Wrestle Kingdom 18 Recap: A Tribute To The Past And A Bridge To The Future
As the curtains closed on the 50th-anniversary celebrations for NJPW, Wrestle Kingdom 17 marked both an end and a beginning. Held on January 4, 2023, the event took place at the Tokyo Dome, signaling a return to capacity crowds after pandemic-induced restrictions.
Inoki Memorial Theme
The shadow of founder Antonio Inoki’s passing in the autumn loomed large over the event, transforming the card into an Inoki memorial. This poignant theme encapsulated the past, present, and future of the legendary legacy of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Wrestle Kingdom 17 became a historic moment in NJPW’s history, being the most-watched Wrestle Kingdom across TV, NJPW World, and in-person attendance. The Tokyo Dome welcomed enthusiastic crowds, eager to witness a loaded card featuring some of the biggest names in professional wrestling.
Clash of Titans: Okada vs. White
The main event showcased a clash between two formidable opponents, Kazuchika Okada and Switchblade Jay White. Okada, having won the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship in 2022, carried the responsibility of representing NJPW through its 50th year. On the other hand, White returned to the forefront, challenging Okada after winning the title at Dominion.
The Rainmaker’s Redemption
Despite Okada’s previous success, Jay White had proven to be a formidable opponent, holding victories over the Rainmaker on multiple occasions. The main event of Wrestle Kingdom 17 was the culmination of their rivalry, and Okada’s determination to honor Inoki’s legacy prevailed. The night concluded with a triumphant cheer led by Okada, echoing through the Tokyo Dome.
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