NJPW Wrestle Kingdom IX

New Japan Pro Wrestling Proudly Presents…

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom IX

Welcome, cats and kittens to yet another installment of the only reviews that have no interest in a hoverboard because wheels work just fine, Cewsh Reviews! We have a special treat for you tonight as we are finally able to get our hands on the show that we have been building to for lo these many months. I’ve talked about it on the Cewshcast, I’ve written about it all over social media and on all kinds of different sites, and our previews leading up to the show were juuuuuuust shy of being insufferably overbearing. All of that hype, anticipation and excitement has led up to one of the most important wrestling shows of the century, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom IX! Tonight we will see the culmination on an incredible feud, a compilation of talent unmatched in any promotion since the dawn of time, and also Jeff Jarrett! You’ll see death defying dives, intense slugfests, and i’m going to use the phrase “dropping bombs on each other” so often that i’m going to go on watchlists all over the world. But most importantly, we’re going to take a walk through Wrestle Kingdom together, as American audiences and Japanese ones join as one for the first time to ask together just what kind of adamantium skeleton does Tomohiro Ishii have anyway?

So without any further ado, let’s do a motherfucking review!

Segment 1 – INTRODUCTION!

Normally this is where I explain the feuds and backstories involved in this show, but somehow, I kind of feel like maybe that is ground that we have already covered. So instead, let’s take a moment to look at the other thing that makes this show really special, and that’s the involvement of Global Force Wrestling.

When GFW first formed months and months ago, it prompted a lot of uncertainty as to what it was and what it would be. When the Jeff Jarrett formed company began flying around the world forming working agreements with at least one promotion in every significant part of the wrestling world, the confusion and excitement only heightened. But it wasn’t until they announced that they would be partnering with New Japan to put on an English speaking version of the show on US PPV that we got to see the real potential that this kind of global partnership could give us. Not only would American fans who were turned off for years by the impenetrability of watching a show in another language get to see the biggest puro show of the year in English, but it would commentated on by none other than Matt Striker and Jim Ross, making his grand return from retirement. To say this was a big deal is a total understatement. There were as many people sending us messages about how excited they were to see JR as they were to see Okada or Nakamura. And with American PPV on the table, there was finally a convenient way for those people to watch. It was a massive cout for everyone involved.

Of course, Jim Ross hadn’t called a Japanese wrestling show since 1991’s Rumble in the Rising Sun and was openly soliciting advice and information from people on Twitter so that he’d be prepared enough to cover the show. As such, a major part of this show is the quality of the commentary, and how it compares to the more passionate and familiar NJPW announcers, and thus we will be comparing the two throughout the show to determine which commentary team is the better one to listen to for each match. Because we’re thorough as fuck, and we want to make sure you have a good time.

Alright, alright. That’s enough with the damn introduction already. All the waiting, all the wishing and all the wondering have led up to this. Will this show leave the hopes of New Japan’s American expansion in the dust, or will a stirring success send them into the stratosphere? Only one way to find out…

Segment 2 – IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship – reDragon (c) vs. The Young Bucks vs. The Time Splitters vs. Forever Hooligans

 

This technically isn’t the first match of the show, as there was a dark match Royal Rumble held beforehand for laughs. But unless you’re familiar with Japanese legends from 30 years ago or dojo students who haven’t formally debuted yet, it’s really not something you have to see. So let’s get on to the real opener.

This is a flippy match with flippy people in it. The defending champions, (who are ROH wrestlers Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly,) managed to make it to this match despite ROH doing all they could to fuck it up for everyone, and lucky we are that they did because this is exactly the kind of opener that a show like this needs. It’s fast spaced, it doesn’t skimp on spectacle but it doesn’t go so far that it’s hard to follow. These four teams that are so, so, so familiar with each other after seemingly dozens of matches by this point, just go out and energize the crowd, before ending things off with reDragon’s Chasing The Dragon finisher, which the crowd clearly appreciated.

On a lesser show, this might be a standout match. On this one it’s just a footnote. But it was damn fun all the same.

78 out of 100

reDragon Over Everyone Else Following The Chasing The Dragon.

Announce Team To Listen To: GFW

(JR and Striker are shaky to start, and JR seems baffled by the action, but it’s so surreal to hear them announcing this show.)

Segment 3 – Bullet Club (Jeff Jarrett, Bad Luck Fale, and Yujiro Takahashi) vs. Team New Japan (Tomoaki Honma, Satoshi Kojima, and Hiroyoshi Tenzan)

The funny thing about this is that, while rightfully the memorable part here is Honma finally getting his win, what surrounded it wasn’t bad at all. In fact, I really enjoyed seeing all of these disparate elements mixing it up together, and I was surprised at how well Jeff Jarrett fit into the entire New Japan formula, when the man is as far removed from having a puro style as it is possible to be. The teased guitar shot was super over, (for maybe the first time in Jarrett’s entire career,) Honma and Kojima especially got time to shine in front of grateful fans, and one of the matches we worried most about on this show comes and goes without anything to complain about.

77 out of 100

Team New Japan Over Bullet Club Following The Kokeshi.

Announce Team To Listen To: NJPW

(JR is still rusty and the announcer’s response to Honma’s win is something special.)

Segment 4 – Suzukigun (Killer Elite Squad, Shelton Benjamin, and Takashi Iizuka) vs. Team NOAH (TMDK, Naomichi Marufuji, and Toru Yano)

Naomichi Marufuji is a force of nature. While many of the new fans that New Japan brought in with this show aren’t likely to remember him, Marufuji has been a understated huge name in wrestling for over a decade now. As the partner/nemesis of KENTA, Marufuji rose to prominance in the mid 00s as one of the premier Jr. Heavyweight wrestlers in the world, becoming the first man to win the Jr. Heavyweight title in all 3 of the major Japanese companies, (AJPW, NOAH and NJPW,) and during a run of quality that was almost peerless, he almost singlehandedly put over the new wave of the Jr. division and made it a thing, by making a star out of Prince Devitt and bringing prestige to a division that had been slowly dying under the shitty match having boots of Tiger Mask.

Now, Marufuji is the Vice President, champion and top star of Pro Wrestling NOAH, and on his occasional visits to New Japan, he never disappoints.

Not that he’s given a ton to do here. This is really less a match than it is an excuse to shine the limelight on some NOAH guys, and the end to this was never even remotely in doubt. Though, the way that he ended it, with a new move called the Tiger King which is a charging bicycle knee uppercut, is about as stupidly awesome as moves get.

So yeah, this wasn’t great, or bad, but kind of hags out in between with the limited time and motivation they got. But as long as I got to see Marufuji do his thing on the big stage it’s all good with me.

Oh, and an honorable mention goes out to Lance Archer who is guilty of attempted murder via chokeslam.

74 out of 100

Team NOAH Over Suzukigun Following The Tiger King Knee Uppercut.

Announce Team To Listen To: NJPW

(JR has nothing to say about this match.)

 

Segment 5 – UWFi Rules – Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazushi Sakuraba

 

When it comes to MMA, I have always made it clear that I am not the guy to go to. I don’t enjoy it, I don’t follow it, and i’m largely ignorant to the history of the sport as a whole. This isn’t to say that I don’t see why people like it, or that I haven’t enjoyed it now and again when MMA and wrestling have crossed paths, but in general I feel the need to preface my reviews of MMA fueled matches such as this one with a disclaimer so that the usual low score will make sense.

Of course, then this match had to go and fuck that all up.

This match is fucking great. The atmosphere in the arena makes it clear that this is a big time fight, no matter where it happens to be on the card, and Suzuki. Holy shit guys, this is the match Suzuki was born to wrestle. Against a man that he has always wanted to prove himself against, in a match that straddles both MMA and professional wrestling, (an art that he was perfecting when Brock Lesnar was just a high school kid with a bad haircut,) Suzuki comes alive in this match. His selling is on point, his control of the match and the crowd are incredible, and he pulls a match out of Sakuraba that I frankly did not believe that he had in him.

Suzuki has always been a special talent when he could be bothered to care about what he was doing. In all the years he has wrestled for New Japan I have never seen him put in this much of an effort, and I have never seen him look better. Could the man actually have another gear left to go to at the ripe old age of 46? Well hell, would you doubt him?

88 out of 100

Cewsh’s Seal of Approval

Minoru Suzuki Over Kazushi Sakuraba Following A Rear Naked Choke Hold.

Announce Team To Listen To: GFW

(Oddly enough, it’s Striker that makes this one a must hear. Dude knows his stuff.)

Segment 6 – NEVER Openweight Championship – Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Togi Makabe

Here let me try to do play by play of this one for you:

SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH

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SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH

This may be the stiffest match that I have ever witnessed. Even calling it a match does it a disservice in some way because these men to not fuck around with any kind of namby, pamby feeling out period, or slow build, or even really the basic structure of a recognizable wrestling match. What they do instead is line up across from one another, and for 15 minutes they just take each other’s best shots again and again and again.

It takes a special kind of human being to step up and readily encourage another person to do their worst to harm you. It takes a whole other level of human being to do that to a gigantic man who wears a huge chain as a necklace, or to a tiny man who is so clearly made out of iron that they might as well just make him into a wrecking ball so he can better serve the community. And while i’m sure this match won’t be for everyone, and that you could easily pick holes in it when comparing it to other matches I really feel like that would be missing the point. This isn’t like other matches. This is an exhibition of two men with balls the size of armadillos attempting to blast one another off of the face of the planet one chop at a time. It’s a spectacle, an event, and it must be seen to be believed.

88 out of 100

Cewsh’s Seal of Approval

Togi Makabe Over Tomohiro Ishii Following A King Kong Knee Drop.

Announce Team To Listen To: GFW

(The second that two big guys start clubbing each other, JR instantly comes to life.)

Segment 7 – IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship – Ryusuke Taguchi (c) vs. Kenny Omega

This is the worst match on this show by a lot. You’ll probably hear from a lot of people who like the match more than I do, as it’s a perfectly competent match between a guy, (Omega,) who is trying to work out a new character and isn’t quite there yet, and a guy, (Taguchi,) who seems content to ride out the rest of his career with no character whatsoever. Omega, at least, has an interesting style in the ring, and does bring some noteworthy moments to the match, but in the end nothing here really spoke to me. This felt like filler, and if we can consider it that way, it’s some of the highest class filler you’re ever likely to see.

70 out of 100

Kenny Omega Over Ryusuke Taguchi Following The Katayoku no Tenshi.

Announce Team To Listen To: NJPW

(The title change sounds like a much bigger deal when announced by people who care.)

Segment 8 – IWGP Tag Team Championships – Bullet Club (c) vs. Meiyu Tag

This was a strong tag match, that saw two teams that aren’t really great teams bring out the best in each other, and which used all four men in the best way they probably can be used in this scenario. I’ve made it clear what I think about Bullet Club as a tag team, (that they suck, mainly,) but Karl Anderson especially really goes out of his way to bring his A game on the big stage here. As for Luke Gallows…welll….this was the best match of Luke Gallows’ career. Take that for what you will.

80 out of 100

Cewsh’s Seal of Approval

Meiyu Tag Over Bullet Club Following A PK.

Announce Team To Listen To: NJPW

(Same.)

Segment 9 – AJ Styles vs. Tetsuya Naito

There are two major points of interest here. The first is the fact that we now live in a reality where the Styles Clash, one of the weakest looking moves in wrestling history, is now a kill move so feared and decried, that it earned a BAH GAWD from JR. The second is that Tetsuya Naito continues to grow into a more complete performer as time goes on, and has gone from being a lesser version of Tanahashi to being something all his own.

It isn’t a surprise that this is one of the most overlooked matches on the show. After all, this is basically the gatekeeper between the fun undercard and the unimaginable treasures that lie ahead. Add to that the fact that AJ Styles is the guy most people will be focusing on, and you have an easy formula for the work of Naito to be overlooked altogether. But when I watched this match, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Naito for one simple reason: he learned how to sell.

For YEARS now, one of the biggest knocks on the man, (aside that he is injury prone was pushed down our throats, wears goofy outfits and treats facial expressions like he’s being charged by the smile,) is that he is ridiculously bad at selling limb work. In match after match, his opponent would start working over a body part, only for Naito to start leaping about like a salmon the second that the poor guy’s back was turned. But this match sees Naito wrestle as if he’s trying to erase all of those no selling blunders in one match, as he sells his hurt leg as if AJ has actually removed it from his body, and the match works so much better as a result.

Both of these men have better matches in them, but this was no disappointment. Whether people remember it or not, I will dammit. I will.

84 out of 100

Cewsh’s Seal of Approval

AJ Styles Over Tetsuya Naito Following A Super Styles Clash.

Announce Team To Listen To: GFW

(If you came to see JR say “GOD!” then here’s your chance.)

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It is at this point that I feel that I should mention that this is essentially two shows. Everything up to now has been very good and entertaining and absolutely nobody is talking about any of it a few days later. That’s show one. The two matches that are about to follow are the kind of thing that people will judge you for not having seen in the future and will be talked about for years upon years. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

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Segment 10 – IWGP Intercontinental Championship – Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Kota Ibushi

 

Size matters.

Ever since the early 50s when the American influence on Japan first brought wrestling to the country, and it’s first great star was born in the legendary Rikidozan, size has been king in Japanese wrestling. That this is true in most regions of the wrestling world is undoubted, but in Japan it was so pronounced due to the influence of Rikidozan, and the cultural familiarity with sumo wrestling, that it was built into the very fabric of puroresu itself. There are heavyweights and jr. heavyweights, and heavyweights are the money makers. If a jr. heavyweight wanted to become a big star, he would go away on his sojourn around the world, and come back 40 pounds heavier and a whole lot more stoic. That was simply the only way for smaller guys to get ahead. Get bigger or get out. And for 40 years that remained true until a man named Jushin Liger came along.

With his superhero gimmick and unmatched skill and innovation, Liger began to change things by getting so over that promoters had to recognize him, even giving him the occasional title match. But even with his incredible skill and drawing power, there was a very definite glass ceiling that he could not break. As the years moved on into the 00s, and more and more lucha libre influence crept into Japanese wrestling, you started to see even heavyweights incorporating it into their style. So it was only natural that in the next generation of young stars there would be some that didn’t want to become heavyweights. That wanted to make it to the top as they were. This struggle defined the decade as men like KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji, Prince Devitt, and even the big, but not THAT big, Hiroshi Tanahashi gave their all to change the way that fans looked at Jr. Heavyweight wrestling. It took a long, long time, and a huge number of heroic and face melting performances before fans started to budge on the idea that small guys could credibly beat big ones. The stigma isn’t gone, and it likely never will be. But it’s flexible now, and that makes it a whole new world.

Into this new world walked Kota Ibushi, a great looking, hard working, humble guy with high flying skills like we’ve never seen before. He did his time in the Jr. Heavyweight division, which isn’t up to the standard it once was, and then he turned his attention to the real prizes. In him, New Japan have a young man held back by nothing but societal limitations and a glass ceiling that has more cracks in it every day. But if Ibushi wants to break through and truly become the first Jr. main eventer in New Japan’s history, he’s going to have to turn in a gutsy performance for the ages here. Ultimately, this match is not about whether Ibushi wins. Winning proves nothing. In order to realize his dream, Ibushi is going to have to prove than he can take everything Nakamura can dish out and give it right back. He’s going to have to soar.

 

This match was incredible. These guys pretty much said it all, but just let me reiterate what a mind blowing match this was. This is about the time in the show where Twitter started getting flooded with wrestlers themselves giving huge praise to this show, and this match in particular. One of those comments in particular stuck with me.

That isn’t the comment of someone who is enjoying a match. That’s the comment of someone who has just witnessed the entire game change in front of them and knows how hard it will be to keep up.

You know who it sucks to be right now? Tanahashi and Okada. Because there’s no way in hell that this match is followable.

95 out of 100

Cewsh’s Seal of Approval

Shinsuke Nakamura Over Kota Ibushi Following The Boma Ye.

Announce Team To Listen To: GFW

(You have not heard JR call a match this well since the days when people still used Walkmans.)

Segment 11 – IWGP Heavyweight Championship – Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada

The Backstory

This is the story of the greatest feud of our generation.

Once upon a time, there was a warrior and a rogue. The warrior was beloved throughout the land, and held endless awards and accolades to his credit, while the rogue languished as a project that everyone had given up on before he ever got started. That was the order of things for a long while, until the rogue decided to challenge the unbeatable warrior for his crown, and stunningly won, changing the balance of power forever. It was unthinkable that this kid out of nowhere could defeat the man synonymous with the heavyweight championship, and so easily at that. But what people didn’t understand then was that Okada had the potential to be the biggest star in the entire industry. On that night in 2012, he arrived. Ever since that moment all of New Japan has been consumed by the struggle between these two. They split the first four matches between them 2-2, (which you can read more about here.), and planned to settle things at the Sumo Hall show in October of 2013.

Okada ultimately beat Tanahashi in what both men treated as the final match in their storied rivalry. Afterwards, Tanahashi declared that he would never again challenge Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. It was an incredible show of respect, and a passing of the torch moment on par with any in wrestling history. Tanahashi ceded the main event to his young rival, and pursued the Intercontinental Championship. For a while it seemed like the era of Okada had truly come. But even that was bittersweet. In the first Wrestle Kingdom of his new era, New Japan let fans vote on what match would be the main event, Okada vs. Naito, or Tanahashi vs. Nakamura. In a landslide, fans went with Tanahashi, even though Okada had the most prestigious championship on the planet. The bitterness this instilled in Okada would haunt him for the rest of the year. And then AJ Styles arrived.
Styles, fresh off his departure from TNA, burst onto the seen by joining Bullet Club, and using them to steal the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Okada, laying siege to New Japan in the process. Okada tried valiantly to recover the title, but was never able to, and was forced to try to earn another shot by winning the grueling, 10 day marathon tournament known as the G1 Climax Tournament. In the end, he managed to beat Shinsuke Nakamura and claim his prize, a title shot at Wrestle Kingdom, in perhaps the greatest triumph of his career. He was all set to take on the man who took everything from him, but before he could, fate intervened.
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated AJ Styles for the championship at the PPV before Wrestle Kingdom. True to his word, Tanahashi had never tried to challenge Okada’s championship reign, but when he seemed unable to get the belt back for New Japan, Tanahashi took the matter into his own hands. All of this perfectly set up for the ultimate moment. Okada would defeat his true rival on the biggest stage, in the biggest match, on the biggest night, for the biggest company in all of Japan, and he would do it in front of a new American audience. It would be the jumping off point for a new generation, the Okada generation. Tanahashi’s loss would cement Okada as the better man now and forever, and Okada could press forward into the future as the hero of his own story.
That was the narrative that we all understood and expected going into this match. Okada would win and go on to glory with the big rub, and Tanahashi would ride off into the sunset to work on his cowboy hat collection. It seemed like a perfect plan. Except that nobody bothered to tell Tanahashi.

When we talk about Hiroshi Tanahashi, it’s difficult to separate the man from the symbol. He is the walking, talking representation of the turnaround of New Japan, and this new generation of wild unchecked success and growth. He is the reason why New Japan is where it is, and seeing him now is like seeing Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin walking around. Their stature as these forces of nature who captured the imagination of the public makes them not even feel real. So when Okada came to potential take over as the new top guy as New Japan, the expectation was that Tanahashi would move to the side and just sort of fade away into the history books. The problem with that is that when Tanahashi recaptured the IWGP Championship, he discovered that we wasn’t quite ready to ride off into the sunset. While Okada’s focus lies squarely on proving that he’s better than Tanahashi, and recapturing the title, Tanahashi’s focus is on being the best that there has ever been, and he has made it clear that he does not think that Okada is capable of carrying the company because he only cares about himself. So one more time, the living legend of New Japan will lace up his boots to go against a man who is younger, stronger, taller, faster, and perhaps even more popular than him. We’ve seen all that he can give, and to win this match, he’s going to need more. Much, much more.

 

The Match

This is the 6th, (significant,) meeting between these two guys, and each one has been incredibly high profile. As such, they very frequently wrestle them as if you have watched the previous ones, (which you should have.) Nearly everything they do in some way references something from a past match, whether it be Tanahashi viciously attacking Okada’s leg here because attacking his arm didn’t work last time, or Okada having Tanahashi so perfectly scouted on his attempt at a Sling Blade on the ramp. There’s a fabulous continuity built in here that carries through each match, as they each figure out what works against the other. Past matches have often revolved around one of them finding one tool to use against the other that they aren’t ready for, and carefully putting together a strategy for using it over 30 minutes.

That isn’t what happens here.

Tanahashi knows that Okada will beat him if they have another match like their past ones. Okada has figured out the formula for beating Tanahashi, and frankly, Tanahashi’s game has more weaknesses than the 6’4 Greek God of a man he’s facing. So instead, Tanahashi tried something else. Chaos. Right from the start, Tanahashi and Okada go after each other aggressively, completely skipping the feeling out period that had been a tradition between them. Big moves fly early and often as Okada gives Tanahashi a gigantic Heavy Rain, (death valley driver,) on the ramp, and Tanahashi answers back a few minutes later with a High Fly Flow into the seats that made my jaw drop onto the floor.

LIKE A GREAT MUSCLY BIRD

Tanahashi has always been a high flyer, but not a risk taker. He flies in a calculated way, always designed to get the most damage with the least risk. But here, the old man throws himself all over the place, trying to throw Okada off his game, to change the style of the match enough to give himself the upper hand again. It’s a fantastic strategy and it alllllllllmost works.

Unfortunately for the champion, his challenger is just too fucking good for words. All it takes is one slip up from Tanahashi, and Okada is there, hitting him with move after move after move. So overwhelmed did Tanahashi seem at one point that I actually thought that he was legitimately injured from the bump he took on the ramp and that they were going to have to wrap this up unsatisfactorily like Undertaker/Lesnar. But Tanahashi fought back, and fought back, and fought back some more, trying his best to withstand the onslaught as Okada ran through his entire moveset like a sadistic child playing a video game. Okada was in control, and seemed thoroughly comfortable with the finish line in sight. But Okada couldn’t put him away. No matter what he did, it wasn’t enough. As they descended into a frantic flurry of counters, reversals and near falls, Okada was thrown off balance, and both men just started dropping bombs on one another, until finally, blessedly, Okada wrapped Tanahashi up and leveled him with a Rainmaker Lariat. The most established kill move in all of Japan. The move that Tanahashi feared so much that he designed a style based solely around countering it. It was over. He was finished. The end had come.

Haha, NOPE.

Tanahashi kicked out of the Rainmaker, causing the entire arena to lose its collective mind. Okada could only look on in shock as the man he was certain he was better than, the specter from his past he thought he had banished, rose up again and went completely insane. Tanahashi found an extra gear in that moment, and went wild on Okada, going back to his weakened leg again and again and hitting him with High Fly Flow after High Fly Flow, to the legs…

Sitting up…
And finally on a prone and stunned Okada, which proved to be just enough.

Tanahashi raised his championship high and told a tearful, retreating Okada that he was a long, long way from deserving the title. The impossible had happened. Tanahashi had reversed the flow of time, and Okada had once again failed on the biggest stage to fulfill his destiny.

 

The Review

You know how I said there was no way that anything could follow that last match? WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG. Not only did this match follow that one, there is an argument to be made that it surpassed it. Certainly the emotion behind this match was stronger, but i’m not here to split hairs. This match was such an incredible reversal of the narrative that we all expected to see that it blew me away at the time, and is still blowing me away days later. They knew that we would think this was Okada’s torch ceremony. They knew that we would never expect Tanahashi to have another gear to get even better than he already was. They took those expectations and used them to destroy us, while giving us something even better than what we thought we wanted. A year from now, when Okada meets Tanahashi again, and the fans are more behind him than ever because of how sympathetic the end of this match made him, it really will be time for Okada to be that guy. But not today. Oh no, not today.

I’ve seen it said that the story of the this feud is that Okada finally made it to the mountaintop, only to find out that Tanahashi has built the mountain even higher above him. That sounds about right. And suddenly a feud which we thought was dead and buried has more momentum than ever. This match was amazing, and was some of the best storytelling you will ever seen in a ring.

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And All Was Well In The World Once More.

98 out of 100

Cewsh’s Seal of Approval

Hiroshi Tanahashi Over Kazuchika Okada Following The High Fly Flow.

Announce Team To Listen To: GFW

(Not to be missed. This is ever bit as good as anything Jim Ross or Matt Striker have ever done.)

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Cewsh’s Conclusion:

This is the best show that we have ever reviewed. I could dance around that fact, or try to put another show ahead of it so it doesn’t look like i’m ranking it that way just because of my well known love for Japanese wrestling, but I simply can’t. This show doesn’t even have the decency to make it a close race. The entire show up until the final two matches was fun, fast paced and satisfying, and then they had to go and set the world on fire with a double main event that will be very hard to match in terms of dual quality. This is every bit the show I crossed my fingers and wished for when I was dragging potential fans into buying it by any means necessary. This was an industry altering, mind blowing, once in a lifetime experience. If you haven’t seen it yet, prepare to expect funny looks from people, because this has now entered the smark consciousness. Something about the wrestling world changed on this night. I eagerly look forward to seeing where it takes us.

Cewsh’s Final Score: 83.2 out of 100

Well that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed the pomp and circumstance of this once in a lifetime show, (I promise we’ll shut up about New Japan for a little while,) because now it’s time to jump back into the world of WWE, where even their “Once in a Lifetime” stuff happens twice. Yes, we’ll be bringing you a belated review of WWE TLC 2014 just before the Royal Rumble, so everyone is all caught up before everything changes like mad with the new year. So until then, remember, as always, to keep reading and be good to one another.

Written by Cewsh

I am the owner and operator of Cewsh Reviews. We review pro wrestling shows in a way that is funny and educational. Probably. Usually at least one or the other.

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