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NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome live results: IWGP title match

NJPW takes to the Tokyo Dome today for Wrestle Grand Slam. 

In the main event, Shingo Takagi will defend the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi is serving as a replacement for Kota Ibushi, who was officially pulled from the show just hours ago due to pneumonia. 

The only prior singles meeting between Shingo and Tana came on January 30 of this year, a NEVER Openweight Championship match won by Tana. Dave Meltzer gave the match a ***** rating. 

In the semi-main, Tetsuya Naito and SANADA will try for their first defense of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. They defend against Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.). 

In a special singles match, Kazuchika Okada takes on Jeff Cobb of the United Empire. 

The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship will be defended, with El Desperado facing Robbie Eagles. Eagles pinned the champ in a tag match in the opening match of yesterday's show. 

In the main card opener, Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo defend the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against Ryusuke Taguchi and Rocky Romero. 

A New Japan Ranbo for the provisional KOPW 2021 title will take place on the pre-show. An unspecified number of participants will enter at 60-second intervals in a match where eliminations occur by pinfall, submission, disqualification, or by being handcuffed.

Our live coverage begins with the pre-show at 3 a.m. Eastern time. 

**********

Chase Owens won a pre-show New Japan Ranbo for the provisional KOPW 2021 (35:36)

This was a worst match of the year contender. It went absolutely forever. No one worked especially hard because it was a pre-show battle royal. Most of the veterans got in and out quickly. The sparse crowd was dead for it. 

For the final elimination, Yujiro hit Yano with his pimp cane. Owens threw powder in Yano's eyes and rolled him up for two. Owens hit a jewel heist for a nearfall, then hit a package piledriver for the pin.

Order of entrance --

  1. Chase Owens
  2. Great-O-Khan
  3. Tomoaki Honma
  4. Togi Makabe
  5. DOUKI 
  6. Tiger Mask
  7. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
  8. Minoru Suzuki
  9. SHO
  10. YOH
  11. Yuji Nagata
  12. Satoshi Kojima
  13. Hiroyoshi Tenzan
  14. BUSHI
  15. Master Wato
  16. Dick Togo
  17. Tomohiro Ishii
  18. Yujiro Takahashi
  19. YOSHI-HASHI
  20. Hirooki Goto
  21. KENTA
  22. Toru Yano

Order of elimination --

  1. Makabe (top rope)
  2. Honma (handcuffs)
  3. Suzuki (top rope)
  4. Kanemaru (top rope)
  5. SHO (top rope)
  6. YOH (top rope)
  7. Tenzan (top rope)
  8. Kojima (top rope)
  9. BUSHI (handcuffs)
  10. Tiger Mask (handcuffs)
  11. Wato (pinfall)
  12. DOUKI (pinfall)
  13. Ishii (top rope)
  14. Togo (top rope)
  15. Goto (top rope)
  16. Nagata (handcuffs)
  17. O-Khan (handcuffs)
  18. KENTA (handcuffs)
  19. YOSHI-HASHI (handcuffs)
  20. Yujiro (top rope)
  21. Yano (pinfall)

**********

Hiromu Takahashi opened the show with a promo. He said he's challenging the winner of the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title match. 

**********

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Taiji Ishimori & El Phantasmo defeated Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi to retain the titles (20:56)

This was a very good opener. Both teams pulled out all the stops. 

After some back-and-forth comedy offense, Ishimori and ELP cut Romero off. 

ELP hit Romero with a springboard senton and quebrada for a near fall. Romero reversed a CR II attempt into a rana for a two count. Romero kicked out of a Styles Clash. ELP hit a v-trigger. Romero reversed a One-Winged Angel into a cross armbreaker. Ishimori saved. 

ELP hit Sudden Death to Romero's midsection. Romero managed a tag to Taguchi. ELP tagged Ishimori. Romero hit a doomsday device poison rana to Ishimori. Taguchi hit Ishimori with a bumaye for a two count. 

Romero and Taguchi ran through a litany of finishers from their previous teams. Ishimori hit a code red and a golden triangle moonsault to the floor. 

ELP hit a spectacular moonsault from the top rope over the barricade and wiped everyone out. ELP sold his ankle after landing. ELP hit a UFO to Taguchi for a two count. ELP hit Thunder Kiss 86 for a two count as Romero saved. ELP hit Romero with Sudden Death.

Taguchi threw ELP's Sudden Death into Ishimori. Taguchi hit a blue thunder bomb for a near fall, then used an ankle lock. 

Taguchi ripped ELP's loaded boot off and showed it to the ref. Ishimori took the ref. ELP hit a low blow and CR II to Taguchi for the pin. 

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Robbie Eagles defeated El Desperado to win the title (19:56)

This was another good match. The story of the match was both went after the other's left leg. The crowd really got into it and bought the upset possibility as the match went on.

Desperado immediately went after the left leg of Eagles. He had worked on it in their tag match yesterday as well, so they had a built-in story. 

Eagles fired back with some strikes, but Desperado continued to work the left leg with dragon screws. Desperado used a deathlock on the left knee. Eagles forced a break. Eagles stumbled off a Desperado whip and they briefly teased a ref stoppage. 

Desperado sent Eagles to the floor and into the ring frame. Eagles sent Desperado into the ring frame and hit a 619. Desperado went flying over the barricade. Desperado beat the count back in.

Eagles hit a springboard dropkick to the left leg of Desperado. Eagles used the Ron Miller Special, but Desperado forced a rope break. Eagles used a knee crusher. Desperado blocked turbo backpack with a face rake, then hit a back suplex. 

They traded forearm shots, then exchanged kicks to their respective bad legs. Eagles hit a thrust kick, then missed an enzuigiri. Desperado hit a heavy forearm strike and Guitarra de Angel for a near fall. 

Eagles reversed Pinche Loco into a cradle for a two count. Desperado reversed the Ron Miller Special into Numero Dos. Eagles got another cradle or two. Desperaodo used an inside cradle. Eagles reversed into another cradle as they traded quick near falls. 

Desperado reversed a sliced bread attempt into El Es Culero for a two count. Desperado used the threat of a ref bump to set up a right hand, but Eagles blocked with a high kick into a double knockdown. 

Eagles hit turbo backpack for a two count. Eagles went up top and hit a 450 to the leg. Eagles went back to the Ron Miller Special. After a long struggle, Desperado tapped out for the upset. 

Eagles had a staredown with Hiromu after the match. 

Kazuchika Okada defeated Jeff Cobb (w/Great-O-Khan) (19:23)

Another excellent match. I can't wait to see them run this back, maybe in the G1. 

Cobb broke cleanly after locking up and backing Okada into the ropes. Okada backed Cobb into the ropes. Cobb tried a kick on the break, but Okada avoided it and established early control. Okada hit a basement dropkick and a neckbreaker. 

Okada tried a suplex out of the corner, but Cobb placed him on the middle rope and hit a dropkick to send Okada to the floor. Cobb chose to target Okada's bad back as he sent him into the ring frame. Cobb stood on the back. Cobb got back in and taunted Okada. 

Back inside, Cobb hit a series of chops. They traded forearm strikes. Cobb dropped Okada. Okada hit a flapjack, back elbow and DDT for a two count. Okada dropkicked Cobb to the floor off the second rope, returning serve from earlier. 

Okada sent Cobb over the barricade, then hit a draping DDT off the barricade to the ring platform. Back in, Cobb avoided an air raid crash. Okada locked on the Money Clip. Cobb backed Okada into the corner to break it. 

Cobb teased a suplex off the second rope to the floor. Okada blocked. Cobb caught an attempted plancha and hit a vertical suplex on the floor. Cobb made it back in first, while Okada just beat the count at 19. 

Cobb hit a running powerslam and a standing moonsault for a pair of near falls. Cobb blocked a kick and hit a spin cycle for another close near fall. 

Cobb hit a release German. Okada blocked a Tour of the Islands with a shotgun dropkick, then hit a standard dropkick. Cobb blocked a tombstone. Okada used a backslide to set up a pair of short lariats. Cobb ducked a Rainmaker and tried his own tombstone. Okada tried a spinning Rainmaker, Cobb blocked with a lariat. 

They traded heavy strikes. Cobb hit a doctor bomb for a near fall. Okada blocked Tour of the Islands. Cobb hit a headbutt. 

They traded Rainmaker attempts. Okada ducked Cobb's Rainmaker and sat down into a cradle for the flash pin. 

***** Intermission *****

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr. (w/Miho Abe) defeated Tetsuya Naito & SANADA to win the titles (37:58)

This was a war of attrition. Very long, but very good match.

Naito and Sabre began with a mat wrestling sequence. They grappled to a stalemate, then tagged out. 

SANADA and Taichi entered. SANADA tried to instigate a pec popping battle, but Taichi refused to engage. SANADA grabbed a hammerlock, Taichi forced an immediate rope break. Taichi choked SANADA and the match broke down into a brawl on the floor. 

Sabre went after Naito, while Taichi choked SANADA with a camera cable. SANADA ended up isolated in the Tekkers corner. Naito hopped in for a double team and attacked Sabre's leg. SANADA wedged Sabre's leg over the barricade and kicked at it. 

Naito tagged in and continued to work on Sabre's leg. Naito hit the combinacion cabron to the left knee. Naito and SANADA traded quick tags and continued their assault on the leg. Naito used a figure four and a knee breaker. 

Sabre hit a neck crank to Naito and tagged out. Taichi missed an axe bomber. Naito hit a neckbreaker at the 15 minute call. SANADA tagged in for an atomic drop and a paradise lock. He hit a high cross for a near fall. 

SANADA and Taichi had a lengthy striking battle. All four guys jumped in at the 20 minute call. All four ended up down. Taichi was up first and the trousers came off. SANADA hit a feint kick to set up Skull End. Taichi slid out and hit a high kick. 

Sabre got a tag and hit a kick to SANADA, then a running boot to knock Naito off the apron. SANADA and Sabre traded cradles. Sabre used a backslide to set up a jackknife cradle for a two count. Sabre and SANADA ended up in a double pin situation, but both kicked out. SANADA escaped a cobra twist and hit a dragon screw. 

Naito tagged in and hammered Sabre's leg with kicks. Naito hit a pair of neckbreakers. Sabre blocked Gloria, blocked a flying forearm, then caught Naito in an octopus hold. Naito slid out and tried a swing DDT. Sabre escaped and Taichi came in for a double team. Sabre hit a swing DDT for a two count. 

SANADA saved Naito from Zack Mephisto. SANADA and Naito used some impressive tandem offense to set up a Naito jackknife cradle for a near fall. Naito caught Sabre in a cross kneelock. SANADA slapped a figure four on Taichi. Both forced breaks 30 minutes in.

Naito hit esperanza to Sabre for a two count as SANADA took out Taichi with a plancha. Sabre caught Naito in a triangle choke on landing after a frankensteiner. SANADA jumped in to save, but Taichi locked SANADA in a stretch plum. SANADA escaped, blocked a chokeslam and hit a dropkick. 

SANADA hit a moonsault on Sabre to break the hold. Taichi hit Black Mephisto on SANADA. Naito hit Taichi with Destino. Sabre hit a Zack Driver to Naito but could not follow up. 

Exhausted, Naito and Sabre threw strikes at each other on the mat. They climbed to their feet and continued to trade. Taichi and SANADA jumped in. Taichi hit a backdrop suplex to SANADA. Taichi hit the forearm out of a three point stance to Naito. Sabre hit a PK for a two count. 

Naito hit Valentia. Sabre escaped a Destino attempt and caught Naito in a Euro Clutch and escaped with the pin. 

**********

Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI came to the ring after the match to stake their claim as the next challengers. Naito and SANADA did not take kindly to this and argued with YH and Goto. This will be sorted out on the next leg of the Summer Struggle tour. 

**********

IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the title (37:26)

These guys are my wrestlers of the year. They're now two for two in providing classic matches with each other in 2021. This was epic. 

Tana got the best of an early mat wrestling sequence. He tried for a second rope crossbody, but Shingo caught him and hit a pop-up death valley driver to take control. Shingo sent Tana outside and continued his assault on the floor. Tana rolled back in. 

Shingo used a lariat, a head and arm choke on the mat, then hit a DDT. Tana blocked a sliding lariat and hit a dropkick to the knee and a dragon screw at 10 minutes in. Tana took a whip into the buckle, but hit a flying forearm out of it. A somersault senton got him a two count. 

Tana teased slingblade, but hit a basement dropkick to the left leg instead. Tana tried for the Texas Clover Hold, but Shingo blocked by grabbing the ropes. They had an intense war of strikes in the corner. Tana hit a running dropkick in the corner and Shingo rolled outside. 

Tanahashi hit a standing High Fly Flow to the floor. Tanahashi hit a series of elbows in the corner and a Shibata dropkick at the 15 minute call. Tana hit three twist and shouts. Shingo blocked slingblade and hit noshigami. 

Shingo hit a wheelbarrow suplex and a sliding lariat for a two count. Tana caught a kick and hit another dropkick to the leg. Tana slid out of a fireman's carry and hit a dragon screw. Tana hit another dragon screw in the corner, then an elevated dragon screw off the top rope. 

Tana got the Texas Clover Hold applied at 20 minutes. Shingo sold the hold for a long time, then finally fought to the ropes. Shingo rolled to the apron and hit a dragon screw in the ropes. He pulled Tana to the floor and continued to work on his right leg. 

Shingo hit a GTR off the guardrail. Tana barely beat the count back in. Shingo hit Made in Japan for a two count. Shingo connected with a Pumping Bomber for another near fall. Shingo hit an unanswered series of strikes and a headbutt. 

Tana reversed Last of the Dragon into a slingblade. Shingo hit a lariat. Tana hit a straightjacket German into a bridge for a two count, then hit another slingblade for another near fall. 

Tanahashi hit a standing High Fly Flow. Tana hit a Kamigoye, then another High Fly Flow. Shingo kicked out at the last possible instant for an awesome near fall at the 30 minute mark. 

Shingo blocked a dragon suplex attempt and hit Last of the Dragon, but could not follow up with a cover. 

They traded forearm strikes. Tana fired off a huge headbutt. Tana ducked a lariat and hit a dragon suplex. Shingo popped right up. Tana hit another dragon suplex into a bridge for a two count. 

Shingo cut Tana off on the top rope as he went up for High Fly Flow. Shingo hit four headbutts. Tana fired back with forearm strikes. Shingo hit a headbutt as both were on the top rope. Shingo hit Stay Dream off the second rope for a two count. They traded slaps to the face. Shingo hit a lariat. 

Shingo then hit Last of the Dragon and pinned Tanahashi to win an epic encounter. 

**********

Shingo cut a promo and put Tana over. He said Tana is The Ace, he's great, and now they're 1-1, so let's have the rubber match someday. 

Shingo said Ibushi fought to be here, couldn't quite make it, but he'll be waiting for him with the title when he returns. 

He said despite all the challenges of limited attendance and the state of emergency, everyone showed up and watched in person or on TV to watch pro wrestling and everyone has his gratitude for that. 

He said he continues to lead the world of wrestling and the world of sports like a dragon. 

Shingo's pyro was cut short. The lights went out. An EVIL and Dick Togo video played on the screen. EVIL said he's next for the title. 

EVIL then appeared in the ring and laid out Shingo with Everything is EVIL. EVIL and Togo stood over Shingo and EVIL posed with the title.