Rampaging Takagi Takes One Step Closer to Okada, Ospreay 【WK16】

Shingo Takagi and Hiromu Takahashi come out with Korakuen win

The Road to Wrestle Kingdom kicked off in earnest on December 21, as Robbie Eagles and Kazuchika Okada faced Hiromu Takahashi and Okada’s January 4 main event opponent, IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Shingo Takagi. 

With two weeks before their January 4 main event, champion and future challenger looked to out maneuver one another on the mat, with Okada gaining a brief advantage as Takagi rolled away. Okada would score the first shoulder knockdown of the match as well, but Shingo would respond with one of this own, before tags on both ends saw the match’s junior heavyweights bring the pace. Eagles would frustrate Takahashi with high speed takedowns, and as Hiromu was knocked to the floor, ran down the apron line with a flying elbow to the back of the knee.  

Hiromu would be controlled in the CHAOS corner until an escape to Takagi would see the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion bring heavy offense at a junior heavyweight pace. A crisp suplex put Okada to the mat as the match hit the ten minute mark; as the Rainmaker responded with some elbows and a crisp boot, Shingo found a snap jab and a DDT. Yet Okada scouted the follow-up sliding lariat, briefly locking in the Money Clip and reminding the Dragon that submission danger was always close at hand. With a reverse neckbreaker drop, Okada stayed on the neck, and demonstrated a potential gameplan for January 4. 

Takagi would escape another Money Clip attempt and landed a Ryukon lariat to bring Hiromu back inside, but the BOSJ 28 winner instantly fell into the clutches of Eagles’ Ron Miller Special, crawling desperately to the ropes, and trying to kick frantically as Eagles maintained pressure. Countering both the Turbo Backpack and an Asai DDT attempt from Eagles, Hiromu muscled Eagles up into a corner DVD, and landed a bonus shot to Okada on the apron, but Eagles countered a Time Bomb atttempt with a rollup for two. 

The Sniper of the Skies looked to go back to the knees with a corner 619 to follow, but instead found himself flung with a corner front suplex. As Hiromu made the tag to Takagi, Eagles was unable to reach Okada, and the heavyweight champion quickly showed the difference in striking power against the Australian. As Hiromu took care of Okada, Takagi barely countered a Last of the Dragon attempt, but not a pop up DVD; Okada got inside before Shingo could land the finishing blow, but was taken down with a sliding lariat. Eagles tried to steal victory from a distracted Takagi, but another pop up into the Last of the Dragon sealed the deal. 

Post match, Shingo derided Kazuchika Okada’s interview claim that he was a ‘provisional champion’ and delivered a message to Will Ospreay, recently arrived in Japan, that January 5 will see everything settled. In the meantime, he vowed to close out January 4 with Hiromu after both are victorious in their title matches, but will that indeed be the case at Wrestle Kingdom?