Minoru Suzuki took a first step toward officially being crowned the King Of Pro Wrestling in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Suzuki seized control of the KOPW 2022 trophy on Night 2 of Wrestle Kingdom 16 on Wednesday.

Minoru Suzuki won the trophy in a 4-way match against Toru Yano, Chase Owens, and CIMA. Suzuki pinned Yano with a Gotch-style piledriver.

After the match, Minoru Suzuki looked to do more damage to Toru Yano. However, Yano managed to handcuff Suzuki to the ring rope and escaped from ringside to the backstage area.

The four men had to earn their way into the first KOPW match of the new year. They were the last four men standing in the New Japan Ranbo on Night 1 of Wrestle Kingdom 16 on Tuesday.

CIMA’s appearance on Night 1 was a surprise. He primarily wrestles for the GLEAT promotion.

The holder of the KOPW trophy is considered a “provisional champion”. The trophy is defended in matches with unique stipulations. The holder of the trophy and the challenger suggest a stipulation prior to their match for the trophy. Fans vote on which stipulation they want for the match.

Minoru Suzuki must hold the KOPW trophy at the end of the year to be recognized as the official titleholder. Toru Yano has dominated the KOPW trophy since the title was introduced. Yano has won the title during the first two years of its existence.

Yano secured the 2021 King Of Pro Wrestling title late last month. He defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru in a match contested under “End Of Year Party Rules”. Under the rules of the match, both men were required to drink a shot of whiskey every two minutes.

Toru Yano has been defeated for a KOPW trophy on only one occasion. Chase Owens won the trophy from Yano last July. Yano was able to win it back the following September.

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