NJPW Wrestle Kingdom: Night Two wasn’t quite as tasty as that first night. It had a softer center, but it was still stronger than most events last year. After three… count ’em, three… specially announced matches, we started with another huge possibility of a match
The Flying Tigers (Robbies Eagles & Tiger Mask) v Mega Coaches (Taguchi & Rocky Romero) v Cutest Tag Team (El Phantasmo & Ishimori)
This is where El Phantasmo’s chickens came home to roost. A veritable coop of chickens. More of that in a minute, ElP and Ishimori had some fun here early on (not later) with a slow back rake (ElP) and fast back rake (Ishimori) and in perhaps the spot of the match, Phantasmo walked the ropes swinging his hips and shaking his knees.
Elsewhere we saw a sweet Tiger Mask double-arm undertook suplex, the ElP UFO and his Thunderkiss splash for a long two count. He had quite a lot of the offense until that kick which has been felling opponents, the one he says is effective because he’s been kicking Canadian trees, the one others say is so effective because of a loaded boot Well, the mystery is over. His partner copped for it by mistake and the others took his boot off.
Was there anything in it? There was. A small piece of metal. Very small. The boot was clearly shown to be loaded, but that little piece wouldn’t have knocked people out. If it’s going to be loaded, let’s have a bigger carbon fiber piece, something huge and bothersome. So now the story is over. And it wasn’t half anticlimactic. The Cutest Tag Team were eliminated, ElP carried off complaining, Eagles and Romero shared many roll-ups and when Robbie Eagles hit the leg crank, Rocky tapped.
The Flying Tigers retained the Jnr Tag Team belts, but the real story was the boot. Not sure if this was the right time, not sure if it was handled correctly, particularly for NJPW Wrestle Kingdom: Night Two
Maya Iwatami & Starlight Kid v Tam Nakano & Saya Kamitami
There’s no music due to copyright, but that didn’t stop this wonderful first – a premiere for Stardom – showing us just what they could do at the big stage for NJPW Wrestle Kingdom.
Early on a double 619 from Starlight Kid and Maya Iwatami pleased, Maya and Tam Nakano rocked each other with big punches and the Kid executed a splash from the top. Of Maya’s shoulders. Who was on the top rope. Later in the match, after she attracted so many near falls, Kamitami started to take control, hit her star crusher, and then a reverse corkscrew splash thing (it was much better than I made it sound) for the pin. Fast, fiery, and very fine. A highlight of night 2, that’s for sure.
KOPW 2022 Four Way
Chase Owens v CIMA v Suzuki v Toru Yano
The 4 winners from the Ranbo on night 1 at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom get to compete for some trophy or other. The winner seems to almost scoff at it later. One thing is clear – none of them like Yano, who cops for it throughout this short and sweet match. He was involved in the angle of the fight. CIMA had him in an Indian deathlock, then: Owens made a run at him and he suplexed him, all the time retaining the deathlock Suzuki punched him and he kept falling down and getting up again. Which was fine except that each time it synched the hold in harder and shot pain to Yano. Then the 3 of the 4 men standing all put headlocks on each other. Ridiculous, but lovely.
CIMA had a good showing, although his Meteora was rather spoilt by a Suzuki rear-naked choke and after Yano executed a double low blow (as you may expect), Suzuki seemed to have had enough and hit a Gotch style piledriver on him for the pin. Too short really, as there might have been more innovative NJPW Wrestle Kingdom action and after to escape a Suzuki beating, Yano handcuffed him to the ropes. As you do.
And now the slightly soft center. The Never Openweight 6 Man, currently with Bullet Club, could have gone to Goto/YOH and HOSHI-HASHI could well have made a tag sweep here. It’s Y-H’s time.
Goto/Yoh/YOSHI-HASHI v EVIL/YOH/Yujiro Takahashi
This match was fine. It was full of shenanigans, which I often like, including Togo trying to use his choke wire but Ishii preventing him and SHO and YOH getting involved with a wrench, in fact, that’s how the end came.
And within this messing, there was a nice Y-H neck breaker, Goto hit a flat liner, but in the end EVIL and his merry men retained with a low blow and a wrench shot. It was OK. It could just have been better. After all, it was NJPW Wrestle Kingdom.
NOAH Invade NJPW
Well, not really. They were allowed to walk in, Keiji Mutoh leading in about 200 wrestlers, well, it seemed that many, entering the ring (hope It’s been reinforced) and telling us they’re happy to help NJPW out.
That did sound a little risible as insults go and brought out Shingo who stood up to them, even calculating the odds and was asked to go right then and there. He thought better of it and simply walked away. The NJPW/NOAH tie-up at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom Night 3 is a huge deal. Sadly, this segment made it look a bit of an afterthought. The night needed a boost and the next 3 singles matches were the ones to do it.
Sanada v O-Khan
NJPW is high on O-Khan, the attack, the heritage, he’s a big name for the future. Sanada was in the top title recently, but the gilt seems to be fading a little. Quite tasty. O-Khan takes this on early, with a solid, methodical attack. But when Sanada tempted him into a dive over the top onto him, perhaps thinking he’d never do it, O-Khan did and landed it too.
O-Khan countered the paradise lock with a flat liner, he also hit a lovely reverse piledriver, and the throne sit which is a humiliation really to his opponent. It was also great to see his sheep killer. Sanada uncorked a nice tiger suplex, but O-Khan put him down for a long 2 with a simple punch to the jaw.
It was O-Khan’s match this, but who got the pin? Sanada rolled through and his opponent was furious! Short and sparky, really sweet match, just what NJPW Wrestle Kingdom needed at this point.
Naito v Cobb
Naito has had a bad wrestling 2021, it cannot be denied. Jeff Cobb is going to be a huge NJPW success, that cannot be questioned. This is a pick ’em fight; heart, Naito, head, Cobb.
What I didn’t expect was for the match to be so interesting. Cobb has freakish power, shown by his grab on the outside, run to each ring post and suplex, all whilst holding Naito in the vertical suplex position. So what has Naito been doing?
Working on the leg. And that continued here, after Naito caught Cobb’s eye during his entrance, seeming to ask that he was allowed to get in the ring; Cobb let him, then jumped him, but Naito quickly got kicks in, even risking a DQ by throwing the ref down.
After working on Cobb’s knee with kicks and a dropkick, he was hobbling, even though he was able to pick Naito up and drive him to the buckles, which Kevin Kelly on commentary likened to a training session. He even managed an overhead throw.
When he went to the ropes, perhaps for an assisted tour of the islands though, Naito hit a lovely tornado DDT and even though Cobb smacked him to the mat with a super-plex, Naito had the wherewithal to hit a driver and a destino for the pin. And that was quite right. Cobb will be in NJPW for a long time. Naito might not be. Cobb dealt it out. He took it. And prevailed. A great wrestling match. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom is back.
KENTA v Tanahashi
No DQ for the US Heavyweight Title. This is one people had been waiting for. It was worth the wait. Weapons. Sick spots. And blood. Quite a lot of blood.
Here are the highlights;
It kicks off with a kendo stick fight, KENTA has to hit Tanahashi with the belt to stop him
Trashcan lid to Tanahashi’s head
A dropkick from Tanahashi as KENTA held the trashcan sent his face onto it
Tanahashi used his air guitar love to smack KENTA with one he found. It didn’t smash, it just made a dent
And the end, with a huge ladder – not a paint the ceiling ladder, a get on the roof sized one – in the ring and Tanahashi on a table, KENTA was just shoved off of. Don’t worry though, Tanahashi soon stood atop the ladder, looking down on his opponent on a table. Leap. Through KENTA. Through the table.
And the table had a big wipe of blood on it. KENTA was busted open. Badly. Not a gusher, but a sort of Phantom Of The Opera crimson mask, showing just how painful, dangerous, serious, this sort of match was. New champ. But the fight was the thing. And at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom, that was brilliantly realized.
Okada v Ospreay
For the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Okada came through against Shingo in a well-plotted match last night, Ospreay calls himself the real Heavyweight champ as he never lost it in the ring. Let’s see who comes out as champ.
Well, it was all Ospreay early on, lovely draping DDT, a superman punch from the top, and when Okada tried his cross-body over the guardrail, he was met with a kick that messed his knee up, it seemed.
Not content with that, Will Ospreay climbed the lighting scaffold, at least 30 feet up surely. Picture perfect moonsault. Connected. Just wonderful.
But Okada is special too, he hit a tombstone piledriver on the outside and the money clip, which Ospreay fought hard against. And then they avoided each other until they collided in mid-air and Will turned it into a powerbomb for a long two
This was looking brilliant. A sunset onto Okada draped across the ropes. A shooting star press for two. And Os cutter for a long two. How could Will put Okada away? He tried a tombstone. He tasted a Stormbreaker for his own long two. Os held onto the rainmaker and turned it into a Spanish fly, it looked like, I don’t know, but it needs looking at again and again. Won’t a super Os cutter do it for Ospreay? It didn’t. Okada hit a spinning tombstone. And the Rainmaker. For just two. Oh my word, what a match.
Ospreay hit his own rainmaker! But he couldn’t follow up for the pin. They were so tired by this point, the well of need would determine this match. Such a long two from the Ospreay hidden blade, did he shout ‘please, for the love of God’? Okada suddenly hit the Rainmaker and that did the job.
What a match. No quarter given. High spots but for a reason. They showed what they could do. Okada has started quality. Ospreay has talent for ages in the future. And he said after that he is going nowhere. With these two fighters, NJPW is in good hands. And with Naito coming out and putting himself in the picture, plus Jay White to consider, that’s even better. An NJPW Wrestle Kingdom main event for the ages.
A Good Night?
Yes. A brilliant night. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom: Night Two had a stunning end. That helped with the slightly soft middle. What a night. What a promotion. And we have a third night to come.