Post by Swarm on Aug 2, 2016 13:03:43 GMT -5
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"ONCE IN A CENTURY TALENT" HIROSHI TANAHASHI
The nickname says it all, "once in a century talent". Few could have ever predicted that Tanahashi would rise to the top of New Japan Pro Wrestling, let alone be one of the driving forces of its resurgence in recent years. Tanahashi debuted in 1999, opposite his longtime rival Katsuyori Shibata. From the beginning, it was clear that Tanahashi had potential, and over the next few years he would begin putting everything together, capturing the IWGP U-30 (Under 30) Championship and making the title effectively his, being the only man to ever hold the title other than Shinsuke Nakamura. Tanahashi would vacate that title in June of 2006 to focus on his ultimate goal, the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Tanahashi was scheduled to challenge Brock Lesnar for the championship on July 17th, 2006, but due to a contract dispute, Lesnar left the company and took the title with him. On that night, Tanahashi bested Giant Bernard in the finals of a one-night tournament, and the new ace of New Japan Pro Wrestling was born. Tanahashi would hold the championship until April of 2007 when he was bested by Yuji Nagata. Tanahashi would rebound and get a win over Yuji Nagata in the 2007 G1 Climax finals before beating Nagata in October to regain the championship. Tanahashi's second reign would take him to the Tokyo Dome in 2008 at the second Wrestle Kingdom where, fittingly, he would lose the championship to Shinsuke Nakamura. In 2008, during a contract dispute, Tanahashi competed in the All Japan Pro Wrestling Champion Carnival where he went undefeated until the finals of the tournament, losing to budding ace Kohei Suwama.
Tanahashi refocused himself on New Japan and main evented the Tokyo Dome on January 4th 2009 against Keiji Muto, better known as The Great Muta. Muto had taken the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Nakamura the previous March, and had a successful run with the title, defeating Nakamura in a rematch as well as G1 2008 winner Hirooki Goto. Tanahashi had been seen by many as being the 21st century version of Muto, and on that night at the Tokyo Dome, Tanahashi would recapture the title and go on a four month run before losing the title to Manabu Nakanishi, a loss Tanahashi would avenge just one month later to regain the gold. Tanahashi would hold the belt until August, vacating it due to an eye injury. He wouldn't touch the gold again until January 4th, 2011 when Tanahashi beat Satoshi Kojima in the Tokyo Dome main event in a rematch of the 2010 G1 final to once again claim the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This would be Tanahashi's signature reign, as he held the championship for over one year and broke the record for most defenses, racking up 11 defenses over the likes of Giant Bernard, Minoru Suzuki, Shinsuke Nakamura, Yuji Nagata and Hirooki Goto. It wasn't until February 2012 that someone would finally have an answer for the seemingly invincible Tanahashi, and it came in the form of freshly returned 'Rainmaker' Kazuchika Okada. Tanahashi would regain his title in June of 2012 and hold it until April of 2013, losing the belt back to Okada. Tanahashi challenged Okada one more time, unsuccessfully, in October 2013 in a match where Tanahashi declared e would take a break from the IWGP Title if he lost.
A year later, Tanahashi found hiimself back in the hunt and at King of Pro Wrestling 2014, Tanahashi bested AJ Styles to win the championship once again. Tanahashi downed Okada, who had won the 2014 G1 Climax, at the Tokyo Dome on January 4th, 2015, but would lose the championship back to Styles in February. Tanahashi spent much of 2015 feuding with Toru Yano, a feud that saw Tanahashi defeat Yano en route to his second G1 final win in a classic match over Shinsuke Nakamura which was not only one of the best bouts of 2015, it has an arguable place as the best bout in New Japan Pro Wrestling's forty-four year history. Tanahashi would fail in his quest to regain the title from Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in Tokyo Dome on January 4th, 2016, but the Ace of the Universe continues to ply his trade at the highest level in pro wrestling, forming a new tag team with Michael Elgin and in a feud with Kenny Omega. Omega and Tanahashi were set to do battle at Dominion 6.19 in Osaka Jo Hall, but an arm injury forced Tanahashi out of the bout and in his place, Elgin won the IWGP Intercontinental Championship from Omega. Tanahashi returned in the 2016 G1 Climax and only time will tell if the Once in a Century Talent can get back to the top of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Twist 'n Shout - A twisting neckbreaker
Sling Blade - Tanahashi runs at the opponent and jumps into the air before hitting a spinning sleeper hold drop.
HIGH FLY FLOW - Tanahashi uses a frog splash from the top rope. Occasionally he'll hit one to the back of the opponent and roll them over before attempting the final blow.
YEAOH! The King of Strong Style has been labeled many things, but the term 'prodigy' seems to fit best. Nakamura was a blue chip prospect in the dojo and was clearly going to be a major star, but the spark that ignited the career of Nakamura was a competitive loss in a mixed martial arts bout against Daniel Gracie. Nakamura found himself being rocketed to the top of New Japan Pro Wrestling, winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at the end of 2003 and then unifying that belt with the NWF Heavyweight Championship, beating Yoshihiro Takayama on January 4th, 2004 at the Tokyo Dome. In spite of his explosive rise to the top of the company, Nakamura's popularity was slow to ascend with him. While clearly being a star in the making, Nakamura was thrust into the spotlight too fast. An injury forced him to vacate the IWGP Title soon after unifying it with the NWF Title and Nakamura found himself fighting in the undercard, including a noteworthy match on August 8th, 2004 as he took on Katsuyori Shibata in a losing effort that was viewed as an example of what strong style and New Japan could be in the future. Nakamura was unsuccessful in that G1 bid, but five months later he would headline his second straight January 4th Tokyo Dome Show, beating Hiroshi Tanahashi to become the only other man to ever hold the IWGP U-30 Championship. The belt was vacated in May of 2005 and Nakamura soon formed a tag team with his rival Tanahashi. The two were a very successful team and upon their return to New Japan, Tanahashi was quickly elevated to the top of the company.
Nakamura, on the other hand, spent much of 2006 training around the world, trying to add new weapons to his already vast arsenal of strikes in submissions. When he came back in the fall of 2006, Nakamura looked poised and ready to become the ace, or top star, of New Japan Pro Wrestling. He would challenge Tanahashi unsuccessfully on December 10th of 2006 and wouldn't get another crack at the title until January 4th, 2008, where Nakamura bested Tanahashi yet again in the main event of the Tokyo Dome to steal Tanahashi's title. This reign would, like the first, be brief as Nakamura lost the title to Keiji Muto in March. In 2009, Nakamura would join forces with former RISE stablemates to form CHAOS, a group that is still very prominent in New Japan today. Nakamura changed his look, his demeanor and his arsenal of moves gained a deadly new weapon: the BOMA YE. At first, Nakamura only needed to hit one well placed BOMA YE on an opponent, but over the years he developed more new variations that would come from any angle at any time. They wouldn't have the one shot kill power of the original, but four knees to the head is a lot worse on paper (and in execution!) than just one. Nakamura used this new finisher to reclaim the IWGP Championship by beating Togi Makabe to claim the recently-vacated belt in September of 2009. Nakamura would hold the title through May of 2010, and it would be his last reign with that championship. In 2011, Nakamura did what many thought he was never going to do: he won the 2011 G1 Climax by besting Tetsuya Naito in an instant classic, but failed the follow up challenge against Tanahashi.
In 2011, New Japan created the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. The title was originally intended for low card wrestlers who were likely not going to succeed at the top of the card. After a year, the title found itself around the waist of New Japan main eventer Hirooki Goto. In July of 2012, Nakamura changed the course of not only that title, but of New Japan Pro Wrestling, when he defeated Goto to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Nakamura would go on to hold the title five times, defending it against the likes of Katsuyori Shibata, Hirooki Goto, Karl Anderson, La Sombra, MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba and in a bit of poetic justice, Nakamura would defend the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Daniel Gracie on May 25th, 2014. Nakamura would finally best his old foe, and the man partially responsible for his rise to the top. Nakamura also traded the title with Tanahashi.
As the 2015 G1 Climax approached, many expected Nakamura to win the entire tournament. He was riding a wave of momentum, despite not holding his IWGP Intercontinental Championship, that very few in pro wrestling could match. Despite an arm injury, Nakamura not only won his block, he beat Kazuchika Okada in an epic battle to do it. Fittingly, Nakamura's final G1 Climax appearance would culminate in his biggest, and greatest, clash with Hiroshi Tanahashi. After one of the greatest matches of all time, Tanahashi downed Nakamura to take the final, leaving Nakamura to chase down Hirooki Goto and reclaim the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Nakamura's final major show appearance for New Japan would be January 4th, 2016, as he wrestled AJ Styles in a first-time-ever dream match in the semi-final match at Wrestle Kingdom 10. Nakamura bested the ace of the Bullet Club and later that day, reports surfaced that Nakamura was leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling. He would indeed finish with the company on January 30th, teaming with Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii to beat Hiroshi Tanahashi, Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto. In a tearful farewell, Nakamura said he would return to New Japan one day. Nakamura debuted in WWE NXT in April 2016, defeating Sami Zayn in a match hailed as a match of the year candidate. Many questioned if Nakamura could be successful on that stage, and he answered his critics with a resounding "YEAOH!"
Vibration - With his opponent seated in the corner, Nakamura puts his foot to the opponent's throat and begins shaking.
Landslide - A sit out death valley driver.
BOMA YE - A devastating knee strike. Nakamura can hit this from multiple angles: from the top rope, while the opponent is seated, while the opponent is kneeling, while the opponent is standing and he can even land a variation to the back of an opponent's head!