Wrestling Review: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15 (2021) (Night 2)

[Please note: this post contains full incidental spoilers from Wrestle Kingdom 15 (Night 1).]

Following on from a night of pulse pounding action on Night One, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) presents night two of Wrestle Kingdom 15. After defeating Tetsuya Naito to become the double IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Champions, Kota Ibushi must now face the man who stole the G1 Climax Challenge Certificate from him, Jay White. It is Jay White’s first ever Wrestle Kingdom main event, and you can be sure he’ll have some tricks up his sleeve to defeat the Golden Star of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Kota Ibushi. In the semi main event, Jay White Bullet Club companion, Taiji Ishimori, will defend his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Hiromu Takahashi. Takahashi had to go through El Phantasmo on night one, where ELP was willing to pull out all the stops in his attempt to defeat Takahashi, and a fresh Ishimori versus a banged up Hiromu spells disaster for the challenger.

Also on the card, former teammates EVIL and SANADA will do battle one more time, following the former’s unprecedented betrayal earlier in 2020. Though unofficial, you have to imagine that the winner of that match will be the number one contender for whoever wins the main event. The Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships will be on the line as Ryusuke Taguchi and Master Wato challenge the at-times invincible due of Suzuki-gun’s El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Shingo Takagi will defend the NEVER Openweight gold against the newest member of Will Ospreay’s Empire, Jeff Cobb.

+ Kota Ibushi (c) vs Jay White (IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championships): holy smokes, this had everything you could want for. If you loved the Okada/Omega/Tanahashi/Naito main events over the last few years, then this is absolutely in that same realm. Ibushi’s switch to “Murder Mode” has that same effect that Ishii does, and Jay White’s facial expressions made that moment something really special. Jay White is too, too good for his age and experience, and if he is not one day considered one of the absolute greatest of all time, then I don’t know what to say. I loved everything about this match
+ Taiji Ishimori (c) vs Hiromu Takahashi (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship): this match went through such a long time in the blink of an eye. While I can’t say I’m completely on board with the finish and the winner, but these two worked at a blistering pace for almost their entire match. Hiromu must be having the best comeback year in history, all things considered, but for my money it is Ishimori that is the best junior heavyweight in NJPW. I am also super duper hapy that this was the semi main, and went after EVIL/SANADA, as NJPW usually puts the heavyweights above them
+ EVIL vs SANADA: as much as I can see why some people might be sick of EVIL by now, I still love that beefy boy. Similarly, as much as SANADA stunk out the G1 finale, he is 9 times out of 10 a fantastic wrestler, and this was one of those times. The crowd still hasn’t forgiven EVIL, and SANADA has that ‘eternal fan favourite’ vibe about him, so they were into this match even without being able to cheer. This was good, but perhaps not great
+ Shingo Takagi (c) vs Jeff Cobb (NEVER Openweight Championship): god almighty this was the match I was most looking forward to since the two night card was announced, and to say it lived up to expectations is an understatement. This was the match of the show, the best match at Wrestle Kingdom and probably going to be in contention for match of the year. Sweet merciful crap, this was a war
+ Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado) vs Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships): poor Wato. Bless his little heart, because he is trying so hard, but this was just not a good showing for him. All three other guys looked good, so it was a positive overall, but even still the average was dragged down. My main boy Desperado is just so damn good

BUSHI vs Bad Luck Fale vs Chase Owens vs Toru Yano (KOPW 2021 Provisional Championship): holy smokes, this was bad. Even as far as this semi-comedy “championship” goes, much like the Jingu Stadium four way match, this was just not very good

Should you watch this event: If you skip that opening four way, this was easily one of the best wrestling shows in history. Shingo/Cobb, Hiromu/Ishimori and Isbuhi/White are three bonafide match of the year contenders, with Shingo/Cobb in particular ticking every single box you could think of. This show is a must see.


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