Tetsuya Naito to defend Double Championship against Kota Ibushi on Jan. 4

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2020/11/08/tetsuya-naito-to-defend-double-championship-against-kota-ibushi-on-1-4/

On Sunday, New Japan Pro Wrestling held a press conference regarding Wrestle Kingdom 15 taking place on January 4 & 5, 2021, at the Tokyo Dome.

Stemming from the result at Power Struggle, Jay White will challenge for the Double Championship on the second night of Wrestle Kingdom while taking the first night off.

This follows White’s victory against Kota Ibushi on Saturday in Osaka where he used the rope for leverage to pin Ibushi and take possession of the briefcase that earns him a title shot at Wrestle Kingdom.

At the press conference, Tetsuya Naito stated White would receive the title match on the second night but he will defend the Double Championship on January 4th against Ibushi.

Naito’s statement:

For a few years now we’ve had this system of the G1 winner holding the right to challenge contract. The holder of the contract should have his wishes respected. Wrestle Kingdom 15 will be held once again over two nights on January 4 & 5, so whether the contract holder gets his match on night one or night two shouldn’t matter. Therefore, I have no issues with facing Jay White in accordance to his wishes on January 5 2021.

However, if Wrestle Kingdom is being held over two nights, I want to wrestle twice. I want to have two main events, two title matches. So I will wrestle on January 4 against an opponent of my choosing. Jay White is getting his wish of a title match on January 5 so he should have no issues. I’ll be worn out wrestling two main events in a row, but I feel it’s on me to show the world what I can do. So I want to have two title matches, and I will have two title matches.

On January 4, I want to face Kota Ibushi. Yes, Ibushi put his contract on the line and lost to Jay White. So he shouldn’t have a right to a title match at the Tokyo Dome. Yet both of us were in the G1 Climax, and he won it, not me. He won it back to back, not me. That hurt, and I want to get revenge for that. I think jay should respect that. I beat Ibushi January 4 and face him on January 5. There should be no problem with that. Sorry to Jay, but I want to face Ibushi more. So that’s my official request.

How about it? Thing is, I want NJPW to carefully consider this. If I get what I want here, what does that say about the contract concept? If this is the case surely we don’t need a contract at all? That might become the case. So I want the company to very carefully take everything into consideration.

NJPW chairman Naoki Sugabayashi spoke at the presser noting they planned to make several announcements for Wrestle Kingdom but deferred and said they would be made at a later date.

Sugabayshi said that since July 11th, they have run 54 live events with 72,706 fans and there have been zero COVID-19 cases arising from their shows.

Great matches fix a lot of problems. But on its face, this reads a lot like having a huge stipulation match and then undermining the result immediately.

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So two years in a row the idea of a double champion and two nights of Wrestle Kingdom have actually made the booking heading into the premier event worse. Stop with the two titles, stop with the two nights. One night, 2 titles, I’m tired of these silly stipulations and tournaments that don’t mean anything. If I wanted that I’d watch more WWE and less New Japan.

I’ve been of the opinion that New Japan needed to have the winner of the G1 lose the title shot at least once. If they were so intent on the briefcase being defended between the two events, it makes sense. If the winner is never in doubt, a bit of drama is lost. It makes things more interesting for future years by moving ‘this could happen’ to ‘this has happened’. And in a year with limited fans, why not now?

But the double championship / double nights in the dome make it meaningless. Ibushi still gets a shot, you don’t have a clear main event for night two and it all seems like deja vu.

This storyline with Ibushi winning, then losing the briefcase but getting the title shot at WK anyway is so, SO much WWE that my head just hurts. Why no give the G1 to Jay White in this case? Heat? Well, now you do have a heat with me but for an entirely different reason - WWE booking (like we didn’t had enough of this with all the interferences lately).

Why this needs to be so convoluted? I hate this story.

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Yeah, not only does this feel like a rehash of this year’s WK title matches, but it simultaneously weakens both the G1 and White’s surprise win. Ibushi’s path to the gold is now predicated more on there being two nights of WK rather than his own work. Very much feels like Bryan’s WM 31 story, though instead of having to adjust on the fly to Bautista going over like a lead balloon and Bryan’s stubborn insistence on remaining over, Gedo’s had a full year to plan Ibushi’s redemption. I’m sure the matches will be great (I have a mixture of dread and excitement about Ibushi and Naito nearly killing one another again), but the story feels contrived.

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Jay White should have won the G1 over Ibushi in the final (a rematch of 2019) and then Naito should still have given the title shot to Ibushi after Jay said he wanted the Night 2 match. That would have at least been a way to generate heat in the feuds. Instead they got heat with the fans for booking stupid re-do of last year. At least Okada won’t be facing Jay White on Jan 4.