Naito’s rebirth as the double champion is over. After 17 years, Kota Ibushi is finally the champion of champions in NJPW. Ibushi defeated Naito for both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships during the main event of the first night of Wrestle Kingdom 15. Ibushi has held the IWGP Intercontinental Championship before. He beat Naito for it at Wrestle Kingdom 13 in 2019. Ibushi would lose the title back to him at Dominion 6.9 in July approximately six months later.
Ibushi now must defend both titles against challenger Jay White at night two of Wrestle Kingdom tomorrow.
Ibushi’s emotional win capped off a very poignant night of pro wrestling featuring two of the very best wrestling matches anyone will ever see. Both the double championship main event bout and Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay’s grudge match went over half an hour each and will be hard to surpass when it comes to Match of the Year honours in 2021 even though we are only four days into the new year. That is how good they both were.
In his quest to dethrone Naito, a German Suplex on the rampway had Ibushi dazed only minutes into the match. It took Ibushi a count of 15 to make it back into the ring. Naito, of course, had to count along with Red Shoes smiling the entire time. Naito continued the attack on Ibushi with a neckbreaker on the arena floor. He delivered another seconds later but this time it was off the apron. Back in the ring, Naito cranked down on Ibushi’s neck with various submission holds.
Ibushi threw some forearms at Naito. Naito smiled daring him to try harder. Six or seven short elbows brought Ibushi to his knees.
Ibushi destroyed Naito with a hurricanrana off the apron and onto the floor. Naito’s legs, ankles smashed off the steel barricade as he flipped over. Naito clutched his leg while he rolled around in pain. Naito limped back into the ring at nineteen. An ugly Poison Rana from the top rope scored Naito a two count. A Destino couldn’t put Ibushi away either seconds later.
Exhausted after warring for thirty minutes, the challenger and the champion went crazy on each other, clubbing each other with a barrage of forearm smashes. Naito ended the exchange with a slap in the face and a spin kick. Ibushi fired back with a clothesline of his own. Naito kicked out of a Kamigoye shocking Ibushi. Ibushi missed a Phoenix Splash allowing Naito to hit another Destino. Ibushi kicked out. Once he escaped another Destino, Ibushi won the match with two more Kamigoyes. So drained and completely out of it was Ibushi that he went to cover Naito again thinking the match wasn’t over. Red Shoes had to tell Ibushi that he had already won.
As Red Shoes went to present Ibushi with the belts Naito grabbed them both out of his hands as he wanted to present them to Ibushi instead and did so. Naito raised Ibushi’s hand in victory. The crowd clapped for Naito as he was led to the back by the Young Lions.
Jay White interrupted Ibushi’s celebration ticking off Red Shoes.
“I thought I would just come and say hello,” said a cheeky Switchblade imploring the crowd to cheer for Ibushi.
“We all know you are not the real champion but enjoy it and enjoy this moment. It will only last for one night because tomorrow I am taking those. I am taking everything away from you!” said White promising to expose Ibushi as a “fraud”.
“My reign will not end tomorrow but before I get to you, Tetsuya Naito, thank you,” answered Ibushi. “Tomorrow, you are finished, Jay White.”
In a battle of former allies and brothers, the mentor Kazuchika Okada took on the man he brought to NJPW five years ago: Will Ospreay. Claiming he was tired of being in Okada’s shadow Ospreay betrayed him and the Chaos faction earlier this year leaving to create his own stable: Empire.
In his Wrestle Kingdom entrance video, Ospreay was shown destroying a television playing an Okada match with a baseball bat. Bea Priestly wore a matching green dress as she ushered Ospreay to the ring. Before the match began The Rainmaker had the crowd clapping as they were forbidden from cheering due to the COVID-19 rules that were in place for the event.
Okada backed up Ospreay into the ropes and did his usual slap on the chest to break things up. Ospreay punched him in the face. That led to a forearm duel with both men just blistering each other with shot after shot. A slugfest on the floor has Priestly running out of the way while Ospreay was thrown into the steel barricade.
Priestly confronts, distracts Okada as he gets back into the ring.
“I am a f—–g lady. You treat me with respect!” she yelled.
Ospreay clocks Okada with a haymaker and a drop kick once he is distracted. With evil intensions, Ospreay sets to work tearing up the mats on the floor surrounding the ring exposing the concrete floor. Neither can set the other up for damage so Ospreay just heaves Okada into the steel barricade. When they make their way back to the padded part of the floor Ospreay hits a neckbreaker on Okada.
Ospreay puts Okada’s neck over the apron and jumps on him with a double stomp. Ospreay rolls Okada back into the ring for a cover. Red Shoes refuses to make the count.
“His shoulders are down on the mat! You are the worst referee,” says a disgruntled Ospreay. Priestly also insults Red Shoes. He tells her to get back to her corner and stay quiet.
A backdrop from Okada has Ospreay soaring about fifteen feet into the air. Okada weakens Ospreay’s neck with a neckbreaker which brings on the Money Clip submission. Ospreay backs Okada into a corner to escape.
On their knees in the middle of the ring Okada and Ospreay hit each other with punches until Ospreay heads to the top rope. Okada drops off of it and Ospreay falls to the floor. Ospreay leaps off the barricade only to take a shotgun drop kick in the face.
“He’s behind you!” screamed Priestly who was unable to warn Ospreay about Okada’s shotgun drop kick from the top rope. Ospreay turns things back in his favour with a Cheeky Nandos kick in the corner and a reverse Bloody Sunday. A clothesline from Ospreay takes them both over the top rope and onto the floor. Ospreay attempts to piledrive Okada into the arena floor. Okada fights out positioning Ospreay for a piledriver of his own. Ospreay flips over the ringside barricade, onto an announce table and suplexes Okada over the barricade and through the announce table.
Bea Priestly rushes over encouraging Ospreay to get back into the ring. Not content with a count-out win, Ospreay rolls Okada back into the ring which draws applause from the crowd.
Ospreay leaps off the top rope blindsiding Okada with a Hidden Blade to the back of his skull for a two count. A very nasty powerbomb gets the same result. Ospreay lines up Okada for a Stormbreaker on the apron. Okada loops his leg in the ropes to block it. Ospreay runs up the post for an Oscutter. Okada catches him for a Tombstone Piledriver on the apron.
Okada hits a short-arm lariat and prepares for the Rainmaker Clothesline. Ospreay boots Okada in the face to prevent it. A drop kick off the ropes softens Ospreay up for the Money Clip. Ospreay breaks the hold falling into another Tombstone Piledriver and another Money Clip. Priestly jumps up on the apron once she sees her man in danger. Okada shoves Ospreay into Priestly sending her flying in a green blur. Ospreay struggles in the Money Clip then finally reaches the ropes. Okada stands over Ospreay who swings blindly into the air while on his knees.
They make their way to the top rope where Ospreay sends Okada down hard with a Spanish Fly for a two count. A rolling elbow and a Tombstone Piledriver of his own has Ospreay striking a Rainmaker pose and hitting Okada’s finisher. Okada still kicks out. A third Tombstone Piledriver and a Rainmaker Clothesline pins Ospreay after a 35 minutes.
Jon Moxley, the IWGP United States Champion, appeared at Wrestle Kingdom in a short pre-recorded video from the NJPW Strong ring in the United States.
The promo was introduced with a quote from the Book of Revelation from the Bible
“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him,” read the voice.
“Many men have vied for that U.S. title contract. They all thought they would get off easy. They all hoped and prayed the United States Champion would never return but I am the boogeyman of NJPW. I will get you eventually. So, whoever walks out of the Tokyo Dome with that contract you can make no mistake about it. I am coming for you!” Moxley promised.
NJPW also announced that the Strong Spirits video game coming to smart devices this year and soon. NJPW television will once again be available in the USA and Canada. NJPW promised that details are to come. Wrestle Kingdom continues tomorrow night.
Wrestle Kingdom 15 Results – Night One
|Chase Owens||Start||Minoru Suzuki||8:03|
|Tomohiro Ishii||Start||Yuji Nagata||8:03|
|Minoru Suzuki||3:00||Toa Henare||10:53|
|Toa Henare||6:08||Hirooki Goto||14:23|
|Hirooki Goto||7:20||Togi Makabe||18:00|
|Yujiro Takahashi||9:56||Douki (DQ’d)||21:54|
|Togi Makabe||13:57||Tomohiro Ishii||28:34|
|Tomoaki Honma||15:54||Tomoaki Honma||29:15|
|Hiroyoshi Tenzan||17:54||Hiroyoshi Tenzan||29:35|
|Rocky Romero||19:17||Rocky Romero||30:47|
|Tiger Mask||26:07||Yota Tsuji||34:16|
|Bad Luck Fale||29:52||Yuya Uemura||34:28|
|Gabriel Kidd||29:14||Bad Luck Fale||Winner|
|Yota Tsuji||32:07||Chase Owens||Winner|
|Toru Yano||End||Toru Yano||Winner|
Winners Bad Luck Fale, Bushi, Chase Owens and Toru Yano move onto night two where they will compete to become the first Provisional KOPW 2021 Trophy holder. Yano came down to the ring but didn’t have to even enter the match or participate in it because the match was declared over, decided before he made it there.
El Phantasmo versus Hiromu Takahashi
The winner meets Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship tomorrow at night two of Wrestle Kingdom. Phantasmo starts the match by throwing the BOSJ trophy and demanding Jushin Liger come down to the ring so he can put the Super J-Cup jacket on him. Hiromu drop kicks him through the ringside barrier in response. Hiromu bombs Phantasmo off the apron. Phantasmo returns the favour with a sunset bomb off the apron. Phantasmo moonsaults off the top rope onto Hiromu on the floor. Phantasmo lands awkwardly on his feet and is limping.
“You ain’t s–t, bro. I am the best!” says Phantasmo.
Phantasmo uses Kenny Omega’s Rise of the Terminator but doesn’t leap out of the ring. He rolls around doing his herky-jerky pose, taunt. He also poses over Hiromu like Chris Jericho would.
ELP lays Hiromu over the top rope. He then crushes him with a senton from the top rope for a two count.
Kevin Kelly: “I have never seen that before.”
Phantasmo falls off the second rope careening into the official knocking him down. Phantasmo hauls off punching Hiromu in the “lower abdomen” as he sits on the top rope. Hiromu kicks out of Phantasmo’s frog splash. Phantasmo cannot believe it.
Phantasmo recycles more Bullet Club trademark moves with a Styles Clash on Hiromu. Hiromu rolls out of a One-Winged Angel attempt by Phantasmo DVDing him into a corner. Hiromu counters Phantasmo’s CR2 into a roll-up for the three count.
Winner: Hiromu Takahashi at 17 minutes and 40 seconds.
Match Rating: 7.5 / 10
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga) versus The Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.) – IWGP Tag Team Championship Match
Douki is with the Dangerous Tekkers. A rough and tumble battle with Taichi using his chokehold more times than JYD did his head butt. One straight forearm from Loa knocks Sabre Jr. halfway across the ring. Taichi is driven to the mat by Guerrilla Warfare. Loa and Tonga look at each other. From outside the ring, Jedo shouts…Super Powerbomb! Sabre Jr. thwarts the move by wrapping himself around Loa. Taichi puts Tonga into a submission hold at the same time.
“Taichi! Get your ass over here!” yells The Most Electrifying Wrestler in the World Today.
ZSJ Superplexes Loa as Taichi assists with a powerbomb. The official bounces off the canvass when everyone lands. Loa proves himself to be double tough as he kicks out.
The Tekkers go for Zack Mephisto but Tama takes out ZSJ with a Gun Stun. Jado inserts himself into the match. In all of the confusion, Tonga takes Taichi’s Iron Glove and punches him in the face with it. Loa pins Taichi with Ape S–t making the Guerrillas the champs for the seventh time.
“We told you, by any means necessary,” said Tonga as the new champs head off to celebrate. Tonga is still wearing the Iron Glove. Douki has to carry Taichi to the back.
Winners: …and new IWGP Tag Team Champions, The Guerrillas of Destiny at 19 minutes and 15 seconds.
Match Rating: 8 / 10
Satoshi Kojima versus Kenta
The victor wins the U.S. title match briefcase and the championship match that goes along with it. Tenzan is in Kojima’s corner. Kenta steps out of the ring demanding he be sent to the back. Kenta shoves Tenzan. Kojima attacks him from behind. Kenta whips Kojima into Tenzan. Kenta stops Kojima’s elbow from the top rope by Superplexing him to the mat. Kojima crushes Kenta with a DDT on the apron. Kojima throws off his elbow preparing for the Lariat. Kenta powerslams him as he comes off the ropes. Kenta retrieves the briefcase from the announce desk bringing it into the ring risking a disqualification. Kenta throws the official into a corner. Kojima clotheslines the case out of Kenta’s hands. Kojima fights his way out of Kenta’s Go To Sleep with a series of punches and forearm smashes. A blistering rally of strikes and a really awkward Go To Sleep pins Kojima.
Winner: Kenta at 14 minutes and 12 seconds.
Match Rating: 7 / 10
The Great-O-Khan versus Hiroshi Tanahashi
Since these two have been bashing each other with steel chairs you would assume this would be a slobberknocker. Instead, the match begins with lots of mat wrestling. Khan looks to gain control of Tanahashi’s vulnerable leg and knee. The match eventually goes to the floor where Khan banks Tanahashi’s head off a steel post. Khan drags Tanahashi around by his hair slamming him on the rampway. While the official lays the count on Tanahashi, Khan brings a steel chair into the ring leaving it in a corner. Khan takes over the match slamming Tanahashi around and pounding him into the canvass with his Mongolian Chops. Khan launches Tanahashi over the top rope but The Ace grabs the ropes and skins the cat back into the ring. A Twist and Shout and a Slingblade finally has Khan down for a two count. The Ace goes to the top rope. Khan meets him there what a claw hold. After two reverse suplexes, Khan lays the steel chair on the mat with the intention of slamming The Ace on it with an Eliminator. The Ace escapes using a Twist and Shout again. Tanahashi stands over the steel chair contemplating whether to use it or not. He picks it up, screams a lot and throws it out of the ring. Two High Fly Flows pin Khan.
Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi at 17 minutes and 10 seconds.
Match Rating: 7 / 10
Kazuchika Okada versus Will Ospreay
Winner: Kazuchika Okada at 35 minutes and 41 seconds.
Match Rating: 9 / 10
Kota Ibushi versus Tetsuya Naito – IWGP Heavyweight Championship and IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match
Winner: …and new IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Kota Ibushi at 31 minutes and 18 minutes.
Match Rating: 9 / 10
Wrestle Kingdom 15 - Night One
It is rare that you have an event with one amazing match, never mind two. The first night of Wrestle Kingdom had everything a wrestling fan could want except perhaps a bloody brawl. As with every Wrestle Kingdom everyone took their performances to the next level creating a show and matches that will be difficult to top in 2021…and we are only 4 days into the year itself.