NJPW: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki (January 4, 2012)

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

After feeling out goes nowhere, they start hitting each other. Suzuki beats up the champion on the outside and tried to piledrive him on the ramp, but Tanahashi backdrops him. They hit each other some more, and Suzuki gets in the ring and taunts Tanahashi by exercising while he waits for him. Tanahashi, as a heel, can play a cocky prick with the best of them, but Suzuki’s ugliness and tendency to not give a crap puts his a-holery in a different category. Tanahashi is able to turn things around on him and, as Suzuki retreats outside, hits a standing High Fly Flow from the top to the floor.

Suzuki recovers enough to pull out an armbar over the ropes as he’s getting back onto the apron. He starts working the arm, even reversing a Dragon Screw into an armbar. He beats on Tanahashi in the corner, shoving the ref away and chewing and licking the middle rope. He gets the sleeper on, and it takes a while for Tanahashi to finally fight his way to almost getting free. Suzuki then hits him with the Gotch-style piledriver, but Tanahashi kicks out. Tanahashi comes back with a backdrop. He hits the Twelve Six and a dragon suplex. Suzuki kicks out of the High Fly Flow.

The final few minutes are the best part, and really the only part anyone needs to see, I think. Tanahashi is bleeding from the mouth, both men are on their knees, and Suzuki headbutts him. They have a hard slap battle as they slowly get to their feet. Suzuki goes for the sleeper, but Tanahashi counter into a Sling Blade. Suzuki crawls on his belly, reaching for Tanahashi with an angry grimace on his face, as Tanahashi gets up and climbs to the top. Suzuki’s arm finally drops as Tanahashi comes off with a High Fly Flow to the back. He hits another one to his front to get the win.

Winner – Hiroshi Tanahashi

Rating – Good

This was pretty good, but I think Suzuki needed to turn up the viciousness to make it really worth seeing. I think they had a rematch later that people prefer. I liked the Kojima/Tanahashi match better than this. However, unless I miss my guess, this looks like the first time Tanahashi has come into the January 4th Dome show main event as IWGP Heavyweight Champion and retained the title.


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