by Bryan Rose,

Hiroshi Tanahashi has had some extensive, amazing feuds over the years. We saw a great example of that last weekend when he defeated Shinsuke Nakamura in a sensational match for the G1 Climax 25 trophy. We’ve also seen his many battles against Kazuchika Okada, considered by some to be the best matches this decade has to offer, with more to come from what it looks like. But one never seemed as personal as it was when Katsuyori Shibata came back after being away for ten years. Tonight’s show is the culmination of their feud, one that’s been building up since 2004, when Shibata left New Japan on bad terms. Between Tanahashi’s goal for revenge and Shibata’s utter stiffness, the end result should end up being one hell of a bout, which it in fact did turn out to be.

Tonight’s show takes place at Kobe World Hall on September 21, 2014. This is part two of our look at the Destruction in Kobe event.

They first aired a match between Hirooki Goto against Togi Makabe. I liked this match. It was hard hitting, and played into their match from the G1 where Goto broke Makabe’s jaw legit. Unfortunately, this was lost on the announce team as I don’t think that match was shown during G1 highlights, and was never really brought up. To me it felt like that was a big part of the story being told in the match, but who knows. Again, this was good stuff with both guys hitting hard and delivering some cool moves. Makabe at one point double sledged Goto in the face hard. Pretty good, very stiff match, as much as you’d expect between these two.

Makabe is interviewed after, telling Goto to bring on it and won’t be stopped so easily.

Tanahashi is interviewed. He didn’t like the way Shibata originally quit in 2004 to go freelance, then eventually MMA. But he was fine with his return in 2012. Fans starting to cheer him and him saying that he was starting to think pro wrestling was fun was the final straw for him. Those turn of events made the match more meaningful to him. He wanted to pin him with a small package to make it personal, having him there for four or even five seconds. The G1 match he was shocked by because people cheered for Shibata more, and that made him upset. When he lost, he felt like for the first time in ten years he couldn’t get back up. He questioned if these last ten years were for naught as Shibata boasted he had accomplished as much as Tanahashi has in the last ten years.

The match aired. This was given five stars here on this website. As for me, personally, I didn’t think it was at that level at all. I think this was a excellent, stiff, back and forth match. Just not at a five star level, however. Judging it based solely on the match itself, I didn’t think it was at that level. But in terms of telling a story, the story leading to it, the story during the match, and the post-match stuff after the match, it was just excellent. Commentary was great were as well, as they were on point with telling the story about how Shibata had left New Japan and it’s been eating Tanahashi away ever since he came back. Tanahashi manages to score a measure of revenge, hitting Shibata twice with the high fly flow to pin him. Real emotion after the match. Shibata gets to his feet as he and Tanahashi exchange words. Tanahashi puts out his hand and Shibata accepts to a huge pop. Tears stream down Tanahashi’s face as Tanahashi celebrates.

Tanahashi says that for now, he’s gotten his revenge for the G1 match. He can’t accept how Shibata quit, but he wonders how those ten years were for him, it must have been hard. He gets emotional when talking about what Shibata said after the match, with him saying Shibata told him “Thank you for protecting New Japan Pro Wrestling”. Tanahashi however felt he didn’t have the right to say it. There’s no need for him to say thanks, because it’s all about understanding each other. If he were to say one thing to Shibata, it would be…welcome back.

In his reflective interview, he felt it was his mission to bring it to the next level. This reminded him back to when they were young lions. He reiterates what Shibata said, which shook him emotionally- you don’t feel like that every day, he mentions. We all protected New Japan Pro Wrestling, it wasn’t just me. As for their relationship now, he doesn’t say much other than Shibata mentioned he always cries after a match no matter what the result. He will stay as he is, at the end of the day and he hopes Shibata stays the same too.

A fantastic episode of New Japan on AXS. This hour told a great story about the rivalry between Tanahashi and Shibata, and is worth watching alone for the post match interviews from Tanahashi.