Second night of Tokyo Dome action with massive singles clashes, and history made
Night two of Wrestle Kingdom 16 sees the immense start to NJPW’s 50th Anniversary celebrations continue. Five title matches highlight the card, and the women of STARDOM make NJPW history!
Main event: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship- Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay
Singles record: 5-1 Okada
Our main event on night two will see the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on the line again as Will Ospreay will face the winner of January 4’s main event between Shingo Takagi and Kazuchika Okada.
Okada’s number one contender status, earned with a victory in G1 Climax 31 was undeniable, and cemented with a victory over Tama Tonga at Power Struggle on November 6. Yet Will Ospreay’s claim to the title is strong and legitimate in its own right. The second holder of the IWGP world Heavyweight Championship, Ospreay successfully defended his title on May 5 against Takagi, but, putting his body on the line in the process, would fall to injury, being stripped of his title as a result.
Ospreay, correctly, argues that he was never beaten for the championship, and is correctly next in line. In fact, confirmed by both Okada and Takagi in the wake of a face to face confrontation between the Rainmaker and the Commonwealth Kingpin at Battle in the Valley, neither January 4 contender has issue with Ospreay’s challenge. Yet plenty of fault can be found with Ospreay’s claim to being the ‘true world heavyweight champion’, and with the belt that Ospreay has carried to rings around the world over the last four months.
On January 5, months of controversy will be resolved. On one hand, Ospreay could finally seek Tokyo Dome revenge over Okada from last year’s Wrestle Kingdom. The Tokyo Dome saw an epic clash between Okada and Ospreay to start 2021, and they were initially on course for a May 2021 rematch in the Tokyo Dome before injury and fate intervened. Who will reign undisputed in New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 2022?
7th Match: IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship- No DQ: KENTA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Singles record 3-2 KENTA Championship record 1-0 KENTA
The IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship will be on the line in the semi main event January 5 as Hiroshi Tanahashi takes on KENTA. After winning the red and gold belt in style at Resurgence back in the summer, Tanahashi’s IWGP United States reign came crashing to a premature halt on November 6. Though the Ace had designs on frequent defences both in Japan and America, KENTA put paid to those plans, besting Tanahashi and bending every rule in his path in the process.
Tanahashi gave as good as he got in Osaka at Power Struggle, the Ace uncharacteristically driving KENTA through a table before he finally fell to the Go2Sleep. As KENTA declined to defend his gold on a November sojourn to the US, the Ace would make a direct appeal during World Tag League; that he get another shot at the gold, with KENTA able to choose any stipulation he liked.
On December 15, after initial refusal from the BULLET CLUB member, the challenge was accepted, and the stipulation announced. January 5 will see a no disqualification bout. There is no doubt that classical master Tanahashi is going to be out of his comfort zone wrestling a style he has openly decried. Yet he must fight fire with fire if he is to defeat KENTA and become two time US Champion.
6th Match: Tetsuya Naito vs Jeff Cobb
Singles record: 1-0 Naito
On January 4 2021, Tetsuya Naito, defeated by Kota Ibushi in the main event made a vow that he would be back in the headline picture by 2022. Such is not the case. As an injury put paid to his G1 Climax 31 campaign, and after narrowly missing out on the World Tag League final, Naito was without a Tokyo Doem narrative as he headed into tag team action on December 15 opposite Jeff Cobb and Great-O-Khan.
The Imperial Unit was on powerful form as ever as he seemed to sweep to a dominant victory alongside O-Khan. Yet as he scooped Naito for the Tour of the Islands, a hurricanrana counter would see Naito victorious, and not wanting to pass up the chance to grandstand, El Ingobernable was quick to rub his win in.
The furious Cobb would rush to attack Naito backstage, and issue a singles match challenge. That match now made, Cobb seeks to get even, while Naito will look for his second career win over the big man, and to carve his own narrative for 2022.
5th Match: SANADA vs Great-O-Khan
In the same tag team match that saw conflict arise between Jeff Cobb and Tetsuya Naito, Great-O-Khan declared that he had found ‘a new toy’ in SANADA. Cold Skull would humiliate the proficient grappler during the tag bout as he placed O-Khan in the Paradise Lock and yanked at his ceremonial braids. Admitting that SANADA had some admiration for the United Empire’s Dominator, SANADA still mocked O-Khan’s appearance, further drawing his ire, and making a confrontation inevitable. Two phenomenally skilled classical competitors will be squaring off one on one for the first time January 5.
4th match: NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championships: HOUSE OF TORTURE (EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi & SHO) vs CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI & YOH)
After CHAOS and HOUSE OF TORTURE’s feud spilled over both World Tag League and Best of the Super Jr. finals on December 15, the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Championships will be on the line in a match that will also carry with it fallout from night one on January 4. After YOH faces SHO on the night one opener, bad blood will still linger, and after championship action for Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI and EVIL, double champions could be present in the aftermath of this six man war.
3rd Match: KOPW 2022 Four Way Minoru Suzuki vs Toru Yano vs Chase Owens vs CIMA
After night one’s kickoff saw a surprise filled New Japan Ranbo to determine entrants, a four way battle on January 5 will see the first KOPW 2022 provisional trophy holder determined. While Chase Owens survivability and Toru Yano’s cagey timing once again saw both competitors last to the end on January 4 to little shock, Minoru Suzuki makes an intriguing addition to the KOPW mix fewer had in their predictions, and nobody was expecting the appearance of CIMA.
Will Toru Yano continue his vise like grip on the King of Pro-Wrestling label? Will the Kinf of pro-wrestling win the King of Pro-Wrestling trophy? Or could GLEAT and Stronghearts’ representative CIMA be a shocking trophy holder in 2022?
2nd Match: STARDOM Special: Mayu Iwatani & Starlight Kid vs Tam Nakano & Saya Kamitani
For the first time in 20 years, Japan’s premier female athletes will take to a NJPW ring on the main card January 5 in this tag team bout. With broadcast TV, pay per view and NJPW World audiences watching, more eyes will be on STARDOM than at any point in history, as all four women will seek to make a mark for their promotion, and themselves. As four factions are represented here tonight, a random drawing saw uneasy partnerships made, as ‘Icon of STARDOM’ Mayu Iwatani teams with a former partner in current High Speed Champion Starlight Kid, now a member of the fiendish Oedo Tai. Meanwhile Saya Kamitani and Tam Nakano will team with one another just one week removed from what will be a vicious battle over the Wonder of STARDOM Championship December 29. What star will shine brightest in the Tokyo Dome?
1st Match: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championships: Flying Tiger (Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask) vs Mega Coaches (Ryusuke Taguchi & Rocky Romero) vs BULLET CLUB’s Cutest Tag Team (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori)
A three way bout for the IWGP Junior tag titles will kick us off, as Robbie Eagles and Tiger Mask defend against both BULLET CLUB’s Cutest tag Team and the Mega Coaches. When Ishimori and Phantasmo took on Tiger Mask and Ryohei Oiwa December 15, Phantasmo buried his loaded boot in the gut of Tiger Mask to make a violent challenge, Robbie Eagles rushing to his partner’s aid. Taguchi would come to assist Eagles, only to turn tail and land a hip attack on the Sniper of the Skies, declaring that he would bring Mr. Azucar with him to the Tokyo Dome. It’s a three way environment for the tag titles in the Dome; one to which Taguchi and Romero are well accustomed with partners from their past. Could that big match three way experience see them to the championships at last on January 5? Will BULLET CLUB regain tag glory? Or will Eagles and Tiger’s reign continue?
Kickoff Match 3: Los Ingobernables De Japon (BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi) vs Suzuki-Gun (DOUKI, Zack Sabre Jr. & Taichi)
LIJ and Suzuki-Gun will meet in trios action in the third of three kickoff matches this evening. Four of the six in this match were planning on heading into January 5 with championships to their name, and indeed Shingo Takagi was hoping to be in the night’s main event. After his defeat to Kazuchika Okada on January 4 though, the Dragon declared that he would start again from zero, and that process begins with LIJ taking on the old enemies Suzuki-Gun tonight, including former IWGP Tag team Champions Dangerous Tekkers.
Kickoff Match 2: Master Wato, Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan vs Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado, TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
From a six man match of former champions to another trio battle that features the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion in El Desperado. That presents a golden opportunity in waiting for Master Wato, who has TenCozy by his side as he seeks to make a mark on Desperado, and get his own 2022 off to a roarng start.
Kickoff Match 1: Yuji Nagata, Tomoaki Honma & Togi Makabe vs BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, Jado & Gedo)
Kicking off the festivities on january 5, the veterans of NJPW hontai and of BULLET CLUB will go to battle. We saw four of these men in New Japan Ranbo action, while the World Class Tag team of Jado and Gedo make their first appearance of 2022. Who will grab the first victory of January 5?