Imp’s NJPW Adventure
King of Pro Wrestling
The Road to Wrestle Kingdom Has Officially Begun
The road to Wrestle Kingdom isn’t easy for a champion, with the biggest main event of the year on the horizon everyone wants a piece of the pie. From the elite of the Bullet Club to the leaders of Chaos, the chance to dance with the lights on bright is too big of an opportunity to let slip away.
Tonight we saw that on full display with the desperation of Ibushi and Rhodes in the main event, Tanahashi giving everything to stay fighting as the Ace and Jay White once again willing to achieve victory via any means necessary to grab that main event spot.
For the first time in 7 years Kazuchika Okada is not in the IWGP Heavyweight Championship match at the Tokyo Dome and things are more open than ever. That said, in this world you’re not a star until you’ve to gotten through and earned the respect of one man: the Ace of New Japan, Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The main event of this year’s Wrestling Kingdom is about two clashing ideologies, the past versus the future. But Tana and Omega have to actually get there first, which as I said earlier, isn’t exactly easy.
(For the G1 Climax Winner’s Wrestle Kingdom IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match Contract)
‘Switchblade’ Jay White vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
In Tana’s eyes, Omega may be champion, but he is not New Japan. The Ace believes the company should be moving forward by showcasing just how damn good the Japanese talent is, showing why Japanese wrestling is so incredible. A feeling genuinely felt by some Japanese fans, seeing more and more Western style bookings appear on the show.
Hell, even tonight’s show received a select few responses on Japanese Twitter angrily stating, “This is shit! This isn’t New Japan!” A belief that Jay White knows exactly how to perfectly twist into getting under the skin, like it was served on a plate for him. He used this to both piss off the fans and to aggravate Tanahashi into putting his G1 Climax contract on the line tonight.
There is a genuine push back from some fans against the strong Western influences, so Gedo and Jay White are utilising that stance to full effect. He taunted Tanahashi by saying that the man can’t stand the idea of two Gaijins main eventing Wrestle Kingdom, that he’s the one holding New Japan back from the New Era. To be fair, Jay White means specifically the Era of the Switchblade, but hey it gets them boos.
“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, nuts for… nuts.” – Call of the Year right there from Chris Charlton. The match itself went exactly how you’d expect a 2018 Jay White match to go, a proper match for a bit with a bit of mind games before going full into trying every dirty tactic under the sun. The tale of this bout however was how Tana’s drive and resilience kept him going after every attempt, there’s a reason he’s known as The Ace dammit!
Tanahashi even managed to completely best the Switchblade, hitting two High Fly Flos and having the 3 in the bag before Gedo dragged the referee out of the ring. An action which lead Jay White into recovering enough to be able to continuously smash Tanahashi into oblivion with a chair. However after a Blade Runner lead to another kick out, the story of Tana’s resilience reared its head again. Tana doesn’t go down easy in these big matches, if you beat him you walk out a star because of how high you had to jump in order to do so.
Jay White was never going to do that however, instead sinking lower in anger. Tana used that lack of focus to counter with a roll up and retain his G1 briefcase, he just had to stay in the match long enough for White to become frustrated. Of course none of that couldn’t save him from what came next.
The real story came out of the aftermath, the uniting of the Bullet Club OGs and Gedo, Jado and Jay White. NANI!?
Well folk had suggested the BC OGs needed a figurehead and Jay White could work wonders with a stable of his own… but damn, this establishes some waves. Foremost being the authority in Gedo & Jedo joining with such anti authority group, not forgetting how this truly establishes a foreign heel stable once again in New Japan. Let’s face it, Bullet Club aren’t that anymore. On the other hand these guys, they’re going to get some strong ass heat over this build to January.
Speaking of January, this was where the segment met its purpose of taking place on this specific show. Of all people, Tanahashi’s former rival Kazuchika Okada ran down to make the save. The enemy of Jay White is Kazu’s friend, he may have things going on but the Rainmaker isn’t going to forget what The Switchblade has done.
With that, The Rainmaker vs The Switchblade is all but officially confirmed for Wrestle Kingdom. A match which will be damn important in shaping the near future of New Japan Pro Wrestling. January 4th the question will be answered: if he is not the main event, nor the champion, nor in a championship match, is Okada even the Ace anymore?
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kenny Omega vs Kota Ibushi vs Cody
Well this is getting 5 stars from Big Dave.
Chris Charlton summed the champ up well, Kenny Omega feels like a champion that is trying to prove himself. Like he’s trying to show that he deserves to be IWGP Heavyweight Champion, in the face of adversity from the likes of Tanahashi and those that support his stance. Which is interesting, as Omega had more than earnt the respect of many prior to becoming champion. The company even had enough faith to let him be the one to end the legendary title run of Okada, the longest championship reign in NJPW history.
Are Tana’s words effecting him more than he’s letting on? Whatever the forces at play, they’re pushing him to wrestle at over 100% every single match. He’s putting on incredible match after incredible match and truly playing to the moniker of ‘Best Bout Machine’.
Then we had Cody, a man whose motives seemed to split the commentary desk. With Kevin Kelly unconvinced by his supposed turn to the good side after everything that’s happened, and Chris Charlton believing he really is just trying to change the wrestling world for good like Omega.
Over the course of this match we saw Cody’s inability to fully control his anger hinder him once again, especially towards the end of the match as each guy was throwing their hardest hits one after the other to no avail. Resulting in Cody eventually snapping and grabbing a chair, only for Kenny to stand in Ibushi’s way pleading for the maddened Rhodes to stop.
That said, when this match was set up at Fighting Spirit Unleashed the emphasis was they’d put on one hell of a match and make a statement in the process. Ultimately that’s what this match was, a statement as to what the future could hold. Only the second time the IWGP Heavyweight Championship has ever been defended in a Triple Threat, showing the NJPW crowd something new, something different.
An incredible match with some outstanding sequences and emotional strings pulled throughout. Both Kenny and Kota reached that point of realising the situation and weren’t going to let their relationship get in the way of what was on the line here, resulting in an amazing final portion of the match. With the Triple Threat coming into play time and time again as that third man managed to break up that match winning pin just before the three.
However, in the end Kenny was able to capitalise and end it all laying Kota down with a One Winged Angle. Cody nearly broke up the pin once again, but was just too late. Again, watch this match, fast paced carnage at its finest.
Post-match Kota took an age to recover as both Cody and Omega stood in the ring, Kenny refusing to start his end of show speech until the Golden Star was also back on his feet. They did this together, the three of them, and Kenny wasn’t going to let anyone forget that. However there was at least one man in that building who wasn’t as impressed, The Ace and #1 Contender Hiroshi Tanahashi.
G1 briefcase in hand, Tanahashi reiterated his stance: Omega may be the champion and the crowd may be cheering here in Ryogoku, but at Wrestle Kingdom they will be chanting for The Ace of New Japan once again. Tana sees Omega as a serious competitor, but he is not New Japan.
Omega obviously disagrees, but the question of which side the fans will take is being asked. Do you agree with Tanahashi that NJPW should stick to what got them to this point? Or Omega and his grand idea of what NJPW could become?
Then at round 4pm BST Kota tweeted out this:
— 飯伏 幸太 (@ibushi_kota) October 8, 2018
Quick translation, he’s sticking to his word and as promised, because he didn’t win he must now retire. Fair to say I’m currently in a bit of denial… noooooo, Kota! Even more emotion added to an already dramatic situation, was this really the end of Kota Ibushi? What will Kenny do to stop his fellow Golden Lover from walking away?
Oh and Jericho came back disguised as one of EVIL’s druids! Shit, I somehow completely forgot that!
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Thursdays on LOP Radio Imp covers the Mae Young Classic, NXT and 205 Live. Listen to the latest episode here:
Links to Imp’s latest columns:
Imp’s WWE Adventure – I Couldn’t Give Less Of A S*** About WWE Super Show-Down
Imp’s NJPW Adventure – Tanahashi vs Okada Episode VIII: The Last Rainmaker
Imp’s Worst Case Scenarios for WWE Hell In A Cell
Imp’s Adventure: ALL IN and the List of Pointless Comparisons
Imp’s WWE Adventure: Are You Wrong To Cheer Becky Lynch?
Imp’s WWE Adventure: Lesnar vs Reigns IV: Down As Smooth As A Dog On A Slide
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