Pro Wrestling NOAH presents Destination 2022 which is being hyped as #MutoFinal as we kick off the retirement road for Keiji Muto. Here is the lineup for the big Nippon Budokan event.
Noah Destination 2022 Card – Muto Final Countdown
- GHC Heavyweight Championship: Satoshi Kojima vs Kenoh
- GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship: HAYATA vs Seiki Yoshioka
- GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Decision Match: Masa Kitamiya and Yoshiki Inamura vs Hideki Suzuki and Timothy Thatcher
- Keiji Muto vs Kaito Kiyomiya
- Kazuyuki Fujita, Go Shiozaki, and Takashi Sugiura vs Katsuhiko Nakajima, Manabu Soya, and Masakatsu Funaki
- Hardcore Match: Rob Van Dam and Masato Tanaka vs NOSAWA Rongai and Super Crazy
- Dante Leon vs Ninja Mack
- Yuya Susumu and Yoshinari Ogawa vs Eita and Kotaro Suzuki
- Kazushi Sakuraba, Daiki Inaba, Shuhei Taniguchi, Kinya Okada, and Masaaki Mochizuki vs Rene Dupree, El Hijo De Dr Wagner Jr, Simon Gotch, Anthony Greene, and Stallion Rogers
- Shuji Kondo, Tadasuke, Hajime Ohara, and Hiroki vs Atsushi Kotoge, YO-HEY, Daisuke Harada, and Xtreme Tiger
Muto Final Countdown Match #1: Keiji Muto vs Kaito Kiyomiya
🎥 Nippon Budokan Keiji Muto FINAL COUNTDOWN V Pre-release ‼️‼️‼️
— Pro Wrestling NOAH Global (@noahglobal) July 15, 2022
This match is essential for not only NOAH’s future, but will set the tone for this retirement road. Will Keiji Muto create a retirement road that elevates future generations from all around Japan, or will that famous selfish mindset kick in? This is the fourth singles meeting between these two men. The first one happened in the latter half of 2020, as fans were just returning to venues. Muto was victorious, then they had another match for the GHC Heavyweight Championship last year. Once again Muto was victorious, and then Kiyomiya had his best outing against Muto when they went to a draw in the N-1 Victory tournament. It seems that each time he’s gonna closer and closer to beating the legend. It’s Kaito Kiyomiya’s time to finally beat Keiji Muto in Nippon Budokan to not only gain a signature win in his career. But also to show that the Muto vs Kaito was truly a story about Kaito’s evolution as a character without the GHC Heavyweight Championship.
He’s similar to Go Shiozaki in the sense they both seemed to lack identity without the GHC. Kaito has tweaked his look, and become more aggressive. He’s starting to morph into his final complete form. Muto let it be known when this match was announced he intended to retire as a strong Keiji Muto, and that Kaito Kiyomiya would never defeat him. Kaito then began practising a lot of Muto’s signature offense wanting to absorb as much of Muto as he can ahead of their big clash. This has garnished some criticism from some veterans who want to see Kiyomiya get over that hump, and defeat the ‘Pro Wrestling Master.’
Keys To Success For Kiyomiya
At a NOAH fan event, Satoshi Kojima, who has formed quite the close bond with Kaito Kiyomiya in recent months, offered his advice. Stating that Muto-San only cares about himself when wrestling, so Kaito shouldn’t care about Muto and worry only about himself and winning. Then Jushin Liger sent some encouragement essentially telling Kiyomiya to not worry about Muto, and crush him. Will Kaito be able to use this advice given to him by legends who know Muto inside and out, or will Muto keep his promise of not losing to Kiyomiya?
GHC Heavyweight Championship: Satoshi Kojima (c) vs Kenoh
Satoshi Kojima vs Kenoh is the best-built GHC Heavyweight Championship match in a long time. Both men have done a masterful job on their own to build this match to the elite level it should be. It’s almost criminal that the card underneath this match isn’t as outstanding as it should be. Satoshi Kojima has been a great addition to NOAH regularly, he’s made main events feel fresh and has excelled. Not only that, but his commitment to spotlighting the young guys like Kinya Okada and Kaito Kiyomiya has been wonderful. What really hammered home his commitment was returning to NJPW in a NOAH shirt while wearing the GHC Heavyweight Championship. However, Kenoh has had some valid criticisms as to where NOAH is going.
Kenoh’s dream is still to get to the first Budokan of the year, as champion. While this may not apply to someone like Kojima who can still go, and wants what’s best for wrestling NOAH has made a lot of less than stellar old guys champions from other companies while failing to create a landscape where the younger generation can thrive. Kenoh is no spring chicken he’s almost 40, but he wants to create that new era where guys like Kaito, Inamura, and Kinya can stand strong as champions. Kenoh and Kojima have gone back and forth in backstage promos that are gems. Constantly trying to out-annoy one another. Kenoh has also flaunted the idea of standing across from old rival Fujita Jr Hayato as GHC Heavyweight Champion.
A Confusing Situation
This is a win/win situation due to how well Kojima is doing in NOAH, and how over Kenoh is. However, as mentioned it’s odd to do this for Kojima’s first defense. Feels like they could milk more out of this run, but also Kenoh should be the next champion. It seems like terrible timing to do so, but credit to both men, this could be the best match for the GHC in a while. Ideally, if NJPW allows it, even past this reign Kojima should stick around. He’s got so much positive to offer and is too good to be sitting in New Japan undercard tags while the upper card is mostly people he is way better than to this day. Perfect scenario is Kenoh wins, and Kojima sticks around.
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