NJPW: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (January 4, 2008)

I want to try to review all the Wrestle Kingdom main events while they’re free on New Japan World.

(I was confused as to why this show – the biggest NJ show of the year – has only for matches as listed on New Japan World. Then I looked it up on Cagematch and was reminded that this was when New Japan was working with TNA, and all the matches not listed are from a TNA show. Kurt Angle beat Yuji Nagata to defend the other IWGP Heavyweight belt in their main event.)

If you like the story of a valiant babyface fighting through an injury and refusing to quit even at the behest of ringside officials, then you’ll probably like this one. Tanahashi is a jerkface, taunting Nakamura with slaps and then casually retreating to the ropes so the ref will get between them. He works Nakamura’s leg for a bit, which is odd considering his left shoulder is taped and obviously asking to be attacked. Nakamura keeps coming forward through Tanahashi’s dickishness. They trade German suplexes like they’re names are Benoit and Angle. Finally, as Tanahashi blocks a lariat with his forearms, Nakamura’s shoulder starts giving him serious pain. The ref tries to keep Tanahashi back, but he smells blood. Nakamura, of course, doesn’t want the match to be stopped.

Tanahashi tries his darndest, but Nakamura keeps kicking out and refusing to tap, even as most of his offense is countered. He kicks out of two High Fly Flows. At one point, he’s crawling on his belly to Tanahashi, grabbing his opponent’s leg while grimacing in pain. Tanahashi stomps him, but he just keeps coming like some wretch from a monster movie. He finally catches Tanahashi on the top rope and hits a Landslide from the top, then finishes him with another to win the IWGP title.

Winner -Shinsuke Nakamura

Rating – Good

Oh, and Kurt Angle comes out afterwards to set up the title unification match (which Nakamura would win).

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