The “Ace of the Universe” and “the Rainmaker” are coming to Ring of Honor. New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest stars not named Shinsuke Nakamura — Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada — are booked for four Ring of Honor shows in May.
Tanahashi and Okada will take part in Ring of Honor’s War of the Worlds on Tuesday, May 12, and Wednesday, May 13, at the 2300 Arena (aka the ECW Arena) in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Then, the NJPW stars will head to Canada for Global Wars on Friday, May 15, and Saturday, May 16, at the Ted Reeve Arena in Toronto. Tickets are available for all shows except May 13.
Okada, known as “the Rainmaker,” and Tanahashi, the “Ace of the Universe,” have a seemingly endless rivalry over the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. Tanahashi defeated Okada to retain the championship in the main event of January’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 show at the Tokyo Dome. (A.J. Styles later defeated Tanahashi for the title in February.) The Tanahashi-Okada feud reminds me of the Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair feud in the 1980s.
The charisma of Tanahashi and Okada transcends the language barrier for non-Japanese speaking fans like myself. After seeing Wrestle Kingdom, I subscribed to New Japan’s network. Tanahashi is viewed as the “John Cena of Japan.” He’s the odds-overcoming babyface, who, unlike Cena, gives love to the crowd and receives it back. Okada is maybe TNA Wrestling’s biggest booking mistake (the promotion made him the Green Hornet-esque sidekick of Samoa Joe).
No word yet on who Tanahashi and Okada will face. More New Japan stars are expected to be announced for the tour, so there’s hope that “the King of Strong Style” Shinsuke Nakamura will return to ROH.
Despite previous reports that ROH wouldn’t be bringing over New Japan’s top stars, it’s clear that ROH is bringing the best guys from the NJPW circuit.