KENTA takes IWGP United States Power in Osaka

KENTA survives a punishing table break and the best of Tanahashi to take US title

KENTA sought his first IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship reign at Power Struggle in Osaka November 6, as the sold out EDION Arena saw him challenge Hiroshi Tanahashi for the title the Ace had won in Los Angeles this August. 

With the crowd firmly behind Tanahashi, KENTA took his time before engaging the champion. When he did, it was with handfuls of hair as he tried to push the Ace to the ropes to no avail. Tanahashi would keep a firm headlock on KENTA before a takedown, a short dropkick and a plancha saw the champion with a clear upper hand. The frustrated KENTA moved to take the US title belt to the back, drawing Tanahashi to follow; the result of the ruse being a hard powerslam on the ramp that came dangerously near to causing a countout, and put KENTA in charge as he removed the neutral corner pad.

The steel buckle and a neckbreaker saw the champion struggle, and stiff boots backed Tanahashi into the corner. That’s a dangerous position for the Ace however, and Tanahashi found a reverse cross body from that corner before planting KENTA and hitting a flipping senton, but the break didn’t last long as KENTA scored another powerslam for two. A tornado Stungun and diving clothesline saw KENTA continue to build momentum, but a Green Killer attempt was countered by a Dragon Screw through the ropes. Seeking a dive to the floor, Tanahashi went up top, but was cut off with a dropkick, and KENTA followed with a boot over the guardrails.   

KENTA started looking under the ring for weaponry, and found a table to set up at ringside. While challenger couldn’t drive champion through, KENTA did change tact with Green Killer and then the soaring corner dropkick before a diving double stomp for two. Now with the Ace weakened, KENTA placed Tanahashi on the ringside table, and went to the top; Tanahashi rolled off but took a stomp on the floor anyway, and as the match grew more dangerous by the moment, Tanahashi found a Slingblade on the floor in response. 

Now Tanahashi put KENTA on the table, and wasted no time in landing a High Fly Flow that sent both men crashing through. With parts of the table firmly planted in KENTA’s spine, Tanahashi delivered Slingblade center ring, before going up for the finishing High Fly Flow, but only got KENTA’s knees. The wounded KENTA landed a Busaiku Knee for two, and set for Go2Sleep, but was countered with a Dragon Screw and a second on the ground. 

Tanahashi set for a Texas Cloverleaf, but was leveraged into the turnbuckle KENTA had exposed earlier. Now hobbled, Tanahashi was wide open for a second Busaiku Knee, but the champion again escaped Go2Sleep with Slingblade. The desperate KENTA directed Tanahashi into the buckle again, and landed Go2Sleep to claim the IWGP US Championship.