A series of NJPW vs. NOAH matches are set for night two of Wrestle Kingdom 17.
Yokohama Arena will host NJPW vs. NOAH battles for the second consecutive year on tonight's show, headline by five Los Ingobernables de Japon vs. Kongo singles matches.
NJPW's Tetsuya Naito will face NOAH's Kenoh in the main event, with Shingo Takagi facing Katsuhimo Nakajima in the semi-main.
SANADA vs. Manabu Soya, Hiromu Takahashi vs. Hajime Ohara, and BUSHI vs. Tadasuke comprise the other LIJ vs. Kongo matches on the show.
- Kazuchika Okada & Togi Makabe vs. Kaito Kiyomiya
- Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato vs. AMAKUSA, Junta Miyawaki & Alejandro
- El Desperado vs. YO-HEY
- Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano, Satoshi Kojima & Takashi Sugiura vs. Naomichi Marufuji, KENTA, El Phantasmo & Gedo
- Pre-show: Tomohiro Ishii & Oskar Leube vs. Masa Kitamiya & Daiki Inaba
- Pre-show: Ryohei Oiwa & Kosei Fujita vs. Yasutaka Yano & Taishi Ozawa
Our live coverage begins with the pre-show at 2 a.m. Eastern time.
Ryohei Oiwa & Kosei Fujita (NJPW) defeated Taishi Ozawa & Yasutaka Yano (NOAH)
This was a fantastic opener; both teams had something to prove.
This match opened hot, with both teams of trainees going back and forth in intense sequences. The teams maintained their intensity as the bout continued, even as the pace slowed.
In the closing encounter, the NJPW team cleared the ring of Yano, allowing Fujita to lock in a deep Boston crab, forcing Ozawa to submit. After the match, Fujita and Yano traded slaps.
New Japan leads, 1-0.
Masa Kitamiya & Daiki Inaba (NOAH) defeated Tomohiro Ishii & Oskar Leube (NJPW)
They wasted no time, giving the Masa/Ishii faceoff in the opening encounter, and the pair traded strikes, teasing what was to come. Leube and Daiki acted almost as bumpers for the other pair, forcing space and building anticipation for the eventual explosion.
Once Ishii and Masa tagged back in, they continued where they left off, trading strikes and power moves. Leube eventually tried his hand at handling Masa but couldn't hang with his more experienced foe. Instead, Masa ended the match with his signature prison lock leg submission.
After the match, Masa and Ishii traded more strikes, but Inaba was there to help Masa fight off Ishii.
NOAH evens the score, 1-1.
Jay Briscoe Tribute
The main card opened with a tribute to the late Jay Briscoe, who held gold in both New Japan and NOAH with his brother Mark.
The NOAH and NJPW rosters walked to the ring, with Naomichi Marufuji and Hiroshi Tanahashi holding portraits of Jay. After a ten-bell salute, "Reach for the sky, boy" played through Yokohama Arena.
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Toru Yano, Satoshi Kojima & Takashi Sugiura defeated Naomichi Marufuji, KENTA, El Phantasmo & Gedo
This was a fun match, nothing incredible, but it was a cute little story.
Before the match, Bullet Club tried to get Marufuji to participate in the communal "Too Sweet," but he rejected the offer.
Marufuji and Tanahashi opened the match but passed it off early to Gedo and Kojima. The Bullet Club trio weren't afraid to use their usual tactics to take control of the match, even as Marufuji protested.
Sugiura took control for his team, taking out ELP with a spear and a suplex from the top rope. ELP tried twisting Sugiura's nipples but didn't find much success with this tactic. Instead, it was KENTA who took control back for his side, wiping out all of his opponents and forcing the tag into Tanahashi.
Tanahashi and KENTA, opponents from last year's Wrestle Kingdom, traded heavy strikes before wiping each other out, forcing a double tag to Marufuji and Yano. Yano tried his typical antics, but Bullet Club hit the ring to stop the shenanigans; Marufuji wasn't pleased.
KENTA and Gedo offered Marufuji another "Too Sweet", but just as he looked to be considering the offer, Yano snuck in with a low blow, rolling up Gedo and winning the match for his team.
After the match, KENTA and Marufuji traded words over the "Too Sweet" debacle.
El Desperado (NJPW) defeated YO-HEY (NOAH)
This did nothing for me.
After a basic back-and-forth opening, Desperado established an early control by targeting YH's legs. YH tried to spring back into the match, but continued to "sell" his legs during his comeback (by sell, I mean he held them as he kicked, jumped, and dove).
The pair then traded lackadaisical moves and unconvincing near falls. YH landed a thrust kick, and Desperado answered with a forearm. Desperado tried for Pinche Loco, but YH reversed into a pin. Desperado kicked out and locked YH in Numero Dos, securing the win with continued targeting of the leg.
New Japan retakes the lead, 2-1.
AMAKUSA, Junta Miyawaki & Alejandro (NOAH) defeated Tiger Mask, Ryusuke Taguchi & Master Wato (NJPW)
There were some clumsy moments throughout this match's runtime and nothing that made the awkwardness worth the watch.
This match opened with a typical feeling-out process. Things pick up with more of the same. As the match continued, it got sloppier and sloppier, with the structure falling by the wayside.
AMAKUSA eventually landed a dive to take out TM for a moment. Back in the ring, TM dropped AMAKUSA with a tiger driver, but AMAKUSA's team helped him retake control soon after. After landing a suplex, AMAKUSA connected with a Firebird Splash, his version of the 450, to win the match.
NOAH ties the score again, 2-2.
No Contest: Kaito Kiyomiya & Yoshiki Inamura (NOAH) vs. Kazuchika Okada & Togi Makabe (NJPW)
This was nothing short of incredible. This amount of emotion from Okada is so rare these days, and Kaito Kiyomiya, drug it out of him. Wow.
Inamura and Makabe opened the match and traded heavy blows before tagging in either of the heavyweight champions. Okada was the first champion to enter the match, wearing down Inamura in the center of the ring, prompting Kaito to make the save with a stiff kick that drew blood. Okada answered with a riotous flurry on the outside of the ring.
On the floor, the champions went back and forth in an intense scrap. This was nothing short of a wild brawl. After a very prolonged time on the floor, the referee called for the bell, resulting in a no-contest.
Once the match was over, Kaito grabbed a microphone and challenged Okada to a singles match. While the match is unlikely, I'd give just about anything to see it.
The score remains even, 2-2-1.
Tadasuke (NOAH/Kongo) defeated BUSHI (NJPW/LIJ)
This was decent, but it took a lot of effort to focus after the electricity of the last match. A better Tadasuke performance, all things considered.
BUSHI opened the match by taking Tadasuke to the outside. On the floor, Tadasuke took control, which he maintained as the match returned to the ring. BUSHI fought back, landing a tope to take out Tadasuke.
After they returned to the ring again, the pair traded moves. BUSHI used the mist on Tadasuke, but Tadasuke responded with a quick pin to establish an early lead for his faction.
Kongo and NOAH lead, 2-3-1 NOAH, 1-0 Kongo.
Hiromu Takahashi (NJPW/LIJ) defeated Hajime Ohara (NOAH/Kongo)
This match was surprisingly filled with Ohara control. This led to a fun dynamic throughout the match, leading to the ultimate Hiromu comeback.
The match opened with a grappling sequence that saw the underdog, Ohara, gain an early lead over the IWGP junior champion. Ohara led the match for some time, using the barricade to cement a strong lead. When it seemed like Hiromu had a spark, Ohara had an answer.
Hiromu eventually landed a lariat to challenge Ohara's control. This lead to a swift rally where Hiromu landed Victory Royal and Timebomb 2 to score the win.
NJPW and LIJ tie things back up. 3-3-1/1-1, all
Manabu Soya (NOAH/Kongo) defeated SANADA (NJPW/LIJ)
This match opened with a sluggish sequence that set the pace for the rest of the match. Soya took control but didn't accomplish much before SANADA turned things in his favor.
Soya interrupted a springboard, initiating a struggle for control in the center of the ring. Soya won out, hitting a spear to drop SANADA. A follow-up lariat was blocked and turned into a SANADA dropkick, reversing momentum once more. SANADA landed a moonasult and attempted a second, but Soya blocked the follow-up with his knee.
After the blocked moonsault, the pair stood in the middle of the ring and traded strikes. Soya won out, landed a death valley bomb, and scored a near fall. Soya tried for a bomber, and after an extended struggle, he landed one, leading to a pinfall win.
Kongo and NOAH are back in the lead, 3-4-1 NOAH, 2-1 Kongo.
Shingo Takagi (NJPW/LIJ) defeated Katsuhiko Nakajima (NOAH/Kongo)
This was everything you would expect from this pair. It was a physically intense match built around strikes and other potent offense.
The pair opened with a tense sequence where neither man gained anything substantial. As things heated up, both men made minor gains, but neither established a significant lead.
Nakajima eventually forced Shingo to the floor, where a well-placed kick left him. Once Shingo made his way back inside the ropes, Nakajima toyed with him, triggering a firey rally from the KOPW champion.
Shingo beat Nakajima across the ring before Nakajima retook the lead with a kick knee. Nakajima tried stretching Shingo, but Shingo escaped, leading to a prolonged strike exchange. After landing a suplex, Shingo tried for a pumping bomber, but Nakajima ducked and landed a head kick dropping both men.
Nakajima tried connecting with strikes to follow up, but Shingo caught him with Made in Japan. Shingo went on to land a pumping bomber, but Nakajima kicked out. Shingo was quick to respond to the kick out, connecting with a flurry of strikes and Last of the Dragon to win the match and even the score.
4-4-1, 2-2, all
Tetsuya Naito (NJPW/LIJ) defeated Kenoh (NOAH/Kongo)
The match opened with an extended feeling-out sequence. Kenoh took control after catching Naito in a posing position. Kenoh took the match to the floor, where he whipped Naito into the barricade to cement his newfound lead.
Back in the ring, Kenoh took his time picking apart Naito, but Naito eventually created opportunity with a well-timed dropkick to halt Kenoh's advance. Naito then used a wear-down hold that forced Kenoh into the ropes.
A brief pause in Naito's offense allowed Kento to retake control. Kenoh connected with heavy strikes, forcing Naito to the mat. Kenoh tried throwing Naito in the corner, but Naito countered, landing a swinging neckbreaker to turn the match back in his favor.
As the match drew on, Naito began to set up Destino, connecting with as many elbows to the neck as he could manage. Kenoh managed to block Naito's first attempt to close, turning it into a suplex. Then, as the two gathered their senses on the mat, they began trading strikes again.
Kenoh emerged with another strong lead after a kick to a seated Naito led into a double-foot stomp from the top rope. Kenoh tried to follow with Ring of Fire, but Naito countered with a quick spinebuster. This reset led into a quick back-and-forth, with Kenoh winning out after another kick.
Kenoh tried for a suplex, but Naito turned it into a partial Destino. After the near fall, Naito was quick to follow up with another Destino with the full range of motion. Naito then pinned Kenoh to win the match and secure the night for his team and promotion.
NJPW and LIJ finish on top, 5-4-1 NJPW, 3-2 LIJ
After the match, Naito offered Kenoh an LIJ salute, but Kenoh rejected the gesture.
Once Kenoh and the rest of Kongo retreated to the outside, Naito cut the show-ending promo. After some positive words about his faction's performance, he closed the show with a tandem chant with the crowd.
Once the show looked to be over, Keiji Muto entered the ring and challenged Naito to be his last opponent in the Tokyo Dome. Naito was quick to accept, setting the 2/21 main event in stone.
This was a delightful show, and a tradition that I hope keeps up. The LIJ vs. Kongo was a nice twist, and the Okada/Kaito angle was the most exciting thing New Japan has pulled off in years.