The Tokyo Dome portion of Wrestle Kingdom 16 wrapped up on Weds., Jan. 5. And one of the notable events from night two of New Japan’s marquee event was set-up for night three.
Roughly midway through today’s show, Keji Mutoh and several members of the Pro Wrestling NOAH roster hit the ring at the Dome. They were there to make a statement ahead of Sat., Jan. 8’s NJPW vs. NOAH card in Yokohama.
Recently deposed IWGP World Heavyweight champion Shingo Takagi and some of his Los Ingobernables De Japon boys met them in the ring, but noticing they were outnumbered, Takagi decided discretion was the better part of valor. The segment ended peaceably, with NOAH rivals Kaito Kiyomiya & Kenoh shaking hands and pledging unity in their quest to prove theirs is the superior promotion. You can check out the card for Saturday’s show, which will benefit the Japanese Red Cross, here.
In the main events of night two, New Japan made sure they headed into 2022 with their two biggest stars of this century strapped up.
Hiroshi Tanahashi reclaimed the IWGP United States championship from KENTA in a No Disqualification match that saw New Japan prove they can do hardcore with the best of them. A guitar shot Tana delivered to KENTA’s head may end up being the most talking about spot...
...but this one featured all manner of plunder and ended with the One True Ace delivering his finisher from a ladder to put a bloody KENTA through a table.
That was followed with the IWGP World Heavyweight title bout, which saw New Japan’s current Ace end all disputes about who should hold the belt. Will Ospreay was forced to vacate the championship due to injury last May, and since his return has been carrying around a version of the title to remind folks he was never beaten for it. One night after pinning the then-recognized champ, Kazuchika Okada pinned the self-recognized one.
Okada vs. Ospreay was standard big match NJPW... which isn’t a bad thing. If you like the style, you’ll almost certainly like this one.
／— njpwworld (@njpwworld) January 5, 2022
WRESTLE KINGDOM 16 in 東京ドーム (1/5)を公開‼️
@WillOspreay × @rainmakerXokada
登録＆視聴⏩https://t.co/Tj7UBINMhP#njpw #njwk16Day2 pic.twitter.com/d4KsPhsGDc
Each man used each other’s moves against each other across 35 minutes of action with plenty of nearfalls before Okada followed a Landslide with The Rainmaker to put the Brit away.
It looks like the undisputed champ’s first challenger will be another of New Japan’s biggest names, too. Okada’s show-closing promo was cut off by Tetsuya Naito, who defeated Jeff Cobb earlier in the show.
A run of New Years Golden Series shows were announced for January & February, leading up to New Japan’s 50th Anniversary show on March 1 — so look for the latest chapter in the career-spanning Naito/Okada rivalry to play out on those.