Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazuchika Okada from NJPW 2017

This was for Okada’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Okada is remarkable in the sense that he basically finds whole new ways to frustrate me and leave me unsatisfied on a monthly basis. Some of his recent issues were actually not the problem this time.

Despite going close to forty minutes in this month’s main event, there actually was A LOT going on in this match which made the excessive runtime far more digestible/acceptable.

Selling was also not really an issue here to any significant degree. This whole match was structure like a really PHYSICAL battle, and the somewhat methodical pacing seemed appropriate for that kind of match.

The first third or half of the match was really well done as well. Shibata basically controlled the whole thing. He was just too physical for Okada. Okada would try to match up with the forearms or whatnot, and Shibata would win the battle every time (and with ease).

Okada needed to a momentum shift. Shibata was winning this one, and Okada’s insistence on playing Shibata’s game was clearly proven to be futile. He needed to change it up in order to keep his title. What did Okada do?

He kept doing the same fucking thing. He kept playing Shibata’s game.

Did Okada pay for his stubbornness?

Was Okada humbled by the superior striker and tougher ass-kicker?

No, Okada was not. Okada simply played Shibata’s game until the end.

And then won. Cleanly.

Okada is many things, but Okada has never been and will never be a believable ass-kicker. That’s not to say that Okada shouldn’t be a main eventer. Okada is a tremendous dick. He’s cocky as fuck. He has great agility for size and can fly around a little bit. He has shown in the past great strategies for fending off challengers.

These qualities can all be put together to make a great performer who should be a main event wrestler. Those qualities should not be discarded though in order to force Okada into the “perfect wrestler” role.

Omega threw everything he had at Okada, and Okada beat him at his own game.

Suzuki, the MMA fighter, destroyed Okada’s knee with submissions, and Okada overcame that with ease and little damage done to him.

Shibata, the toughest fucker in the company, decided to have an ass-kicker match, and Okada beat him at that.

Okada is right now positioned at such a height that is inhuman. Submission experts cannot do substantial damage to him. Fighters can’t outfight him. He’s too perfect right now. And he doesn’t fit the role at all.

It makes matches like this one feel disingenuous, and that is a shitty feeling to have in a pro wrestling match. (**3/4)

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