Wrestle Kingdom Rewind: Love or Money 【WK16】

Kazuchika Okada looked to cap off an unbelievable 2012 with victory at Wrestle Kingdom 7

<– 2012: Rainmaker, Shock      2014: Democracy at Work–>

Wrestle Kingdom 16 in Tokyo Dome Live and in English on January 4 & 5 2022

Wrestle Kingdom 16 in Yokohama: NJPW vs NOAH Live and in English on ABEMA Pay Per View January 8 2022

After making his shock challenge to Hiroshi Tanahashi at the end of Wrestle Kingdom 6, Okada would defeat the Ace the next month in Osaka in the ‘Rainmaker Shock’. From there, he would defend against his former Dojo senpai Tetsuya Naito in Korakuen and go on to the most dominant first year back from excursion in history. 

That included a win in the G1 Climax, and with manager Gedo at his side, making the declaration that from here on out, the G1 winner would cash in with an IWGP Heavyweight Championship main event in the main event at the Tokyo Dome. That, of course, meant that Okada’s year wasn’t a perfect one, and that the Rainmaker had dropped the title back to Tanahashi. 

Okada’s win over Tanahashi was not disputed by the Ace, but the Rainmaker’s status as the leader of NJPW in the modern era was. To take that spot, Tanahashi would say, Okada would need not just to beat him anywhere, but at the show of shows. At the Tokyo Dome, Tanahashi believed, success took more than skill and money, but heart and love. 

Kazuchika Okada wasn’t the only sensation in 2012. A major theme through the year was the elevation of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship under the reign of Shinsuke Nakamura. The King of Strong Style sought to elevate the white and gold belt to a status beyond that of even the IWGP Heavyweight title, and took on all comers in the process. That included Kazushi Sakuraba, who made a controversial return to NJPW rings that summer. Appearing at the G1 Climax finals with Laughter 7 training partner Katsuyori Shibata, Sakuraba brought a style and a challenge the likes of which Nakamura hadn’t experienced for a long time. 

Watch Wrestle Kingdom 7 here!