If one word could be used to describe New Japan it would be expansion. Starting in January last year the company would get the year off on a high note with another successful Wrestle Kingdom. Though some fans believe that Tetsuya Naito vs Kazuchika Okada ended the wrong way it was a very good event and the right way to start the year. Seeing Chris Jericho appear at his first non WWE event in almost twenty years makes him the wild card from the event. It is amazing to recall the amount of hype that went into this event and how this really set the stage for what would be another year of expansion for the top Japanese wrestling promotion.
One major point of the year was the event in May as this was the next United States based event which once again went extremely well. From the first event last year when New Japan brought their brand of pro-wrestling to California. This year the company went to San Francisco specifically the world famous Cow Palace and they sold out the legendary arena.
The success of this event as well as the event in 2017 has set the Japanese based promotion to run two events in the United States in 2019. In my opinion this sets the promotion up for even more expansion as long as both events especially the special in MSG are as successful as they are projected to be. Overall though this year wasn't all good for New Japan as they have lost a number of wrestlers and need to rebuild the company a little bit next year with some top names not yet signing back with NJPW. To be frank though I think they succeed for the most part in the last twelve months, but we need more time to see the success or failure of major booking decisions, like Jay White's ascension into a leadership role in the bullet club.
Coming up on the new year and that means one thing for non-WWE fans. The first PPV of the new year in New Japan is the biggest event of their calendar year. In my opinion this is the only event that could be compared to Wrestlemania on any level. This is one of the reasons that I'd want to hype up the event as the annual event draws near.
This event has produced some of the top matches in not just New Japan but over the course of the year. One of the matches that really left a lasting impression on fans was the match featured below between AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura from Wrestle Kingdom 10. This match left enough of an impression on fans that everyone was extremely excited at the prospect of seeing the match in WWE when both men joined the company. These two posse chemistry with each other, but I feel like it is limited chemistry and they showed that in the lackluster WWE feud they had. Overall though this was one of the better matches in recent memory from this event in my opinion.