Picking up right where Part One of the coverage of Night One of Wrestle Kingdom 15 left off, we don’t need to waste time with any introductions. It’s January 4th, it’s Tokyo Dome, NJPW are firing on all cylinders, with the main events coming fast.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Great-O-Khan – Special Singles Match
2020 was not the best year of Hiroshi Tanahashi’s career, but he looks to start 2021 big. Great-O-Khan made his way back to NJPW as part of The Empire with Will Ospreay & Jeff Cobb. During World Tag League, he was able to absolutely decimate the ace, and beat his leg down with a chair after the match. Now, Tanahashi looks to turn back the clock, remind everyone why he’s Mr. Tokyo Dome, and take O-Khan down. A win here for O-Khan would be career defining.
O-Khan went right for the legs of Tanahashi, trying to use his amateur roots. That failed, and he would have to play Tanahashi’s game. Tanahashi kept the pace slow, and this would benefit O-Khan, who nailed a big scoop slam. He was thrown over the top rope and couldn’t skin the cat, being sent to the outside and thrown into the steel ring post. Another scoop slam onto the ramp left Tanahashi gasping for breath.
He’d barely make the ring, and immediately have to fight off a submission on the hurt knee. Tanahashi nailed a dragon screw, and had a chance to find his stride. Some flying forearms dropped O-Khan, but every time he landed on those knees. He still got the second rope somersault senton, getting a near fall. The slingblade was lined up, but instead he was caught and driven face first into the mat.
Tanahashi got O-Khan down, but instead of the Cloverleaf, he went for High Fly Flow. O-Khan pulled him down and set up Eliminator, before going into the Cobra Twist. Tanahashi fought back with Twist & Shout, and considered using a chair before going for the Dragon Suplex. This set up High Fly Flow to the back, and one more ended it.
Great O-Khan had his best singles match since coming back, and Tanahashi showed he’s no easy target. Father time will have to wait to take Tanahashi. Match Rating: 3.75/5 (*** ¾)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay – Special Singles Match
After bringing Ospreay into NJPW and helping him become one of the best in the world? Okada now has some regrets. Ospreay showed his true colors at the end of the 2020 G1 Climax, when he called in help from Great-O-Khan to beat Okada for the first time, exiting CHAOS to form The Empire. Now wanting to beat Okada again, he gets a chance to do so in the Tokyo Dome.
Ospreay showed aggression early on, underestimating his mentor who matched his pace. They’d trade forerams, big boots, and Okada took to the sky with a rare dive over the top rope. The flooring would be exposed, that inch of padding removed. Neither man met the exposed floor yet, but Okada took a neckbreaker and double stomp to the neck.
Now with a target, Ospreay continued his aggression while sticking to simple moves. Backbreakers, chops, and more, a very Okada-esque strategy. One big backdrop from Okada turned the match around, and started to hit his big moves including the fisherman neckbreaker. The Money Clip was attempted, but Ospreay slipped away. Heavy Rain dropped Ospreay, another rare move.
Some fancy footwork from Ospreay on the outside saw him go for Oscutter, and get nailed with a Shotgun Dropkick. Back in the ring, Reverse Bloody Sunday harkened back to Prince Devitt, but Okada escaped Stormbreaker. A face paced flurry showed the old Ospreay shine through, catching Okada out of the sky with a powerbomb.
Ospreay suplexed Okada through an announce table, but didn’t take the count out. Top rope Hidden Blade saw Okada kick out. A snap powerbomb? Okada kicks out. You don’t beat Okada in the Tokyo Dome that easily. Stormbreaker on the apron was attempted, blocked and the Oscutter came instead. Okada blocked into a tombstone, dropping Ospreay head first on the apron. Ospreay got in, hit a short rainmaker, and tried to fight out, hit the ropes and took the dropkick.
Money Clip was applied, turned into the twisting Tombstone, and the Money Clip came back twice as tight. Ospreay was thrown into Priestly, hit with a backbreaker and put back into Money Clip. He fought to the ropes, but was hurting for breath, and paying for his recent actions. Ospreay stopped the top rope elbow drop, and got a top rope Spanish Fly. Oscutter was blocked by Money Clip, but he broke free and nailed Oscutter for a two count.
Hidden Blade to the face was blocked with a dropkick, and so was super Oscutter. Spinning Rainmaker into Money Clip was countered by rolling elbows. Tombstone into the Rainmaker from Ospreay got two. Okada showed Ospreay how it was done with the first real Rainmaker since last January.
From York Hall to Tokyo Dome, Ospreay & Okada just keep getting better, and the scary part? Their best match is still yet to come. This was as good as any defense from his historic reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, barring the outliers with Kenny Omega. Only thing holding it back was a lack of a vocal crowd. Match Rating: 5/5 (*****)
Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi – Double IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championship Match
Eight times now, Tetsuya Naito & Kota Ibushi have gone to war, and each time they raise the bar for how dangerous they can get. Ibushi has a 5-3 record over Naito, but tonight has their highest stakes yet. They now meet in the main event of the Tokyo Dome, with both the IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championships on the line. Last year, Ibushi was unable to beat Kazuchika Okada in the main event, but this year, has another chance to become god.
Taking a slow start, Naito & Ibushi are pacing themselves. They are well familiar in what their opponent is capable of, and know that fans want an epic. Hard strikes started flying from Naito, before being caught by a split second hurricanrana. Ibushi went to the apron, but was swept off his feet, and tried to neckbreaker him onto the floor, but Ibushi evaded. Naito kept on the offensive, and hit a German Suplex on the ramp, Ibushi landing on his neck.
Ibushi was dazed, and Naito was ready to take advantage. Stomps and a headscissor choke, before trying to end this one early. Ibushi had to fight back into this one as Naito went after his neck, narrowly dodging the DDT and hitting a dropkick. A jumping mid-kick and standing moonsault got a two count, but Naito used some elbows to stop a German Suplex. He tried to attack Ibushi in the corner, was sent to the apron and hit with a lariat, Naito landing on his neck this time.
He’d stay in the fight, hitting Ibushi with a series of neckbreaker before getting stomped into the mat. A powerslam set up Naito for the moonsault, but Ibushi landed in position for the Koji Clutch, more punishment for the neck.
Naito kept on beating down Ibushi with the short back elbow strikes, and you could see the eyes of Ibushi change. Gloria got a two count, and Ibushi was put on the top rope, slipping out and hitting a backflip kick on Naito. Again on the apron, Ibushi would set up the powerbomb but be sent onto his back. Naito rushed in, and was taken out with a hurricanrana off the apron, landing hard on his bad knee! He’d barely make the twenty count, keeping his gold.
The deadlift apron German Suplex was countered, and Naito would set Ibushi up on the top rope for a super poison rana, getting a two count. Ibushi saw the running Destino coming, and nailed the high kick. Kamigoye was attempted, but countered into Destino. Naito set up the proper Destino but was countered into Bastard Driver. Ibushi was getting more dangerous by the second, but so was Naito.
In a silent Tokyo Dome, their strikes were as loud as ever, Naito getting the wheel kick before Ibushi nailed the lariat. Ibushi got the Kamigoye, but Naito managed to kick out of the killshot. He pulled from his past with the Phoniex Splash, but missed and took a running Destino. Another Kamigoye came soon after, but Naito still kicked out at the last second. The knee would be exposed, but Naito had a comeback ready and countered. One more Destino, one more counter. A short V-Trigger, exposed knee Kamigoye, and Kota Ibushi has become double champion.
Naito realized he lost after picking up the gold, and personally handed it to his greatest rival. This won’t be their last match, and Naito will be back for his gold.
One of these days, these guys will kill each other in the ring. Their matches keep getting more and more dangerous, and they have to go deeper every time to win. Kota Ibushi now has to go on to face Jay White tomorrow to keep his gold, in what will be a nail biter of a match. Match Rating: 5/5 (*****)
We pick this back up tomorrow with Night Two. Matches like Jay White vs. Kota Ibushi, Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori, and more on offer. What was your favorite match of Night One of Wrestle Kingdom 15? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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