Last night before Wrestle Kingdom is last night for Suzuki-Gun
The final matches of 2022 in New Japan Pro-Wrestling will tonight see the final ground laid for Wrestle Kingdom 17, and the last hurrah for Suzuki-Gun. An emotionally charged evening is sure to unfold in Korakuen Hall December 23.
Main event: Suzuki-Gun Final- Suzuki-Gun (TAKA Michinoku, El Desperado, Lance Archer & Minoru Suzuki) vs Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr., Yoshinobu Kanemaru & DOUKI)
After 11 years of violent brotherhood, it would only make sense for the final Suzuki-Gun match to see all eight active members fighting one another in our main event. One of the most hated and feared factions in all of professional wrestling history is also one of the most respected and loved; as Minoru Suzuki’s army is more than strong enough as a collective of individuals to stand on their own merits, this final melee will be a bittersweet one indeed.
7th Match: Kazuchika Okada, YOH & Master Wato vs BULLET CLUB (El Phantasmo, Taiji Ishimori & Gedo)
With IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White conspicuous by his absence, Kazuchika Okada will have eyes in the back of his head, and fists balled as he takes the Catalyst’s handler Gedo to task here tonight. Speaking of conspicuous, El Phantasmo is notably missing from the Tokyo Dome card on January 4; having suggested that he is better suited to KOPW competition than any other member of the roster, the KOPW 2023 Ranbo is certainly a potential spot for ELP. He could show his hand tonight, while Master Wato seeks a final hint at outlasting Taiji Ishimori in January 4’s chaotic four way.
6th Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi & Shota Umino vs Los Ingobernables De Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & BUSHI)
Five sixths of Keiji Muto’s final NJPW match will face off in trios competition on December 23. Ryusuke Taguchi perhaps couldn’t be further removed from Keiji Muto, but nonetheless will present stiff competition alongside Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shota Umino as they get set to face LIJ in the Tokyo Dome in a match that sees past, present and future collide.
5th match: TenCozy (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) vs Bishamon (YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto)
Tag record: 2-0 Bishamon
On January 4, World Tag League winners Bishamon seek to regain IWGP Tag team Championship gold in the Tokyo Dome when they face FTR. As Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler ply their trade primarily in AEW, Goto and YOSHI-HASHI feel duty bound to bring the tag titles home; as six time former IWGP Tag Team Champions themselves, TenCozy know something of champion duties, and will be instilling some of that into Bishamon here tonight.
4th Match: Los Ingobernables De Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi) vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL & Dick Togo)
A sub narrative through much of 2022 has been the near total collapse of HOUSE OF TORTURE when it comes to competition. In a results driven business, H.O.T may as well be in reverse such has been their record over tag leagues and recent tours. Part of that collapse was during the New Japan Cup, when a packed Korakuen Hall exploded for Hiromu’s victory over EVIL. That gets run back here, and might we see a hint for future directions of the NEVER Openweight 6 Man titles and KOPW into 2023?
3rd Match: Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Tiger Mask & Ren Narita vs United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan, Aaron Henare & Francesco Akira)
United Empire have always been motivated by a certain chip on the shoulder. That should be all the more prominent over the two days rounding out 2022 in Korakuen Hall, as Akira is the only member of this four man squad with a spot on the main card at Wrestle Kingdom. Ren Narita earned his own spot by reaching the finals of a NJPW World TV title tournament that saw Jeff Cobb, Great-O-Khan and Aaron Henare all fall by the wayside; those frustrations are sure to be acted out tonight as United Empire look to end the year with a forceful statement.
2nd Match: Ryohei Oiwa & Kosei Fujita vs CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano)
2023 is sure to see Ryohei Oiwa and Kosei Fujita continue their rise. As they end 2022, the two young prospects will team up against former IWGP Tag Team Champions in Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yano.
1st match: Yuto Nakashima & Oskar Leube vs HOUSE OF TORTURE (Yujiro Takahashi & SHO)
As poor as the close of 2022 has been for HOUSE OF TORTURE, they remain with the NEVER 6 Man tittle’s in their clutches. Two thirds of the championship team will be in action against the NZ Dojo connection of Oskar Leube and Yuto Nakashima. It would be the Christmas present of a lifetime if these ‘frenemies’ were to upset two of the champs, but two men right at the top of the naughty list will have something to say about that.