Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada
January 4, 2016
Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 10
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
This was the main event of WK10 at the Tokyo Dome, and has to be considered the best match of the quarter.
This went 36 minutes and I will spare you the blow by blow details, but it goes without saying it contained all the big moves, dramatic spots, and near falls you’d expect. The key to this match was each guy knew each other’s moves and did a lot of spots avoiding or reversing them, which was necessary given how many times the two had faced each other on big shows.
The story of the match was also significant. The two were coming off a 4-year stretch of having one of the most legendary rivalries of all-time, comparable to the Ric Flair vs Rick Steamboat matches in the US that are so fondly remembered by fans here. With Tanahashi’s body breaking down, New Japan was looking to phase him out as the company’s top star and replace him with the younger Okada. This match was seen as passing the torch, which became even more important (and challenging) given that AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows were now headed to WWE.
Just a classic match that you need to see, and if you’ve already seen it, it’s worth watching again.