We are welcomed to the debut episode of NJPW on AXS TV by the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi.
We open with a video of Hiroshi Tanahashi talking about his feud with Kazuchika Okada and the prestige and privilege of wrestling in the Tokyo dome for the title.
This match actually took place at Wrestle Kingdom 7 on January 4, 2013. We are welcomed into the Tokyo Dome by Mauro Ranallo with Josh Barnett.
Kazuchika “Rainmaker” Okada makes his way to the ring. Barnett talks about his own debut in NJPW back in 2003 and the pressure of NJPW. Ranallo mentions Okada’s time in TNA wrestling as Okato, he says it was an unsuccessful stint in TNA, and he was vastly underutilized as Samoa Joe’s sidekick that was based on the “Green Hornet” Kato character. Ranallo talks about Okada’s moniker as the “Rainmaker”. Barnett mentions that he did come back from TNA with a new attitude and new moves so the time over there paid off.
Hiroshi Tanahashi makes his way to the ring next with the IWGP heavyweight title. Ranallo mentions this is Tanahashi’s 6th title reign. He is accompanied to the ring by a Japanese band called the Breakers, as we go to a commercial.
Back from the break Tanahashi and Okada are introduced to the fans as Ranallo talks about the history and prestige of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Kazuchika “Rainmaker” Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
We start with a color elbow tie up, Okada pushes Tanahashi into the ropes and we get a clean break, as Okada does the “Rainmaker” pose in the center of the ring. They lock up again and this time Tanahashi pushes Okada into the ropes and gives the clean break, as Tanahashi does the “Rainmaker” pose in the center of the ring mocking Okada. Okada puts Tanahashi in a side headlock; Tanahashi throws him of the ring ropes but get taken down by an Okada shoulder tackle. Okada puts Tanahashi into another side headlock, Tanahashi fights back to force the headlock into a wristlock, Okada fights back into another headlock. Tanahashi then throws Okada of the ropes and takes Okada down with a shoulder tackle. They exchange some wristlocks and waste locks. Tanahashi takes Okada down with a drop toe hold and puts Okada in a “deathlock” submission move (the best way to explain this move is a reverse figure four). Okada escapes and puts Tanahashi into a hammerlock. Tanahashi fights back to his feet and hits an elbow to the head of Okada and gets a reversal, but Okada quickly reverses back to keep the standing hammerlock applied. Tanahashi hits another drop toe hold and goes for a side headlock but Okada avoids and it and puts the hammerlock back on Tanahashi, who quickly escapes and puts Okada back in a side headlock on the mat. Okada fights back to his feet and pushes Tanahashi into the corner, the ref calls for a clean break but Okada drives his shoulder into the midsection of Tanahashi. Okada throws Tanahashi into the opposite turnbuckle and runs in only to catch an elbow from Tanahashi. Tanahashi quickly goes to the top turn buckle hits a cross body dive onto Okada, as we got to a commercial break.
Back from the break Tanahashi rushes into the corner but Okada grabs him and places him onto the top turnbuckle. Tanahashi fights back and goes to the top rope and Okada knocks him down. Okada hits a draping DDT off the top rope on Tanahashi. Tanahashi rolls to the outside and falls onto the floor. Okada goes to the outside and chokes Tanahashi on the guardrail. Okada continues the assault on the outside. Okada rolls back into the ring as Ranallo explains in NJPW there is a 20 count instead of a 10 count. Tanahashi gets back in the ring; Okada hits a dropkick on the sitting Tanahashi and goes for the pin and gets a two count. Okada puts Tanahashi in a submission move; Ranallo says it’s a move he picked up while training and learning Lucha Libre in Mexico. Barnett pointed out it was a modified back and neck stretch. Okada picks Tanahashi up and throws him into the corner. He kicks Tanahashi in the mid section as Ranallo makes a reference to Steve Austin. Tanahashi fights back and hits Okada with a series of elbows; he then slaps Okada knocking him to the mat. Okada fights and gets back to his feet and goes to throw Tanahashi over the top rope to the outside but Tanahashi holds on and “skins the cat” and pulls himself back into the ring. Okada hits the “flapjack” and gets a two count. Okada puts Tanahashi into what Ranallo calls a DID submission move. Tanahashi bridges out of the move but Okada puts him back into the submission hold. Tanahashi gets to the ropes and breaks the hold. Okada goes for the “zenton splash” but Tanahashi moves out of the way. Tanahashi fights back and throws Okada into the corner; he rushes in but catches an elbow from Okada. Okada then throws Tanahashi of the ring ropes and Tanahashi connects with a flying forearm. Tanahashi kicks Okada in the left knee and takes him down, he then hits a chop block on the same knee. Both wrestlers are back to their feet and they exchange slaps, elbows, and uppercuts in the center of the ring. Okada throws Tanahashi into the ropes and goes to kick him; Tanahashi catches the kick and completes a dragon-screw leg-whip on Okada. Okada rolls to the outside, as Tanahashi goes to the top turnbuckle and dives off onto Okada and hits the cross body as the ref begins the 20 count. Tanahashi rolls Okada back into the ring as we go to another commercial break.
Back from the break Tanahashi is working on the left leg of Okada with the “Texas cloverleaf” submission, Ranallo points out it was made famous by Dean Malenko. Okada gets to the ropes and Tanahashi has to break the hold. Tanahashi continues to work on the leg as Okada fights back to his feet. Tanahashi goes for a kick but Okada hits a dragon-screw leg-whip of his own. Okada hits a DDT then puts Tanahashi back into the DID submission. Tanahashi gets to the ropes and Okada has to break the hold. Okada slams Tanahashi into the mat and goes to the top rope. Okada jumps off for the flying elbow by Tanahashi lifts his knees and Okada slams hard into them. Tanahashi goes to the tope rope but Okada catches him with an elbow. Okada goes for the Samoan drop off the top rope but Tanahashi knocks Okada to the mat. Okada jumps from the mat and kicks Tanahashi of the turnbuckle hard to the floor. Okada then goes to the outside and drags Tanahashi up the ramp. He goes for a pile driver on the ramp but Tanahashi fights out, Okada knocks him to the ramp onto his back. Okada gets a running start but Tanahashi gets back to his feet and hits a slingblade lariat on Okada. Tanahashi goes back to the ring and breaks the refs count and goes back outside to get Okada and brings him back to the ring. Tanahashi hits a cross body splash onto Okada in the corner. Tanahashi hits another slingblade lariat, and then a move Ranallo calls the Twelve Six. Tanahashi goes to the top turnbuckle for the “high fly flow” (frog splash) but this time Okada gets his knees up for the block. Bothe wrestlers get back to their feet, Okada hits a splash in the corner, he goes for the white noise but Tanahashi block, and Okada turns it into a reverse neck breaker and gets a two count, as we go to another commercial break.
Back from the break Okada hits Tanahashi with “heavy rain” and gets another two count. Okada goes to the top rope and hits a driving elbow. Okada goes for the “rainmaker” but Tanahashi blacks it and hits a high bridging German suplex and gets a two count. Tanahashi hits a dragon suplex for yet another two count. Tanahashi hits a slingblade lariat and quickly goes to the top rope. Tanahashi hits the “high fly flow” and somehow Okada kicks out at two, the crowd reaction is loud as they can’t believe it. Tanahashi hits a dragon-screw leg-whip. Tanahashi puts Okada back into the Texas cloverleaf. Okada tries to get to the rope but Tanahashi drags him back to the center of the ring. Okada finally gets to the bottom rope to break the hold. Tanahashi bounces of the ropes and runs towards Okada, but Okada hits a massive drop kick. Ranallo compares the kick to “Jumping” Jim Brunzell, Lance Storm, Randy Orton, and Bob holly saying he doesn’t know if anyone does it better than Okada. Both men are exhausted as they fight back to their feet. Okada misses the “rainmaker”, and then misses a drop kick. Tanahashi rushes in but Okada leap frogs him and drop kicks Tanahashi in the back of the head. Okada hits a pile driver, he picks Tanahashi up for the “rainmaker” but Tanahashi avoids it and hits the slingblade lariat, as we go to another commercial break.
Back from the break Okada picks Tanahashi up for another pile driver but he blacks it and both men apply a waste lock to the other. Tanahashi knocks Okada to the mat by kicking him in the leg. Tanahashi hits a pile driver, as both men struggle to get to their feet. Tanahashi goes to the top rope and hits a flying cross body, he rushes back to the top rope and hits a “high fly flow” and get the three count for the win.
Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi IWGP Heavyweight Vhampion
After the match Ranallo talks about the match being one of the greatest he has ever seen. We then see the Okada at the press conference talking about his defeat. We then go back to the ring and Tanahashi talks to the Japanese fans. We then see Tanahashi speaking to the press in the back at the press conference as well.
We then go to Tanahashi in the same studio as we saw in the opening video segment. He is reflecting back on the match and its significance to the NJPW and his own career. We go of the air with Ranallo and Burnett inviting us back next week.
My View: This match was better than there match at Wrestle Kingdom 9. It was one of the greatest matches I have ever seen. They picked the right match to show American fans and get them interested, even if it was from 2013. Think about it this way, would you rather see what WWE shows on the Maine Event, or would you rather them show a classic match like Steamboat vs. Savage from WrestleMania III on the Main Event. Tanahashi and Okada are amazing wrestlers, and will be appreciated by the American fans. The announce team of Ranallo and Burnett was decent. I was worried that they were calling a match that had taken place two years ago, but there emotion was raw and real and they didn’t hurt the match at all. The references made to the American wrestlers only helps the American fans better relate to what they are seeing. If you didn’t watch this show I encourage you to. It looked as though next week’s match will be there match from Wrestle Kingdom 9. This was great episode and hope the ratings show how great there debut on AXS TV was.