POLLOCK’S NEWS UPDATE: NJPW moves forward while cases rise in Tokyo

Wrestle Kingdom 15 moves forward while COVID-19 cases rise in Tokyo, a preview of night one, Suwama retains, AEW Dark matches & more.


**It’s the start of a busy week here at POST Wrestling. Up first, Wai Ting and I will have a Wrestle Kingdom Night One POST Show up early Monday morning immediately after the first Tokyo Dome card. This show will be available for all members of the POST Wrestling Café, and then, we will have another POST Show on Tuesday for Patrons after night two.

**We have released a special Kenny Omega Roundtable discussion hosted by Martin Bushby with the panel of JP Houlihan, Sonal Lad, WH Park, Will Cooling, and Rich Fann discussing his career arc, legacy with DDT and New Japan, and the move to AEW in 2019.

**Rewind-A-SmackDown is available for all Café members as Wai Ting and I review the first WWE show of 2021 and go through the recent news including Mick Foley and Mistico announcing COVID-19 positive results, GCW running a 24-hour card in January, and the Brodie Lee tribute edition of Talk is Jericho.


Today: Kenny Omega Roundtable with Martin Bushby, JP Houlihan, WH Park, Sonal Lad, Will Cooling, and Rich Fann
Monday: Wrestle Kingdom Night One POST Show with John Pollock & Wai Ting (Patreon)
Monday: Rewind-A-Raw (LIVE for Double Double, Iced Capp & Espresso Patrons)
Tuesday: Wrestle Kingdom Night Two POST Show with John Pollock & Wai Ting (Patreon)


**As New Japan heads into its biggest cards of the year, the pandemic is causing rising concern in and around Tokyo with the potential of another state of emergency declaration. Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura stated they are considering the declaration but need to hear further opinions from experts. Tokyo saw 814 new cases reported on Saturday and hit a new record of daily cases this past Thursday with 1,337.

**On Sunday’s edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, guest Kevin Kelly stated that the best-case scenario for the shows this week would be the events taking place with the limited number of fans they have sold tickets to. He said the worst-case scenario is the shows would still take place but without fans and are waiting on the Government’s statement regarding the pandemic. Kelly has been in Japan for several weeks in order to call the shows live.

**For the second straight year, NJPW will run the Tokyo Dome on back-to-back nights beginning with Monday’s show that begins with the New Japan Rumble airing at 2 am eastern with the main show beginning at 3. We have a big preview of both nights on our Wrestle Kingdom 15 Primer with Wai Ting and WH Park joining me to go through all the matches and stories. Here is the card for night one:
*Double Championship: Tetsuya Naito (champion) vs. Kota Ibushi – winner defends against Jay White on night two
*Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay
*Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. The Great O-Khan
*IWGP U.S. Title Right to Challenge Contract: KENTA (holder) vs. Satoshi Kojima
*IWGP Tag Team Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (champions) vs. Guerrillas of Destiny
*Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Phantasmo – winner challenges Taiji Ishimori for the junior heavyweight title on night two
*New Japan Rumble: 22-man battle royal with the final four facing each other on night two for the rights to the KOPW crown. There are no participants listed but some of the talent not announced for either show include Tomohiro Ishii, Yoshi-Hashi, Hirooki Goto, Minoru Suzuki, Bad Luck Fale, BUSHI, Chase Owens, Douki, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Robbie Eagles, Ren Narita, SHO, Tiger Mask, Toa Henare, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Yujiro, Yota Tsuji, Yuya Uemura, and Gabriel Kidd.

On paper, it looks like a show where the lion’s share of the time will be allotted to the top two matches. It’s Naito and Ibushi’s first match since Dominion 2019, which had one of the scariest spots in years when Ibushi was suplexed on the edge of the apron. It feels like this needs to be Ibushi’s crowning moment after going 0-2 last year. He can win the title and avenge the losses to White with Okada or Ospreay as a future challenger coming out of their match.

Okada vs. Ospreay has a massive bar to clear as anything short of a top-tier match of the year will feel like a disappointment. Their match at the G1 Climax in 2019 was one of the best that year while their last one at the 2020 G1 was less about having the spectacular MOTY contender and more on Ospreay’s turn and finally beating Okada. It’s been a full year since Okada held the IWGP title and I’d be surprised to see him lose back-to-back to Ospreay, however, Ospreay needs it more as he’s still ascending to that top echelon of the New Japan heavyweights.

The rest of the card looks fine as Takahashi and Phantasmo could have a great opener and the title match is positioned second-from-the-top on Tuesday. It’s the biggest test for Tomoyuki Oka a.k.a. The Great O-Khan to have a star-making performance with Tanahashi, who has been beaten to the ground this past year to the point, a win by Oka lacks the significance even though it is at the Tokyo Dome. KENTA and Kojima could be a sleeper, but the undercard will be dictated by time allotment. If they are under pressure to keep the show at a shorter length, I’ll forgive a rushed undercard to give the top matches ample time.

**Suwama retained the Triple Crown against Yuma Aoyagi earlier today at Korakuen Hall in a solid match ending with Suwama’s lariat and Backdrop Hold combination. Afterward, Suwama was confronted by Shotaro Ashino, who appears to be his next challenger. The night prior, Aoyagi & Kento Miyahara beat Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa for the AJPW tag titles when Aoyagi submitted Suwama with the End Game submission hold.

**Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling has a card that streams live on Wrestle Universe at 9:30 pm eastern tonight (11:30 am JST on Monday). The card is headlined by Yuka Sakazaki defending the Princess of Princess title against Rika Tatsumi. There will be English commentary featuring Stewart Fulton, Mark Pickering, and Chris Brookes.

**New Japan has released details on contact tracing regarding those attending the Tokyo Dome events. Attendees will need to register their details and will have an NFC chip in their seats with a QR code. Fans will have to scan the code and input their details through an online form.

**WWE’s senior ring physician Dr. Chris Amann posted that he received his first dosage of the Moderna vaccine this past Friday.

**Sarah Stock suffered an injury this past week after falling on ice. Stock said she broke a bone and ruptured several ligaments in her ankle with a photo posted of her leg in a cast. She required surgery and later noted that it “went smoothly”. We wish her a speedy recovery.

**Angel Garza pinned R-Truth on the TikTok New Year’s Eve live stream to win the 24/7 title.

**Next Friday’s episode of SmackDown will feature a SmackDown tag title match with The Street Profits defending against Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler after the angle this past week and announcement of the match on Talking Smack. Big E. will defend the Intercontinental title against Apollo Crews on the same episode.

**OVW has released a statement that due to his increasing commitments with AEW, Brian Pillman Jr. is vacating their heavyweight championship. The title will be awarded to the winner of OVW’s Nightmare Rumble next Saturday and the winner will face OVW National Champion Jesse Godderz on the same night.

**After exiting All Japan Pro Wrestling as a free agent, Yusuke Okada appeared on Sunday’s DDT card at Korakuen Hall. Okada is set to wrestle for the group next Saturday in the same arena.

**The WWE Network has released its latest Day of special featuring Charlotte Flair’s return at the TLC event two weeks ago.

**Here is the full list of sixteen matches scheduled for AEW Dark this Tuesday night at 7 pm eastern:
*Frankie Kazarian vs. Griff Garrison vs. Angelico vs. Darius Martin
*Alan “5” Angels vs. Serpentico
*The Gunn Club vs. Mike Verna & Bear Country
*Baron Black vs. Matt Sydal
*Peter Avalon vs. Angel Fashion
*Rey Fenix vs. Aaron Solow
*Fuego Del Sol vs. Danny Limelight
*Ivelisse & Diamante vs. KiLynn King & Tesha Price
*The Acclaimed vs. Lee Johnson & Shawn Dean
*Jungle Boy vs. Nick Comoroto
*Nyla Rose vs. Alex Gracia
*Sammy Guevara vs. Michael Nakazawa
*Scorpio Sky vs. Ariel Levy
*Brandon Cutler vs. Louie Valle
*Shanna vs. Vipress
*Thunder Rosa vs. Ashley Vox

**Happy Birthday to Jim Ross, who turns 69 today.



Martin Bushby is joined by JP Houlihan, Sonal Lad, WH Park, Will Cooling and Rich Fann for a roundtable discussion about Kenny Omega’s career to date.
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About John Pollock 5646 Articles
Born on a Friday, John Pollock is a reporter, editor & podcaster at POST Wrestling. He runs and owns POST Wrestling alongside Wai Ting.