December 11 sees a historic final of World Tag League and Best of the Super Jr. in the Nippon Budokan, and December 12 will see Super J-Cup 2020’s legacy grow as well. It all adds up to a week full of significant matches to explore from the archives.
December 6, 1984: An All-Star Battle Royal
Running through the early 1980s, the MSG tag league gave fans in japan the chance to see the stars of America in Japan as Madson Square Garden atmosphere came to Japanese arenas. The fifth league was on its way to a final that would see Tatsumi Fujinami and Antonio Inoki defeat Dick Murdoch and Adrian Adonis. Before that though, Hiroshima saw a star studded battle royal, a match where it was hard to bet against the hulking Andre the Giant.
December 7 2014: The Power of Friendship
Fast forward 30 years, and the MSG Tag League had evolved through the S-G and G1 Tag Leagues to the World tag League. The final in 2014 saw a one and only occurrence for the modern tournament; a team that had won the trophies now opposite one another in the finals. In 2012, it was Hirooki Goto and Karl Anderson, Sword and Guns winning the first World Tag League. Much had changed since then however as Anderson joined BULLET CLUB, and then formed a tag team with Doc Gallows that had a vice grip on the IWGP tag Team Championship scene.
Opposite them was a team many had dubbed ‘Meiyu (best friend) Tag’: Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto. Having bonded in high school with a burning desire to get into professional wrestling, the two entered the Dojo some years apart, but with a common goal: to one day do battle in the cerulean blue under the bright lights of the Tokyo Dome. Their 2014 started with the two achieving that goal opposite one another; it ended with them achieving the goal of securing a match together.
December 8 2019: Violence purveyed
The 2019 World Tag League final saw FinJuice climb to the top of the mountain, a feat they look to repeat inside the hallowed halls of the Nippon Budokan this Friday night. Making just as much buzz after the event though was the appearance of Jon Moxley when he targeted Lance Archer and the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship.
Moxley had been relieved of the US title when he was unable to make a scheduled defence at King of Pro-Wrestling that year, travel issues arising from a typhoon stopping him from entering Japan. In his absence, Archer captured the title and held it through the autumn, something Moxley was not willing to allow. The purveyor of violence struck with a Death Rider to both Lance and Minoru Suzuki before issuing a Wrestle Kingdom challenge in a Texas Deathmatch.
December 10, 1999: Millennium Shock
January 4 & 5 2021 will see the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships go to Jay White, Tetsuya Naito or Kota Ibushi after a chaotic championship scene is played out across two spectacular nights. In 1999 though, IWGP Heavyweight Championship plans for January 4 in the Tokyo Dome were thrown into disarray when Genichiro Tenryu shocked the world in the last title match of the millennium.
Then 49 year old Tenryu was one of the most feared and respected competitors in Japan for certain, but him defeating Keiji Muto, who was in the midst of a strong championship reign and heading up nWo Japan was not something many fans predicted. Instead, Tenryu’s hard hitting, no nonsense style saw Osaka on their feet and roaring with approval as he pushed the envelope to win his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship in a year ending classic.
December 11 2017: Alpha Bloodies Omega
The 2017 World Tag League final would see EVIL & SANADA victorious for the first time in Fukuoka, but as with the Hiroshima finals two years later, there would be controversy surrounding the IWGP US title.
Chris Jericho had already issued a shocking challenge to US Champion Kenny Omega in a video message at Power Struggle, and when Jericho’s face appeared on the big screen in Fukuoka, many assumed another video threat was all we would see of the self-styled ‘Alpha’.
Yet Jericho was very much present, and hit the ring to issue a bloody and brutal beatdown to Omega. With another brawl erupting from the post tournament press conference, it was clear that ‘Alpha vs Omega’ was going to be a very personal fight that January.