Kazuchika Okada defends the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against Tetsuya Naito in the main event of the final night of NJPW New Year's Golden Series.
Okada will look to make his seco defense since winning the title on night one of Wrestle Kingdom on January 4.
In the semi-main, Bullet Club's House of Torture, EVIL, Yujiro Takahashi, and SHO will defend the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Championship against Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, and YOH.
The provisional KOPW 2022 trophy will be on the line as Minoru Suzuki defends against Toru Yano in a dog cage match, where the winner must trap his opponent inside said cage.
The rest of the card:
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe, Yuji Nagata & Tomoaki Honma vs. SANADA, Shingo Takagi, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI
- Great-O-Khan vs. Satoshi Kojima
- Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru
- Tomohiro Ishii & Ryohei Oiwa vs. Taichi & DOUKI
- Robbie Eagles, Tiger Mask & Kosei Fujita vs. Taiji Ishimori, El Phantasmo & Jado
Our live coverage begins at midnight Eastern time.
El Phantasmo, Jado & Taiji Ishimori (BULLET CLUB) defeated Robbie Eagles, Tiger Mask, & Kosei Fujita
There is some tension growing between Ishimori and ELP, stemming from ELP’s lack of confidence after his loaded boot was rendered useless.
Bullet Club started the match by jumping TM. The Bullet Club trio worked to isolate TM, keeping him in their corner. TM finally got the tag after a tiger driver.
Eagles turned things around for his team, taking out ELP in a quick sequence. ELP broke the flow with a dropkick, prompting a double tag to Fujita and Ishimori. Once legal, Fujita locked in the Boston crab, forcing Jado to break up the hold; this led to a ring clear. Ishimori set ELP up for a superkick, but ELP hesitated. After Ishimori failed to end the match, Ishimori hit bloody cross and pinned Fujita to close the match.
DOUKI & Taichi (Suzuki-gun) defeated Ryohei Oiwa & Tomohiro Ishii
Taichi and Ishii were the focus of this match; it seems a singles match, perhaps at the New Japan Cup, is in their future.
Ishii and Taichi opened the match with a quick sequence. After the pair proved they were near equals, they tagged out.
Oiwa fought his heart out only to fall to DOUKI offence. DOUKI was entirely dominant until a scoop slam bought Oiwa enough time to tag out. Ishii turned the match around, running through DOUKI and Taichi.
A quick enziguri let DOUKI tag back into Taichi. Taichi and Ishii levelled each other with strikes before a German suplex left Taichi lying. Oiwa tagged back in, to immediate offensive success. Oiwa locked in a Boston crab, forcing Taichi into the rope. After the rope break, Taichi turned things around with an axe bomber followed by a quick suplex. Taichi then pinned Oiwa, bringing this one to an end.
Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi defeated El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (Suzuki-gun)
Wato started the match hot, scoring uncontested arm drags on Desperado before tagging in Taguchi. Taguchi poached himself on the top rope, but Kanemaru reversed the whip, throwing Wato into Taguchi’s rump. Taguchi, unaware that his partner’s face bounced off his rear, was caught off guard once both of his opponents were left standing. Desperado and Taguchi then worked over Taguchi for some time.
A flying hip attack bought Taguchi a tag, and Wato took control back for his team, landing a springboard uppercut for a near fall. Desperado landed a spinebuster to turn things back around, but Wato withstood the attempt at double team offence before tagging into Taguchi.
Taguchi jumped off the ropes and fell; his knee appeared injured. Desperado and Kanemaru capitalised for a moment before a double hip attack left Taguchi back in the driver seat for a moment. Taguchi set up for the finish, but Kanemaru caught him with a dropkick to the knee before locking in a figure four leglock. Even after Taguchi escaped, Suzuki-gun continued to focus the leg. Kanemaru tried for another figure four, but Taguchi reversed for a quick pin that ended the match.
Great-O-Khan defeated Satoshi Kojima
This match was quite good. O-Khan’s selling was excellent, and Kojima put in an emotional performance.
O-Khan started the match with a quick takedown into an armbar. After Kojima found the ropes, O-Khan brought the action outside. O-Khan slammed Kojima into the barricade and pulverised his arm with a chair. Back in the ring, O-Khan locked in the sheep killer and hit a TTD for a near fall.
Kojima sent O-Khan crashing to the floor to reverse momentum for the first time; this marked the beginning of O-Khan’s rib selling, a crucial point for the rest of the match. Once O-Khan was back between the ropes, Kojima connected with a flurry of chops and an elbow drop. Kojima tried for a rolling forearm, but O-Khan fell to the mat, clutching his ribs. Kojima then landed a cutter and a brainbuster before attempting a lariat; O-Khan ducked.
O-Khan retook control with a claw, letting out painful cries in the process. O-Khan landed an eliminator before pinning Kojima to close the match.
Even on his way to the back, O-Khan was heaving. He collapsed before making it through the curtain.
BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA & Shingo Takagi (Los Ingobernables de Japon) defeated Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yuji Nagata
This match felt pretty trivial, especially on this card.
Tanahashi and SANADA opened the match but didn’t stay in the ring long. Honma and the rest of his team tried isolating Hiromu, prompting the rest of LIJ to hit the ring, taking over the match.
With Tanahashi now legal and LIJ in control, SANADA tagged back in. After tying Tanahashi into the paradise lock, SANADA tried to take leg control. Tanahashi was able to turn things around with a dragonscrew before tagging Nagata in. Nagata found offensive success over SANADA and tagged in Makabe.
Against Makabe, SANADA scored a dropkick. Shingo tagged in and continued to gain momentum for LIJ. Makabe fought back with a lariat before tagging out to Honma. Honma connected with a bulldog and KoKeShi just as the rest of Honma’s partners hit the ring. After a short sequence, LIJ returned the favour, with all four members attacking Honma. Shingo landed a pumping bomber for a near fall before last of the dragon actually brought the match to an end.
After the conclusion, LIJ shared a moment in the ring, in a way letting SANADA celebrate his title win from last night.
King Of Pro-Wrestling Championship, Dog Cage Match: Toru Yano defeated Minoru Suzuki (c)
This match, unsurprisingly, was ridiculous.
Something called “Tomo-Kun” accompanied Yano to the ring. Tomo-Kun is a red horned beast of some kind. Apparently, it's an advertisement for Hokkaido of some sort.
Suzuki came to the ring with handcuffs and a bull rope.
Before the match started, Yano gave the referee his handcuff keys for some reason.
This match is won by locking your opponent in a dog cage.
Of all things, this match started with a chain wrestling sequence. This was followed by a strike exchange that saw Suzuki win out. Once the action left the ring, Suzuki slammed Yano into the barricade before leading Yano up the ramp. Suzuki then ran over Yano with the cage.
Suzuki threw Yano into the cage, but instead of locking Yano in it to win, Suzuki climbed into the cage with his opponent. After landing some strikes inside the cell, Suzuki tried to close it, but Yano escaped.
Things worked their way back to the ring. Suzuki then handcuffed one of Yano’s wrists, but a low blow let Yano escape sure defeat once more. Yano followed up by handcuffing Suzuki. Suzuki’s responded by bashing Yano over the head and completing Yano’s handcuff. Now both men were restrained.
The pair traded blows before Suzuki secured a choke. During this struggle, Suzuki procured a key from Yano and unlocked his handcuffs. Suzuki then began to whip Yano with the bull rope he brought to the ring. Suzuki took the bull rope and hung Yano over the ring before using it as a leash. Suzuki led Yano like a dog to the cage and placed him in it. Yano managed to link the rope to the cell, yank the collar, and trade positions with Suzuki. Yano threw Kosei Fujita into Suzuki to further occupy him. Suzuki couldn’t free himself, letting Yano lock up the cage to win the match.
After the match, Yano taunted Suzuki from outside the dog cage, KOPW trophy in hand. Suzuki took out his frustration, beating Fujita down as the other young lions rolled the cage to the back.
EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi (House Of Torture) (c) defeated Hirooki Goto, YOH & YOSHI-HASHI (CHAOS)
Yes, this was bad.
This match started with a brawl. The CHAOS trio gained the lead early, singling out Yujiro. After Yujiro was dealt with, the CHAOS squad hunted down Dick Togo and beat him down. This bought HoT enough time to turn things around.
The HoT squad isolated YH, slowly picking him apart. After a prolonged, cheating filled control sequence, YH reversed a suplex, leading to the hot tag. Goto launched a CHAOS rally, but HoT’s Togo stopped that from going too far.
SHO and YOH were left in the ring, letting YOH get in some offence. A dragonscrew into an OOP leg submission forced SHO into the ropes. SHO stole spacing by pulling the referee into YOH’s path, but YOH was unphased, landing a falcon arrow before a double tag.
EVIL distracted YH, giving Yujiro time to bite YH’s hand. This was followed by all of HoT attacking YH and scoring a near fall after a fisherman buster. Yujiro tried to use the cane, but the referee stopped him. The rest of CHAOS hit the ring, Goto and YH hit shoto and went for the pin; Togo pulled the referee to the outside.
With the referee down, EVIL hit YH with a chair before landing a magic killer with Togo’s help; YH managed to kick out even after this. CHAOS hit the ring, making the save. Meanwhile, SHO began assaulting people with the wrench. With the referee not looking, SHO flattened YH with the wrench, which Yujiro followed with big juice and the match-winning pin.
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada (c) defeated Tetsuya Naito
This is a foundational matchup for modern New Japan, but it didn't feel that way heading into this particular iteration of this feud. Their last singles match is one of my all-time favourites, the climax to a generational rivalry, gold-standard championship reign, and a lightning-in-a-bottle title chase; this wasn’t entirely on that level because it couldn’t be, but it was close. That’s not to say this was anything less than fantastic; it clearly was. This was the best match so far from 2022 New Japan.
The match began with a prolonged feeling out process; both men scored takedowns and light offence in the early going.
A neckbreaker to the floor from Naito was the first piece of substantial offence. Naito continued to build momentum in the ring, landing moves and working Okada on the mat.
Okada started a rally with an air raid crash, followed by a flapjack. Okada’s continued his attack with a DDT to the ring apron and a hangman’s DDT to the floor. Back in the ring, Naito bounced back with a DDT of his own. Naito hammered away at Okada with heavy elbows before trying for Gloria; Okada stopped this with a boot. Okada then tried for a tombstone; Naito fought out only for Okada to secure the money clip. After Naito escaped the money clip, Okada maintained his control with a dropkick, followed by another money clip.
Okada tried for the rainmaker, but Naito reversed into the pluma blanca. Okada escaped, tried for heavy rain, but Naito reversed, almost into Destino. Naito tried for a full Destino, but Okada dropped him with a lariat. Okada gained wrist control on the mat but couldn’t land a rainmaker. Instead, Okada landed a tombstone and tried for a rainmaker once again; Naito reversed and landed Destino, leading to a near fall. Naito climbed to the top and landed stardust press; Okada kicked out again. Naito tried for Destino again, but Okada reversed into one of his own. Naito landed a German, Okada a dropkick, a brutal landslide, and a rainmaker to end this match.
After the match, Okada cut the show ending speech. He acknowledged El Desperado, presumably his opponent at the upcoming anniversary show.