For a while now, Tetsuya Naito’s been talking about becoming the first man to carry both the IWGP Intercontinental & Heavyweight championship. New Japan built their two-night extravaganza at the Tokyo Dome around the possibility. Naito beat Jay White* for the former on Sat., Jan. 4 to give himself the opportunity. But to win both belts, he’d need to overcome the company’s boss-level challenge - a man he failed to beat two years ago.
The Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada.
What followed was a 35 minute classic that I honestly wouldn’t want to have to rate after two nights of similar epics. It was certainly very good, especially if you’ve invested in the years long story NJPW is telling.
In terms of in-ring psychology, the main focus was on Okada targeting the knee Naito had banged up on Saturday. It was enough that the Japanese crowd turned on the company’s current ace, and made it so the Stardust Genius couldn’t cover after surviving some Rainmakers and hitting Destino...
But that wouldn’t be the last time Naito hit his finisher. And when he did get a three count and achieve his dream, New Japan’s storytelling remained on point.
Of course, pro wrestling is a story without end. So after those touching scenes of accomplishment and respect, Bullet Club’s KENTA showed up to take out the champ-champ.
But that’s a tale for New Year’s Dash!!...
* White won the runner-up match of Double Gold Dash on Sunday, pinning Kota Ibushi after the required amount of Bullet Club shenanigans. That result, and a rundown of everything that happened on night two of Wrestle Kingdom 14, can be found here.