Thank you for joining me here once again at Sports Obsessive. Today I will be giving you my predictions of NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day One. With 2020 in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for 2021 to kick off with a bang. This whole week is full of some amazing professional wrestling. The first event that we will be treated to is New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestling Kingdom 15. Wrestle Kingdom is NJPW’s biggest annual showcase, and like last year, will be held over a two day period.
I will be breaking down both days and giving my best guesses for the outcome of each match. With that said, let’s get started with my preview and predictions for day one.
Hiromu Takahashi vs El Phantasmo
This is the perfect match to start the night, pitting the winners of the Best of the Super Juniors and Super J Cup tournaments. This contest is going to be fast paced and action-packed. Both men have a point to prove and want a match with Junior Heavyweight champion Taiji Ishimori on night two of Wrestle Kingdom.
As interesting as it would be to see Phantasmo face his tag team partner for the title, I’m placing my bet on Takahashi to come out victorious and enter himself into title contention.
Prediction: Hiromu Takahashi
IWGP Tag Team Championships: Dangerous Tekkers (c) vs Guerrillas of Destiny
Is it just me, or is it weird to see Tama Tonga and Tanga Lao enter a tag match at Wrestle Kingdom without being the defending champs? With that said, the role reversal could work out in their favour, as GoD has never won inside of the Tokyo Dome.
They’ve already defeated Zack Sabre Jr. and Taichi on multiple occasions. This time, I believe that the Bullet Club OG’s break the curse of the Dome and reclaim they’re spot as perhaps the most dominant tag team in NJPW history.
Prediction: Gorillas of Destiny
IWGP US Heavyweight Right to Challenge: Satoshi Kojima vs KENTA
This match was supposed to be between KENTA and Juice Robinson, but unfortunately, Robinson suffered a fractured left orbital bone and had to be pulled from the card. Kojima stepped up in his absence and is looking to prove that he can still go.
KENTA has done a wonderful job of keeping himself and the briefcase relevant during the absence of the IWGP United States champion, Jon Moxley. I commend Satoshi Kojima for being up to the challenge, but he is just filler and a stepping stone to the eventual KENTA/Moxley showdown.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Great-O-Khan
It wouldn’t be Wrestle Kingdom without Mr. Tokyo Dome, Hiroshi Tanahashi. The Ace of New Japan has been in 10 main events of the traditional early January show, so this is familiar territory for him, even if he is further down the card than we are used to seeing. O-Kahn and THE EMPIRE have been imposing their will on Tanahashi lately, at every given opportunity.
The focus has specifically been on the NJPW stalwart’s knee, trying their best to limit him for this showdown. Even with that flat tire, I expect the heavily decorated veteran to pull off some of his patented Wrestle Kingdom magic and walk away with the win.
Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi
Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay
Former partners turned bitter enemies. Old school vs new school. However you spin it, this is probably the most intriguing match of the night, if not both nights. The last time that these two faced off, during the G1 Climax 30 tournament, they put on a classic match that ended with Ospreay picking up his first victory against his mentor, with the help of Bea Priestley and the Great-O-Khan.
That set the table for this bitter rivalry between two men that were once like brothers. The Aerial Assassin is red hot right now and is doing his best character work to date. I see him picking up a second consecutive victory and possibly moving into the IWGP Heavyweight title picture in the very near future.
Prediction: Will Ospreay
Double IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championships: Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Kota Ibushi
This is guaranteed to be a stiff, brutal affair. Every time that these two lock horns, magic is made. Their chemistry with each other is absolutely off the charts. Naito has held both titles for the better part of the last year, minus Evil’s brief reign that lasted about a month and a half back in August.
Ibushi has been IWGP Intercontinental champion in the past, but has never held the IWGP Heavyweight championship. As much as I love Tetsuya Naito, my fingers are crossed that it’s finally time for Kota to realize his dream as the top dog in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Prediction: Kota Ibushi
There we have it. The first night of NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15 is certainly looking promising to say the least. What do you think of my predictions? Do you agree with me or think I’m completely wrong? Let me know in the comments and on Twitter, @ShartzerJon. I’ll be back tomorrow morning with my predictions for day two.