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New Japan on AXS report 11-6: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP title


Today’s show is the fifth and final week of WrestleKingdom 9 footage as we’ll see the main event of Kazuchika Okada taking on IWGP champion Hiroshi Tanahashi.

Hiroshi Tanahashi is interviewed, so the main event is the only full match on the show. They showed footage of Okada’s return from his excursion and shocking the world by pinning Tanahashi for the title not too long after. The question on the screen mentioned it was a successful excursion, which is funny because if anyone knows about Okada’s TNA run it was anything but successful. Tanahashi says he wasn’t prepared for Okada to be near the same level as him. He told Okada when he first returned that the IWGP title was far away from him. In a nice throwback line months later when Tanahashi was gunning for the title, Okada told Tanahashi the same thing. Tanahashi then talks about the co-main event of WrestleKingdom 9, and he wasn’t sure how they were going to compare considering just how great that match was.

The match aired. I was wondering which match was better, this or Nakamura and Ibushi which preceded it. After watching WrestleKingdom 9 live, I thought that this match was better than the Nakamura match. Now I guess I’m flip flopping as I found the co-main better than this match.. Not that this match was horrible or anything, because actually this was still one of the better matches of the year and probably on my top 10 list if I had to make one. There’s something about Ibushi/Nakamura that made it click even more, maybe an intensity that wasn’t there in this match.

Now with that said, this was still an awesome match. The announcers, who were great in this match by the way, mentioned that Tanahashi and Okada have faced off seven other times in the past. Each of those seven matches were awesome in their own way. Very few feuds in modern pro wrestling history are as consistently awesome as Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, and this match once again proved that they are in a league of their own. Just great work and storytelling throughout, lots of crazy spots as well. Tanahashi did the high fly flow from the top rope through the barricade to the floor, which was insane. Okada kicked out of two high fly flows. This is also a testament to protecting finishers. Very few people have kicked out of the rainmaker, and when it happened here people were stunned. It took two more high fly flows from Tanahashi to finish off Okada, his quest to beat Tanahashi at the Tokyo Dome again alluding him.

Okada left the ring crying as Tanahashi cut a promo, saying the the IWGP title is far from you, which again is the same message he gave Tanahashi and Tanahashi gave to him years ago. Okada in a post match interview says this loss was seriously disappointing, as without him who will make money rain? Gedo promises this time next year he’ll be a champion. And sure enough, Gedo lived up to that promise.

Tanahashi tells the fans to continue supporting New Japan in 2015 and says “I LOVE YOU!” as WrestleKingdom 9 concludes.

In his reflective interview, Tanahashi says that even though he won the title, more people remember Okada in that match because for the first time, he showed emotion by crying. When it was mentioned this was the fifth time in a row he’s headlined the Tokyo Dome, he says that nobody has done it before. He wants to win when it matters the most, so he considers himself the ace of the promotion by doing that. Tanahashi mentioned that the Undertaker has many winning records in the WWE, so he wants to have just as many or more.

Top notch show this week, probably one of the better ones that AXS has televised. Definitely check this out.