The Rainmaker is arguably one of the simplest finishers in pro wrestling. Grabbing an opponent by the wrist from behind their back, Kazuchika Okada then spins his foe out to face him before ripcording them forwards whilst simultaneously connecting with a lariat. It’s as easy as that. So why is it so popular amongst NJPW fans? Why would something so elementary be considered one of the best finishers out there?
It’s a move pretty much any wrestler could do. It doesn’t involve a 630 spin or a serious display of strength. It doesn’t come from ‘outta nowhere’ to excite a crowd. But the biggest advantage The Rainmaker does have isn’t in fact how the move is done, but how the move is countered.
The simple set-up of this ripcord lariat makes for the perfect opportunity for opponents to pull out a beautiful counter in a whole variety of ways. When Okada sets up for the final blow, fans are almost hoping it doesn’t land just to see what kind of strike, hold or slam it could be turned into.
Members of the New Japan roster have been finding stunning ways to combat Okada’s finisher for many years now, and I believe the following are the best we’ve been gifted so far. Here are the Top 15 Rainmaker Counters.
Remember, kids, teamwork can overcome any problem, even a really stiff lariat from a 6’3 handsome Japanese champion, as proven by Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata.
The move that destroys Kevin Kelly’s lungs on a regular basis may not have the best transition from a Rainmaker counter, but by god is the maneuver itself beautiful to watch. How a six foot heavyweight can rotate around that smoothly is staggering.
13. EVERYTHING IS EVIL
EVIL picked up the biggest win of his career when he got a shocking victory over Kazuchika Okada in the 2017 G1 Climax tournament, and it was the IWGP Heavyweight Champion himself that somewhat helped him to do it. It just so happens that when Okada pulled in EVIL for The Rainmaker, it created the perfect set-up for the LIJ member’s finishing move, EVERYTHING IS EVIL.
This is one of the least flashy counters featured on the list, but for how seamlessly this move can be applied straight from The Rainmaker, it is a superb counter.
Nobody hits a knee strike quite like Kenny Omega, and nobody has had battles with Okada quite like him as well.
11. Spanish Fly
Just Will Ospreay doing Will Ospreay things.
10. Stay Dry with an Umbrella
What’s the best way of stopping a Rainmaker? Well, an umbrella is a certain way of keeping you dry from a shower of pain sourced from that lariat. It didn’t take long for Marty Scurll to bust this one out as he used it during his first ever tour with New Japan: clearly the umbrella-wielding villain had been planning this strategy out for a while. As far as unique counters go, this definitely has to be up near the top.
Before Okada established his lariat as one of the best in the world, our glorious leader of Bread Club was striking people’s heads off for many years, and by god can he still throw a glorious strike to the skull.
8. Big Ol’ Head
Tomohiro Ishii is basically a fridge on legs. Getting hit with that big, rock-like head of his is enough to stop anyone trying to hit any move, and when The Stone Pitbull throws in a stiff lariat afterwards for good measure, you’ve got no chance.
7. Murder Grandpa Leglock
For somebody in his 50’s, Minoru Suzuki is insanely smooth in the ring. Just look at how quickly he counters this Rainmaker and turns it into a textbook rolling leglock. This is a legend that turns the practice of torturing people into an artform.
6. Tomohiro Toss
The Stone Pitbull has become a master of countering The Rainmaker. Known for having great matches with practically everyone, expectations were high when he went up against Okada during the 2019 New Japan Cup, which is when he busted out this gorgeous hip toss transitioned into an armbar. Tomohiro Ishii, you are a gift to professional wrestling.
Now, this may actually be the most iconic counter of The Rainmaker to date, and it wasn’t even intentional. Kenny Omega was so exhausted from the legendary beating inflicted on him by Kazuchika Okada back at Dominion 2017 that when he was spun around for a finishing blow, his body gave way to the punishment he received, collapsing to his knees before the lariat could strike, avoiding Okada’s greatest weapon in the process. As far as storytelling goes, this is easily the best on the list.
4. Chaotic Powerbomb
Only someone as mad as Will Ospreay could conjure up a counter like this. It really shouldn’t work, it shouldn’t be anywhere near as smooth as it is, but somehow these two Chaos members pulled out an absolute beauty of reversal.
Here’s a rule about pro wrestling fans: reverse a finisher with a finisher, and we will lose our minds. Another rule about pro wrestling fans: deprive us of Okada’s thighs for six months, and we will go absolutely crazy when they’re finally revealed once again. The only time fans won’t go wild at a finisher being reversed with a finisher though is when it spoils Okada’s great thigh reveal. Sadly for the crowd in Tokyo on January 4th 2019, that’s exactly what happened when Jay White hit a Bladerunner in beautiful fashion out of nowhere for a shockingly quick victory.
That may just be the greatest uranage I have ever seen. Jesus Christ.
Shinsuke Nakamura is a king when it comes to counters, in fact I even made an entire list in tribute to them, and of all the Rainmaker reversals we’ve seen over the years as well as the masterful ways Shinsuke has avoided maneuvers, this has got to be my favourite of both. The way The King of Strong Style just wraps his body around Okada’s limbs in one quick motion is beautiful to watch, and will amaze me every time I see it. What’s more, this counter gets bonus points as it marks the first and still the only time that Kazuchika Okada has ever submitted since returning to New Japan back in 2012.
The Rainmaker is one of the best finishers out there in wrestling today purely because of all of the wonderful ways it can be countered. When a move provides us with so many reversal variations as great as the ones featured in this list, it’s almost a disappointment when it actually connects.
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