To call Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada a 'big match' would be a gross understatement. Not only is this the biggest bout of NJPW's Bushiroad era, but it's also the most well-built. The bookers have done a masterful job of keeping both wrestlers apart since 'The Rainmaker' defeated Naito back in June 2016, and the challenger is peaking at just the right moment, all but guaranteeing a powder-keg atmosphere when they hit the ring on January 4th.
It's the greatest IWGP Heavyweight Champion of all time against the hottest wrestler on the planet. The Ace vs. The Star. Okada's rapidly-growing legend versus his challenger's incredible popularity. One for the ages, basically.
By the time 'The Rainmaker' enters the Tokyo Dome on Thursday, he'll have been IWGP Champion for a record-breaking 563 days, having successfully defended the belt on eight occasions. His 2017 will go down as one of the all-time greatest individual years in wrestling history, but it's time for a change. Naito is 'the guy' for 2018. Fans have been pining for his true coronation for years, and NJPW have held off just long enough to ensure a perfect title-winning moment at Wrestle Kingdom 12, which should go down as his career's greatest highlight
Winner: Tetsuya Naito