Happy New Year everyone and you know what that means. It’s time for Wrestle Kingdom, the two nights of the year which will deliver multiple matches of the year contenders within the first week. Wrestle Kingdom has been known for being an event where the viewers will see the great lengths pro wrestling can go to and from the looks of it; the 15th edition will be no exception. We are in for a ride, so buckle up as Amber and Zain look at the line-up and have a go at predicting the outcomes of the matches that have been announced for Wrestle Kingdom 15 so far.
Wrestle Kingdom 15 | Night One | Mon 4th January 2021| 17:00 | Tokyo, Tokyo Dome.
Match: New Japan Rambo | Starts at 4pm
“One hour before the main card starts on January 4, the first match of 2021 in NJPW will be the return of a Tokyo Dome tradition of sorts; the New Japan Rambo!
With familiar rules given a new twist, the New Japan Rambo will see 22 entrants coming to the ring at timed intervals, with elimination occurring as a result of pinfall, submission or being thrown over the top rope. It’s a chaotic affair (the Japanese word ‘Rambo’ means to ‘run riot’) and one that has seen its fair share of surprises in the past.
Here the match will continue until four participants remain. Those four will advance to a special four-way match to kick off night two on January 5 with the winner being the first holder of the KOPW 2021 trophy!” – www.njpw1972.com
Match: Best of the Super Jr.27 Winner vs Super J-Cup 2020 Winner | Special Single Match | Hiromu Takahashi vs El Phantasmo
Amber: My pick to win this match has always been Hiromu Takahashi; he has come back from a career-ending injury to become an even bigger star in New Japan. He faced Liger last year in his retirement match and by all rights should be the face and the most formidable force in the Jr Heavyweight. El Phantasmo is good but it is the time of the Time Bomb.
Zain: I am confident that Hiromu will win this match because he has been on a hot run and has certainly gained some momentum coming off his BoSJ win recently. I wouldn’t be disappointed if El Phantasmo won but I think it’s time for Hiromu right now. There is an opportunity for New Japan here to capitalize upon.
Match: IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match | Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga vs Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi
Amber: As much as I love the tag team of Dangerous Tekkers, Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi and a highlight of the pandemic era of New Japan Pro-Wrestling, I truly believe it is G.o.D’s time. They have never won in the Tokyo Dome and after their victory in the World Tag League, it’s time that Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa take their rightful place as the best Heavyweight Tag Team in the world.
Zain: Even though G.o.D doesn’t urgently need another tag title run, I still am inclined to say that they are going to take this one over Dangerous Tekkers because New Japan is presented here with a chance here to have the tag belts change hands, as they have for the previous six years at Wrestle Kingdom. I think that this streak will remain intact and G.o.D is going to win their seventh IWGP Tag Team Championship.
Match: IWGP US Heavyweight Right To Challenge Contract Match | KENTA vs Satoshi Kojima
Amber: KENTA has made it abundantly clear that he is coming for Jon Moxley and his title and he won’t be letting a legend like Satoshi Kojima spoil his plans at IWGP gold. Bullet Club vs Bread Club should be a spectacle and a must-watch match.
Zain: For me, KENTA is taking this one. The reason being that New Japan has been building towards that KENTA Mox match and recent reports say that New Japan doesn’t want to take the US Title off of Moxley who hasn’t made a New Japan appearance in the last eleven months. Moreover, I believe that it wouldn’t make sense for KENTA to lose here because he defeated Naito in the G1 and tapped out the ace of New Japan, Hiroshi Tanahashi at Power Struggle so it would be best not to break his momentum here.
Match: Special Single Match | Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Great-O-Khan
Amber: Great-O-Khan needs the win here; the new faction of The Empire needs to prove themselves as a credible threat and the first step will be for Khan to take down the ACE of New Japan, Hiroshi Tanahashi on the biggest stage of them all.
Zain: I think that O-Khan needs to go over Tanahashi here because ever since his debut at the G1 and the formation of ‘The Empire’, he has been booked rather carefully by Gedo. Moreover, I think that Tanahashi does not really need a win over here. It wouldn’t do as much for him as much a win would do for O-Khan.
Match: Special Single Match | Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay
Amber: Just like with the Great-O-Khan, Will Ospreay needs the win over Kazuchika Okada here. The Empire has had an up and down debut but this needs to be their crowning moment and in the Tokyo Dome is a perfect time. Will Ospreay needs to assert his dominance and show he is a main event player in the heavyweight division.
Zain: This was a tough one for me to decide because I desperately want Okada to win over Ospreay by bringing back the Rainmaker and retiring Money Clip for good (It’s such a mood kill). The match is undoubtedly going to be a banger but I don’t think I’ll be getting the result that I want. Ospreay will take the win over Okada here because Gedo seems very high on the Empire. He is very likely planning a very strong push for them and a loss wouldn’t be of any use to the Empire.
Match: IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship Match | Kota Ibushi vs Tetsuya Naito
Amber: Maybe for my own selfish reasons I hope and believe that Tetsuya Naito will be victorious over Kota Ibushi this year. I don’t really understand the thinking around the booking of the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship but I feel like this will be a new start for Naito as the double champ.
Zain: The booking decisions that went into this match were rather odd. Gedo has been criticized this year because of decisions like this. We finally had the briefcase change hands and yet it didn’t have any effect on the loser. Ibushi is still getting his title shot. This one could go either way and I think the result for the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship match on night two is very highly dependent on this match. I think that Ibushi is winning this match despite Naito’s desire to successfully defend both the belts on night two. Ibushi might very well go on to win on night two too, but we’ll discuss that when we get there.
Wrestle Kingdom 15 | Night Two | Tues 5th January 2021| 17:00 | Tokyo, Tokyo Dome.
Match: Stardom Exhibition Match | Starts at 4pm | AZM, Saya Kamitani & Utami Hayashishita vs Natsupoi, Himeka & Maika
Amber: AZM, Saya Kamitani & Utami Hayashishita
Zain: I am going to go with the Queen’s Quest members Saya Kamitani and Utami Hayashishita. Even though they’re coming off a loss to Bea Priestley and Konami, they still had a 153-day reign with the Goddess of Stardom Championship and a win here would be a good way of getting them back on the right track.
Match: Stardom Exhibition Match | Mayu Iwatani & Tam Nakano vs Giulia & Syuri
Amber: Mayu Iwatani & Tam Nakano
Zain: I have to go with Giulia and Syuri but it could go either way. Both Giulia and Syuri are strong champions in Stardom so I don’t think they will be losing here. The match is undoubtedly going to be amazing so let’s see how this pans out.
Match: KOPW 2021 | 4 Way Match | TBD vs TBD vs TBD vs TBD
(Couldn’t resist putting this match graphic here. Carry on)
Match: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match | El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato
Amber: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru need to win here, Suzuki-Gun has been the best thing about the pandemic era of New Japan Pro-Wrestling and the team of Despy and Kanemaru have been no exception to the rule. Even though I want El Desperado to go after the Junior Heavyweight Championship for right now his time is to be the Ace of the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team division along with Kanemaru.
Zain: I’m going to go with Taguchi and Master Wato on this one. This is an interesting combination of the mentor and the mentee and I think it will be highly intriguing to see them hold the titles at the start of the New Year.
Match: NEVER Openweight Championship Match | Shingo Takagi vs Jeff Cobb
Amber: Jeff Cobb, as with the rest of The Empire, needs to get the win here. Cobb’s run in New Japan has been patchy but he has certainly become a fan favourite, his performances in the G1 were outstanding and for him to beat Shingo Takagi in the Tokyo Dome will prove to everyone that he is a man not to be messed with.
Zain: Jeff Cobb aligned himself with The Empire recently and as I mentioned a couple of times before, the Empire goes over. Cobb is taking this one for a whitewash for The Empire at the Dome. Takagi winning is also very plausible and it won’t be a surprise but I think Cobb wins over here.
Match: Special Single Match | SANADA vs EVIL
Amber: SANADA has had an amazing year and after his loss at the Tokyo Dome last year a win this year will solidify his position in the heavyweight division as well as his G1 Climax 30 final loss to Kota Ibushi. SANADA and EVIL have gone from tag team partners to formidable foes and a win over EVIL will establish SANADA as a top dog and a close ally to his Los Ingobernables de Japon teammates.
Zain: Many people aren’t that big fans of EVIL. It was a strange decision by Gedo to strap the rockets on him by giving him both belts. EVIL’s title run didn’t meet the standards set by those that came before him. During his reign, he had a couple of matches that weren’t fitting of the main event calibre matches that New Japan usually has and thus the title was taken off him and given back to Naito at Power Struggle. However, EVIL still went over Naito in the G1 so that might have been a good way for Gedo to protect him. On the other hand, we have SANADA who is the fashion god of New Japan and went as far as the finals of the G1 Climax this year. The correct booking decision would be SANADA to win and that is my prediction for the match, but you never know with EVIL.
Match: IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship Match | Hiromu Takahashi or El Phantasmo vs Taiji Ishimori
Amber: Hiromu Takahashi will get to the top of the mountain again at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom, another win over Bullet Club will cement Los Ingobernables de Japon as the top face faction in all of New Japan. And down the line, providing Tetsuya Naito wins his two matches this year will face off against each other at the New Japan Anniversary event. A full-on feud with El Desperado would also be a great way to start the year too.
Zain: As I mentioned before, it’s time for Hiromu to officially climb back to the top of the Junior Division by beating Taiji for the belt because I think that there is a greater story that can be told here because of what happened in the BoSJ Finals. El Desperado taking off his mask was one of the most iconic moments in the history New Japan and I think New Japan can seize this opportunity and build up El Desperado to go against Hiromu down the line.
Match: IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship Match | Kota Ibushi or Tetsuya Naito vs Jay White
Amber: I have predicted Tetsuya Naito to win on Night 1 and therefore I think he will also defeat Jay White on Night 2, again maybe for selfish reasons. I want to see him face Hiromu Takahashi at the New Japan Anniversary show and see him face off against the likes of Ospreay, ZSJ, Taichi, and many other heavyweights before losing the belt/s. We were cheated out of a lot of great feuds this year because of the global pandemic and I hope we get to see some of those plans take shape this year.
Zain: As I predicted Ibushi to win on Night 1, I’m predicting Ibushi to win here too. The reason being that White has defeated him three times out of three in their previous singles encounters. White has really rubbed that fact in Ibushi’s face recently and the whole story is that Ibushi just can’t get a win over White. White even became the first wrestler to ever take the briefcase away from the G1 Winner. I think that this is the time for Ibushi to get his win back along with both of the belts.
You can watch Wrestle Kingdom 15 at NJPW World or order the two-night event on Fite.
WK15 Night One: 4th Jan 2020 |4pm JST | 7am GMT | 2am EST | 1am CST | 3rd Jan 2020 | 11pm PST |
WK15 Night Two: 5th Jan 2020 |5pm JST | 8am GMT | 3am EST | 2am CST | 12am PST |
New Years Dash: 5th Jan 2020 |6:30pm JST | 9:30am GMT | 4:30am EST | 3:30am CST | 1:30am PST |