January 30, 2015 by gorillapressonline
AXS continued the NJPW coverage with another great installment on Friday, 23rd January, which featured the New Japan Cup Final 2013 between Kazuchika Okada and Hirooki Goto.
This episode kicks off with a New Japan staple: 6-man tag action from the March 23rd 2013 Korakuen Hall show featuring Shinsuke Nakamura/Tomohiri Ishi/Jado Vs Lance Archer/Taka Michinoku and Minoru Suzuki.
This match sees two NJPW stables clash with Nakumura’s CHAOS going against Minoru Suzuki‘s Suzuki Army, two heel factions in this an out and out battle for supremacy. Suzuki’s squad are all out brawlers, and this match features strong style wrestling, for the most part. The 6-man tag is particularly popular in NJPW and this is an excellent introduction, from AXS, for newcomer fans.
Once the match is over, Davey Boy Smith Jr challenges Shinsuke Nakamura to an IWGP intercontinental title bout, which Nakamura doesn’t hesitate to accept, and in return he also challenges the Killer Elite Squad – Archer and Smith Jr- to an IWGP tag title match.
Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the most charismatic wrestlers of the current generation. His style, ring work and mic skills are astounding and week after week he delivers, pouring his all into Puro. Newcomers to NJPW are directed immediately to this Superstar and his enigmatic presence.
The other match in focus on this episode is another wrestler from the CHAOS stable, Kazuchika Okada, another Japanese star at the top of his game.
New Japan Cup is an annual single elimination tournament that takes places over several dates, with the winner getting a shot at the IWGP heavyweight title. The 2013 final between Goto and Okada is the next match featured on this episode, and it is a barn-burner to say the least.
One of the best things about this AXS show is the transcription of the interviews, between and at times during matches. After a brief backstage interview with Nakamura, a sit-down conversation with Okada, about his route to the New Japan Cup finals is introduced, complete with highlights of the semi final match against Toru Yano. Here, his brash, cocky persona is brilliant but by god this man backs it all up.
Okada has already featured heavily in this series and undoubtedly will a lot more over the 13 episodes currently scheduled for broadcast. Over the course of 2013/14, he produced some excellent matches and is worthy of the spotlight here. The third episode of the series is the MOTY against Hiroshi Tanahasi from Invasion Attack,
which is well worth a re-watch too.
Hirooki Goto is an agile heavyweight, with an impressive move-set and again this an excellent introduction match for newcomers to his style of wrestling. AXS are definitely picking some great matches to air and hopefully this hooks in some new NJPW fans and has them seeking out more of this product, because it really deserves more attention from Western audiences.
The final is a hard-fought slug fest, which keeps fans in anticipation. American wrestling fans will also get the chance to witness the best drop-kick in the business from the Rainmaker Kazuchika Okada, a move that must be seen to be believed.
Former NJPW wrestler Josh Barnett, along with Mauro Ranallo, works extremely well on the commentary team, providing valuable information and enthusiasm when calling the matches. Ranallo, in particular, gets really into it and his enthusiasm is infectious, pulling the viewers right into the action with him.
As stated in the episode, it takes a while to get used to the MMA-style of commentary and loudness, but once you get accustomed to it, it’s tremendous and other federations could learn a lot from this.
The second episode is below, for your viewing pleasure: