Wrestling Dontaku 2018 has its AXS TV finale as two of the best in NJPW fight for THE title, the IWGP Heavyweight Championship! The Rainmaker has tied The Ace in successful title defenses at 10. Now Kazuchika Okada goes for the record, but can he keep Hiroshi Tanahashi from taking the title?
This review of Wrestling Dontaku 2018 will be as broadcast by AXS TV.
Therefore, all images are courtesy of AXS TV.
Gifs courtesy of http://frentique.tumblr.com
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada VS Hiroshi Tanahashi; Okada wins and retains the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS TV review what led to this major match.
The magic number is 11. That’s because both Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi reached 11 successful defenses in their respective IWGP Heavyweight Championship reigns. However, The Ace, who vowed to “bring new life to NJPW”, feels a champion “should be super strong, almost disgustingly so.” But Okada was the one to stop his reign. Something about Okada reminded Tanahashi of himself in that 12th defense. Okada won and went on to have his own winning streak of 11 defenses. Tanahash has to admit Okada “reached another level”, and “has found a new passage as champion.” This is the Okada Era.
But Okada ran out of contenders, so Gedo dared anyone to step up. And that was Tanahashi’s moment. They’re tied, so Tanahashi vows to end Okada’s reign no matter what. “The situation was perfect.” Only Tanahashi could challenge in this moment. But Okada would point out Tanahashi’s cycle of injuries and returns. Tanahashi admits to that. But he will deliver for the fans. Okada agrees this match just makes sense. And both men want to be the champion. Will the Ace triumph with #Love&Energy? Or will Okada make it rain once again?
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada VS Hiroshi Tanahashi!
The Once in a Century Talent set the record, but the Rainmaker tied it. Both men stand at 11, and history hinges on this match! Will Okada make or will Tanahashi break the streak?
The belt is presented while we take a short break.
NJPW on AXS returns, and the match officially begins. The fans are already thunderous, cheering for The Ace. Tanahashi and Okada stare down, then approach. They feel it out, but Okada backs off. Okada comes back and they circle. They tie up, and Okada powers Tanahashi back step by step. They reach the ropes, and Okada honors the break. Tanahashi turns things around, swings but misses, and Okada goes for the chop, but stops just before the hit. He instead gives Tanahashi a pat on the shoulder, then backs off. Tanahashi and Okada circle again, then tie up again. Tanahashi gets the waistlock, but Okada reverses to an arm wrench, only for Tanahashi to do the same. Okada rolls, wrenches, but Tanahashi reverses again. Okada falls to a knee, Tanahashi shifts to a hammerlock. They stand, and Okada works for a way out.
Okada gets the hammerlock but Tanahashi turns it right back around. Tanahashi shifts to a headlock and grinds Okada to his knees. Okada works his way up and bearhugs back, but he can’t power out of the headlock. Tanahashi grinds more, but Okada pushes Tanahashi’s face now. Okada tries again, but still can’t escape Tanahashi’s hold. Fans rally and Okada stands. Tanahashi gets the headlock takeover, and Okada can’t get the headscissors counter. Tanahashi traps an arm, but Okada works with his other. They stand up again, and Okada pries off the hold, but Tanahashi powers him back in. Okada uses body shots now, and goes after the hold again. Okada gets out and puts it onto Tanahashi!
Tanahashi fights out and powers Okada off, but Okada runs him over. Okada poses then gets moving again, but things speed up. Okada wants his Rainmaker lariat now, but Tanahashi ducks and gets around. Tanahashi goes for a full nelson, but Okada fights out of the lift, only to run into an arm-drag. Okada headscissors but Tanahashi pops out, and roles reverse as Okada arm-drags and Tanahashi headscissors. Okada pops out, the two stand off, and fans applaud. Both men catch their breath and stand up. They circle again, and fans are still thunderous for Tanahashi. They tie up, Tanahashi gest the arm but Okada forearms and elbows him off. Okada whips but Tanahashi reverses, then blocks Okada’s kick. Tanahashi elbows the knee, then chop blocks it!
Tanahashi runs, but into the tilt-o-whirl. He slips out and dropkicks the knee, and Okada staggers to a corner. Tanahashi runs in, but misses the splash, and Okada puts him up top. Okada returns the favor and dropkicks Tanahashi down! Tanahashi holds onto the ropes to keep himself from hitting the floor. He skins the cat, but Okada is there, and looks to turn that headscissors into the Tombstone. Tanahashi keeps grip of the ropes, so Okada turns him around for the draping DDT off the top rope! Tanahashi clutches his head while Okada sits up. Okada slides out of the ring, and walks around to bring Tanahashi out with him. Okada whips Tanahashi at the railings, then adds the boot! Tanahashi tumbles up and over, and Okada drags him back up. Okada drags Tanahashi up onto the railing and gives Tanahashi another draping DDT!
Tanahashi hits the floor mats, and Red Shoes checks on him. Tanahashi is okay to continue, so Okada rolls into the ring to wait for him. The 20 count begins, and reaches 7 before Tanahashi stirs. Tanahashi stands up at 14 to get in at 15. Fans applaud, but Okada is on him again. Okada drags Tanahashi up, snapmare and running dropkick! Okada stands on Tanahashi to pose, riding the line of confident and cocky. He lets up, and Tanahashi slowly stands. Tanahashi hits with forearms, but Okada eggs him on. Tanahashi throws more and more, but Okada drops him with a European Uppercut. Okada checks his teeth, then goes back to Tanahashi. He brings Tanahashi up and bumps him off buckle pads.
Okada gives forearms, then dares Tanahashi to hit back. Tanahashi does, and his forearms back Okada down now. Okada boots, Tanahashi punches, then Okada clubs Tanahashi down. Tanahashi sits in a corner, and Okada stomps a mudhole into him. Okada drags Tanahashi up, then snapmares him into a chinlock. He traps an arm, but Tanahashi reaches and flails. Tanahashi powers up as fans rally for him, and he fights his way up and out. Okada grinds in a knee and brings Tanahashi down for a chinbar. Tanahashi endures the wrenching and twisting of his neck, but Okada shifts back to the chinlock. Tanahashi stands up and fights out. Okada clubs Tanahashi again, then turns him around, but Tanahashi grabs Okada to bring him around, for Tanahashi’s neckbreaker! Fans cheer while both men stir and we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns, and both men stand up. Tanahashi throws forearms, then ducks Okada’s to throw more. He whips Okada but Okada reverses, only for Tanahashi to knock him down with a leaping forearm! Tanahashi stands and dropkicks Okada in the corner. He whips Okada corner to corner but Okada reverses, but Tanahashi dropkicks his leg out! Tanahashi stands first, then runs, but Okada ducks and speeds up to run him over with a back elbow. Okada catches his breath and checks on his leg while Tanahashi stands. Okada whips Tanahashi corner to corner and back elbows, then kicks to DDT. Cover, TWO, but barely.
Okada keeps his cool, and brings Tanahashi back up. He scoop slams, then goes up top. He takes aim, but has to jump over Tanahashi. Tanahashi dodges in the corner then runs back, but into Okada’s Alabama lift. Tanahashi flails, but Okada still gives him the reverse neckbreaker! Okada bring Tanahashi back up, scoops him and slams him again, then goes back up top. He really wants this move, and leaps for the flying elbow! Okada hits, but he doesn’t cover. Okada poses for the Raimaker, but Tanahashi gets up in his face. Tanahashi kicks, Okada blocks, but then Okada kicks and Tanahashi blocks. Tanahashi dragon screws the leg! Okada slips out of the ring, hobbling even. Tanahashi runs, goes to the top rope, and LEAPS!
The High Fly Flow crossbody wipes Okada out and fans are fired up! Tanahashi gets up first, and brings Okada up for a forearm. He then has people clear out, and runs at Okada, but into a tilt-o-whirl and the TOMBSTONE! Both men are down, but Red Shoes checks on Tanahashi with concern for his head and neck. Fans are also concerned for the two men’s well-being. The 20 count begins, and reaches 15 before either man stirs! Okada gets in at 17, then Tanahashi springs to life to beat it at 19.5! The match continues, but both men are tired and sore.
Both men slowly stir as fans rally up. Okada and Tanahashi crawl towards each other, grinding forehead to forehead before throwing forearms. Each shot takes a lot to give, and a lot to take. Okada hits, Tanahashi hits, repeat. Tanahashi stands and hits Okada, but Okada stands to give one back. Tanahashi hits again, then Okada hits again, repeat. Okada staggers, and gives a European Uppercut. Tanahashi staggers, so Okada gives him another, and another. Tanahashi drops to the mat, and Okada wants him to get up again. Fans rally for Tanahashi as well while Red Shoes checks on him. Okada toys with Tanahashi as The Ace tries to stand. Tanahashi gets up, and throws furios forearms! Okada gives them back and they go back and forth, again and again.
Okada staggers, gets up, gives a shot but then Tanahashi staggers him again. Tanahashi fires off and tops it off with a EuroUpper of his own! Tanahashi kicks Okada around, toying with him now. He brings Okada up, whips but Okada reverses. Tanahashi holds the ropes to avoid the dropkick, then runs, Okada goes for the flapjack but Tanahashi clubs out to hit the swinging neckbreaker! Tanahashi runs, and hits the Slingblade! Cover, TWO! But Tanahashi won’t slow down! Tanahashi climbs up top, takes aim, HIGH FLY– FLOP! Okada narrowly avoids the splash, and we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns, and Okada gets up first this time. He stalks Okada, and dropkicks him in the back. He brings Tanahashi up, whips, and dropkicks him again. But Okada won’t stop there, he brings Tanahashi up. Okada swings him out, but Tanahashi counters the Rainmaker with a Slingblade!
Tanahashi can’t get to the cover, he’s too sore. Okada himself is dazed, but fans are thunderous. Red Shoes checks on both men, but they’re okay to continue. Tanahashi and Okada stir while Gedo drums the apron. Gedo coaches Okada up, but Okada can barely move. Okada and Tanahashi slowly move towards each other, and slowly get back up. Okada scoops, he wants the Tombstone again but Tanahashi resists. Tanahashi holds onto Okada’s leg to deny the lift. Tanahashi lifts Okada! But he can’t hold Okada up as Okada counters. Okada gets Tanahashi up, but Tanahashi fights out and puts Okada in a corner. Tanahashi turns around, but Okada blasts him down with a dropkick!
Okada grins as he crawls over to Tanahashi. He brings Tanahashi up, but Tanahashi gut wrenches! Tanahashi staggers, readjusts, and gives Okada the Tombstone! But no cover as Tanahashi turns Okada onto his belly, to then climb up top! Tanahashi aims, and High Fly Flow to the back! He turns Okada back over, climbs up again, and High Fly Flow but into knees! Both men are down again, but the fans haven’t slowed down at all. Okada crawls after Tanahashi, and they both stand up. Okada goes for but Tanahshi dodges. Tanahashi swings but Okada gets around, German Suplex with bridge! ONE?! And Tanahashi is all fired up! He swings on Okada, but Okada gets around. Okada swings Tanahashi out, but Tanahashi ducks, Snap Dragon Suplex!
Tanahashi keeps going, but runs into the dropkick, yet stands right back up to Slingblade Okada again! Both men are down again, exhausted, sore and maybe even dazed. Tanahashi sits up first, and gets himself to the corner. He climbs up again, but Okada stands. Tanahashi leaps, but Okada dropkicks the crossbody out of the sky! Tanahashi rolls around from the impact while Okada stands and roars. Okada drags Tanahashi up, swings him out, but Tanahashi ducks. Tanahashi swings Okada out and steals the Rainmaker! Cover, ONE! Okada won’t be beat by his own move. Okada drags himself to the ropes but the fans rally for Tanahashi. Tanahashi and Okada stand, and Tanahashi SLAPS Okada.
Okada comes back but gets another strong strike. Tanahashi gives Okada another, and another. Okada staggers, but he still comes back for more. Tanahashi clubs and slaps Okada, then drags Okada up. Okada grabs him, swings him out, but Tanahashi slaps the Rainmaker away. Okada keeps hold of the wrist, though, and tries again, but Tanahashi just slaps him again. The grip still stays, so Tanahashi slaps hima gain! That gets Okada to let go. Tanahashi gets himself going again, but Okada reels him in, swings him out, RAINMAKER!!
Cover, Okada wins!!
Winner: Kazuchika Okada, by pinfall; still IWGP Heavyweight Champion
IT HAS HAPPENED! Okada makes history with this twelfth successful defense! NJPW history was made in the most epic fashion it could be. Both men need ice, the common denominator of this match. Tanahashi is helped up while we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns once more.
The champion stands, and is presented with the winner card to commemorate his achievement, as well as the belt he fought so hard to keep. Gedo helps Okada put it on while Tanahashi is helped to the back. Red Shoes raises Okada’s hand, and the fans applaud. Gedo takes the mic to speak. “As expected, Okada cruised to a new record.” However, this was just another box to check off for him. No one can stop Okada, “Not now, not ever!” Why is that? “Beeeecause he’s on a whole ‘nother level!” To close out Wrestling Dontaku 2018, Gedo shall pass the mic to the “utterly flawless IWGP Heavyweight Champion”, The Rainmaker, Okada himself.
Okada speaks, saying “I wanna say three things.” First: however you address Hiroshi Tanahashi, “he is tough.” Second: Okada did it. 12 in a row! Though he admits, he doesn’t really care about setting records, he just wants to be the best IWGP champion he can. Third: There isn’t a third. Well, that’s what he wishes he could say. But in regards to his next challenger, seems no one is stepping up. “I guess they’re all afraid.” From Marufuji to Kenny Omega to Minoru Suzuki to Shibata to Bad Luck Fale, a draw with Kenny, to Cody, to EVIL, to Naito, to Sanada, to ZSJ, to Tanahashi. Fans applaud for that impressive list. Okada remembers that draw, though. Yes, in Osaka-Jo Hall, it was a 60 minute draw. Fans sense where he’s going with this. “KENNY OMEGA!” And Kenny appears!
Kenny Omega heads to the ring to stand with Okada. Okada tells Omega that “I can’t settle for a draw in my title reign.” But they ran out of time last match. So let’s do it again, no draws, NO time limits! Fans like the sound of that. Omega picks up the mic and says, “I think we can do even better than that, Kazuchika. How about a best of three match?” Okada’s response: “No time limits, best of three. I like it, that sounds fun!” And they’ll use it to finish what they started in Osaka-Jo. The match is set, and Omega takes his leave, ready to prepare.
As for Okada, he is excited for victory number 13. Then 14, 15, and so on past 100. He will then return here as champion, and once again, MAKE IT RAIN!! Okada soaks in the spotlight as his confetti rains down. Will Okada add on to his historic reign? Or will 13 be bad luck when going against The Cleaner?
Tanahashi admits he lost when it counted. But he won’t give up. He vows to become stronger, with tears in his eyes. “The best version of me is yet to come!”
Okada admits that while he said he doesn’t care, he wondered if he’d feel something about breaking the record. He won, but it just felt like any other defense. Though he must also again acknowledge that Tanahashi is tough. Okada is glad he won.
Omega thanks his fans for supporting him, but the journey is not over. The biggest, most difficult match is coming, but “we always make magic at Dominion.” Omega and Okada will bring the best out of each other. “See you there. Good-bye, and good-night, BANG.” The Cleaner, the Rainmaker, one more time. Will Omega finally take the title for his own?
Truly amazing action here with just one match. As noted by commentary, NJPW built itself back up by putting themselves on Tanahashi’s back, and obviously that succeeded. Then NJPW has built Okada up organically, and Okada himself puts his all into his matches to earn that push. And it all makes sense in both kayfabe and business to put the two historically best against each other to more or less pass that torch and come full circle. Okada being the record setter is great, and then upping the ante with the Okada-Omega rematch in Best of Three Falls is more than fitting. Nothing else would’ve been good enough for Dominion 2018, or for Omega to take that belt. [Highlight for Spoilers]
My Score: 9/10