Monday, August 17, 2015

Okada vs.... Tenryu??

Oh sh...
Photo Credit: @SenorLARIATO
So, yesterday saw the finish of the grueling G1 Climax tournament, New Japan Pro Wrestling's annual round-robin megabracket where the winner receives a shot of his choice against either the IWGP World Heavyweight or IWGP Intercontinental Championships at WrestleKingdom. To the surprise of few, Hiroshi Tanahashi took home the tournament crown in a match that was said to be a classic against Shinsuke Nakamura.

If everything holds as it is right now, and that's not exactly a guarantee, the main event of WrestleKingdom 10 will be the same as WK9, only with the roles reversed. Kazuchika Okada will defend his IWGP World Championship against Tanahashi. The booking of last year's main event almost made this result academic, as NJPW seems to like to tell longer stories. The transition of the ace of the company from Tanahashi to Okada has been going on for years; beating the One-in-a-100-Year talent in the main event of a Tokyo Dome show would be one heck of a capper to the story.

However, Okada has at least one other unusual but intriguing match ahead of his date with destiny at WK10. Genichiro Tenryu, the puroresu icon who has wrestled for nearly everyone, announced he would be having his retirement show on November 15, which brought out Okada to jab at the grumpiest of the grumpy old men in pro wrestling. After some jawing back and forth, the match was signed. I'm not sure how it will play out, but it's definitely one of those matches that will make even the most casual of observers turn their heads.

Of course, the big variable in all this is NJPW's booking over time, and parsing that territory is foreign to me. But it will be interesting, even to an outsider, to see how NJPW gets from here to WK10, and hopefully, WK10 will be available on American pay-per-view again. Either way though, the G1 Climax, though slavishly long (in order to give wrestlers more breaks between actual tourney matches), seemed to have been a satisfying endeavor for those who watched.