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Tony Khan Gives Us More Puro Bliss with Danielson, Okada on AEW Dynamaite

8 months ago Kazuchika Okada at Rumble on 44th St. in New York, an event featuring several AEW talents. Photo by Thom Fain.
Kazuchika Okada Rainmaker pose Rumble

Kazuchika Okada at Rumble on 44th St. in New York, an event featuring several AEW talents. Photo by Thom Fain.

Tony Khan Gives Us More Puro Bliss with Danielson, Okada on AEW Dynamaite

Bryan Danielson and Kazuchika Okada Mix It Up on AEW Dynamite Following Broken Arm Incident

By: Thom Fain

No real professional wrestling fan made any bones about the lack of apparent build when it came time for the October 25th edition of AEW Dynamite. Viewers saw Bryan Danielson and Kazuchika Okada go toe-to-toe for just the second time ever, yet another effort to give fans their cake amidst a yearslong effort by Tony Khan to build relationships within Japan.

Recently, Danielson said in an interview with Sports Nightly that his arm will never be 100% again after it was broken by Okada back in June. This time he had a tag partner in Claudio Castagnoli, while Okada teamed with AEW Intercontinental Champ Orange Cassidy.

The two units mixed it up in a match full of brilliant power moves, rapid reversals, technical wrestling and theatrics that gave it the flavor of a proper AEW match. Khan’s company has a recognizable formula in its weekly events, distinct from puroresu and from its American rival WWE, while AEW concludes its fifth full year in existence.

“The Rainmaker” is, of course, back in the States ahead of this weekend’s Fighting Spirit Unleashed in Las Vegas being promoted by New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Ever the bridge between our two continents, Rocky Romero appeared in the ring at Okada’s side after Castagnoli ended the match with a European Uppercut and pinfall victory over Okada’s tag-team partner (and part-time CHAOS member) Orange Cassidy. Opposite of CHAOS stood the Blackpool Combat Club, concerned over the wear and tear Danielson took in the bout.

In question was Danielson’s health yet again, as he appeared to be writhing in pain with members of the opposing factions circling the ring, indicating a continued program rather than a one-off between Danielson and Okada and their respective factions.

It was merely a dream a few summers ago to think Okada might battle it out live on American TV with Danielson – after all, Danielson was firmly in his eco-warrior phase while carrying an ugly hemp title in the WWE as then-NJPW President Harold Meij spurned a potential partnership with AEW after a fallout with The Elite.

“He just didn’t get it,” Chris Jericho explained in our exclusive interview last Fall.

In June, a dream match for Japanese wrestling fans worldwide took place when “American Dragon” took on Okada at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2023 in a match that saw Danielson work brilliantly with “The Rainmaker” to the bitter end – even after suffering his broken arm. Regardless of the major injury hobbling the Dragon and hampering the outcome of the match, the pair were were rewarded ****¾ by Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Dave Meltzer.

Most puroresu fans would love to see Danielson lace ’em up in a Japanese ring, but that prospect has become highly unlikely due to his injury history and the advanced stage of his career.

“I’d love to be able to go back to Japan, but I just don’t know if that’s a realistic possibility for me at this point in my career,” Danielson recently told Sports Illustrated. “I’ve always wanted to do the G1, but now that’s starting to fade. At this point in my life, it wouldn’t make sense.”

Forbidden Door 2023 also played host to another unforgettable moment when Satoshi Kojima – on the ballot alongside Hiroyoshi Tenzan (as part of TenCozy) for this year’s WON Hall of Fame awards – went head-to-head with CM Punk, in what was likely Punk’s final match in any Japanese promoted event.

Although Punk’s theatrics rob us all of the evergreen dream match between him and KENTA, it looks like the relationship between AEW and NJPW remains strong, with several potential storylines capable of forming out of the strengthening partnership.

Q&A with President Takami Ohbari, on NJPW Strong and post-pandemic NJPW

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