Wrestle Kingdom 15 kicked off with a bank in the Tokyo Dome. All the action came with stakes, leading into the second night, along with some title changes and important moments along the way.
Wrestle Kingdom 15 kicked off in Tokyo, Japan with the first night of action. There was a lot to look forward to on this card as it not only pushed the biggest night in New Japan Professional Wrestling but also set the stage heading into the second night of action.
The event kicked off with the New Japan Rumble. This is a 22-man battle royal with the final four heading to night two for a fatal-four way to see who will take home the King of Pro Wrestling trophy. Chase Owens and Tomohiro Ishii were the first two men in the ring, welcomed by another competitor every minute. This event featured a lot of everyday NJPW names, but a few surprises along the way as well such as Rocky Romero and even the Young Lions attempting to stake their claim to the match on night two.
Toru Yano attempted more of his shenanigans and they paid off. He walked out late in the event, but before he could even get into the ring there was a last-minute elimination. The final four ended up being Chase Owens, Bad Luke Fale, Bushi, and Yano.
El Phantasmo and Hiromu Takahashi were up first. They were battling for an opportunity to move to night two and face Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Jr Heavyweight title. This match pitted this year’s jr heavy tourney winners against each other in a highly anticipated bout.
The big spots came out immediately, with Takahashi hitting a senton splash from the top, then Phantasmo landing his own sunset bomb outside the ring. Things did not stay fast-paced though, as Phantasmo slowed the speed down after tweaking a previous injury to his foot/ankle. However, they still mixed in top rope maneuvers along with grounded techniques.
It would not take long before Phantasmo was up to his old tricks, “accidentally” knocking down the referee and then landing a low blow to Takahashi. During the match, he made callbacks to AJ Styles, Kenny Omega, and others who were a part of the Bullet Club. However, when he kept going for the CR2 that opened the door for Takahashi to counter and get the rollup pin to win.
Tag team action was up next. The Guerrillas of Destiny competed against Zack Sabre Jr and Taichi. Underhanded tactics came out early as Sabre and Taichi looked to get an early advantage against GOD. GOD took over, cornering Taichi and battering him on their side of the ring. When Sabre got back into the ring, he continued to put his grappling chops on display. Tanga Loa and Tama Tonga leveraged their power to remain in control, at least until Taichi leveraged his own partner to hit a powerbomb from the top rope.
New champions would be crowned in the end. The GOD found a way to leverage a foreign weapon with outside interference to allow Tanga Loa to get the pinfall on Taichi and putting the belt around their waist for the seventh time.
KENTA and Satoshi Kojima were battling for an opportunity to get a title shot at the IGWP United States belt being held by Jon Moxley. Moxley was not in attendance but he let the winner of the match know that he is waiting with the title in hand.
Kojima was added to this match after an orbital bone injury to Juice Robinson. Kojima caught KENTA attempting to roll back in the ring and began to stomp away on him. KENTA did not let that stop him, using Tenten to take Kojima’s focus away, turning the tides in his favor. With the wealth of experience that Kojima has built throughout his career, there was no way that KENTA could keep him down without a fight.
KENTA kept grounding Kojima every time he tried to return to his feet, but he could not keep his opponent down. Even after landing a big double stomp from the top rope, Kojima kept kicking out. But Kojima could not kick out after eating the Go to Sleep, allowing KENTA to get the win and the right to face Moxley in the future.
Hiroshi Tanahashi has been struggling against the Empire and he faced off against Great-O-Khan in a single’s match. Even though Great-O-Khan is the bigger man, he was attempting to go to the ground to attack a weak point on Tanahashi. It did not take long for this match to fall outside the ring where Tanahashi was put through more pain, which would continue when they reentered the ring. Tanahashi would not go away, continuing to fight back but getting flattened for his efforts.
Tanahashi continued to fight back, however. Fighting out of the face grip that put others away, he would ground Great-O-Khan long enough to hit two High Fly Flow frog splashes to get the pinfall and the win.
Will Ospreay wanted to use Kazuchika Okada to launch his career to the next level. To do so, he would have to defeat “The Rainmaker” at Wrestle Kingdom 15.
Okada did not wait to get things started in the match, pushing the pace immediately on the sound of the bell. Thanks to Bea Priestley being on the outside, her distraction allowed Ospreay to stop Okada’s momentum. Okada had brief comeback moments, but Ospreay remained right there to undercut him every single time.
Okada continued to fight out of all the bad positions he was placed in, even kicking out of a reverse Bloody Sunday. Ospreay even put Okada through the table just beyond the barriers at ringside. Okada, however, showed the fighting spirit he was known for, laying Ospreay out with a piledriver and nearly choking him lifeless with the Money Clip. Ospreay fought back as well, hitting the Oz Cutter, and stomping away on Okada’s head. Ospreay even hit the Rainmaker, still no pinfall. But it had no match for Okada’s own Rainmaker, using it to flatten Ospreay and pick up the victory.
The main event brought out Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito to battle for the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles. The bell rang and the two men stood across from each other while the crowd clapped. They exchanged counters for all their holds early in the match, that was until Naito tossed Ibushi with a release German Suplex on the floor.
Naito continued to focus on Ibushi’s neck and head to weaken his challenger. Every time both men built up a little steam, the other would cut them off to turn the tides. Both men broke out the bigger moves to get the win, such as Naito hitting a Super Poisonrana from the top rope. The two men stood in the center of the ring, throwing forearms, kicks, and lariats. Ibushi countered the Destino for a third time, landing another knee to get the pinfall, winning the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles, heading into night two to face Jay White.
Wrestle Kingdom 15 Night One Results
- Toru Yano, Bad Luck Fale, Bushi, and Chase Owens advance to KOPW final match
- Hiromu Takahashi defeated El Phantasmo via pinfall
- Guerrillas of Destiny defeated Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr for the IWGP tag team titles
- KENTA defeated Satoshi Kojima via pinfall
- Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Great-O-Khan via pinfall
- Kazuchika Okada defeated Will Ospreay via pinfall
- Kota Ibushi defeated Tetsuya Naito via pinfall