NJPW sent the Ace to compete against Alex Shelley for the Impact World Championship at Multiverse United 2: For Whom the Bell Tolls (Aug. 20, 2023), however, Hiroshi Tanahashi came up short.
Shelley versus Tanahashi was the main event of the evening. They wrestled for close to twenty minutes. Shelley worked the arm, and Tanahashi worked the knee. The pace of the chess match quickened down the stretch. Shelley hit Sliced Bread and slapped on the Border City Stretch. Tanahashi reached the ropes with his foot to break the submission.
The action transitioned to throwing blows back and forth in heated fisticuffs. Tanahashi flattened Shelley with an uppercut, so the champ went back to his gameplan to attack the left arm. Tanahashi rallied for a barrage of Twist and Shout neckbreakers and a Sling Blade.
Tanahashi looked to finish with the High Fly Flow splash, but he missed the target when Shelley moved away. Shelley pounced for a running knee to the back of the head and a ripcord clothesline. Shelley tried to finish with the Shellshock swinging reverse STO, however, Tanahashi countered out for a bridging German suplex.
After another Sling Blade, Tanahashi climbed the corner for High Fly Flow. Shelley rushed to the turnbuckles to knock Tanahashi off-balance. Shelley gained leverage for a vicious avalanche Air Raid Crash. 1, 2, the Ace kicked out. This move was the top highlight of the match.
Shelley maintained pressure for a superkick and a Shellshock to win. And still Impact world champion.
Backstage, Shelley spoke about growth in his career. He intentionally put himself in an uncomfortable position leaving Impact to NJPW, and he saw Tanahashi carrying the company on his back. Ten years later, Shelley is carrying Impact as world champion. He will continue to prove the naysayers wrong. Shelley proclaimed himself to be the best in the world.
The Multiverse United 2 replay is available for viewing through Fite TV.