Rev. Claire Elizabeth
For full results for NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15 Night Two, check here, but otherwise we’re gonna jump right into my stream of consciousness reactions and opinions on the show. Let’s go!
Bad Luck Fale vs. BUSHI vs. Chase Owens vs. Toru Yano (KOPW 2021 Provisional Championship)
- It’s like Rambo part two except without the excitement or surprise or any of the fun stuff. I’ll be pretty stoked if somebody gets shot with an arrow, though.
- Bad Luck Fale is the middle point of a slider of “wrestlers wearing camouflage” with Sgt. Slaughter at one end and the Briscoes on the other.
- Yano, intelligent man that he is, rightfully skeptical of just getting in the ring like a dummy.
- Bahahaha, Bullet Club lads kicking things off by going for a fingerpoke of doom, wonderful.
- I like the dynamic here with Fale and Owens working as a team but since they’re both kind of bland straightforward wrestlemen and they’re fighting luchador pinball man and the captain of the cheating club it’s still basically a fair fight.
- Oh no, infighting! Owens got the pin off Grenade Launcher but Fale kicked his leg out of the bridge and only a shared hatred for the referee can bring them together again!
- Yano, you beautiful man, double low blows AND stealing the pin to take the match and the 2021 KOPW trophy. This was fun enough but in no way any kind of instant classic or anything.
One or Eight (Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi) vs. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship)
- Wato with an absolutely heroic effort out the gates here, that “it’s my first Wrestle Kingdom and I’m making the most of it” energy. Really slick tornillo where he landed on his feet, good stuff.
- Which of course Taguchi follows up by being a dork and getting caught for a heat segment, as is only fitting.
- Just as Wato gets rolling again, Kanemaru plays a round of what can only be described very literally as referee dodgeball with him, which is very entertaining but again, it’d be great if we could treat referees with a little more dignity and authority. Like that is 100% a disqualification, c’mon.
- The dynamic here is that the champs are a well-oiled machine that’s isn’t afraid to cut corners and is able to keep a step or two ahead of the challengers, who probably have them beat on raw talent and energy but aren’t nearly as cohesive a tag team. Like the gear-shifting to immediately start taking Taguchi’s leg out vs. Wato’s increasingly late saves on nearfalls, it’s a good dynamic.
- And indeed, Despy gets Pinche Loco off and it’s all she wrote. Not the most exciting or high-energy junior tag match ever, but solid stuff.
Jeff Cobb vs. Shingo Takagi (c) (NEVER Openweight Championship)
- The splash of white in Cobb’s goatee makes him look like he’s a version of himself from an alternate future where he’s become a bounty hunter or something.
- These boys are a-clubberin’! That NEVER spirit in full effect!
- Holy hell Jeff wants to cruficix powerbomb him to the floor but Shingo stops him short and dives on him!
- This establishes the basic flow of the match— going strike for strike they’re equals, and Cobb can build up a head of steam with suplexes, but all Takagi needs is one big shot to cut him off and get back at it. I wish it were a little more uptempo but it’s a good story.
- No sooner than I complain do they go back to clubberin’ each other and turn the speed up!
- The tightest countout nearfall I’ve seen in some time— they were getting kinda played out in New Japan pre-pandemic but I bit on this one.
- Shingo’s knee work pays off when Cobb comes up lame after Tour of the Islands! This is great.
- Hot hot hot, fantastic stuff. Little bit of a lull early on but goddamn these boys kicked a lot of ass.
EVIL vs. SANADA
- Trading the usual Paradise Lock / chair horsecollaring shenanigans is not exactly the way I would have kicked this big deal grudge match off.
- That said, I do like the basic outline here, EVIL (and Dick Togo at ringside) are willing to do anything to win, but SANADA wants to win fair and square his way, and the dramatic tension of the match evolves out of that.
- EVIL just is not doing it for me, y’all. The laser grim reaper thing is cool but he’s just not the main event player New Japan want him to be, especially not now that his matches are 80% Bullet Club shenanigans by volume. He’s a talented guy to be sure but this ain’t working.
- SANADA, meanwhile, is very cool but being stuck as the fourth coolest guy in the cool guy faction really diminishes that and does him a disservice. Plus this whole eternal tag partners / rivals thing with EVIL is dragging him down.
- Oh shit, Dick is garroting SANADA! Then he got knocked off the apron and through a table, that’s pretty hardcore.
- No matter how he cheats, ref bumps to interference to barely legal turnbuckle / floor shenanigans, EVIL just can’t seem to keep SANADA down. Well, you know what they say, EVIL never prospers.
- SANADA over with the moonsault to close a fine match that nonetheless probably shouldn’t have been third from the top on a Wrestle Kingdom card. Please let this be the merciful end of this storyline.
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori (c) (IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship)
- Learned psychology around the sunset flip powerbomb to the floor leads Hiromu to straight up powerbomb Ishimori into the apron, so we’re starting off strong here.
- The ridiculously long run down the aisle only to get powerbombed by Taiji, gotta love it.
- Ishimori going to town on the arm here, hitting a 450 splash right on it, good stuff. Hiromu overextended early and is paying the price.
- Blu-Ray, Takahashi hangs on, and follows it with a normal running Death Valley Driver, tries to segue into Time Bomb but ends up in a strike exchange instead before catching a handspring into a German suplex, that’s just a really good sequence.
- These forearms from Ishimori, just like a captive bolt pistol hammering Hiromu again and again.
- Kinda hate commentary calling Taiji’s omoplata crossface the Yes! Lock. Like I get it, it’s the most common English-speaking point of reference for it, but even Daniel Bryan has gone back to calling it the LeBell Lock as he originally intended. Respect Judo Gene, damnit!
- Although here I am calling Death Valley Drivers into the turnbuckles Blu-Rays like Icarus is some kind of common point of reference for folks, so maybe I’m the asshole. (It’s better than a normal DVD, get it?)
- Blu-Ray into the exposed turnbuckle!
- This match is wacky in the best way, like all Hiromu matches. Watch it!
“Switchblade” Jay White vs. Kota Ibushi (c) (IWGP Heavyweight / IWGP Intercontinental Championship)
- I’m gonna say it— Jay’s beard makes him look like a gnome and I don’t like it.
- Slow and steady, White taking full advantage of coming in fresh and choosing to simply grind Ibushi down in the ring.
- Holy apron Backdrop Driver!
- This is all Switchblade so far and it’s kind of wild.
- Kota’s rallying here but Jay is so far on top of him that he’s having trouble building up a head of steam. This is brutal in a great way, y’all.
- Ibushi finally gets going, rising to his feet with this deadly serious iron resolve in his eyes and hammering White with forearms to set up the Bastard Driver!
- But Switchblade’s advantage is hard to overcome with just one rally and the target painted high on Kota’s shoulders and neck keeps him largely in control as we move into act two of the match.
- White nearly stole it with a backslide and his feet on the ropes, the bastard, but Red Shoes Unno caught him!
- Switchblade is clearly starting to worry, shifting gears to work on the legs in earnest.
- Kota gets kicked in the head repeatedly, his expression simply says “Do you think you’re actually hurting me?” and he starts paintbrushing Jay with palm strikes. Just wonderful.
- White having trouble getting to his feet, my how the tables have turned. This was supposed to be an easy night at the office, Switchboy!
- Resorting to pure brute violence, throwing Kota bodily between the guardrail and the apron, not even looking for a countout but just to make Ibushi crawl back to him, maybe Jay isn’t quite spent yet.
- Oh, there are the bombs. Trading head drop suplexes aplenty, y’all!
- Gedo pulls Red Shoes out on a Phoenix Splash nearfall and Ibushi destroys him with Kamigoye before he can use the knucks!
- Oh my god the nearfall on the Blade Runner just about stopped my heart.
- Trailer Hitch applied and Red Shoes is cheering Ibushi on as he crawls for the ropes!
- Kamigoye reversed into Blade Runner reversed into a lariat and followed up by an inverted Kamigoye!
- What a match. Switchblade is a guy that has been hit or miss for me over the years but here he was focused and inventive and the perfect foil to Ibushi after his grueling victory over Tetsuya Naito yesterday. Fantastic stuff. Pure excellence. Cannot recommend it enough.
- And what do you know, Kota is god now, so do with that knowledge what you will.
- Hey, SANADA issued the post-match challenge, which would in fact be the exact kind of post-EVIL palate cleanser I was hoping for.
There you have it, folks
Those are my takeaways from the night. What did you think about night two of Wrestle Kingdom 15, Cagesiders?