Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito (6-19-2016)

Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito (6-19-2016)

Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito
****1/2

June 19, 2016
Osaka-jo Hall in Osaka, Japan
NJPW Dominion 6.19
IWGP Heavyweight Championship

Another excellent IWGP heavyweight title match. The big story here was Kazuchika Okada regaining the title in what many felt was premature fashion, as Tetsuya Naito had just won it two months prior and his merchandise (Los Ingobernales de Japan) was selling well. Attendance was down, but that can’t be blamed on him but rather the company losing Kota Ibushi, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and also Hiroshi Tanahashi was injured and couldn’t be on this show. Two months is not nearly enough time to give a guy to gain momentum as a drawing world champion.

And as everyone knows, the more you pass a major title back and forth, the less it means. Still, this was a terrific match and fans cheered Okada most of the way even though the crowd was filled with people wearing Ingobernables merchandise.

Parts of the match were slow paced, but it built well and the last few minutes were world class level with unreal heat. Naito is Ric Flair and Hiro Hase all rolled into one. I question Okada as the long term face of the company, but there aren’t many other options. I’d have kept it on Naito, but I have faith in New Japan’s ability to know what they’re doing and am anxious to see where they go from here.

Some near falls toward the end, but not overkill, and some great psychology. A few cool major spots on the ramp, including Naito’s running dropkick (which Okada did to him as well minutes later), that were memorable and made this nothing short of your typical fantastic IWGP main event.

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