I prefer Ziggler/Del Rio's Smackdown match over their Main Event match by a considerable margin. The Main Event match felt like a rehashed and dragged-out version of the Smackdown but with awkward pacing.
Ziggler's really nothing special in my opinion. He can put on good matches, but rarely has any great performances. He does nothing that makes him stick out and only really flourishes when he's with a guy that does. That's I rank guys like Del Rio, Cena, Punk, Mysterio, Bryan, Sheamus and Henry above him.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Karl Anderson - "New Beginning 2013"
AN-DAH-SON! AN-DAH-SON!. This was better than I expected and although I felt Tanahashi was more SuperTana-like than usual, I still enjoyed the fuck out of those last 10 minutes. At least Tana built his comeback more slowly than he usually does. But still, the star of this match was Anderson no doubt about it. He was over when the match started and halfway in the crowd was going crazy for him and wanted a title change, badly.
This is gonna sound weird/insane but in some ways, Tana's legwork is being used kinda like Misawa's elbow in the sense that he uses it as a way to control the pace of the match AND is his main tool when mounting a comeback. Yeah, it's not nearly as deadly and established as the elbow but at this point I "get" why he keeps going back to it even though it doesn't pay off in the finish.
Minoru Suzuki vs. Kazuchika Okada (NJPW 2/3): ****1/4
Hiroshi Tanahashi(c) vs. Karl Anderson (NJPW 2/3): ****1/2
Some may feel I'm overrating Suzuki/Okada but I absolutely loved the story of that match and how the Suzukigun/CHAOS feud was integrated into it. Tanahashi/Anderson was just AWESOME. Better than Tanahashi/Okada in my opinion and is my second favourite match of the year so far. Another great iPPV from NJPW overall.
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Karl Anderson - NJPW 03.02.2012 Anderson's the fucking man. I don't want to say this was great ALL due to Anderson but it was A LOT due to Anderson. Tanahashi was fine but I never really felt like he added anything to the match. Fortunately this wasn't a match that he needed to a lot to though. So chuffed that Anderson made the most of his main event slot. Crowd was molten for him from start to finish. Soooooooo badly wanted him to win, both me and the crowd. Place would have erupted if he'd won. They've got a handful of guys right now that will blow the roof off if the take the title from Tanahashi soon. Nakamura, Okada, Anderson and Naito for sure. Leg work I thought was really good here for what it was because they didn't fill the middle stretch out with leg work and it felt more like a sub story of the entire match rather than the full story of part of the match that is quickly forgotten. Anderson's selling did it justice without selling too much for the work done on it and Tanahashi went too it enough without a workover for it to feel like an advantage that he could exploit given an opening. Love to see Anderson get more chances to work over 15 minutes in Japan.
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Shinsuke Nakamura(c) vs La Sombra ~ ***3/4
Forgot about this one. As if I needed another reminder why Nakamura is the greatest guy going today, they show a pre-match interview where he proceeds to refer to Sombra, or possibly every Luchador, as a "moco". For those of you who need to brush up on their Spanish, that term translates into English as "snot" or "booger". That's what the SWAG of Nakamura happens to think of Luchadores challenging him for his Championship. As for the match itself - it was good. Really good in fact. I would call this match a styles clash as much as a styles blend. The "strong style"/MMA work of Nakamura fused with the lucha goodness of Sombra worked out to give us a darn good match. Only minor complaint I had was Sombra not selling the mid-section after Nakamura did a bit of work on it. It seems my complaint was rectified as every single time Nakamura would get the upper hand to swing the momentum back into his favor, he would drive a knee right into the sore mid-section. Worked every time. So I guess the work wasn't totally forgotten by Sombra. Sombra deserves credit here. Guy looked strong. So crisp, so fluid. A moonsault to the outside from the top rope WITHOUT LOOKING. Brilliant. In delivery too. Just flawless execution. Finishing stretch was one of my favorites of the year. It culminated with Nakamura attempting the Boma Ye -> Sombra evades into a school boy only to channel Bob Backlund by holding on and lifting Nakamura into the air. Sombra wasn't finished. He proceeded the lift by falling backwards and turning the school boy deadlift into a BRIDGING PIN. Unbelievable. Literally I can't believe I saw such a thing. It was glorious. After that and a series of other flashy nearfalls, Sombra shoves down the ref in frustration. That proved to be his downfall. Nakamura grabs Sombra from behind, attempts the released belly to back suplex. Sombra lands on his feet. Nakamura charges - qubradora counter...nope. Nakamura lands on his feet. Go behind into a lungblower. Belly to back release suplex by Nakamura. Which was in turn the prelude to the Boma Ye. KNEE TO THE FACE connects. 3 count, wrap a bow and ship it out. This one is finished. Better than Tanaka/Ishii and yet I know most won't check it out. Heck, even I let it fall into the back of my mind. You can't do that. This has to be seen. The best non-Wrestle Kingdom match from NJPW so far for this year. Two Championship defenses down for Nakamura in 2013. Both completely different from the last. I hope the trend continues. He's making this Championship mean quite a bit right now.
A practical application of an abstract ideal.
I'll be your Opthaumaturge. I'll be your savor of dreams.