KENTA Makes Surprise Debut at NJPW’s Dominion

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New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Dominion event had many great moments. Tetsuya Naito regained the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, Chris Jericho is entering a feud with Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Will Ospreay became the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. While most focused their attention on these events, three other announcements surprised and shocked the Okaka-jo Hall audience.

G1 Climax Tournament

G1 Climax 29 Logo
G1 Climax 29 is looking fantastic already

Jon Moxley, Will Ospreay, and Shingo Takagi all announced their intention to compete in the annual G1 Climax tournament. The 29th of it’s kind, the G1 is a month long tournament to determine who will face the IWGP Heavyweight Champion at the Tokyo Dome at WrestleKingdom 14. The tournament consists of twenty wrestlers, divided into two blocks. The winner of each block fight in the finals, and the winner becomes the G1 Climax Tournament winner.

But, those weren’t the only three who announced their intent. Before the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match, Katsuyori Shibata made his way down the entrance ramp. A surprise in itself, as Shibata spends most of his time as the head coach of New Japan’s Los Angeles dojo. Before Shibata could make it to the ring, he pointed back at the entrance ramp. Emerging from the backstage area was KENTA, former WWE competitor Hideo Itami.

I cam here following my natural instincts. I want to show you KENTA’s professional wrestling. See you in G1 Climax!

KENTA addresses the crowd

Leaving NJPW for NOAH

This was a shock to most, mainly because most thought that KENTA would return to a promotion he called home for fourteen years: Pro Wrestling NOAH. A promotion that has gone under two ownership changes since KENTA originally left the company after signing with WWE’s NXT.

KENTA in a NOAH ring
KENTA was wildly considered NOAH’s Ace.

Various wrestlers from the NOAH promotion voiced their disappointment with KENTA’s decision. Mainly due to the timing of his debut. KENTA appeared in a New Japan ring on the same day as a memorial show for the ten-year anniversary of the passing of NOAH-founder, Mitsuharu Misawa.

KENTA’s Road Ahead

Hurt feelings aside, New Japan is looking to make this year’s G1 a memorable one. While NJPW hasn’t officially announced anyone for the tournament, we can speculate some names. The list of names for the G1 Climax in Dallas (which is where the tournament will be kicking off) is already completely stacked. Tanahashi, Juice Robinson, Kota Ibushi, Tetsuya Naito, Tomohiro Ishii, and Jeff Cobb are just some of the names that will appear. Add Jon Moxley, Ospreay, Takagi, and KENTA to that list? This could be the most talked about G1 Climax in the history of the tournament.

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