After New Japan King of Pro Wrestling, the main event for Wrestle Kingdom IX from the Tokyo Dome was set. After a full year without meeting in a singles match, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada will meet once again in the main event of New Japan’s version of Wrestlemania for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. I say once again, because this will be the eighth time the two have met in singles competition. It will be their second time main eventing Wrestle Kingdom together, and the sixth time for the IWGP Heavyweight Title.
Some fans aren’t ecstatic over the fact they’ll be meeting again in singles competition for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. Some have compared the Tanahashi/Okada rivalry to the Cena/Orton rivalry, which never, ever, seems to end. While I agree there are similarities, mainly being that in both cases the two wrestlers have had a very high number of matches together, whether it be singles or multi-man tags, and quite a few of their meetings have been for the top title in their respective promotions, that is where the similarities end for me. When you talk about the quality of matches, the crowd reaction and fan interest, Tanahashi and Okada are in a league of their own. For example, two of their singles matches together have been awarded 5 stars by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer. The lowest rating they’ve received is four and a quarter stars. Their first match from 2010 is unrated. Meanwhile, Cena and Orton’s highest rating is four and a quarter stars, which they received one time. That’s nothing to scoff at, but Tanahashi and Okada are clearly on another level.
I’ve compiled all seven Tanahashi/Okada singles matches in chronological order. Apologies for the horrendous French commentary on the second video. All the others have their original Japanese commentary.
If you’re not excited about eh idea of these two main-eventing Wrestle Kingdom 9 for the IWGP Heavyweight Title after watching this series of matches, you’re doing it wrong.