Continuing from yesterday's post, read on as I count down my favorite wrestling matches of the year.
15. Kazuchika Okada (c) vs. Naomichi Marufuji
IWGP Heavyweight Championship, NJPW, King of Pro Wrestling, 10/10
Pro Wrestling NOAH was in bad need of a shake-up when it was sold this fall, but the unfortunate side effect of their transfer of ownership was the sudden termination of a buddying invasion storyline with NJPW that had all the potential to boost both companies. As is, this match, a rematch of the pair’s great outing in the G1 tournament, stands as the final word on the aborted crossover. But if that is the case, at least the match itself is great, with Marufuji absolutely demolishing Okada and forcing New Japan’s ace to work as underdog the entire time. Okada takes wild bumps from his opponent, including a piledriver on the apron and a return to the ring to eat a dropkick, that make Marufuji look better in a single match than he has years in NOAH. The energy of this match never flags, even when Okada takes control and slows it down to recover, and in some respects his willingness to bump wildly for another promotion’s talent is a better show of ace-like qualities than his matches with Tanahashi.