Despite the number of times these two have fought over the past 6 years (this being the 9th singles match), Okada and Tanahashi managed to have another great match. However, the unofficial "30 minute rule" was in full effect here and the beginning stretch of the match featured your typical NJPW main event padding. Even still, they found cool ways to introduce learned psychology, such as Tanahashi skinning the cat after being hit with the turnbuckle dropkick by Okada. Okada also tried to hit the tombstone multiple times but Tanahashi escaped each time.
I was hoping to see Okada be a bit more aggressive considering he was out to kill Tanahashi in pretty much every tag match leading up to this bout, but things didn't really get cooking until the 10 minute mark when he began to crank on the neck of Tanahashi. It was here that we began to see much more of a struggle, as each man knew what move was coming and would try everything in their power to escape. Okada's cockiness and disrespect towards Tanahashi would allow the Ace to mount his comebacks, such as a High Fly Flow to the outside. Okada was finally able to hit the tombstone on Tanahashi, and somehow both men were spent even though Tanahashi took the higher impact move.
The final 10 minutes was perhaps the most thrilling of any Okada title defense this year, with both men's hatred seeping through and Tanahashi returning Okada's disrespect. It was also interesting to see both men recover quickly from the other's signature moves. This wasn't just fighting spirit: it was both Okada and Tanahashi being battle-hardened from their prior matches together. They had taken so many dropkicks, slingblades, and suplexes that they no longer had the same effect they once had before. However, while Okada's focus had led him to victory at Wrestle Kingdom 10, it was his braggadocio at Wrestle Kingdom 9 that almost cost him this match. Having Tanahashi right where he wanted him, he instead chose to laugh and relish in the moment which allowed the Ace to fire back with strikes that nearly knocked the Rainmaker out. Still, Okada knew when to counter the High Fly Flow and looked to put Tanahashi away with the Rainmaker when we got one final callback. Tanahashi slapped Okada to escape the Rainmaker only for Okada to maintain wrist control, which won him the match at Wrestle Kingdom 10 and would become an instrumental part of his winning ways going forward. This time, Tanahashi was prepared and managed to do what no one else had: break wrist control. Tanahashi finally had the recipe to beat Okada but like his rival, who had been undone by his arrogance in the past, Tanahashi spent too much time playing to the crowd. Okada, desperate not to let Tanahashi surpass him again, grabbed his tights and pulled him in for the finishing blow.
Wow, I put down a lot more words than I expected. Even though I wrote three paragraphs gushing about this story, it wasn't a perfect match. The beginning was too padded and Okada seemed to sell exhaustion even though he had controlled most of the match simply to create more drama leading into the finishing stretch. That being said, this was an awesome main event match and a fitting way to close the book on this rivalry for good...I hope.