There is an unsuspecting long-term story going on these days, surrounding the IWGP US Heavyweight championship, held by Cody, The Elite member defeated Juice Robinson at Fighting Spirit Unleashed in late September. Today, I suggest we take a look at why a rematch between both men seems, in my opinion, like a necessity both in terms of logic, and for Juice’s character.
First of all, to bring some context with some recent news, Cody was supposed to defend his IWGP US championship against Beretta, during the Ring Of Honor Global Wars tour. As Rhodes announced on Twitter about his knee injury and told a “suitable replacement” would be named to take Cody’s place in the match. Beretta then faced Juice Robinson, who was on recent roll as he defeated both Christopher Daniels and Silas Young prior during the same tour. Even though Juice faced Young the night before, he takes the win over Beretta. Now we have to ask ourselves if Beretta is still going to get his match when Cody eventually comes back, or if the next man in line is the former champion himself. We don’t know the extent of Cody’s injury, so, depending on that, there is still Final Battle in December. Beretta could still get his title match there, but let’s focus back on the projection towards Wrestle Kingdom.
It is likely that Cody, unless his injury prevents him from wrestling on January 4th, enters Wrestle Kingdom as IWGP US Heavyweight champion. As the biggest show of the year for New Japan, the company needs to put together matches which create some hype, with interesting stories and some in-ring guarantees. While I have no worries that Cody vs Beretta would be a good, even a very good match, there is way more global potential in having Juice challenging Cody.
The main point backing this idea ? Who did Cody defeated to become champion ? That’s right, Juice, but let’s go even further than that. Do you remember January 4th 2017 ? Both Cody and Juice Robinson made their Wrestle Kingdom debut during the eleventh edition, as the newest Bullet Club member at that time claiming his first win in New Japan against Juice. The two never really crossed paths until Cody challenged and pinned Juice when the latter was US champion, and now, we have a situation where the American Nightmare holds two wins over the Flamboyant, and took away the first singles championship he won in New Japan. Juice also never really managed to show his worth as US champion, as, after defeating Jay White for the championship, he entered the G1 Climax with a broken hand, and wasn’t able to compete to the best of his abilities, leading him to win only three of his nine matches. He has had a very hard time as champion, thanks to the Switchblade, and you bet Juice only wishes to get back on track. What better way to do that other than challenging the man who took the championship you fought so hard to win, on the same stage he defeated you during the first encounter, where both of you started to take flight in New Japan, and finally beat him ?
Beat that man who not only felt destined to win the IWGP US championship thanks to his nickname, but also the man who feels like the opposite of you. Cody is just great at being the antagonist Juice would need. The hero of this story being Juice Robinson, he would beneficiate the most out of winning at Wrestle Kingdom. The Juice Robinson character still needs a marquee moment, to cement himself as a man worthy of being a champion in New Japan. Defeating Cody who is undeniably the bigger star, on a stage as big as Wrestle Kingdom, can be that marquee moment.
The last thing I need to bring up is also related to the stage, but this time, it concerns the championship itself. We already got the Omega vs Jericho match for the title last Wrestle Kingdom, but, let’s be honest, the match itself outshadowed the fact that it was a championship match. This time around, the main focus of the championship match would actually be the belt itself. Let’s remember the US championship still doesn’t have much history and will need more great matches, memorable moments and feuds to gain prestige.