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NJPW on AXS results: Styles vs. Nakamura; Omega vs. KUSHIDA


Image: TV Asahi/New Japan Pro Wrestling

This week's episode is the first part of the WrestleKingdom 10 show, held at the Tokyo Dome on January 4th, 2016.

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated AJ Styles to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Championship

The announcers put over that both Nakamura and Styles would be heading to WWE shortly after this match. It’s bizarre to think that both of these guys were in New Japan as late as early this year; it feels like ages since they made the jump, and they’ve already accomplished so much in WWE, it’s kind of amazing.

This was a great match from start to finish. It had a typical start as the guys felt out one another. Nakamura targeted Styles' back, which kept him out of action for most of December. Great spots followed, including a great triangle into a Styles Clash counter by Styles. They shaved a few minutes from this match, and it wasn’t the highlighted match since they aren’t on the roster anymore, but this was still very fun to watch. Totally check it out in full on New Japan World. Nakamura won the match with the Bomaye, retaining the title.

In a post-match interview, Nakamura said the AJ Styles he met in the ring was far better than he imagined. Given the timing, it was amazing to fight him in the Tokyo Dome. They asked him what his goal is for the future. He said that the world is his next stage, that is what he wants to live for.

KUSHIDA was interviewed for the main event. He had seen the battle between NJPW and UWF back in the mid 1990s. He knew what those matches meant, and now he finally got a singles match at the Tokyo Dome. Omega has the power; he’s close to being a perfect wrestler.

He brought up the Bullet Club situation and talked about how they interfere while the referee isn’t watching. In order to change the heavyweight/junior heavyweight philosophy of booking, they need to prove that they are not cheaters.

KUSHIDA defeated Kenny Omega to win the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship

Again, what is funny here is that Omega towers over KUSHIDA throughout this match, plus they put over his power. I didn’t think of it at the time, but it seems totally obvious Omega was always meant to be a heavyweight rather than a junior. Pretty glad they made the transition as Omega wouldn’t be as high profile as he is today without making the transition

KUSHIDA did a great senton to the outside. KUSHIDA spent a lot of time working on one of Omega’s arms. KUSHIDA got in the hoverlock but the Young Bucks interfered and Taguchi (who was dressed up as Doc Brown from the Back to the Future films...because) kept them at bay with a trash can. Omega struck KUSHIDA with two knees and went for the One Winged Angel but KUSHIDA countered with the small package and got the win and the title.

KUSHIDA said no more interventions in matches. It is a fresh start, the year 2016 starts now. Hopes and infinite possibilities are in the future.

KUSHIDA talked about how it is too big and hard to capture the atmosphere, but there was much of it that night. He wanted to thank his “supporter” (they never mention it’s Taguchi), saying that he feels he owes him for keeping The Young Bucks away.

He mentioned that he (the supporter) is a star and that this was a rare occasion. He was happy to win; once he excels in the junior heavyweight division he will be big enough to challenge Okada and Tanahashi. His height didn’t meet the requirement to be in New Japan, so he has to work hard to become a heavyweight.

Final thoughts: Really good show overall. Both matches were great when they first aired, and they got plenty of time in the hour to be showcased. KUSHIDA's goal of pushing the juniors to a higher level is an interesting one (these post-show interviews are always great), and the announcers did a great job of taking us back to January and reminding us of the storylines/injuries involving the wrestlers. NJPW on AXS continues to be one of the more well polished shows on any station, consistently providing insight and great action.