By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
Kazuchika Okada vs Shinsuke Nakamura
G1 Climax Final
One of the strangest aspects of New Japan Pro Wrestling for anyone who is new to the company is the faction and stable wars that are a permanent state of affairs. Practically every new wrestler of note will end up joining a stable that will have looser or stronger ties often depending on how much of a heel the group is (Bullet Club, Suzuki-Gun, I’m looking at you). What this does allow is for easy booking between big shows, with tag teams and six-man tags on the tour spiralling out of the main matches for the key NJPW events. This cycling around of wrestlers not only makes the matches feel fresh and the tours worthwhile, it also allows interaction between the key figures in the stables in managed exchanges, building towards the singles match at the end of the tour.
It is rare to see members of each stable compete against each other, but the G1 Climax is one of the times when this is not only to be expected, but becomes common due to the amount of wrestlers who fall under the various groups in the promotion at that time. Three of the six times CHAOS members Shinsuke Nakamura and Kazuchika Okada would meet occurred during the G1 Climax; two in the round robin stages, one in the final. It was Nakamura defeating Okada in 2012 that effectively cemented Nakamura’s role as the leader of the faction. By 2014, Okada had still yet to register a single victory over Nakamura in singles competition.
With Nakamura winning in 2011 and Okada in 2012, both men knew what was required to take home the trophy. Nakamura would only lose twice, on opening day to Katsuyori Shibata and to Hiroshi Tanahashi. Okada would have the same record, his losses coming against Karl Anderson and Tetsuya Naito. As the two men were introduced for the finals, the fans greeted them with roars of approval as two of the best wrestlers in the world were about to do battle for the first time in two years.
The match unsurprisingly started with spots designed to show how close these two were in terms of ability and gameplan, holds traded and reversed with relative ease. A clean break and ‘Rainmaker’ pose showed that Okada wasn’t scared of his leader, neither taking a short cut nor tempering the arrogance of youth. He wasn’t fazed by Nakamura’s mind games either, dropping him with DDT as Shinsuke rested his head against Okada in the ropes. The ease with which Okada landed a slingshot senton into the ring echoed the ease with which he controlled Nakamura.
This turned on a missed charge into the corner, Nakamura taking no mercy with kicks and knees, mocking Okada with the corner shake taunt, hitting him with strikes whilst placed across the top turnbuckle and attempting to recover across the ring apron. Falling from the turnbuckle became something of a trend in the middle of the contest, Nakamura taking his tumble after a picture perfect dropkick by Okada. Neither man held back when brawling at ringside, but it was Okada who seemed on the verge of victory when back in the ring as the ‘Rainmaker’ Pose got its customary camera work, only for the Rainmaker to be avoided and Nakamura to hit a backcracker in return.
A sleeper and a cross armbreaker had Okada in trouble, as did the resulting knee strikes and reverse exploder suplex. Still, Okada came at him, avoiding the Bomaye and dropping him with his reverse neckbreaker, a dropkick to the back of the head and the tombstone piledriver. A second Rainmaker attempt led to further pain for Okada though, as Nakamura athletically turned it into a cross armbreaker. Even upon escape, Okada hadn’t escaped the punishment as Nakamura blasted him with a knee to the back of the head.
It became a case of who would hit their killer finisher first: Nakamura would eat a dropkick on a Bomaye attempt, whilst a knee would curtail a Rainmaker effort. It would take two short arm clotheslines to give Okada the window he needed to finally land the Rainmaker, turning Nakamura inside out, to pick up the three count and win the G1 Climax.
This would be the second to last time that Nakamura and Okada would meet, with Nakamura taking the win in the following year’s Climax. However, this victory showed that Okada was more than a match for Nakamura, no matter who was the leader of CHAOS.