taped 01/31/2010, aired 02/08/2010
Differ Ariake, Tokyo, Japan
(reviewed 09/12/2018) Their first singles meeting and what I’ll probably end up calling their weakest. This is Okada’s sendoff match before being shipped over to TNA and while he’s not nearly the guy he’d grow into being, he’s already exhibiting some spunk…
…but not the same sort of spunk that served him so well in 2009. That’s really the story of this match. Okada’s cooled off a bit after busting his ass against the NOAH guys last year and Tanahashi doesn’t care enough to make up the difference. Certainly doesn’t help that this is a real foregone conclusion, as Okada’s still in black trunks and is about to be sent overseas whereas Tanahashi’s already got four IWGP title reigns on his resume. You get some fun foreshadowing of things to come with Tanahashi punishing this kid for daring to attempt some leg work or to flex his toughness, but it’s not enough to amount to anything all that interesting.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: Not even close. The only chance this match had was if it somehow set the stage for their later meetings in some subtle way. I suppose if you squint you can see more than what I mentioned but for me it wasn’t substantial enough.
VERDICT: Worse than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25