On October 10, the wrestling media gathered in the conference room of TV Asahi’s headquarters and it was made official: Kazuchika Okada will defend the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito.
Naito and Okada have a history at the Tokyo Dome that goes back to 2014. Wrestle Kingdom 8 also saw an IWGP title match between champion Okada and challenger Naito. However, a fan poll saw that match bumped to semi main event status as Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura headlined for the Intercontinental Championship.
Four years on, and after Okada successfully defended the IWGP title against EVIL, Naito asked the fans in Ryogoku whether an Okada versus Naito main event was OK with them. This time, the crowd roared their assent to what will undoubtedly be a confrontation for the ages.
Since winning the title from Naito himself in Osaka Jo Hall last June, Okada has made eight consecutive successful defences. His win over EVIL on October 9 secured Okada’s place in legend, his title reign soon to become the longest in history.
Now, the self proclaimed ‘superhuman’ faces his greatest challenge. Destined opponents will meet on the grandest stage, and a match that will shake New Japan Pro Wrestling to its very core will take place on January 4, 2018.
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