Title: Kenny Omega Is Trying to Make Pro Wrestling Bigger and Better Than Ever
Date: December 29, 2017
Original Source: Vice
Synopsis: For my latest at Vice, I wrote about New Japan star Kenny Omega, his dream match with Chris Jericho, and how he’s trying to put the company’s global expansion on his back.
Kenny Omega lifted Tetsuya Naito up on his shoulders, looking to hit his finisher, the One-Winged Angel. It’s the most protected move in wrestling, and if Omega could hit it, the G1 Climax—and a title shot against Kazuchika Okada in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom for a second year in a row—would be his. Naito slipped down Omega’s back, hooked his head, and delivered his Destino reverse DDT, without the somersault. It would take two more Destinos for Naito to put Omega away, finishing a tremendous G1 tournament and a brutal, hard-hitting final that top wrestling critic Dave Meltzer gave 5.75 stars, the fifth-highest rated match ever.
This was Naito’s second G1 victory, and the near culmination of a five-year story that saw him become the most layered and nuanced character in New Japan, a man fueled entirely by bitterness at having lost this same main event respect in 2013. Naito had won the G1 and a title match with Okada that year, too, only for New Japan fans to vote that Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi would be Wrestle Kingdom 8’s main event, setting Naito down a path that included a long stop in Mexico, Los Ingobernables de Japon, and a half-decade redemption arc that once again has him fighting for the title on Japan’s biggest stage.
Things were less clear for Omega, who had lost in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 11 a few months prior in an unprecedented six-star match with Okada. The series between the two stood at 1-1-1—they’d fought to a 60-minute draw in June (6.25 stars, the highest-rated Meltzer match of all time), with Omega finally getting his victory during the G1 tournament (6 stars again, giving the pair three of the four best matches ever by Meltzer’s standard)—and if it wasn’t an attempt to melt Meltzer’s rating system with Okada once more, Omega wouldn’t be in the event’s biggest match.
Or so it seemed.
Continue reading at Vice.