After winning the NEVER Openweight Championship by beating Shingo Takagi, Hiroshi Tanahashi started to look to raise the belt to the main event level. Now, he has to finally defend it against one of his main rivals in Jay White. He didn’t want to face White until he made White tap out at Sakura Genesis, but now feels confident enough to face him. However with Jay White, this might have all been a carefully laid trap. Tanahashi has a 2-4 record in singles matches with Jay White, putting him at a disadvantage here tonight. If this one was a bodybuilding contest, Jay White would have won, but Tanahashi also came into this one in phenomenal shape.
Jay White Starts To Pick Tanahashi Apart
The crowd was hot for Tanahashi as we got started, but White pulled his usual stalling tactics with Tanahashi. He’d remind Tanahashi that he would make him tap out, before Tanahashi went for a Dragon Screw, and White fled to the ropes. They’d lock up in the middle of the ring, and White shoved Tanahashi to the ropes. He’d get hit with a drop toehold into the middle rope, and walk right into a side headlock from Tanahashi.
Tanahashi took White down to the mat with the headlock, before White was able to regain his vertical base and shove Tanahashi into the corner. Tanahashi would hit a crossbody out to take White down, before going right back into the headlock. White would this time break the hold by lifting Tanahashi up, and dropping his groin right on the top rope. When pressed by the referee, White told him “It’s not my fault he can’t keep his legs shut!” before going outside to gather his opponent.
He’d slam Tanahashi onto the apron back first, before attacking his knee to set up the Tanahashi Tap Out (T.T.O), before working on the midsection in the corner with some shoulder thrusts. A couple quick stomps to the knee were followed by a backbreaker, which got a two count. White tied the legs of Tanahashi up before turning over to this stomach and doing push ups while Tanahashi suffered.
Tanahashi got to the ropes, but White claimed he couldn’t break the hold and made the referee help, before slingshotting Tanahashi throat first into the bottom rope. Getting right back up, Tanahashi would have his knee kicked, before hitting a flying forearm smash. He’d set up the flipping senton in the corner, and get a one count.
Hiroshi Tanahashi Will Not Give Up
A basement dropkick hurt the knee of White, as Tanahashi looked to apply the Texas Cloverleaf. White fought the hold and nailed a quick DDT, but he’d take another basement dropkick soon after. Tanahashi wanted to follow White to the outside, but he’d end up getting tripped up and his knee wrapped around the steel of the ring post.
White got instant karma, as Tanahashi was able to hit a Dragon Screw through the ropes. He’d go to the top rope, and crush White with Aces High to the outside. Back in the ring, White tried to set up a German Suplex, but Tanahashi got him with a mule kick to the knee. Tanahashi would rush into a flatliner, before the deadlift German Suplex also hit it’s mark.
White looked for the Uranage but Tanahashi blocked, only to take a snap Saito Suplex. Kiwi Crusher was countered into Twist & Shout twice, before Tanahashi just nailed a low Dragon Screw on the mat and a third Twist & Shout. Tanahashi nailed the Slingblade, before White got the sleeper suplex. White would look to apply the Texas Cloverleaf, and Tanahashi had to escape his signature hold.
Tanahashi almost got the ropes, before White pulled him back to the middle of the ring and moved into the T.T.O. Again, Tanahashi refused to quit, and got the bottom rope. White used all of the referees five count before letting the hold go. A chop block took Tanahashi back down, but he resisted the sleeper suplex.
White would be less successful fighting off a suplex, Tanahashi got the Cross Armed German Suplex before nailing a short range slingblade. He’d take Gedo off the apron and go for Aces High. White nearly countered into Blade Runner, before moving into the T.T.O for the second time.
Jay White Wins The Last Singles Belt He Needed
Tanahashi was close to tapping out and couldn’t seem to get to the ropes, but he’d manage to roll there. White would try to pull Tanahashi away from the ropes, but Tanahashi would hold on. He’d walk into a Dragon Screw leg whip after arguing with the referee. Tanahashi would get one in return, and while he’d be up first, a kick to the knee sent him down. White dropped Tanahashi and hit a grounded Dragon Screw before going for the T.T.O and being kicked into the ropes.
He’d get a Dragon Screw in return, but Tanahashi couldn’t get the Texas Cloverleaf. Both men would be sprawling on the mat looking for a submission, but neither could get it. Some desperate strikes would fly from both men, before White hit another Dragon Screw on Tanahashi and he’d really struggle to his feet.
One more big move could end Tanahashi, and White knew this. Tanahashi pushed himself to his feet, but couldn’t get up fully. White pulled him up for Blade Runner, but almost took a Dragon Screw. White blocked, Tanahashi went for a dropkick, and White dodged. What he didn’t dodge was a big lariat from Tanahashi. A Dragon Screw got White, and Tanahashi got standing again. He’d block Blade Runner with a Slingblade, before hitting a running version for a two count.
Going to the top rope, Tanahashi nailed Aces High, and went right back up for High Fly Flow, right to the knee! Texas Cloverleaf was applied, and White had no choice but to tap out. However, thanks to Gedo the referee missed this. So Tanahashi took out Gedo, and walked into a small package for a two count. A backslide with his feet on the ropes didn’t get Tanahashi, but Blade Runner hit and it was over.
A submission focused match with two of the best sellers in the game is always going to be fantastic. It was by far the best match of the night, and despite a slow pace, especially in the last few minutes? It kept everyone on the edge of their seats. Tanahashi & White are a special breed of wrestler, and they will always deliver. Match Rating: 4.5/5 (**** 1/2)
This win makes Jay White the only man to have held the IWGP Heavyweight, Intercontinental, United States and NEVER Openweight Championships. Who will challenge him first? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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