New Japan Pro-Wrestling have kicked off the new year with their annual visit to the Tokyo Dome for Wrestle Kingdom 16!
The 16th annual Wrestle Kingdom has marked multiple firsts in the event’s history. For the first time ever, the event will span three nights just two years after the promotion broke the mold by adding a second night of the show on January 5th.
Stars from Japanese promotions World Wonder Ring Stardom and Pro Wrestling NOAH will also feature at the event, the latter when they go head-to-head with the stars of New Japan during the show’s history-making third night which is being themed as a ‘New Japan vs NOAH’ event.
Wrestle Kingdom 16 Night 1 Results
In the first night of the triple-headed show, Shingo Takagi defended his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship against five-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, with Will Ospreay waiting to challenge the victor on night two.
The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship was contested in a hotly-anticipated match when Best of the Super Juniors 2021 winner Hiromu Takahashi battled El Desperado in an attempt to recapture the title he vacated in February 2021 due to injury.
But perhaps the most longed-for moment came when Katsuyori Shibata made his in-ring return following a four-year absence due to injury. “The Wrestler” collapsed moments after his five-star performance against Kazuchika Okada at Sakura Genesis in April 2017, after which it was believed he would not be cleared to wrestle again. However, in October Shibata wrestled Zack Sabre Jr. in a 5-minute exhibition match and promised to return for an official match.
🏟WRESTLE KINGDOM 16 in 東京ドーム🏟
🆚 成田蓮 × 柴田勝頼
📲 #njpwworld で配信中📡
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) January 4, 2022
Elsewhere on the card, Tomohiro Ishii defended his NEVER Openweight Championship against EVIL, and Dangerous Tekkers put their IWGP Tag Team Championships on the line when challenged by CHAOS members Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI.
Night one results in full:
- Toru Yano, Minoru Suzuki, Chase Owens and Cima survived in the New Japan Rumble, advancing to the KOPW 2022 four-way match on night two
- YOH defeated SHOW via pinfall
- KENTA, El Phantasmo and Taiji Ishimori defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ryusuke Taguchi and Rocky Romero via disqualification
- Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb and The Great O-Khan defeated Tetsuya Naito, Sanada and Bushi via pinfall
- Katsuyori Shibata defeated Ren Narita via pinfall
- EVIL defeated Tomohiro Ishii (c) via pinfall to win the NEVER Openweight Championship
- CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) defeated Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) (c) via pinfall to win the IWGP Tag Team Championships
- El Desperado (c) defeated Hiromu Takahashi via pinfall to retain IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
- Kazuchika Okada defeated Shingo Takagi (c) via pinfall to win the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, now defends against Will Ospreay on night two
How to watch Wrestle Kingdom 16?
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16 night 1 is available now on-demand at NJPW World. Night 2 will stream live at 7am UK time on January 5th through NJPW World and FITE. Night 3, meanwhile, will stream live at 6:30am on January 8th, exclusively via AbemaTV before becoming available on NJPW World a week later on January 15th.
You can find match cards for night two and three, plus more information on how to watch Wrestle Kingdom 16 here.