After a solid set of undercard tag team action, it’s time to get into the big matches on the card! Kota Ibushi will make his second defense of the IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championships, while CHAOS defends their NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championships against Bullet Club. Let’s waste no time, and get right into the action!
Tag Team Match: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Toru Yano) vs. BULLET CLUB (EVIL & Dick Togo)
Okada continues to want a singles match with EVIL, and tonight he gets his best chance yet to make this a reality. He teams with Toru Yano to take on EVIL & Dick Togo. If Okada can finally pin EVIL tonight, this singles match might come around for Castle Attack in March. This all stems from the 2020 New Japan Cup, where EVIL beat Okada in the finals, a loss that Okada has not been able to get over.
Yano took out Togo to start, allowing Okada to get right to work on EVIL. EVIL was sent to the outside of the ring and Okada wanted the Tombstone on the floor. Okada was thrown into the barricade, EVIL grabbed a steel chair and choked Okada with it. Neither man answered the twenty count, meaning a double countout. EVIL threw the match away to avoid having to deal with the chance that Okada is able to beat him.
Okada attacked EVIL with a chair as he tried to get away, showing a new side of himself with some added aggression, and standing tall in the ring. He’d call EVIL out for being a coward, and call for the singles match right now.
This wasn’t a match, more just an angle to push this coming singles match between Okada & EVIL… speaking of…
Special Singles Match: EVIL vs. Kazuchika Okada
And that challenge was accepted by EVIL, who rushed the ring after sending Dick Togo to the back! They got right to throwing heavy strikes, Okada ducking two lariats for the back elbow. EVIL was sent into the corner for another back elbow and a DDT. Okada was sent head first into the mat after taking a headful of hair.
EVIL was hit with the neckbreaker for a two count, but countered the attempt at a Tombstone Piledriver with a gouge to the eyes before looking for the Fisherman Buster. Okada countered out, sending EVIL off the ropes for a dropkick before applying the Money Clip. EVIL was fading fast, but got a foot on the bottom rope, before blocking a Rainmaker attempt and hitting a lariat of his own. Darkness Falls was followed by the Scorpion Deathlock.
Dick Togo came to the ring, shoved the referee down and started to stomp Okada down, causing the DQ. Yano went to save Okada from more abuse, only to take a low blow. Okada got back onto EVIL, before being choked out by Dick Togo.
Outside of the fact that this felt like a WWE angle, this was a very good match from both EVIl & Okada, who have always had steady chemistry. They didn’t waste time and got right into second gear, a rarity for Okada who is known for his slow start, though it made since seeing as it ended in DQ. This is a sign of good things to come from Okada & EVIL, and a fun overall angle. Match Rating: 2.25/5 (** ¼)
NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship Match: CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. BULLET CLUB (Jay White, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa)
When Jay White finally came back to NJPW after taking some time off following Wrestle Kingdom, he was obsessed with CHAOS. Eventually, alongside Guerillas of Destiny, he challenged the Six-Man Tag Team Champions for a match, which we got tonight. This is the third defense from the current champions.
Before the bell even rang, a brawl would break out. White went after Ishii, while Goto & YOSHI-HASHI went after G.O.D on the outside. All three members of CHAOS went after White, taking him out, and then Tama & Loa. CHAOS has been more aggressive than ever, and that showed in the opening minutes of this match. Tama was hit with a hip toss assisted senton from YOSHI-HASHI & Goto.
BULLET CLUB finally had some control in this match after getting Ishii on the outside and smashing him into the barricades, and Loa slammed YOSHI-HASHI into the mat with a huge Blue Thunder Bomb. This was a possible KO, but they weren’t done. YOSHI-HASHI has been a target all tour, and this match is no different.
He’d counter a suplex from Tama into a neckbreaker, and make the tag to Goto. Goto took on both members of G.O.D with lariats and spin kicks. He’d take the Tongan Twist, but catch a superman punch into a quick GTR. Ishii & White got tags, and had answers for everything the other had offensively, until Ishii caught White with the lariat and a powerslam.
White was battered in the corner by chips from Ishii, before Gedo ran a distraction. Ishii was caught up in the ropes, before being hit with a DDT. White took this one to the outside, driving Ishii into the barricade before taking him into the ring for Bladebuster.
YOSHI-HASHI tried to save his partner as Loa came in, but was taken out with a dropkick. Ishii was ready to fight Loa, before Goto tripped Loa & Tama tripped Ishii and this caused things to break down into a brawl. White had time to recover, and Ishii was outnumbered and nailed with Guerilla Warfare and the Kiwi Crusher, but still managed to kick out. The sleeper suplex was blocked by YOSHI-HASHI, who was taken out by Tama Tonga. Goto came in, but took a snap saito suplex, and Ishii took the sleeper suplex.
Blade Runner was set, Ishii countered and set up the brainbuster, but White fought hard until taking a headbutt. They’d trade finisher attempts until White nailed the big uranage to get some space. YOSHI-HASHI & Loa got tags, and YOSHI-HASHI nailed the headhunter before applying the Butterfly Lock. Loa powered out and hit a Samoan Drop, and hit the Reverse 3D for a near fall. Magic Killer was next up, but YOSHI-HASHI countered before being run over by Loa.
The diving headbutt and frog splash combo got the near fall, Goto breaking the pin up. Goto and YOSHI-HASHI hit the GYR on Tama, before a triple team offense combo on Loa that led to White making the save. Jado ran a distraction, and White hit a low blow. YOSHI-HASHI would be destroyed by Bullet Club, but Ishii stopped the triple powerbomb attempt. Loa took a super brainbuster, White took a German Suplex, and YOSHI-HASHI applied the Butterfly Lock on Loa. Gedo ran the distraction, Jado used the Kendo Stick, but Loa couldn’t put him down. YOSHI-HASHI countered Ape-Shit into a roll up, and was able to end this match! This marks four successful defenses for this trio.
Matches like these give these titles meaning, and the reign of this CHAOS unit has been nothing short of excellent, perhaps the best in the belts history. YOSHI-HASHI is in his first title reign ever, and is making sure to ensure it’s a memorable one. The quality difference between this and a normal six man tag is clear. Match Rating: 4.5/5 (**** 1/2)
Following the match, YOSHI-HASHI & Hirooki Goto would challenge Guerillas of Destiny for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships, likely at Castle Attack.
IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championship Match: Kota Ibushi vs. SANADA
At Wrestle Kingdom 15, Kota Ibushi finally became god as he won both the IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championships, beating Tetsuya Naito and defending against Jay White. After the match, SANADA laid out the challenge for the first defense, in a rematch of the finals of the 2020 G1 Climax. Will tonight be the night SANADA finally reaches his true potential, or will Ibushi reign on?
They’d get things started slow as expected, neither man wanting to make an early mistake with their grappling. Ibushi got the win on the opening exchange, with SANADA being dropped with a quick kick to the chest, before Ibushi looked to take flight. They reached a stalemate on the outside, before SANADA was able to hit a Dragon Screw neck whip on the floor.
Ibushi tried to create some distance, but was placed back into the ring and dropped with a high angle back suplex. A headscissor hold would be applied, SANADA making a clear attack on the neck for Skull End. Ibushi broke free and nailed a fast kick. He’d swat SANADA down, miss the PK but hit the standing moonsault. SANADA hit a dropkick, sending Ibushi to the outside before hitting a dive over the top rope.
Ibushi got a dropkick of his own on the inside, before going for the dive himself, a copy paste of SANADA’s last offense. SANADA got a hurricanrana on Ibushi, before they traded strikes on the mat, before Ibushi hit a snap German Suplex. Ibushi hit the Last Ride powerbomb, and wanted Kamigoye, but SANADA dodged and hit one of his own. SANADA went for a second, before instead using another Ibushi move in the Lawn Dart.
Ibushi was hit with a superplex, SANADA rolling through, and setting up the Dragon Screw neck whip before locking in Skull End. He’d let the hold go to try for the moonsault, missing as this one passed the twenty minute mark. Ibushi would nail the Lawn Dart on SANADA, before setting up the German Suplex from the apron into the ring. SANADA countered, and hit a sloppy TKO off the apron to the floor, SANADA arguably getting the worst of the landing.
Back in the ring, SANADA hit a Tiger Suplex, before going back to Skull End, this time with the swing. Ibushi countered into a pinfall before nailing the Bomaye knee strike. The Kamigoye was countered into a pop up cutter, SANADA following up with a moonsault to the back, but the second moonsault just met the knees of Ibushi. Ibushi hit a backflip kick, but SANADA dodged the roundhouse to attempt a European Clutch.
This was blocked, and Ibushi hit a Kamigoye to the back of the head, followed by a second to the head, but SANADA managed to kick out. He’d expose the knee, and SANADA got two near falls with roll ups. Ibushi hit a knee strike, followed by the exposed Kamigoye to end this match. That makes two defenses for Ibushi, and the third could come later this month.
While they could be given the benefit of the doubt for their G1 match being slow, having wrestled a grueling tournament; they came into this match fresh as you can be. Yet were almost slower to start. The G1 match at least had an excellent final stretch, and the drama of a G1 Finals. They hit their stride way too late in this one, and while the action was solid from bell to bell, it was easy to lose interest due to the crawling pace. NJPW main events tend to go long to become epics, and while sometimes it works, sometimes it just doesn’t. Match Rating: 3.75/5 (*** ¾)
After the match, Tetsuya Naito would come out to challenge Ibushi to a rematch from Night One of Wrestle Kingdom. However, Naito just wants the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, and is against Ibushi wanting to unify the titles completely. Will this finally break up the Double Gold? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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