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NJPW on AXS 9/4 TV results: Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito

With Destruction now over, we focus on the next big New Japan show, King of Pro Wrestling, the last big show of the year before the Tokyo Dome show on January 4. The right to the  IWGP title match at WrestleKingdom 9 will be defended on tonight’s show as Kazuchika Okada will face Tetsuya Naito in a rematch of sorts from the 2014 WrestleKingdom show. Okada beat Naito that night, but during the G1 Naito had Okada’s number by beating him in an excellent match. Tonight’s show is the culmination of their year long feud; will fresh, babyface Tetsuya Naito pick up the win here on tonight’s show, or will Okada prove he’s one of the top dogs in New Japan?

by Bryan Rose,

First up we have Ryusuke Taguchi taking out El Desperado for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight championship. Taguchi started to introduce the hip attacks here as his new gimmick. It’s such a mid card comedy act thing to do here, but he didn’t harp on it as much as he did once he dropped the title, so it’s not as bad here. Desperado is fine but given that he was in New Japan for just a year under this gimmick before jumping over to NOAH, I didn’t gain any real thoughts on him as a single during this run. In this match, he was fine. Taichi freely interferes, but the ref sees Taichi helping Desperado and kicks his hand away, giving Taguchi the opportunity to hit the dodon then apply the ankle lock for the submission. It was a solid, perfectly acceptable match but nothing I would call memorable.

Katsuyori Shibata & Hirooki Goto vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Yoshi-Hashi is next. I wonder who is taking the fall here. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Yoshi-Hashi is a good example of someone who could go to NOAH and get over there because he’s stuck in the midcard here in New Japan. Considering how many people they bring in here in New Japan, he’s going to be lost in the shuffle, even though he’s pretty good when put in certain situations. This was clipped, but was pretty good and the crowd was heated. Yoshi Hashi looked good with his interactions with Shibata, but one penalty kick later he’s facing the ring lights.

Shibata and Nakamura have a staredown after the match, meaning things aren’t done here yet. Nakamura cuts a promo, basically challenging Shibata to a match down the line.

Okada does his reflective interview. He reflects on the Tokyo Dome match from 2014, then mentions how he lost to Anderson and Naito in the G1. He wasn’t looking forward to fighting him, but this match was just a match for payback in his opinion.

The match aired. From what I remember the G1 match was just as good as this match. But it was really great. The crowd was hot and they worked a really great match with lots of false finishes and great reversals. The wheelbarrow into the German suplex towards the end was really great. Okada, of course, pins him with the rainmaker. There’s so many great matches in New Japan I don’t know if this would crack the top five, but it would probably be around the top 10 mark in terms of main events this year. Naito’s an excellent babyface worker and so is Okada, and they had a terrific match here.

Naito said it’s great Okada won, New Japan Pro Wrestling will e safe now. He heard so many fans chanting his name, he felt very happy about that. The more people chant for him, the more people will give back. What will be interesting to see on these shows is how Naito eventually transitions into his new heel persona.

Okada says he’s curious about the next match. Upon reflection, he realized how strong he was during the match. The stamina he had at the end of the match even surprised him. Not a lot to say here at the end. Overall, a pretty good show highlighted by a great main event. There will be more coverage of King of Pro Wrestling next week, so tune in then!