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New Japan on AXS report: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura in the G1 finals


We are finally here at the August 16, 2015, G1 Finals show at Sumo Hall. Before we get to the big main event, we get action in the Junior Heavyweight division.

The Young Bucks vs. reDragon for the IWGP Jr. tag team titles

They aired this match in full, and it was better than I remembered. They do so many four ways and three ways in New Japan, it’s actually kind of rare we just get a straight up tag team match between two teams in this division. Really good back and forth match. Loved the spot where Cody Hall took Kyle O’Reilly, as it created a good dramatic situation for Fish as he was being worked on by the Bucks. O'Reilly came back and after some more back and forth, reDragon pick up the win and the titles.

O'Reilly said just like they said on day one, they would get the win and they did. Fish said it was just a matter of time, we are conquerors and made the most of our opportunity.

Kushida said he wanted to rule G1 final days to show off the juniors to the packed crowd at Sumo Hall. It was a big chance for them. It was a nerve racking match for him as he didn’t know how his style had changed in the past. He also has great physical ability and is a tough opponent. Between 2014 and 15 he worked really hard to hone his skills; this is what that match is all about, to showcase his skills.

Kushida vs. Ricochet for the Jr. heavyweight title

Another really good match. Ricochet’s flying senton over the turnbuckle to the floor is my favorite spot in pro wrestling - just incredible! Good drama throughout with Kushida building towards the hoverboard lock. Lots of great moves. Maybe not as good as their other matches, but this was still a fine addition to their series and a good match.

Kushida says he always wanted to bring the Super Junior finals to fill in that gap between heavyweight and junior heavyweight. Every step of the way proves he can do it. He thanks Ricochet and welcomes him to New Japan Pro Wrestling.

In his reflective interview, he mentions facing Kyle O’Riley in the BOTSJ finals and Ricochet at the G1 finals. It was tough for him to use his grappling moves since Ricochet is a high flying wrestler. He was highly motivated that night as he wants to prove that the Super Juniors can go run at Sumo Hall too. It’s hard to win against non-Japanese wrestlers, but he will do it no matter what.

Tanahashi welcomes us to the second episode, all about the G1 finals. He mentions how he’s never faced Nakamura is a G1 championship match before, but he was glad he was going to face him in this final. He noticed a lot of Nakamura’s comments, and how they were about life itself, and they got to him. He was cheered in matches against Okada, but the G1 finals were on another level- they were walls of noise, and that was an incredible experience.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the G1 trophy

I thought it would be ultra hard to top the prior years G1 Finals match with Nakamura pinning Okada in a terrific match to win the trophy, but both of these guys proved me wrong. By far, this is the best match I have seen between these two and the previous matches were excellent. In other words...this was a clear candidate for match of the year. Just fantastic selling, crowd work, near falls, atmosphere - just everything about this was great. I loved the selling in particular as both guys were working on legs.

It’s also a testament to how much they protect finishers, as it’s pretty rare that someone kicks out of a boma ye and very few people kick out of the high fly flow. So when Nakamura kicked out of two of them, that was amazing and the crowd went crazy. Nakamura hit the boma ye, but Tanahashi kicked out and after some more back and forth, hit a high fly flow while Nakamura was on the middle rope, then hit his fourth high fly flow to win the match. Just stellar in every way.

Nakamura was interviewed after the match. He gave everything he had, that was his 100 percent. Tanahashi thanked the fans, saying he has mastered the heat and it’s thanks to you all. He said although the G1 ends today, pro wrestling continues onwards so please support us. To everyone who viewed the G1 today, I love you! Very few people have that babyface connection to the crowd Tanahashi has, it’s incredible.

They showed the footage of the G1 flag breaking and Tanahashi trying to fix it. They make a note of it during the post-fight press conference. Tanahashi says he’s been on everyone’s radar. He doesn’t just want to be a rival. He doesn’t want that. So starting from today, he will look for something past that.

In his reflective interview, Tanahashi notes that Nakamura was really fired up, and never saw him as the passionate type. It was as if pro wrestling changed his life. We evolve as time goes on. Now that he’s leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling, it was an intense moment with a lot of meaning. On Nakamura leaving New Japan, Tanahashi notes he’s leaving to make his dream come true, New Japan will survive and go one. New Japan still has me, so it’s all good. He wishes him the best of luck.

Two great shows. Check out the G1 Finals, obviously, but the two junior matches are very good as well.