NJPW: Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (January 4, 2016)

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

Who cares what they do at the beginning? Tanahashi works the leg, that’s the important part. Then Okada dropkicks him off the apron to the floor. He throws him over the guardrail and does a running crossbody over it onto him. Okada keeps the pressure on in the ring for a while. Tanahashi comes back with some leg attacks and sends Okada to the floor. Looks like we’ll have the obligatory High Fly Flow to the floor, but no, Okada meets him and tries to Samoan drop him. Tanahashi ends up pulling out a Dragon Screw through the…metal things that hold the turnbuckles to the ring posts. (What are those called? How can I not know this?) Then there’s a Sling Blade on the apron and the High Fly Flow to the floor.

Okada is slow to beat the count, but he barely does. He wouldn’t have lost the title by countout, but this is about more than the title. Tanahashi does a second-rope High Fly Flow to Okada’s legs.  The legwork comes into play when Okada does the Kryptonite Krunch over his knee and hurts himself. Okada still fires away with front dropkicks from all positions, but can’t finish Tanahashi. The big elbow drop leads to a Rainmaker attempt, but Tanahashi dodges, catches a dropkick, and puts on a cloverleaf. Okada makes it to the ropes.

Okada avoids a High Fly Flow. Tanahashi kicks out of the Rainmaker. Okada does the High Fly Flow, but Tanahashi kicks out. Tanahashi hits a Rainmaker (of course), and they’re both down. Tanahashi kicks at Okada’s leg. He counters a Rainmaker into a Sling Blade and dragon suplex, but no good. Okada kicks out of a pair of High Fly Flows, and when Tanahashi goes for another, Okada dropkicks him in the air.

Tanahashi blocks a suplex, slaps Okada, and gets hit with the beautiful dropkick. Tanahashi slaps Okada to block the Rainmaker, but Okada won’t let go of his arm (a great metaphor for the whole story of their rivalry, which the camera makes sure to get a close up on). Okada lariats him twice while holding the arm (so I guess two mini-Rainmakers)  and picks him up to hit the full Rainmaker and finally get the pinfall victory over Tanahashi at the Dome.

Winner – Kazuchika Okada

Rating – Great

And there you have it. There were a couple little hiccups (blink and you might miss them), but it’s hard to say that this match is better or worse than either of the other two. It’s like saying that The Two Towers is better than Return of the King when they’re ultimately just two parts of the same book (Lord of the Rings was originally meant to be one huge book, you know). It’s a great story, and honestly, after watching this trilogy, it’s going to be hard to go back to watching WWE stuff for me. At least I don’t have to review that.

I did it! I watched all the Tokyo Dome main events! And just in time, because today is January 4th, and Okada is main eventing with Kenny Omega tonight for the IWGP Heavyweight title. I don’t when or if I’ll be able to watch it, but it should be something else.

NJPW: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada (January 4, 2015)

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

Stuff gets going when Okada forearms Tanahashi on a break. They fight, and Okada knocks Tanahashi off the second rope to the floor. He Yakuza kicks him over the guardrail and then hits a draping DDT on the floor. He takes him up the ramp, and Tanahashi gets free and goes for something, but Okada catches him with Heavy Rain (the modified DVD I mentioned in their last match), then just sits there like he’s chillin’. Eventually, he takes him back into the ring.

After taking some more punishment, Tanahashi starts fighting back, but Okada doesn’t let that last long and starts stretching him. Then Okada goes full heel and taunts Tanahashi, daring him to hit him, which he does. A forearm battle leads to them constantly one-upping each other. Tanahashi wins by attacking the leg? No, Okada wins with a shotgun dropkick. No, Tanahashi wins with a fireman’s carry counter into a Sling Blade! It continues as anytime one of them looks to have a strong advantage, the other turns the tables. Tanahashi gets an opening to start working Okada’s leg.

They end up outside again, and after Okada takes a bump over the guardrail to set up Tanahashi’s longest High Fly Flow to the floor yet. Back in the ring, a sequence ends in a Sling Blade, and Tanahashi comes off with another High Fly Flow crossbody, but Okada rolls through and tries a tombstone. Tanahashi reverses it into his own tombstone and hits two High Fly Flows, but Okada kicks out. Uh-oh, that’s usually the end of everything. Okada won’t let him get a cloverleaf, so Tanahashi decided to steal Okada’s Rainmaker. Okada ducks and hits his own, but Tanahashi kicks out, becoming the first person to ever kick out after Okada’s Rainmaker (I think).

When they cut to the crowd, there’s this kid applauding with a huge smile on his face. That touched my heart.

They stagger to their feet and forearm each other. Tanahashi slaps Okada several times. Okada hangs off of him, not going down, but unable to get all the way up. They counter things. Okada kicks out of a cross-armed German suplex and a dragon suplex. He hits the beautiful dropkick. Tanahashi Dragon Screws his leg over the rope and hits three High Fly Flows to finally put him away.

Winner – Hiroshi Tanahashi

Rating – Great

This was about Okada trying and still failing to usurp Tanahashi as the “Ace” of New Japan. I remember a few people were mad that he didn’t go all the way this time, but there was a long game planned by the New Japan bookers, as we’ll see in the next year…

NJPW: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (January 4, 2014)

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

Aw, man, I heard that Marty Friedman performed Tanahashi’s entrance, but they had to cut it out of this version. Shame.

Now this is the Nakamura everyone loves today. And this is for his IWGP Intercontinental title, not the Heavyweight title.

Some stuff happens before Tanahashi tries a springboarding crossbody and Nakamura brings him down onto his knee, but I decided to hang up laundry during that part (because I live in China and we don’t have dryers). Nakamura works over Tanahashi’s midsection inside and outside the ring. Tanahashi catches his leg with a Dragon Screw and starts working on that. Nakamura hits him with a knee and a front choke and starts kneeing his midsection from different angles. He tries to a drop a knee on his face on the apron, but Tanahashi moves. He hits the prerequisite High Fly Flow to standing Nakamura on the floor.

Back in the ring, they both try submissions. Tanahashi kicks out of a Bomaye knee, and Nakamura kicks out of a High Fly Flow. Tanahashi also takes a Bomaye from the second rope, and one to the back of the head. Tanahashi gets Nakamura in a torture-style cloverleaf, and when Nakamura’s about to finally break free, Tanahashi turns it into a Styles Clash-type move. Then there’s a High Fly Flow while Nakamura’s sitting up, followed by a regular one for the win and the belt.

Winner – Hiroshi Tanahashi

Rating – Good

I didn’t like this as much as the Okada match. In fact, I think I liked the last Tanahashi/Nakamura match better. I’m gonna be in the minority and just straight up say that I liked Nakamura better before he changed to his junkie-looking character.

NJPW: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada (January 4, 2013)

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

Nothing really happens until Okada plants Tanahashi with a draping DDT. He takes him outside sort of reverse chokes him on the guardrail in front of the many commentators. Okada kicks his of back in the ring. Tanahashi eventually turns things around and hits the High Fly Flow onto a standing Okada outside the ring. It wouldn’t be the Dome show without one of those. They struggle with each other back in the ring, and they end up back on the floor again when Okada dropkicks Tanahashi off the top rope. Tanahashi escapes a tombstone attempt and hits a Sling Blade on the rampway. They get back in the ring, and Okada gets the knees up on a High Fly Flow (payback for Tanahashi getting his knees up on an Okada elbow drop earlier).

Okada hits that Kryptonite Krunch on his knee that I wish had a name so I could stop having to describe it. He also does a modified DVD. Tanahashi avoids the Rainmaker. Dragon suplex. Sling Blade and a High Fly Flow, but Okada kicks out. I should’ve expected that, but he really squashed him, so I kind of thought that was it. Wouldn’t be the dome show without the HFF getting kicked out of, though. Tanahashi works Okada’s knee with Dragon Screws and puts him in the cloverleaf. Okada won’t tap, though he seems to consider it at points. Tanahashi goes for something, but Okada catches him with his beautiful dropkick.

Okada and Tanahashi hold onto each other as they get to their feet, looking almost like friends, but Okada goes for the Rainmaker. Tanahashi avoids it and a dropkick, but gets a dropkick to the back and a tombstone. He counters another Rainmaker with a Sling Blade. They both struggle up again and fight for a tombstone. Tanahashi eventually gets it. Then, much like the year before with Suzuki, Tanahashi crawls to the top as a glassy-eyed Okada reaches for him. Okada makes it to his feet in time to get a High Fly Flow crossbody. Tanahashi follows it up with a more traditional one to get the pin and retain.

Winner – Hiroshi Tanahashi

Rating – Good

The legend begins. Well, as far as the Tokyo Dome show goes, at least.

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.