It’s been a month since Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada set the wrestling world ablaze with their incredible match at Wrestle Kingdom 11. Instead of doing a review while I was still digesting the match, I decided to wait. Dave Meltzer gave the match a “six star” rating, and some writers had even higher praise for the bout. There’s no question that the match was phenomenal, but a full month later, is it still the best match anyone had ever seen? Only one way to find out.
Revisiting Omega vs. Okada
Outside The Ring
Outside the ring, it’s impossible to overstate what this match has done to the wrestling world. Rumors regarding Omega’s status with New Japan Pro Wrestling and the Royal Rumble ran wild. How wild? John Cena was posting pictures of Kenny Omega on Instagram. Seth Rollins was asked about who he’d like to see in the Royal Rumble, and he mentioned Omega. ProWrestlingTees.com even said that Omega’s t-shirts would be pulled from the website if Kenny Omega signed with WWE.
There’s a stygma that “whatever happens outside the WWE doesn’t matter”, but very much like when Matt Hardy debuted his broken brilliance, the mainstream wrestling audience had to acknowledge what Omega and Okada accomplished. Kevin Owens rated his interaction with zoo animals “six stars”, and reportedly Vince McMahon wanted to make sure that the WrestleMania main event was equal or better to Wrestle Kingdom 11. Is anyone talking about what happened at RoadBlock or TLC months later? No, but they are still talking about the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 11.
The Match Itself
The match itself was a little under an hour long. The biggest criticism of this match was that it started a bit too slow. This is a mostly western opinion though, as Omega himself the match had a very loose time-limit. People like Bully Ray have said this match lacked psychology, which is hilarious because the first five minutes of the match was spent exchanging headlocks, armdrags, and rest holds.
Seven minutes into the match, Omega went for his finisher, the One-Winged Angel for the first time. Okada reversed it, and nearly hit his own finisher, the Rainmaker. Omega reversed the rainmaker by spitting in Okada’s face.
Ten Minutes In
At this point, we revisit Bully Ray’s “no psychology” quote. Ten minutes into the match, and we’ve seen a slow build that didn’t see a single false-finish, but did see two reversed finishers, and Omega acting heelish. Too bad there wasn’t a table spot, eh Bubba?
Omega retreated out of the ring, and hid next to his teammates, the Young Bucks, Nick and Matt Jackson. Omega teased getting back into the fray, but eventually Okada snapped and chased his opponent around the ring.
This is where things fired up. The match left the ring, and soon the physicality really picked up. Omega was thrown into the barricade. Omega teased suplexing Okada into the barricade, but instead, he was lifted onto the barricade and ate an elevated DDT. “Vintage Okada!” thousands of marks around the world yelled in unison.
Instead of taking the 20 second countout victory, Okada rolled in and out of the ring, before pulling a table out from under the ring. Omega recovered, but Omega was able to toss him over the barricade. With a running start, Okada leapt over the barricade, hitting Omega with an awesome cross-body.
Okada dragged Omega back into the ring, and continued his assault. Here, 15 minutes into the match, we had our first attempted pin. Again, 15 minutes into the match, and after some hideous combat. And how did Omega respond? He kicked out almost immediately.
Omega didn’t wait until the last second like he was half dead, only to jump to his feet. He kicked out appropriately, but he still couldn’t get to his feet. And instead of sitting there, shocked, he immediately locked him in a crossface submission. He lacked Omega’s face with his hands, digging his knee into the back of the gaijin’s neck.
Omega was eventually able to claw out, but Okada hit him with a neckbreaker. He went for another cover, but Omega kicked out instantly. Omega finally managed to mount some offense, hitting Okada with a fameasser and going for his first cover, which, obviously, Okada kicked out of immediately.
Have you watched a Roman Reigns or John Cena match lately? If not, I’ll walk you through it. It’s competitive, but eventually the bad guy gets the upper hand. The baddie beats the living hell out of Superman, but eventually he mounts his comeback. They go for a big move, but the bad guy reverses it! The villain (not Marty Scurll, fortunately) hit their finisher, but John Reigns kicks out at 2.9! The flustered bad guy goes for something dramatic, but the good guy hits his finisher for the win!
If that’s not the majority of WWE matches you’ve seen lately, direct me to what episodes of Raw and SmackDown you’ve been watching on the WWE Network. In any event, this sure stacks up to your standard WWE match. Totally predictable and formulaic, eh?
Back to Business
After Okada kicks out, Omega starts punishing him. Chopping him, elbowing him to the back, and stomping on his head. Okada is visibly shaken as Omega is making it clear he’s trying to hurt his rival. At this point, I’d like to say that despite declarations that this bout was a spotfest, neither man had attempted to climb to the top rope 20 minutes into this match.
Omega kept throwing Okada into the ropes, delivering punishing elbow strikes to his kidneys. And each time Omega did it, he did so with the looks of a man possessed. When Omega landed the kidney shots, Okada scrunched up his face and cringed like he had been shot.
Satisfied with how he had brutalized Okada to this point, Omega went for another pinfall, but yet again, the IWGP Heavyweight Champion kicked out. Omega went for the kidney shot again, but this time, Okada reversed it with a shot of his own. He began throwing desperation punches at Omega, and but a knee-strike from Omega set him tumbling to the ground.
The two exchanged blows until eventually, Okada was thrown from the ring. At this point, Omega did his famous Terminator Dive, a kneeling tribute to the T-800 before a Topé con Hilo out of the ring. Omega then picked Okada up and slammed him onto the ring apron.
It was at this point, almost twenty minutes into the match, where Omega climbed to the rope for the first time, hitting Okada with the nastiest dropkick I have ever seen. The line between scary and strong style is drawn with spots like this.
Omega went for the pin and the referee counted one… twO… THRE- Okada’s hand was on the rope! Omega couldn’t believe it. His eyes were wide open, and he was furiously glancing around, wondering why he wasn’t the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. “I PINNED HIM!” he yelled, breathlessly.
Omega digested everything that happened for a moment before dragging Okada two feet away from the ring and applying a crossface of his own. He wrenched back on Okada’s neck as the champion hopelessly reached for the closest rope. Eventually he grabbed one, and Omega held on as long as he could before releasing.
This is when the tempo of the match really picked up. For two guys that had just wrestled for almost half an hour, both guys were able to carry a high intensity match well. However, that doesn’t mean they weren’t selling. Omega was wincing and grabbing his shoulder, and Okada couldn’t seem to walk in a straight line.
After a devastating DDT, Okada nipped up, to a chorus of applause from the Tokyo Dome crowd. Okada did a diving european uppercut, and went for the pinfall. This time, Omega waited a second before kicking out, and it was Okada’s turn to stare on in disbelief.
Okada locked Omega in the crossface again, and the way that Omega strained and squinted made it seem like Kazuchika was squeezing the life out of him. Omega crawled towards the rope, desperately waving his hands near it as his eyes closed and it looked like he was starting to fade.
His arms grew limp and his attempts to break the submission grew weaker as the referee checked to see if Omega was conscious. Suddenly he jumped to life, surging for the bottom rope, finally grabbing it. Both men collapsed, exhausted.
Yes, despite that monstrous exchange, the match was only halfway over. And we hadn’t seen anything yet.
The two exchanged some vicious blows, and for the first time in the match, Okada went to the top rope. He went to hit a Macho-esque elbow, but Omega threw his knees up for the reversal.
Omega hit Okada with a baseball slide that sent him over the barricade into the announce tables. This was my favorite spot of the whole match. Omega stood inside the ring, grabbing the top rope. In one fluid movement, he leapt onto the top rope, and did a backflip over the barricade onto Okada.
It was a ridiculous spot. If you haven’t seen it, you need to look it up. He does it all in one movement, and he doesn’t even look. He easily could’ve died or seriously harmed himself, but he absolutely nailed it.
Omega rolled back into the ring, but Okada crawled back to the barricade and threw himself over it. Omega rolled out of the ring, and threw the table on top of Okada. He ran to the apron and hit a diving double foot stomp onto the table.
Omega threw Okada into the ring and powerslammed him. He went for the win, but Okada kicked out at 2.9! Omega picked Okada up and powerslammed him again, but Okada kicked out again! The Young Bucks were at ringside, so they set up the table and began egging Omega on.
Omega did this ridiculous move where he hit Okada with a fireman’s carry slam, and then leapt to the second rope and hit a moonsault onto Okada. He went for the pin, but Okada kicked out again! There were tears in Omega’s eyes as she shook his head and sobbed.
Okada set Omega on the top turnbuckle and then knocked him out of the ring with a leaping dropkick. It was absolutely ridiculous. Both men stood on the apron by the table, teasing their finishers, but the fight went back into the ring. That was the second time they teased the table.
Eventually, Omega and Okada were fighting in the ring, and when Bullet Club’s leader ran at Chaos’ leader, he used Omega’s momentum to throw him up, over the top rope, back-first through the table.
Nice Guys Finish Last?
Okada, being the clean-cut babyface that he is, dragged Omega back into the ring after a minute of suffering. The champion climbed to the top rope before hitting a recovering Omega with an amazing footstomp/dropkick combination.
Okada, sure he had finally won the match, went for the pin, but as you can guess, Omega kicked out. The champion went back to the top rope and hit his diving elbow again, but it seemed to hurt him more than Omega.
At this point, 45 minutes into the match, Okada went for his finisher, the Rainmaker, for only the second time. However, Omega was able to reverse it, running Okada into the corner. He managed to force Okada onto the top rope and they teased a nasty dragon suplex. The first time, Okada threw him off. It was the second time that really tore the house down.
When I say that this was the ugliest bump I’ve ever seen someone take, I mean it. Both men landed squarely on their necks, and it never gets any easier to watch. Omega went for the pin, but somehow, someway, Okada kicked out.
He continued to attack the neck, dropping Okada’s neck on his knee. Throughout the match, Omega targeted parts of Okada’s spine, setting up for his finisher, the One Winged-Angel. Omega tried to hit his variation of the Bomaye kick, the V-Trigger, but Okada reversed it into a suplex.
The look in Kenny Omega’s eyes after that suplex would convince most doctors that he had a severe concussion. The lights were on, but absolutely nobody was home.
Okada went for the Rainmaker again, but Omega was able to reverse out of it, nailing Okada with a knee shot to the face. He went for the V-Trigger again, but Okada managed to leap six feet into the air to dropkick Omega in the face.
Okada went for the Rainmaker again, but Omega was able to escape. This is very important, because once Okada hits the Rainmaker, the match is over. As far as I know, only Hiroshi Tanahashi, the John Cena of New Japan, had ever kicked out of the Rainmaker.
Omega finally landed the V-Trigger, and he stumbled back into Omega, who attempted the One Winged Angel. In an outstanding bit of athleticism, Okada literally flipped out of the OWA, landing on his feet. It was insane.
Omega jumped at Okada, attempting to hit him with a crossbody, but he caught him, and reversed it into a Tombstone Piledriver. With a look so ferocious, only a lion could pull it off, Okada lifted Omega to his feet and hit the Rainmaker. He pinned Omega in the middle of the ring to retain his championship.
Hmm? What’s that? Oh wait. No. No, that’s not what happened.
Kenny Omega. Kicked. Out. Yes. Kenny Omega kicked out of the Rainmaker, and the Tokyo Dome lost their minds. Even Okada seemed stunned, going to the corner and putting his face in his hands. Desperately trying to stand, Omega raked his nails along Okada’s face, which earned him a double stomp that sent him headfirst from the middle of the ring into the turnbuckles.
Okada stared at Omega like a child looking at snow for the first time, bewildered and overwhelmed. He dragged Omega back to the middle of the ring, where he attempted to hit another Tombstone Piledriver, which Omega reversed into some kind of small package piledriver. He went for the pin, but the champion kicked out.
Kneeling, the two men hit each other, gassed, approaching an hour. Neither man seemed to be able to stand, and each punch nearly ended the match. The punches gained in tempo and Omega hit a suplex before hitting the V-Trigger. Okada kicked out so Omega hit him with another fierce V-Trigger.
Omega went for the One Winged Angel again, but Okada reversed it into the Rainmaker. However, he was so exhausted he couldn’t capitalize. Okada dragged Omega up for one more Rainmaker, but yet again, he couldn’t seem to capitalize.
Even the finish was spectacular. Omega reversed Okada’s rainmaker and attempted one of his own, and after a fierce knee to the face, Omega was going yet again for the One Winged-Angel. However this time, Okada reversed it into a tombstone piledriver. Quickly after, Okada hit the Rainmaker once again, and he was able to get the win. The camera panned from a stunned Okada to members of the audience, some of which were literally crying.
This match was insane. Chris Jericho once said that the audience helped make a match. He said that you could watch the famous Rock vs. Hogan match from WrestleMania without audio and be unimpressed, and that it was the reactions of the crowd that made the match.
This match was unique in that, even on silent, it’s still a masterpiece. Obviously it’s better because you hear the reactions and feel the energy of the Tokyo Dome. But just watching it on silent, you still hear the reactions, because even if you’re watching it for the tenth time, you still gasp. You still wince, and you still feel every moment of this fantastic match.
Even though he lost, this match elevated Omega to the ranks of the immortals. He put on a fantastic show, and it took three Rainmakers, one of the most protected finishers in wrestling to beat him. Interestingly enough, he never landed the One Winged Angel, which only elevates the power of that move.
Should the two ever meet again, and they definitely will, this won’t be forgotten. There’s a story to be told with the OWA, and it likely ends with Kenny Omega holding the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
A week after watching, I said this was the best match of all time. Better than Steamboat/Savage, Punk/Joe II, or Michaels/Taker at WrestleMania. It’s not necessarily fair to compare a WWE match to what happened at the Tokyo Dome, but wrestling is wrestling regardless.
So is it still the best match I’ve ever seen? Absolutely. Breaking the match down move by move only made me appreciate the storytelling and psychology more. It’s an absolute masterpiece, and if you ask me? It deserved each of Meltzer’s six stars. In fact, it becomes the first and only match ever to earn 12 Woo’s.