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The Natural

NJPW 2018 MOTY.

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There's a topic for WWE MOTY and with the year NJPW is having, thought we could see how one goes.

Mine:

1. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega. NJPW Dominion, 9th June. *****

2. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi. NJPW G1 Climax 28, Night 19, 12th August. *****

3. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada. NJPW G1 Climax 28, Night 17, 10th August.

4. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kenny Omega. NJPW G1 Climax 28, Night 14, 4th August.

5. Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, 4th January.

---

Want to watch Tanahashi/Okada from the G1 Climax 28 again. Okada/Naito's Wrestle Kingdom 12 main event is underrated, I think a contributing factor to that is Okada going over. I and others thought it was going to be Naito's time.

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I know I have a tendency to hem and haw and provide endless asterisks and qualifying statements when it comes to ranking matches... but I'm still just gonna do that...

The three contenders that spring to mind, for me, are Omega/Okada IV, Ishii/Omega, and Ishii/Ibushi. I'm basically certain I like the latter more than anyone else here, but in terms of pure action, it's just everything I want, condensed. I'd inject it if I could. Ishii/Omega is nearly its equal in that regard, and adds an all-time finishing stretch, plus some brilliant selling (and no selling) by Ishii. And of course, Omega/Okada is the crashing of one of wrestling's biggest, most forceful waves. It has such weight and depth behind it, and I don't believe the "you need to see other matches to totally get it, so that makes it worse" line of thinking holds up. (Not that anyone here has said that.)

The G1 finals match is the toughest for me to consider. To put it as simply as possible: it's a perfect "do not go gently" veteran babyface performance--but Tana wasn't the face, to me, and couldn't be. I'm not saying the wrong guy won, just that my bias is what it is. In a "it's still real to me" sort of way, this probably makes it more affecting, and it'll end up in the #1 contender bucket for me in a few weeks.

I'd need to do some digging to fill out a real top 10, much less a top 20. (Not that anyone asked me to.) White/Juice from the Cow Palace, Hiromu/Despy from BOtSJ, GL/Bucks, Okada/Tana, and Goto/Suzuki from WK spring to mind as matches I really liked, and surely I'd pick something from ZSJ's cup run too. Basking in the post-G1 glow, sometimes it's hard to properly focus on all the great stuff that wasn't part of that binge, so I'm sure there's a lot more. (And I'm even more sure there's a lot more to come, which is nuts.)

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My current top 10 would look like this:

1: Omega/Okada - Dominion

2: Tanahashi/Ibushi - G1 Finals

3: Okada/Naito - WK12

4: Ishii/Goto - G1 Night 6

5: Hiromu/Ishimori - BOSJ FInals

6: Goto/Suzuki - WK12

7: Tanahashi/Okada - G1 Night 17

8: Ishii/Naito - G1 Night 4

9:ZSJ/Ibushi - G1 Night 2

10: Young Bucks Roppongi 3K -WK12 

I didn't see all of the NJ Cup or BOSJ matches though and if I can get to watching some of them things might change. Some of the other matches that were considered were Omega/Jericho, Ishii/ZSJ from the G1, White/Omega from New Beginning (I don't know if this will hold up as well on a second viewing but first time I loved it), White/Juice in SF,  SANADA/ZSJ and SANADA/Ibushi from the G1, Ishii/Ibushi G1, and Cody/Ibushi at WK. 

 

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I found the Naito/Okada Dome match while good, to be somewhat dull. They don't really have the best chemistry of all the other possible combos in that company. I don't really know why. Could be a bad mesh of styles, I guess.

I would put the best matches of the year as Omega/Okada Part 4 *****, Tanahashi/Ibushi G1 ****3/4, Ishii/Omega G1 ****3/4, Ishii/Ibushi G1 ****3/4, Ibushi/Omega G1 ****1/2(They were holding back, which is alarming to think of), Ishii/Goto G1 ****1/2. There's plenty of other stuff I'm sure that if I re-watched I'd go up or down on, but I like who I like.

I mean, I would put nearly every Zack Sabre, Jr. competitive singles match from the whole year from ***1/2 to ****1/2 just based on a glance, but they vary quite a bit. I'm not stating ***** is perfect or something, it's just the most enjoyment I can get out of a wrestling match.

If you go with stuff outside of the NJPW ring; then, stuff like Ishii/Suzuki and Okada/Zack are also quite great. Crappy production aside.

There's great junior stuff too, but that all depends on how much you like or dislike Will Ospreay for the most part. I tolerate him until about 2 or 3 spots I can't tolerate(flipping ddt, stupid cheeky nando's superkick, his spinning kick sometimes), but he can be fun to watch lose his mind against various types. Hiromu/Ishimori is definitely the best singles Jr. match of the year though. Probably ****1/2 too.

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38 minutes ago, Ryan said:

I found the Naito/Okada Dome match while good, to be somewhat dull. They don't really have the best chemistry of all the other possible combos in that company. I don't really know why. Could be a bad mesh of styles, I guess.

While I've enjoyed the Okada/Naito rematches, they've never come close to the one they had at NJPW 40th Anniversary Show, March 2012.

You're right on Will Ospreay, he can irritate me too.

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I still think he's got unlimited potential if he just stops doing a few dumb indytastic things, he's got the ability to strike and work lucha and all sorts of junk, but relies on a couple of really stupid moves in a lot of his matches.

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The thing about Okada vs Naito at the dome I think was the fans were brought way up by the Omega/Jericho match and that left the main event kind of flat to follow it since it was just typical Okada big match style with Naito thrown into it for the hell of it. 

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1 hour ago, Ryan said:

I still think he's got unlimited potential if he just stops doing a few dumb indytastic things, he's got the ability to strike and work lucha and all sorts of junk, but relies on a couple of really stupid moves in a lot of his matches.

More Decapitator Elbow, much less Essex Destroyer plz.

 

Potentially unpopular opinion: Okada/Omega IV is undoubtedly a Great Match(TM), and I might call it objectively the best I've seen thus far, but I've always had issues with matches in the ballpark of an hour just in terms of attention span and, as a result, investment in the eventual outcome.

I'm just getting into the cream of the G1* crop, but I'm sure there will be something in there that wins out in terms of a "favorite" MOTY or something I really wanna revisit in the future. On that score, one of Hiromu (RIP)'s bouts might actually be ahead of the Dominion main in terms of pure enjoyment for me.

(Regarding match length, the G1 has been a joy for me the last few years in keeping a hard time limit ceiling on compelling matches, even while the norm for NJPW headliners has gotten longer and longer. For reference, the Okada/Ishii match a few years back is still probably the high water mark for me in terms of pacing/time/etc.)

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Hiromu isn't dead, he will be back and you're first on his list.

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34 minutes ago, Ryan said:

Hiromu isn't dead, he will be back and you're first on his list.

Oh, I'll be ready.

tenor.gif

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@Cyanide, I 100% understand where you're coming from with the investment of time in matches mattering. The one thing I love about the Omega/Okada series is that they breeze by for me. They never feel like a chore to watch and don't feel like a never ending match like the territorial era broadways did when I'd watch them. Like, I can't remember how many times I tried to watch Flair vs. Butch Reed going 60 minutes in Mid-South before I finally made it all the way through it. I think the pacing, while not ideal for some, works for me and I always am shocked when the ring announcer gives the audience the time mark 30+ minutes in. 

I think you'll love Ishii's G1 matches with the Golden Lovers when you get to them. Unreal fast paced violence with hot crowds (particularly the Omega match) and a lot of thought put into the structure and sequences. 

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Oh, for sure. It's flat-out amazing to see two guys go that hard for that long without either just killing clock, dragging spots out forever, or blowing up.

And I am definitely looking forward to those; Ishii in the ring with either man has always been a treat!

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1. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega - Dominion

2. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi - G1 Climax Final 

3. Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii - G1 Climax Night 14

4. Kota Ibushi vs. Tomohiro Ishii - G1 Climax Night 10

5. Kenny Omega vs. Kota Ibushi - G1 Climax B Block Final

6. Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori - BOSJ Final

7. Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - Wrestling Dontaku

8. Golden Lovers vs. The Young Bucks - Strong Style Evolved 

9. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Hirooki Goto - G1 Night 6

10. Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito - G1 Night 2

Okada/Omega is one of the most complete wrestling matches that I’ve ever seen and I’m not sure if NJPW will top it. Tanahashi vs. Ibushi has some mechanical errors but it is still one of the most emotional wrestling matches I’ve ever seen. They were the clear top two for me. Everything else can basically differ down the list based on my mood.

I’m still surprised that nothing from Wrestle Kingdom would make my list. If you told me that at the beginning of the year, I wouldn’t believe you.

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Mechanical errors can add to a match if used right, I don't recall what they even were, but I probably didn't care since I've seen thousands of matches and stopped caring long ago.

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Liger taunting Sasuke's botch in the Super J-Cup, man! That is legendary.

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If your list doesn't have Hiromu/Desperado from Best of Super Juniors, DELETE IT.

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34 minutes ago, Ryan said:

Mechanical errors can add to a match if used right, I don't recall what they even were, but I probably didn't care since I've seen thousands of matches and stopped caring long ago.

By mechanical errors, I meant Ibushi’s spotty leg selling. Tanahashi really went after the leg early and it didn’t impede Ibushi at all. Tanahashi eventually gave it up and I have no issue with Ibushi not selling it down the stretch because Tana stopped working on it but he could’ve sold it much better in the first half of the match. If he had sold the leg better, it would’ve been a perfect match IMO.

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I'm going to do a Top 5 probably in chronological order since I loved all of those matches and it would be hard for me to say which one was better or worse. And from what I have seen in the thread my list is a bit different:

1. Suzuki/Goto from WK12

2. Naito/Zack Saber Jr. from NJ Cup

3. Hiromu/Desperado from BotSJ

4. Hiromu/Ishimori from BotSJ

5. Omega/Ishii from G1

Hiromu was my MVP of the year till his unfortunate injury, with likely another awesome Omega/Ishii match to come Ishii will take that spot I think.

Do I really think that no other G1 match was better than Naito/Zack from NJ Cup? Or even their G1 match? You could make some points and I would agree on them likely, but for me that match started Zack's push in NJPW (and I really like Zack) and Naito/Zack rivalry that is actually something that I'm really interested now. So due to these "meta" reasons that match really stands out to me.

Why no Okada/Omega IV? I didn't even watch it, nor am I going to, due to its length.

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4 hours ago, FlaeBlazer said:

By mechanical errors, I meant Ibushi’s spotty leg selling. Tanahashi really went after the leg early and it didn’t impede Ibushi at all. Tanahashi eventually gave it up and I have no issue with Ibushi not selling it down the stretch because Tana stopped working on it but he could’ve sold it much better in the first half of the match. If he had sold the leg better, it would’ve been a perfect match IMO.

Ibushi has hardly ever sold the leg well at any time in his career, it impedes his ability to do a lot of things he does. I've watched him since 2006 or so, he's never going to do it. A lot of guys in Japan are bad at limb selling. I've learned to accept it for what it is. He still sold the knee a bit at times, but you just go with the "adrenaline is pushing him through it" mentality and go with it. That and bravado are why guys no-sell and kick-out at one and stuff as well. It's just a thing you learn to accept.

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17 minutes ago, Archibald said:

Why no Okada/Omega IV? I didn't even watch it, nor am I going to, due to its length.

Did you watch the other three? It basically flies by like few other long matches I've ever seen before until they start big time selling fatigue the last 15 minutes.

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Why are folks not talking about the G1 Zack vs Ibushi match- that was one of my favorite matches of the year, and I'd have it in my top 5- just for how smart it was.

 

If it counts: Lovers vs Naito/Hiromu match at CEO would be in my top 10.

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Your tastes are bad and you should feel bad! Even though I liked that G1 match a lot.

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2 hours ago, Ryan said:

Did you watch the other three? It basically flies by like few other long matches I've ever seen before until they start big time selling fatigue the last 15 minutes.

I did, their G1 match was my favourite and If I could go back in time I wouldn't watch their Dominion 2017 match either. For me the issue is not that I'll get bored while watching it, but that in same time that I'd watch their match I could watch 2-3 high end matches that I haven't seen either. And well, I don't have enough free time to watch everything that is interesting to me so I have to pick and choose, for me 40 minutes is red line when I start getting sceptical.

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I hope Omega and Ibushi go 2 hours at MSG.

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