New Japan World Pro Wrestling on AXS (03.20.15)
New Japan World Pro Wrestling on AXS
March 20, 2015
Your hosts are Mauro Ranallo and former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett.
- IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – (Wrestle Kingdom VIII, 1/4/14)
Marty Friedman – the former lead guitarist of Megadeth – plays Tanahashi out to the ring for his match because Tanahashi plays air guitar, I suppose. I’m sure you are just as confused as I am, but Friedman has lived in Tokyo since 2003 and is a radio and TV host over there. Tanahashi has been undefeated at Wrestle Kingdom shows since 2008 where he last lost to Shinsuke Nakamura and lost the IWGP heavyweight championship. Nakamura’s entrance is much different, which comes complete with pole dancers and contortionists. Wearing the red Thriller jacket, Nakamura does a little Michael Jackson actions. Stan Hansen is the holder of the belt during this contest.
Nakamura outclasses Tanahashi on the mat and in some tie-ups to start. There’s some missed kicks and then Nakamura avoids a dragon screw. When Nakamura grabs a front headlock, Tanahashi is able to escape with a shinbreaker and enziguri kicks the back of Nakamura’s knee. Nakamura blocks a crossbody out of the corner though with a gutbuster and punishes Tanahashi with kicks and knee strikes. Tanahashi eventually catches one of the kicks and takes Nakamura over with a dragon screw to mount a comeback. While he’s working the knee, Nakamura manages a big boot and a spinning heel kick. Back to the front headlock, Nakamura fires off some PRIDE STYLE knees to the head and delivers a gourdbuster for two. Nakamura gets the funky boot choke in the corner, but misses a corner charge. He ducks a crossbody in the corner from Tanahashi. Nakamura hits a couple running knee strikes, but misses a third. From the apron, Tanahashi wants the dragon screw through the ropes and gets kicked in the head instead. On the floor, there’s some guardrail action. Nakamura knee lifts Tanahashi while he’s draped on the apron. He wants a knee drop off the apron, but Tanahashi rolls out of the way and Nakamura crashes and burns on the floor. Because this is what he does, Tanahashi delivers the FLYING BODY PRESS TO THE FLOOR to wipe out Nakamura. Back inside, Tanahashi gets that dragon screw through the ropes. Texas Cloverleaf is pulled into a triangle choke by Nakamura! Tanahashi manages an escape and locks in the Texas Cloverleaf after all until Nakamura reaches the ropes. Capture German suplex gets two. Could be time for the High Fly Flow, but Nakamura enziguri kicks Tanahashi down. Oh, but he manages to skin the cat back inside only to get met with a backcracker from Nakamura! Both men stand up and start exchanging elbow smashes. They switch to slaps until Nakamura has enough and starts unloading with knee strikes and stomps to the point Tanahashi is on his back side in the ropes. Tanahashi doesn’t quite get the dragon screw, which allows Nakamura to pop up and deliver the BOMA YE to the back of the head. Too exhausted to cover though. Neckbreaker off the shoulders leads to the reverse powerslam by Nakamura. Tanahashi fights off what could have been the Landslide and hits the Sling Blade. Nakamura stops Tanahashi up top and even fights off a sunset flip powerbomb to deliver a lungblower of sorts. Nevertheless, Tanahashi fights through and hits the DRAGON SUPLEX for two. HIGH FLY FLOW gets 1-2-NO! Time for the Sling Blade, but Nakamura fights him off with a running boot. BOMA YE from the second rope! Another BOMA YE! Cover, 1-2-NO! Tanahashi manages to stop the onslaught of BOMA YES with another dragon screw and applies the TEXAS CLOVERLEAF. Nakamura doesn’t make the ropes, but contorts his body to escape. Tanahashi forces the hold back on again and delivers a STYLES CLASH out of the hold! Flying Body Press with Nakamura on his knees! HIGH FLY FLOW AGAIN! Cover, 1-2-3! (23:24) So Tanahashi wins his first IWGP IC title. Guess they felt they had to pad the card a little bit in case the Okada/Naito match didn’t draw as well. Certainly a big name match, too. They also were in a rather risky situation of whether they should put on a better match than the IWGP heavyweight title match. What do you do in this situation? You have a good match, send the fans home happy, and that’s about it. ***½
Until next time, so long for now.
NEXT WEEK: Tanahashi/Nakamura: THE REMATCH.
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