New Japan Pro-Wrestling kicked off 2019 with their annual Tokyo Dome show last night (early this morning for fans in the U.S.) and made quite a few announcements for the coming year.
While the reveal of several new international events including more dates in the U.S. and an exciting expansion to London, England got fans buzzing, the biggest piece of breaking news is that for the first time in history, Wrestle Kingdom will be expanding to a massive, two-night event at the Tokyo Dome starting in 2020.
In years past New Japan has always run their annual event on Jan. 4th in the Dome, with a smaller show at a much smaller venue (usually Korakeun Hall) on Jan. 5th called New Year Dash, which is generally heavy on angles and big story-driven surprises to set the pace for the year to come. In 2020 they will instead be taking a huge risk by running the Dome for both nights of the tour.
At this point further details are scarce, but we expect more information later in the year. One interesting potential factor is that last night’s Wrestle Kingdom 13 was much shorter than anyone expected it to be, clocking in at under four hours for the main card on what is usually a six-to-seven hour long event in total.
This could be a sign that they want to move away from the longer, marathon shows. One would think those aren’t great for retaining first-time viewers who may not be prepared to dedicate seven hours of their life to a card full of long matches, featuring stars they may or may not be fully invested in.
However, the shorter length led to a lot of criticism that many of the singles titles matches weren’t given enough time to really get off the ground, so hopefully by moving to two shows in 2020, if both of them run around four hours long, they can really stack each show and give proper time to each of the major singles belts.