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SmartMark15

[2018-08-10-NJPW-G1 Climax 28] Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada

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We all know the great chemistry these two guys have together as well as the pitfalls many of their matches fall into. Still prefer their match from earlier this year, but this was a fun bout with the story of Okada needing the victory and Tanahashi needing only to run out the clock. I enjoyed the leg work for what it was even though (of course) it doesn't really go anywhere. I still liked that there were hints of the leg selling towards the end. Just hints though. Of course, the good stuff is in the finish and these two are quiet great at it. I'm a big fan of the finisher counter style they work so all the near misses for the Rainmaker especially that sudden left hand were some of my favorite spots. The finish was a big shock for me despite the track record and made for a nice surprise for me. Really good stuff here.

****1/4

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The never ending feud between Okada and Tanahashi still rages on. It's not hard to see why both these guys always have bangers together as they put on another classic and easily the best A-block match at the very end. The stakes were very high here as it looked like Tanahashi was just hanging on by a thread to obtain that last point, and Okada just needed to finally beat Tanahashi in a G1 match to furthur prove why he was still the top guy. Amazingly, things don't play out as expected as it is Tanahashi who reaches down inside him to pull out a performance that not even Okada in his current state can overcome. The storytelling with callbacks to their previous match was great too. Admittedly, I never once thought Tanahashi had a chance of winning his block, especially this late in the game, but shame on me for not believing the "Ace" couldn't pull it off, ****3/4.

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This was towards the bottom of their matches for me, but still really good. The first half or so really meandered, more than even most NJPW main events that rely on the back-half of matches. It just felt like there was really nothing going on. But once it kicked into gear, it got very good. I really liked all of the Rainmaker counters, it really felt like if Okada hit it, that would be it. The rollup counter was incredible and should have been the finish. Loved Tanahashi going for the High Five Flow even though everyone in the building knew that it could be his undoing. I never thought that a draw was possible at all, even with 30 seconds left. I do wish Tanahashi won, because the crowd felt a bit deflated and confused after, but still, it mostly worked for me. ****1/2

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This was pretty typical for a lot of their more recent matches. 10 minutes of inconsequential padding, 5 minutes of solid escalation, and a 15-minute dramatic finishing stretch. The first 10 minutes of this were pretty rough and even though there was an interesting twist of Okada going after Tanahashi's leg, it was dropped pretty quick. Not to mention Okada totally blowing that shinbreaker on the railing. But both guys managed to acquit themselves very well like they tend to do. Okada and Tanahashi just have a way of making their matches feel dramatic and exciting once they get going. They're such a unique pairing. That being said, the story wasn't quite as strong as it was at Dontaku where it was Tanahashi trying to turn back the clock and Okada defending his kingdom. Still, a very good match once they finally got out of the gates.

****-****1/4.

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