New Japan Cup Day 8 Marquee, A Match Worth Prime Time TV
Hiromu Left With Something To Prove
In a match that had the intrigue worthy of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) return to prime time television, on BS Asahi, whose parent company is TV Asahi (10% ownership stake in NJPW), IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi and former five-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada presented a battle most would feel was worthy of the stage.
This was the first time Hiromu and Okada met in a singles match. From reports by Fumi Saito of Wrestling Observer, Okada (2) and Hiromu (3) only trail IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight ‘Double Champion’ Tetsuya Naito in merchandise sales in NJPW.
Much like his quarter-finals match against Taiji Ishimori, Okada held a significant height and weight advantage over his junior heavyweight opponent; however, that did not deter Hiromu who was more than willing to bring the fight to Okada. At various points, Hiromu sustained offense and troubled the decorated former heavyweight champion.
Okada made use of his patented Dropkick and pancake to counter Hiromu’s charges on several occasions, yet that wasn’t enough to keep Hiromu from working over Okada and even hitting him with the Rainmaker. However, Okada would kick out of that, the Dynamite Plunger, and the Time Bomb — showing the resolve that has made him the holder of nearly every IWGP Heavyweight Championship record.
After trying several times to put Hiromu away with his variation of the Cobra Clutch, Okada was finally able to lock it in properly. Yet, it would take two short Rainmaker variants before Hiromu finally succumbed to the pain. Red Shoes called for the bell, without Hiromu submitting at the twenty-seven-minute mark.
With the victory, Okada goes to his third New Japan Cup finals, and his second consecutive (2013 was the other appearance). Okada has never lost in the finals, and he will face Evil on July 11th.