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

Superstar Sleeze

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Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kenny Omega - NJPW New Beginning 2016 Vacant IWGP Intercontinental Championship

With the departure of AJ Styles, the ascent of Kenny Omega begins as he is now pushed as the the top gaijin of the Bullet Club as he turfed AJ right before he left. At the very first supercard after the Dome show, he is challenging Tanahashi (#2 Native after Okada) for the Vacant IWGP Intercontinental Championship (#2 Belt). The IWGP Intercontinental Championship is vacant because Shinsuke Nakamura departed at the same time as AJ but New Japan gave Nakamura a very respectful sendoff, he did not have to lose the title, which in a lot of ways was his own personal title (like how Baba booked his championships in the 70s and 80s). Nakamura also was not beaten up by Omega and the Bullet Club on the way out. 

Tanahashi has his right shoulder bandaged and this becomes a target for Omega. Omega comes out with Cody Hall, but ends up sending him to the back within a few minutes of the match starting because of liberal interference. He wants to do this on his own, but he is ok with eyeraking and choking Tanahashi with a cable. He wants to cheat on his own terms, goddamnit!

Tanahashi pays tribute to Nakamura by doing some of his spots but when he goes for the kneelift in the corner, Omega evades and then yanks Tanahashi's bad arm on the top rope. A really great heat segment follows. Great selling by Tanahashi throughout especially on not being able to complete the skin the cat. I like the gradualism. Tanahashi still has fight left in him so Omega has to beat the spirit out of him to really gain control. Lots of good ringside brawling and using the railing for devastating effect on the arm. I love when Japanese wrestlers wipe out a bunch of chairs in a spot. Omega suplexed Tanahashi over the railing and wiped out a ton of chairs. Really cool. Omega did an Moonsault from the railing back on Tanahashi just because. Some really gnarly arm torturing by Omega. Then he grabs a sleeper, thats weird, but then he tries to turn it into a Crossface Chickenwing, that makes more sense. Tanahashi back drops out. Tanahashi makes a pretty good one arm comeback, but Omega still has a lot left in the tank UNTIL THE DRAGON LEG SCREW! Oh shit now we GO TO SCHOOL!

Tanahashi looks for the Texas Cloverleaf immediately. Credit where credit is due Omega sells this like a big deal. He is struggling against it and scrambling for the ropes. Tanahashi is kicking the bad leg but Omega fights through it and gets a Fujiwara Armbar. Then a curious thing happens. Omega is still selling the leg. Honestly, I would have been ok with him giving up on it because it was not that long, but nope he sold it like a million bucks. Even did the whole collapse thing when he knee gives out on a suplex. He sold the leg like a champ the rest of the match. Tanahashi starts pouring it on. High Fly Flow to the outside. Then in the moment when I realized I was watching a great match...Omega is trying to get back in the ring, Tanahashi goes for the dragon leg screw, but Omega starts wailing on the bad arm of Tanahashi. Tanahashi fights through and snaps it off. Holy shit! That was great. There were a lot of great double limb psychology touches from these two. Finally Tanahashi applies the Texas Cloverleaf and looks to have Omega dead to rites. Cody Hall reappears and distracts Red Shoes. The Young Bucks come from under the ring and double superkick Tanahashi. Wow! This is some great old school interference. I dig it! Spike Tombstone Piledriver and Styles Clash but kickout! They trade Dragonranas in a spot I never thought I'd see in a Tanahashi match and I actually popped. There was a weird spot where Tanahashi goes for the High Fly Flow and one of the Bucks yells at him and he sells like it he has been eye raked and falls off the top turnbuckle. It was very strange. The Bullet Club is about to break Tanahashi's arm when Mike Elgin of all people comes to his rescue and actually carries both the Bucks to the back. Now we get the finish stretch proper. It is the greatest hits of both men. High Fly Flow lands once, but misses the second. Omega hits a bunch of his pump knees to the head (they looked fucking great!) and The Cleaner gimmick finish wins the match. 

I expected nothing but this was a ton of fun! The double limb psychology was fucking great. Both men were totally committed to it. I enjoy interference in pro wrestling more than most and I dont think there's enough in wrestling. It makes matches exciting and dramatic. It makes wrestling wrestling. I will say I think the interference should directly led to the finish since the heel was going over. Front load those typical Tanahashi spots (Sling Blade, Capture Suplex) earlier. Have the Bucks save on the Cloverleaf and High Fly Flow then let that lead directly to Pump Knees and Cleaner gimmick finish to win. It just undercut the drama of the finish. Basically what I am saying is the Bucks stuff was more exciting than Tanahashi/Omega just doing their best hits. I think the finish should always be the most exciting part of the match. Really fun pro wrestling that covered a lot of my favorite shit in wrestling! ****1/4



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