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.

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NJPW: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Yoshihiro Takayama (January 4, 2010)

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

The last time these two met on this same stage, Nakamura got brutalized but pulled out the victory by submission. This time, he still gets brutalized, but he ends up dishing out more than he takes.

Takayama gets him in trouble fairly early after his first big kick. He beats him on the apron and seems to try winning by countout. Nakamura gets in and takes some more punishment, but he starts giving it back, too. Takayama has pretty much the same strategy as the last time (which is weird since it didn’t work then, but I think it’s pretty much all he’s got by this point). It gets him really close – Nakamura gets rocked by knees a few times – but now that Nakamura’s bigger, he’s got more power behind his own knees and forearms. He throws some of the PRIDE-style grounded knees, which might give Takayama some negative flashbacks.

Also of note is the callback to their last match when Nakamura wriggles free from a German suplex pin and goes for the kimura. Plus, there’s a dragon suplex from the apron into the ring.

The knee is the key in the end. After duking it out with forearms, Nakamura takes Takayama down with a spin kick and hits him with three Bomaye/Kinshasa knee strikes to get the pin. So he’s graduated to being able to take out the beast with pure power, and while pulling out a sudden submission last time could be considered a fluke, his victory this time definitely wasn’t.

Winner – Shinsuke Nakamura

Rating – Good

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).

NJPW: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (January 4, 2005)

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

This is for Tanahashi’s IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship, and I think it’s the first one of these matches that I’ve actually seen before. But it’s been a while.

This is the story of a tough but overconfident Tanahashi and a resilient Nakamura. The first move of the match is a dragon suplex, and it’s probably the only time I’ve ever seen that treated as a feeling-out move, because it doesn’t stun Tanahashi. After some grappling, Tanahashi takes over on Nakamura with a DDT on the apron and a dive. He works his back some and keeps going for the dragon sleeper, but Nakamura never submits and always kicks out. When he gets on his spurts of offense, Nakamura goes for triangles, armbars, and sleepers/rear-naked chokes. Nakamura bleeds from the mouth. Tanahashi slaps him a lot and doesn’t show much urgency when he’s on top because he’s just so sure of himself. That of course comes back to bite him when he thinks he’s getting out of a sleeper only for Nakamura to wrap his legs around him and pull him back down. Tanahashi manages to survive, but Nakamura pulls out an armbar and finally forces him to tap out.

Winner – Shinsuke Nakamura

Rating – Good

It’s good, but it takes its time. Or Tanahashi does, anyway. Not as exciting as last year’s match, but more fun for the purists, I’ll bet. Probably a bit easier on Nakamura’s body, too, but only just a bit.

NJPW: Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Yoshihiro Takayama (January 4, 2004)

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

This is an NWF and IWGP title unification match. And, wow, this is not the Shinsuke Nakamura everyone loves today! He’s barely recognizable with his short brown hair and black and gold tights. Still has those tired eyes, though. This is also before Takayama’s stroke, but a couple years after his crazy PRIDE fight with Don Frye.

There’s actually a simple story to this one. Nakamura is much smaller than Takayama, and he knows it. His only chance at winning lie in his submission skills, but if he wants to be able to lock anything in, he’ll have to do it before the big man can concuss him with his punches, kicks, and knees. Thus, this match consists primarily of Nakamura getting hit in the face over and over but refusing to stay down for the count and occasionally pulling out a triangle, leglock, or other submission hold. Finally, having somehow stayed conscious this whole time, he kicks out of Takayama’s German suplex and immediately transitions into a kimura, which Takayama taps to after it gets wrenched in a bit.

It really is that simple. And brutal. But in a good way!

Winner – Shinsuke Nakamura

Rating – Good