NJPW Making Major Wrestle Kingdom Change
The biggest show in the Japanese wrestling calendar, NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom is set to undergo a major change in 2023 compared to recent years.
January 4th has long been a special day in Japanese wrestling with shows on that date taking place in the hallowed Tokyo Dome dating back to 1991. The first Wrestle Kingdom was held on that date in 2007 and saw Hiroshi Tanahashi successfully defend his IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
In 2020, Wrestle Kingdom got even bigger with NJPW announcing that the event was to take place over two nights on the 4th and 5th of January. On the first 5th of January Wrestle Kingdom show, Tetsuya Naito defeated Kazuchika Okada to unify both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships.
The two-night format returned in 2021 and in 2022 Wrestle Kingdom extended to three nights with night three showcasing a battle for supremacy between New Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling NOAH.
During the finals of the G1 Climax tournament that saw Okada defeat Will Ospreay in the finals, NJPW announced that for 2023 Wrestle Kingdom will be reverting to a one-night show on the 4th of January with the traditional New Year’s Dash event taking place one night later.
Speaking on Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer elaborated on the change:
“Until their business is back, I get it. It’s better financial obviously if you can draw two nights because that can carry your whole year and thank God in 2020 they did because that year would have been a financial disaster without that 30,000 fan gate, that $3 million the second night really carried them through.”
“[…] I’m sure when they get back to where they were before the pandemic, they’ll go back to doing two Tokyo Dome shows but they’re not gonna be there this year.”
It has also been suggested that AEW will have some form of presence in the Tokyo Dome on January 4th.