Recap from David Arthur:
Hiroshi Tanahashi and Giant Bernard (known to WWE fans currently as Tensai, and formerly as Prince Albert, Albert, and A-Train), face off here in a match during the 2008 G1-Climax Tournament.
It’s obvious by looking that Bernard has the size and power advantage in this match. Tanahashi foolishly tries to match power with him. When this doesn’t work, Tanahashi relies on quickness and leverage, playing cat and mouse with his much larger opponent. He brims with confidence, which seems to offend Bernard, so upon a clean rope break Bernard grabs Tanahashi and tosses him over the top rope to the floor, causing Tanahashi to tweak his knee. Tanahashi’s quickness works to his advantage as he takes control of the match with an Enziguri, followed by a headscissor that sends Bernard to the floor. This would be a short-lived shine for Tanahashi. Upon attempting a running apron dive, he is caught by Bernard and powerbombed onto the edge of the ring. A wrestling ring edge is just a support beam, either wood or steel, covered with the canvas and has no give whatsoever. If you look closely at the wrestling rings in NJPW, they have virtually no give when impacted, even in the center. Very stiff.
Bernard goes back into the ring, content to accept a count-out victory, but Tanahashi won’t give up and manages to crawl back in before the ref counts to 20 (Oh yeah, in Japan they count to 20 if the wrestlers are outside the ring). Bernard begins tossing Tanahashi around. Tanahashi tries to fight back, but to no avail. Bernard begins attacking his mid-section, eventually applying a bear hug on Tanahashi. Tanahashi eventually fights out of it and hits Bernard with a Sling Blade, but Bernard doesn’t even flinch, he gets up and tosses Tanahashi outside, who holds on to the ropes, “skins the cat,” back in and after a failed first attempt, hits a German Suplex on Bernard for a near pinfall. Tanahashi, on the attack, using his whole body weight as a weapon against Bernard, climbs the top turnbuckle. Bernard pulls him off, but Tanahashi escapes Bernard’s grasp and hits another Sling Blade. Tanahashi comes off the ropes but Bernard catches him and delivers the Baldo Bomb ( a two handed choke lift into a sit-out powerbomb).
Bernard splashes Tanahashi, and then does an Argentine Backbreaker (otherwise known as the Torture Rack) into a neckbreaker for a near pinfall. Bernard takes a moment to let the jeering fans know exactly how he thinks of them (not very highly at all), and gets rolled up by Tanahashi for a near fall. Immediately after this, Bernard lands a clubbing hit across Tanahashi, something he’s been trying, and failing, to do the entire match. Bernard drags Tanahashi near the corner, attempts a Vader Bomb middle-rope splash, but catches Tanahashi’s feet to his face on the way down. Tanahashi energetically hits the ropes and charges at Bernard. He may have had something dynamic in mind, but we’ll never know because he ran into a kick, and then Bernard proceeded to give him a sit-out, elevated powerbomb (or The Last Ride for you Undertaker fans), for the victory.
A good David vs. Goliath style match. Sadly I’ve never found the large, bald, tattooed fellow of many aliases to be particularly exciting, or interesting, to watch. But it takes ’two to tango,’ (says Satchmo), and Tanahashi turned out to be an excellent dance partner. Putting someone in a match with the right opponent can make all the difference in match’s quality. I myself possess no such rhythm, so I don’t dance. Take that however you wish.