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NJPW on AXS 10-30: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental title

Part IV of our look at WrestleKingdom 9 takes place tonight as we have an eight man tag team match featuring competitors from the NOAH promotion, as well as Shinsuke Nakamura taking on Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Intercontinental championship.

First up we have Suzuki-gun members Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith Jr., Takashi Iizuka and Shelton X Benjamin take on Toru Yano, Shane Haste, Mikey Nicholls and Naomichi Marufuji. This was the culmination of a months long feud between Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano. And when I mean months, I mean at least six. What is most interesting about this match isn’t so match the match itself, which was fine, just short and kind of an afterthought on this card. Rather, it’s more about the culmination of one feud and the start of another as not too long after this, the Suzuki-gun stable invaded NOAH and is now a dominant part of their storylines. It’s a mixed bag because while I am fine never having to see Takashi Iizuka in a New Japan ring anytime soon, New Japan does seem to be missing something without the likes of Minoru Suzuki and even the Killer Elite Squad. Marufuji got the win for his team with a knee to the face of Iizuka.

KES were not happy during the post match interview with Archer destroying everything in sight and calling TMDK SOBs. Davey Boy Smith Jr says that next time they met they’ll send them a free trip to the hospital. TMDK say that they’re happy they made them mad, and they’d like to face other New Japan tag teams in the future. More NOAH representation in New Japan didn’t happen at all after this, but like I mentioned this was all the backdrop to the NOAH invasion a short time later.

Time for the pre-main event interview. Nakamura says he had grudges and gripes of his own when it came to Kota Ibushi, so he let it out in that match. He said he wanted a joker in that match, and then Ibushi came out and have him a snap German suplex. He felt a divine connection during their first match in the G1 tournament (another great match). He was confident that something new would begin, and for the rematch the expectations for himself and Ibushi were bigger.

The match aired. It was fantastic, just as good as I remember it being eleven months ago. It was built up very much like any New Japan match - they started off slow, with everything looking good but nothing tremendous or out of the ordinary. Kota Ibushi finally missed a phoenix splash and Nakamura countered with the boma ye and that’s where the match got awesome.

There’s something about Kota Ibushi that makes him a top tier worker, but I don’t know what it is exactly. The way he presents himself is the best way I can describe it. He was acting so cocky towards the end of this match, just that smug look he had on his face when mocking Nakamura was tremendous. The transition from junior heavyweight to heavyweight was the best thing that’s ever happened to him as he’s gone from a great high flyer to one of the best overall workers in Japan right now. He also delivered a hell of a boma ye that looked just as good as Nakamuras, maybe even better. The deadlift half german suplex from the top rope has to be one of the top moves of the year, just incredible. Nakamura won after hitting the land slide and the boma ye. Not only was the work here top notch, but the crowd was super into this match plus the great commentary made it one hell of a match. If you haven’t watched this match yet, do so as it’s still being talked about as one of the best matches of 2015.

Kota Ibushi in the post match conference says he’s very disappointed, as he was sure he was going to win. By losing today, however, he knows he has potential as a heavyweight and is willing to fight Nakamura again and wants to fight many heavyweight wrestlers. Nakamura says he was overwhelmed after the match. He can praise Ibushi in so many ways but can call him out on stuff as well. This feeling of him being able to match with him, that’s an exhilarating thought, and the only person in wrestling that he’s ever said that about. We’re rivals with many kinds of different aspects - he feels familiar. He can’t explain it well but that’s how he sees it.

In the final reflective interview, Nakamura said it was hard for him to look back at this particular match. He thought that was a perfect match, and this is what his idea of a perfect match should be. They’re not related, but he felt a divine connection towards him. He has other things to look forward to now that he’s defeated Ibushi.

A fantastic show this week. It’ll be interesting to see the main event of WrestleKingdom 9, which we’ll see next week, because they’re both such incredible matches it’s hard to pick which one is better.