Dave Meltzer has awarded a recent New Japan Pro Wrestling main event five-and-a-half stars, the first bout to surpass his traditional five star rating system in 2018, and the first since Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito’s G1 Climax final last year.
The bout was the highly-anticipated IWGP Heavyweight Championship singles match between reigning champion Kazuchika Okada and long-time rival Hiroshi Tanahashi. After a back-and-forth contest lasting almost 35 minutes, Okada pinned the challenger with a Rainmaker to retain the title, and break the all-time record for consecutive IWGP Heavyweight Championship defences.
Meltzer described the bout as ‘one of the best storytelling and psychological matches you’ll ever see’, which explains his decision to rate it higher than his traditional five star system.
Several New Japan matches in 2017 also surpassed a five star rating. The previously mentioned Omega vs. Naito bout earned 5.75, while all three Okada vs. Omega classics received a minimum of six stars (with the middle bout at Dominion actually receiving 6.25).
Meltzer awarded ten matches a minimum of five stars last year, a number which could well be eclipsed in 2018. Here’s a complete list of all matches to receive a five star rating (or more) this year so far.
Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12
Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs. Johnny Gargano – NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia
Golden Lovers vs. The Young Bucks – NJPW Strong Style Evolved
Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll – NJPW Sakura Genesis
Adam Cole vs. EC3 vs. Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream vs. Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan – NXT TakeOver: New Orleans
Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa – NXT TakeOver: New Orleans
Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – NJPW Wrestling Dontaku (Night 2)