Okada And Tanahashi To Challenge For IWGP Tag Titles At NJPW Anniversary Event

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Ross W Berman IV,Feb. 20, 2023 2:20 pm EST,787

Longtime rivals "The Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada and "The Ace" Hiroshi Tanahashi clashed once again in San Jose on Saturday. Okada bested his rival with The Rainmaker and then made an interesting proposition to Tanahashi.

Okada asked Tanahashi to team with him against IWGP Tag Team Champions Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI, and New Japan Pro-Wrestling has made the match official for the 51st Anniversary Show on March 6 at Ota City Gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan. Goto and YOSHI-HASHI — known as Bishamon — have been the tag champions since Wrestle Kingdom 17 when the 2022 World Tag League winners defeated former champions FTR in the Tokyo Dome.

Should Okada and Tanahashi win, Okada would be the first wrestler in NJPW history to hold both the World and Tag Team titles at the same time, and would also be the first title Okada has ever held that wasn't the IWGP World or Heavyweight Titles. Okada and Tanahashi have teamed numerous times in multi-man tag team matches, first teaming up as a "dream team" in 2019. Tanahashi has teamed up with fellow franchise stars in the past, holding the IWGP Tag Team Championship with Kota Ibushi as "Golden Ace" in 2020.

An interesting wrinkle in the match is that Okada is still in the faction CHAOS alongside Goto and YOSHI-HASHI, though the once-dominant group has essentially blended with the New Japan Main Unit faction over the past few years. While the competitors are friendly with each other, none of them are known for going easy on their opponents.