I was born too late to discover the earth and too soon to explore space, but I was born in time to experience the best wrestling and story of all time. Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada had the best match in history at Dominion on 9th June and I fear that wrestling has peaked. Good luck rating that one Meltzer. Allow me to gush over the greatest wrestling story ever told.
Kenny Omega is a foreigner in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Although he is Canadian he has been living and wrestling in Japan for a number of years now and can even speak the language. Starting off as a junior in NJPW, he worked his way up to a heavyweight which doesn’t happen very often. It can be difficult to break the perception that you are a smaller guy once you are in that division, but Kenny managed it. Fans have watched Kenny grow in NJPW, from holding the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. He has shown that hard work pays off.
Kazuchika Okada, the Rainmaker, is the golden boy of NJPW. At the age of 30 he has already cemented himself as arguably the best champion in history. Even though he is Japanese he has helped the company’s expansion in the West as his work in the squared circle transcends language. For Okada, wrestling seems to come easy, it’s natural. Watching him in the ring, he makes everything look effortless, he’s just that good.
In Omega we have a foreign hard worker, who has fought for everything on the other side of the world to his birth. In Okada we have raw-talent that was hand picked for greatness.
On August 14th 2016, Kenny Omega became the first non-Japanese winner of the G1 Climax in history, which earned him the right to challenge the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11 on January 4th 2017. At WK11, Omega was defeated by Okada, but in doing so the pair broke the Dave Meltzer 5 star rating system and earned the first 6 star rating in history, in a match that many considered to be the best of all time. During the contest, Kenny never hit his finisher, the One Winged Angel, leaving fans wondering if he did hit it, could he dethrone Okada?
Fast forward to Dominion on 11th June 2017 and it was again Okada vs Omega for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. It was unfathomable that they could top their WK11 match 6 months earlier. The match ended in a 60 minute time limit draw and broke another record as Dave Meltzer awarded the match 6¼ stars, making it a better match than their previous encounter, according to Meltzer. Again, Omega could not hit the One Winged Angel. What if…
Having already faced Okada twice, Omega’s best hope at getting to the title again was the G1 Climax 27 in 2017. During the tournament, Kenny would finally pick up a victory over Okada, in a non-title block match, by hitting the One Winged Angel. Kenny could beat Okada with his finisher! We already knew that these 2 wrestlers were on a planet of their own, but it was something special when they competed against each other as they again earned 6 stars from Meltzer. The score was set at 1 win, 1 draw and 1 loss each. This pivotal victory meant Kenny would make the finals of the tournament. One more victory and he would be able to challenge Okada again. However Kenny would go on to lose the finals of the G1 Climax to Tetsuya Naito, leaving him without a path to challenge the IWGP Champion.
The 2 would go their own ways for 9 months; Omega would become the inaugural IWGP US Champion, defend the title against Chris Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 12 and be reunited with his long time friend Ibushi as The Golden Lovers. Okada would keep the title firmly with him as he made history holding the championship for a record-breaking 720 days and successfully defended the title a record 12 times along the way, making him the greatest champion of all time.
At Wrestling Dontaku, May 4th 2018, Okada called out Omega and wanted to compete against him again, to settle the score currently sat at 1-1-1. Omega accepted the challenge and the stage was set for a 2 out of 3 falls match with no time limit at Dominion, the same show and venue that ended in a 60 minute draw the year prior.
3 matches later, almost 2 years in the making and after a match that went on for over an hour; Kenny Omega dethroned the Rainmaker. On 9th June, Kenny Omega became the IWGP Heavyweight Champion for the first time in his career. A contest that; had callbacks to all 3 of their previous matches; a Styles-Clash in recognition of the last foreign IWGP Champion AJ Styles; and all of the heart in the world from Kenny. Putting such a match and moment into words is difficult; it just felt right; To the point I cried with happiness during the post match celebration as Kenny got to take it all in with his friends The Young Bucks & Kota Ibushi. Sure, I’ve cried once or twice during a movie, but I don’t think I’ve ever cried tears of joy. I won’t attempt to detail the match, as there are no words that can do such an extraordinary feat justice. If you’re a wrestling fan, you owe it to yourself to go and enjoy the spectacle.
Thank you Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega and NJPW for providing the greatest wrestling story ever told.
– Ciarán Hayward