Tanahashi lifts NEVER Openweight Championship as O-Khan awaits

Hiroshi Tanahashi victorious in Nagoya main event

The main event of The New Beginning in Nagoya saw Hiroshi Tanahashi lift the NEVER Openweight Championship for the first time after a classic main event with Shingo Takagi, but his night ended with an Eliminator at the hands of Great-O-Khan.   

Takagi and Tanahashi had a feeling out process in the opening seconds, Takagi looking to power Tanahashi over, but the Ace responding with a classical arm drag and mat work. The classical style fit the Ace early until Takagi refused a clean break in the corner, taking over with some heavy elbows, and the Tenryu combination in the corner. 

Thinking fast, Tanahashi went downstairs to the knee of Shingo at the five minute mark, and began to slow his opponent by working over the left leg. Still, Shingo had the power to knock his opponent to the mat with a shoulder block however, and out on the floor was when the champion took over. A DDT on the floor created a major opening for Shingo, and Takagi continued to press with a stomp over the top rope, and elbows continuing to weaken the neck with elbows, before the Dragon Elbow scored him two. 

Tanahashi managed to claw his way back into the match as it passed ten minutes, clinging onto Takagi’s knee as the champion went for the Kitchen Sink, and evading a sliding lariat to hit a Dragon Screw. Hobbled, the NEVER Champion low bridged Tanahashi to the apron and looked for a DVD, but found his knee dropkicked out from under him once more before Aces went high off the top to the floor. 

Tanahashi had the match firmly in favour as he landed a Dragon Screw to Takagi as he came in, but though he prevented the Ryukon Lariat, Shingo scored with a Takagi-style Twist and Shout. On the second attempt, the sliding lariat scored, but the knee continued to be a limiting factor. Tanahashi made Shingo pay for trash talk from the champion by drop kicking the injured leg, but Shingo responded in kind, a chop block doing heavy damage.

With already hurt knee buckled, Tanahashi was in trouble. Shingo had enough of a base to powerbomb Tanahashi, and transitioned into a high half crab. The Ace responded with ground Dragon Screws as Takagi tried to hit Made In Japan, and landed a devastating Screw as Takagi tried to ascend to the second turnbuckle. Seizing the opportunity, Tanahashi wrenched Shingo into a Texas Cloverleaf, but Tanahashi wanted to win with the High Fly Flow. One to the back scored, but a second found nothing but mat as Tanahashi crashed hard into his hurt knee. 

A wheelbarrow German connected for Takagi at the 25 minute mark, and a Dragon Suplex followed up for the champion. Still hobbled, Shingo looked for Pumping Bomber, but did not have the required acceleration to put Tanahashi down, and Made In Japan saw Takagi’s knee collapse midway, putting Tanahashi directly on his head. 

Still, Tanahashi was superhuman in his resiliency, kicking out and hitting three successive Twist and Shouts. A straightjacket German scored, but when the Ace went up for a High Fly attack, Tanahashi was caught with a pop-up DVD. Appropriate given their teachings from classic dragons of the past, Takagi locked in a Dragon Sleeper on Tanahashi, and as Tanahashi tried to escape in the ropes, he was hit with a Takagi style GTR and the Pumping Bomber. 

Tanahashi’s heart was still beating as the match shot past the 30 minute mark, kicking out of the hold, and staying barely in the game. Tanahashi put all he had into elbows to the champion, only to be rocked by heavy shots, an instinctive headbutt scoring in retaliation. Both kicked out at one to the biggest shots either could throw, the crowd coming to their feet as the combatants tried to take one another off theirs. 

With the match finally seemingly in hand, Takagi went for Last of the Dragon, only to be countered with Sling Blade once more. A High Fly Attack and Dragon Suplex at 35 minutes and Takagi again kicked out, but the High Fly Flow finally gave Tanahashi the match and the title. Tanahashi celebrated with the crowd in Nagoya before Great-O-Khan made a shocking return to the ring, laying out the new champion with the Eliminator and declaring that the United Empire will continue pursuing Tanahashi until he is forced to retire.