Three championships changed hands on Night one of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s flagship event, Wrestle Kingdom 16. That nearly matches the total number of title changes on both nights of Wrestle Kingdom 15. Four new champions were crowned last year.
Tuesday’s main event saw Kazuchika Okada win the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship for the first time. He dethroned Shingo Takagi in a match that lasted more than 30 minutes. Takagi had defeated Okada to win the vacant championship at New Japan’s Dominion show last June.
Kazuchika Okada carried the fourth-generation version of the IWGP World Championship with him into Tuesday’s title match. It was a switch from the traditional briefcase for winners of the G1 Climax.
After his victory Tuesday, Okada told the Tokyo Dome crowd he brought back the belt out of respect for the championship he carried five times. The lineages of the IWGP World Championship and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship were unified under the new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship last March.
Kazuchika Okada will defend his newly won championship against Will Ospreay in the main event of Night two of Wrestle Kingdom 16 on Wednesday. Four other championships will also be decided.
The other singles title that changed hands on Night 1 of Wrestle Kingdom 16 was the NEVER Openweight Championship. EVIL dethroned Tomohiro Ishii.
The IWGP Tag Team Championship also changed hands on Tuesday. Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI won the titles from Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr. This is the second straight year where Dangerous Tekkers have lost the tag titles at Wrestle Kingdom.
The only successful title defense on Night 1 of Wrestle Kingdom 16 was El Desperado turning away Hiromu Takahashi’s challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. Takahashi won the championship from Taiji Ishimori at last year’s Wrestle Kingdom.
For the first time, New Japan is running three Wrestle Kingdom shows this year. The third night will be held at Yokohama Arena on Saturday. The card will feature matches pitting wrestlers from New Japan against wrestlers from Pro-Wrestling NOAH.
Wrestling Inc. will have live coverage of Night Two of Wrestle Kingdom on Wednesday. Full results for Night One are here.
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