Once upon a time there were 3 rookies molded from the exact same clay to be the future of agree wrestling in Japan; they were Hiroshi Tanahashi, Shinsuke Nakamura, and also Katsuyori Shibata. In the early on 2000s new Japan was crumbling, early out in large part to some terrible creative choices make by founder Antonio Inoki and several various other backstage pressures within the promotion. Inoki want to take benefit of the substantial popularity that MMA, and would book some the his top stars right into shoot fights through world-class MMA fighters, which they would inevitably lose with rare exception, while at the same time bringing in battle aircraft to wrestle matches on brand-new Japan cards.

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Fans turned away in droves. Inoki was eventually outed indigenous the company he created, yet the damages had currently been done. In the very first year of rebuilding brand-new Japan, buyrates because that the annual Tokyo Dome show fell under 20,000 because that the an initial time. Tanahashi and Nakamura were mounted as the top stars that the promotion, but Shibata to walk away.

In that time, Hirooki Goto increased up with the ranks to it is in a mainstay in the midcard of brand-new Japan. Yet his career has actually personified the phrase “always the bridesmaid”, falling quick of true main occasion status and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Even a surprise victory in the 2008 G1 Climax, whereby he advanced to the finals end his own faction leader Shinsuke Nakamura, ultimately led come a loss at the hand of Hiroshi Tanahashi. Eight times he make the efforts his hand in matches for the human being title, and also eight times he come up short.

Shibata changed to new Japan in 2012, after working for competitor promotions and attempting an eventually lackluster job in MMA. Since his return, he and Goto have been attached on numerous occasions, delivering on a rivalry over numerous years the led to match after match, including a confrontation in ~ Wrestle Kingdom 8 – the two also ran together a tag team, winning the IWGP titles, however losing castle in your very first defense.

Shibata, while ending up being one that the finest wrestlers in the world and also giving his human body to brand-new Japan in classic matches, has never reached the heights the his rookie counterparts Tanahashi and also Nakamura that continued to be behind v the poor times. The has produced in the a lone wolf persona, angry and also bitter, the in some ways transcends his character into real people drama between a world-class star the should have been a king, and also the promotion never ever quite may be to forgive him for leaving when they necessary him most. And also Goto has continued his quest to with the top, also making it come the finals that the 2016 G1 Climax, but came up short once again, this time come Kenny Omega.

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In a lot of of methods this complement represents a struggle for both men, who aspire come be at the optimal of brand-new Japan, however are held back by your own an individual demons. 2 warriors, chained down by one another, looking no hope to melted their past. Shibata, that should have been people champion and seen in the same course as today’s contemporary legends, has been required to elevate a second-rate title against aging veterans spring to store their surname relevant. Goto, so desperate to reach that platform the he join the faction that a male who has actually bested him at every turn, the best in rings today, Kazuchika Okada.