Naito and Cobb will vie for the Tokyo Dome challenger’s spot Sunday
Ever since Tetsuya Naito was challenged by Jeff Cobb in the wake of Naito’s G1 Climax win, questions have been raised by both men as to what officially might be at stake in their meeting Sunday in Kobe. While Kazuchika Okada ended the tradition of a G1 winner defending his right to challenge briefcase in subsequent matchups toward the end of the year in 2022, Naito had questioned the point of wrestling with no stakes, threatening to ‘lie down in five seconds’, while Jeff Cobb rightfully asserted that is he were able to beat Naito for a second time one on one after the G1 Climax opening night in Hokkaido, he more than deserves El Ingobernable’s January 4 slot.
The resulting controversy even led Naito to hand make a Tokyo Dome ‘contract’ and a ‘briefcase’ to put it in; in typically trolling form this was a hand written note on crumpled paper and a tote bag. As tensions between El Ingobernable and the Imperial Unit have continued to escalate through the Road to Destruction tour, NJPW have now made things official. Sunday’s special singles match between Naito and Cobb will indeed have the main event spot at Wrestle Kingdom 18, and the right to challenge the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion at stake. Can Naito keep his goal of the biggest ‘de Japon’ cheer of all time alive, or will Jeff Cobb have a different roll call in mind?