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Imp’s NJPW Adventure
Tanahashi vs Okada Episode VIII: The Last Rainmaker
“The force does not belong to the Jedi. To say if the Jedi dies, the light dies, is vanity.”
Pretty much all, if not most, of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s stories burn slowly. In a way somewhat echoing reality with how relationships change and evolve over time. And by over time I mean years, and by years sometimes I mean over the course of a wrestler’s entire career.
The tale of Kazuchika Okada and The Rainmaker is one such career long story. From a cocky kid who knows just how damn good he is, to one of the most legitimately legendary championship runs in the history of pro wrestling.
His moniker became synonymous with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. You think of that title, you think of The Rainmaker. However, when being the champion and The Rainmaker became one and the same, if one dies what happens to the other? Once Okada lost that championship, what was he? What does the ‘Rainmaker’ name even represent any more?
The whole thing with The Last Jedi was that the Jedi had to die so something better could be born from it. That is what we’ve been seeing these past few months, the killing of The Rainmaker. Clinging to the past isn’t ever going to restore things to their former glory, but you can learn from them and move on, arising as something greater.
Losing to Tanahashi was one of the final pieces, an almost ultimate humbling of The Rainmaker. When he lost his title he lost his identity, but what foundation was The Rainmaker built on if not being better than Tanahashi? Their rivalry and Okada’s triumph over The Ace was about as integral to the character as you could get.
Okada is no longer the leader of Chaos, nor does he have the protection of the head booker by his side. With losing the championship Okada lost his identity, he went on a losing streak and it took all the way to his final G1 match to even appear like his former self.
However now time has passed, The Rainmaker is romanticised, deified. Okada can’t become what he never was in the first place. When you strip away the myth and look at his run, The Rainmaker itself was nothing more than a gimmick. Hell, by the last year of his reign he had to do more and more for the Rainmaker Clothesline itself to end a match.
Okada didn’t become champion because he was The Rainmaker, in all likelihood we won’t return to the top of the mountain before he realises that. But will he have that realisation without truly hitting the bottom? Is Okada still clinging to what made The Rainmaker great? When in reality it was nothing but a name.
For the first time in half a decade Okada isn’t in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. More likely than not, on that night he is going to be facing the very man Gedo is replacing him with: The ‘New’ Rainmaker, so to speak. Maybe, just maybe, officially being beaten and replaced by The Switchblade will force Okada to climb back to the top and realise he never needed Gedo or The Rainmaker all along.
Dammit Jay, “You were supposed to be the chosen one!”
Chaos are the heroes of the past, and even though the world has moved on Gedo isn’t ready to let The Rainmaker die. If not a direct copy, the man accompanying Jay White certainly carries on its essence. The Rainmaker lives on, but in Okada’s place is the form of The Switchblade.
Gedo isn’t going to let the light of The Rainmaker fade away. He truly believes that the current success of NJPW, the prestige of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the rise of The Rainmaker are one and the same. If The Rainmaker dies, the light dies.
Just like with The Rainmaker, The Switchblade will be under the guide of Gedo. In all likelihood paired with a quick rise to the top and sudden stop for Omega’s IWGP Championship reign. Gedo has found his new Ace, but the most interesting thing to me is so have many others. From former Ace Tanahashi, to Okada himself, to Omega the champion of the West, to Tetsuya Naito with LIJ, there are many claims to the throne.
Okada is going to have a mountain to climb in the form of Jay White, but is he even capable of being the shining light? As if suddenly finding that special something will give him the power to take on the whole Gedo Order? He isn’t a supernaturally gifted entity, he’s just a damn incredible wrestler.
All this brings me to one question: what happens to Chaos?
Chaos wasn’t Gedo’s thing, it was Nakamura’s and then Okada’s. With Jay White’s turn, do the likes of Goto, Ishii and Yano all switch to the dark side? Or will they stay with Okada as Jay White strikes a completely new path/allegiance of his own?
Ultimately, Okada will have to prove that his light won’t die with The Rainmaker. But that depends, if Chaos really are the heroes of the past, is Okada even the one that’s meant to save us? Will bringing back Okada in fact help anything if the person we actually need should be a little more… tranquilo?
And let’s not cast aside the possibility that Jay White is killing the Rainmaker so we can all move on for the greater good, we just can’t see it yet.
Side note: YOSHI-HASHI proved how dangerous a thing it is to attempt the Titus O’Neil. Running down to the ring, tripping, flying head first into the side of the ring and then emerging dripping with blood as he immediately fails in his attempt to aid Okada and/or Tanahashi… is this what would have happened if Jar Jar Binks had legit tried to help?
He legit went to hospital and everything.
P.S. Huge thanks to SirSam whose generous rambles were so useful part of them have been used in two paragraphs of this. Oh and credit to him for the title too, all mine were crap puns. Damn you, British humour.
Email Imp – [email protected]
Thursdays on LOP Radio Imp covers the Mae Young Classic, NXT and 205 Live. Listen to the latest episode here:
Links to Imp’s latest columns:
Imp’s Worst Case Scenarios for WWE Hell In A Cell
Imp’s Adventure: ALL IN and the List of Pointless Comparisons
Imp’s WWE Adventure: Are You Wrong To Cheer Becky Lynch?
Imp’s WWE Adventure: SummerSlam and Storytelling over Wrestling
Imp’s WWE Adventure: Lesnar vs Reigns IV: Down As Smooth As A Dog On A Slide
Imp’s NJPW Adventure: NO ROPE EXPLOSIVE BARBED WIRE DEATHMATCH
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