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December 23, 2011 / TJ Hawke

Masato Tanaka vs. Tomoaki Honma from NJPW 2011

 

Post by Will Young:

Context

Our match today is for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. The belt was instated only two years ago, and (unlike WWE’s Intercontinental title) is featured as a main-event attraction, second only to the heavyweight title in importance. Masato Tanaka, former ECW Champion, won the belt from inaugural champion MVP on October 10, 2011. Here, Tanaka faces Tomoaki Honma, a perpetual (but popular) under-card performer in New Japan, for whom this match is his first major title fight in NJPW. The match took place on December 23, 2011, in the main event at Korakuen Hall.

 

The Match

This is a very good match between Tanaka and Honma, and excels at having a lot of elements that will appeal to a broader audience. The match features solid chain wrestling, as well as elements of hardcore, and the crowd reaction makes it engaging. Honma ably plays the underdog getting his big chance at glory against Tanaka, who in his time in New Japan, has become an excellent mid-card hand, and who can have at least a decent match with practically anyone (plus, compared to his ECW run, he is much faster and lighter without sacrificing striking ability).

 

I really like how the entire roster comes down to watch the fight personally, because it puts across the fact that Honma is a stranger to this type of high-profile match, despite being a veteran, and it makes you feel that the whole wrestling world wanted to see him win. Also, Honma and Tanaka are two very stupid wrestlers, resulting in a few crazy spots that few others would even attempt, so there is no shortage of jaw-dropping spots. This is a great introduction to New Japan, as well as puroresu in general, as well as being an overall agreeable match. Put aside 20 minutes and invest in this one!

 

High Spots
4:10 – Honma takes a run at it
7:30 – Tanaka hits a picture perfect splash through a table
13:40 – Tanaka gets extreme; Honma proceeds to not care
19:50 – Honma gets stupid up in this!

 

Aftermath
Masato Tanaka would go on to hold the Intercontinental Championship for 125 days, losing it to Hirooki Goto on February 12, 2012. Tomoaki Honma would leave NJPW in March 2012 due to personal problems, and would return to competition a year later. Tanaka and Honma faced off on May 3rd at New Japan’s Wrestling Dontaku iPPV, this time for the NEVER Openweight Championship.

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