Kazuchika Okada vs Kaito Kiyomiya: When Dreams Become Nightmares

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Interpromotional wrestling has always been the best part of Puroresu. The hatred and disdain that fuels those rivalries, there’s just nothing better in wrestling. So, when Kaito Kiyomiya said that he wanted to experience the Rainmaker back in 2020, the world took notice.

Fast forward to 2022, Okada and Kaito met in a tag match at Yokohama Arena where Kaito lost. He then went on to defeat Keiji Mutoh and win the GHC Heavyweight title and this time, once again at Yokohama Arena, they were scheduled for a tag match with Kaito in a much better position since last year. Okada continued to ignore him which pissed off Kaito and as a result birthed one of the very best wrestling angles in YEARS. The super-heated brawl led to a singles match being booked between them for Keiji Mutoh’s retirement show. Leading up to the show, Okada continued to insist that he won’t do it because Kaito was simply not on his level… UNTIL he laid him out with a Rainmaker in Osaka and accepted the challenge. Simply put, the feud had been incredible!

The match? Well, it’s Okada playing the bad guy at the peak of his powers in his house, the Tokyo Dome, taking on arguably the best babyface in the world in Kaito Kiyomiya. It was legitimately a cathartic and extraordinary experience. It was snug, it was violent, and it was everything it needed to be at this stage of the rivalry. The tension when they stared at each other at the beginning was nuts. These two despise each other so much and you can feel it. No post-lockup chest taps for Kaito. Okada was out to teach a lesson to this kid. Okada shoves him off to the outside a couple of times, but Kiyomiya was relentless, and he paid for it with a nasty German suplex from the Rainmaker.

One of the best parts of this match was that they made every spot, from a simple DDT on the outside to big dives over the barricade, feel big and made it all count. Okada kept provoking Kiyomiya and subsequently kept getting hit back with great force. A striking change of pace from other Okada big matches, hitting the Rainmaker pose 5 minutes into the match highlighting his own thought process as well. He wasn’t taking Kaito seriously. A change in match structure should always convey the motivation of the wrestlers involved rather than just being an adjustment for match length.

Kiyomiya wasn’t just going to go down so easily though. Okada’s hubris blinded him and now he was paying for it. Kaito rocks Okada in a strike exchange and lands a shit ton of big offence including a big TOPE CON GIRO OVER THE BARRICADE. The best thing about this match was that it had little to no down period. Brutal, all the way through like an ultraviolent spotfest. Even Kiyomiya’s arm work to take out the Rainmaker was filled with huge dropkicks and a shining wizard. Okada with the evillest smirk on his face on the wrist control lariats. He’s so fucking good in this match and does his absolute best to get the crowd behind Kaito which frankly works, as the Dome roars for Kaito’s biggest hope spot on the tiger suplexnearfall. The downfall of Kaito wasn’t the fact that he did something wrong. It’s just that Okada was too good for him and didn’t let the follow-ups register after Kaito’s big offence. The New Japan star kept cutting him off and that’s ultimately what led to the finish too. Rainmaker, 1..2… he has him but picks him up, lands the enzuigiri, hits an Emerald Flowsion in the house that Misawa built and then finally puts him away with the most disrespectful pin ever. The story was that ultimately Kaito wasn’t on Okada’s level, and it turned out to be true as the bully ace snuffs the life out of the underdog.

This was the kind of match that serves as the perfect first chapter to a story and man did they kill it. Okada’s best performance since January 5th, 2020 and the best Kaito’s ever looked too. The dream match lived up to the hype and Kaito’s dream to take down Okada turned into a nightmare. I’d waited so long for this match, and I couldn’t be happier. God bless.

Long live interpromotional conflicts. Long live the Rainmaker.

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