KUSHIDA is leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling. With the Ace of NJPW’s Junior Division seemingly headed to WWE, it’s time to look at some of his greatest matches, for anybody that hasn’t seen much of The Time Splitter inside the ring, or for those that just want to go back and re-watch some fantastic wrestling. These are my 10 Best KUSHIDA Matches.
I’ve decided to limit my choices to only one match for each opponent, but this doesn’t mean he didn’t have multiple great bouts with everyone on this list. Also, I’ve avoided multi-man matches that are without question great to watch, yet don’t really show off what KUSHIDA can do.
10. Vs. Titan – ROH War of the Worlds UK 2017
During his reign as ROH World Television Champion, KUSHIDA went overseas to the UK to defend his title against CMLL’s Titan. Their match was a fast-paced thrill ride filled with well-timed spots, good pacing, and plenty of exciting action. This match shows just how well KUSHIDA can keep up with quick, high-flying wrestlers whilst also displaying his technical ability. It may not be one of his more well-known bouts, but it is certainly worth your time.
9. Vs. Taiji Ishimori – Super J Cup 2016
Prior to their match at Wrestle Kingdom 13, KUSHIDA did actually have another match back in 2016 against Taiji Ishimori, long before he joined the ranks of Bullet Club. The better of their two bouts (in my opinion anyway) starts off with KUSHIDA trying to control and ground his smaller opponent, which in the end builds into an exciting, fluid brawl full of fire. As you can tell by this Super J Cup match, New Japan’s junior division will be in good hands once KUSHIDA leaves for the other side of the world.
8. Vs. Volador Jr. – BOSJ 2017
Volador Jr. is one of the quickest, most fluid and just generally ridiculous wrestlers you will ever see. At times in this match his body his hard to even follow as he blurs across the ring. Full of fantastic sequences, some gorgeous rolling headlocks, and lightning speed, this Best of Super Junior clash will instantly make you a fan of both men involved.
7. Vs. Zack Sabre Jr – Rev Pro Epic Encounter 2017
KUSHIDA and Zack Sabre Jr. are practically made to wrestle each other. If you love technical wrestling, you need to check this one out. I appreciate this won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but if you enjoy almost half an hour of two supremely talented mat wizards trying to out wrestle each other, sprinkled in with some of Zack’s trademark cockiness, then you can’t miss this.
If you don’t have a subscription to NJPW World or Rev Pro OnDemand (this match is available on both), these two did have another great bout together during the Pro Wrestling World Cup tournament, which is free to watch on YouTube, as well as on the World of Pro Wrestling television show, yet out of the three, this 2017 encounter is definitely the superior.
6. W/ Alex Shelley vs. The Young Bucks – Dominion 2014
Prior to becoming the ace of NJPW’s Junior Heavyweight division, KUSHIDA was one half of the popular and innovative team, The Time Splitters, alongside Alex Shelley. Arguably their best match as a duo came against The Young Bucks in 2014, which was full of fast-paced junior heavyweight action, gorgeous double team moves, good heel work from Matt and Nick, and as you’d expect, a load of superkicks.
If KUSHIDA ever ends up in a tag team in WWE, it’s safe to say he will thrive if history is any indication.
5. Vs. Kenny Omega: Wrestle Kingdom 10
One night before Kenny Omega attacked AJ Styles, joined the NJPW heavyweight division, and became leader of Bullet Club, he put on one hell of a match against KUSHIDA for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
With an incredibly fast pace throughout, this is what you would expect from a match between two of the best ever junior wrestlers. Perhaps the most GIF-fable moment in this fight was when Kenny Omega moonsaulted off a guardrail with a trashcan in his hands, and landed on top of KUSHIDA, sandwiching the trash can between them. If you want something that is lightning fast at all times with plenty of moments that will make you wince at how painful they look, this is the one for you.
Also, any match that begins with Taguchi dressed as Doc Brown from Back to the Future is automatically one of my favourites.
4. Vs. Hiromu Takahashi – Dominion 2017
It’s unfortunate that this fantastic bout happened to take place on the same card as what many people consider to be one of the greatest matches of all time: the 60-minute time limit draw between Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada. That main event epic overshadowed this IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship match, yet that doesn’t take away from how fantastic it is to watch back.
In this war, you will see a different side to KUSHIDA than you will in any of the other featured matches on this list. At this time in 2017, Hiromu Takahashi was inside the head of KUSHIDA. In their last singles match prior to this, Hiromu managed to put away KUSHIDA in less than two minutes, so coming into this one, the challenger was desperate for victory. KUSHIDA unleashed a level of violence rarely seen from The Time Splitter, resulting in a crazy, exciting brawl from bell to bell.
3. Vs. Ricochet – BOSJ 2014 Finals
If you want to see how KUSHIDA handles a big match situation, just watch this. This BOSJ finals match builds in excitement and tension from start to finish, with the scorching hot crowd in attendance split with who to cheer for. As you would expect, Ricochet brings his insane athleticism, speed and ridiculous flips, whilst KUSHIDA keeps up with that quickness and tries to ground his high flying foe.
If the sequences in the final few minutes of this bout don’t have you on the edge of your seat, you need to check your pulse. A masterpiece of junior heavyweight wrestling.
2. Vs. Will Ospreay – BOSJ Finals 2017
KUSHIDA is somebody that has consistently brilliant matches, but it seems as though whenever he has one of these in-ring epics, somebody else later on in the show overshadows his brilliance. We’ve seen it already on this list, mainly at Dominion 2017, but whenever he has reached the Best of the Super Junior Finals in his career, KUSHIDA is given the main-event spotlight to show exactly what he can do, and he certainly delivered in 2017.
The Time Splitter and the 2016 winner of this prestigious tournament, Will Ospreay, began the match slowly, trading technical holds, but then built to the crazy, high-flying, ridiculously fast brawl they are well-known for. The athleticism, stamina and mental and physical toughness shown throughout is outstanding. It’s the type of brawl where even you’ll be in pain just from watching because of how relentless it is. By the end of the night, KUSHIDA stood tall, and the two men earned themselves five stars from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Wrestle Kingdom 12 Four Way
Vs. Jay Lethal – ROH Best in the World 2018
w/ ACH and Matt Sydal vs. The Elite – ROH 14th Anniversary
W/ Alex Shelley vs. Prince Devitt and Rysuke Taguchi – Invasion Attack 2013
W/ Alex Shelley vs. ReDragon – Destruction in Kobe 2015
Vs. SHO – BOSJ 2018
Vs. Rysuke Taguchi – BOSJ 2017
1. Vs. Kyle O’Reilly – BOSJ 2015
This is the match that got a lot of people talking about both KUSHIDA and Kyle O’Reilly – two men with similar styles and undeniable chemistry with one another. If you want to know just how good either man is inside the ring, just watch this. Perfect mat wrestling, a compelling and exhilarating brawl to the finish, and exactly what you could want from a technical wrestling masterpiece.
If WWE wants to show everybody just how good KUSHIDA really is, just put him in the ring with O’Reilly.
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