Wrestle Kingdom 15 saw four matches across its two nights earn 5 stars or above from Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Just days into 2021, New Japan Pro-Wrestling put on their annual biggest show of the year with huge success.
Night 1’s main event, Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito, earned a full 5 star rating from the respected journalist as Kota Ibushi finally ‘became God’ and became a double champion, winning both the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Night 2’s Shingo Takagi vs. Jeff Cobb was also awarded 5 stars after the men engaged in a non-stop slugfest over the NEVER Openweight Championship, where Takagi eventually retained the title.
Wrestle Kingdom 15 also featured matches that exceeded 5 stars. Will Ospreay vs. Kazuchika Okada and Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White both broke the 5 star scale and earned 5.25 stars. The longest matches on their respective shows, the two grudge matches both saw babyfaces Kota Ibushi and Kazuchika Okada win in dramatic fashion. Avenging his loss against White from November, Ibushi defended his championships in the longest match in Wrestle Kingdom history.
Well received by fans and critics alike, the two nights of Wrestle Kingdom started New Japan’s year off strongly. Visibility for the shows reached new heights as Wrestle Kingdom Night 1 became the most watched live event in NJPW World history.
After the events of New Year’s Dash, New Japan Pro-Wrestling may soon be set to earn further 5 star matches. On the show, Shingo Takagi named Hiroshi Tanahashi as his next challenger whilst LIJ stablemate Hiromu Takahashi called out SHO, setting up their battle for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship. Fresh off his win over former double champion EVIL, SANADA has made his intentions to face Kota Ibushi clear.