At a press conference today, NJPW Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi announced the following bouts which include some NJPW/AEW crossovers.
The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Hiromu Takahashi, will defend the title against challenger El Desperado.
Super Jr. Tag League 2023 winners, TJP and Francesco Akira, will challenge the Bullet Club War Dogs (Clark Connors and Drilla Moloney) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships.
Will Ospreay will defend his IWGP US Heavyweight Championship against David Finlay and Jon Moxley.
Kazuchika Okada and Bryan Danielson will also battle again and Sanada will also defend his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito.
The IWGP US Heavyweight Championship will not be the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship for long though as Sugabayashi explained.
“Regarding the IWGP U.S. championship we are establishing a new title. It is true there has been some confusion among fans as to whether it is the IWGP US or UK so we will create a new title and announce those details as soon as possible,” he said.
Hiromu Takahashi was the only NJPW star at this particular press conference. He took the time to kid and joke with the press and color commentator Katsuhiko Kanazawa who was hosting the press conference. Hiromu entered with his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and an Iron Man championship belt.
“Do you want this title?” Hiromu asked Kanazawa of the Iron Man belt.
“No, I am good,” Kanazawa answered with a laugh.
“Are you sure? You can have it,” said Hiromu.
“I can’t beat you for it,” Kanazawa laughed.
“Just put a hand over me and it is yours,” Hiromu insisted.
“You cannot have this one! No way!” Hiromu said of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
Hiromu was then asked how he felt about putting the title on the line against El Desperdo.
“I am truly happy! I am thrilled!” he answered. “After 10 months I can confidently wear this belt as a champion.”
Hiromu was pleased to know that at Wrestle Kingdom 18 he would entering as a champion for the very first time.
“That’s awesome! A first for me! I am glad to hear it!” he responded.
Hiromu then began to clown around as there didn’t appear to be any other guests. He asked reporters to ask him anything they wanted.
“Dig down deep for it!” he exclaimed.
“What are you into lately?” asked one reporter.
“That is hard. Do I have to answer? What if I flip it? What are you into?” Hiromu answered back.
“There it is,” answered the reporter.
“What do you mean? What do you mean by that? Kind of rude if you ask me,” said Hiromu.
At the thirty minute mark Hiromu wrapped things up with a warning.
“Will this really air? You won’t edit it, will you? The running time should be thirty minutes! If this goes up with 27 minutes there will be hell to pay!” he promised.
Thankfully, the entire press conference was 30 minutes and 39 seconds.
Wrestle Kingdom 18 will take place on January 4, 2024, at the Tokyo Dome.