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New Japan on AXS report: AJ Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada

This week's show was our final look at Dominon, held last July at Osaka Jo Hall.

Okada is this week's interview subject. The interviewer mentions how this is the first wrestling card in over 20 years. Okada says he should be thanked for that, but it also felt good to see the arena packed. As far as AJ goes, he wanted his title back. He’s a great wrestler. It was tough, no doubt about it.

I loved the early parts of this match with the interference. Now, Bullet Club freely interferes on many occasions; this is hardly news. But this felt like the culmination of every other time they ever interfered because this time, Red Shoes had enough of their shenanigans. He told the Bullet Club to suck it, then told AJ to suck it. It’s a little detail in this match, but I thought it was a nice touch.

As for the match itself, it was awesome. It was just two guys who know how to have a great match going out there and giving it everything. Once the Bullet Club was ejected the workrate was high, and they totally delivered. The last few minutes were excellent with Styles and Okada trading some high profile offense until Okada hit his second or third Rainmaker for the win. Another nice touch was that even though Okada laid out Styles with multiple rainmakers, he didn’t pin Styles until he knew he had him beat. In an era where finishers are spammed to death, it's nice to know New Japan protects them for when it’s most important.

It kinda hit me while watching this match that as good as AJ Styles was in New Japan, he’s never going to be that good in WWE. Not that he won’t have good matches, he’s already proven that in spades. But even if WWE gives someone like AJ enough time to have a PPV quality match, he’s bound to a bunch of road agents who are commanded to tell people how to work a certain way. AJ came to his own in New Japan as a ring general and flourished. In WWE, that ain’t happening. It’s a shame, but this match proved just how much AJ upped his profile within a years’ time in New Japan.

Gedo cuts his usual promo after the match, saying Okada’s at a whole other level and that the future of pro wrestling is in his hands. Okada has three things to say. His first two points is as champion, he’ll definitely compete and win in the G1. The third point...well, he doesn’t have a third point. He promises that it’ll rain money all over New Japan as a big confetti celebration starts

AJ didn’t have anything to say backstage. Okada said it was a great fight, and seeing so many people live was awesome. He was happy to get the result he wanted, and hopes NJPW can do it every year. They have a toast with some beer, with Okada jokingly noting that Gedo is really washing it down.

He was nervous going into the match, but was happy with the result. AJ was a tough person to beat, and was also happy to do it in front of so many people. A lot of wrestlers watch his matches, so he is grateful he faced such a great wrestler as it brought up his caliber.
Great show this week. Check it out if you haven’t seen this match before.