The first major show of 2021, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15, kicked off with Day 1 from the Tokyo Dome. There was speculation that the shows wouldn't happen with a few days of meetings regarding a State of Emergency in Tokyo, but fans were in attendance and the company delivered a memorable night.
The main event for Wrestle Kingdom Day 1 was Tetsuya Naito defending the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships against Kota Ibushi. The winner of this contest would meet "Switchblade" Jay White on Day 2. The semi-main event would be a special singles match with Kazuchika Okada facing his former CHAOS stablemate, Will Ospreay.
There were six matches set for the main show and one battle royal on the pre-show, plus two other title implication contests. Let's take a look at what happened at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1.
21-Man New Japan Ranbo (NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15 pre-show)
The Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1 pre-show kicked off with the 21-man New Japan Ranbo, which is their version of the Royal Rumble. Participants can be eliminated by pinfall, submission or being thrown over the top rope. The final four meet for the King of Pro Wrestling 2021 on Day 2 tomorrow.
Chase Owens and Tomohiro Ishii were the first two entrants. Ishii got the better of Chase. Minoru Suzuki was the next entrant. Ishii and Suzuki traded forearms until Owens returned and tried striking both. They both struck down Chase. Yuji Nagata was the next entrant out. Suzuki and Nagata started trading forearms immediately.
Toa Henare and Hirooki Goto were the next two entrants on the Wrestle Kingdom 15 Day 1 pre-show. Suzuki and Nagata fought on the apron, leading to Henare eliminating both men. Suzuki and Nagata fought to the backstage area. Yujiro Takahashi and YOSHI-HASHI were the next entrants. Ishii eliminated Henare over the top rope.
Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma and Hiroyoshi Tenzan were the next out on the Wrestle Kingdom 15 pre-show match. Makabe clotheslined Goto and HASHI out of the ring for two eliminations. Honma and Tenzan eliminated Makabe. Rocky Romero and DOUKI were the next two entrants. Rocky went after DOUKI with the Forever Clotheslines, but he reversed and nailed Romero with a steel pipe for the DQ and elimination.
SHO, BUSHI, Tiger Mask and Bad Luck Fale were the next out in the New Japan Ranbo on the Wrestle Kingdom 15 pre-show. BUSHI lowered the ropes to eliminate Yujiro. Chase tried to eliminate Ishii, but they both landed on the apron. Fale then rushed Ishii and eliminated him. Young Lions Gabriel Kidd, Yuya Uemura and Yota Tsuji were the next entrants.
Fale then eliminated Honma. BUSHI stopped Kidd from getting in the ring until Uemura helped fight him off. Fale then eliminated Tenzan, Rocky, SHO and Tiger Mask in consecutive fashion. The Young Lions tried ganging up on Fale, but Chase broke it up. BUSHI took Owens out of the ring. The Young Lions once again tried to eliminate Fale.
The KOPW 2020, Toru Yano, was the final entrant in the New Japan Ranbo on the Wrestle Kingdom 15 pre-show. Fale and Owens eliminated the Young Lions, so the final four are Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, BUSHI and Toru Yano. Yano made it to the Four Way without ever entering the match. That was silly, yet fun.
Results: Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, BUSHI and Toru Yano are the final four and move on to Day 2 of Wrestle Kingdom 15
Star Rating: **