NJPW and NOAH stars will do battle today on night three of Wrestle Kindgdom 16 in Yokohama Arena.
A clash of aces headlines, with NJPW's Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi facing NOAH's Keiji Muto Kaito Kiyomiya in an all-star tag match.
Today's full lineup:
- Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Keiji Muto & Kaito Kiyomiya
- Los Ingobernables De Japon (Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs. Kongo (Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kenoh, Manabu Soya, Tadasuke & Aleja)
- Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr.) vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Yoshinari Ogawa
- Bullet Club House of Torture (EVIL & Dick Togo) vs. Go Shiozaki & Masa Kitamiya
- Suzuki-Gun (Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku) vs. Sugiura-Gun (Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba & a mystery partner)
- Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & DOUKI) vs. Perros Del Mal De Japon (YO-HEY & Nosawa Rongai)
- Bullet Club (Gedo & Taiji Ishimori) vs. STINGER (Hayata & Seiki Yoshioka)
- SHO vs. Atsushi Kotoge
- Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato vs. Daisuke Harada, Hajime Ohara, Daiki Inaba, Yoshiki Inamura & Kinya Okada
- Pre-show match: Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata vs. Funky Express (King Tany, Akitoshi Saito & Muhammad Yone)
- Pre-show match: Kosei Fujita vs. Yasutaka Yano
Our live coverage begins with the pre-show at 2 a.m. Eastern time.
Kosei Fujita [NJPW] and Yasutaka Yano [NOAH] fight to a time limit draw.
This was a great match to open the show.
Yano, the youngest NOAH roster member, went hold for hold with young lion Fujita during the opening moments of grappling. Yano took full mount, reigning in forearms to take a dominant stance to close the chain wrestling segment. After nearly submitting Fujita, Yano landed a high crossbody for a near fall.
Fujita landed a dropkick to find some hope late in the match and a second dropkick prevented follow-up after Yano reversed a Boston crab attempt. Fujita locked in a deep Boston crab that Yano barely escaped with less than two minutes left in the match. In the final seconds, Fujita locked in another deep crab that forced Yano to consider tapping out; before Yano could submit, the bell rang signalling the 10-minute time limit had been reached.
Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima & Yuji Nagata [NJPW] defeated King Tany, Muhammad Yone, & Akitoshi Saito (Funky Express) [NOAH]
Saito and Nagata opened the match, trading heavy blows. Yone and Kojima traded a couple of moves before Tenzan gained an advantage over Tany. The NJPW tried isolating Tany, only for the king to overwhelm all three of his opponents.
Funky Express worked to isolate Tenzan; eventually, Tenzan secured the hot tag, allowing Nagata to take control back for his team. Kojima tried to maintain this, but all of Funky Express hit the ring to take over. Kojima’s Koji-cutter prevented this from getting out of control. Kojima ended the match with a lariat on Saito.
New Japan leads the night, 1-0-1.
Tomohiro Ishii, Hirooki Goto, YOSHI-HASHI, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato [NJPW] defeated Daisuke Harada, Hajime Ohara, Daiki Inaba, Yoshiki Inamura & Kinya Okada [NOAH]
The opening minutes of this match were lost due to a stream outage, but once things resumed, Inamura and Ishii were going to war. Okada and YH had an exchange that ended with YH submitting Okada via Boston crab. After the match, Ishii and Inamura were still trying to go at one another.
New Japan leads, 2-0-1
SHO [NJPW] defeated Atsushi Kotoge [NOAH]
I was expecting much more from the lone singles match on the card, but this was a disappointment. Kotoge and SHO are both extremely talented, but no one looks good with this booking.
SHO started by fleeing to the outside. Kotoge pursued SHO, pulling him back to the ring and getting in some offence. SHO raked the eyes to buy a break.
A dropkick from SHO sent Kotoge crashing to the outside. On the outside, SHO slammed Kotoge into the barricade and smothered him with a piece of leather. Back in the ring, SHO toyed with Kotoge, a mistake as Kotoge landed a leg lariat a moment later. Kotoge landed a tope con hilo to take a lead. Kotoge landed multiple clotheslines and a bulldog to cement his control.
SHO pulled the referee into Kotoge’s path to steal momentum back. A spear from SHO seemed to do just that, but Kotoge continued the fight. SHO threw Kotoge into the corner, sending Kotoge crashing. SHO then grabbed his wrench and smashed Kotoge over the head, leading to the fall.
New Japan’s lead grows wider, 3-0-1.
Hayata & Seiki Yoshioka (STINGER) [NOAH] defeated Gedo & Taiji Ishimori (Bullet Club) [NJPW]
Bullet Club tried to take control early by rushing Yoshioka, but Yoshioka managed to survive the numbers. Things changed once Ishimori sent Yoshioka to the outside as Gedo whipped Yoshioka with a leather belt. Bullet Club then worked on isolating Yoshioka.
Hayata finally got the tag and immediately started hot against Ishimori. Gedo was able to slow down Hayata before things got out of hand. Ishimori tried with an assist, but Yoshioka fought him out of the ring. Hayata landed the headache on Gedo to close the match, putting NOAH on the board.
NOAH is on the board, 3-1-1.
El Desperado & DOUKI (Suzuki-Gun) [NJPW] defeated YO-HEY & Nosawa Rongai (Perros Del Mal De Japon) [NOAH]
PDM started the match by jumping Suzuki-Gun, but Suzuki-Gun emerged from the opening scuffle with advantage. DOUKI led a sequence against YH, but a kick from Nosawa followed by a low-blow via ring post left PDM back in a favourable position.
Nosawa tried unmasking Desperado, but DOUKI made the save. Desperado and Nosawa traded pin attempts before Pinche Loco found the mark. Desperado pinned Nosawa to extend New Japan’s lead.
New Japan is up, 4-1-1.
Takashi Sugiura, Kazushi Sakuraba (Sugiura-Gun) & Toru Yano [NOAH] defeated Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & TAKA Michinoku (Suzuki-Gun) [NJPW]
Unsurprisingly, everything between Suzuki and Sugiura was gold. I hope there is more between them in the near future.
Yano was revealed to be Sugiura-Gun’s mystery partner before the match’s start.
As a match full of freelancers and multi-promotional talent, this is an oddity on a NOAH vs NJPW card. In fact, the closest thing to a team player would be Yano who is signed to NJPW, but he was on the ‘NOAH team’.
The match started with a brawl before Sakuraba and Taichi took the match to the ring. The teams traded momentum for some time while Suzuki and Sugiura teased a fight on the outside. Once Suzuki and Sugiura were legal, they went to war.
Suzuki had to tag out after trading heavy blows with Sugiura, but with TAKA in need of help, Suzuki hit the ring again. Yano pulled Suzuki away from the action, allowing Sugiura to land an olympic slam. Sugiura pinned TAKA to close the match.
After the fall, Suzuki kicked Yano before having a staredown with ZERO1 Heavyweight Champion, Takashi Sugiura.
I guess this counts as a NOAH win, making the score 4-2-1, New Japan.
Go Shiozaki & Masa Kitamiya [NOAH] defeated EVIL & Dick Togo (House of Torture) [NJPW]
Even with all of the awful House of Torture chicanery, Kitamiya looked insanely strong tonight.
HoT started the match by attacking the NOAH team, but Go emerged from the attack with the lead. Until Togo removed the corner pad, Go had control over EVIL. Once EVIL was in a position to do so, he threw Go to the outside, slamming him into the barricade. EVIL and Togo then worked to isolate Go for some time.
Go eventually got the hot tag allowing Kitamiya to gain some substantial offence. Once Go tagged back in, he took the fight to Togo. This prompted EVIL to distract the referee, leading to a low blow from Togo. Then the referee took a bump, and the rest of HoT rushed the ring and started beating down Go. Kitamiya made the save, taking out Togo, EVIL, Yujiro, and SHO. Go hit Togo with a lariat to end the match.
NOAH is closing in, 4-3-1, New Japan.
Naomichi Marufuji & Yoshinari Ogawa [NOAH] defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr. (Suzuki-Gun) [NJPW]
ZSJ and Ogawa opened the match with chain wrestling. Marufuji and Kanemaru tagged in, and the match soon spilt to the outside. Suzuki-Gun focused Marufuji, with special attention paid to his left leg.
Once Ogawa tagged in, he gained a quick lead, but ZSJ stopped it almost as soon as it started. Kanemaru and Marufuji tagged in before Kanemaru locked in a figure four leglock. Ogawa broke up the hold, initiating an Ogawa/ZSJ brawl on the outside. Kanemaru landed a moonsault for a near fall.
Kanemaru pushed Marufuji into the referee. Without threat of disqualification, Kanemaru filled his mouth with liquor. Marufuji kicked the boose from Kanemaru’s mouth before he could use it as a weapon. Marufuji landed Shiranui and pinned Kanemaru to close the match.
The score is even, 4-4-1.
Shingo Takagi, Tetsuya Naito, SANADA, Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI (Los Ingobernables De Japon) [NJPW] defeated Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kenou, Manabu Soya, Tadasuke & Aleja (Kongo) [NOAH]
As busy as it was, this match was a ton of fun.
Nakajima and Naito decided to open the match, pinning the faction’s heads against one another from the jump. Before anything could happen in the ring, Kongo initiated a brawl that featured all ten men. Then, as things calmed down, Nakajima and Naito had an exchange, but again, Kongo rushed the ring. After being jumped twice, Naito tagged out.
Aleja and Hiromu, two of the resident juniors, had lighting quick back and forth. Shingo tagged in and took control for LIJ. After Shingo shoved Kenou off the apron, Kenou rushed the ring, leading to a quick scuffle between the two. Aleja managed to take control over BUSHI, leading to another Kongo ring rush.
After BUSHI tagged out, former tag partners SANADA and Soya went back in forth, almost in a show of one-upmanship. Then, Kenou and Naito tagged in. Kenou laid in solid strikes. Hiromu attempted to make a save as Kenou reigned in closed fist strikes from side control, but alas, Kenou was in control.
Kongo tried taking over the ring again, but LIJ won out. Naito was now in a favourable position over Kenou, setting up for Destino. Kenou connected with a quick German and head kick that saved him from sure doom, allowing Nakajima to tag back into the match.
Nakajima landed heavy kicks across the chest of Naito before BUSHI hit the ring to buy Naito some time. Naito tagged out to Shingo, leaving the GHC Champion and former IWGP Champion alone to face off. Nakajima landed heavy kicks before all of LIJ hit the ring, returning the favour from earlier in the match. Shingo tried for a pin, but all of Kongo hit the ring, causing a brawl on the outside.
Tadaskue tagged in while Soya and Kenou helped him focus Shingo. LIJ hit the ring again; Shingo emerged from the fog with control over Tadaskue. Before Shingo could land last of the dragon, the match broke down again, leading to an impressive sequence between the teams. Shingo hit Tadaskue with last of the dragon and pinned him to leave LIJ with a win.
New Japan takes the lead once more heading into the main event, 5-4-1.
Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi [NJPW] defeated Keiji Muto & Kaito Kiyomiya [NOAH]
There’s a lot to say about this match. Kiyomiya had an outstanding performance; he had more passion on display than just about anyone. The dynamics between all the men were genuinely interesting. The action was generally quite good. All in all, this was a worthwhile watch.
The opening act of this match was all about exposing all of the interesting dynamics at play. Okada and Kiyomiya opened the match with chain wrestling and back and forth moves. Tanahashi tagged in as Okada gained some early footing, and Kiyomiya, again, had back and forth success. Muto tagged in and took Tanahashi and Okada to the mat.
Okada gained significant control of the match as things advanced. Kiyomiya was on the backfoot and growing desperate. Okada and Kiyomiya traded heavy blows before Tanahashi tagged in. Tanahashi also laid in strikes, but Kiyomiya was able to tag out after their exchange.
Muto locked Tanahashi into a figure four leglock that forced Tanahashi into the ropes. Muto’s leg attack was focused, but Tanahashi was able to escape after connecting with a dragon screw of his own. Okada was able to put Muto behind before a shining wizard match reset.
Kiyomiya tagged in, connecting with heavy offence against the IWGP heavyweight champion. Tanahashi was forced to make the save, but even after that interference, Kiomiya was in control.
Kiyomiya and Okada traded heavy strikes again, but this time, it was Okada on the backfoot. Okada won out in the exchange, leading to a short-arm clothesline and piledriver from Okada. Kiyomiya landed a dropkick to buy some time, and a shining wizard from Muto gave Kiyomiya the opportunity to finish. A German suplex left Kiyomiya with a near fall, as did a tiger suplex.
Okada bounced back, landing a landslide and rainmaker on Kiyomiya to win the match.
After the match, Tanahashi and Muto shared a moment outside the ring. Muto helped Kiyomiya to the back as Tanahashi and Okada celebrated with their IWGP gold.
Okada and Tanahashi closed the show with a joint promo celebrating the success of New Japan and the power of professional wrestling.
NJPW finishes the show on top, 6-4-1.