NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15: Naito v Ibushi Preview

Intriguing Context Between Rivals
Wrestle Kingdom 15 Night One Marquee Logo via New Japan Pro Wrestling

The New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) Wrestle Kingdom 15 series will investigate every aspect of the upcoming two-night Wrestle Kingdom 15 event hosted by NJPW. Over the past 15 years, the event has become known as one of the biggest wrestling events in the world. The second piece will look at Wrestle Kingdom 15 Night One marquee match between IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental ‘Double Champion’ Tetsuya Naito and G1 Climax 30 winner “Golden Star” Kota Ibushi who challenges for the titles.

NJPW presents Wrestle Kingdom 15 live from the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan on January 4th and January 5th. Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus, 2019) pandemic, both nights will have attendance capped at a maximum of 20,000 fans to adhere to company social distancing and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.

The marquee match of the monumental night sees the following matchup for the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental ‘Double Championship.’

“Golden Star” Kota Ibushi

Former IWGP Intercontinental Champion, three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, and NEVER Openweight Champion

G1 Climax 29 & G1 Climax 30 Trophy Winner

v

Los Ingobernables de Japon (LIJ) Leader Tetsuya Naito

Reigning three-time IWGP Heavyweight & six-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion

G1 Climax 23 & G1 Climax 27 Trophy Winner

While Ibushi won G1 Climax 30, he soon lost his right to challenge for the ‘Double Championship’ at Wrestle Kingdom 15 after losing the opportunity to Bullet Club member and former IWGP Heavyweight, IWGP Intercontinental, and IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion “Switchblade” Jay White at Power Struggle 2020.

However, during the first Wrestle Kingdom 15 press conference Naito threatened to boycott the Tokyo Dome if he was not granted the opportunity to face Ibushi on January 4th and have the winner defend the ‘Double Championship’ against Switchblade on January 5th. The NJPW office relented to Naito’s demands, giving Ibushi the match he’s wanted since going 0-2 during Wrestle Kingdom 14 losing to former five-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and CHAOS member “Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada and Jay White on back to back nights.

Ibushi has a 5-3 singles record against Naito coming into Wrestle Kingdom 15, yet the two are 1-1 during their last two contests. Ibushi defeated Naito at the G1 Supercard on April 6, 2019 (20 minutes and 53 seconds) for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, only for Naito to win the title back on Jun 9, 2019 at NJPW Dominion 2019 (22 minutes and 6 seconds).

The winner goes into January 5th with a handicap as they must face a fresh Jay White who isn’t competing on January 4th. Yet, Ibushi will not relent as he has long fought for his opportunity to become IWGP Heavyweight Champion, but his rival may keep him from living his dream in the first match between the two with the prestigious title on the line.

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Kota IbushiLIJLos Ingobernables de JaponNew Japan Pro WrestlingNJPWTetsuya NaitoTokyo DomeWrestle KingdomWrestle Kingdom 15
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