With New Japan’s Dominion show coming up on Saturday, I’m really excited for the card. The main event is the biggest draw for me though – a 2 out of 3 falls match with no time limit between Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. They’ve had three great matches before, but I have to confess…I haven’t seen the third one that took place during the G1 Climax tournament last summer.
The first two matches were brilliant – the first, a narrow Okada win after Omega was unable to hit his One Winged Angel finisher and the second, a tense time limit draw where a rope break saved Okada from the One Winged Angel. So with the fourth match due on Saturday, I need to catch up on the third match.
Let’s get to it…
The stakes are high in this match – Omega needs the win to progress from the block to the G1 finals, while Okada can progress with a draw. The commentary team of Kevin Kelly, Don Callis and Rocky Romero do a great job of building up the importance of this match from the start. It’s something the main roster WWE shows lack – the announcers need to sell the magnitude of a match to you, that’s their job. It helps fans invest in matches. Not that Omega and Okada need any help – they come flying out the gates here, with hard-hitting strikes and fast counters. There’s no slow build up here, we get an Omega Snap Dragon suplex and Okada dropkicking Omega to the floor from the top turnbuckle in the first two minutes. Okada then follows with a cross body to Omega over the guard rail on the floor and a top rope elbow drop back in the ring. So far, this has been top notch!
All great matches need a story and the story of this match is apparent from the opening bell – this match has a thirty minute time limit and both men are looking to win, hence the frantic start. Their previous matches went 47 minutes and an hour, so both men realise that they need to act quick if they want the all important win. Omega takes control and slows the action by working Okada’s neck and back. Okada fights back, but his neck is hurt, affecting him during the match. The neck injury stops Okada using his Tombstone Piledriver, but Okada is able to block an Omega moonsault with his knees. I really like how this match is going back and forth…both men are equals and it’s impossible for one to take control. I think that’s great – it’s always fun to see even contests between two rivals, it leaves you guessing who’s going to win.
An Omega reverse hurricanrana to Okada on the floor (!) followed by a Snap Dragon suplex on the apron (!!) leads to a big near fall and the crowd reaction is great. They genuinely thought that was the end of the match. Okada rallies during a strike exchange, then turns a One Wing Angel into the Tombstone Piledriver, to another big crowd reaction. It’s great wrestling – I find myself get excited for the One Wing Angel attempts, just to see if Omega will finally hit his big move on Okada.
Another One Wing Angel attempt on the twenty minute mark leads to Okada’s Rainmaker finisher (a wrist clutch lariat) but Omega kicks out. The finisher exchanges here are flawless and the crowd are going crazy for them. Okada hits a series of Rainmakers, but Omega somehow survives and hits rolling German suplexes and another reverse hurricanarana. This gets a two count as does Croyt’s Wrath (electric chair into a German suplex) I love how the action ramps up in big Japanese matches, with wrestlers pulling out big move after big move to defeat the opponent. It really feels like there is something important on the line, that the match is worth the pain when wrestlers are pulling out all the stops and taking big risks to beat their opponent.
Finally…finally…Omega is able to hit the One Wing Angel for the win, after hitting the Rain Trigger (Like Okaka’s Rainmaker, but with a knee instead of a lariat). The roar from the crowd is great and the aftermath is superb – it feels like a knock out in a big boxing fight. This result feels like it matters, which is crucial for fans of any medium. Why would you invest time and effort in something that doesn’t feel like it matters? There is no danger of apathy here though – the crowd have loved this match…
Verdict – it’s a 5/5 from me. With the history associated with this match courtesy of the first two matches and the rapid fire, slick wrestling, Okada vs Omega III couldn’t really fail. I’m really glad I watched this match now as I’m really excited for Okada vs Omega IV on Saturday….and I have a feeling that it’s going to be even better than this match!