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Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada (New Japan Pro Wrestling)


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Need we say more? Arguably the two most prominent figures outside of WWE in the past decade and the two aces of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Both men have carried the promotion on their shoulders for the past number of years, etching their place in history. What Steve Austin and The Rock have become to WWF during the Attitude Era, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada have been to NJPW in the past decade.

Okada has been recognized for so long as the best wrestler in NJPW but what about Tanahashi? This is the place to discuss everything Tanahashi vs Okada!

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Arguably the greatest in-ring rivalry of the 2010's and maybe the most important. While Okada is probably more responsible for NJPW's return to prominence, it was his feud with Tanahashi that was essential to his ascent. A lot of newer fans (myself included) can probably point to this feud as their introduction to the promotion. While you could argue they've had too many matches over the past 7 years and that Okada's coronation should have happened at WK 9 instead of WK 10, the storytelling and booking was for the most part perfect and made for one of the greatest passing of the torches in recent memory.

In terms of how I would rank them as wrestlers, I would put Tanahashi ahead as he has more volume but that's really a credit to his longevity in the business. With Okada, it feels like he's only just entered his prime so it's a bit tough to compare. While I would put his peaks ahead of Tanahashi's, he could be inconsisent until around 2017 or so when he had a pretty solid claim to best in the world.

Here's my ranking of their matches:

1. King of Pro Wrestling 2013 *****
2. Invasion Attack 2013 ****3/4
3. Wrestle Kingdom 10 ****3/4
4. Destruction in Kobe 2018 ****3/4
5. Wrestling Dontaku 2018 ****3/4
6. G1 Climax 2016 ****1/2
7. G1 Climax 2018 ****1/2
8. G1 Climax 2019 ****1/4
9. G1 Climax 2013 ****1/4
10. New Beginning 2012 ****1/4
11. Dominion 2012 ****1/4
12. Wrestle Kingdom 9 ****1/4
13. Wrestle Kingdom 7 ****

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I'll also say that Okada vs Tanahashi has pretty much been my intro to New Japan in the past couple of years (although I became familiar with it during their working relationship days with WCW) and I would easily recommend anything they did to someone who'd like to know more about New Japan.

Still, it's scary to think about the notion that Okada is perhaps entering his prime, considering how long he's been on top of the promotion, delivering night in and night out.

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