Welcome, cats and kittens, to yet another installment of the only reviews that send you flowers after lariating you, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we look to Japan for a big time follow up to one of the most incredible shows we’ve ever reviewed, and focus on NJPW Invasion Attack 2013! Now, if you remember our review of Wrestle Kingdom from this year, the first thing that jumps to mind is no doubt how completely over the moon we were for it. The matches were incredible, the rivalries were on fire, and the show was capped by the biggest match that money could buy, as we saw Hiroshi Tanahashi hold off the attack of the upstart challenger, Kazuchika Okada. Well now all of that is coming to a head one more time, as Okada gets one last shot at reducing the Empire of the Golden Abs to rubble and remaking it in his image. One more go round for the hottest feud to hit Japan since the 90s, and that’s just one of the wild things on this show. We’ll get a crazy heel turn, the strange return of the NWA, and the match that our Puro guy Defrost excitedly named “the greatest match of all time.” What more can I say? Let’s get this party started.
Cewsh: Welcome back to Japan, my friends. Since the last time you let us take you on a magic carpet ride to a whole new world 3 months ago, not too much has changed. The land is still ruled over by the Golden Emperor, Hiroshi Tanahashi and the Scarlet Pimp, Shinsuke Nakamura. The sky is still blue. The water is still wet. But ripples on the surface suggest major changes and tumultuous events ahead. From an attempted invasion by the National Wrestling Alliance and it’s avatar Rob Conway, to the shocking heel turn of one of New Japan’s most beloved babyfaces, this is a show about change and renewal, even as New Japan enjoys it’s greatest renaissance of cash and quality since everyone had mullets and sang Achy Breaky Heart. And at the heart of this lies one man’s last chance at taking the crown that he has proclaimed rightfully his. Tonight marks one last chance for Kazuchika Okada to defeat Hiroshi Tanahashi and prove that he can take the mantle of Emperor away from the greatest wrestler in all the world. He has failed and failed, growing ever closer, gaining more support. And tonight will either make him the face of New Japan’s future, or a forgotten relic of it’s past. One night. One match. One chance. One champion. Only one Golden Emperor.
Let’s do this.
Segment 1 – IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championships – The Time Splitters (Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA) (c) vs. Apollo 55 (Prince Devitt and Rysuke Taguchi)
Defrost: Prince Devitt has been the number 1 guy in the New Japan Jr Heavyweight Division for about 3 years now. He has held the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title 3 times, and is the current champion, and with his Apollo 55 partner, Ryusuke Taguchi, he has held the IWGP Jr Tag Titles on 4 occasions. However, lately he has seemed to want more than that. Following a clean win over Hiroshi Tanahashi in a tag team match, and then a singles loss to Tanahashi in the main event of the 41st Anniversary show, Devitt has shown a new attitude, especially on Twitter. Or, as Alex Shelley put it when challenging Devitt to a title match, “being batshit crazy on Twitter.” On the previous PPV, the Time Splitters teamed with Tanahashi and Captain New Japan to take on a team led by Devitt. Kushida and Shelley are regular partners of Tanahashi. After that match a ton of challenges were thrown out leading to Taguchi beating Kushida and Devitt beating Shelley on the tv prior to this PPV and this match. In the meantime, in the middle of his rantings on Twitter, Devitt promised a bouncer would make his debut on this show.
Cewsh: There are some people who have struggled to figure out what exactly it is that has made New Japan suddenly so much more accessible to American viewers in the past year or two than they ever were before. Sure the matches are great and the characters are fun, but what it really is, is a more Americanized lean to the product as a whole. And while Japan has had many memorable heel turns, rarely has a major Japanese company ever seen a full on transformation from goody good babyface to GIGANTIC DICKHEAD OF THE CENTURY. But that’s exactly what Prince Devitt gives us here and it is glorious.
First, the match. You all know that I adore KUSHIDA and that everyone in this match is great, so it should come as no surprise that the match is a rollicking good time. It’s fast paced, has inventive and interesting moves, and it really is interesting to see how successfully Alex Shelley has managed to recreate his Motor City Machine Guns chemistry with KUSHIDA.
So yeah, this is the business, and a great way to open the show. But the real story comes at the end, when KUSHIDA manages to roll Taguchi up for the win and to retain the titles in a bit of an upset. And speaking of upset, that’s exactly what Prince Devitt is after the match, as he starts shoving Taguchi around, even as Taguchi apologizes and tries to hug it out. Even Shelley and KUSHIDA try to calm Devitt down and convince him to go back to being best bros with Taguchi.
Together, they all calm Devitt down, and he seems cool until SUDDENLY HE DOESN’T and he jumps Taguchi, beating the shit out of him, before bailing out of the ring when Shelley and KUSHIDA notice.
However what those two DON’T notice, is a giant Samoan man rolling into the ring, and he procedes to crush them like, well, coconuts. Captain New Japan makes the unfortunate mistake of trying to come to the rescue, and he is promptly bludgeoned half to death.
To add insult to injury, he then has his mask stolen by Devitt, who climbs on his new bodyguard’s shoulders and puts Captain New Japan’s mask on backwards, as they walk out of the building amidst a rising tide of complete hatred from the crowd.
THAT is how you do a heel turn. That kind of greatness translates into any language in any country, and in one fell swoop, Prince Devitt is the most hated man in all of New Japan. His partnership with King Fale, (now known as Bad Luck Fale,) is now called Bullet Club, and it may well be the act that propels Prince Devitt into the heavyweight title picture. For a Junior Heavyweight wrestler to do that is an incredible accomplishment, but hell. At this point, the sky’s the limit for the Prince.
82 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Defrost: Good match to start the show. It would be impossible for these four not to have a good match together. Match has a hot start, a hot finish, and solid work in between. Although I’d rate this match ahead of the Time Splitters’ matches with Forever Hooligans, but behind their match with Jushin Liger and Tiger Mask IV which is odd that anything with Tiger Mask IV is head and shoulders better than anything else.
Anyway that’s the match. The real story is what went down afterward. Prince Devitt, the real no bullshit shooter in professional wrestling, was not pleased that Taguchi got himself pinned. Devitt pulled a Barber Shop and pretended to bury the hatchet only to attack from behind. Then came in Devitt’s bouncer. The former King Fale, now the Underboss Bad Luck Fale, laid out Taguchi, Shelley, Kushida, and Captain New Japan. That last one led to the odd decision of Devitt wiping his ass with Captain New Japan’s mask before putting it on. Hey whatever, different strokes and all that. This was awesome though. Best heel turn in forever that I can remember.
Segment 2 – The Faces (Akebono, Manabu Nakanishi, Super Strong Machone and Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs. The Heels (Bob Sapp, Tomohiro Ishii, Yoshi-Hashi and Takashi Iizuka)
Defrost: I swear to you he is not Hirata. Like 5 people reading this will get that.
Basically a match just like the one at the Tokyo Dome playing off the massive K1 kick boxing fight Akebono and Sapp had many a moon ago.
Akebono for his weight and age really moves well. Him and Big Show, thinking about it. Guys with the mileage they have put on their bodies at their weight and age should not be able to move around this well. Good for them.
Cewsh: Bob Sapp always makes me smile, and this match was fine. But there’s way too much else on this show to focus on to spend any more time on this that I already have. ONWARDS
69 out of 100
Defrost: This was good. Which was shocking. I mean at the Dome the match was wacky enough to be entertaining, but no one would call it good. I am partial to all things New Japan and I’d tell you it was fun but shit. Here though they put together a good coherent eight man brawl. Super hot crowd which helped this match and a lot of matches on this show to be honest. I’d say it could of used some STRONGMAN but we got the salty Super Strong Machine instead so that’s all good. I’m telling you he’s not Hirata.
Segment 3 – CMLL World Tag Team Championship – El Terrible and Tama Tonga (c) vs. La Mascara and Valiente
Defrost: CMLL and New Japan have a close working relationship and New Japan has sent a lot of guys over for seasoning as well as main event guys like Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tama Tonga got over in his time in CMLL and found himself in a Championship team with top rudo and CMLL World Heavyweight Champion El Terrible. This match is a one fall match and not CMLL’s traditional 2 out of 3 falls.
Cewsh: It was a failing of mine for a number of years that I just didn’t see the appeal of lucha libre. A lot of it just had to do with being spoiled. Watching WWE in the early 00s is kind of like watching a greatest hits of lucha libre, puroresu, catch wrestling and sports entertainment all rolled together, so when you see lucha libre on its own next to Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio, it just seems slow and confusing. But as years have gone by I’ve grown more and more interested in it, and this has been in no small part due to Fae, who loves lucha so much that you may see her springboarding around a ring near you someday. As such, this match holds way more interest to me now than similar matches on Japanese shows have in the past.
Now, your average lucha libre match pits a big, powerful heel against a small, quick babyface. For the most part that’s the case here too, with the always strange exception of VALIENTE. Roughly 5’2 and 300 lbs of pure muscle, Valiente is built like a cannonball made out of meat and yet somehow he is one of the smoothest and most exciting high flyers that I have ever seen. It truly makes no logical sense, but there he is, soaring through the air like a pigeon on steroids.
There’s plenty of that here too, as Valiente and Masacara do their best to stay out of the dangerous reach of Terrible and Tonga. They do a great job of it, putting up a terrific fight, and while Valiente is clearly the weak link in the match, his buddy Mascara is right there backing him up, right up until the end, where Terrible catches Valiente in the middle of a hurracanrana, and obliterates him with a powerbomb.
After the match, Terrible and Tonga start shoving the good guys around. Masacra tries to stand up to the bullies, but Valiente is completely out of the fight, and the bad guys beat him to a pulp before the dojo boys can drag him out of the ring. It’s pretty obvious that this feud is far from over, but unfortunately if you want to learn more about it, you’ll have to wait for some CMLL reviews to start popping up. I am open to bribery, if you were wondering.
72 out of 100
Defrost: Is it just me or does Terrible look like a young Yasser Arafat?
Going into the show I didn’t expect this to get over, but it really did through a combination of a seriously hot crowd and the match being really fun. This was a really risky put together match because Lucha matches can fall all to hell when they get ambitious but everything that was tried here worked out. Fun match.
Defrost: On the last New Japan ppv Tomoaki Honma returned to New Japan to save Togi Makabe from a beating by Masato Tanaka and Yujiro Takahashi, (the Complete Players.) Honma, who had been Makabe’s regular partner for years, especially when they were the only two members of Great Bash Heel, had been fired when a Yakuza scandal popped up in Japanese wrestling a couple of years ago. The crowd was very happy to see him. Thus this match.
Also, there is something weird going on with Yujiro’s ears.
Cewsh: So you know that old wrestling rule that any time there’s a successful young tag team, it’s inevitable that one member will become a big star, and the other will always stay in his shadow? Well it’s almost always true, (unless neither of them make it.) In New Japan, that tag team was No Limit, and it was clear to pretty much everyone right away that Tetsuya Naito was the Shawn Michaels and Yujiro Takahashi was the Marty Jannetty. But while most Jannetty’s, (including Jannetty,) just wallow in the misery of that for their whole careers, Yujiro just went ahead and didn’t even try to match his partner after the break up. These days, he’s known for wearing sunglasses, simulating cunnilingus and generally being the sleaziest bastard in all of Japan.
Sleaze is a style that never goes out of fashion.
Unfortunately for Yujiro, though, he’s a sleazy midcard heel in a match against a main event brawler and a returning crowd favorite. So he gets steamrolled faster than a pizza in a frat house. But despite the beating that he receives, he and Tanaka manage to pull off what has to be seen as a huge upset by beating GBH fair and square. And then, being the little fuckhead he is, he can’t resist the urge to poke the bear and hits Makabe after the match is over, prompting every dojo boy in the building to hold onto Makabe for dear life to keep him from murdering Takahashi right on the spot.
Oh he’ll get his beating. Oh yes, he damn sure will, and I think we would enjoy seeing that man get punched in the face repeatedly. As for this match, it was actually far better than I expected coming in. I was expecting a short squash, or at least to have Tanaka look like the only credible one, but Takahashi held his own and it was a great midcard, back and forth affair. Not too bad at all.
77 out of 100
Defrost: Damn good match. I’d call it the third best match on the show behind the Heavyweight and IC Title matches. Makabe and Honma are great, and even better as a team where you have a big brother/little brother kind of dynamic. So you have Tanaka, who is amazing as always, and Yujiro, who is solid working over Honma so whenever Honma made a comeback or a hot tag it was dramatic as hell. My only gripe would be the finish where Honma is pinned by Tanaka. Honma really should have won in his return. Not only was it his big return, but on the next PPV he wrestles Tanaka for the NEVER Title coming off a loss, and that’s some Ryback shit right there.
Defrost: The Chaos vs Suzuki-Gun feud continues. These are both heel stables. Chaos is more chaotic with the likes of Iizuka and Yano in it. Then guys like Yoshi-Hashi, Yujiro, and Ishii around plus Kazuchika Okada and their leader Shinsuke Nakamura. In February Suzuki pinned Okada, but was not able to force a rematch in the New Japan Cup because he was beaten by Toru Yano thanks to a low blow leading to this.
Cewsh: It isn’t entirely doing this match justice to compare it to CM Punk wrestling Heath Slater, but that’s really only because Toru Yano occasionally wins matches for some reason, and Minoru Suzuki is more credible and dangerous than CM Punk would ever even attempt to be. But the general idea is right there is front of you.
The only problem with this match really, is that Japan is currently going through a shift in terms of how wrestling is presented. For a very long time, actual heels and faces as American audiences think of them weren’t really a thing. There were oddball heels here and there, and there were people who got booed in specific storylines, but ultimately sports entertainment didn’t really find it’s way to Japan until the late 90s. So maybe that’s the reason why Japan seems to run heel vs. heel matches more often than any other country, even though, as always, it really takes the wind out of your sales to have to cheer for despicable people. Luckily, though, Minoru Suzuki makes it easy on us by being completely awesome and therefore becoming the defacto babyface of this match. He goes a punchin’ and a kickin’ and a submittin’ and a piledrivin’ and then we move on down the road, slightly richer for the experience, if no more enlightened.
68 out of 100
Defrost: This match kinda drags. You have Yano who is a wacky heel and Suzuki who is a bad ass heel, and here the bad ass was to be put over as such to get him ready for the next months main event. So Suzuki murders everybody and it does its job well, but the match itself feels more like an angle than anything else.
Cewsh: You know how sometimes during WWE pay per views, we get commercials for WWE products or just featuring WWE guys and gals? Ever wonder what the Japanese version is like? Well wonder no more, and instead watch as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion defends his title in a card game against what appears to be a high school kid who is being managed by Kazuchika Okada himself. Tanahashi loses, but the kid couldn’t make the minimum weight limit, so Tanahashi retained. DEVIOUS!
Well then, I guess that’s all BUT WAIT THERE’S A NEW CHALLENGER! Rysuke Taguchi has apparently chosen to challenge for the title by way of Nintendo DS game, and Tanahashi accepts, because he’s apparently the most understanding champion of all time.
And that is why he is truly the greatest. Anyone can win a wrestling match. But what other champions could win a video game card battle immediately afterwards?
Don’t answer that.
Defrost: In the mid 1990s New Japan feuded with the shoot style promotion UWFi. At the time Yuji Nagata was a low card wrestler for New Japan as was Kazushi Sakuraba in UWFi. Neither particularly over. Then they met in multi man tag matches in the openers of the October 1995 and January 1996 Tokyo Dome shows. Their interactions with each other in those matches got them over. They rekindled their rivalry at a tv taping during the New Japan cup.
Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata went to High School together and are really good friends in real life. In pro wrestling they’ve been beating on each other since February.
Cewsh: So these guys have themselves a fine match, right up until Sakuraba reverses a back suplex and lands on his arm and….
NO! NONONONONO! BAD! WRONG GAH!
72 out of 100
Defrost: Unfortunately Sakuraba suffered a rather gruesome looking injury that thankfully turned out to be a simple dislocated elbow that will not cause any long term damage and he should be back sooner than later. At the point of the match things were going really good and they looked like they were about to amp things up heading into the finish instead they had to obviously end things to tend to Sakuraba. Hopefully they have a rematch when Sakuraba comes back.
Defrost: This PPV is named Invasion Attack because the newest edition of New Japan’s card fighting game is called Invasion Attack. Much like King of Pro Wrestling led to a PPV of the same name in October. Which means invaders are necessary to make the title make sense. Now they couldn’t really have NOAH invade because quite frankly NOAH is a disaster, and All Japan is out because their new owner is a raving lunatic. So where to go for an invader. How about a place with no army to invade with? Enter the National Wrestling Alliance. A video with the NWA President Bruce Tharp popped up complete with terrible Japanese, Rob Conway formally of La Resistance won the NWA Title from Captain Caveman, Kojima cut a promo is English… sorta and thus we had a match.
Cewsh: Here’s the issue with this match before it ever gets started.
Rob Conway cannot work a Japanese style match. That’s not a slight against him, as he’s a classic Southern heel style wrestler through and through, and most wrestlers struggle to cope with massive style shifts, especially in one off matches. It’s the main reason why most cross promotion dream matches wind up sucking. New Japan wisely put Conway with Kojima, who is both a legend and familiar with the American style, but ultimately the entire thing is a failed experiment.
The worst part about this is that this match could have been so much worse. The NWA getting Rob Conway to carry their belt was actually a cout, because he’s the best wrestler not named Colt Cabana to hold it wince TNA threw it in the garbage 7 years ago. Conway’s a talented guy, and he does his best to make this as good as it can be. But much like practically everything else the NWA has done since 1986 or so, poor management decisions, (alienating Cabana, who would have been a great fit for this, swapping champions with no build or purposes, getting rid of NWA Hollywood for no reason and alienating the entire indy scene,) he’s sunk any possibility of reviving the name and reputation that we all once respected and adored.
It sucks, but there it is. This match was mediocre, but there it is. It was the best that it could be. And I wish I didn’t have to sigh so terribly hard when I said that.
65 out of 100
Defrost: This isn’t a bad match although the one thing that stands out about it is that the booking makes Tenzan look like either an idiot or the worst friend in the world. This was a WWE style match. It would be a high end Raw main event. I could see this main eventing Raw and have people rave about it. The interference, which Tenzan did nothing about, I would say doesn’t fit the promotion but other matches on this show had interference. I guess it was more how they went about it rubbed me the wrong way. Rob Conway is much better than anyone else NWA has that could be champion, but the thing is there is nothing special about the guy. He’s solid, but he’s dull in that OVW way so many guys like Haas and Benjamin and Teddy Jr and hell Randy Orton are. Worst match on the show I’d say.
Defrost: Thus far in the Chaos vs Suzuki-Gun feud, Suzuki-Gun has dominated everyone with the sole exception of Shinsuke Nakamura. Chaos leader Nakamura has successfully defeated Kengo Mashimo and defended his title against Smith’s IWGP Tag Team Championship partner Lance Archer. The only thorn in Nakamura’s side has been Smith, who defeated Nakamura in the first round of the New Japan Cup and pinned Tomohiro Ishii when Nakamura and Ishii challenged Smith and Archer for the IWGP Tag Titles on tv prior to this show. That leads to this title match.
Said it before, but Davey Jr is so much better in this environment than he was in WWE. Now I am still more of a Lance Archer guy, he’s gotten great in New Japan, but something is brushing off here. There are things he needs to work on. Playing to the crowd is fine, but he overdoes it. You don’t need to flip off the crowd every 30 seconds.
The opening heat section was a bit meh. He needs to beat someone with the Sharpshooter to get it over because it isn’t. These are just nitpicks by the way because this was an awesome match. Which one would expect because Shinsuke is involved and if Shinsuke is involved it has to be awesome.
Especially after Shinsuke makes his first comeback both guys ratchet things up. The finishing stretch is great, I was fully into it and thought El Hijo Del Davey Boy Smith might take it at points. I look forward to more Davey Boy Smith Jr in New Japan.
Cewsh: Frosty has it covered from start to finish here. This match starts off slow as molasses, but things speed up as soon as Nakamura and Smith start trading bombs all over the ring, and the match is golden from that point on. It’s funny to think that it’s been well over a year since Nakamura has really been part of the main event, as he’s spent a lot of time developing this character of his, and single handedly establishing a lasting credibility for the Intercontinental Championship and for just about everyone he’s fought for it.
He’s proven to be a completely invaluable resource to use to keep crowds interested all the way through the show, and he seems to be thriving now that he isn’t being asked to carry the weight of the company anymore.
As has been mentioned, Smith looked good here, and he has ever since he found his unlikely wrestling soul mate in Vance Archer, (Dr. Strangehat.) I’m not sure that showing personality in the ring is something that will ever really come naturally to Smith, but he’s become incredibly technically proficient, and great wrestlers like Nakamura are always going to be able to bring something good out of him, because he’s just a blank canvas waiting to be painted on. That’s exactly what happens here, and these guys have easily the second best match on the show. Great, without stealing from the main event that follows it. I swear, it’s like Nakamura is 10 steps ahead of the game at all times.
84 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Defrost: Okada won the New Japan Cup in March to become #1 Contender, and promptly called his loss at the Tokyo Dome to Tanahashi a miracle. A miracle that would not happen again. This feud has been chronicled in Cewsh Reviews in the very recent past so no need to be redundant. Past that, these two have amazing chemistry and this is one of the special things going on in wrestling today.
Cewsh: As a wrestling blog that covers promotions all over the world and is restricted to only 52 reviews in a year, (at most,) we can’t spend a ton of time reviewing Japanese shows, even if we’d really really like to. We have to keep the focus on the United States because that’s where the average wrestling fan’s interest is. It’s just the reality of trying to become a successful wrestling blog. So we often have to pick and choose between gigantic shows in Japan and only review one. In this case, there has been another New Japan show already, (Wrestling Dontaku,) and and Kenta Kobashi, (my favorite wrestler of all time,) had his incredibly emotional retirement show this month as well. And yet we chose this show because of this match. Just like we’ll choose every show that has an Okada/Tanahashi match from here until we’re all eaten by dinosaurs. Because this is the most important feud of this young decade and it is SO FUCKING GOOD.
Let’s get into this match like this. If you were going to face your greatest rival, a man that you had faced 3 times before in matches like this, how would you go about fighting him? Would you wade in and go for broke, knowing that your nemesis knows what you’re going to do before you do it? Would you be cautious and defensive, and let the match come to you, knowing that your opponent is so incredible that that might dig you a hole you could never get out of? There’s no definitive blueprint is there? So inevitably, you are forced to do both. And this match is everything you would ever wanted from two rivals vying for a championship. Tanahashi and Okada go after each other, countering and baiting each other at every step.
The chemistry between them is off the charts, and they do things here to refer back to previous matches so smoothly and with such regularity that it’s almost mind melting just trying to keep track of it all. Knowing that he has to try something different to change things this time, Tanahashi spends the match performing war crimes on the arm Okada needs to perform his Rainmaker lariat. Okada sells this like his arm got cut off.
Eventually we reach the conclusion of the match, and both of these men who are beaten to hell already, just say “fuck it” and start going for their finishers, because there is just literally nothing else left. But again, they know each other SO well that it just becomes counter after counter after counter, in a dizzying display of talent and familiarity. Since both men know that no one move will be enough to win, they’re trying their best to string together sequences, and as time goes by, it’s the champion Tanahashi who seems to show signs of desperation in trying to put away Okada. He forces it one time too many, finds himself in a Tombstone Piledriver that even he can’t slip out of, and before he can recover enough to even know what planet he’s on, Okada summons up his resolve, lifts up his injured arm, and, with one last burst of energy, wastes the IWGP Champion with a Rainmaker he’ll never forget.
1…2…3. Okada ascends the throne.
The explosion from the crowd as Okada finally hits and wins is incredible, as it truly is a huge moment taking place before our eyes. Okada had beaten Tanahashi for the title once before, but that was a fluke. After a year of biding his time and finally paying his dues, Kazuchika Okada has finally become a wrestler deserving of the mantle of IWGP Heavyweight Champion. His journey is complete, and the kingdom is his. Bow down and appreciate the brilliance before you folks, because the Golden Rainmaker is here.
You know, judging by the standards of the internet, Cewsh Reviews has been around for a good long time. And since our first year in business, we’ve been covering New Japan shows. So I imagine the praise that we’ve heaped onto Hiroshi Tanahashi over the years has gotten a little redundant. Hell, we even made him our damn site mascot and the literal representation of quality in the medals we give out. But while most of the other recurring jokes and references we make around here are just in fun, or stopped actually being relevant years ago anywhere outside of these website walls, Hiroshi Tanahashi has continued to be clearly, and without any rival, the greatest wrestler in the world for the entire lifespan of Cewsh Reviews.
I’m really running out of ways to express this to you. We’ve reviewed a truck full of New Japan shows, and in all of them, Hiroshi Tanahashi has NEVER FAILED TO GET A SEAL OF APPROVAL. No other wrestler has even gone a whole year with that being the case. Tanahashi has gone 4. The man is on a run that will only truly be appreciated in retrospect as New Japan revived the entire concept of Puroresu on his back, and has ridden him until a new star emerged with the ability to help him carry the load.
Tonight, Hiroshi Tanahashi passed the torch to the man earmarked to replace him. He did it by giving Okada what may wind up being the greatest match of his career. If you aren’t a complete Hiroshi Tanahashi fanboy by this point, then you simply aren’t paying attention. And if Kazuchika Okada isn’t right there with him in your heart then you’re missing out on the hottest star in all of wrestling. And that shit needs correcting.
95 out of 100
Cewsh’s Seal of Approval
Defrost: When this match was over I called it the greatest match of all time. I was literally trembling for the last five minutes of it. Now the last time I reviewed a show with Cewsh I called the show the greatest of all time. So I would forgive you if you thought that I’d been taken a bit with Tony Schiavone level hyperbole lately. But this match was so smartly put together and so well executed I have no problem making the statement that even if your mileage may vary on a proclamation such as, “greatest of all time” it is without a doubt the leader in the clubhouse as MOTY and more than deserving of FIVE STAR status.
Just look at the way the Rainmaker, Okada’s finishing move, and the way it has been built up paid off in this match. For the first time in their match Tanahashi goes to work on Okada’s arm. Very aggressively. When Okada hits the Rainmaker the work on the arm comes into play. For 15 months no one had kicked out of the Rainmaker. However, because of Tanahashi’s strategy Okada couldn’t immediately cover him allowing him to be the first to do so. There are a thousand other tiny touches it would take a long time to run down for you and probably sound too fan boyish so I’ll just leave you with this. No matter how many times I watch this match I still pop for the High Fly Flow/Sling Blade/Dragon Suplex combo as the finish even though I know better. How many matches can you say that of? If this does not end the year as the best match it means something special is coming down the pike.
Thinking about it my favorite part is in the press area backstage after the main event where they always do the Coors light toast because they’re a sponsor. Okada wants nothing to do with the beer at all. Which is funny considering a year back Shinsuke basically had a photo essay on his Facebook of them getting Okada hammered and leaving him passed out in a hallway. Either that or watching Gedo freaking out on the outside of the ring for every spot.
Cewsh: Man, when you have a main event that makes you that happy, it really is hard to see a show as being good or bad outside of it. Whenever I walk away from this show, no matter what else happened, I’m just going to be thinking about Tanahashi/Okada. With that said, though, this was a very good show. There was a hot opener with a fantastic angle to start things off, and even though there were some unfortunate elements in the middle of the show, (the NWA, elbows being in shapes that nature never intended,) none of it drags the show down. Honestly, New Japan is so ridiculously hot at the moment that I’m not sure they could put on an overall bad show if they tried their best.
If you have felt empty ever since Ring of Honor and TNA went to hell, and haven’t had anything new and great to fill the empty space outside of WWE, then this is it. Don’t sleep on New Japan, or this will be a movement in wrestling that’ll you’ll hear about for years to come, and will wish you had taken advantage of. Seriously, consider me the official driver of the bandwagon. And it’s about time that you hopped on.
Defrost: Very solid undercard with a great heel turn and pretty damn good semi main event leading into an all time classic of a match in the main event. Great booking of the main event scene and an amazingly hot crowd differentiating it from a certain other show that happened the same day. New Japan continues to be the best big show promotion in the business.
Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed visiting Japan with us again, and we promise we’ll be back real soon. In the meantime though, next week it’s back to WWE for the first time since Wrestlemania as we review WWE Extreme Rules 2013. Ryback wants to feed on Cena, the Shield is gunning for titles and Jack Swagger is in another main event. Some of those things are better than others. But to find out which is which, you’ll just have to wait. So until next time, remember to keep reading, and be good to one another!