Thank you for doing one of these threads again! They are a tremendous resource.
I am very surprised to see such universal support for Tanahashi and Naito. As far as the "self conscious epic" goes that match seemed to tick far more boxes than Okada-Omega. In fact, I thought that Tanahashi/Naito pretty much embodied the big NJPW style, where as Omega-Okada was far more diversified -- at least to my eyes. I have a lot of thoughts coming up on these matches, but for now.
YES - Hiromu Takahashi vs. KUSHIDA NJPW 01/04: Absolutely amazing stuff here. I don't mind go-go-go type matches (and this wasn't that), but for any match to do well in my book it must have featured some kind of memorable moment which fits into the broader match structure. This match had that, with the armbar on the floor legitimately taking my breath away -- I may have stopped breathing for a good 4 or 5 seconds. Everything felt crisp, and it was an undoubted star making performance. This is my second favourite match of the year thus far. **** 3/4
YES - Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega NJPW 01/04: I think that the 6-star treatment that this match observed is doing it a dis-service. It was an outstanding match. Would I have liked to have seen more from the back work? Sure. Was there superfluous melo-drama? Yes. Was it the best match ever? No, at least not for me as a viewer -- the term isn't well defined for me anyway. Was the match great? Most certainly. And moreover was it 5-stars? I would say so, yes.
YES - Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hirooki Goto NJPW 01/04: When Shibata is on he is one of my favourite wrestlers in the world. When Shibata is off he approaches self-parody. He teetered on the line between the two in this match, as he often does with Goto, but there was a lot to love here. For one, they cut down on head-on-head contact, which can only be a positive. At the same time, however, they substitute the brutal and self-destructive headbutt spots with tamer ones to the chest and neck which worked just as well, if not better. Wonderful stuff here.
NO - John Cena vs. AJ Styles WWE 01/29: I know that this match hasn't been nominated yet, and so I don't quite know if I can say "no" on it, but I thought that I would put this here as someone who has honestly tried, and subsequently failed time after time to see the appeal of this match-up. Cena as Donkey Kong is wonderful stuff, but since the Owens feud he has done very little for me, unfortunately. Cena was great for well over a decade, not because he was good at working other people's styles, but because (in part) he was an elite base for most anyone. He has lost that with me, unfortunately. Feel free to discount this 'no' vote!