5 Best wrestling matches of 2012
#4 Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito - NJPW 40th Anniversary Show
When this match occurred, Naito was a completely different person. He was a beloved babyface that got roaring cheers from the audience and seemed to actually care about NJPW’s traditions. While his character has become much more interesting over the past three years, he was still putting on amazing matches even back then.
In what has become the standard for Okada’s matches, this was a dramatic and unpredictable contest for which it was impossible to predict a clear winner. For almost thirty minutes, Okada and Naito tore into each other with incredible ferocity. Okada was clearly earmarked as the company’s future ace, and Naito was desperate to take that position for himself.
Even though it was only a small crowd of around 2,000 people watching, they roared so loudly during this match that it sounded like ten times that number. This was especially true for the final five minutes, as Okada and Naito kept hitting big moves on each other and reversing out of said manoeuvres. Neither man had a clear advantage, and Naito kept finding a way out of Okada’s killer Rainmaker lariat.
If you ever had any doubts as to why both of these men are now considered the top stars in NJPW, go watch this match.
Watch the match here.