edition also includes names from All Elite Wrestling, WWE, Stardom, and NOAH. This is the type of card that can hopefully reignite interest in NJPW as the promotion still works to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Wrestle Kingdom 17 has multiple matches on the card that can easily be considered early candidates for the 2023 Match of the Year. Jay White versus Kazuchika Okada features two of the best in the game, at the height of their abilities. Will Ospreay versus Kenny Omega finally brings together two men who haven’t faced off in a singles match since 2015, in a moment that can be a passing of the torch or a rejection of the “second coming.” Plus, KAIRI looks to cement herself as a dominant name in women’s wrestling and keep the all-important IWGP Women’s Championship around her waist.
Wrestle Kingdom 17 brings together more names that fans will know
While some will debate about how “important” it is for American wrestling fans to embrace NJPW for its success, this card features many names that fans will recognize and hopefully tune in to watch.
Of course, there’s the budding news of Sasha Banks/Mercedes Mone to be featured in some fashion during the event, probably around the match between KAIRI and Tam Nakano. FTR, widely considered the best tag team in the business, defend their IWGP Tag Team Championship against Bishamon while continuing a storyline of struggle for the two men. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows will also be on the card as Anderson defends his NEVER Openweight Championship.
The departure of The Elite and strict lockdowns placed during the COVID-19 pandemic had major impacts on NJPW. While other companies like WWE and AEW were able to find a way to slowly rebound once restrictions were lifted, NJPW was not in the same position. Yet, the company put together a strong 2022, so much so that many critics felt the promotion was back to the strength it showed in years prior.
The Wrestle Kingdom showcase has consistently featured some of the best matches of the year, even before the new year is a full week old. The same will be said about 2023. Hopefully, Wrestle Kingdom 17 can make the beginning of what is an even stronger year for the company and professional wrestling as a whole.