By Bryan Rose, WrestlingObserver.com
Last week, Tetsuya Naito failed in capturing the IWGP championship from Kazuchika Okada. But they didn’t headline the Tokyo Dome event. Due what I assume being the tepid reactions for Naito heading into the big event, there was a poll held to determine what match should headline the Tokyo Dome, the heavyweight title match or the Intercontinental championship match between Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura. People decided that in the end, Tanahashi and Nakamura should headline. What’s funny though is that in the end, the Heavyweight title match ended up being the better match.
This, of course, is from January 4, 2014 from the Tokyo Dome.
Hiroshi Tanahashi starts off saying he lost to Okada a few months prior, but didn’t know where to go after the loss. Nakamura called him out after a title defense and that was where it was decided that the intercontinental title was the best path to venture towards. He said many people feel it is a special match, and is proud of the way that people voted for them into the main event. He says his style opposes Nakamura’s king of strong style. He also mentioned that once he said “yeaoh” he broke the spell of strong style and joined his side, which I guess is a kayfabe way of saying he turned face.
Marty Friedman from Megadeth plays Hiroshi Tanahashi’s theme as he makes his way to the ring for the match. That was pretty damn cool to witness live. Shinsuke Nakamura comes out with many pole dancers doing their thing as he poses with one, then makes his way to the ring. Stan Hansen will present the winner of the match with the Intercontinental championship.
The match then aired. I thought this was really good, but not next level awesome. It’s been mentioned before, but I always feel that doing these big dome shows somewhat hurt the crowd, the sound doesn’t carry as good as it would in smaller stadiums such as Korakuen Hall. But this was still a good back and forth contest, with Tanahashi winning with the high fly flow. I think in the end, it boils down to intensity and feel. I don’t know necessarily if this match had a big time feel to it. The presentation was top notch, better than most WrestleMania presentation even. But I never really felt the intensity that I’ve felt in other matches that make them truly special. Going into commercials I think might have hurt that feeling too. Not that this match sucked, because in the end I went around ****. But there are plenty of other matches better than this one in 2014, in fact the previous match before it was better, and I think the rematch between these two, which will air next week, is also better. Don’t want to take away too much from it, but I was expecting more as a main event Tokyo Dome match.
Backstage, Nakamura says that Tanahashi is a super exciting opponent. He says the Intercontinental title changed history. He tried to shine the light, but got blindsided by it. Everyone is hoping for new things, something out of the ordinary. History has changed, today is a new day, and a new era has started.
Tanahashi is in the ring with a microphone. He says he is glad he kept believing in his way of wrestling. He’ll continue to energize wrestling, thank you guys very much. Marty Friedman comes out again and shreds with Tanahashi as his music plays again and poses in the ring, then goes to the stage and poses with Friedman once more as they make their exit.
In a post match interview, Tanahashi says that he never lost faith in his wrestling. He thought this title went from zero to being competed for in the main event of the Tokyo Dome and he thanks Nakamura for that. New Japan Pro Wrestling will continue to evolve with him in 2014.
Upon reflection, he says that both of them are glad that they keep believing in their own way of wrestling; he was touched by that. His finishes off by saying that he was overwhelmed by the response he got when his mic got cut out, then yelled to the fans that he loved them, then got a big response back.
NEXT WEEK: The rematch between these two at Invasion Attack 2014, which if I recall correctly is one hell of a bout!