Welcome to POST Wrestling’s coverage of Wrestle Kingdom 15 Night 1 from the Tokyo Dome.
Wai Ting and I will have a Wrestle Kingdom POST Show later today for all members of the POST Wrestling Café.
The pre-show begins at 2 am eastern with the New Japan Rumble and the main show begins at 3.
*Double Championship: Kota Ibushi def. Tetsuya Naito (champion) to in 31:18 win the Double Championship
*Kazuchika Okada def. Will Ospreay in 35:28
*Hiroshi Tanahashi def. The Great O-Khan in 17:14
*IWGP U.S. Title Right to Challenge Contract: KENTA (holder) def. Satoshi Kojima in 14:26
*IWGP Tag Team Championship: Guerrillas of Destiny def. Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi (champions) in 19:19
*Hiromu Takahashi def. El Phantasmo in 17:47
*New Japan Rumble: Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, BUSHI & Toru Yano are the final four after 34:44
Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton are on the English commentary at the beginning of the pre-show.
The fans are seated throughout the floor area and the lower deck, so it’s still a lot of people in attendance.
New Japan Rumble
Eliminations can occur by pin, submission, knockout, and disqualification.
1. Chase Owens
2. Tomohiro Ishii
3. Minoru Suzuki
Owens bailed to the floor leaving Ishii and Suzuki before running up to them for the comedy spot.
4. Yuji Nagata
Nagata was wearing a blue mask but removed it when he entered, he went after Suzuki.
5. Toa Henare
Henare looks in fantastic shape. Henare knocked Suzuki and Nagata off the apron while they fought and was a big pair of eliminations for Henare.
6. Hirooki Goto
Goto is wrestling in a t-shirt.
Henare was eliminated with a back body drop, he said he respected Suzuki and Ishii after being dumped out.
9. Togi Makabe
Makabe sent Goto and Yoshi-Hashi to the floor and nearly sent himself over, due to the momentum.
10. Tomoaki Honma
11. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
Tenzan dumped Makabe to the floor with Charlton explaining their GBH connection.
12. Rocky Romero
The joke was Kelly and Charlton kept asking where he was, which telegraphed his spot in the match.
Douki used the walking stick on Romero and was disqualified.
Yujiro ran at BUSHI, missed, and flew to the floor.
16. Tiger Mask
Kelly noted Tiger Mask battling Diverticulitis this past year and it nearly cost him his life.
17. Bad Luck Fale
Ishii was fighting Owens on the apron and was knocked off by Fale.
18. Gabriel Kidd
Honma and Tenzan were the next eliminations. BUSHI prevented Kidd from entering the ring.
19. Yuya Uemura
Uemura attacks BUSHI on the floor to free Kidd. Fale eliminated SHO and somewhere in all this, Romero was eliminated. Fale threw Tiger Mask out.
20. Yota Tsuji
The young lions were working together against Fale and Owens.
21. Toru Yano (final entrant)
Kidd is the next one out followed by Tsuji and Uemura.
The final four are Fale, Owens, BUSHI, and Toru Yano (who never entered the ring). They will square off in the four-way match on night two for the KOPW provisional title.
WINNERS: Chase Owens, BUSHI, Bad Luck Fale & Toru Yano in 34:44
It was a very long match and the final four were rather uninspiring. The top talent was only part of the match briefly with Suzuki and Ishii as the biggest names with minimal impact during their appearances.
The main show began with comedian Noritake “Don” Kinashi, who performs the Wrestle Kingdom theme and does a Don King parody character. He introduced Riki Choshu, who carried his grandson to the ring (who was crying) and gave a greeting prior to the big opening video.
Kevin Kelly stated they were dedicating this show to Brodie Lee. Rocky Romero added, “It’s January 4th, you know what that means”.
El Phantasmo vs. Hiromu Takahashi
ELP threw down the BOSJ trophy and grabbed the jacket looking for Jushin Thunder Liger and was nailed with a missile dropkick off the apron followed by a senton from the top to the floor.
Takahashi couldn’t hit the sunset bomb, so ELP kicked off Takahashi’s back to re-enter the ring and hit his own sunset bomb to the floor. ELP scaled the top rope and hit a moonsault to Takahashi on the ramp, this looked incredible.
Phantasmo called for the Terminator Dive with the Kenny Omega set-up but didn’t follow through, later he teased the Styles Clash. He set up Takahashi on the top rope and did a back bump onto his chest from the top turnbuckle that was very unique. Takahashi has been selling his hand since returning from the floor.
Phantasmo was bleeding from the mouth and was ran into the referee Marty Asami, and punched Takahashi low. After a top rope huracanrana and frog splash, Phantasmo hit the Styles Clash for a two-count. He went for the One-Winged Angel but was stopped and run into the corner off Takahashi’s shoulders.
Phantasmo continually countered, but finally, Takahashi countered CR II and hooked the legs for the win.
WINNER: Hiromu Takahashi in 17 minutes and 47 seconds
With the exception of the lack of crowd noise, which is inevitable, this was a very strong junior heavyweight opener. Phantasmo has the most incredible balance on the ropes and plays such an arrogant heel that worked in this setting with the crowd rooting for Takahashi and planting doubt that he’d win.
Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi vs. Guerrillas of Destiny for the IWGP Tag Titles
The story is the Guerrillas are six-time champions but have never won at the Tokyo Dome.
Jado is in the corner of G.O.D. and Dangerous Tekkers have Douki with them. Tanga Loa is wearing his finest white-and-gold Seth Rollins outfit.
Jado attacked Douki with a kendo stick, I don’t want to see any promotion use this weapon for the next decade.
The Guerrillas had the heat on Taichi from the start and kept him away from ZSJ. Taichi finally fought out of the corner and tagged out after eight minutes of being beaten. Zack getting the babyface got tag led to a cool sequence including a European Clutch for a two-count.
G.O.D. took over, Jado called for the Super Powerbomb but Zack stopped it by applying a guillotine to Tanga Loa and set up a superplex with Taichi’s assistance. Marty Asami took the greatest fall from the impact of the move.
Zack Mephisto was stopped when Tonga hit a Gun Stun to Zack, Taichi blocked it and hit the Dangerous Backdrop for a near-fall.
Tama Tonga snuck in the Iron Glove to use as a weapon on Taichi followed by Loa hitting Apeshit and they won.
WINNERS: Guerrillas of Destiny in 19:19 to win the IWGP tag titles
It was actually a lot better than expectations given the babyface dynamic of Dangerous Tekkers. The finish was another groan out of the Bullet Club playbook with the weapon but it did place the Suzuki-gun members in a babyface role going for revenge with an eventual rematch.
There was a pre-taped video featuring Jon Moxley with the IWGP United States title and said he was coming for the briefcase holder.
KENTA vs. Satoshi Kojima for the IWGP U.S. Title Contract
Hiroyoshi Tenzan came out in Kojima’s corner with Charlton noting it’s been ten years to the day since Kojima last headlined at the Tokyo Dome.
KENTA was yelling at Tenzan and he was knocked down. Kojima used the Mongolian chops, but it was a lot of KENTA playing the bully and aggressor. Kojima caught KENTA with a DDT onto the edge of the apron. Kojima set up for the Cozy Lariat and was hit with a powerslam coming off the ropes.
KENTA grabbed the briefcase and it was swatted away by Kojima. KENTA blocked the Cozy Lariat, a short-arm version hit with KENTA kicking out. KENTA nailed him with slaps and a Busaiku knee, which Kojima kicked out from. The Go to Sleep was hit next, which Kojima stayed down for.
WINNER: KENTA at 14:26
It picked up a bit in the closing minutes and would have been more impactful with a lively crowd to get behind the legend. This was average at best and I don’t think anyone took Kojima as a threat to win the match.
This was when the intermission occurred. There was an announcement that NJPW would be coming to TV in the U.S. and U.K. “soon”.
A pre-taped segment involving Tetsuya Naito and Takaaki Kidani showed the two negotiating and they announced NJPW Strong Spirits, which will be a mobile game.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. The Great O-Khan
They began with some light grappling as Tanahashi moved to a headlock. On the floor, Tanahashi was sent into the post and scoop slammed him on the ramp. Tanahashi battled back with flying forearms and was dumped on the mat when attempting a sling blade. Tanahashi is favoring his left knee.
Tanahashi fired back with Twist & Shout and hit the sling blade. Tanahashi went to the top and was stopped with the claw. O-Khan applied the Cobra Twist with the claw applied before using a suplex. He called for the Eliminator onto a chair but Tanahashi blocked. Tanahashi grabbed the chair but threw it aside.
Tanahashi used a Dragon Suplex and hit the High Fly Flow onto O-Khan’s back. He went up again and hit the High Fly Flow for the win.
WINNER: Hiroshi Tanahashi at 17:14
If you were looking for O-Khan to have a star-making performance, this wasn’t it but he did fine. The match was focused on Tanahashi and he shined with his selling and the comeback at the end for the clear-cut victory without controversy. It sets up a comeback year for Tanahashi after numerous losses in 2020. It was good but I wouldn’t go much above that especially given the stage on the biggest show of the year.
Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay
Ospreay wore the British Heavyweight title to the ring, Bea Priestley brought out her Goddesses of Stardom tag title.
Okada hit a somersault dive over the top to Ospreay. Priestley distracted Okada allowing Ospreay to dropkick him on the floor and removed the padding off the floor. Ospreay ran Okada’s back into the rail. Ospreay was controlling the match until he was hit with this crazy-looking back body drop.
Ospreay was seated on the top and dropkicked to the floor at the fifteen-minute mark. The pace intensified and saw a great counter as Okada went for the dropkick and was met with a sit-out powerbomb.
Ospreay stood on the timekeeper’s tables at ringside, which wasn’t sturdy, and lifted Okada and suplexed him through it. Instead of taking the count-out, he rolled Okada into the ring. Okada kept kicking out as Ospreay tried to end it. He went for an OsCutter on the edge of the apron, it was blocked, and Okada hit a tombstone.
In the ring, Okada applied the Money Clip, hit a tombstone, and re-applied the Money Clip before running Ospreay into Priestley on the apron. The submission was locked but Ospreay got his foot on the rope.
After it was blocked once, Ospreay hit the OsCutter for a two-count and followed with vicious stomps while shoving Red Shoes down. He sent up for a Hidden Blade to the front of Okada but was hit with a dropkick. Ospreay ducked a Rainmaker, an OsCutter off the top was hit with a dropkick and Okada landed the spinning Rainmaker. Ospreay hit a rolling elbow and his own tombstone before hitting the Rainmaker for an excellent near-fall.
Ospreay was caught with a sit-out tombstone and hit with the Rainmaker. Okada wins.
WINNER: Kazuchika Okada in 35:28
I thought this was excellent and I was engaged throughout they worked a very smart match where Ospreay is playing a different role than in previous matches. By the end, Ospreay was hardly the hated villain as it was more a story of him hanging with Okada and then falling due to attrition while putting Okada through a war. This was definitely the best match on the show, so far and should propel Okada into a major title match. This is one to definitely make sure you watch.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi for the Double Championship
Heading into this match, their all-time series is 5-3 for Ibushi and it’s their first singles match since Dominion 2019.
On the floor early, Naito hit a German suplex to Ibushi on the ramp and nearly spiked him on the head.
Naito attacked Ibushi’s neck and hit a reverse neck breaker off the apron to the floor. Naito repeatedly worked on submissions based around the neck including catch Ibushi in the Puma Blanco, which Charlton gave the background of its introduction by Naito in the 2013 G1.
On the apron, Ibushi took a back body drop and came back with a leaping huracanrana that sent both to the floor, this was incredible with the height Ibushi got. Ibushi went for the Power German suplex, Naito stopped it with strikes and into the ring, they went where Naito hit Destino for a two-count. A second Destino was countered with the Bastard Driver.
Ibushi signaled to the sky and attempted a Phoenix Splash, which missed and was hit with another Destino that Ibushi kicked out of.
Ibushi landed a head kick and nailed the Kamigoye with Naito getting the shoulder up at the last second. Ibushi removed his kneepad but Naito avoided a follow-up and hit Valentia. Ibushi blocked a Destino, landed a high knee/V-Trigger, and Kamigoye with the exposed knee to win the match.
WINNER: Kota Ibushi at 31:18 to become the Double Champion
Both were down and out from the war they had. The closing stretch was intense, and they threw everything at one another before the second Kamigoye kept Naito down.
This was a hell of a main event and the final two matches were as high caliber as you will get back-to-back on any show.
Naito presented the titles to Ibushi and raised his arm.
While Ibushi stood in the ring, Jay White appeared and said Ibushi was not the real champion and it only lasts for one night as he is taking everything. White will expose Ibushi as a fraud and will always pull Ibushi back down and White will become God.