Toru Yano def. Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale and BUSHI in a Four-Way Match to Win the Provisional KOPW 2021 Trophy
These four survived a Ranbo Battle Royal on Night 1 to determine who would fight for the KOPW trophy on this show. Owens and Fale are both Bullet Club members, so they almost did the Finger Poke of Doom early on (almost exactly on the 22nd anniversary of the infamous moment, by the way) before imploding down the stretch because both of them wanted to win. Yano was easily the best part about this, but it wasn't a very memorable four-way on the whole. I was surprised Yano won considering he's a comedy act, but I guess it helps him establish credibility if nothing else.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) def. One or Eight (Ryusuke Taguchi and Master Wato)
I know I've heard of the Suzuki-gun faction before, but otherwise, I wasn't familiar with any of these four guys and that's probably what made it my least favorite match on all of Night 2. It's not like they did anything overly exciting to make me care, either. Sure, a set of tag titles was on the line, but I wasn't invested in who would win. The match was well-wrestled, but I have no idea why it needed to go almost 14 minutes.
NEVER Openweight Champion Shingo Takagi def. Jeff Cobb
This was the first match on Night 2 that really captured my attention and got me hyped. This was fantastic stuff. I've been a big fan of Cobb for a few years now and you can now consider me a fan of Takagi as well. Their styles meshed so well together and it made for a hell of a hard-hitting affair where there was never a dull moment. There was also the story that the title had not been successfully defended at Wrestle Kingdom in many years, so this could have gone either way. This honestly may have been my favorite match of either night just because I wasn't expecting it to be as awesome as it was.
Sanada def. Evil
This had the simple story of Sanada and Evil being former tag team partners. Evil betrayed Tetsuya Naito and the rest of Los Ingobernables de Japon last year by joining Bullet Club. For two guys who have been close for many years, this really should have been a bigger deal. That isn't to say they underwhelmed (at least not in my opinion), but it was a fairly basic midcard match that didn't feel as special it should have and the vast amount of interference didn't help. Evil's time on top was so brief last year that'd forget it even happened. Sanada needed this victory more and it became clear after the main event where this win would take him.
Hiromu Takahashi def. Taiji Ishimori to Win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
As I mentioned in my Night 1 review, Takahashi is a tremendous athlete and has been a favorite of mine for close to five years now when I first saw him on the northeast independent scene and in Ring of Honor. After what he went through on Night 1 against El Phantasmo, it would have been disappointing had he lost here. However, it was entirely possible Ishimori could have retained the title, so that unpredictability surrounding the outcome added to my enjoyment of the outing. This was a blast and I was happy to see it featured prominently toward the top of the card right before the main event.
IWGP Heavyweight Champion and IWGP Intercontinental Champion Kota Ibushi def. Jay White
Ibushi was fresh off becoming a dual champion on Night 1, and historically, White has always been the one person he hasn't been able to beat when it has mattered most. Personally, I didn't think the title would change hands (to my knowledge, no one has been IWGP Heavyweight Champion for one day before), but that doesn't mean there wasn't suspense down the stretch. They told a terrific story and kept me engaged the whole time, even though I would have trimmed at least 10 minutes off the middle (it ended up being the longest main event in Wrestle Kingdom/Toyoko Dome history, apparently). Ibushi is now a made man having beaten both Naito and White in the span of two days. I liked how they established that Sanada is next in line for a title shot by virtue of victory over Evil earlier in the evening. A small part of me was hoping Kenny Omega would pop up on the big screen and challenge Ibushi to a title for title match, but no such luck... at least not yet. Imagine how killer that could be? As for White essentially quitting the company in a post-match press conference, I'm very interested to see how that pans out, though my guess is that he stays put.
I'm torn on whether I liked Night 1 or Night 2 more. That's a good problem to have because they were both great and had a nice variety of matches. I might give Night 2 the slight advantage because of Ibushi vs. White, Cobb vs. Takagi and Takahashi vs. Ishimori, but honestly, you can't go wrong with either one. As I noted in my Night 1 review, this was my first full New Japan Pro-Wrestling event since Wrestle Kingdom 9. While it wasn't one of the most amazing shows I've ever seen on the whole (I thought the midcard would be stronger), it was another excellent show, specifically for the top matches. Having a decent amount of people in attendance helped add to the atmosphere, even though they could only clap and stomp as a safety precaution. From Night 2, be sure to check out the three matches I mentioned earlier, but you won't be let down if you watch it in its entirety.