Hoo boy. This show right here.
Somewhere along the way this absolutely maniac named Kota Ibushi worked me into the greatest shoot of them all: caring deeply about the outcome of a wrestling match. Maybe it was his comments that if he won, he'd want to face Kenny Omega, even though in other comments he talked about not really being as interested in Kenny as other people may be seeing them wrestle one another. Then he dropped some vague tweets which I found translations of and was confirmed by The Lion Marks' article translations: Ibushi saw the IC title as not only a bridge to overcome Tanahashi, the so called wrestling god, but also a bridge to Nakamura, a rival with deep importance to him. So imagine you're me, and your favorite feuds back in the day were Ibushi vs Nakamura and Nakamura vs Tanahashi - two feuds that symbolically wrapped around this IC title bout. And your favorite feud now? Omega vs Ibushi, which might never happen if Ibushi doesn't stick around.
It's amazing how Nakamura is still a part of NJPW, with his mantle being symbolically carried by Tanahashi with this IC belt. Naito may have abused it with everything he had but now Tanahashi is carrying the legacy again, and Ibushi wanted desperately to be a part of that, to have a third match against Nakamura, and to best Tanahashi.
Of course, outside kayfabe this also meant that Ibushi was given the keys to the castle, and that just maybe he'd signed on the dotted line to become one of the top names in NJPW, a contracted main event talent which we all know he can be. I know his philosophy to wrestling is different from my selfish desires - I want him in the best company in the world with the best talent in the world, telling stories that build for years and squeeze my heart in all their potency - but he wants to goof around and embrace his own way of doing things, fantasy booking himself in 14 matches per year, not signing a single paper. And I admire that, I really do. But I'm selfish.
And I really, really wanted this guy to win.
So the match itself was absolutely brilliant - I'll have to rewatch but it may make it into my Top 10 of the year. Hard-hitting, dramatic, left me gasping for air with the Nakamura callbacks all over the place. And the amazing aftermath. Ibushi was as inconsolable as me afterwards - but of course, his crying only played into kayfabe. In reality, I think he was probably happy he got to have this moment with Tanahashi, and Tanahashi acknowledged it, too. I don't know what the future holds for this guy but god, my heart hurt. I really thought it was his time. I really, really hoped it would have been.
But I should overlook my broken heart and mend it with the fact the rest of the show was brilliant. I loved the Jr Tag match, I enjoyed the Bucks' challenge and hope it leads to an even stronger RPG3K push. Rocky's localized promo ("aho", the Osaka dialect word for idiot was used, which made me laugh) was great, too. Scurll winning shocked the hell out of me but I was super into it, and am totally fine with the fourway for Dome. Kenny spoke Japanese! And it was so good, I loved feeling how the crowd embraced him even more than previously. I'm on the fence about the Jericho announcement as a match, but it's a wild thing and I like wild twists in wrestling. And Jay White being back is going to be good, and they're giving him an amazing platform already. I'm hyped, because there is nobody better to give a guy their first match back from excursion than Tanahashi.
I will have to rewatch most of the matches since I watched in bits and pieces over the day, but I thought it was a great show and laid the table for a number of interesting directions for the Dome. But my heart still hurts, a lot.