The rivalry between NJPW’s Kazuchika Okada and Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Kaito Kiyomiya finally came to a head at the Keiji Muto Grand Final Pro-Wrestling “Last” Love show.
The the two top champions of their respective companies battled for the first time ever.
GHC Heavyweight Champion Kaito Kiyomiya took on IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada in a huge cross-promotional match-up that fans have been waiting for for years.
Okada had been very angry before the match, first refusing to fight at all and then ignoring the pre-match press conferences. He showed a more heelish side of Okada with New Japan fans have not seen for many years.
The Tokyo Dome crowd were electric for this bout, which came just before the main event of Keiji Muto vs Tetsuya Naito.
Not used to being outside of the main event (although this was a Pro-Wrestling NOAH show), Okada had a chip on his shoulder and decided to go all out in the semi-main event of the show.
Kazuchika Okada vs Kaito Kiyomiya
Kazuchika Okada vs Kaito Kiyomiya wrestled for the first time before Keiji Muto’s last match and put on some incredibly hard-hitting action for the Tokyo Dome crowd.
The incredible production values of NOAH is unrivalled in the world of professional wrestling and only added to the grand entrance of Kazuchika Okada.
Okada was more intense than he’d been in years, but that only seemed to fire up the GHC Heavyweight Champion.
Kiyomiya was the perfect foil for Okada and had counters to everything he did, not letting up a single inch in the match and giving it back as good as it gets.
The pair fought inside the ring but it soon spilled onto the outside. Okada hit his classic dropkick, although he ate a pair of Muto Shining Wizards on the floor with threatened to put the IWGP Heavyweight Champion away. However, Okada persisted.
The Rainmaker took all the punishment that Kiyomiya could muster and returned it in spades.
He was a cocky and aggressive version of The Rainmaker, evoking his legendary feud with Hiroshi Tanahashi in the early years of his main event run. He appeared to have beaten Kaito Kiyomiya after a brutal Tombstone Piledriver and Rainmaker.
However, he was not done. While his opponent was out of it, Okada mockingly broke up the pin before the three count.
He hit Kaito Kiyomiya with an Emerald Flowsion, a big heel move to mockingly use the move of the NOAH legend Mitsuharu Misawa, before a final Rainmaker to win the match and pin the GHC Heavyweight Champion.
This match showed a new side of Kazuchika Okada and introduced a bigger audience to Kaito Kiyomiya. While it was Pro-Wrestling NOAH show, it had huge viewership due to it being Keiji Muto’s retirement match.
The Kazuchika Okada vs Kaito Kiyomiya match looks to build to a rematch between the two, likely to take place in New Japan Pro Wrestling, although it is hard to see Okada losing to the GHC Heavyweight Champion any time soon.
However, Kazuchika Okada was asked after the match about a potential rematch with Kiyomiya, to which the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion curtly replied “No”.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.