Wrestling is inherently goofy; I mean, it’s two grown men pretending to fight each other. Nothing about professional wrestling should be overtly serious or complex. This is why all of the best storylines are very simple tales of “I think I’m better than you and I want your title.” You can go all through history to see this: Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs Randy Savage, Ric Flair vs Dusty Rhodes, CM Punk vs John Cena. The same goes for what could possibly be the greatest match in this sport’s history: Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada.
The story behind this match is very simple: Omega won an opportunity at Okada’s IWGP World Heavyweight Championship by winning the annual G1 Tournament last summer. The match was set for Wrestle Kingdom 11 in January of this year. A very simple story, but it gets a bit more notoriety when you factor in Omega being the first foreigner in New Japan Pro Wrestling history to win the G1 and his promise to defend it all over America. Both men were at the top of their game coming in and with it being their first match together they had a lot to live up to.
The match starts very slow, some big spots here and there but it’s mostly the two feeling each other out. After a while the pace picks up big time and never lets out. Back body drops through tables, absolutely insane drop kicks, a couple of near One-Winged Angels, all up until Okada hits Omega with a spinning tombstone piledriver then immediately into his finishing move, the Rainmaker for the 3-count. Okada is the victor and still the IWGP Champion.
The thing about this match, which we can’t say about many in the modern era of wrestling, is that even though Omega lost he still won in a way. This match made Kenny. Both men came out of this match looking stronger than they did looking in. Okada was truly justified as the top guy of the promotion, and Omega came out looking like a true contender for that top spot. The match left both men as very easily the top 2 wrestlers in the world today, with zero close competition.
The match was so good that it made other fantastic matches this year look tame in comparison. Any other year John Cena vs AJ Styles probably would have been match of the year, but it had to compete with this masterpiece. It’s just on another level.
I’m hesitant to call it the greatest match ever just yet, as it’s still relatively fresh and has a lot of competition. On top of that, saying that to someone when matches like the aforementioned Savage vs Steamboat exist is blasphemy to some. I think this match needs more time to settle into a historical context and to be seen by more eyes, but I think it’s definitely earned its spot in the professional wrestling pantheon of great matches. Definitely check this match out.