78. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada (c) (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, NJPW Invasion Attack 2013)

The fifth bout for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship between Okada and Tanahashi suffers from the same problem as their third bout: it almost replicates their previous bout. Their clash at King of Pro Wrestling was undeniably awesome, only hamstrung by Okada’s inconsistent selling (an integral part of the match’s story, as well). So, from the looks of, they just copied and pasted the majority of that bout into this one…

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77. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada (c) (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, NJPW King of Pro Wrestling 2013)

Tanahashi Okada IV…is it East versus West, or man against man? Can any nation stand alone? Sorry, got carried away there…For their fourth title bout, Tanahashi and Okada got back on course, delivering yet another epic that wasn’t merely a rehash of a previous bout (like Tanahashi/Okada III). Wrestling Observer Newsletter rated this as the best wrestling bout of 2013 (in the world!). Yet there are a few niggles that prevent this from becoming a five star bout…

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76. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Kazuchika Okada (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 7)

Okada Tanahashi III…do most threequels have to be inferior to their predecessors? Spider-Man 3, Superman 3, X-Men 3, Godfather III, Three Colours: Red (Blue is the best film, isn’t it?)…the threequel has a bad reputation. And the same is true of Okada Tanahashi 3. While nowhere near being terrible, this is a bout derivative of their previous clash to the point that, at times, it seems to be a shot-for-shot remake.

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75. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kazuchika Okada (c) (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, NJPW Dominion 2012)

All sequels should be bigger and better, shouldn’t they? They should encapsulate everything good about the original, improve upon it, and also give us something a little bit different as well. And that’s exactly what the rematch between Okada and Tanahashi gifts to us: a longer, more adruous battle that hews closely to the layout of their first battle but somehow betters it as well.

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73. Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Kazuchika Okada (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, NJPW New Beginning 2012)

Finally, I found an Okada match that justifies the hype around him! It took me a while…but here, I can see what (almost) everyone says about him. Both his rivalries with Hiroshi Tanahashi amd Kenny Omega are legendary, but I thiught I’d start woth his first ever shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against the ‘Ace’ Tanahashi. Here, Okada was the heel, and apart from spots of poor selling, he looked like a million yen…

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72. Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Jay White (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, NJPW Dominion 2022)

Am I oblivious to the talents of Okada? For years I’ve heard he’s the best in the world, a once-in-a-generation wrestler. He was one of the reasons I opted to subscribe to NJPW World (why no Android app, by the way? So frustrating!). However, I’ve watched a handful of his matches, and have still yet to be impressed with him. More than anything, his opponents seem to outshine him. That was definitely the case with his match against Jay White at NJPW Dominion 2022.

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57. Big Van Vader (c) vs Crusher Bam Bam Bigelow (IWGP Championship Match, NJPW Bloody Fight Series 1989)

The first match between these two super heavyweights left me more than a little disappointed. This match, for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, is a little better, featuring pretty much exactly what you’d expect from two super heavyweights. But it still struggles to stretch above average.

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36. Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, Sakura Genesis 2018)

After witnessing a couple of awful bouts from NJPW World, the first pitting Hogan vs Andre, the second featuring one of the worst wrestlers ever, El Gigante, I thought I’d treat myself to something that looked promising! I have a list of 5* (and some above 5*…out of 5 stars!!!) matches from Dave Meltzer’s ratings. But, of course, instead of looking at the list, I looked at the recommended section of NJPW World and found this encounter between Kazuchika Okada and Zack Sabre Jr, from NJPW Sakura Genesis 2018. And, I’ll be honest…I felt a little let down.

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