NJPW News: Kazuchika Okada retains IWGP Heavyweight Championship at New Beginning in Sapporo
What’s the story?
Kazuchika Okada defended his IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Minoru Suzuki at NJPW New Beginning In Sapporo earlier today. After a gruelling battle, Okada somehow managed to retain his title even though he could barely stay on his feet by the end, thanks to Suzuki working on Okada’s knee throughtout the match.
In case you didn’t know
Kazuchika Okada retained the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 11 against Kenny Omega in January. The match was deemed to be one of the best pro wrestling matches of all-time.
The following night on NJPW New Year’s Dash, Minoru Suzuki resurfaced in New japan along with the rest of his stable – Suzuki Gun – laying waste to Okada and his stable, CHAOS. Yesterday, after the New Beginning In Sapporo press conference, Suzuki attacked Okada and injured his knee.
The heart of the matter
During the championship match in Sapporo, Suzuki constantly worked on Okada’s knee, bringing Okada to the point of almost submitting a number of times. There were a couple of times Gedo even got on the apron to throw the towel in on behalf of Okada a couple of times only for Okada to rebuff him. They teased a finish similar to the Sakuraba-Gracie fight but Gedo never ended up throwing in the towel.
The match even had a brawl between members of Suzuki Gun and CHAOS before the CHAOS members chased their adversaries away. The match ended after Okada hit Suzuki with 3 Rainmaker Clotheslines to pin him.
After the match, Gedo got on the mic and said that Okada could win with only one working arm and leg.
Okada followed it up by wishing Tiger Mask W luck in the upcoming New Japan Cup. It’s well-known that the man behind Tiger Mask W is Kota Ibushi so this may lead to a feud between Ibushi and Okada in the future.
This match showed us a different side of Okada. It was a very Cena-esque Okada on display tonight. He kept taking punishment but wouldn’t give up. We also felt that Okada winning was the roght decision, even though Suzuki winning would arguably refresh New Japan right now in Kenny Omega’s absence.
Also, if a potential Okada-Ibushi feud is on the cards, we’re all for it.