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Best NJPW matches, 2012-2021.


The Natural
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So this is one of my countdown projects but it's different by picking a specific decade. Why have I picked 2012-2021? A few reasons:

  • 2012 was the year I properly started following New Japan Pro-Wrestling in real time.
  • My first Wrestle Kingdom, Wrestle Kingdom 6. 10 years ago.
  • Kazuchika Okada returned from excursion at the aforementioned Wrestle Kingdom and on first impression you never would have believed what he went on to do that year let alone the decade. I wanted to mark it. Kazuchika Okada is my guy in NJPW like Kenta Kobashi in AJPW.
  • Make it a decade before the 50th anniversary this year.
  • 2012-2018 was the peak period of NJPW giving us some of the best matches in wrestling history. 2019-2021, the promotion's not what it was with repetitive booking, some of it is bad and matches going too long. My interest is at it's lowest point the past two years.
  • The famous Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega trilogy is five this year.

Here's my 20 best NJPW matches from 2012-2021. All are ***** matches:

Spoiler

20. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. G1 Climax 25 Final.

19. AJ Styles vs. Minoru Suzuki. G1 Climax 24, Day 7.

18. Kota Ibushi vs. Jay White. Wrestle Kingdom 15, Night 2. My NJPW 2021 MOTY.

17. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi. Wrestle Kingdom 9. My NJPW 2015 MOTY.

16. Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. Wrestle Kingdom 13. My NJPW 2019 MOTY.

15. Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito. Wrestle Kingdom 14, Night 2. My NJPW 2020 MOTY.

14. Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. Dominion 2012.

13. Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada. G1 Climax 2017, Day 17.

12. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazushi Sakuraba. Wrestle Kingdom 7.

11. Tomohiro Ishii vs. Katsuyori Shibata. G1 Climax 23, Day 4.

10. Kazuchika Okada vs. Katsuyori Shibata. Sakura Genesis 2017.

9. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada. Invasion Attack 2013.

8. Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito. 40th Anniversary Show 2012.

7. Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. Wrestle Kingdom 11.

6. Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. King of Pro-Wrestling 2013. My NJPW MOTY.

5. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi. G1 Climax 28 Final.

4. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega. Wrestle Kingdom 11. My MOTY.

3. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki. King of Pro-Wrestling 2012. My MOTY.

2. Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. Wrestle Kingdom 10. My 2016 MOTY.

1. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega. Dominion 2018. My MOTY.

I'd like to get your thoughts on the matches I've picked and the placement of them. I'll expand on both later. What matches would you choose? Thanks for reading.

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Pretty good list, only two matches that I feel like aren't Top 20 material are Tanahashi/Omega and Nakamura/Sakuraba.

I think that I'd add G1 semi-final Naito/Omega match to the list. Maybe one of Naito/Ibushi matches, but I can see why someone would skip them on principle.

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37 minutes ago, Archibald said:

Pretty good list, only two matches that I feel like aren't Top 20 material are Tanahashi/Omega and Nakamura/Sakuraba.

I think that I'd add G1 semi-final Naito/Omega match to the list. Maybe one of Naito/Ibushi matches, but I can see why someone would skip them on principle.

Thank you for the feedback. I liked Hiroshi Tanahashi/Kenny Okada for the build to the match and I award bonus marks to a match making it stand out - Tanahashi's last reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion/Omega's last NJPW match. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Minoru Suzuki is so high as it was so different, a body part match with only one pinfall attempt and it was the match ending one. As a fan of both wrestling and MMA, the blend between the two in Shinsuke Nakamura/Kazushi Sakuraba appealed to me.

I considered Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito matches from G1 Climax 26, Day 18 and G1 Climax 27, Day 19 as I have both ***** but missed the cut. The Tetsuya Naito/Kota Ibushi matches blur into each other for me with the exception of the infamous Dominion 2019 match and at Wrestle Kingdom 15, Night 1 when Ibushi beat Naito for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

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