WWE and New Japan have intertwined before, from Antonio Inoki’s excursions to Madison Square Garden in the seventies and early 80s, to Hulk Hogan and some of the WWE ilk appearing on their cards into the mid-80s. In 1990, the two even joined up with All Japan to put together a card called Wrestling Summit, a joint venture that was a who’s who of wrestling in 1990, complete with Bret Hart vs. Tiger Mask II, Randy Savage vs. Genichiro Tenryu, and Hulk Hogan vs. Stan Hansen.
Managing to put together a joint show today between WWE and New Japan sounds like it’d be easier said than done, though with New Japan’s increasingly-global profile, an event pitting the two promotions in head-to-head competition would set the wrestling world on its ear. Of course, manoeuvring through that molasses-thick political muck to agree on finishes, promotion, etc, would be migraine-inducing, so an idea like this is relegated to just armchair fantasy booking.
But armchair fantasy booking is fun, isn’t it? If you were to book the hybrid WrestleKingdom/WrestleMania card (KingdoMania?), how would you structure the card? What matches would make up the event? Here’s a look at 10 matches that would make sense (in one man’s opinion) for this theoretical supercard…
10. John Cena Vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
Cena has been the face of WWE programming since his ascent to the World title tier in 2005, capturing some form of company-sanctioned World Championship on 16 occasions over the ensuing 12 years. Tanahashi was the face of New Japan Pro Wrestling when it began to re-emerge as a superpower a decade or so ago, capturing seven IWGP Heavyweight titles, which combine for nearly four years of duration.
Both Cena and Tanahashi are now in their forties, and have functionally become elder statesmen to different degrees for their home promotions – Cena’s relegated now to special appearances, while Tanahashi remains fairly active, challenging for the IWGP title at WrestleKingdom 13. This match would pit one valuable flagbearer and undisputed legend against another, a timeless battle in more ways than one.