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    NJPW: Wrestle Kingdom 15 – Night 1 | 4th January 2021 | Tokyo Dome

    Here’s our review of Day One of Wrestle Kingdome 15, we have star ratings, in-depth analysis and some of the highlights. Make sure to join us tomorrow for Day Two.

    New Japan Ranbo!

    “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 Ranbo! 

    With familiar rules given a new twist, the New Japan Ranbo 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 ‘ranbo’ 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

    1. Chase Owens – Final 4 – moving on to KOPW four way on Night Two
    2. Tomohiro Ishii – Eliminated 9th by Bad Luck Fale
    3. Minoru Suzuki – Eliminated 2nd by Toa Harare
    4. Yuji Nagarta – Eliminated 1st by Toa Harare
    5. Toa Harare – Eliminated 3rd
    6. Hirooki Goto – Eliminated 4th by Togi Makabe
    7. Yujiro Takahashi – Eliminated 8th
    8. YOSHI-HASHI – Eliminated 5th by Togi Makabe
    9. Togi Makabe – Eliminated 6th by Tomnaki Honma
    10. Tomnaki Honma – Eliminated 10th
    11. Hiroyoshi Tenzan – Eliminated 11th
    12. Rocky Romero – Eliminated 12th
    13. DOUKI – Eliminated 7th via DQ
    14. SHO – Eliminated 13th
    15. BUSHI – Final 4 – moving on to KOPW four way on Night Two
    16. Tiger Mask – Eliminated 14th
    17. Bad Luck Fale – Final 4 – moving on to KOPW four way on Night Two
    18. Gabriel Kid – Eliminated 15th by Chase Owens
    19. Yuya Uemara – Eliminated 17th by Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale
    20. Yota Tsuji – Eliminated 16th by Chase Owens and Bad Luck Fale
    21. Toru Yano – Final 4 – moving on to KOPW four way on Night Two

    Match: Best of the Super Jr.27 Winner vs Super J-Cup 2020 Winner | Special Single Match | Hiromu Takahashi vs El Phantasmo

    This match is full of high flying and dangerous spots, Sunset Flips off of the apron, and a beautiful top rope Moonsault to the outside from El Phantasmo really keeps the energy up.   The matches this year need to be gripping and engrossing due to the restrictions on noise due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and this match is all of that and more.  A Wheelbarrow Cradle Driver from the top turnbuckle to ELP nearly puts Hiromu Takahashi in the title match tomorrow.  ELP spends a lot of time in the ring showboating and trying to antagonise the crowd and Takahashi, but this leads to his downfall.  At some point the referee gets knocked down and ELP gives a low blow to Takahashi, he follows this up with a Hurricarana & Frog Splash, but the Time Bomb kicks out.  ELP follows this up by delivering a Styles Clash, but yet again Takahashi kicks out.  Hiromu Takahashi pins El Phantasmo to go on to face Taiji Ishimori tomorrow on Night Two of Wrestle Kingdom 15.

    Star Rating: ****.25

    Match: IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Match | Tanga Loa & Tama Tonga w. Jado vs Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi w. DOUKI

    DOUKI is here to even up the odds against Jado and we will see if that pays off for Dangerous Tekkers or not.  ZSJ is phenomenal as always his submission skills are a dangerous weapon that GOD needs to look out for, while Tama Tonga’s vicious streak will be a huge factor in this match. These two teams had one of my favourite matches at WTL and this match is no different, the two teams are the best in the division and have so much natural chemistry that they are a joy to watch. After some high jinx and a little bit of cheating Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa finally win the belts in the Tokyo Dome.

    Star Rating: ****.75

    IWGP US Heavyweight Right To Challenge Contract Match | KENTA vs Satoshi Kojima

    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.  KENTA is using his strong legs and lethal kicks to wear down Kojima and if KENTA wins tonight it will be the first time in fifteen years that he has won in the Tokyo Dome, the last being on 18th July 2005 for the GHC junior heavyweight championship at Destiny while at pro-wrestling NOAH.  After even more back and forth KENTA hits the Go 2 Sleep for the win.

    Star Rating: ****.5

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    Special Single Match | Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Great-O-Khan

    Great-O-Khan is bringing it to Hiroshi Tanahashi targeting the ACE’s knees and trading hard forearms with him.  His style is hard-hitting and relentless which is something Tanahashi isn’t used to.  Khan is here to prove to everyone that The Empire is a dominant force and intend to be at the top of the mountain in 2021.  Tanahashi pulls out all the stops with Slingblade’s, Twist and Shout’s and a High Fly Flow, which is a huge mistake as Khan stops him before he even gets started on the move.  After Khan gets the upper hand Tanahashi fights back and hits two High Fly Flows for the win.

    Star Rating: ****.25

    Special Single Match | Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay w/ Bea Priestley

    This is a match steeped in love, betrayal, and resentment.  The two of them have fought side by side for years, Okada being the one to bring Ospreay into New Japan, and the two of them seemed to be running Chaos together, but now that Ospreay has transitioned to the heavyweight division.  He doesn’t want to be in Okada’s shadow anymore and tonight might just be the night he shows everyone he is as good if not better than the top star of New Japan.  The two of them are hitting each other with everything they have and this match builds just like any classic Okada match, nice and slow-building in pace as the match progresses.

    It is great to see that Ospreay hasn’t lost any of his agility while gaining the mass required to move up to the heavyweight division.  Even on the outside the two of them bring drama, with osprey putting Okada through a table, he is being violent and aggressive now towards his old mentor and friend, kicking the now broken Okada away and out of the ring in frustration.  Ospreay tries for a Stormbreaker on the apron but is thwarted by Okada, who counters with a tombstone Piledriver.  After a few clotheslines Okada locks in the money clip but is distracted by Bea on the outside of the ropes, he throws Osprey into her, then the money clip again until he reaches the ropes.  These two men aren’t here to play, they both want to win and after 25min of action it still isn’t clear who will be victorious

    Ospreay hits Okada with a Tombstone Piledriver and a Rainmaker but Okada kicks out and begins fighting back at the 35min mark, finally hitting his own Rainmaker and pinning Ospreay.  

    Star Rating: *****

    IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship Match | Kota Ibushi vs Tetsuya Naito

    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. This year has been a weird one with plans being thrown out and changed due to the global situation.  These two have a history of really bringing it in big match situations and pushing the boundaries of what is considered safe, you can read Naito’s opinion on that over at:
    [ NJPW1972: https://www.njpw1972.com/88429 ].

    They just up the match quality with every singles meeting they have and this one is even better than the last, the two of them keep coming back from the others attacks that you can’t even call who will win.  After a hard-fought match and the pair kicking out of each other finishers, Kota Ibushi becomes a double champ with a Kimygoya.

    Star Rating: *****

    Highlights:

    • DOUKI piggybacking Taichi out of the arena after losing his belt was beautiful and funny.
    • Jon Moxley cutting a video promo on whoever holds the IWGP US Heavyweight Champion.
    • Will Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada’s entrance:
      • Bea Priestley’s Wrestle Kingdom outfit and how she looks absolutely incredible representing The Empire and Ode in Stardom
      • Okada’s gear being dark pink and gold but also luminous pink and yellow.
    • Ospreay hitting Okada’s moves and Okada returning to the Rainmaker finisher.
    • Seeing Kota Ibushi become double champ.
    • Jay White coming down to the ring in a very dark purple suit and telling Ibushi his reign will only last a night.

    WK15 Night Two:
    5th Jan 2020 | 5:00pm JST | 8:00am GMT | 3:00am EST | 2:00am CST | 12:00am PST |

    New Years Dash:
    5th Jan 2020 | 6:30pm JST | 9:30am GMT | 4:30am EST | 3:30am CST | 1:30am PST |

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