Wrestle Kingdom XVI Night Three
Date: January 8, 2022
Location: Yokohama Arena, Yokohama, Japan
Commentators: Chris Charlton, Kevin Kelly
We finally come tot he last night of this event and this show is going to be the most unique of them all. Instead of a traditional show, this is Pro Wrestling Noah vs. New Japan Pro Wrestling in a battle for supremacy. Noah showed up yesterday to say they were better and little else has been brought up about the show, so I have no idea what to expect. Let’s get to it.
Note that I do not follow Noah, so I will have no idea who their wrestlers are or anything about storylines. Please bear with me.
Kosei Fujita (New Japan) vs. Yasutaka Yano (Noah)
This is the equivalent of a battle of the Young Lions. They go to the mat to start as commentary talks about their amateur success, with Fujita having a good bit more success. Fujita works on the arm but gets reversed into an armbar. The hammerlock keeps Fujita in trouble but he fights up and drives Yano into the ropes. A running elbow to the face drops Fujita and it’s a keylock to send him bailing to the rope again.
Yano gets two off a high crossbody as we hear about this show benefiting the Japanese Red Cross. Back up and Fujita hits a dropkick but can’t get a Boston crab as we have three minutes left. Another attempt lets the hold go on with two minutes to go. The long crawl to the ropes gets Yano out of trouble and they slug it out until Fujita hits a dropkick. The Boston crab goes on again but Yano hangs on for the time limit draw at 10:02 (close enough).
Rating: C. Totally fine match here, assuming you don’t mind knowing that they were hitting the time limit about four minutes in. There is nothing wrong with throwing two young guys out there and letting them do their thing for a bit, which is what we got here. It was there to get the crowd started and the drama at the end did so well enough.
New Japan – 0
Noah – 0
Draw – 1
Post match Yano slaps him in the face and referees have to hold them apart.
Tencozy/Yuji Nagata (New Japan) vs. Funky Express (Noah)
That would be Hiroyoshi Tenzan/Satoshi Kojima (Tencozy) and King Tany/Muhammad Yone/Akitoshi Saito (Funky Express). Thankfully the Express has their names on their tights and it’s Nagata vs. Saito to kick away at each other to start. That doesn’t go anywhere (though they do yell a lot) and it’s off to Yone (with his great afro), who shoulders Kojima down.
Tenzan comes in to shoulder Tany down before Tencozy clears the ring without much trouble. Tany fights back though and slams Kojima onto Tenzan to take over. It’s Tenzan getting caught in the wrong corner so the beating can be on. That lasts all of three seconds as Tenzan comes back with a suplex, only to have Yano hit a rather impressive delayed version. The Express ties Tenzan in the ropes for some rather rude posing but he is right back with a Mountain Bomb to Yone.
Nagata comes in to clean house as commentary goes over the history of New Japan vs. Noah (cool). A slugout goes to Nagata but a dropkick gives Yone a breather. Tany comes back in but walks into a suplex, allowing Kojima to come back in for the rapid fire corner chops. Everything breaks down and the Express gets to triple team Kojima. There’s a top rope splash for two with a save having to be made. Back up and the Koji Cutter drops Tany. The Tenkoji Cutter gets two with Yone making a save of his own. Tany chokeslams Kojima for two but he is right back up the lariat to finish Tany at 12:18.
Rating: C+. This was the kind of six man tag that you often see around here and it was a fine idea. They presented the two preshow matches as the future and past of the promotions facing off and that was the feeling I got here. It wasn’t some classic or anything, but you had experienced wrestlers having a good match against each other. Perfectly fine for a second warmup match.
New Japan – 1
Noah – 0
Draw – 1
The opening video features a bunch of wrestlers talking about what the show means to them. This seems to be a big battle for honor, which is quite the important deal in its own right.
Chaos/Six Or Nine (New Japan) vs. Daisuke Harada/Hajime Ohara/Daiki Inaba/Yoshiki Inamura/Kinya Okada (Noah)
That would be Tomohiro Ishii/Hirooki Goto/Yoshi-Hashi for Chaos and Master Wato/Ryusuke Taguchi for Six Or Nine. For some reason the video jumps ahead and we’re joined in progress with no commentary and Taguchi hitting a dropkick, allowing Ishii to come in for a shoulder off with Inamura.
Commentary comes back (seemingly realizing they were off the air) and says this is the power battle they wanted to see. The slugout goes to Ishii but Inamura clotheslines him down. Ishii manages a suplex but Inamura does the same thing right back. Hashi comes in but gets slammed down as well, allowing Okada to run him over. A series of running strikes in the corner gets two on Hashi, with Goto making the save.
Goto gets to clean house as everything breaks down. The big series of dives leaves a bunch of people down on the floor and it’s Inamura running over Ishii and Wato back inside. Hashi gets suplexed for two and Okada kicks him in the chest for the same. Hashi’s superkick gets two more and the Boston crab makes Okada tap at 6:40 shown (of about 11:40 apparently so we missed a good bit).
Rating: C+. You pretty much know what you’re going to get with one of these matches and it was holding true to form here. The action was good, though I do wonder how much better it would have been with the other five or so minutes. I’m not sure who the Noah guys exactly are, but the Inamura vs. Ishii stuff was some nice hoss fighting.
New Japan – 2
Noah – 0
Draw – 1
Post match, Ishii and Inamura have to be held apart.
Commentary explains that power went out in the arena at the start of the match.
Atsushi Kotoge (Noah) vs. Sho (New Japan)
Kevin Kelly: “This should be a clash of styles.” Sho bails to the floor at the bell so Kotoge follows him out to start the beating. Commentary explains that New Japan fans don’t like Sho and wouldn’t mind seeing Kotoge beat him up. Sho knocks him outside and sweeps the leg on the apron, setting up a running dropkick to send Kotoge to the floor. Some choking with a leather wrap has Kotoge in more trouble and we hit the chinlock back inside.
Kotoge fights up and forearms away before sending Sho outside for a change. There’s the big dive and it’s time for Sho to be worried for a bit. The running corner clotheslines and a bulldog give Kotoge two so Sho hides behind a referee. That’s enough to set up a spear to Kotoge, who pops up for a Side Effect. Kotoge goes up so Sho shoves the referee into the corner for a crotching (which is totally legal somehow). Since nothing else is working, Sho follows an old Bobby Heenan suggestion of “grab a wrench” and knocks Kotoge silly for the pin at 8:23.
Rating: C+. This was your cruiserweight style match, though I did kind of love the ending of “hit him in the head with a wrench”. There is something to be said about going that simple and it was certainly effective. Kotoge seems to be popular (he was wearing a hat) and this did seem to be a natural enough matchup.
New Japan – 3
Noah – 0
Draw – 1
Commentary isn’t happy that Sho won.
Stinger (Noah) vs. Bullet Club (New Japan)
That would be Hayata/Seiki Yoshioka vs. Taiji Ishimori/Gedo. Yoshioka and Ishimori start things off, with Gedo offering an early distraction so double teaming can ensue. The Club is sent into each other though and Yoshioka hits a running boot on Ishimori. Back up and Yoshioka hits a springboard crossbody to send Yoshioka outside. That means a whipping from Gedo’s belt, followed by some back rakes to keep up the screaming.
We hit the chinlock, with Kelly mentioning someone having to put money in the swear jar. Kelly: “And the proceeds can go to the Japanese Red Cross!” It’s back to Ishimori for a kick and a sliding German suplex in the ropes. Yoshioka finally gets over for the hot tag to Hayata for a running kick to the face. Gedo takes Hayata down but the Gedo Clutch doesn’t work. Everything breaks down with Yoshioka cleaning house, including a big springboard moonsault to take out Ishimori on the floor. That leaves Hayata to hit a hurricanrana driver (the Headache) to finish Gedo at 9:00.
Rating: C+. Quite a long heat segment on Yoshioka here until the impressive looking Hayata came in. Commentary was hyping up Hayata’s dominance of Noah’s Junior Heavyewight division so it seemed like quite the treat to have him around. Another completely watchable match with some high points, but it didn’t reach any special level.
New Japan – 3
Noah – 1
Draw – 1
Suzuki-Gun (New Japan) vs. Los Perros del Mal de Japon (Noah)
That would be El Desperado/Douki vs. Yo-Hey/Nosawa Rongai. Los Perros jump them to start and throw Desperado’s Junior Heavyweight Title out to the floor, as they seem to be a bit rude. That’s broken up and Suzuki takes over in the corners. Desperado and Nosawa officially start us off but it’s quickly off to Douki. That means a cheap shot from Hey and Los Perros take over again.
Douki misses an enziguri and the rather annoying Hey yells at him a lot. A quick run to the corner allows Desperado to come in and pick up the pace, including a slugout with Hey. They run the ropes until Hey hits a dropkick to put Desperado down. Everything breaks down and it’s time for a series of dives out to the floor. Back in and Nosawa cranks on Desperado’s neck until Douki makes the save. That’s enough for Desperado to hit a lifting sitout Pedigree (Tommaso Ciampa’s Fairy Tale Ending) for the pin at 9:12.
Rating: C. Los Perros feel like they belong on the independent circuit around 2001 and that wasn’t exactly great. Desperado feels like a star though and his title reign seems to be backing that up. It isn’t a surprise that he got the pin, which felt a bit like the way the previous match went with Hayata.
New Japan – 4
Noah – 1
Draw – 1
Sugiura-Gun (Noah) vs. Suzuki-Gun (New Japan)
Takashi Sugiura/Kazushi Sakuraba/Toru Yano (the latter of whom is from New Japan and replacing the injured Kenta) for Noah and Taichi/Minoru Suzuki/Taka Michinoku for New Japan. Suzuki is already wanting to massacre Yano as well after Night Two so there is a bit of a story here.
It’s a brawl on the floor to start until it’s Sakuraba putting Taichi in a kneebar. A rope is grabbed so Taichi pulls on Sakuraba’s ears, sending him over to Yano. The turnbuckle pad is pulled off, which makes Yano feel smart. The brawl is on outside, leaving Taka to work on Yano in the corner. Suzuki comes in and tortures Yano (as you might have expected) before getting to brawl with Sugiura (I didn’t know you had Gun fights in wrestling).
Sugiura hits a running knee in the corner and fires off forearms to keep Suzuki in trouble. Back up and Suzuki is rather happy to be in a slugout before kicking Sugiura in the face. Everything breaks down and Taka rolls Sugiura up for two. Sugiura has had it with Taka and hits a clothesline into an Olympic Slam for the pin at 9:40.
Rating: B-. It’s the best match of the night so far, though some of that is due to Suzuki being a scary human being. They had a hard hitting match here and it felt like two regular groups instead of three people tossed together. It’s nice to see the card picking up too, as it has only been so good so far.
New Japan – 4
Noah – 2
Draw – 1
House Of Torture (New Japan) vs. Go Shiozaki/Masa Kitamiya (Noah)
Evil and Dick Togo for the House here. The House jumps them to start but Shiozaki (maybe Noah’s biggest star) fights back with a double clothesline. Everything breaks down (assuming it was in one piece to begin with) and a turnbuckle pad is ripped off. That means Shiozaki can be sent back first into an exposed buckle so Togo can get two. Evil grabs the abdominal stretch with an assist from Togo as commentary talks about how Shiozaki follows in the footsteps of the company’s Four Pillars.
Shiozaki gets in a shot to the face and brings in Masa to clean house. A shot to the ribs cuts Masa off though and it’s Togo coming in again. Masa runs him over as well though and it’s back to Shiozaki for the rapid fire chops in the corner. Evil distracts the referee though and it’s a low blow to take Masa down. The referee gets crushed in the corner so here is Yujiro Takahashi to help with the group beatdown on Shiozaki. Masa breaks that up and puts Evil in a leglock, leaving Shiozaki to hit a HARD lariat on Togo for the pin at 9:50.
Rating: C. I’m not a big fan of the House of Torture but you can tell that Shinozaki is one of the bigger stars on this whole show and he felt like it. If nothing else, the impact from that lariat made this feel like a hard hitting match and that was an improvement. If nothing else, at least the score is evening up a bit and that helps the show as a whole.
New Japan – 4
Noah – 3
Draw – 1
Charlton: “Wouldn’t mind seeing that run back again if it meant Dick Togo being sent to the hospital again.”
Naomichi Marufuji/Yoshinari Ogawa (Noah) vs. Suzuki-Gun (New Japan)
Zack Sabre Jr./Yoshinobu Kanemaru for Gun here. Sabre and Ogawa trade cross arm chokes to start as we hear about Sabre’s time in Noah before heading over to New Japan. Some cravates don’t work well for Sabre as Ogawa sends him down to make Sabre think twice. Marufuji and Kanemaru come in, with the latter bailing to the floor in a hurry. Gun gets Marufuji on the floor as well to start smashing his knee onto the ground. Simple, yet effective.
Back in and Sabre starts cranking on the leg in one of those freaky moves that only he can do. Kanemaru stomps on the leg and hits a shinbreaker as Gun starts taking turns on Marufuji. That doesn’t last long though as Marufuji fights up and brings in Ogawa for the house cleaning. Sabre doesn’t seem to mind as he takes him down by the knee to crank away again. Kanemaru comes back in but gets beaten down, only to come back with what looks like a low blow.
It’s back to Marufuji for a running clothesline and we get a double knockdown. Kanemaru gets a Figure Four on the bad leg for a bit, followed by a moonsault for two. For some reason Kanemaru loads up some liquid in his mouth, only to have a kick to the face knock it back out for a good visual. Marufuji knees Kanemaru down for two and a knee to the back of the head is good for the same. Sliced Bread #2 is enough to finish Kanemaru at 15:19.
Rating: B. This started getting better and was the best match on the show so far. What matters here is that things started getting more interesting near the end, with Marufuji feeling like a star and Sabre being there to torment various limbs. Good, solid tag match here, which is where New Japan tends to shine in a lot of ways.
New Japan – 4
Noah – 4
Draw – 1
Post match Sabre mocks Ogawa a bit before leaving.
Los Ingobernables de Japon (New Japan) vs. Kongoh (Noah)
Los Ingobernables: Tetsuya Naito/Shingo Takagi/Sanada/Bushi/Hiromu Takahashi
Kongoh: Katsuhiko Nakajima/Kenoh/Manabu Soya/Tadasuke/Aleja
These are the two anti-hero factions. Kongoh comes out together while Los Ingobernables make individual entrances. Kenoh seems to be the leader and similar to Naito, in that he feels the company abandoned him. Nakajima and Naito get things going with Naito not being willing to lock up. That’s too far for Kongoh, who rushes into the ring and turns it into a big fight on the floor.
Back in and Naito and Nakajima trade some quickly broken grabs, leaving both of them in a Tranquilo pose. Since that leaves you a bit vulnerable, Kongoh jumps Naito again and the Los Ingobernables are in trouble again. The rest of the team comes in for some glaring and Naito is able to get outside for a breather. Back in and it’s Takahashi vs. Aleja (the masked guy, which might help me remember some names) for the pace can pick WAY up.
Aleja sends him outside, where Tanahashi sends another member of Kongoh into the barricade. Tanahashi gets back in, where a springboard missile dropkick takes him down. Aleja gets pulled into the wrong corner though and it’s Takagi dropping some elbows. Kenoh gets knocked off the apron so he comes in to slug it out with Takagi, who takes him down with a dragon screw legwhip. Bushi gets the tag and kicks Aleja in the head but the rest of Kongoh interferes again, meaning Bushi is very high numbered teamed down.
Soya, the power guy, is in to grab a swinging sleeper for two on Bushi before it’s quickly off to Kenoh. Naito almost gets suckered in, meaning the choking can continue in the corner. Nakajima kicks Bushi in the back and sneers at the Ingobernables corner, setting up Aleja’s basement dropkick for two. Bushi manages a double hurricanrana to get out of trouble, meaning Sanada gets to clean house. House is cleaned in a hurry, including a big slingshot forearm to the floor.
Back in and Soya can’t hit a German suplex on Sanada but he can run him over with a shot to the face. Some chops have Sanada in more trouble and Soya muscles him up with a suplex. A double tag brings in Nakajima to slug it out with Naito, with Nakajima getting two off a Shining Wizard. Everything breaks down again, leaving Naito and Tanahashi to grab stereo submission holds on Kenoh and Aleja.
Ropes are reached so Naito stays on Kenoh’s neck to set up Destino. An exchange of kicks to the head leave both of them laying but it’s Nakajima up to kick away at Los Ingobernables. Bushi and Naito manages to kick him down, setting up a sunset flip into a basement dropkick. Takagi and Nakajima strike it out until Nakajima is sent into the corner for running strikes from Los Ingobernables. Kongoh breaks that up and Nakajima Saito suplexes Takagi.
Kongoh gets to take Takagi down for a change but he strikes away at Tadasuke and hits a DDT. Kenoh breaks up Last of the Dragon and it’s time for another parade of strikes to the face. Aleja hits a double dropkick, setting up a bit flip dive to take out Tanahashi on the floor. Bushi dives onto Soya, leaving Takagi to pound on Tadasuke back inside. A running lariat gives Tadasuke two but Takagi is back with Last of the Dragon for the pin at 26:34.
Rating: A-. This is what they were shooting for as it felt like a battle between two groups on equal footing. Los Ingobernables are awesome and Kongoh stood out to me more than probably anything from Noah on the show so far. The teams came off like they were in a struggle to defeat the other and commentary was selling some of their personal issues. Pretty awesome match here, though it was another kind of abrupt/flat ending, which has been a theme tonight.
New Japan – 5
Noah – 4
Draw – 1
Post match Kenoh and Naito get into it again, with Los Ingobernables cleaning the ring.
Hiroshi Tanahashi/Kazuchika Okada (New Japan) vs. Keiji Mutoh/Kaito Kiyomiya (Noah)
This seems a bit unfair. Kaito grabs Okada’s wrist to start and they go to the mat, firmly in first gear. A hammerlock makes it worse for Okada but he reverses with an armdrag. Back up and Kaito hits a crossbody but Okada brings in Tanahashi to take over. The grinding headlock has Kaito in a bit of trouble but he takes Tanahashi down with a top wristlock. A legdrop to the arm gets Tanahashi out of trouble and we even get some air guitar.
It’s a bit too much air guitar though as Kaito grabs the arm and brings in Mutoh for a dream match. You can tell this means something as Mutoh takes him down by the arm as well. Mutoh switches it to the leg so Tanahashi goes to the rope, allowing the tag back to Okada. That means Mutoh can be taken up against the ropes for a slightly disrespectful tap on the chest, earning Okada a half crab.
That’s turned into an STF, sending Okada straight to the rope. Kaito comes back in for the running legdrop but charges into a flapjack. It’s back to Tanahashi to work on Kaito’s leg, including the Texas Cloverleaf. With that broken up, Kaito is sent outside in a crash, earning himself a much needed breather. Back in and things get a bit more serious, with Kaito and Okada striking away. Tanahashi gets his turn again for the middle rope Swanton but Kaito scores with a running clothesline.
Mutoh comes in again to work on Tanahashi’s leg, including a dragon screw legwhip into a Figure Four. The rope is grabbed so Tanahashi goes after Mutoh’s leg to even things up a bit. The lukewarm tag brings in Okada for the top rope elbow into the Rainmaker pose. Mutoh breaks that up with a Shining Wizard so it’s back to a fired up Kaito to strike away. A missile dropkick gives Kaito two, followed by a running knee for the same.
Everything breaks down and it’s time for an exchange of running strikes to the face for a four way knockdown. That’s good for quite a solid show of applause until Kaito and Okada slug it out again. Okada gets the better of things and hits a spinning Tombstone but Mutoh is back in with a German suplex. Tanahashi has to break up a tiger suplex, allowing Okada to dropkick Kaito. The Landslide sets up the Rainmaker to give Okada the pin at 24:34.
Rating: B. Good main event, but I never bought into the idea that a dream team like Okada and Tanahashi were in danger. I know Mutoh is a huge legend, but ultimately he is pushing 60 and his best days were over more than ten years ago. How much of a threat is he really going to be in this situation? It felt special though, and that is what this kind of a match is supposed to be.
New Japan – 6
Noah – 4
Draw – 1
Post match respect is shown and we get the big thank you speech from Okada and Tanahashi.
We get about twelve minutes of interviews from the big names in the back.
Commentary recaps the night and tells us to keep watching to end the show.
Overall Rating: B-. If you bought the big ultimate Blu-Ray edition of Wrestle Kingdom, this would have been a special bonus feature. Other than the last two matches, nothing felt like anything more than a match that happened to be taking place. New Japan led most of the night and then won in the end, making this a good enough show, but absolutely nothing you would need to watch. Stick with the first two nights of Wrestle Kingdom, but check out that ten man tag.
Overall Overall Rating: B+ What mattered the most was that this felt like a major show and then it delivered. Sometimes you need to blow the doors off and have a great show and that is what they did here. There was very little that didn’t work over the three shows and I had a great time with the whole thing. New Japan has kind of fallen off the map since the pandemic started (again, not their fault) and it was nice to have that old feeling back again, even if it is just for two days.
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