New Japan on AXS results: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. AJ Styles

Friday’s show is part two of our look at the New Begining events, taking place February 11, 2015 in Osaka.

Hiroshi Tanahashi is here to talk about his IWGP title match against AJ Styles. He says that he’d give AJ as many title shots as possible until he’s satisfied. Talks about how they first faced off in TNA back in 2005 and while he was a top fighter then, he doesn’t have the sexiness he has now. I see. Says that all of this was probably meant to be.

The match aired. The large part of the match was decent. Everything looked good and was executed well but nothing to particularly write home about. Like every big Bullet Club match, most of the Bullet Club roster was out there. Here’s a “if only this was real” moment: why can’t the ref just throw them out before the match begins? There’s been a precedent of them interfering over and over and over. There has to be some storyline reason why the Bullet Club (which at this point is a good chunk of the New Japan gaijin roster) is out there in full force.

Anyway, this was a perfectly fine technical match for the most part. Tanahashi got busted open after doing a high fly flow, hitting his head against Matt Jackson’s. I missed how this happened live, but thankfully Josh Barnett pointed it out and they showed replays. He got busted open hard way, ouch. Things picked up after that. Tanahashi went for AJ’s leg and AJ tried to free himself by jumping, but in mid air Tanahashi countered with a dragon screw in a really cool move. After a Ganso bomb, AJ hit the Bloody Sunday DDT and pinned Tanahashi after the Styles Clash to become IWGP champion once again. A fine world title match, but these two have had better. I don’t know what it was about this match. Nothing was bad and it was mostly good, but nowhere near the same levels of their previous matches in terms of intensity. Something was just missing – maybe the crowd, or a slower build than other world title matches, but something here was just lacking.

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No comment from Tanahashi after the match as he was taken quickly to the back.

Karl Anderson spent a good chunk of the last ten minutes or so introducing the Bullet Club one by one. In a backstage press conference, AJ and Kenny Omega say that now that they have all the titles, the only logical thing to do is to take over the world.

Tanahashi talks about how after the bump that busted him open, the blood seeped into his contact lenses and for the rest of the match he had bloody vision. That doesn’t sound fun in the least bit. He said this road will lead him to the New Japan Cup, and that there will be other chances to claim the belt once again.

A fine show this week. Not a blockbuster by any means, but the show did a good job in advancing the story of the IWGP title this year.