NJPW finishes its Destruction tour with Kobe! The Ace defends his guaranteed IWGP Heavyweight Championship match opportunity against The Rainmaker!
This coverage of Destruction in Kobe will be as broadcast by AXS TV.
Gifs can be found at http://frentique.tumblr.com/
- Wrestle Kingdom 13 IWGP Heavyweight Championship Contract Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Kazuchika Okada; Tanahashi wins and retains the contract.
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NJPW and AXS TV set the scene!
The Once in a Century has made quite the comeback in 2018. He would return from injury to compete in his 17th G1 Climax and win! However, there are still scores to settle before Wrestle Kingdom. Kazuchika Okada has been one of Hiroshi Tanahashi’s most powerful rivals. Okada would retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and in a match against The Ace, break Tanahashi’s record for most successful consecutive defenses. Kenny Omega would take that title from Okada later on, but Okada would make his own comeback.
Eventually, Okada and Tanahashi would meet in the G1 Climax Block A, and it would be that time limit draw that allowed Tanahashi to go to the finals! Tanahashi wants to prove he can actually defeat Okada, but Okada wants to prove this is his era in NJPW! Who wins the rights to that title match contract to meet the IWGP Heavyweight Champion in the New Year?
Wrestle Kingdom 13 IWGP Heavyweight Championship Contract Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Kazuchika Okada!
The Ace and the Rainmaker are two of the best in all of NJPW, and perhaps the world. As such, they’ve met time and again in the ring, and each time, the younger star has come out on top. The best Tanahashi managed was that draw during this year’s G1 Climax. But with the contract guaranteeing a shot at the top title on the line, can Tanahashi finally pull off a win over Okada?
The introductions are made, the Wrestle Kingdom 13 briefcase is set down and the contract inside is verified. We go to break before setting this incredibly important match in motion.
NJPW on AXS returns as fans are thunderous with chanting. The bell rings and we begin! Tanahashi hears the fans chanting his name but Okada brushes it off. The two circle and feel it out. They tie up, but break as neither man backs down. They circle and go again, and Okada gets behind. Tanahashi standing switches but Okada wrenches to a wristlock. Tanahashi spins through to get his own wristlock, but Okada rolls. Okada gets a takedown and has a toehold. Tanahashi endures and works against things. He rolls and gets Okada in a chinlock. Okada rolls back the other way to get a hammerlock. Tanahashi drop toeholds and gets a headlock. Okada pries his way out, but Tanahashi brings him back in.
Tanahashi gets a headlock takeover, but Okada keeps his shoulders up. Okada rolls Tanahashi to a cover, ONE, so he headscissors. Tanahashi pops out, and fans applaud the technique. Fans rally up with “Go Ace!” as the two circle again. They tie up, and Okada manages to power Tanahashi back to the ropes. Okada honors the break, but throws a forearm. Tanahashi walks into a boot, but stays standing. They stare down, then fire off forearms! They’re fast and furious, neither man slowing down! Tanahashi gets an edge but Okada knees low. Okada whips but Tanahashi reverses to hip toss Okada down. Fans rally behind Tanahashi as Okada gets to a corner. Tanahashi runs in but Okada goes up, Tanahashi slides out. Tanahashi grabs a leg and trips Okada! He turns Okada over to elbow the knee, then slams the leg on the apron, and Okada slumps to the floor.
Tanahashi leaves Okada down and out, and a ring count begins. Okada stands up at 4 and gets in at 6, but Tanahashi dropkicks him back down! Fans fire up as Tanahashi aims, and slingshots for the splash! It proves a little double-edged, as Tanahashi clutches his bad knee. Red Shoes checks on both men, but Tanahashi is up first. Tanahashi climbs into the ring, and Red Shoes makes sure that knee is okay. Okada gets up and in, and waits as Tanahashi stands. Okada runs in and dropkicks the leg out! Tanahashi writhes and clutches the leg again, but Okada keeps on him. Okada smashes the knee on the mat! Tanahashi writhes more, but Okada just paces. Okada grabs the leg and drops an elbow on it. Okada even stands on the leg just to aggravate it. Fans boo but Okada shrugs it off.
Okada drags Tanahashi up and bumps him off buckles. He stomps the bad leg, but fans rally up for Tanahashi. Okada wraps the bad leg on the ropes and pulls. He stops at the ref’s count of 4 and backs away. Red Shoes checks Tanahashi, and Tanahashi says he’s fine. Okada runs in, but into an elbow! Tanahashi hops up but Okada ducks under the crossbody! Tanahashi crashes, we go to break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Okada paces around Tanahashi. Okada goes after the legs again, and sits down on a special figure four kneelock. Tanahashi endures and fans rally for him. Tanahashi drags himself around but Okada pulls harder. Ropebreak! Okada holds on until 4, and fans boo. Okada somersaults to his feet and simply paces again. He brings Tanahashi up but Tanahashi throws body shots. Okada tanks it all, and even eggs Tanahashi on. Tanahashi keeps hitting him, Okada keeps egging him on. Tanahashi gets through to Okada but Okada kicks him. Okada kicks again, but gets a dropkick to the other leg! Then a chop block! Then the dragon screw! Tanahashi gives Okada a taste of his own medicine as far as leg damage.
Fans continue to rally as both men get to opposite ends. They stand and approach, Tanahashi knocks Okada over with a back elbow, then drops an elbow and a somersault senton! Tanahashi catches his breath and stands back up. He throws forearms on Okada again, then scoop slams him into a drop zone. Tanahashi hops up, and hits another somersault senton! Cover, TWO! “Go Ace!” returns as Tanahashi stalks Okada. Okada staggers up while Tanahashi runs. Okada ducks the clothesline to give a big back elbow! He brings Tanahashi up to whip him corner to corner, but Tanahashi can barely run on that bad leg. Okada still gives him a back elbow, a kick, and a DDT! It stands Tanahashi right up, cover, TWO! Fans rally but Okada looms over Tanhashi.
Tanahashi stands, Okada wants the Alabama lift. Tanahashi resists, but Okada still gets him up. Okada can’t hold him as Tanahashi fights with clubbing forearms. They struggle for control, but Okada gets Tanahashi up again. Tanahashi fights out, but Okada reverses. Tanahashi reverses back, they trade dodges, Tanahashi dropkicks low again. He runs at Okada, but into the reverse neckbreaker! It was double-edged given the knee he dropped Tanahashi on. Both men are down but fans rally up. Both men stand, Okada shotgun dropkicks Tanahashi to a corner! Okada gets up, walks over, and stands Tanahashi for back elbows. He hoists Tanahashi up, blocks a kick to give an elbow, then dropkicks Tanahashi! Tanahashi holds on for dear life, but Okada goes off on that knee! Red Shoes backs Okada off while fans boo.
Okada waits in the opposite corner while Red Shoes tries to help Tanahashi. Young Lions help sit Tanahashi up and Tanahashi gets in, but collapses as the bad leg buckles. Okada keeps on Tanahashi with a shin breaker! Then loop through, Figure Four a la the Nature Boy! Tanahashi endures, Okada drops back to put on more pressure. Fans rally as Tanahashi works against the hold. Tanahashi pries Okada’s leg off but Okada brings it back down. Okada puts on the pressure, but Tanahashi keeps fighting against the hold. Fans keep cheering while Red Shoes asks if Tanahashi is done. Tanahashi isn’t done, and works to roll the hold over. Okada brings it back, and the pressure stays on Tanahashi. Tanahashi tries again, and turns it over! Now Okada endures, so he rolls it back quick, ROPEBREAK! Red Shoes unties the two, and Tanahashi slumps to the floor.
Okada follows Tanahashi out, and smashes the knee on the floor mat! Tanahashi writhes to the railing, but Okada doesn’t leave him alone. Okada brings Tanahashi up, but Tanahashi gut wrench scoops Okada! Tanahashi hits the Tombstone on the outside! Both men are down while we go to break!
NJPW on AXS returns, and Red Shoes checks on both men. They’re somehow okay to continue, so a ring count begins. Tanahashi drags himself in at 7, but Okada barely stirs. Okada finally sits up at 15, but Tanahashi climbs up?! Tanahashi aims, High Fly Flow crossbody brings Okada crashing back down! Fans continue to cheer even as Tanahashi clutches both knees now. Tanahashi drags himself back up at 6, then brings Okada up and in at 9. He wants Okada to stand, then runs, but into a wring out! Tanahashi denies Rainmaker to hit the swinging neckbreaker! He runs, Slingblade! Cover, TWO!! And a close one! But Tanahashi won’t stop, he gets back to the top rope. He aims, for High Fly Flow! Okada gets his knees up! Both men are down after that, but the fans haven’t stopped once.
Tanahashi sits up, Okada follows. They crawl around towards each other, and slowly stand. Okada scoops but Tanahashi blocks. Okada tries again but again Tanahashi blocks. Tanahashi tries to scoop but Okada blocks. They fight for gut wrench control, and Okada gets Tanahashi up! Tanahashi flails and gets back down. Tanahashi elbows away on Okada, then throws forearms. Okada hits him back, so Tanahashi hits Okada again. Okada throws a forearm. Tanahashi throws a forearm. Okada throws a European Uppercut, then another. Tanahashi staggers, Okada gives him a third. Okada toys with Tanahashi now, but Tanahashi gets up and fires off! Okada dropkicks the leg out! He whips Tanahashi, but Tanahashi falls on his face, the legs giving out.
Red Shoes checks on Tanahashi, but Okada won’t let Tanahashi quit. Okada brings him up, for another shin breaker, but Tanahashi sunset flips! TWO, but now Tanahashi has Okada’s leg, for a grounded dragon screw! Both men are down as fans fire up again. Tanahashi stands first and runs, but into the dropkick! Okada staggers, brings Tanahashi up, and wrings him out, but Tanahashi denies the Rainmaker again! Tanahashi full nelsons but Okada breaks out. Okada fireman’s carry, Death Valley Driver countered into a neckbreaker! Tanahashi grits his teeth as he gets up, and he runs again, but into the gut wrench! But he tilts it back and has Okada in position! but Okada slips out, wrings out, but gets a palm strike! Tanahashi shouts, but Okada dropkicks the back of the leg! Wring out, SLINGBLADE!
Tanahashi hurries to bring Okada to a drop zone. He hurries up to the top rope, and takes aim… HIGH FLY FLOW! Cover, but Tanahashi comes off it from his own leg pain. He tries again, TWO!! The momentary pause keeps Okada in this match. Fans are thunderous again as Tanahashi drags himself to the corner. Tanahashi forces himself up to the top rope again, leaps, but into Okada’s dropkick! Tanahashi writhes with pain in his ribs now, but Okada grits his teeth. Okada drags Tanahashi up, scoops him, TOMBSTONE! His own legs slow him down, but he still calls for his finisher. He brings Tanahashi up, wrings him out, but Tanahashi ducks! Tanahashi wants to steal Rainmaker, but Okada ducks under, to wring Tanahashi out. He sees Tanahashi ready to counter, so he ducks, spins, discus lariat!
Okada fires up and wants the real deal now. He drags Tanahashi up again, wrings him out, but Tanahashi counters with Dragon Suplex! Bridging cover, TWO!? That was as close to three as possible! Fans are thunderous now, and both men still stir. Tanahashi drags himself to a corner, drags himself up top once more, but Okada dropkicks him down! Okada climbs up to join Tanahashi and drags him into gut wrench position. Okada wants it, but Tanahashi holds on for dear life. Tanahashi fights back, gets behind Okada, and clubs him down. Okada hits back, climbs back up, and goes for another gut wrench. Tanahashi holds on and fights back again. Okada steps back, but clubs Tanahashi again. Okada climbs up a third time, but Tanahashi throws a swift palm strike! Tanahashi stands up, knocks Okada down, falling High Fly Flow!
Tanahashi couldn’t cover there, but he’s determined to do it his way. He gets back up top, for another High Fly Flow crossbody! But that’s not it, he wants another! HIGH FLY FLO SPLASH!! Cover, Tanahashi wins!!
Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi, by pinfall; still owns the Wrestle Kingdom 13 IWGP Heavyweight Championship contract
The Ace does it! He finally gets a win over Okada, while holding on to his shot at the top title in NJPW! It took many High Fly Flows, but they were all worth it. We go to break while both men recover.
NJPW on AXS returns…
And Tanahashi finally stands up again. He has his hand raised in victory, and his contract briefcase returned to him. Tanahashi raises the briefcase in victory, but then JAY WHITE appears! And gives Tanahashi the Blade Runner! The Switchblade again makes it very clear that he wants that contract, and going after a weakened Ace is him making a statement. But then he stares down at the leader of Chaos, the very faction White also wants in his possession. And he stomps away on Okada! Young Lions are no match for White, he throws them around, and gives one a German Suplex! White goes after Okada again as the bell rings frantically.
White goes outside and gets in Rocky Romero’s face. He demands Rocky’s chair, but Rocky refuses, so White shoves him down! White takes the chair, folds it up, and brings it to the ring with him. But wait, here comes Yoshi Hashi! The Head Hunter takes a bit of a nasty spill, but he still gets up to go after White! Hashi is bloody but he throws forearms on White. Hashi checks on Okada, but White has the chair and SMACKS Hashi in the face! White has now floored three men, and even takes some of Hashi’s blood to wipe on his face like war paint. White goes back into the ring, takes the chair again, but here comes Gedo! Okada may have let Gedo go as a manager, but surely Gedo is still Okada’s friend as he takes that chair from White.
Fans cheer for Gedo as he stares White down. Gedo checks on Okada, and Okada stands. Okada stares White down as White shouts “I told you that I would come for you!” But Gedo SMACKS Okada?! Fans want to know why, but Gedo just has White bring Okada up again, for Blade Runner! Gedo grabs a mic, and says, “I guess this ‘biggest loser’ match is over.” Because no matter who won, “neither of you bums is fit to be the main event at the Tokyo Dome!” Wanna know why? Because you both lost to White in the G1, “you’re both just a couple of failures.” White taunts Tanahashi and Okada while Gedo says the only man worthy of the briefcase is The Switchblade! Fans boo but White holds the briefcase up like it’s already his.
Gedo orders a camera man to focus on only White. “These two dogs lying around on the ground, don’t even put them in the shot.” Only show Jay White! Gedo then declares, “Breath with the Switchblade! New Era: coming soon!” A betrayal followed by a proclamation and an ultimatum. With Gedo behind him, will Jay White rise all the way to the top of NJPW? Or will Okada and Tanahashi have their revenge soon enough?
Jay White says “Okada, I told you the day after New Year’s Dash when you brought me into Chaos, I would come for you.” And what did Okada do? He laughed. But was he laughing after losing to White in the G1? He certainly isn’t laughing after tonight. And Okada won’t be laughing when White takes the briefcase from Tanahashi, something Okada couldn’t do. And as for Tanahashi, White vows to tear him apart and spill his blood! Tanahashi, Okada and everyone in NJPW will breath with the Switchblade.
As for Tanahashi, he cusses while asking “Do you know how many years it took for me to finally beat Okada, you son of a bitch?!” The Ace wants blood as much as White, who will bring the other down while holding up that Wrestle Kingdom contract?
An amazing and intense episode for NJPW on AXS here. This IWGP Heavyweight Championship contract match was so good, with all the story behind it of how familiar Okada and Tanahashi are. You could feel Tanahashi fighting to do everything he had to to finally beat Okada again, while also seeing that Okada was rather confident he’d still win. Okada almost came off as a Heel with how he treated Tanahashi’s leg while being so calm about everything. It’s great that Tanahashi retains, because it would be a shame if in his first defense he just loses the contract, and to Okada. And obviously, with Gedo on White’s side now and White gunning for everything, there is plenty for Okada to still do without having a direct path to the title.
My Score: 8.7/10