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paul sosnowski

[2020-01-05-NJPW-Wrestle Kingdom 14 In Tokyo Dome: Night Two] Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito

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Kazuchika Okada defends the IWGP Heavyweight Title against the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Tetsuya Naito.   Winner takes all!!!  Double title match.   Talk about it here

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I would agree with anyone who says Naito should have won at WK 12. That being said, probably the biggest reason this match was so tremendous was how it built off Naito's past disappointments and his loss two years prior. These two have struggled with chemistry before but here they complimented each other perfectly. Naito pushed the pace whereas most Okada matches start off much slower, while Okada has the stamina and athleticism to make any finishing stretch captivating. But as I mentioned before, this match truly succeeded because of the story it told in Naito overcoming every failure he's endured. Okada attacking the knee was a great wrinkle to the match which saw him fully embrace the heel role and while at first it was used for a count-out tease, him repeatedly slamming the knee near the end really drove the whole thing home as Naito the conquering hero and Okada the cocky yet desperate heel. The callbacks to WK 12 were tremendous as well, first with Naito surviving the spinning tombstone/Rainmaker combo which put him away before and then not only attempting Stardust Press, but FINALLY hitting it.

One of the greatest title matches of the 21st century. Bravo. *****

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I loved this, for the most part. I watched it live and then just went back and re-watched the last 20 minutes, from around the part where Okada catches Naito with a dropkick as he's sitting on the turnbuckle. There's a part just before that where Naito seems a little unsure what to do next, even turning his back to Okada and eating a dropkick to the back of the head. It's a minute or so but I'm going to choose to believe that it was Naito intentionally showing how spent he was after the previous night's match, or perhaps re-thinking his strategy given he's fallen to Okada in the dome before. Anyway, after that bump to the outside it really kicks on. The count out tease is brilliantly done, great camera work showing how far Naito has to go and Naito does a great job of selling the idea that his knee is completely fucked. Then as soon as he gets back in the ring Okada jumps up to the turnbuckle ready for the next attack and you get the feeling that Okada might just be too high a mountain for to climb. Naito keeps up the knee selling for a while but then there's an exchange with him bouncing off the ropes where he seems to forget about it. The last few minutes is outstanding. Naito spitting in Okada's face and Okada again slamming his knee into the mat in retaliation to a serious heat was great. That poison rana was brutal. You really worried for Okada there. The callbacks to their previous matches (not to mention the Ibushi match from the previous night) were delightful with the Stardust Press probably being the peak. Great moment. I should re-watch the first 15 minutes. If it's any less dull then I recall then I may have this over the Ibushi match. 

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You know a match is good when you root against one wrestler at the start of the match and slowly turn for him as the match progressed. That’s pretty much what happened here. I was ready for Okada to win and enjoy Naito losing but Naito brought a BIG effort with his crazy moves and counters. Okada playing up his heel side only increased that. Some of the limb work was disregarded but in the grand scheme of things, the match played out very well. The finishing stretch was full of twists and turns (literally in Naito’s case). Okada’s timings of the cut offs were great, allowing more and more anticipation for the eventual pay off which...actually came. Great match. ****1/4

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When this started I had minimal desire to see Naito  become Tetsutya Two Belts. When Naito attempted a Stardust Press (the move that cost him during his last IWGP match with Okada), I didn't want anything more than Naito to get his moment. Okada works as a heel here as he tears about Naito's knee after violently dropping him on the announce table. This damn near gave me an anxiety attack. That's when you know you've created great wrestling. 

★★★★½

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I fucking cried. I've only cried with one match before and that's Misawa/Kobashi from 2003. So yeah, one of the greatest moments of my wrestling fandom life.

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