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New Japan on AXS report 7-31-15: Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki


by Bryan Rose, WrestlingObserver.com

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Today’s show is from August 8, 2014 at Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, continuing our look at the 2014 G1 Climax tournament.

First up tonight is Bad Luck Fale taking on Shinsuke Nakamura. This was a good, heated match. With Fale, it’s always a matter of who he’s facing. If it’s someone like Tanahashi or Nakamura, as it is here, he can have a good match. With other, less talented guys, it’s not going to be pretty. But for the most part, Fale’s booking in New Japan has been strong and they had a good match here. Interesting to note that at one point Nakamura kicked out of the grenade, a chokeslam/asiatic spike combo. Both that move and the Bad Luck Fall are usually protected big time, so it was something big for Nakamura to kick out of that. Nakamura wins the match with the boma ye.

AJ Styles against Togi Makabe was next. This was really good, at least from the highlights shown. Makabe is usually in brawls, while AJ is not, so it was interesting to see the different dynamics here in terms of in ring style in play. Ranallo mentions during commentary that AJ injured his neck after a spider German suplex by Makabe and that played into the match in terms of drama. This was mostly highlights but the action here was good.

Next up is Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Hiroshi Tanahashi. This was another good back and forth match. Smith’s style is perfectly suited for Japan and that showed in this match. It also helps he and Tanahashi have great chemistry. Smith is such an exceptional talent I’m truly astounded the way that his WWE run went, it really makes you think what a missed opportunity they had with him. They had a nice series of back and forth near falls. Tanahashi was going for a pin but Smith countered with a bulldog bomb and got the win.

Tanahashi was upset after the match, on the floor screaming in disappointment. People know how to sell wins and losses here in New Japan, that’s for sure.

Okada is interviewed. He was surprised at how many people were in the 2014 tournament. He knew he had to win after Nakamura won his match, so he dreaded the fact he had to face Minoru Suzuki. He knew the match would be a tiresome affair.

The match then aired. This was way better than I remember it being. Again though, we have to look back at last year’s G1 tournament and just see how crowded it was in term of excellent matches. This was toward the end of the tournament and the drama of if Okada would make it to the finals or not was there, as the crowd were into everything. But just in terms of a match, it was awesome and different than most other matches in the tournament. While there was some back and forth, and there was some action on the outside this was a very submission oriented match. Suzuki wore down Okada’s arm and went after it for a good part of the match. Okada came back and hit the red ink. The back and forth mat oriented work was awesome, and so was Okada’s selling. He gets the win over Suzuki after coming back with a dropkick and a rainmaker that Suzuki took and landed right on his head with.Overall a fantastic match and another fun hour of television.

Suzuki dares the interviews to say something following the bout. He says this loss means nothing and he’ll go to the finals. He says what if everyone gets food poisoning. Good point. He says he doesn’t care he wins or not because he’s risking his life. Meanwhile, in the ring, Okada and Gedo say there’s only one person left to face in this tournament, and it’s Shinsuke Nakamura. Gedo says that one thing's for sure, at the Seibu dome, money will rain.

Nakamura is interviewed for the upcoming finals. He says that he will “boil with excitement” when he faces Okada. Okay!

Okada reflective interview time. Says he wanted to beat Suzuki quickly since his matches can be tiresome, but it didn’t happen. He was just relieved his match with Nakamura was set once he won. He wanted to win with his rainmaker pose, and he was excited to wrestle at the Seibu dome for the first time.

PROGRAMING NOTE: Next week’s New Japan on AXS show will actually be two back to back episodes of the finals from the 2014 G1 Climax finals in the Seibu Dome. We’ll be seeing the third place match between AJ Styles and Hiroshi Tanahashi in the first hour, followed by the full finals match in the second. It will start an hour early at 5 PM PT so set your DVR’s accordingly!