(02/02) Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hirooki Goto, Tetsuya Naito & Hiroshi Tanahashi

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Korakuen Hall (Tokyo, Japan)

In some ways, I feel more confident that I’ll enjoy a big New Japan multi-man match on a setup show these days than I will a big New Japan singles match on a main show.

Tanahashi works better in multi-man settings where he doesn’t have to carry one-half of the offense in a 20+ minute singles bout. Here he came in, hit his spots, sold a bit, and was far better than if he were working over an opponent for an extended stretch with his offense. Due to time constraints and the fact that Ishii is less likely to wear himself out by throwing bombs on a small show six-man than he is in a big show singles match, I thought he was as enjoyable in this match as I’ve seen him recently. In particular, I really dug the spot where he ran Naito from guardrail to guardrail and back again (throwing him against the rail each time). It got just as big of a reaction as his normal trading forearm exchanges do, looked better, and was far less repetitive.

Naito got a few boos early on or just no reaction, but once again (like during the 12/23 tag match from Korakuen) he had the Korakuen faithful chanting his name by the end. He is sort of bland so I get why it has been an uphill battle for him to get over, but his work is good enough that he is usually able to get the crowd paying attention to him by the end. Pairing him with Ishii where the fans will see him as a tough guy should also help. Naito took a nasty looking neck bump on the apron off of an Ishii lariat late in this match.

This match was probably better than the eight-man the day after the Tokyo Dome that had many of the same wrestlers in it, but not by a huge margin or anything. I’d have to watch both matches again. In any event, I hope New Japan keeps rolling out big six-man main events like these on “minor” iPPV’s this year using the top level guys. They are a lot of fun.

Trios | Watch It | Quality

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