Chris Brookes made his first defence of the KO-D Openweight Championship… taking on an old foe in Shigehiro Irie.

Much of the hype coming into this match came from the two singles matches between Brookes and Irie back in 2019: February 3, and March 8. Brookes took the win in the first match at Rev Pro’s Live at the Cockpit 38, while Irie got the win a few weeks later in a first round match at the wXw 16 Carat Gold tournament. Four and a half years on, they meet again, with something bigger at stake as we come from the Ota City General Gymnasium in Tokyo.

KO-D Openweight Championship: Shigehiro Irie vs. Chris Brookes (c)
Irie’s looking to win this title for the fourth time – and stop Brookes from recording a first successful defence of the title he won back in July.

Irie refuses a handshake before the bell, then went face-to-face with Brookes in the corner as we opened with the pair trading wristlocks, side headlocks and counters around them. Irie shoves off Brookes, who came back with shoulder tackles, eventually knocking down Irie with a rebound tackle off the ropes. Brookes takes Irie to the corner for some chops, only for Irie to return with a slam and a slingshot splash for an early two-count. The ropes save Brookes as Irie had him in a chinlock, before a slam and the Teddy Bear sit-out splash picked up another two-count for the challenger. A back senton keeps Brookes down ahead of Irie heading up in the corner for his take on the Coffin Drop, which looked like death for Brookes’ hips.

Responding, some misdirection allowed Brookes to take Irie into the corner with a dropkick, before a Magic Screw led to a two-count by the ropes. Irie lifts Brookes up onto the apron from there, as an exchange of strikes led to Brookes getting knocked onto the apron… then torpedo’d off it as Irie hit a crossbody through the ropes. Brookes was thrown back inside, but quickly returned out with a tope, as the pair then fought towards the back of the room, clearing some crew as they fought on some tables… leading to Irie just launching a chair at Brookes as he opted to take the table towards the ring. Making his own way back, Brookes launches the chair at Irie as a receipt, before throwing Irie back inside… and you know what that means. A quick return outside via a dive!

Irie puts Brookes back in the chair and cannonballs him out of it, wrecking the chair in the process. That table’s moved closer to the ring as the pair headed onto the apron… but a piledriver from Irie’s turned into an Air Raid Crash on the side of the ring instead… followed quickly by a piledriver through the table a la Terry Funk. Just with Brookes being a lot less formally-dressed!

Both men picked themselves up from the wreckage of the table and made it back in as they resumed throwing elbows at each other. Elbows and chops going back and forth lead to a leaping knee from Brookes, who’s then caught with a falling elbow strike by Irie on the rebound. Irie heads up top again, but Brookes stops him in his tracks with a palm strike as a double underhook superplex sent Irie flying. Except Irie’s right back up to splash Brookes into the corner… then squash him after a German suplex. Brookes gets lifted up top as Irie maneuvered him for a Samoan drop off the middle rope… again for a near-fall, before Brookes leapt up and caught Irie, dragging him to the mat for an Octopus hold. This time, the ropes save Irie, who looked to one-up things with a piledriver off the middle rope… but Brookes wriggles out and kicked Irie down onto the apron instead.

Irie tries again for that Samoan drop, but this time off the middle turnbuckles to the floor, but Brookes is able to maneuver out to hit a spider German suplex instead. The big downside to that was evident seconds later though, when Irie popped up and charged right back at the still-upside-down Brookes with a cannonball. A second cannonball follows for a near-fall, while a Beast Bomber adds another near-fall. Another Beast Bomber’s blocked as Brookes backslides Irie to the mat, following up with some kicks and a diving Meteora… before the Praying Mantis Bomb drew a close near-fall. A top rope double knee drop keeps the near-falls coming for the champion, as Irie tried to claw his way back into contention… tying up Brookes limbs ahead of the CLONKING Irie headbutt.

Irie adds a rewind Finlay roll for a two-count from there, before Brookes stopped him with a cazadora for a near-fall. Irie’s right back with a short-range Beast Bomber for a two-count of his own, before palm strikes looked to stop Irie in his tracks… only for Irie to take down Brookes for the 16 Carat Gold elbows as he tried to force the stoppage. The ref starts a standing ten-count, ended with a falling elbow strike from Irie for a near-fall. Brookes manages to hit back with an enziguiri and a couple of head kicks, but another Irie headbutt stops all that before Brookes hit back with one of his own as a precursor to two rolling Praying Mantis Bombs for the win.

Result: Chris Brookes pinned Shigehiro Irie to retain the KO-D Openweight Championship in 27:36 (****¼)

As a v1 title defence, this was quite the statement from Brookes – who found himself in deep trouble at various times, largely via those sickening Irie headbutts. In the end though, Brookes was able to play Irie at his own game… and even though Irie tried to get some afters in, that much-delayed roll-up was far too little and definitely too late!