The SmarK Rant for New Japan Wrestle Kingdom 12

The SmarK Rant for New Japan Pro Wrestling – WRESTLE KINGDOM 12

Originally written 01.04.18

For those wondering about streaming options, I’m using Microsoft Edge browser on my Xbox One, and it looks perfect on the TV.  Navigation is a bit of a pain, but ya takes what you can get.

Live from Tokyo, Japan

Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Don Callis.

The New Japan RUMBLE

We’ve got Kitamura and BUSHI to start, with Royal Rumble rules and new entrants every minute.  Kitamura flexes a lot, but BUSHI chokes him out with a shirt as Delirious is #3.  I thought he retired, actually.  Some funny stuff as he goes after the insanely massive Kitamura and all his stuff is completely ignored while he yells “Oh shit!” in terror.  Leo Tonga is #4 and he’s gotta be on Vince’s radar.  Dude is HUGE, although lanky like early Kevin Nash was.  Haku has some impressive genes.  He chops down Kitamura for two as Manabu Nakanishi is #5. That dude sure got old.  Chase Owens is #6, representing the Tongan faction despite being white.  Oh, wrestling.  Package Piledriver finishes Delirious at 6:33.  Nakanishi tosses out BUSHI at 7:08 and Yuji Nagata is #7.  He slugs it out with Nakanishi for some angry old man action, but gets clipped and goes down.  Tonga gets pined at 8:33 in a dogpile, and TAKA is #8.  I’m surprised he’s still using his WWF music.  Nagata rolls up Nakanishi and pins him at 9:00, and then everyone dogpiles Nagata and pins him at 9:10.  Then Chase hits Kitamura with a package piledriver and pins him at 9:50 to clear the ring.  Kanemaru is #9 to give us another Suzuki-Gun guy and they double-team TAKA.  Desperado is #10 and it’s 3 on 1 against poor Owens.  And he gets the BOOZE OF DOOM spit in his face and tossed out at 12:44.  And then JUSHIN LIGER is #11 and it’s SHOTAY for everyone.  And then he puts Desperado in the Romero special like a dork and the other two lay him out while he’s exposed.  Never expose your sensitive underbelly!  Any cat will teach you that. Tiger Mask is #12 and they go after his mask immediately like a bunch of jerks, but he reverses and goes after Desperado’s mask instead.  He gets a tiger driver for two and Gino Gambino is #13. He must be new.  Desperado loses his mask and Liger cradles him for two, but TAKA rolls them over and Liger is gone at 16:47.  Then Kanemaru gets piled on and pinned at 16:57.  Gambino pins TAKA with a lariat at 17:11 to get rid of Suzuki-Gun.  So Gambino is alone, and Toma Hanare is #14 (not sure of the spelling there), looking like love child of Tatanka and Barbarian.  He hits some power stuff on Gambino, and Yoshi-Hashi is #15.  David Finlay is #16 and everyone gangs up on Gambino and pins him at 21:23.  Finlay rolls up Hashi at 21:40 and pins him.  Yujiro Takahashi is #17 and he’s sporting quite the arm candy.  Finlay is alone at the moment, and immediately gets clotheslined out at 22:51.  So Takahashi stops to party and Cheeseburger is #18.  They brawl outside and Takahashi kicks his ass, but Cheeseburger comes back as my man Satoshi Kojima is #19.  Takahashi jumps him and takes a Koji Kutter, but comes back with a fisherman’s buster.  And then Tenzan is #20 and DAMN I see what Dave and Bryan are talking about with his ankles being all messed up.  That’s terrifying.  And finally, Masahito Kakihara is #21, back from the UWFI days.  Tenzima hits 3D on Takahashi and pins him at 29:40.  Cheeseburger tries the chops on Kojima in the corner and gets destroyed as a result, but collides with Tenzan while charging at Cheeseburger.  And then Kakihara pulls down the top rope, eliminating Tenzima and leaving us with Cheeseburger and Kakihara as the final two.  STO finishes for Kakihara at 32:20.   This was of course terrible, but that’s beside the point.  Lots of goofy fun.

IWGP Junior tag titles:  Roppongi 3K v. The Young Bucks

Matt talks some trash and buries 3K as “young boys”, but Yoh quickly takes him down with a Sharpshooter and Matt makes the ropes.  Then we get a goofy spot with dueling Sharpshooters from Matt and Yoh, and 3K double-teams Matt with elbows in the corner and the Bucks bail.  3K follows with stereo dives, but Yoh hits his back on the stage and the Bucks go to work.  First up, Nick hits him with a german suplex on the apron, then the Bucks go after Rocky Romero and powerbomb him on the stage.  He’s a MANAGER now.  That’s unfair!  Back in, things are grim for Yoh and Nick goes to work on the back, with Matt adding an apron powerbomb that gets two for Nick.  Yoh fights back and puts Matt on the floor, but Nick cuts him off while Matt complains about his back.  Matt hobbles in and hits a backbreaker while selling his own back, but Nick comes in and nails Sho off the apron with a high kick.  Back to the apron, where poor Rocky is still dead, but Yoh fights off Matt and backdrops him onto the ramp.  Nick flies out with a dive, but misses and hits his brother instead, and it’s hot tag Sho.  Suplexes on the Bucks and he hits Nick with a kick combo for two.  Rolling germans on Matt, and Nick tries to stop it, but Sho suplexes them both at the same time!  Never not awesome.  That gets two on Nick.  They take out Matt with stereo knees, but it’s a superkick party from the Bucks.  Nick counters the 3K with a tornado DDT and hits Sho with an enzuigiri into a lariat.  Yoh slugs it out with Matt and goes to his back, and neither guy can suplex the other because of the hurt backs.  So Matt guts through the pain and powerbombs Yoh into Nick’s knee, setting up a swanton for two.  Sharpshooter on Yoh, but he fights to the ropes.  3K gets stereo Sharpshooters, but the Bucks keep each other from tapping, and Nick superkicks his way out of trouble.  Sho slugs it out with Nick, which leads to an awesome spot where each guy starts kicking the injured back of the other opponent, just to be jerks.  Nick superkicks Sho to the floor and follows with a corkscrew moonsault.  Matt superkicks Yoh to put him down, setting up the Meltzer Driver and another Sharpshooter to win the titles at 18:05.  Good opener, although the stuff with the back injuries meant that it wasn’t the usual frenetic pace from the Bucks.  ***1/4

NEVER 6-man title gauntlet:  Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr & Iizuka v. Michael Elgin & War Machine

As predicted by Kevin Kelly, Suzuki-Gun jumps War Machine before the bell, but Elgin tosses them around and slingshots onto Iizuka with a splash.  Delayed suplex on Iizuka, and Hanson comes in and rubs his beard in his face.  Ew.  Taichi brings the ringbell hammer in and works on Hanson in the corner, but he cartwheels away from Iizuka and brings in Rowe.  Ray slugs it out with ZSJ, and that goes badly for Zack, as Rowe just flings him all over.  It’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA and Hanson comes in with a moonsault on Iizuka, which misses badly.  War Machine recovers and beats on Zack again while Taichi literally tackles the ref out of the ring, allowing Iizuka to clear the ring with Iron Fingers, and Zack wraps up Ray Rowe with a wacky choke submission at 6:11.

Taichi, Zack Sabre Jr. & Iizuka v. Toru Yano, Trent Baretta & Tomohiro Ishii

Big brawl on the outside while Iizuka distracts the ref, and Suzuki-Gun quickly double-teams Yano and gets two.  But then Iizuka tries the Iron Fingers, and Yano (master of the rollup), rolls up Taichi and pins him at 0:36.

Toru Yano, Trent Baretta & Tomohiro Ishii v. Togi Makabe, Juice Robinson & Ryu Taguchi

Juice slugs away on Yano and Makabe comes in with corner clotheslines on Yano and Ishii, and a lariat gets two on Yano.  Powerslam on Baretta, and then everyone clotheslines the shit out of Yano, setting up Taguchi’s leg lariat for two.  Juice throws more punches, but Ishii has had enough and lays him out.  Taguchi does his Nakamura impression for a big laugh, but runs into a rollup from Yano at 3:30.  The man can do a rollup, you have to give him that.

Bad Luck Fale, Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa v. Toru Yano, Trent Baretta & Tomohiro Ishii

It’s quickly a slaughter for the Bullet Club, with Loa hitting a death valley driver on Baretta on the apron to kill him off, but Ishii goes alone with the Samoans.  Fale fights off a suplex attempt, but misses a splash and Ishii stubbornly tries again and hits the suplex this time.  Fale brings in Tonga and they hit their Guerrilla Warfare on Baretta and beat on him in the corner, but he fights them off and accidentally moonsaults into a gun-stun.  Fale cleans house, but Baretta counters Tonga into the Dudebuster for the pin and the titles at 7:00.  I’d consider that a pretty big upset.  That last match was kind of a mess, and the whole thing veered wildly between comedy match and serious brawl.  I’d go **1/2 overall.

HANDSOME BATTLE:  Cody Rhodes v. Kota Ibushi

Ibushi uses some acrobatics to evade Cody, and gets flipped off for his troubles.  Cody quickly takes him down with a leglock and Ibushi makes the ropes, so Cody offers him a hand up and then turns on him. So Ibushi snaps off a rana to put Cody on the floor, but accidentally hits Brandi with a dive and wipes her out like Elizabeth on the Main Event.  Cody uses Ibushi’s guilt to sucker-punch him, and then of course they reveal that this ruse was also a ruse and Cody takes over in the ring.  Disaster Kick gets two.  Cody goes to a reverse full nelson, but Ibushi makes the ropes.  Brandi steals Kevin Kelly’s chair and Cody goes to work on Ibushi outside, but Ibushi hits him with a baseball slide and follows with the moonsault to the floor.  Back in, kick combo and another moonsault gets two.  They fight over a suplex on the apron and Brandi trips up Ibushi, allowing Cody to take over again. They battle on the apron and Cody manages to hit Crossroads onto the floor, which is a pretty sick bump.  They do the countout tease and Kota makes it in at 19.  Cody goes for the kill and Ibushi can’t even stand, and a top rope rana gets two.  Another Crossroads is countered by Ibushi, and he spikes Cody into the corner with a running Snake Eyes to set up the comeback.  Last Ride gets two.  Cody catches him with a lariat for two.  Ibushi hits his own Disaster Kick, but Cody goes low, so Ibushi hits a german suplex into the knee strike.  Phoenix Splash ends it at 16:06.  Too much American-style bullshit from Cody, but the good guy won in the end.  ***1/2

IWGP tag team titles:  Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer v. EVIL & SANADA

Random thing I love about the production here:  One match ends, and BAM, the next entrance begins even while the guys are leaving via stage right.  WWE could take a hint from that.  Archer and his magical bottomless pit of water bottles is a pretty funny bit.  KES immediately hits the Killer Bomb on EVIL and beat on SANADA outside.  Now, I don’t wanna criticize anyone’s fashion choices, but Davey Jr. paying tribute to his father with the god-awful 1998 jeans look wouldn’t be my first choice.  They double-team EVIL and Davey heads out to beat up the young boys for good measure, followed by Archer chokeslamming EVIL onto the pile of geeks for fun.  So LIJ is down and out on the floor, but Davey throws SANADA back in and goes to a chinlock.  Double team elbow gets two for Archer.  Archer hits SANADA with clotheslines in the corner, but he comes back with a dropkick to Smith’s knee.  And then Archer takes out EVIL and the KES goes back to work on SANADA again.  Gut wrench gets two for Davey.  Butterfly suplex gets two.  Archer comes in with the uranage for two.  Finally SANADA gets a rana and makes the hot tag to EVIL, who fights off the KES and throws clotheslines until Archer finally drops.  That gets two, and they fight to the top rope, where Lance gets the top rope superplex.  Back to SANADA for the acrobatics, and he tries the Skull End on Davey, but Archer breaks it up.  Massive chokeslam on SANADA, followed by a backdrop driver from Davey that gets two.  Hart Attack on EVIL and Killer Bomb on SANADA gets two.  Another one is blocked by EVIL, and the champs collide, allowing EVIL to hit an STO on Archer and Magic Killer on Davey for two.  SANADA sprints to the top with a moonsault on Davey for the pin and the titles at 14:14.  LIJ took quite the ass-kicking there, leading to the huge finish.  ***1/2

NEVER Openweight title:  Minoru Suzuki v. Hirooki Goto

Loser gets a haircut!  I love that Suzuki’s Titantron video features him kicking dudes in the face in time with the guitar riffs of his theme.  These are two mean, mean, men.  Suzuki bitchslaps Goto down and yells at him to get up, so Goto does, and fires back with his own.  They trade forearms and Suzuki suddenly grabs the choke sleeper, but Goto runs him into the corner to break.  Suzuki disregards the ref and holds the move until Goto is out, but Suzuki throws out the doctor and continues attacking Goto, then throws hi to the floor.  Callis lets us know that Suzuki took his own Hippocratic oath:  Do lots of harm, and kill everybody.  They fight to the floor and Suzuki just smashes a chair into his back and slaps him around.  Back in, Goto channels his FIGHTING SPIRIT and slugs back, but Callis declares “Suzuki is getting turned on!” and indeed, Minoru gets fired up and punches him in the face.  Suzuki does not put smiles on faces.  Running boot in the corner, but Goto catches the low kick, so Suzuki punches him in the face again and puts him down.  Goto fights back again with a leg lariat in the corner, but can’t quite hit the bulldog full force.  Another sleeper from Suzuki is reversed into a side suplex from Goto that gets two.  And then they just unload forearms on each other again, but Suzuki slithers into a guillotine from the top.  That turns into the choke sleeper again, but he releases because he wants the Gotch Piledriver, and that allows Goto to fight him off and hit the Ushigoroshi.  This brings out Suzikigun despite their promise not to interfere, and Goto gets distracted enough for Suzuki to attack again.  Dropkick is RIGHT IN THE FACE and Suzuki, my hero, laughs heartily at Goto’s pain.  They slug it out again and he just PULVERIZES Goto, setting up the sleeper, and Goto is fading. But then he releases again and wants the Gotch and the heat is off the charts.  And again Goto fights out, then clotheslines him in the corner.  Callis is right, he really needs to give up that damn piledriver.  They fight to the top and slug it out, but now Suzuki wants that damn piledriver off the top, but Goto is still mean enough to fight him off with an Ushigoroshi off the top.  That gets two.  Goto tries some forearms but he’s got not much left in the tank, and Suzuki just keeps unloading on him, so Goto goes nuclear with a headbutt and hits the GTR, front and back, and wins the title at 18:04.  That was EXHAUSTING to watch.  I love matches where mean guys just beat the shit out of each other because they’re MEN who are MANLY.  ****1/2  Suzukigun tries to renege on the haircut stip, but Suzuki fights them off and returns on his own to take the haircut like a man.  And indeed, he shaves off his ugly hairdo and somehow looks even more ugly.  Fantastic match and story here.

Man, we’ve still got THREE HOURS left for the top four matches!

IWGP Junior title:  Marty Scurll v. Will Ospreay v. HIromu Takahashi v. KUSHIDA

That entrance attire from Scurll is something else.  Scurll immediately slips out while the rest fight it out, but heads back in and walks into a handspring kick from Ospreay.  Ospreay throws ranas at everyone, but Scurll tosses him and dropkicks Takahashi to the floor.  They head to the floor and KUSHIDA hits everyone with a dive, but then Ospreay climbs a light rigging like a madman and hits them with his own dive.  He sends KUSHIDA back in for a corner dropkick (after locking the barricade so that the other two are trapped in the crowd forever), but dives off the top and lands in KUSHIDA’s armbar.  Scurll sneaks in with a crucifix on KUSHIDA for two, and then a tornado DDT on Ospreay into his crossface chickenwing.  Meanwhile, KUSHIDA locks in the Hoverboard Lock on Takahashi, so Scurll releases and breaks that up.  So I don’t watch much Scurll:  What’s the deal with calling his spots?  We get a crazy sequence of guys hitting superkicks on each other, and then everyone clotheslines each other and they’re all out.  We get a four-way slugfest on the mat, and Ospreay tries the Os-Cutter on Scurll but gets caught in a chickenwing.  KUSHIDA saves, and Takahashi suplexes him into the corner.  Everyone stacks up in the corner and tries to suplex Scurll off the top, but he fights them off with kicks and blocks a flying Ospreay with a neckbreaker that gets two.  Scurll gets his own Os-Cutter on Ospreay for two and suplexes Takahashi into the corner, then finds some tape and ties him to the railing.  And then he breaks the fingers for good measure.  Back in, he tries the same thing on KUSHIDA, who gives it right back to him and then takes Ospreay off the top rope with a flying armbar.  That turns into a triangle choke, but Ospreay powers out with a slam into the corner.  Scurll, meanwhile, finds more tape and tries to repair his injured hand, then throws powder in KUSHIDA’s face, but the blinded KUSHIDA still hits Back to the Future for two.  Takahashi breaks free and comes back in with a german suplex on Ospreay and then powerbombs everyone off the apron in sequence, and he runs wild, hitting the Time Bomb on Scurll for two.  Superkick, but Ospreay breaks it up and teams up with Scurll for a superkick party.  They try a double team Os-Cutter, but Takahashi escapes and dumps Scurll, then hits Ospreay with a missile dropkick for two.  KUSHIDA then FLIES in with a sunset bomb on Takahashi, to the floor, and Ospreay hits everyone with a shooting star press to the floor.  Back in, he goes up for the inverted 450 (HOW IS THAT EVEN A THING?!?) but that only gets two on Takahashi.  Os-Cutter is blocked by Takahashi and hits the Time Bomb for two, as Scurll pulls out the ref.  He waffles everyone with the umbrella, but misses Ospreay, and the Os-Cutter wins the title at 21:18.  Man, poor Takahashi spent months trying to get a title shot, and then blew it.  Another fantastic match, filled with all the highspots and crazy stuff you’d expect to see.  ****1/2  Ospreay and Scurll are just something else.

IWGP Intercontinental title:  Hiroshi Tanahashi v. SWITCHBLADE

Jay White still looks 19 years old.  This man needs to grow a beard and maybe not listen to so much AFI.  So this is a big one for him, because he needs to come out of this looking like a star, win or lose.  Tanahashi is of course the walking wounded, with a bad arm and knee and probably more that he hasn’t revealed. White goes for the knee in the corner, but lets him go and Tanahashi gives him some air guitar.  They trade wristlocks and Tanahashi puts him down with a forearm and tosses him, but misses a dive and hurts the knee.  White goes to work on the knee and snaps off a backdrop driver for two.  White with a leglock and he works on that while laying the badmouth on Tanahashi, but he makes the ropes.  The knee gives out on him and White goes back to it, but Tanahashi takes him down with a dragon screw.  Russian legsweep and he follows with a senton for two, but White cuts him off with another shot to the knee.  Tanahashi takes him down with another dragon screw to put him on the floor, and follows with a High Fly Flow to the floor, but can’t hit the sling blade in the ring.  White recovers with a german suplex and Tanahashi heads to the floor, so White follows with a brainbuster onto the apron.  Back in, White goes up, but Tanahashi outsmarts him by staying down and not giving him the opening.  White pounds him in the corner and steps on the bad knee, but that just gets Tanahashi fired up, so White fires off a pair of suplexes and death valley driver for two.  Back to the top, and this time Tanahashi sidesteps him and gets another dragon screw.  Tanahashi fights up to the top, but White cuts him off, so Tanahashi brings him down with the neckbreaker and starts smacking White around.  Sling blade gets two.  High Fly Flow hits, and he goes up again for a second one, but misses, and White rolls him into a crucifix and throws elbows.  Fisherman’s buster gets two, but Tanahashi escapes the Blade Runner and hits a bridging german for two.  He goes up again with a High Fly Flow to the back, and then one more time to finish at 19:40.  Unfortunately this just made Tanahashi look like even more of a star basically fighting from his deathbed, and didn’t do much for White.  White looked like he had nerves, but he’s got lots of time to get better.  ***1/4

IWGP US title, no DQ:  Kenny Omega v. Chris Jericho

The crowd reaction to the video package alone is amazing.  The simple angles are still the best ones.  Jericho attacks during Kenny’s pre-match hug with the Young Bucks, so you know it’s bad blood. They dive in with the hockey fight and Omega boots him down and slugs away in the corner.  Jericho uses Red Shoes as a distraction and then lays Omega out.  They trade chops and Omega tries a rana, but Jericho catches him with the Walls, forcing Omega to make the ropes.  It’s no-DQ, so Kenny has to kick his way out of it, and tosses Jericho, but the baseball slide is blocked.  A second try hits, and Jericho goes crashing into the announce table, so Omega tries a dive and DESTROYS the table.  HOLY SHIT.  Chris gives him the Walls on the floor, then beats on Red Shoes and then assaults the man’s son as well!   Omega fights back in the wreckage and drops a monitor on him, but Jericho dumps a table on him in return.  Kenny puts the table on Jericho and goes up the light rigging with a double stomp onto the table, as this is just nuts.  Jericho suplexes him back into the ringside area, but Omega beats the countout.  They slug it out on the apron and they both try a springboard, but Jericho hits his first and takes out the knee in mid-air.  Jericho sets up a table at ringside while mouthing off to Masa Chono, but can’t powerbomb Omega through the table, so he just powerbombs him on the floor instead.  Jericho steals an expensive camera and takes some shots for posterity, mostly of his own middle finger, and back in for a flying elbow that gets two.  Jericho chokes him out on the ropes and hits a missile dropkick for two.  Omega fights back with chops, but the Lionsault gets two.  Omega snaps off a rana and clotheslines him to the floor, and follows with the Terminator dive.  Back in, Omega with a facebuster for two.  Neckbreaker and Omega makes the comeback, but Jericho blocks the V-Trigger with an attempt at the Walls, which Omega turns into a small package for two.  Jericho rolls him into the Walls again, so Omega crawls to the corner and undoes the apron, finding a spray can to blind Jericho with.  And also freshen his hair and armpits.  But then the blind Jericho sends Omega into the chair that was wedged in the corner earlier to end that comeback. Eyesight regained, he runs Omega’s face into the chair a few times, bending it in the process.  Jericho is drawing honest to god heel heat from the crowd for this stuff.  Omega naturally starts bleeding off that, and Jericho goes to work on the cut, but Kenny fights back.  V-Trigger and dragon suplex put Jericho down, but Jericho fights out of another one, so Kenny hits him with a leg lariat and tries the One Winged Angel.  Jericho escapes that, and then just BLASTS him with a chair to put him down again, breaking the chair in the process.  Jericho goes to work with another chair, destroying it in the process, and then just beating on Omega with the frame of the chair.  Jericho goes up with it, so Omega dropkicks it back in his face, and then hits him with a V-Trigger knee to put him through Chekhov’s Table on the floor.  Everyone totally forgot about that table, too!  Back in, Omega throws more knees, then hits a massive V-Trigger and a butterfly bomb for two.  Another V-Trigger and Jericho is dead, so Omega tries the Angel, which Jericho reverses into the Walls out of nowhere!  The heat for this is unreal.  And then Jericho turns it into the Liontamer, complete with knee to the head, but Omega fights to the ropes to break.  Codebreaker is reversed to a V-Trigger, and the One Winged Angel gets two as Jericho miraculously gets the ropes.  Omega goes up and Jericho crotches him, but Omega drops him with a stungun onto the turnbuckle, but Jericho catches him with a codebreaker for two.  Another Lionsault is blocked with a chair, and Kenny turns it into the Angel, on the chair, for the pin at 34:34!  GOD DAMN.  Never let it be said that Chris Jericho can’t deliver in the big matches, as they went out and did an epic Attitude Era brawl, and then turned it into a heavyweight main event style classic.  Here’s your 999 Yen worth right there.  This was my JAM, delivering everything I wanted and then some.  For those complaining about PG era WWE matches, get New Japan World and WATCH THIS.  *****

IWGP title:  Kazuchika Okada v. Tetsuya Naito

And then this match has even MORE heat than the last one, if that’s possible. Stalemate to start and Naito goes for the knee, then chills out with a quick pose.  He hangs out on the floor for a bit, and Okada brings him back in for some elbows, and then dropkicks him off the top and back to the floor again.  Naito necks him on the railing, then to the apron for a neckbreaker out there, and back in with a missile dropkick for two.  Naito goes to work on the neck in the corner, and adds a neckbreaker and low dropkick to the neck.  Mule kick in the corner and another neckbreaker gets two.  Okada comes back with a DDT and puts him down with elbows, and they head to the floor where Okada fires off a running boot and draping DDT off the railing.  Back in, Okada misses an elbow and Naito takes him down with a neckbreaker out of the corner, and an inverted DDT gets two.  Okada fires back with a flapjack and hits a neckbreaker, and goes up with a flying elbow to set up a Rainmaker.  He goes with a cobra clutch instead and fights off Naito’s attempt to counter with the Destino, holding onto the cobra hold on the mat.  Naito keeps trying to roll out of it, and Okada just keeps the sleeper locked, but finally he makes the ropes.  Okada goes to work in the corner with forearms, but runs into a boot and Naito sweeps the leg to put him on the apron, then turns it into a draping neckbreaker back into the ring.  They fight to the top and Naito takes him down with an inverted rana from the top, for two.  JESUS.  Stardust Press misses, however, and Okada fights back as they exchange forearms.  And then Naito just DESTROYS him with forearms to put him down and follows with a Pele Kick, only to have Okada shoot out of the corner with a dropkick again.  Naito with a flying forearm to take over again, and they fight to the top, where Okada blasts him with forearms to send him back down.  Senton misses badly and Naito tries the Stardust again, but Okada cuts him off with an insanely high angle german suplex and the RAINMAKER for two.  They fight for a tombstone and Naito nearly turns it into the Destino, but can’t power him over.  Okada goes back to the cobra, but Naito finally hits the Destino, and he’s too hurt to cover.  They slug it out on their knees and Okada is ALIVE as they trade more forearms with increasing intensity.  Okada punches himself out, so Naito slaps him silly and takes him down with a swinging headscissors for two.  Destino is reversed to the Rainmaker and both guys are out, but Okada is still holding the wrist, and it’s Rainmaker again, but Naito reverses to the Destino for two.  Thought that was it.  Another Destino, but Okada elbows out, so Naito hits the enzuigiri and then Okada dropkicks him.  Holy crap what a dropkick.  Tombstone  and it’s time to make the rain, but DESTINO follows, and then Okada reverses a second try to a tombstone and RAAAAAAAAINMAKER finishes at 36:23.  FANTASTIC.  Hell if I know where Okada goes from here, but he’s pretty clearly the best wrestler in the world who just drew 40,000 to the Tokyo Dome, so it’s hard to argue with keeping the title on him.  *****

The Pulse

Well then.  I mean, this was basically one of, if not the best, wrestling shows in history, I gotta say.  And unlike some OTHER six hour PPVs, this one didn’t make me want to curl into a ball and die at the 3 hour mark.   Highest recommendation!

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