1/4 NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16: Night 1 report: Radican’s results and analysis of Takahashi vs. Desperado, Takagi vs. Okada main event

By Sean Radican, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @SR_Torch)


JAN. 4, 2022

Announcers: Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton (remote)

(a) NJPW Ranbo match – final four advance to match to determine first KOPW 2022 Provisional Champion on night 2

Chase Owens, Toru Yano, Minoru Suzuki, and Cima ended up being the final four. This wasn’t anything memorable outside of Cima being a surprise entrant. All four men ganged up on Yano after the match before leaving the ring teasing an uneasy alliance against Yano, who has been the KOPW Champion in 2020 and 2021. Tatsumi Fujinami was the other big surprise entrant in the match.

The order of entry in the match was Chase Owens, Aaron Henare, Kosei Fujita, Yuto Nakashima, Ryohei Oiwa, Master Wato, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Minoru Suzuki, Satoshi Kojima, Taka Michinoku, CIMA, Tomoaki Honma, DOUKI, Yuji Nagata, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Togi Makabe, Bad Luck Fale, Tatsumi Fujinami, and Toru Yano.

WINNERS: Chase Owens and Toru Yano and Minoru Suzuki and Cima at 27:14. (**)

(1) NEVER Openweight Six Man Champion SHO vs. YOH

Sho wore black attire for his entrance. Yoh wore white. NJPW paid tribute to the retiring Keith Mitchell by showing Togi Makabe on Japanese commentary while the match had started in the ring. Sho hit a slam on the ramp. He then slammed one of the Young Lions onto Yoh. Yoh mounted a comeback and did the Danielson style stomps to Sho’s chest while holding both his hands. Sho dragged the ref into Yoh’s path and then nailed him with a spear to regain the upper hand. There was very little heat for the match. Sho hit a powerbomb and a cross-arm piledriver for a near fall. Sho fired back and worked a leg submission. He set the tone hitting a dragon screw early on in the match. Dick Togo came out and distracted the ref and Sho tapped out,but the ref never saw it.

Sho locked in the Snakebite submission. Yoh struggled and tried to get to the ropes. He collapsed to the mat and the ref checked his arm, but Yoh fired up and finally worked his way backwards to get to the ropes. Togo got back up on the apron. He tossed a wrench to Sho. Yoh ducked a wrench shot and ran Sho into Togo. Shot hit Togo with the wrench accidentally. Yoh then rolled up Sho for the win.

WINNER: Yoh at 12:32. (**½)

(Radican’s Analysis: The lack of atmosphere didn’t help this grudge match. The action was fine until Togo got involved. I’m just over all of the matches with interference involving Togo. It’s a shame these two can’t just tell a good vs. evil story in the ring to settle a feud on a stage like this.)

After the match, Sho attack Yoh. He charged at Yoh in the corner, but ate a superkick.


This match will serve as a preview for Kenta vs. Tanahashi. ELP & Ishimori and Romero & Taguchi are in a three-way for the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Team Championship against Tiger Mask & Robbie Eagles as well. Kenta came to the ring with a kendo stick. Their match tomorrow is a No DQ match. Bullet Club worked over Taguchi. Ishimori and ELP were fantastic with their over-the-top heel mannerisms. Taguchi tagged in Tanahashi, who ran wild with some dragon screws. Kenta used the ref as a distraction and then shoved him to the floor. He hit a DDT on Tanahashi and then went to work on him with a kendo stick. Tanahashi was being triple teamed, but the Mega Coaches made the save. They wiped out ELP and Ishimori with a pair of dives to the floor. Tanahashi then went to town with the kendo stick on Kenta. The ref tried to stop him and Tanahashi shoved him away and then went back to attacking Kenta with the kendo stick. The ref called for a DQ.

WINNERS: Kenta & ELP & Taiji Ishimori via DQ at 8:39. (*½)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a fine way to set up Kenta vs. Tanahashi on night 2 with Tanahashi showing how personal the feud has become.)

Several attendants ran into the ring to hold back Tanahashi. The Mega Coaches finally got him to stop going after Kenta.


L.I.J all wore masks for their entrance. This is another preview tag, as Sanada is facing O-Khan and Naito is facing Cobb on night 2. Cobb went right after Naito and the action spilled to the floor. Cobb ran Naito into the barricade. Naito fired back on Cobb and connected with a flying forearm. Sanada tagged in and got the Paradise Lock on O-Khan a short time later. He then nailed him with a dropkick. Sanada missed his signature slingshot splash. O-Khan wanted to go for a slingshot splash, but he hesitated. They went at it in the ring and O-Khan got a backwards bridging pinning combination for a near fall. He used the same pinning combination that Sanada uses. Ospreay isolated Bushi late in the match and hit the Hidden Blade for the win.

WINNERS: Will Ospreay & Jeff Cobb & Great-O-Khan at 9:27. (***)

(Radican’s Analysis: The action was good from start to finish. They did a nice job of previewing the two big singles matches for night two here. Ospreay’s character continues to be annoying.)

Great-O-Khan cut a promo after the match. He said all the peasants in the building have to bow down. He said tomorrow The United Empire would dominate their matches on night 2. He said tomorrow they would show and prove all of their power.

Ren Narita came out first. He is Katsuyori Shibata’s mystery opponent. Charlton noted he hadn’t been in Japan since 2019. Narita has been training under Shibata at the LA Dojo. Katsuyori Shibata’s music played and he was out next. It’s a shame the Tokyo Dome isn’t full, as the building would likely be shaking with the popl for Shibata here. Shibata made his way down to the ring as fire shot out from all over the big entrance stage. This match will be held under Catch Wrestling rules.

Shibata got on the mic before the match started and the fans clapped. He said there was going to be a rule change. He said this match will be under regular wrestling rules. He asked Narita if he was ready and Narita fired up.


Kelly said he thought officials were trying to transition Shibata back into the ring. They wondered if there would be any consequences for Shibata changing the rules before the match started. Shibata got the better of an early exchange and hit a kick to Narita’s gut before backing away. Narita hit several kicks on Shibata in the corner. He shoved the ref down and then stood on Shibata’s neck. Shibata suddenly stopped Narita’s momentum with an inside trip. Shibata fired up on Narita and hit several kicks on Nariat in the corner. He then set up and the fans fired up as much as they could as he hit his signature stalling dropkick.

Shibata took control and hit some big kicks to Narita’s chest. Narita fired back and hit several kicks, but Shibata hit some leg kicks that sent Narita down to the mat. Shibata hit another kick and grabbed the choke. He then hit the PK for the win.

WINNER: Katsuyori Shibata at 11:46. (***¾)

(Radican’s Analysis: I had high expectations for this and Narita was the perfect opponent for Shibata, as he knows Shibata inside and out from training with him. This match showed that Shibata can wrestle.)

After the match, Narita and Shibata hugged. Charlton wondered what this meant for all of NJPW’s upcoming landmark events. Charlton said The Wrestler is back. Kelly said Shibata called an audible and had a regular pro wrestling match. Kelly said NJPW officials won’t be able to keep Shibata away from the ring if that’s what he wants to do.

A commercial aired for NJPW returning to AXS TV on March 3. It will air after Impact on Thursday nights.

A commercial for Strong Spirits played.


Evil attacked Ishii during his entrance and the bell rang to start the match. This is Ishii’s first singles match in The Tokyo Dome since Jan. 4, 2019.


They had a chair joust on the floor until Togo interfered. Evil tossed Ishii into the barricade near the timekeeper’s table. The timekeeper went down. Evil then hit his homerun chairshot and admired it. Kelly said the silence was the same as booing because fans can’t boo. Charlton said House of Torture feeds off silence. There’s so many jokes to be made here that I can’t pick just one, but the comedy writes itself. Evil threw Ishii to the floor and Togo punched him before tossing him back into the ring. Ishii still had his t-shirt in. Charlton said Ishii wanted to bring the world class wrestler out of Evil, but Evil had no intent on playing into that. Ishii made a comeback and took Evil down with a shoulder tackle. Evil shoved the ref and Togo hit a chairshot to Ishii’s back from the floor. Evil then hit a fisherman buster and both men were down.

They worked in a spot where Ishii accidentally hit the ref with a lariat thanks to Evil. Togo and Yujiro Takahashi ran into the ring. Ishii fended them off after running Takahashi into Togo. Togo and Takahashi went to the floor, but the ref was down as the fans clapped. Sho ran down and wiped out Evil. Yoh then ran down to even the odds. He wiped out Sho and then Evil with a pair of superkicks. He then wiped out Sho and Takahashi with plancha to the floor and the fans fired up. Charlton made a great comment saying all of the interference was like a clown car. Another ref ran down. Togo tried to run into the ring with the NEVER title, but Yoh held him back. Ishii hit a big clothesline on Evil for a near fall. Ishii went for the Vertical Drop Brainbuster, but Takahashi ran in and hit a low blow as the ref was distracted. Togo distracted the ref inside the ring and Evil hit Ishii with a belt shot to the head. Evil hit Everything is Evil for the win. This sucked.

WINNER: Evil at 12:10 to become the new NEVER Openweight Champion at 12:10. (-*)

(Radican’s Analysis: There was non-stop interference from start to finish and to see Ishii get a singles match on a Tokyo Dome card after several years and for it to go down like this really just sucked. Big thumbs down match here.)


Hashi got worked over during the early going by Sabre and Taichi. Hashi mounted a comeback and tagged in Goto who sent Taichi packing to the floor. He then hit a running bulldog on Sabre for a two count. The action broke down and Goto ended a bang bang bang sequence by wiping out Sabre with a clothesline. The Tekkers got stereo submissions on Goto and Hashi. Goto was the legal man and Sabre cranked away at a combination submission on his head and arm. Goto struggled, but managed to get to the ropes. The Tekkers set up for a tandem Holy Zack Driver on Goto, but Hashi broke it up. Sabre got a Euro Clutch on Goto a short time later for a near fall. After having it countered several times during the early stages of the match, Goto finally hit an Ushigoroshi on Sabre.

Hashi no-sold a big hook kick from Taichi only to get wiped out with a big high angle suplex for a near fall a short time later. Sabre and Taichi went for Zack Mephisto, but Hashi countered it and eventually hit a huge lariat on Taichi for a near fall. The action really picked up and Sabre hurled himself into Hashi to break up a near fall on Taichi. They hit a GYW on Sabre, who rolled to the floor. The fans fired up, but Taichi countered a double team attempt and Sabre held back Goto and Taichi nearly got the pin with the Gedo Clutch on Hashi. They whipped out Sabre with a Final Cut/Powerbomb combination aka Shoto. Hashi countered a Black Mephisto into a destroyer. Goto and Hashi used a new combination spinning neck breaker called Naraku on Taichi for the win.

WINNERS: Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi to become the new IWGP Hvt. Tag Team Champions at 15:25. (***3/4)

(Radican’s Analysis: This was a very good match. It started out even and then Hashi and Goto were just dominant down the stretch, which was a surprise. I really enjoyed the intensity Goto and Hashi brought to this match. I was not expecting this match to be so good.)

After the match, Hashi offered a handshake to Taichi. Taichi slapped it away and gave him a huge. He also showed respect to Goto and the fans clapped. Sabre also shook hands with Hashi and Goto. Charlton wondered what the future of the tag team division was in NJPW. Hashi and Goto took pictures with the titles and their WTL trophies before heading to the back.

Hiromu Takahashi came out with a colorful robe that looked like a cross between an octopus and and peacock. Desperado came out dressed in white with a white mask and face paint with thin black lines showing around his mouth. Kelly said this match is a semi-final because Hiromu is the challenger and not because Desperado is the champion.


They charged at each other to start the match and ran into each other shoulder to shoulder. They went to a chop battle a short time later. They continued to go at it and neither man would go down. They ran into each other again and went to an exchange off the ropes. Desperado went for a short powerbomb, but Takahshi countered it into a submission. Both men hit big suplexes and neither man could even get a one count. Desperado hit a tope con hilo and Takahashi fired right back with a sunset bomb to the floor. WOW! Both men barely beat the ref’s 20 count back into the ring. They built up to another exchange and Takahashi hit a pop up powerbomb and both men were down. Desperado got up and charged at Takahashi, but he caught him with a corner belly-to-belly suplex.

Takahashi hit a Dynamite Plunger for a two count. Both men traded counters of each other’s finishers. Desperado countered Takahashi and got Numero Dos. He ended up trapping Takahashi’s arms, but Takahashi got up on his shoulders and hit a modified destroyer followed by a lariat and the fans fired up. The match passed the 10 minute mark and these two have set a hell of a pace. Desperado got a pinning combination for a near fall. He went for a punch, but Takahashi cut him off with a thrust kick. Desperado hit Pinche Loco. He held on and went for another, but Takahashi caught him with a pinning combination for a near fall. Desperado hit another Pinche Loco. He held on and hit a second Pinche Loco. He covered Takahashi Taker style and it was good for the win!

WINNER: El Desperado at 16:18 to retain the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Champions. (****)

(Radican’s Analysis: Great match. Desperado wrestled Takahshi’s furious style and beat him at his own game. I would love to see this match in front of a capacity crowd allowed to make verbal noise. This is a big star-making moment for Desperado as the intent seemed to bring him up to Takahashi’s level and I think they did that here.)

They aired a new video with the history of champions, but it was a short one given there’s only been three IWGP World Hvt. Champions in New Japan. Ugh. Definitely don’t like seeing that on the Tokyo Dome stage.

Kazuchika Okada, the G1 Climax winner, came out wearing the fourth generation IWGP Hvt. Championship. Okada wore a new robe down to the ring. Shingo Takagi was out next. He had an amped up entrance with a new beginning before he came up through the stage as pyro rained down from the top of the big video board. The entrance ramp also had graphics to make Takagi’s entrance. Okada revealed new black themed gear with red and white trim.


The bell rang and the fans fired up clapping. The announcers talked about how Shingo had not faced Okada since he found himself during the G1 Climax tournament. They started out slowly and went to the floor. Okada hit a DDT, but Shingo rose up and connected with a suplex and the fans fired up. Takagi methodically worked over Okada until Okada fired back and caught him with an elbow off the ropes and both men were down. Okada placed Takagi up top and nailed him with a dropkick and he fell to the floor. Okada booted Takagi over the guardrail and nailed him with a splash over the guardrail a short time later and the fans fired up.

Okada hit a tombstone and went for the Money Clip. The announcers talked about how Okada was staying away from the Rainmaker because Shingo scouted it so well during their last match at Dominion. Okada took Takagi down to the mat with the MC, but he got to the ropes to break the hold. The fans fired up with Okada in control. Kelly mentioned that Okada was unable to connect with the Rainmaker during their match at Dominion in June. Okada went to lift Takagi, but Takagi fired up and wiped him out with a Rainmaker and both men were down and the fans fired up with claps once again. Shingo hit the Rainmaker pose and Okada fired up and nailed him with kicks and punches. Okada shoved the ref away and went after Okada. They went back and forth and both men no-sold big moves before Takagi wiped out Okada with a huge clothesline after Okada had nailed him with a shotgun dropkick.

They brawled up the ramp and Shingo and Okada went back and forth until Takagi nailed him with a big DVD. The fans fired up again with claps with both men down on the ramp. Both men barely made it back to the ring. Takagi hit a sliding lariat and the fans fired up with claps. Shingo set up for Made in Japan, but Okada got out of it and caught him with a dropkick off the ropes. Takagi ducked a Rainmaker, but Okada got a bridge and then rolled him through into a Rainmaker. Okada held on and hit a second Rainmaker. Okada let out a scream and went for another, but Takagi countered it into Made in Japan. He held on and hit Last of the Dragon, but Okada kicked out! Takagi hit a Pumping Bomber for a near fall. Okada hit a flush Rainmaker, but he couldn’t get up to make the pin!

Both men traded blows from their knees. The announcers mentioned Okada had a swollen left eye.They got to their feet and continued to trade bombs. Shingo hit a bunch of slaps and Okada just looked at him and hit a big forearm. Shingo carried Okada up top for Stay Dream, but Okada ended up countering him with a DDT. WOW! They went at it again and this time Takagi grounded Okada with a huge lariat and the fans fired up. Takagi went for Last of the Dragon, but Okada got out of it. He went for a tombstone, but Takagi got out and hit a dragon suplex. He bounced off the ropes, but Okada nailed him with a dropkick. Shingo got right up, but walked into the Landslide Tombstone. Okada then hit the Rainmaker for the win. What a match!

WINNER: Kazuchika Okada at 35:44 to become the new IWGP World Hvt. Champion. (****½)

(Radican’s Analysis: Just a tremendous match. The crowd really got into this as much as they could given the restrictions. The tide turned when Takagi mocked Okada’s Rainmaker pose. They had some tremendous back and forth sequences down the stretch and they mixed in some great counters and fighting spirit spots as well.)

After the match, Okada would not accept the IWGP World Hvt. Championship and instead he raised up the fourth generation IWGP Hvt. Championship. The fans applauded. The ref then put the IWGP World Hvt. Championship around his waist.

Will Ospreay came down to ringside and announced Okada as the new interim IWGP World Hvt. Champion. He told Okada he’s had a rough 2021. He said Okada’s new gear looks cheap. He laughed and said the fans agree with him. He said Okada looked exhausted. He said Okada can go away from NJPW and be an actor. He said NJPW would be safe in his hands.

Okada said he will see Ospreay tomorrow. He called Ospreay a fake champion and told him to have a good night. Ospreay said he would enjoy knocking Ospreay’s head off tomorrow. Okada tapped the mic so the fans would clap. The fans clapped it up for Okada. He thanked the fans and said Happy New Year. He said the year doesn’t begin until Wrestle Kingdom. He said Shingo is the real deal and that was a real deal fight. He said he brought the fourth generation belt and the IWGP Hvt. Championship was at the forefront of NJPW’s fifty year history. He said for there to be a IWGP World Hvt. Championship, he would not refute it. He called for applause for the IWGP World Hvt. Championship and the fourth generation title. He said tomorrow there’s another title match. He said the fifty year celebration of NJPW has only just begun. The fans clapped. He said NJPW is the best promotion in the world with the best matches in the world. He said there’s more to come with Kazuchika Okada on top. He thanked everyone for coming and said they’re still battling the pandemic, but the wrestlers will be there as long as the fans support them. He said let’s have a promise that on Jan. 4 next year we will have a packed house. He said he will see the fans tomorrow and they will make it rain on the fifty year anniversary of NJPW.

Contact Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @SR_Torch

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