By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
New Japan Pro Wrestling “Wrestle Kingdom 15 – Night Two”
January 5, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan at the Tokyo Dome
Broadcast live on New Japan World and FITE TV
A video package opened the show with a run through of the night two matches… Kevin Kelly, Rocky Romero, and Chris Charlton were on the English feed broadcast team…
1. Toru Yano vs. Bad Luck Fale vs. Chase Owens vs. Bushi in a four-way for the King of Pro Wrestling 2021 trophy. Kelly said Yano has the most wins of this foursome in Tokyo Dome matches, but Bushi has the best winning percentage.
The bell rang to start the match with Bullet Club members Fale and Owens inside the ring, while Bushi and Fale remained at ringside. Owens laid down for Fale, who covered him, but Bushi ran in to break it up. Yano quickly removed one of the turnbuckle pads.
Late in the match, Owens covered Bushi, who kicked out. Fale covered Bushi. Owens broke it up. After some bickering, they both picked up the referee, but Yano snuck in and low-blowed Fale and Owens, then covered Bushi for the win…
Toru Yano defeated Bad Luck Fale, Chase Owens, and Bushi in a four-way in 7:40 to win the King of Pro Wrestling 2021 trophy.
Powell’s POV: So Owens was going to let Fale pin him to start, then decided he wanted the win for himself later. It was a Yano match so it’s not really worth overthinking. I get a kick out of Yano, but this was nothing special.
2. Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado vs. Master Wato and Ryusuke Taguchi (w/Hiroyoshi Tenzan) for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles. Jushin Liger was shown sitting in on commentary for the Japanese broadcast. In the end, Desperado hit his finisher on Taguchi and pinned him…
Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado defeated Master Wato and Ryusuke Taguchi in 13:25 to retain the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: When I first started watching NJPW, I thought Taguchi’s act might grow on me much like Yano’s did. Nope, I’m still not a big fan of his ass comedy. Once they got those spots out of the way, it turned into a solid tag match. Things should pick up starting with the next match.
3. Shingo Takagi vs. Jeff Cobb for the Never Openweight Championship. It was a slug fest to start with both men trading forearms in the middle of the ring. Takagi went for an early cover, but Cobb kicked out aggressively at one. Cobb came right back with a nice dropkick. They headed to ringside where Cobb performed a wild overhead belly to belly suplex. Damn.
Back inside the ring, Cobb targeted the back of Takagi, who came back with a nice suplex. Takagi went for a Death Valley Driver on the apron, but he failed to pick up Cobb. Takagi escaped a potential crucifix bomb from the apron and knocked Cobb to the floor, then followed up with a big flip dive. Takagi sold back or hip pain. Kelly said he landed on the hard wood of the entrance ramp.
Back inside the ring, Cobb came back with a suplex. Kelly said Cobb’s “smiling Hawaiian days” are over. Cobb hoisted up Takagi in crucifix slam position, then slammed him down Tiger Bomb style for a near fall. Takagi rallied with a Death Valley Driver out of nowhere. Takagi followed up with a superplex at 11:35.
Takagi performed a wheelbarrow suplex, then solid his bad back again. Cobb caught Takagi going for a sliding clothesline and ended up suplexing him. Takagi came right back with a suplex of his own. Both men got to their knees and traded slaps to the face, then got to their feet and traded elbow strikes. Cobb hit Takagi and told him to come on, which led to Takagi blasted him with a punch to the face.
Takagi nailed Cobb with a suplex and then tumbled to ringside. Takagi pulled himself up and returned to the ring just in time to beat the referee’s count. Cobb immediately put him down with a powerbomb for a near fall. Cobb shook his head in frustration over not getting the pin.
Cobb set up for a Tour of the Islands, but Takagi slipped away and then clipped his knee. Takagi targeted the leg with another shot, then hit Made in Japan for a good near fall. Cobb rallied with a German suplex and then hit the Tour of the Islands. Cobb immediately sold a knee injury and covered Takagi, who put his foot on the ropes. Cobb hooked the leg and only got a two count.
Cobb stood on the second rope and pulled Takagi up with him. Takagi ended up slipping out and powerbombed Cobb. A short time later, Takagi blocked another Tour of the Islands, but Cobb hit him with a moonsault powerslam. Cobb went for his finisher, but Takagi hit him with a pumping bomber. Cobb bled from the nose.
Takagi headbutted Cobb twice, then hoisted him up for a nice suplex. Takagi ran the ropes and blasted Cobb with a pumping bomber, then hit Last of the Dragon and scored the clean pin…
Shingo Takagi defeated Jeff Cobb in 21:15 to retain the Never Openweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: Hot damn! That was one hell of a match. It was easily the best match of this card so far, which isn’t saying much, but it also deserves to be mentioned with the big two matches on last night’s show. If you are picking and choosing which matches to watch then make sure you include this one.
Another New Japan Strong Spirts ad aired… Kelly noted that they were cleaning and disinfecting the ring. The broadcast team spoke briefly about the remainder of the card. They went to a brief intermission…
4. Sanada vs. Evil (w/Dick Togo). The broadcast team did a nice job of running through the recent history of the former tag team partners. Sanada put Evil in the ridiculous Paradise Lock a couple of minutes into the match (the Paradise Lock is corny and annoys the hell out of me, but the live crowd enjoyed it, so that’s what counts). Evil came back and ran Sanada back-first into the guardrail, which took out the ring announcer. Evil placed a chair around the head of Sanada, then hit it with another chair.
Evil pulled a table out from underneath the ring and set it up at ringside. The wrestlers returned to the ring where Sanada sold neck pain. Evil ran Sanada into the corner, which was exposed because Togo pulled the pad away. They went back to ringside where Evil ran Sanada into the guardrail again. Togo took a cheap shot at Sanada. Back inside the ring, Evil covered Sanada for multiple two counts.
Sanada came back with a weak dropkick and then took out Togo briefly. Togo recovered and tripped Sanada while he was running the ropes. Evil brought Sanada to the apron and tried to perform a uranage with the table below them at ringside, but Sanada blocked it. A short time later, Sanada performed a dragon suplex for a near fall. Sanada went for Skull End, but Evil escaped and ran his back into the exposed corner.
Evil superplexed Sanada and then applied a Scorpion Death Lock. Sanada broke the hold by reaching the ropes. Evil performed Darkness Falls for a two count. Sanada avoided Evil’s finisher, then shoved him into the exposed corner before suplexing him. “Where’s that fire, Sanada?” Romero asked on commentary. “Get angry.” Sanada performed a TKO for a near fall. Sanada went for a moonsault. Evil rolled out of the way and Sanada landed on his feet.
Evil caught Sanada going for a kick and swung his leg into the referee. REF BUMP!!!! Togo ran in and took cheap shots at Sanada. Evil and Togo teamed up to hit the Magic Killer. Evil tried to hold Sanada on the mat while Togo went up top for a senton, but Sanada kicked Evil into the ropes, causing Togo to fall to the floor. Sanada ended up performing a moonsault and applied Skull End on the way down.
Sanada released the hold and then performed a moonsault onto Evil’s back. Sanada went for a second moonsault, but Evil put his knees up. Togo tried to choke Sanada while Evil distracted the referee, but Sanada blocked it. Togo ended up taking a ridiculously over the top bump off the apron and through a table on the floor. Sanada rolled up Evil for a two count. Evil came back with a suplex and a clothesline for a two count of his own. A short time later, Sanada performed a Popup TKO, then followed with a moonsault and scored the pin…
Sanada beat Evil in 23:45.
Powell’s POV: They had the unenviable task of following Takagi vs. Cobb, but this match just didn’t reach the level of intensity that one would expect from a battle of longtime tag team partners battling on their company’s biggest show of the year. It wasn’t all bad or anything, but nothing about the match felt big show special.
5. Taiji Ishimori vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. Takahashi went for a sunset bomb from the apron, but Ishimori did a backflip and landed on his feet. Takahashi powerbombed him onto the edge of the apron. Ishimori sold it big. Takahashi slammed Ishimori onto the entrance ramp, then walked way up the ramp and got the crowd to clap. Takahashi charged and then Ishimori caught him going for a move and powerbombed him onto the ramp.
Ishimori targeted the back of Takahashi., then drove him shoulder first into an exposed corner. Takahashi came back with a huracanrana. Ishimori ended up at ringside and took a missile dropkick from the apron. Moments later, Ishimori came back and performed a flip onto the arm of Takahashi that was draped over the bottom rope, then applied a crossface. Takahashi broke the hold by putting his boot over the bottom rope. Romero recalled that Takahashi was dealing with a left hand injury coming out of his match from the night before. Ishimori charged at Takahashi, who performed an overhead suplex that sent him crashing into the corner around 10:45.
A short time later, Ishimori went for a handspring into the ropes, but Takahashi caught him with a suplex on the way down. Ishimori came right back with a Canadian Destroyer. “Some guys trade forearms and some guys trade Canadian Destroyers,” Romero said with a laugh. The wrestlers got to their knees and then to their feet while trading blows. Takahashi got the better of it with a big forearm that knocked Ishimori down. Ishimori came back with a series of elbow strikes. Romero said Takahashi had to be careful because if he fell down it could lead to a ref stoppage. The ref checked on him, but Takahashi shot right up and then took more strikes from Ishimori.
Ishimori powered up Takahashi and executed a hammerlock shoulder breaker. Ishimori applied a crossface. Takahashi bled from the nose a bit and eventually reached the ropes to break the hold. Ishimori continued to dominate, but he couldn’t put Takahashi away and started to show frustration. Takahashi eventually hit Ishimori with a move and got a two count. Both men stayed down for a moment. Takahashi got to his knees and yelled while selling a bad shoulder. Takahashi turned Ishimori inside out with a clothesline, then hoisted him up on his shoulders and ran him into the exposed corner.
At 24:00, both men fought for position. Ishimori got the better of it and reapplied the crossface. Takahashi neared the ropes. Ishimori rolled him back into the ring and went for a move that Takahashi avoided. Takahashi performed a TKO style move. Takahashi followed up with a Time Bomb and scored the clean pin…
Hiromu Takahashi defeated Taiji Ishimori in 25:30 to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship.
Powell’s POV: An excellent match from start to finish. I lean toward Takagi vs. Cobb as the best match of the night still, but it’s certainly debatable. Of course, the main event could still top both matches. By the way, @ChrisSamsa noted that this was the highest on the card that an IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match has ever been on a Wrestle Kingdom card, and it was also the longest IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship match in Wrestle Kingdom history. If you enjoy NJPW and you’re not following Samsa, you’re missing out. He does a fantastic job and provides a lot of stats used by the broadcast team.
6. Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White (w/Gedo) for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and IWGP Intercontinental Championship. White brought his right to challenge contract briefcase to the ring with him and said it was his night. White went nose to nose with Ibushi and told him that he was taking his titles from him. Gedo provided an early distraction that allowed White to go on the offensive. Kelly played up the story that Ibushi didn’t get any sleep after winning the title on night one.
Gedo tried to interfere again when the match spilled to ringside, but Ibushi hit him with an elbow to the face. Ibushi rolled White back inside the ring. White dropped him with a DDT as he tried to follow. Kelly chalked it up to Ibushi being slightly slower than usual due to headlining night one. White took Ibushi to ringside and ended up giving him a vicious suplex on the apron. White continued to dominate Ibushi and catapulted his face into the bottom rope just before 10:00.
Ibushi bounced back and performed a standing moonsault that resulted in a two count. Ibushi kicked White to ringside and then followed him. White shoved Ibushi into the apron and then into the guardrail before rolling him back inside the ring. Ibushi executed a power slam and went to the ropes where white cut him off. White wrenched the right knee of Ibushi. Romero said White was taking Ibushi apart by attacking his neck, abdominal region, and leg. Kelly recalled that White targeted the knee of Ibushi when he beat him in the G1 tournament.
Ibushi sent White to the floor with a Frankensteiner. Ibushi pressed in the corner and landed on the apron. Ibushi sold knee pain, then White pushed him down. Charlton noted that the titles would change hands on a count-out. Ibushi and White traded strikes. Ibushi used a quick flurry to knock White down. They both went for pins and got two counts, then Ibushi pulled up White from the mat and performed a tombstone piledriver. White came right back with a nice suplex at 21:30.
White put Ibushi down with a uranage slam and covered him for a near fall. White followed up with a Kiwi Crusher for another two count. White set up for a Bladerunner, but Ibushi avoided it and suplexed him. Ibushi performed a Bomaye running knee and got a two count. White caught Ibushi in a backslide and put his feet on the ropes for leverage. White had the pin, but referee Red Shoes spotted White’s feet on the ropes and stopped the count.
Ibushi rocked White with a shot. Ibushi set up for a Kamigoye, but White covered up. Ibushi waited until White moved his hands, then delivered a kick to the head. Ibushi went up top but was distracted by Gedo, allowing White to attack Ibushi from behind. White set up for a sleeper suplex from the top rope, but Ibushi fought free and knocked White back inside the ring. Gedo grabbed Ibushi’s leg. Ibushi kicked him off, but White hit Ibushi from behind and pulled him back inside the ring.
White clipped the knee of Ibushi and then performed a pair of dragon screw leg whips. White applied a leg lock. Ibushi reached the ropes to break the hold. White held the wrist of Ibushi and delivered taunting kicks to his face. Ibushi stood up and no-sold White’s forearm shots while Kelly spoke about “the dangerous zone” that Ibushi enters. Ibushi knocked White down with some strikes.
Ibushi waited for White to get up, let him throw a forearm, and then fired right back with one of his own that dropped White. Rinse and repeat. White laid down in the ring and acted like he was finished. Ibushi hit him multiple times and the referee tried to step in, but Ibushi shoved him to the mat. White low blowed Ibushi. White took Ibushi to ringside and ran him into the guardrail and apron repeatedly, then brought him to the bottom of the entrance ramp and threat repeated shots at him.
White returned to the ring and motioned for Ibushi to join him. Ibushi struggled to get to his feet and crawled under the bottom rope. White performed a DDT and followed up with a pair of nasty German suplexes. Ibushi rolled under the ropes. White went for another suplex, but Ibushi grabbed the ropes. Ibushi hoisted up White, who broke free, but Ibushi tagged him with a kick. Both men were down at 37:00.
Ibushi stood on the middle rope and powered White over the ropes and into a German suplex in the ring. Ibushi followed up with a Last Ride powerbomb for a close near fall with White lifting a shoulder at the last moment. White rallied with a sleeper suplex, then got advice from Gedo. White threw three knees to the gut and performed another sleeper suplex. White performed a Regal Plex for a near fall.
White signalled for his finisher, but Ibushi countered into a backslide, then stood up and blasted White with a knee strike that led to a good near fall. Ibushi went up top and performed a great Phoenix Splash. Gedo pulled the referee from the ring to prevent him from making the three count. “Goddamn you, Gedo,” Kelly yelled. Gedo entered the ring and tried to hit Ibushi with brass knuckles, but Ibushi blocked it and delivered a knee strike.
Ibushi brought the referee back inside the ring. White shot up and performed a Bladerunner for a great near fall. The broadcast team noted that it was the first time that someone kicked out of the Blade Runner. White applied a leg lock. Ibushi reached the ropes. White blocked a knee strike and suplexed Ibushi into a pin for a near fall. White followed up with a brainbuster and went for a Bladerunner, but Ibushi dodged it and threw a knee to his head.
Ibushi drilled White with another knee to the head. Ibushi set up for his finisher, White countered into his own, but Ibushi clotheslined him. Ibushi performed a reverse Kamigoye, then threw it to the front of White’s head and pinned him to win the match.
Kota Ibushi defeated Jay White in 48:05 to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
After the match, both wrestlers remained on the mat. White reached out and grabbed the title belts, but the referee pulled them away. Ibushi ended up alone in the ring and the referee strapped one of the titles around his waist.
Sanada came out dressed in a suit and entered the ring. Sanada apparently challenged Ibushi, who responded by talking about how he is now more powerful than ever. Ibushi said he wants to wrestle Sanada. They shook hands, and then Sanada left the ring.
Ibushi spoke to the crowd and closed by saying he has become god. Charlton said with a laugh that he bows down and worships Ibushi. The double champion celebrated with both belts in the ring while Kelly said Ibushi is the champion we need now more than ever. Ibushi continued to celebrate with his title belts. One of the Japanese broadcast team members was shown crying. Kelly and company laughed, and Kelly asked, “Now who’s a crybaby?” Once Ibushi made it to the stage, the ring announcer introduced him, then pyro shot off, and Ibushi headed to the back to close the show.
Powell’s POV: A hell of a main event with awesome near falls for both men. It was noted by the broadcast team that it was the longest main event in Wrestle Kingdom history, and Chris Samsa wrote on his page that it’s the longest match in Tokyo Dome history. You could tell that they were going long by the early pace, but it still went longer than expected, yet sure as hell didn’t overstay its welcome. So Ibushi has two title belts. Kenny Omega has the AEW Title belt and could always add the Impact World Title. Am I fantasy booking? Damn right. I’m light on sleep, it’s late (or is it early?), so just let me dream for a moment.
Overall, the highs were higher and the lows were lower on night two compared to night one. The opening match was comedy, the second match was fine for what it was, and Evil and Sanada was underwhelming, so three of the first four matches were forgettable. But the other three matches were special and made night two a very memorable show. My audio review of night one is already available for Dot Net Members, who will hear my night two audio review on Tuesday. Let me know what you thought of night two by voting for the best match and grading the overall show below. Get some sleep!