Today is the first day of New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s largest event of the year, Wrestle Kingdom. The fifteenth annual Wrestle Kingdom will be, as it was last year, a two-day event from the Tokyo Dome.
This event will be streamed live on NJPW‘s streaming service, NJPW World, and on Fite TV. English and Japanese commentary are available on both platforms. This event will have a reduced attendance capacity to comply with COVID-19 social distancing restrictions.
Pre Show Start Times: January 3, 11PM Pacific/January 4, 2AM Eastern, 7AM UK, 4PM Japan, 6PM East Australia
Main Show Start Times: January 4, 12AM Pacific, 3AM Eastern, 8AM UK, 5PM Japan, 7PM East Australia
Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1 Results
Pre Show 21-Man New Japan Rumble
The participants in this match, in order of entrance, were Chase Owens, Tomohiro Ishii, Minoru Suzuki, Yuji Nagata, Toa Henare, Hirooki Goto, Yujiro Takahashi, YOSHI-HASHI, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Rocky Romero, DOUKI, SHO, BUSHI, Tiger Mask IV, Bad Luck Fale, Gabriel Kidd, Yuya Uemura, Yota Tsuji, and Toru Yano. Chase Owens somehow survived to the end despite starting against some of the hardest men in the whole company. BUSHI craftily hid outside the ring for much of the match. Fale entered late but ran roughshod, eliminating the most entrants out of anyone. Finally, Toru Yano, last year’s KOPW Champion, entered very last, and by the time he approached the ring, all but three others had been eliminated. Thus, he cemented himself in the final four by entering last and not doing anything.
Chase Owens, BUSHI, Bad Luck Fale, and Toru Yano will compete in a four way match on Day 2, tomorrow, for the provisional KOPW 2021 Championship.
Hiromu Takahashi def. El Phantasmo (17:46)
This match was promoted as between the winners of this year’s Best of the Super Juniors and Super J-Cup tournaments, respectively. Also, the winner of this match will challenge current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori tomorrow. ELP’s first move was to throw Hiromu’s trophy, which enraged Hiromu, and Hiromu promptly wiped him out with a top rope senton to the floor. El Phantasmo put a stop to Hiromu’s rampage by stomping on his feet, then his hands, then raking his back. Nevertheless, Hiromu rallied and hit a Dynamite Plunger for a near fall. He tried for a Time Bomb from the top rope, but ELP managed to avoid it, and hit a top rope frankensteiner followed by a frog splash for a near fall of his own. He followed up with a Styles Clash for another near fall. He even attempted a One-Winged Angel, but Hiromu rolled through it and slammed El Phantasmo into the corner. Then, he finished El Phantasmo unceremoniously with a rana pin. As a result, he will face Taiji Ishimori tomorrow for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
IWGP Tag Team Championship Match: Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) def. Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) (19:18)
This match was as chaotic in the early going as anyone would have expected, as the two underhanded teams tried to one-up each other in terms of stretching the rules and double-teaming. Meanwhile, Jado and DOUKI were attempting to back up their respective teams, and Jado even won a battle of sticks against DOUKI. Later on, the action calmed down, and the Bullet Club team used their size and strength to wear down the spindly Zack Sabre Jr., and keep him away from tagging in Taichi. A powerbomb from Tanga Loa nearly put Zack away, and when Taichi tried to save him, G.o.D. slowed his roll with a dual Tongan Twist. They set up for an assisted avalanche powerbomb on Zack, but ZSJ trapped Tanga Loa in a front sleeper hold, and Taichi came in to hit a superplex for a near fall. Dangerous Tekkers’ comeback continued until Tama Tonga tried to come in and hit Gun Stuns, but Taichi blocked it and nearly pinned Tanga Loa with a backdrop driver. Seeing their chances dwindling, G.o.D. stole Taichi’s Iron Finger from Hell and hit Taichi with it, and Tanga Loa hit the Apeshit driver for the victory. G.o.D are the new IWGP Tag Team Champions.
There was a brief video featuring Jon Moxley, the first time that we have seen him since February. He brandished the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship and said he would be coming after whoever left Wrestle Kingdom with the title shot.
IWGP US Heavyweight Championship #1 Contender Match: KENTA (c) def. Satoshi Kojima (14:12)
KENTA started the match by incessantly provoking Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima’s long-time partner, who was cheering for him ringside. It got to the point where the furious Kojima left the ring to stop him, but KENTA would push the two together, causing them to butt heads. Kojima recovered with more vigor than ever, and he landed Mongolian Chops on KENTA while shouting Tenzan’s name. KENTA left the ring for his Title Contract briefcase and tried to hit Kojima with it, but Kojima lariated it out of his hands, then hit a left arm lariat for a two count. In desperation, KENTA tried for the Go 2 Sleep, but Kojima was too heavy. KENTA’s palm strikes sounded thundering in the mostly empty Tokyo Dome, and they brought Satoshi Kojima to his knees. Once again, KENTA attempted the Go 2 Sleep, and this time it connected. KENTA retains the right to challenge for Jon Moxley‘s IWGP US Heavyweight Championship.
Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Great O-Khan (17:13)
This is O-Khan’s first singles match at Wrestle Kingdom, and to have it be against Tanahashi must put someone in a world of pressure. Since he was actually a champion amateur wrestler before altering his aesthetic to that of a Jiangshi zombie, O-Khan opened with takedowns and leg catches on the Ace, forcing him to the mat with relative ease. Tanahashi retaliated by catching a bicycle kick and turning it into a dragonscrew, but as he attempted the Sling Blade, O-Khan lifted him into the air and planted him with a facebuster. He looked to follow up, but Tanahashi blocked his Mongolian Chops and finally landed the Sling Blade. He ascended to the top rope, but O-Khan grabbed his face and attempted the Iron Claw Slam, but Tanahashi stuffed it. O-Khan hit a gnarly looking reverse brainbuster, then brought a steel chair into the ring. He was trying to hit the Iron Claw Slam on the chair, but Tanahashi brought him down with a Twist and Shout. He brandished the chair that O-Khan brought in, but tossed it away, and hit a bridging German suplex, followed by two High Fly Flows to put O-Khan away. Even at 44 years old, The Ace is still The Ace.
Kazuchika Okada def. Will Ospreay (35:41)
As a result of the betrayal he faced at the hands of Ospreay on the penultimate day of the G1 Climax, Okada wasted no time putting Ospreay on the back foot. Ospreay retreated to ringside in response to Okada’s flurry of offense, but Okada dashed his hopes with a plancha, rare for him. Using the help of Bea Priestley, who would get in Okada’s way at opportune moments, Ospreay was able to soon take control of the match. This was cut short when Okada launched him ten feet into the air with a back body drop. Okada kept the pressure on, with a top rope dropkick and an attempt at the tombstone piledriver, but Ospreay would block it and land a Bloody Sunday, then attempt the Stormbreaker. Okada wriggled out of it and went for his dropkick, only for Ospreay to catch his legs in midair and land a sitout powerbomb for a two count. He brought Okada to the ringside area and suplexed him onto one of the announcers’ desks, causing it to crumble with a loud crack. Okada looked all but out, but Ospreay continued to punish him, smashing him in the back of the head with a dropkick as soon as he could rise to his feet. Okada was bleeding from the back as a result of that earlier suplex, but he seemingly managed to turn the match around with one move, hitting a nasty tombstone piledriver on the apron after being brought there by Ospreay. He locked in the Money Clip submission hold. Ospreay would get his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold, but he was now fighting from underneath, gasping for breath. With the strength he had left, he stopped a running Okada with a heavy elbow strike, and landed the Oscutter for a two count. He just had to add insult to injury, as he hit a Rainmaker on Okada! Fed up, Okada countered Ospreay’s super Oscutter, hit a piledriver, and then his first Rainmaker in nearly a year to win.
IWGP Heavyweight & IWGP Intercontinental Championships Match: Kota Ibushi def. Tetsuya Naito (c) (31:18)
If there’s one thing that Naito versus Ibushi matches are known for, it is danger. Their series of matches in 2019 proved that. And why wouldn’t Ibushi want to put Naito in danger after only being granted this match out of pity? Although he had more reason to be upset, both men were after each other’s necks. Even a simple lariat on the apron from Ibushi was delivered with such force that Naito landed vertically. This match was not fueled by hatred, but perhaps a mutual taste for sadomasochism. Naito deftly neutralized Ibushi’s advantage in athleticism by catching a moonsault from Ibushi and turning it into the Pluma Blanca submission, at least temporarily. Ibushi tried for a piledriver on the apron, and Naito blocked it, but charged at Ibushi only to be sent careening to the floor with a frankensteiner. Naito barely made it back into the ring before being counted out, only for Ibushi to pounce with an attempt at his feared rope-assisted German suplex. Luckily, Naito avoided it, and paid Ibushi back with a super frankensteiner of his own. Ibushi was only stunned, and brought Naito to his knees with head kicks, but he couldn’t stick his first attempt at the Kamigoye. Naito’s running Destino landed flush, but only received a near fall. Not out yet, Ibushi hit a sitout elevated powerbomb, and landed the Kamigoye, but Naito kicked out! Ibushi took to the sky, looking for a phoenix splash, but Naito rolled out of the way and hit a second running Destino. Naito tried for Valentia, but Ibushi dropped to his feet and hit a head kick, followed by another Kamigoye, but Naito kicked out again! Frustrated and desperate, Ibushi lowered the pad on his right knee, and tried once more, but Naito blocked it and went for another Destino, but Ibushi grabbed him by the wrist, hit a pump knee strike, and a third Kamigoye.
Kota Ibushi is now IWGP Heavyweight Champion, for the first time, and IWGP Intercontinental Champion for the second time. Tetsuya Naito grabbed the championship belts from the referee before he could present them to Ibushi, and then presented them to Ibushi himself.