NJPW News: Kazuchika Okada vs Hiroshi Tanahashi confirmed for Wrestling Dontaku
What’s the story?
Following Kazuchika Okada’s successful IWGP Heavyweight Title defense at Sakura Genesis 2018, New Japan Pro Wrestling has confirmed the next challenger for “The Rainmaker’s” heavyweight belt and it is non-other than his long-term historic rival Hiroshi Tanahashi.
In case you didn’t know...
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada’s rivalry dates way back to 2012 when Okada initially had made his return to New Japan Pro Wrestling following his excursion in the United States of America with TNA.
Upon his return to NJPW, Okada immediately adopted “The Rainmaker” persona and come February 12, 2012, Okada defeated Tanahashi to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the first time in his career. However, after defending the belt against the likes of Tetsuya Naito and Hirooki Goto, Okada would eventually lose the belt back to Tanahashi, ending his reign at 125 days.
Okada and Tanahashi also squared off in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 7, after “The Rainmaker” had successfully won the 2012 G1 Climax, however, this time Tanahashi successfully managed to retain his belt, only for Okada to win it back later in the year at the Invasion Attack pay-per-view.
Fast forward to 2015, Hiroshi Tanahashi successfully won the G1 Climax and eventually challenged for the IWGP Heavyweight Title and at Wrestle Kingdom 10 at the Tokyo Dome in 2016, Kazuchika Okada once again managed to defeat “The Ace” of New Japan Pro Wrestling in order to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Title and seemingly bringing an end to Okada and Tanahashi’s rivalry.
The heart of the matter
After retaining the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Zack Sabre Jr. at NJPW: Sakura Genesis 2018, “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada was involved in an altercation with his long-term rival and record seven-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, who initially had the opportunity to face-off against Okada at Sakura Genesis, but failed to do after losing out to ZSJ in the finals of the NJ Cup earlier in the year.
As noted, following the confrontation between Okada and Tanahashi at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan arena, New Japan Pro Wrestling confirmed on their social media sites and on their official website that “The Rainmaker” would indeed defend his IWGP Heavyweight Title against “The Ace” Hiroshi Tanahashi at NJPW’s next pay-per-view event, Wrestling Dontaku.
Okada, who now has 11 successive IWGP Heavyweight Title defenses to his name, now has the opportunity of breaking Hiroshi Tanahashi’s record of 12 successive title defenses in a single title reign by defeating the man himself.
NJPW: Wrestling Dontaku will initially kick-off on the 23rd of April, as part of NJPW: Road to Wrestling Dontaku and below are some of the marquee matches that have been confirmed by NJPW so far:
Road to Wrestling Dontaku (April 23):
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & EVIL) vs. Suzuki Gun (Minoru Suzuki & Killer Elite Squad)
Suzuki Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
Road to Wrestling Dontaku (April 24):
Hiroshi Tanahashi, Juice Robinson & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto & Gedo)
Jay White (c) vs. David Finlay for the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Match
Road to Wrestling Dontaku (April 27):
Hiroshi Tanahashi & KUSHIDA vs. CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay)
Hirooki Goto (c) vs. Juice Robinson for the NEVER Openweight Championship
Wrestling Hinokuni 2018 (April 29):
BUSHI vs. El Desperado
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru
Los Ingobernables de Japon (SANADA & EVIL) (c) vs. Killer Elite Squad for the IWGP Tag Team Championship
Minoru Suzuki (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Wrestling Dontaku 2018 Day 1 (May 3)
Bullet Club (Bad Luck Fale & Guerrillas of Destiny) (c) vs. Bullet Club (The Young Bucks & Marty Scurll) for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
Kota Ibushi vs. Cody
Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Page
Wrestling Dontaku 2018 Day 2 (May 4):
Bullet Club and The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, Bad Luck Fale & Guerrillas of Destiny) vs. Bullet Club (Cody, Hangman Page, Marty Scurll & The Young Bucks)
Will Ospreay (c) vs. KUSHIDA for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada have always lived up the expectations and hype and have always delivered on the big stage, therefore, fans shouldn’t be surprised when the two men put up another classic match later this year.