KENTA Strikes No DQ Blow as Tanahashi Left Flattened 【WK16】

KENTA victorious in Korakuen return


A double title match preview of Wrestle Kingdom on December 22 saw the BULLET CLUB trio of KENTA, Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo take on Hiroshi Tanahashi and the Flying Tiger combo of Robbie Eagles and Tiger Mask. 

After some congratulatory back patting from his team mates on last month’s title victory, KENTA stepped in the ring with Tanahashi. Frustrated at not being able to turn the crowd’s applause to his side, KENTA grabbed a ringside chair; told that the no DQ match was not until January 5, the US Champion withdrew as Eagles and Phantasmo went into a high pace exchange instead. Eagles would gain an upper hand, and even as Phantasmo caught a tope suicida, the tag champion was able to transition into an apron 619 as Tiger Mask joined the fray.

Tiger looked for a butterfly suplex on ELP, who quickly stamped his opponent’s boot before bringing Ishimori inside. With quick tags in the BULLET CLUB corner, Tiger was trapped until a tilt-a-whirl created a tag to Eagles; boots to Ishimori and a leg lariat to ELP putting the Sniper in the driver’s seat until he was pulled outside by KENTA. Eagles would find himself at the mercy, or lack thereof, of KENTA, who buried heavy knees to Eagles’ gut and kept him in place for BULLET CLUB’s Cutest to do their worst. A UFO neckbreaker would be blocked though, and after an Asai DDT to Phantasmo, in came the Ace.  

Dragon Screws connected to Phantasmo and Ishimori, and Tanahashi resisted KENTA’s vicious boots, but was planted with a power slam and struck with a double stomp. Tanahashi would resist a Go2Sleep attempt though, and followed with Twist and Shout as Tiger reentered, taking care of all three of his opposition before a Crucifix and then Tiger Driver nearly got him three on the US champion. 

As the match reached the 15 minute mark, Tiger brought KENTA to the top rope for a suplex, but would be stopped with elbows. Ishimori would provide support as the match broke down; Eagles took care of the interference as Tanahashi stopped KENTA from using a chair brought to the ring, but both were flattened with Sudden Death. Tiger Mask was left to fall prey to Cipher Utaki and then Go2Sleep for the KENTA win. 

Post match, Tiger Mask would be hit with Sudden Death, and Tanahashi was left to the wolves. KENTA brought a stack of chairs to the ring, and the BULLET CLUB side landed a triple powerbomb to the Ace onto the steel pile. Grabbing the mic, the champion challenged anyone who thought Tanahashi would win on January 5 to do a headstand, before promising he would be the last one standing in the Tokyo Dome, declaring he would keep the belt, with a specific challenger in mind in 2022.