(06/21) Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. Bad Luke Fale

Osaka Bodymaker Colosseum (Osaka, Japan)
IWGP Intercontinental Championship 

Somewhat quietly, Nakamura is building up a solid resume for 2014’s most outstanding wrestler.  If one subscribes to the notion that the main event of a show should be credited for drawing a house, than Nakamura might also be building his case for overall Wrestler of the Year.  Nakamura as fared well as a headliner in 2014, including this show which was an advanced sell out in Osaka despite a less than marquee main event opponent in Bad Luke Fale.

When these two squared off in the finals of March’s New Japan Cup tournament, they were blessed with a bit of serendipity in the form of a deep cut on Nakamura’s forehead.  The blood gave the match an extra sense of drama and made for a good visual effect, as the veteran Nakamura fought from underneath against the monster foreigner under dire conditions.  There was no such divine intervention here – just a very solid title match where both guys made valuable contributions.

Fale has a really fun set of big man moves that he is starting to roll out in an effective manner.  His power bomb and thumb spike choke slam are both over as signature moves.  While it was touch-and-go there for a minute when he climbed the top rope late in the match, the top rope splash he eventually delivered looked crushing and made for a strong near fall.  Fale lumbers around the ring while carrying his considerable weight but he doesn’t get blown up easily.  He feels like an injury waiting to happen given his size but for the time being at least he is developing into a fun monster.

Nakamura – as he did during the NJ Cup finals – eats all of Fale’s offense in an effective way.  Nakamura was not afraid to lay the knees in stiffly to the 300-pounder as well.  He tailored his offense to get across the relative disadvantages he was at and the crowd got firmly behind him as the underdog as a result.

Fale is fortunate to be working with Nakamura because Nakamura has put him so over strongly and effectively.  He is also fortunate to have one of the most protected finishers – the Bad Luck Toss (Border Toss).  Nobody kicks out of it and once he hit it on Nakamura, you could sense the crowd tensing up at the realization that the match was over.  Sure enough, Nakamura did not kick out and Fale became the 9th Generation IWGP Intercontinental Champion.

Although Fale has received a strong push this year, his title reign might be less of a permanent elevation and more of a mechanism for New Japan to get to where they truly want to go booking wise.  With Nakamura versus Okada as the likely Tokyo Dome main event, one would expect that to be for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.  To get there, Nakamura had to lose the Intercontinental title at some point.  Given the current storyline of Bullet Club dominance, dropping the belt now to Bad Luke Fale was as fine of a way as any of accomplishing that.  Fale is likely to pick up several losses in Block A of the upcoming G1 Climax and will probably emerge from the tournament with more than one potential challenger to his new championship.

Japan Singles | Worthwhile | Quality & Title Switch

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