Sunday, April 9, 2017

NJPW Sakura Genesis 2017 - Shibata vs. Omega

There's not really much to the undercard beyond a great Kamaitachi squash of KUSHIDA, and the showcase match is Okada vs. Shibata anyway. Kevin Kelly talks about how Shibata, Nakamura, and Tanahashi were tabbed as the new three Musketeers - but he left. Shibata looks oh so cool being lit up like this, before Okada comes down and throws shade at him by not staring at him, then we get a side-by-shot of the simple man in Shibata with a towel against the man with the lavish robe and money falling from the sky.

We get a nice crowd shot before they go to war. The makeup of this is very much like Steamboat vs. Flair - it's substance vs. style. A lot of matwork starts things off. Don talks about how Shibata is driving the blade of the forearm into the orbital bone of Okada to wear him down. Okada lands big forearms in the corner, so Shibata responds in kind before a back and forth forearm exchange hits. Shibata beats the fuck out of him, won't let him fall, then does, and slaps his forearm in joy. Standing figure four by Shibata, but Okada blocks a figure four for as long as he can.

Okada gets the ropes, so Shibata does that Indian deathlock snapback thing. Okada hoists him up to do the dropkick. Really? No setup? Well, whatever - at least Okada sells this after the fact like it hurt him. They brawl on the floor for a bit before Okada gets a neck crank. Back and forth forearms again. Shibata wants his best shots, gets them, then KTFOs him with a big forearm. Corner Yakuza kick hits for Shibata before landing a sick series of corner forearms and a nasty hesitation dropkick. BARRICADE HESITATION DROPKICK!

Cobra twist is locked on, but Shibata can't get a cross-armed German. Okada hits the corner flying elbow shot. RAINMAKER COUNTERED INTO AN STO! Kneeling back and forth forearms leads to the arm-drapped air raid crash by Okada. Okada sends him down with a seated missile dropkick off the top! Keylock by Shibata is escaped, so Shibata just kicks the right arm. PK TO THE ARM! Cocky foot scrape by Shibata! SLAP! Okada decides it's time to go to Shibata's level, so we get an INDIAN STYLE SLAPFEST! Okada hits a series of kicks before a corner hesitation dropkick! BIG DROPKICK BY SHIBATA! 

PRIDE STOMPS IN THE CORNER BY SHIBATA! Snapmare and a spinal kick lead to the PK, BUT OKADA COUNTERS THAT WITH A DROPKICK! Sliding dropkick by Okada, BUT SHIBATA SITS UP! Another one sends him standing, so he hops up, running big boots him, and hits a German! OKADA GETS UP AND RUNNING DROPKICKS HIM! SHIBATA PUMP KICK! HIGH ANGLE GERMAN BY OKADA! 

A huge Shibata chant breaks out. Rainmaker is countered by a great many kicks to the face! A SHORTARM HITS, BUT THIS PISSES SHIBATA OFF!  Giant clonking headbutt! And Shibata is already busted open - and he'll be regretting that move when he's old. Octopus Hold is on, and it's turned into a ground octopus. Shibata turns it into a sleeper and then a SLEEPER SUPLEX! Jesus! RAINMAKER BY SHIBATA TURNS INTO A SLAP! Ha! He holds the wrist to kick him to death. Okada falls down, so Shibata struggles to lift him and kick him more! He holds on for a PK, BUT EATS A RAINMAKER...kinda. 

Okada has the wrist and we get more back and forth kicks! The Rainmaker hits and it's over! This was an incredible match. I enjoyed it far more than Okada-Omega, and it's an absolute classic. It was violent, physical, but memorable and the best showcase that Shibata has ever had in pro wrestling. This reminded me a lot of Okada-Anderson in that they made a main event-level guy in one night that they can slide in and out of main events for the future. Shibata should definitely get the title at some point, and if they don't do Omega vs. Okada II at Wrestle Kingdom, they should rematch this one.

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