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.
9. Kevin Owens Vs. Juice Robinson
Just four years ago, Owens and Robinson passed each other going in different directions - Owens had just made his NXT debut, and would soon become the ace heel of the group, while then-CJ Parker was treading water, months away from requesting his release from WWE. The two faced off in Owens' debut at TakeOver, which was notable for Parker breaking Owens' nose with a stiff palm strike.
But there were no hard feelings from KO, who this past summer praised Robinson as being the best promo in the business today. Putting the two in the ring together today (well, accounting for a healthy Owens, that is) would call back to what seems like ancient history today, only with Robinson at a career-peak, instead of floundering in his angry hippie role.
8. Seth Rollins Vs. Will Ospreay
The temptation here was to just throw Ricochet in against Ospreay, knowing that the collective athleticism would likely break the internet once more. But I wanted to go with main roster WWE performers for this exercise, and there's nothing wrong with Seth Freaking Rollins filling the WWE slot opposite the ionosphere-scraping Ospreay, is there?
The two-time reigning Wrestling Observer "Best Flyer" award winner matches up perfectly with WWE's tireless daredevil, one who follows up suicide dives with suicide dives in an earnest attempt to get the crowds to pass out from oxygen deprivation. And knowing Rollins' competitive spirit, he would know how those Ricochet-Ospreay matches were received, and would do everything in his power to try and top them. Wouldn't bet against him.
7. Brock Lesnar Vs. Minoru Suzuki
There are many overly-qualified WWE wrestlers that could match up interestingly against the ageless brutality and sadism of the immortal Suzuki. Rusev, Samoa Joe, Drew McIntyre, and NXT's Pete Dunne would all make for ideal foes of Suzuki, whose unapologetic infliction of pain and elite fighting prowess matches up well with each listed man, for different reasons.
But for this one, let's break the expensive glass and liberate Lesnar, whose brute force and remorseless barbarism is just as frightening, if not moreso, than Suzuki's well-honed cruelty. With a combined age of 91, you might not expect such an intriguing matchup from any two other ageing wrestlers. But these aren't two ordinary men, and the end result would probably resemble the Superman-Doomsday fight to the death.
6. Rey Mysterio Vs. Kota Ibushi
We got a little taste of Mysterio vs. Ibushi at All In back in September, when the two high-flying marvels were on opposite sides of the evening's final match. The rushed nature of the bout irked a few folks, though most still found it to be excellent under its truncated circumstances.
But imagine what a one-on-one match with less hindrances would look like between the two. Both have proven to be utterly ageless, as Mysterio seemingly moves around better than he has in years, while Ibushi is as enthralling as ever, evidenced by his matches with Tanahashi and Kenny Omega in the G1 Climax over the summer. If anything, a match between two undoubted aerial artists would be a bucket list item for fans worldwide.
5. The New Day Vs. The Elite
There's not a lot of time to get this one done due to the pastures new Messrs Jacksons and Rhodes are heading for, but nevertheless, now we arrive at what would probably be the most fun match of the show, a blend of dazzling athleticism, creative thinking, and the sort of bats**t insanity that makes for potent Twitter trends. There's probably a video game tie-in in there somewhere, whether they'd all dress as characters from rival fighting games, or the match itself turning into an impromptu Dance Dance Revolution challenge.
The theme here is you have six men who not only think outside the box regularly in their professional lives, but do so with the sort of unrestrained boldness that has turned all six men into genuine stars. The match would be a celebration of free will and free spirit at the highest level in pro wrestling, a trend that needs to continue.
4. Shinsuke Nakamura Vs. Chris Jericho
Up until very recently, Nakamura held the WWE United States title that Jericho held for a time in 2017. Jericho holds the IWGP Intercontinental title that Nakamura held on five occasions, for more than 900 combined days (both records). It feels a bit weird to see each man in the other's place, when the longstanding norm would see Jericho perched high within WWE, while Nakamura ruled mightily in New Japan.
It would be bizarre in a cool way to see each man defend terrain that isn't always immediately associated with them. And with each man at their most heelish (Nakamura would have a chance to conjure up some of that old King of Strong Style majesty), you'd get a very unique match from the pair. The quintessential Nakamura performance has been absent since his ascent to the main WWE roster. Betcha Jericho could coax it out of him.
3. Daniel Bryan Vs. Tetsuya Naito
Which would you rather see: humble hero Bryan that takes on all comers, battling the no-effs-given Naito that is an ungodly presence, or the snide and bitter Bryan of today that who puts down the fans for judging him, getting beaten from pillar to post by the rebellious anti-hero that is Naito? So many directions, so many possibilities.
Fans who speculated about a possible exit from WWE by a non-medically-cleared Bryan yearned for him to hit up New Japan, with Naito as an oft-cited dream opponent, and for good reason. We've seen Bryan do battle with Los Ingobernables founder Andrade "Cien" Almas this year on SmackDown, so why not pit him against the founder of the New Japan offshoot? Both Bryan and Naito have made deep impressions on their respective promotions after each found their career-defining niches, and have spurred their own vast followings by standing out from the pack. The match-up would be a perfect fit.
2. Finn Balor Vs. Kazuchika Okada
The two charismatic presences have faced off before, most notably in the main event of Day 8 of the 2013 Kizuna Road, with Okada retaining the IWGP Heavyweight title over Prince Devitt in the main event. Devitt would leave New Japan for WWE a scant four weeks before AJ Styles (functionally his replacement within Bullet Club) defeated Okada to capture that same belt, ending the reign that Devitt (among others) could not.
It would be a treat to see Balor renew old hostilities with Okada, with some of those ex-Bullet Club mercenaries coming along for the ride. It would certainly be a far cry from Balor alternating between the same matches he's had with Bobby Lashley and Baron Corbin for the last six months.
1. AJ Styles Vs. Kenny Omega
A revenge match three years in the making. When Styles was WWE bound at the onset of 2016, what turned out to be his final match with New Japan saw tag team partner, and Bullet Club mate, Omega turn on him. Omega assumed leadership of the villainous group, and wouldn't look back, eventually reaching the apex of New Japan with many classic matches left in his wake. Styles, meanwhile, conquered WWE twice over as World Champion.
Though Styles is no longer WWE Champion, pitting him against New Japan's kingpin is a must, based entirely on their shared history (including Omega's hesitation and apprehension during and after Styles' win over Ibushi at Invasion Attack 2015). It's the best possible main event of the matches listed, and considering the quality on this list so far, that speaks volumes.