New Japan Pro Wrestling held a press conference this morning to announce the complete match card for Wrestle Kingdom 13, their biggest show of the entire year taking place at the Tokyo Dome on Friday, Jan. 4th.
The biggest piece of news is that Cody Rhodes will defend his IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship against Juice Robinson. It will be the third bout between the two, and something of a “full circle” moment as Cody actually defeated Juice in his New Japan debut at Wrestle Kingdom 11.
As expected, Will Ospreay will face Kota Ibushi for the NEVER Openweight Championship at the show, after defeating Taichi in a #1 contender’s match at the World Tag League Finals this past weekend. The Guerrillas of Destiny will also defend their IWGP Tag Team Championships against The Young Bucks and World Tag League winners EVIL and SANADA in a triple threat match.
This year’s Tokyo Dome show will NOT feature the traditional New Japan Rumble. Instead, a gauntlet match will take place to determine the #1 contenders to the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships. The Rumble was really just a way to feature the rest of the roster on the show and bring back a few legends for nostalgia spots, but they can accomplish the first one of those things with the gauntlet.
Below is the full match card starting with the main event and working backwards. Interestingly enough, Ibushi and Ospreay, the match that could potentially steal the show and present an early Match of the Year contender if given enough time, is actually kicking off the main card.
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13
January 4, 2019
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
— Kenny Omega (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
— Chris Jericho (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito
Special Singles Match
— Kazuchika Okada vs. “Switchblade” Jay White
IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship
— KUSHIDA (c) vs. Taiji Ishimori
IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship
— Cody Rhodes (c) vs. Juice Robinson
IWGP Tag Team Championship
— Guerrillas of Destiny (c) vs. SANADA & EVIL vs. The Young Bucks
RPW British Heavyweight Championship
— Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championship
— Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado (c) vs. Roppongi 3K vs. Bushi & Shingo Takagi
NEVER Openweight Championship
— Kota Ibushi (c) vs. Will Ospreay
Pre-Show Gauntlet Match
— Partipants TBD