New Japan Pro-Wrestling kicked off their 2021 schedule inside the Tokyo Dome earlier today with day one of Wrestle Kingdom 15. The show had major implications for day two and featured multiple title changes and two match of the year candidates only four days into the new year.
While seven matches were added to the pre-show and main card, the show centred around Kota Ibushi's quest to become God and the new IWGP Heavyweight & IWGP Intercontinental Double Champion in his match with Tetsuya Naito. Both men called back to their past dangerous encounters throughout the 31-minute match of the year candidate and Ibushi landed on his head on a couple of occasions. Plenty of drama was saved for the finish, though, and The Golden Star was able to pick up the win after he countered a Destino attempt from Naito into a third Kamigoye for the 1-2-3.
Ibushi will now defend the belts against Jay White on January 5.
Before the main event, Kazuchika Okada and Will Ospreay delivered another match of the year candidate. Both men made the match personal and The Commonwealth Kingpin even mocked Okada's Rainmaker pose and hit him with a Tombstone and Rainmaker for the nearest of near falls. The five-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion was able to overcome all of the adversity, however, and he pinned his former friend after 35 minutes.
Elsewhere on the show, Jon Moxley returned to New Japan Pro-Wrestling in a pre-taped vignette and declared he was coming for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Right To Challenge Contract holder. The man he will face will be KENTA as the Bullet Club member successfully defended the contract against Satoshi Kojima.
A New Japan Pro-Wrestling record was also broken as Guerrillas Of Destiny used Taichi's iron glove against him to defeat Dangerous Tekkers and become seven-time IWGP Tag Team Champions.
Great-O-Khan also had the chance to prove himself against Hiroshi Tanahashi and the match was largely considered good if unspectacular. The Ace ultimately pulled out the clean win and looks set to go on a comeback year after racking up losses in 2020.
Two more matches were put in place for January 5 during the early portion of Wrestle Kingdom. Hiromu Takahashi defeated El Phantasmo with a Hurricanrana Pin in a match which got the crowd going. He will face Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title tomorrow. BUSHI, Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale and Toru Yano will also square off in a Four-Way Match for the KOPW 2021 Trophy after they were the final four participants in another long New Japan Rambo.
Check out the results below:
• Toru Yano, Bad Luck Fale, BUSHI & Chase Owens won the New Japan Ranbo - Pre-Show
• Hiromu Takahashi def. El Phantasmo - Takahashi will face Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship on January 5
• Guerrillas Of Destiny def. Dangerous Tekkers - IWGP Tag Team Championship
• KENTA def. Satoshi Kojima - IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Right To Challenge Contract
• Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Great-O-Khan
• Kazuchika Okada def. Will Ospreay
• Kota Ibushi def. Tetsuya Naito - IWGP Heavyweight & IWGP Intercontinental Double Championship