The biggest wrestling event outside of WWE’s WrestleMania lights 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 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 largely uneventful six-man tag team match was wrestled in his honor between some of NJPW’s oldest hands on the pre-show.
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 card 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, live results and a few stray thoughts about what’s transpired.
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.
If that’s the case and you don’t want any spoilers… don’t read on.
Wrestle Kingdom 17 match card and results
Winners are denoted in bold.
- Ryohei Oiwa vs. Boltin Oleg (Exhibition) — ended in a time limit draw.
- New Japan Ranbo (A Battle Royal style match for the King of Pro Wrestling trophy) — Great-O-Khan, Sho, Toru Yano and Shingo Takagi were the final four. They will face off at New Year Dash!! on Jan. 5
- 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 ever NJPW 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 Stray Thoughts and Observations
- Well, the rumours were true. Former WWE superstar Sasha Banks was expected to make her debut at the Tokyo Dome this year, as NJPW continues to build out its Women’s division, and she did — as Mercedes Moné. She entered exactly when most predicted she would — right after Kairi retained the IWGP Women’s Championship. She announced the two would be facing each other at Battle in the Valley on Feb. 18.
- Bishamon’s win is the first title change of the night, but don’t expect it to be the last!
- Zack Sabre Jr., a native Brit, called out UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during his entrance, screaming “pay nurses dickhead, pay nurses a living wage.”
- I thought we might see a more significant appearance from Katsuyori Shibata, who last wrestled at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 16. He was on commentary for the NJPW World Television Championship match.
- Zack Sabre Jr. joined the stable TMDK after winning his the World Television Championship, which was his first singles title in NJPW.
- Karl Anderson came out wearing an O.C. shirt, a WWE creation.
- The Anderson/Tonga match was really quite good but it ended with a pretty horrific botch by Anderson (I think?). Tonga tried the Gun Stun and Anderson seemed to throw him off… Messy.
- Tetsuya Naito giving off real Donnie Darko energy with his rabbit mask. Also very reminiscent of WWE’s Fiend, but I don’t want to throw any stones.