Did you watch Wrestle Kingdom 9? Did you see the IWGP Tag Team Championship match between The Bullet Club and Meiyu Tag? That is, for all intents and purposes, the same match we’re getting at Wrestle Kingdom 10, except Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata (Meiyu Tag) are being replaced by two balding, ageing men with blonde dye jobs, also known as Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma (G.B.H.), near identical backstory and all.
Firstly, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson of The Bullet Club are heading into Wrestle Kingdom as long-time champs again. They had held the tag titles for an entire year before losing them to Meiyu Tag at Wrestle Kingdom 9. For reasons I’ll never understand, they won the titles back from Meiyu Tag in little over a month. They later lost them to The Kingdom (Maria and some guys) at Invasion Attack 2015, but regained them at Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall in July, and have held on to them ever since.
Another similitude is how the challengers for the belts at Wrestle Kingdom 10 were determined. Meiyu Tag earned their title shot at Wrestle Kingdom 9 by winning the 2014 World Tag League, though they had defeated Gallows and Anderson in a non-title match (and lost a title match) earlier in the year. Surprise! Honma and Makabe also earned their chance at the gold at Wrestle Kingdom 10 by winning the 2015 World Tag league. At least Meiyu Tag had some history with The Bullet Club which gave the match a little extra spice. Honma and Makabe, on the other hand, have both been involved in the Never Openweight Title picture throughout 2015, and only recently reteamed for the World Tag League. So not the most compelling lead up to their January 4th showdown.
One aspect that provided the Wrestle Kingdom 9 match with some added intrigue, and does the same for Wrestle Kingdom 10, is the undertone of the challengers not being able to win the big one. In 2014, Hirooki Goto challenged for the IWGP Heavyweight, Never Openweight, and IWGP Tag Team Championships, and failed at all. Katsuyori Shibata challenged for the Intercontinental and Tag Team championships, and also failed. While Togi Makabe has had some recent championship success with the Never title in 2015, Honma is the walking, talking (well, kind of) definition of coming up short, and it’s that trait that makes him such a perfect underdog character. Honma’s ability to lose so often but still manipulate the audience into believing he can actually “do it this time” is second to none.
And thus, the stories of the two matches are nearly identical. Goto and Shibata proved at Wrestle Kingdom 9 that they could get the job done and finally got their mitts on some gold. I’m putting my hypothetical money on Honma and Makabe achieving the same goal at Wrestle Kingdom 10. It will of course be a team effort, but Wrestle Kingdom 10 will be a truly defining, individual moment for Honma as he does what he’s never been able to do in New Japan, win a title. And there’s no better venue than the Tokyo Dome. Or, he’ll lose, as he is wont to do. Either way, the crowd be with him for every twist and turn in the emotional rollercoaster ride that is a Honma match.
Following the trend of the majority of Wrestle Kingdom 10 matches, the build up has left a lot to be desired, but the match itself ought to be a barn burner with the potential to create an unforgettable Wrestle Kingdom moment. Personally, I’m just hoping Gallows and Anderson lose the titles so that I no longer have to be subjected to Gallows flapping the belt around like it’s an extension of his willy.