Kazuchika Okada retains over Zack Sabre Jr.
The main event of Hyper Battle 22 on April 9 saw Kazuchika Okada retain the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship over the challenging Zack Sabre Jr., persevering with a Rainmaker even in the face of a sustained and painful assault on the champion’s right arm.
Sabre found a break to target that arm early, as he avoided a senton atomico, and pulled the champion arm first over the top rope. With an arm bar and then stomp to the limb, ZSJ had created his opening, and rarely strayed far from his target. The Briton was still troubled by some painful ribs after the New Japan Cup though, and Okada would be able to gain some space with a flapjack and some llave holds.
Sabre would bait Okada and appeal to the champion’s pride, drawing him into a striking game that left his right arm vulnerable. So, too did Sabre allow himself to be taken halfway on the ride for a reverse neckbreaker, putting himself into position for a straight armbar; though Okada would counter Sabre’s Cobra Twist with one of his own, the follow elbow drop would see him grimace in pain as his hurt right arm crashed into his challenger’s chest.
Sabre remained a step ahead, sidestepping Okada’s shotgun dropkick and holding onto the ropes to avoid the champion’s feet again, instead sinking in a flying triangle. Staying on the Rainmaker arm, Sabre sent Okada to the floor when the Rainmaker broke a particularly painful looking hold, but there the pendulum of momentum changed.
Sabre wanted a PK on the floor but was stopped instead by a thunderous Tombstone piledriver. With a missile dropkick back inside and a corkscrew Tombstone, Okada closed in on his third defence, but it was a Zack Driver that prevented the Rainmaker, and got a near two. A series of PKs scored for Sabre, but Okada would land an emphatic dropkick. Harkening back to his victory over Naito in the Cup final, Sabre wanted a swinging DDT back into the Zack Driver, but Okada worked his way off the hook to score the Landslide and then the Rainmaker.
Post match, Okada would offer praise to Sabre before turning his sights to Fukuoka and the Pay Pay Dome for Dontaku. Saying hs New Japan Cup semifinal defeat meant there was business left unsettled, Okada called out Tetsuya Naito for their third singles meeting in 2022 to date, and what is a more than worthy Dontaku main event should it be made official.