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[2016-02-14-NJPW-New Beginning in Niigata] Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

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I don't rate this as a MOTYC like many others do, but I'm curious to hear what people here thought of this one.

 

This match has received mixed criticism and I can see why. There was some really great stuff in this, and some really bad stuff too. This match didn't feel like any other match in NJPW in years (or ever). The interference worked and sent the crowd into a frenzy. I was sucked into the hellish atmosphere of the finishing stretch even if I was majorly irked by them busting reverse frankensteiners and brushing them off like they were light slaps. Omega worked a mean control segment on Tanahashi's arm, but it ultimately went nowhere. A flawed yet memorable main event epic. The conclusion of this match felt like it could of been from a main event on Raw in the middle of the Attitude Era. One thing for sure is that it's worth checking out, even if you end up hating it. ★★★½

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I liked this a lot, largely because it was FINALLY a major NJPW match up that was fresh and new. Loved the suplex into the chairs on the outside and Omega did a great job selling the knee. I'm about over BC interferences but for this it was at least relatively well done. Good homestretch and I liked the dueling reverse hurricanranas, which is an overused move in a lot of places but felt new and unexpected in an NJPW heavy weight main event. I still don't like Omega's character but he looked good here and I'm looking forward to finally getting some fresh upper card NJ matches.

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These two got me sucked into their story leading up to January 4th, 2019, so I've been itching to go back to this match, their first meeting, and well, let's bring on the new year w/ it. I actually didn't like this match AT ALL when it happened, but I hadn't re-watched it since, so I was pretty curious to see how I feel about it now, almost 3 years later. And my opinion on it couldn't be more different than it was then - right now I think this is one of the best NJPW main events of this current era. It starts pretty slow, and the highlight of the beginning stuff was Kenny telling Cody Hall & Yujiro to go away because the smart marks aren't fans of interruptions in their New Japan main events. I thought that was legitimately pretty funny - these days Kenny's star rating obsessed gimmick shtick is just tired & annoying, but it fit his goofy villain character here so well. Shortly after that, the match REALLY gets going; Tana goes for a couple of Nakamura signature moves on the corner, but Kenny counters that by going after Tana's right arm. Now, Kenny Omega doesn't come off as a natural "limb-working wrestler", but he actually is really goddamn great at it here; loved the Danielson elbows to the shoulder & I actually don't know what is it's official name, but the bending-your-back-on-top-of-your-opponents-arm -thing that Nigel McGuinness used to do, was so awesome. Kenny playing air guitar w/ the Naito entrance mask on was another awesome thing during his control segment. Of course Tana eventually rallies a comeback in by going after Omega's leg, to counter the arm work. Kenny sells the big Dragon Screw brilliantly, and that brilliant leg selling of his continued throughout the rest of the match. FANTASTIC moment when after Tana did the HFF on him on the outside, Kenny tries to enter the ring, but then Tana gets a hold of his leg, Kenny starts fighting immediately, trying to get out of it by repeatedly striking Tana; DA ACE masterfully milks that to the maximum, and then delivers that signature roar of his & busts out another big, fantastic Dragon Screw. And talking about great moments, Omega busting out the Styles Clash was yet another one - not only was he mocking AJ Styles, the man he betrayed a month earlier, but also Tana, who also uses Styles Clash as a signature move. Two birds, one stone. The last third is straight outta attitude era w/ all the run-in's; I wasn't too into the Bullet Club ones, but overall it fit the character/gimmick so it's OK. Didn't take too much away from the bout. Big Mike coming in & just carrying both Jacksons out was badass though. Overall this was an excellent, classic match - Omega truly delivered a match & performance to remember in his first major one as a New Japan heavyweight & Tana added yet another great big match performance to his resume w/ his terrific work fighting from underneath. Here's to hoping they come out w/ another banger at the Dome! ****1/2

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It was a good match, I think. The early parts where Omega feigned being a sportsman, sending BC away only to cheat his way throughout the match was really good and very clever. The constant switch in momentum between the two was well done also. Gave this match a very competitive feel to it. I want to praise their work on the limbs too even if the selling wasn't up to that standard. Both of them sold the initial pain of the work but they didn't sell it afterwards and they blew it off to hit moves like the v-triggers and dragon suplexes. Disappointing from both from that standpoint. The interference wasn't preferable but it made sense with Omega's cheating. The pacing is good too. The match never dragged for me at all. ***

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