Kushida def. Kassius Ohno
As chants of “Kushida” filled Full Sail Live, NXT’s highly touted Superstar embarked on an epic course to fortify the “hottest free agent” and “blockbuster signing” talks that trailed him inside the ropes. For Ohno, who methodically sported all black, the goal was simple and plain: turn out the lights on the acclaimed newcomer. Once the bell rang, the two explosive grapplers went for broke.
After dismissing Kushida’s handshake with a crude kick, Ohno went tit-for-tat, keeping pace and exchanging holds with the 12-year veteran in an evenly matched contest. After Kushida attempted a hip toss, Ohno countered with a leg drop that was dashed into a standing shooting star press, locking both Superstars into an incredible stalemate. After getting a feel of his opponent’s venerable in-ring IQ, Ohno offered a reconciliatory handshake to the former Japanese champion, but that was only so that he could find an opening to launch a vicious big boot right onto the nose of Kushida.
While the decorated MMA fighter-turned-Superstar did his best to fend off his The Knockout Artist’s mean streak, cutting him down with an enzuigiri and a beautiful springboard tomahawk, Ohno eventually unloaded a sit-out facebuster that left a battle scar on the nose of the formidable grappler. Ever the warrior, however, Kushida withstood the punishment, fought back and even downed his foe with an amazing springboard hurricanrana before mockingly grabbing his handshake from a dazed Ohno. He misstepped moments later when his hand-spring back elbow collided with a hammering forearm by Ohno. Though The Wrestling Genius appeared to have matters firmly in control when he revved up his engine for a big boot, Kushida met Ohno with a wind-up punch – a tribute to New York Yankees pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. Seconds later, he disarmed his foe with a running kick to the left arm before clamping the Hoverboard Lock onto Ohno’s limb to draw a tapout.
Kushida’s hard-fought win marked a telling message to not only Kassius Ohno, but the rest of the locker room: The future is here and now.