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JAN.3.2024

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Last statements delivered at Wrestle Kingdom Press Conference (2/2) 【WK18】

Global title revealed and contenders go face to face

The Hikosen theater played host to the pre Wrestle Kingdom 18 Press Conference on January 3 with everyone involved on the Tokyo Dome card giving their thoughts on the biggest event of the year. 

The press conference tables were littered with gold when Guerrillas of Destiny and Bishamon took to the stage before their double IWGP and NJPW STRONG Tag title match. Hikuleo would laud Bishamon’s accomplishments but said it was ‘time for a new generation to lead the tag division,’ while El Phantasmo, via some colourful language, would end on the point that they ‘feel 100%, look 100%, the crowd is 100% behind us and we will become the 100th IWGP Tag Team Champions.’

Responding for Bishamon, YOSHI-HASHI stated ‘we won the IWGP titles the last two years at Wrestle Kingdom, but this year we’re going in as champions. I promise we’ll defend, and 100% kick your asses,’ as Goto vowed to put Bishamon’s reputation as three time World Tag League winners and Tokyo Sports Tag Team of the year on the line. 

El Desperado and Hiromu Takahashi both have their own impressive reputations to defend, and El Desperado made reference to that in hi sown comments to the press. Saying that 2023 had ‘sharpened (my soul) is going a bit far,’ Desperado said he felt that he had ‘gone all over in the last year, representing the junior heavyweight division, and put all we had into wrestling, almost to the point that if the fans were into it then that was a bonus’. Desperado evoked what he had wanted to do when he first won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion in wrestling Dragon Lee for the belt, saying ‘that doesn’t seem likely, but if Andrade can go from AEW to CMLL it shows nobody knows what might happen in the next year’.

Hiromu would quip ‘sorry, but Dragon Lee is mine,’ before reiterating his goal of breaking the defence record, and that ‘this is the last time I will wrestle El Desperado in a spot other than the main event.’. Checking on the status of EL Desperado’s after recent surgery and getting the snipe back that ‘they gave me the bonus of a neat eyelid tuck as well,’ the contract was signed. 

The IWGP Global Championship was shown to the public for the first time during the press conference, with David Finlay confident that he would be its first holder. Stating that he was wrestling ‘the bedrock (Jon Moxley) and the shiny new toy (Will Ospreay) of AEW,’ Finlay said ‘it’ll be my pleasure to beat both of you tomorrow’. Finlay said that he had ‘engineered all of this,’ including attacking his opponents in Osaka and destroying both the IWGP US and UK Championships ‘without consequence, because the world is rigged, and I was born on the side where I get to do what I want’.

That led Moxley to retort that ‘it took balls for you to do what you did, but when you disrespected everything that came before you, it came time for you to learn what it’s like to take the heat’. After conferring with Ospreay, Moxley took the Briton up on his offer of ‘a ceasefire’ in the opening five minutes of the three way match to take out Finlay and then ‘leave things to what the fans want to see, a singles match between Jon Moxley and Will Ospreay’. With some non alcoholic beer to sweeten the deal, Moxley and Ospreay thanked the Japanese fans for the positive mark they had made on the contender’s respective careers before departing. 

Bryan Danielson and Kazuchika Okada had the fans even more excited for what is already a dream rematch January 4. Danielson would talk of his happiness at returning to Japan after 20 years before discussing the injuries he’d sustained at Okada’s hands. ‘Am I angry,’ asked the American Dragon, surmising ‘yes,’ before following ‘do I want revenge, yes. But am I grateful these injuries happened, also yes, because each time I get hurt I’ve come back better and I’ve come back stronger.’

Okada would reply in typical cool and casual style, sniping that he had ‘never had time off due to injury’ in his 20 year career, before daring Danielson ‘if he thinks he can break my arm I want to see him try, and I’ll still win with a Rainmaker.’ Okada mocked Danielson’s injuries during the photo op, leaving the American Dragon’s final statement a middle finger proffered the Rainmaker.

 

That left the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship to close out the press conference. Naito reiterated previous jabs that ‘if I tell him to speak, he’s silent, so this time, please SANADA, no comment- maybe then you’ll say something.’ Naito restated his goal of a massive roll call in the Tokyo Dome, and to ‘live now to the fullest because it’s never coming back.’

SANADA was typically understated in response, but his words, of living his dream in the Tokyo Dome after 18 years of work and hardship, and desiring a ‘gift’ to the fans after the main event was done resonated with the connections he’d made with the people in his months as champion. Will that time end tomorrow, or will a sea of lights close out Wrestle Kingdom 18?  

 

 

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