NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 18 result: IWGP World Hvt. Champion Sanada vs. Tetsuya Naito

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist (X: @SR_Torch)


Tetsuya Naito is the new IWGP World Hat. Champion.

Naito pinned Sanada after hitting a Destino at 25:42. It took multiple Destino attempts landing for Naito to put Sanada away. Naito hit several Destino’s during the course of the match only for Sanada to kick out at the last second.

It felt at times as if Naito was going to run Sanada out of the building, as he worked over his head and neck throughout the match in front of a crowd that was very much behind seeing Naito win and do his LIJ roll call after the match.

It appeared Sanada, who had been champion for nine months and entered the match tied for the highest winning percentage of any champion headed into a Tokyo Dome main event at Wrestle Kingdom with Jay White, was going to to simply fade into the background after Sanada pinned him.

Sanada had other plans though and he fought back and managed to catch Naito with his Deathfall finisher later in the match to turn the tide. At one point he also managed to hit a Mute Moonsault to Naito’s back and then front for a near fall.

Both men hit each other’s finishers down the stretch. Naito eventually hit Valentia and then Destino for the win.

After the match, Naito was setting up to do the L.I.J. Roll Call that had always eluded him at the Tokyo Dome when he was attacked by Evil and Dick Togo. The fans booed as it looked like Naito was going to be denied his moment with no help from L.I.J. coming from the back.

Evil cut a promo and said he would take the IWGP World Hvt. Championship if Naito didn’t want. Things looked bleak for Naito when Sanada suddenly ran into the ring out of nowhere and nailed Evil with a shining wizard and cleared the ring of Dick Togo.

Sanada saving Naito turned the fans in his favor after the match. He signaled to Naito that he wanted another shot at the title in the future before leaving the ring. The fans continued to chant his name.

Naito got on the mic and said he is holding the mic because of Sanada. The fans chanted as Sanada appeared to be weeping as he walked to the back having finally been validated in the eyes of the fans by Sanada in this moment. Naito then closed the show with his signature L.I.J. roll call as the fans loudly did it alongside him achieving the moment in the process he had sought for so long.

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