IC Title Match
This is a case where having a great match could and should be enough for Jay White. Moreover, if White loses here, it actually frees him up to win the New Japan Cup which might do just as much or more than winning the IC championship. At the same time, Tanahashi is banged up and may take time off after Wrestlekingdom so having White as the Intercontinental champion may be a necessity. My thoughts are essentially based on Tanahashi’s ability to wrestle going forward. If Tanahashi needs significant time off, then this is a perfect opportunity for him to drop the IC title now and get healthy for the Spring and Summer. If they have big plans for Jay White beyond this title and Tanahashi can give them one more big event, then Tanahashi should and probably will win.
US Title Match
I am pretty sure that Omega is going to beat Jericho. I am also pretty sure that he will do it at WrestleKingdom…but that is not automatic. There is a New Japan event called Strong Style Evolved on March 25th so Omega could beat Jericho on that event. I am not usually for even-steven booking, especially when the idea is to get a new person over. At the same time, this could be more than just about Omega. In fact, it is more than about Omega. Anecdotal evidence says that Jericho wrestling at WrestleKingdom has at least gotten people interested enough to check out this show. If this is Jericho’s only match with New Japan, then obviously Omega should win. If not, the only question is whether or not it is a negative to have Omega lose at WK which will have a bigger international audience than Strong Style Evolved. Then again, Jericho could always put over Omega twice. Let’s also not forget the social media friction between Jericho and Naito which could lead to a match between those two, but Jericho does not need to beat Omega to have a match with Naito, even the Naito match is for the world title. I’ll say Omega because Jericho does not have to beat him to do more with NJPW and if he does not do more-the result is obvious.
World Title Match
Personally, I would love to see Naito win..but as I have learned from those who have followed NJPW longer than I have…the Ace does not lose at WK. Someone on Reddit brought up a good point, if you have followed Naito’s story…this could easily be another chapter in the story. In other words, once he comes out for the main event…that is a triumph in the Naito story. Naito does not have to beat Okada right now. I think he should eventually and if it was me, it would be this year…but Okada winning is not a bad choice.
One argument against Okada is that there is no one left for him to face. I thought so too. Then I was walking to the store and I thought of several more challengers who he has not gone through in this reign (or finished telling the story with in this reign). There is Jay White, Zack Sabre, a heel Goto, Ishii, a tiebreaker with Omega, a rematch with Naito and even Jericho. In essence, there are fresh matches no matter who wins. I went from being all in on Naito to trusting Gedo and enjoying whatever happens.