Will Cold Skull shock the Rainmaker again?
With Kota Ibushi still holder of The Right to Challenge contract, we must now determine who he faces! Will Kazuchika Okada make it rain into the new year? Or will SANADA change everyone’s plans?
Coverage of King of Pro-Wrestling 2019 will be as broadcast on AXS TV
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada VS SANADA; Okada wins and retains the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
NJPW and AXS set the scene for the Sports Day finale!
The Rainmaker has pointed to the Cold Skull as a true rival, and Sanada feels “lucky to have a rival in my generation.” Okada knows many have had the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and “that history is really what makes this belt so desirable.” Sanada is no different. He wants that belt more than anything in this world. And the belt sparkles even brighter because the champion is his rival. The G1 Climax loss to the Cold Skull, after previously being 6-0, was a hard one to take for Okada. But he didn’t want to lose his “cool reputation,” either. Taking the title from Okada will make it even greater a moment for Sanada. But Okada revels in being the main attraction. No one wants silver after being the gold medalist, and that goes for them both. Only one man can be on top of NJPW! But who will be the one going to Wrestle Kingdom?!
IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada VS SANADA!
This is the only match this finale will need! Will the Rainmaker get back at the Cold Skull for that one loss? Or will one loss become two, and crown a NEW champion?
The introductions are made, the fans are dueling with a strong split down the middle, and the belt is raised. The extravagant jackets are put aside, and this match begins after the break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Okada reveals the shorts! Fans love the shorts, and are dueling all over again. The bell rings, Okada runs at Sanada but Sanada dodges the shotgun dropkick! Sanada comes back and the two brawl with forearms! Neither man falls back, but Sanada again dodges the dropkick! And again! Okada dodges Sanada’s clothesline to hit an uppercut, then whips. Sanada avoids yet another dropkick! And heads up fast! Moonsault but Sanada lands on his feet as Okada evades! Okada waistlocks and wristlock ripcords, but Sanada ducks to dragon sleeper! Okada arm-drags, and they both dropkick! Fans fire up as the two are staring down face to face. The dueling only gets louder as the two reset.
Okada and Sanada take a moment to catch their breath and circle. They approach and feel out the grapple. They slowly tie up, and Okada slips through. Sanada blocks the waistlock to get a standing switch, but Okada drops to a knee. Okada switches back, but Sanada wristlocks back. They stand, Sanada wrenches, and Okada grits his teeth as he rolls to wrench back. Fans continue to duel as Sanada wrenches and hammerlocks back. Okada reaches back to headlock, but they end up on the ropes. Red Shoes calls for the ropebreak, and Okada takes his time. Classic Okada fakes the chop to pat Sanada on the shoulders. Sanada runs into a kick, and Okada headlocks. Sanada powers out but Okada runs him over with a shoulder! Okada stands Sanada up to club him in the head, and again. Okada brings Sanada up and turns him around for a neckbreaker! Cover, ONE!
Fans duel more as Okada brings Sanada up into a chinlock. Sanada endures and pries against the hold, but Okada digs his knee in. Sanada scoots and gets the ropebreak with a foot. Okada lets go at 2, to run and basement dropkick! Sanada bails out of the ring and rests on railing, but Okada goes out to fetch him. Okada throws a European Uppercut, then whip Sanada at the railing! Okada then BOOTS Sanada over the railing! He drags Sanada up to his feet and onto the railing, but Sanada was ready! Sanada hops off the railing, puts Okada up on it instead, draping Magic Killer! Sanada catches his breath while Red Shoes checks on Okada. Okada is okay to continue, so Sanada gets up to fetch Okada now. Red Shoes gets the ring count going but Sanada fireman’s carries to snake eyes Okada on railing! The count reaches 10 of 20 but Sanada gets in. The count hits 15 but Okada jumps in! Sanada covers, TWO!
Fans rally up again for both men, and Sanada stands Okada up to wrench and whip. Sanada hits a back elbow in the corner then snap suplexes Okada out. Cover, TWO! Sanada is annoyed but he knows Okada well enough to know that wasn’t enough. Sanada chinlocks Okada now, and he squeezes tight. Okada endures, fights his way up, and fights out with elbows. But Sanada knees low and whips Okada corner to corner again. Sanada runs in but gets a boot. Okada runs but Sanada elbow shim down. Standing moonsault flops, Okada hits Sanada with a basement uppercut! Both men are down as we go to break!
NJPW on AXS returns and Okada kips right up! Sanada slowly rises, and Okada runs in to rally with forearms and elbows! Okada whips but Sanada reverses, only for Okada to dodge, dodge and elbow! Fans fire up with Okada as he stands Sanada up. Okada whips him corner to corner and hits a back elbow, then kicks low to DDT Sanada down! Cover, TWO! Fans rally up and Okada looms over Sanada. Okada wants Sanada to stand, and Sanada does, to get an Alabama lift. But Sanada resists and slips out to then whip Okada corner to corner. Okada reverses, Sanada tumbles out but Okada triangle dropkicks Sanada down! Sanada hits railing on the way down, right in front of commentary! Okada goes out to fetch Sanada again, whipping him into more railing! And he again boots Sanada over! Okada then runs corner to corner, to FLY!! He bowls Sanada into the front row! Thankfully, Young Lions cleared the fans out.
Okada heads back to ringside while Red Shoes checks on Sanada. Somehow, Sanada is okay, so this match continues. Okada wasn’t perfectly unharmed, though, he has to check his legs as he rolls in. The ring count begins again and climbs up to 10 of 20 already. Sanada only stirs at 12, but Okada asks Red Shoes to stop. The rivals want this to happen in the ring, and Sanada makes it back. Okada stands over Sanada, and Sanada throws a forearm, but feebly. Okada watches his rival try again, but he still can’t get a lot of power behind his hits. Okada DECKS Sanada with one! Sanada sits up and Okada eggs him on. Sanada slowly stands and gives another forearm, but it still isn’t much. Sanada keeps trying but Okada staggers Sanada with another.
Okada makes Sanada stand now, and scoops to slam him down. Classic Okada goes to a corner, climbs up top, but Sanada runs in. Okada hops over and uppercuts back, but then Sanada hurdles, hurdles and dropkicks! Okada bails out, Sanada PESCADO! Now Sanada’s back in this! Fans fire up as Sanada stands on the announce desk. Sanada walks off the soreness before putting Okada in. Sanada drags Okada up, blocks the kick, and puts Okada in Paradise! Fans cheer as Sanada stands on the Rainmaker! Sanada goes to the corner and wants the fans to get loud. The fans get loud, and then Sanada kicks Okada out of Paradise! Cover, TWO! Fans duel again as Sanada stands Okada back up. Okada blocks the suplex and elbows back, but Sanada reels Okada in. Okada lands on his feet, dodges in the corner, but Sanada elbows him away. Sanada moonsaults but lands on his feet as Okada dodges, and Okada hits the shotgun dropkick!
Both men are down, with Sanada in a corner. Okada gets up and heads over, dragging Sanada into the drop zone. Okada climbs up top, takes aim, but Sanada is up, so Okada hits a BIG missile dropkick! Sanada is blasted back down and fans rally up again. Okada drags Sanada up, scoops and slams, and wants to do this right. Okada climbs again, leaps, MACHO ELBOW! But he isn’t done there, because he hits the Rainmaker Pose! Okada drags Sanada up, waistlock to wristlock, but Sanada ducks again! Sanada dragon sleepers, Okada arm-drags but Sanada arm-drags back to get the dragon sleeper back! Okada drops and victory rolls, TWO! Sanada fireman’s carries, and flips Okada into the dragon sleeper! But Okada spins around to Alabama, but Sanada slips to the dragon sleeper again.
Okada drops and Sanada holds no, and then gets Okada up. But Okada turns it to gut wrench! Sanada holds on and flails, but Okada powers him through! But Sanada kicks and they flip back, now Sanada has Okada in position! TOMBSTONE! And then, fireman’s carry, TKO! Cover, TWO!! Okada survives but Sanada vows to end it! Fans are getting loud again as Sanada dragon sleepers, SKULL END! The body scissors are on and Okada is enduring the squeeze! Okada kicks and moves around, pops out of the sleeper, but Sanada stays wrapped on. Sanada drags Okada back into Skull End! Sanada squeezes as tight as he can, and Okada starts to fade. Red Shoes checks, but Okada comes back to life and pops out again! Sanada holds on as tight as he can but Okada’s legs are reaching. Again Sanada gets Okada into the hold!
Okada keeps flailing, gasping through his mouth. Fans rally and duel as Okada starts to fade again. Red Shoes checks, but Okada is barely holding on. Okada pops out, bridges back to a cover, TWO!! Sanada still has an arm, but Okada resists being dragged back in. Sanada sits up to hop on Okada’s back, but Okada fights off the sleeper. Okada pries his arm free, wristlock, RAINMAKER!! But he can’t make the cover right away! He rolls over, puts an arm on, TWO!! Sanada survives and we go to break!
NJPW on AXS returns and both men are slowly rising. The two go forehead to forehead on the mat, and Okada throws the first forearm! But Sanada comes back with one of his own! Okada hits Sanada, Sanada hits back! Okada grimaces as he comes back with another forearm, but Sanada nods his head as he hits another. The two stand, the fans rally up, and Okada hits Sanada again. Sanada hits back, so Okada hits back. They go back and forth, picking up speed! Okada uppercuts, but Sanada gives one of his own! Both men are wobbling, but their determination doesn’t falter. Okada gives another uppercut, but so does Sanada! Okada falls to a knee! Okada uppercuts, Sanada uppercuts, and Okada drops to the mat! Okada slowly gets up, but Sanada’s on him with a flurry of forearms!
Sanada spins, but Okada spins, but Sanada blocks the clothesline, spins Okada, and cravats to Shiranui, dragon sleeper! But Okada turns it around to his own dragon sleeper! Then he dropkicks Sanada in the back! Okada whips, and dropkicks again! Okada fires up, stands Sanada up, waistlock and wristlock, but no Rainmaker! Sanada cravats again, but Okada blocks Shiranui this time, so Sanada uses the ropes! Sanada gets up and over to get the dragon sleeper again! Okada fights with all he can, but he starts fading again! And Sanada takes him for a spin, into Skull End! Okada is already fading, Red Shoes checks, but he might be out! Red Shoes wants Okada to say something, anything! Okada is quiet, and Red Shoes lifts the arm. That’s once, but Sanada shifts to a cover, TWO!! Okada is still alive! So Sanada goes up top, MOONSAULT to Okada’s back! And then, MOONSAULT to knees!!
Both men are down again and fans are thunderous as they duel! It starts to blend, “Sakada”, “Onada.” Okada and Sanada get to opposite corners before slowly rising. Sanada hurries over, but gets a boot! He shakes it off, only to get another! Okada runs but Sanada dodges, QUEBRADA DRAGON SLEEPER! But Okada climbs, gut wrench, JUMPING TOMBSTONE! Okada fires up, stands Sanada, waistlock, wristlock, BOOT! Both men stay on their feet, so Sanada boots again! And again! He dodges Rianamker to O’Conner roll and Japanese Clutch, TWO!?! Okada hurries, but Sanada dodges, tilt-o-whirl into dragon sleeper! Fans are at a fever pitch as Okada goes for another swing, but arm-drags out! Dropkick! Both men are down at the 35 minute mark. Okada wristlocks, misses, Sanada wristlocks and tries to steal but Okada ducks! Okada pops out of the pop-up to dropkick!
Okada and Sanada run at each other, Sanada blocks to rolling elbow back! And then pop-up but no cutter! Okada gut wrenches again, but Sanada wants to lean back into the sleeper. Okada fights it off, clubs away on Sanada’s back, and gets him back in for a Michinoku Driver! Wristlock, RAINMAKER!! Cover, Okada wins!!
Winner: Kazuchika Okada, by pinfall; still IWGP Heavyweight Champion
That makes Okada 7-1 all-time with Sanada! But it took a lot out of both men, and that is why they are rivals! Red Shoes puts the belt around Okada’s waist, and then Okada checks on Sanada. Okada gives a thumbs up, but what is Sanada’s response? Sanada sits up, for once showing emotion, but fans reassure Sanada as they cheer for him. Okada offers a hand, and Sanada shakes it. They are rivals with respect, and surely this is not the last time these two face off. We will hear from the champion after the break.
NJPW on AXS returns as Okada has the mic.
“RYOGOKU~! Sanada-san, you’re the best.” Okada has had plenty of heartbreak, too, and has cried many times. Just keep moving forward. Then one day, they’ll battle again, as the main event at the Tokyo Dome. But speaking of the Tokyo Dome, that main event is now confirmed. “Oi, Kota Ibushi! Get out here!” Fans cheer, and chant for Ibushi, and the Golden Star obliges! Ibushi has his custom briefcase for the Right to Challenge Wrestle Kingdom contract, and he joins Okada in the ring. Ibushi grabs himself a mic to say, “Please accept my congratulations.” But all Ibushi needs now is the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, and Okada’s Heavyweight Championship. It’s no fun if Okada has it forever. So would Okada mind accepting his challenge?
“What the hell are you talking about?” Both title belts? Hold on, hold on. Okada won’t let his belt go so easily. Start with one, then we’ll talk. But as far as Tokyo Dome goes, “Bring it on, PUNK!” Fans are fired up to see this, and Ibushi says, “Let’s do this! It’s on!” Ibushi takes his leave, and it would seem everyone is after the historic dual championship achievement!
NJPW Media Backstage Interview
Okada doesn’t really care if Ibushi wants to become a double champ. Okada has his belt, that’s what matters. “People are free to dream however they want.” But Ibushi wants Okada’s belt? It won’t be so easy. Ibushi thinks he can just win and move on. That pisses Okada off. Will Ibushi regret thinking Okada is just a stepping stone on the way to history?
Another one hour, one match episode for NJPW on AXS! Okada VS Sanada VIII was definitely on part with all the others, but perhaps not the best of them. This still had a lot of great story elements from those other seven times these two have faced off, and this definitely feels like one of if not THE new top rivalry in NJPW. There’s almost nothing to say, it was just so good. Sanada being emotional was actually a really great thing, it shows how much this one meant to him. After having won even just once in their rivalry during the G1, he surely felt this could’ve been the time, and it certainly would’ve made the wrestling world explode if he had won. But Okada is always the sure bet for NJPW, so they felt it was best to stick with him.
And it was great for Okada to call Ibushi out, and for Ibushi to declare he’s after the same bit of history as Naito and now Jay White are after. I suppose the schedule doesn’t allow for Ibushi to get the Intercontinental Championship first, as Jay White will have a lot of other contenders first. Okada claiming he’s angry now, his match with Ibushi at WK14 is going to be amazing. With Power Struggle also having Super Junior Tag League, and then World Tag League being next, it is obvious that Ibushi and Okada can slide without defending either of their prizes. If anything, NJPW is already planning for the new year, and it would still get a huge reaction out of the wrestling fandom if Ibushi takes that title in the Tokyo Dome and makes making history his true prize.
My Score: 8.9/10