3. Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori – Wrestle Kingdom 15 Night Two
After his stand-out match against El Phantasmo on night one, Hiromu managed to dominate another Wrestle Kingdom. Going up against his long-time rival Taiji Ishimori, the duo showed why they are two of the best wrestlers in the world.
Naturally, the match started at 110% despite the punishment Hiromu had taken the previous night. Both Ishimori and Hiromu are known for their high-flying and risk-taking that was definitely on show. There were Canadian Destroyer’s, Hurricanrana’s and beautiful transition from Ishimori into his Yes Lock.
However, what was surprising was the sheer brutality of the match. Hiromu and Ishimori are known for their dynamic style, but this seemed a lot grittier and violent. The Bone Soldier set about targeting Hiromu’s already injured arm with a series of risky offence. On the other hand, Hiromu focused on his blistering chops sending chills around the Tokyo Dome.
By the time the clock reached the 20-minute mark, it felt as if the match had been going on for much longer. The match had a large amount of action put into such a short period of time. For the majority of the bout, it seemed to be anyone’s game with both men gaining the advantage at some point.
In the end, it took a single Time Bomb II for Hiromu to finally pin Taiji Ishimori. However, despite losing, this match did nothing to damage Ishimori. This match helped to showcase just how talented a wrestler he is. Both men have shown fans why Jr. Heavyweight wrestling is so good. It also showed that they are at the forefront of one of the most underrated divisions in the business.
2. Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi – Wrestle Kingdom 15 Night One
Tetsuya Naito and Kota Ibushi have always brought the best and worst out of each other. But, with both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental title on the line, the stakes were even higher. Unfortunately, higher stakes normally mean more dangerous and this was very true of this match.
The match started slowly and based on the mat. It seemed like this was a feeling-out period between the two. However, this did not last long and, before fans knew it, the risk and danger level started to rise very quickly. It almost felt as if, within a split second, both men fully realised the scale and importance of this match and threw caution to the wind.
If fans thought this match was going to be risky, that is an understatement. There were so many moments which had fans at the edge of their seats or hiding behind cushions. There were powerbombs and Frankensteiners off the apron as well as a beautiful Hitodenashi Driver. It was enough to make your fear for the condition of both men’s necks. It was both spectacular and terrifying at the same time.
Yet, there were times when both men stood in the centre of the ring throwing forearms. They both had a look of determination in their eyes. It was mixed into a series of strikes and kicks that the Golden Star is known for. Sometimes, it was hard to decide whether to love or hate because of this.
However, as the clock reached 35 minutes, after a series of brutal Kamigoye’s, Ibushi finally pinned Naito. By doing this, he not only finally won IWGP gold but added another match to one of New Japan’s greatest rivalries. With both men lying in the ring, it felt as if some sort of mutual respect had been reached. It was then emphasised as Naito handed Ibushi both the belts. Although this seemed like the end of a chapter, it the climax of another chapter.
1. Jay White vs. Kota Ibushi – Wrestle Kingdom 15 Night Two
If the main event of the first night was amazing, the match between Kota Ibushi and Jay White was phenomenal. This match had so much history between the two. It was also your traditional babyface v heel match between two men with different styles, personalities and ethics when it comes to wrestling.
One of the best things about this match was the clash of styles.
White is an amazing defensive wrestler using the surroundings to his advantage and toying with his opponent. At the same time, the offence hit by the Switchblade was so precise with German suplexes or submissions. Ibushi was using his speed, strength and agility to wear down his opponent with an air of danger. For most of the match, it was an even playing field for most of the bout. Both men gained the advantage over their opponent at some point.
With this back and forth, fans were on the edge of their seats with a series of near falls. It felt that, whenever an ending seemed close, something would happen to turn the tides. There was a tense closing sequence where both White and Ibushi kicked out of their opponent’s finishers. However, one final Kamigoye got the win for Kota Ibushi.
Not only was it one of the best matches in a long time, but it is the longest Wrestle Kingdom main event in history at just over 48-minutes. Although Ibushi came out as the winner, this match showed both men in a great light. It also opened some eyes to just how good a wrestler Jay White is. It was not only the match of the night but a potential match of the year candidate.