Wrestle Kingdom XV Night Two
Date: January 5, 2021
Location: Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan
Commentators: Rocky Romero, Chris Charlton, Kevin Kelly
It’s the second half of the biggest New Japan show of the year and as usual, the card is stacked. The main event will see new IWGP Heavyweight/Intercontinental Champion Kota Ibushi defend against Jay White, along with pretty much everything else that wasn’t featured on Night One. They have a lot to live up to so let’s get to it.
Note that there were two Stardom dark matches which were not broadcast due to various rights issues.
The opening video runs down the card, in order.
King Of Pro Wrestling Provisional Title: Toru Yano vs. Chase Owens vs. Bad Luke Fale vs. Bushi
So this is a new thing that started last year, where you have to become the Provisional Champion and then defend it throughout the year, with whoever is the final champion at the end of the year winning a trophy. Then the whole thing starts over. Yano was the first champion and this is one fall to a finish. Bushi and Yano chill on the floor to start so Fale heads outside to hammer on Yano while Owens does the same thing to Bushi inside.
Everyone gets inside with Yano rolling Bushi up for two. Yano isn’t having this wrestling stuff and pulls off the turnbuckle pad to continue his tradition. Owens saves Bushi from getting hit in the face but Bushi rakes him in the eyes for offering an alliance. Fale and Owens start double teaming Yano but Bushi is back in to low bridge Fale to the floor.
A fisherman’s neckbreaker gives Bushi two on Owens as Yano slams Fale in the back of the head. Well he never has seemed like the smartest person. Owens blocks Bushi’s top rope Codebreaker but can’t hit the package piledriver. Fale comes back in to hit the Grenade Launcher on Bushi but Owens won’t let him have the pin. They go after the referee, allowing Yano to come in with the low blow and steal the pin on Bushi for the title at 7:34.
Rating: C-. This wasn’t supposed to be anything serious and was more or less a warmup match for the rest of the show. It was quick, it gave the fans a smile at the end and lets Yano do his thing. There was no reason to believe that this was going to be anything special and they had a perfectly acceptable match.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: Suzuki-Gun vs. One of Eight
That would be El Desperado/Yoshinobu Kanemura (defending) vs. Ryusuke Taguchi/Master Wato after the challengers (with Hiroyoshi Tenzan) have beaten the champs twice. Wato and Desperado start fast with Wato knocking him to the floor for the big dive. It’s off to Taguchi who runs the ropes a lot until Kanemura takes him to the floor for a whip into the barricade. Back in and Kanemura takes advantage of a distracted referee to send Taguchi’s knee into a chair.
We settle down a bit with Desperado dropkicking Taguchi’s knee out and easily avoiding the hip attack. Taguchi gets over for the tag to Wato though and it’s a springboard uppercut to drop Kanemura. The referee is sent into Wato for a distraction, allowing Kanemura to hit an enziguri. Desperado comes back in and gets pulled face first into the back of Taguchi’s tights over and over (that’s his thing you see). The running hip attack puts Desperado down again and Three Amigos do it one more time.
Desperado and Taguchi counter a few things each until Taguchi grabs a cobra clutch suplex. That just earns him a Stretch Muffler but Taguchi reverses into an ankle lock. A double chickenwing gutbuster gets two on Desperado but he and Taguchi trade rollups for two each. With the other two being knocked outside, Desperado hits Angel’s Wings (which had a Spanish name I couldn’t make out) to finish Taguchi and retain the titles at 13:21.
Rating: C+. This is the kind of match that seems to come and go most years without having much long term meaning. The Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles offer some fun matches but they don’t exactly seem the most important. It’s nice to see the champs retain to let their reign grow a bit and seeing Taguchi lose always makes me smile just a little bit. Pretty nice match too, but it didn’t hit anything great.
Never Openweight Title: Shingo Takagi vs. Jeff Cobb
Shingo is defending and Cobb is part of the Empire. They shove each other around to start and then go to the forearm off, as is the custom for the title. Shingo hits a hiptoss and runs him over with a shoulder but Cobb is right back with a dropkick. That’s enough to send Shingo to the floor for some whips into the barricade, followed by a heck of an overhead belly to belly. Back in and an elbow to the face gives Cobb two and we hit the bearhug. That’s broken up in a hurry so Cobb suplexes him down again.
They slug it out until Shingo suplexes him out to the apron. Shingo joins him and has to slip out of a Razor’s Edge attempt (must fear a bad case of death) before knocking Cobb out to the floor. The big flip dive hits Cobb again and an elbow drop gets two back inside. It’s Cobb’s turn to hurt him, meaning it’s the rolling gutwrench suplexes into a sitout Razor’s Edge powerbomb for a big two. Shingo is right back with a Death Valley Driver as they’re trading bombs here.
A top rope superplex sends Cobb flying again and there’s a German suplex to make it worse. They trade t-bone suplexes and forearm it out until Shingo hits a clothesline but falls to the floor in exhaustion. Shingo dives back in, earning himself a quick piledriver for two more. Tour of the Islands is broken up so Shingo hits Made In Japan for his own near fall.
Cobb snaps off a rebound German suplex into Tour of the Islands but the knee gives out to delay the cover. They’re both down with Cobb’s knee still bothering him but he’s fine enough to hit a backflip fall away slam (Does that mean it’s still an away slam?). Tour of the Islands is blocked again and Shingo hits a kind of fall away suplex. A big lariat turns Cobb inside out and Last of the Dragon (kind of a reverse Samoan driver) retains the title at 21:13.
Rating: A. Oh yeah this was amazing as these two just beat the fire out of each other for twenty one minutes. There was nothing scientific about it and there wasn’t supposed to be. This was all about two big, strong guys hitting each other really hard and Cobb is born for that kind of match. Great stuff here and if you want one of those old school hoss fights with suplexes thrown in, check this one out, because it’s awesome.
Sanada vs. Evil
They’re former partners but Evil (with Dick Togo tonight) turned on him to become Heavyweight Champion. Feeling out process to start with Sanada being thrown outside but he jumps back in as Evil goes to the floor. Back in and Sanada loads up the Paradise Lock for the running kick, sending Evil outside again. This time Evil catches Sanada to drive him into the barricade and some chairs are brought out as well.
Evil and Togo set up a table and Sanada is taken back inside….only to be taken outside again for a whip into the barricade. That’s good for two back inside but Sanada gets in a shot to the knee to put Evil down for a change. A dropkick does it again so Sanada has the chance to dive onto Togo. Back in and Togo trips Sanada but Evil can’t put him through the ringside table. Instead, Sanada misses a springboard, having to settle for a hanging swinging suplex.
A tiger suplex gives Sanada two but Evil drives him hard into the corner. Evil gets him up top for a superplex into the Scorpion Deathlock, with Sanada diving for the rope. Darkness Falls gets two on Sanada but Evil misses a charge into an exposed (When did that happen?) corner. Sanada’s belly to back suplex gets two, only to have Evil swing Sanada’s leg into the referee. Togo comes in to beat on Sanada, who kicks Evil into the ropes to crotch Togo (Togo: “OH S***!”) out to the floor.
Sanada moonsaults over Evil into Skull End (dragon sleeper), which he lets so for a moonsault instead. He tries a second but this time Evil gets his knees up to put them both down. Skull End goes on again so Evil grabs the referee, allowing Togo to choke with a wire from the apron. That’s broken up though and Sanada dropkicks Evil into Togo through the table (There it goes!). Evil panics, kicks out of a rollup, and blasts Sanada with a clothesline for two of his own. Skull End is broken up again so Sanada hits his own Everything Is Evil (Evil’s finisher), setting up a pop up TKO. The moonsault finishes Evil for good at 23:45.
Rating: B+. This is as easy of a story as you can get, with the tag team splitting up and one of them needing to prove that he is the better man. That’s what we got here, with Sanada wrestling the clean match to overcome the villains, including using Evil’s own finisher. Rather good match here, and it’s easy to see why this was one of the featured showdowns.
We recap Hiromu Takahashi (Best of the Super Juniors) vs. Taiji Ishimori (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion) for the title. Takahashi won a #1 contenders match against El Phantasmo last night and now he has his title shot.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori
Ishimori is defending and they run the ropes to start, with Takahashi being sent outside. Ishimori’s dive is broken up on the apron as Takahashi cuts him off and hits a superkick. The sunset bomb is countered as well so Takahashi powerbombs him hard onto the apron. Takahashi goes WAY up the ramp and runs down but his dropkick is countered into a suplex to cut him down.
Ishimori nails a moonsault down to the floor and then sends Takahashi shoulder first into an exposed turnbuckle (Is that the same buckle from the Yano match? They never replaced it???). The shoulder is banged up but the legs are fine enough to snap off a running headscissors to put Ishimori down. A running dropkick off the apron sends Ishimori hard into the barricade for two back inside but he’s back up with the sliding German suplex.
The YES Lock stays on Takahashi’s bad arm until a foot on the rope is good for the break. Takahashi counters a charge into a belly to belly into the corner and they’re both down for a deserved breather. It’s Takahashi up first with a wheelbarrow into a Downward Spiral, followed by the running Death Valley Driver. Ishimori’s handspring is countered into a German suplex but he’s right back up with a Canadian Destroyer for another double knockdown.
They slug it out from their knees and then from their feet until Ishimori sends him shoulder first into the post. A shoulderbreaker sets up the YES Lock with Takahashi needing the ropes to keep him alive. Ishimori tries the YES Lock again but this time gets faceplanted down for a delayed two instead. They both try what looks to be a suplex until Ishimori takes him down into a Gargano Escape. With that almost broken, Ishimori lets it go and tries the YES Lock, only to be reversed into a suplex into a faceplant. That lets Takahashi get back up for the Time Bomb 2 for the pin and the title at 25:31.
Rating: A-. This was another slugout as both of them were barely able to hang in there until the end, with Takahashi’s shoulder nearly doing him in. Takahashi coming back from his injury and winning the title again was a great moment and a great story. Granted it wasn’t as spiffy again as the second time, but Takahashi has turned into a huge star around here and the win felt special and was made even better by an awesome match.
Takahashi takes his time getting the title.
We recap Jay White vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Titles. Ibushi won the titles last night but lost to White a few months ago. White is the most evil man in the company and it’s time to fight him off.
IWGP Heavyweight Title/IWGP Intercontinental Title: Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White
White is challenging and has Gedo with him. White bails to the floor to start but then gets back in for the trash talk. They lock up nearly two minutes after the bell and an early Gedo distraction lets White stomp away. The headlock goes on for a bit but the threat of a big kick to the head sends White bailing to the floor. Gedo offers another distraction on the way back in though, allowing Kota to grab a DDT. A suplex onto the apron bangs up Kota’s back and that means a rather long count on the floor.
Back in and a knee to the ribs gets two and the waistlock goes on. Rib stomping ensues and it’s a tranquilo pose to keep White’s cockiness high. A hard DDT plants Kota again and White yells at the referee as the champ pulls himself up. That’s enough for Kota to get in a shot of his own, followed by the standing moonsault for two. They head to the floor with Ibushi’s ribs going into the barricade to cut him off again.
Back in and Kota’s powerslam looks to set up the middle rope moonsault but White crotches him instead. That means it’s time to start working on the leg, followed by a swinging brainbuster for two. Kota manages to send him outside but the knee gives out on the springboard attempt. White shoves him out to the floor and then suplexes him into the corner for two more. Kota grabs a desperation half nelson suplex and they slug it out again. The kneeling Tombstone gives Kota two and they’re both down.
It’s White up first with a snap belly to back suplex into a Rock Bottom for his own two. Back up and Kota hits his own belly to back for two, followed by a kick to the head. Gedo’s distraction breaks up another moonsault though and it’s time to go up to tease a dragon superplex (geez). Thankfully that’s broken up and White goes after the knee instead. A leglock goes on to put Kota in trouble but he’s in the rope in a hurry. White kicks him in the face a few times and gets a “dude really” look from Kota, who gets back to his feet.
Ibushi strikes him down into the corner and tells White to come on. That’s fine with White, who is knocked right back down. They do the same thing again, with White getting knocked to the floor. Back in and Kota says hit him but White lays down, telling Ibushi to pin him. Instead, Ibushi unloads on him until the referee tries to intervene, allowing White to get in a low blow. They head outside again with Ibushi going ribs and back first into the barricade and apron.
White gets back inside and tells Ibushi to bring it, earning Kota some German suplexes. It’s back to the apron (Kelly: “Oh no.”) with Ibushi gets in a kick to the head to rock White for a change. A super German suplex brings White back in for two for a rather near fall but he grabs a sleeper suplex. White hits another one and a RegalPlex is good for two. Blade Runner is broken up but Kota reverses into the big knee to the face for two and the applause.
The phoenix splash connects but Gedo pulls the referee, sending Kelly into hysterics. Gedo’s brass knuckles shot is countered into a big knee to the face so Kota sends the referee back in. The delay lets White hit the Blade Runner for a very close two (first time anyone has ever kicked out) so he pulls Kota down into what looks like a reverse Figure Four.
Kota is nearly to the rope but White pulls him back into the middle. That’s not going to happen though as Kota makes it back to the rope again. Bloody Sunday looks to set up another Blade Runner but Kota nails a jumping knee to the face. Another jumping knee sets up a hard lariat into a pair of big knees to retain the titles at 48:05 (the longest match in Dome history).
Rating: A. It says a lot that you don’t feel a match running nearly fifty minutes but this felt like nothing close to that. Ibushi had a pair of great performances and it makes him look like an even bigger star. White is the kind of heel you want to see get destroyed and having him get kneed in the face works very well. This was a heck of a match and lived up to the main event spot, with the time being a great addition, especially fast the whole thing felt.
Post match here’s Sanada to issue the (very respectful) challenge for the titles. Kota talks about how he is more powerful than ever and agrees to the match. With Sanada gone, Kota gives his big speech to wrap it up. Commentary applauds him as he leaves.
The long wrapup ends the night.
Overall Rating: A+. This was an interesting one as I wasn’t feeling it as much as the first night but aside from the not exactly serious opener, this was one great match after another with nothing being close to bad and a bunch of classics. It’s the kind of show that you expect from Wrestle Kingdom and that is a very hard reputation to achieve. Absolutely awesome show though and somehow better than the very good Night One, which is hard to pull off. Yeah it’s annoying to have back to back shows this long, but it’s once a year so I can’t get mad, especially when it’s this. Check both nights out, because they’re worth the time.
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