The biggest wrestling event outside of WWE’s WrestleMania will light up the Tokyo Dome in Japan on Wednesday, Jan. 4. New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom has made a name for itself over the last two decades for showcasing some of the best professional wrestling on the planet each year on 01/04 — and based on this year’s match card, it’s likely to do so again.
Looming large over this year’s event is the death of NJPW founder Antonio Inoki, who started the promotion in the early 70s. A six-man tag team match will be wrestled in his honor between some of NJPW’s oldest hands.
The headline bouts will see the return of AEW’s Kenny Omega in a match against Will Ospreay for the IWGP United States Championship before Jay White faces off against perennial main-eventer Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to close out the show.
As with Wrestle Kingdom 14, 15 and 16, the event will take place over two nights, but things are a little different this year. Rather than having the second night 24 hours after the first, Wrestle Kingdom 17’s sequel will occur on Jan. 21 in Yokohama Arena. Matches for that night are yet to be determined, but you can bet there will be a few rivalries kindled on night one.
Here’s when and how to watch Wrestle Kingdom 17, along with the full card and a few predictions and stray thoughts about what to expect.
When does Wrestle Kingdom 17 start?
The event kicks off at 3:20 p.m. Japan Standard Time on Jan. 4, which makes it a very late (or very early) start for residents in the US.
- US West Coast: 10:20 p.m. PT, Jan. 3
- US East Coast: 1:20 a.m. ET, Jan. 4
- UK: 6:20 a.m. GMT
- AUS: 5:20 p.m. AEST
Officially, the bell rings at 5 p.m. JST to kick off the night, so you have an extra couple of hours up your sleeve if you’re not interested in the early matches or pre-show.
How to stream Wrestle Kingdom 17 live
The easiest and most convenient way to watch is to sign up for NJPW World, the streaming service of NJPW. This gives you access to both Japanese and English commentary. Sign up costs 999 Japanese Yen, which is around $7.60 USD. You can watch live or on demand, so if you’re in the US and you need to get to sleep… just whack it on the next day.
Wrestle Kingdom 17 Match Card
- Ryohei Oiwa vs. Boltin Oleg (Exhibition)
- New Japan Ranbo (A Battle Royal style match for the King of Pro Wrestling trophy)
- Yuji Nagata, Satoshi & Togi Nakabe vs. Tatsumi Fujinami, Minoru Suzuki & Tiger Mask (Antonio Inoki memorial match)
- Catch 2/2 (TJP and Francesco Akira) (C) vs. CHAOS (Lio Rush and Yoh) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
- KAIRI (C) vs. Tam Nakano for the IWGP Women’s Championship
- FTR (Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler) (C) vs. Bishamon (Hirooki Goto and Yoshi-Hashi) for the IWGP Tag Team Championship
- Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Ren Narita (First everNJPW World Television Championship match)
- Karl Anderson (C) vs. Tama Tonga for NEVER Openweight Championship
- Keiji Muto, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Shota Umino vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon
- Four-Way Match featuring Taiji Ishimori (C) vs. Hiromu Takahaski vs. El Desperado vs. Master Wato for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
- Will Ospreay (C) vs. Kenny Omega for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship
- Jay White (C) vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship
Wrestle Kingdom 17 Predictions and Thoughts
- Former WWE superstar Sasha Banks is expected to make her debut at the Tokyo Dome this year, as NJPW continues to build out its Women’s division. Seems like the IWGP Women’s championship match is the first time to show up. Will Snoop Dogg be there?
- How will Wrestle Kingdom tackle some of the storylines from the AEW and NJPW crossover event, Forbidden Door, back in June? The most obvious name missing from the match card is Katsuyori Shibata. Will Shibata return to Wrestle Kingdom after confronting Will Ospreay and the United Empire at Forbidden Door? Or could he run in during the World Television Championship match? His last match at Wrestle Kingdom was against Ren Narita and Narita is very much leaning into the Shibata gimmick now.
- Speaking of Ospreay v Omega… I mean, pencil in a 9-star from Dave Meltzer.
- Where is Kota Ibushi? The former IWGP World Heavyweight champion wasn’t seen at all in 2022 after a falling out with NJPW president Takami Ohbari but with BFF Omega in the co-main event…?
- Some big names are missing from the card, but the New Japan Ranbo might give them a chance to shine. Someone like KUSHIDA or Shingo Takagi seems ripe for a W here.
- Can the World Heavyweight Championship really go back to Okada again with a clean W? Probably. But what has even happened between these two in the last six months? Okaaaada!