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By Mike Johnson on 2015-01-04 06:00:00

IWGP championship: Kazuchida Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Big entrances with Jim Ross comparing the rivalry to Austin vs. Rock, Flair vs. Steamboat, Brisco vs. Funk, etc. Lots of really nice wrestling as they go through a feeling out process. They have a ton of time so they are going to be going long.

They went back and forth before going to the floor. Tanahashi was sent over the guard rail to the floor outside, then hit with a hanging DDT off the guard rail. They battled to the ramp where Tanahashi nailed a jawjacker and charged down the ramp only to be caught with a DVDR. The announcers had spoken about Tanahashi’s back issues, so this played into that.

Okada brings Tanahashi back into the ring and snapmares him down before rebounding off the ropes, drilling Tanahashi. Okada slammed him into the buckles and worked him over in the corner. Okada controlled Tanahashi with several submission attempts and near falls. The story early was that Tanahashi was being controlled by the younger challenger and couldn’t get his offense together.

Tanahashi finally went to the top rope but Okada cut him off and they battled. Okada got the better of it and went for the Rainmaker clothesline but Tanahashi reversed the attempt into a pinfall combination. Tanahashi caught him with the Dragon Screw Legwhip and Okada grabbed at the knee, so this may be the turning point. Tanahashi began working over Okada’s knee, kicking the hell out of it. He nailed a dropkick to the knee, further inflicting damage.

They went to the floor. Okada reversed a whip into the rail, sending Tanahashi into it. He charged but Tanahashi moved and Okada ate the railing and flipped over it. Tanahashi hit a big frog splash bodypress from the top rope into the crowd.

Tanahashi took control and nailed a frog splash off the top across the champion’s back. Tanahashi nailed another but Okada kicked out at the last second. Tanahashi nailed the Sling Blade. He mocked Okada’s Rainmaker and nailed the move on Okada, who kicked out of his own move at the last second. Okada fought back but Tanahashi fired back in kind.

Okada went for a tombstone but it was reversed into a forward roll by Tanahashi. Tanahashi began drilling him with hard slaps. They went into a great sequence of near falls and reversals off big moves. Okada missed the Rainmaker and was nailed with a German suplex for a two count. Okada nailed his signature dropkick. Tanahashi grabbed Okada’s leg from behind and nailed a reverse Dragon Screw Legwhip, then another. Tanahashi nailed a big clothesline from the top.  Tanahashi nailed another Dragon Screw and went to the top. He nailed another pair of Frog Splashes and scored the pin.

Your winner and still IWGP champion, Hiroshi Tanahashi!

Great, well worked main event.  Okada was in tears as he left the ring.  Tanahashi addressed the crowd and celebrated in the ring.  As he left, fans tossed him towels to wipe his face and he tossed them back.

Awesome, fun broadcast and it was really refreshing.  If you complain you can't enjoy pro wrestling and can't see the international stuff, well, your excuses are done.  Even if you don't want to deal with subscribing to an online service like NJPW World, the biggest show of the year was on PPV.  If you don't understand Japanese, they gave you Jim Ross and Matt Striker doing a phenomenal job calling the show.  There are no excuses for you not to enjoy this one, and you should.

Elite subscribers: There will be a Post-Game audio later today (Sunday) but for now, I need some sleep!

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