Kenny Omega Becomes the First Canadian Born IWGP Heavyweight Champion

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Kenny Omega
Photo: NJPW

Thirty-four-year-old Kenny Omega has been on the run of a lifetime in New Japan Pro Wrestling and he finally became the IWGP heavyweight champion in front of 12,000 in attendance on Saturday at Dominion. Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada had four bouts in an old-school battle for supremacy with no cheap ways out or cheating involved as Omega has evolved from Bullet Club spokesman to the workhorse gaijin fans around the world respect. Speaking of non-Japanese champions in NJPW, Saturday at Dominion nearly every championship turned hands to a gaijin competitor with the exception of the Junior Heavyweight single and Tag team Championships. We are indeed living in a new era in NJPW, one that embraces the North American expansion proudly. Each one of these wrestlers have worked hard for years to become champion and Omega wrestled for eighteen years to achieve this goal as the first ever Canadian-born IWGP heavyweight champion.

Kenny Omega Becomes the First Canadian Born IWGP Heavyweight Champion

Kazuchika Okada broke all records for title defenses and became the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight champion in NJPW history. During that time, Kenny Omega was building a legacy of his own becoming the inaugural IWGP United States champion and putting forth very memorable matches against worthy up-and-coming challengers like Trent Beretta and Juice Robinson. Omega had Okada’s number in the 2017 G1 Climax and he waited for his eventual rematch while The Golden Lovers reunion with Kota Ibushi was in full swing this year. After an instant classic sixty-six minute and eleven second main event at Dominion, Kenny Omega measured “The Rainmaker” for a V-Trigger into the ropes and The One Winged Angel made history. NJPW took the opposite route with Omega becoming champion with a slow burn compared to AJ Styles and it’s made the moment all the more sweeter combined with ending Okada’s lengthy, unforgettable title run.

NJPW knew they had something special with “The Cleaner” back in 2016 when Kenny Omega stood to the plate and picked up the pieces that AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura left in the main event picture. Omega graduated from the Junior Heavyweight division and became the IWGP Intercontinental champion by defeating “The Ace” Hiroshi Tanahashi that year then Omega took place in NJPW’s first ever Ladder match with fellow Canadian Michael Elgin. Kenny Omega is a rare example of a wrestler from another country that was unable to show what he is truly capable of or be able to feel completely comfortable in the ring anywhere else than Japan. Omega has treated Japan like home, learning the language and adopting the trademark Strong Style offense that NJPW is famous for. Kenny Omega spent time in Pro Wrestling Guerilla (a former PWG World champion) and Ring Of Honor Wrestling (ROH) but Kenny Omega in NJPW has become like a horse in the wild, it’s been a natural build for Omega becoming champion and nobody can say he hasn’t earned it.

The Young Bucks and “The Golden Star” Kota Ibushi came to the ring to celebrate with Kenny Omega after Omega finally pinned his rival. “The Golden Elite” (The Golden Lovers and The Elite) put all of the differences in the past and gave Omega his moment in a celebration that will stand the test of time in NJPW. The Golden Lovers took on The Young Bucks in the Strong Style Evolved main event this past March but none of that seemed to matter when Kenny Omega had dealt out respect to so many so his friends returned that respect to end Dominion. The future is uncertain as The Young Bucks could easily request a tag team rematch or Kota Ibushi could grow jealous of his friend that has achieved this goal before he ever got the chance to do the same. Omega’s title reign may not reach the historic levels of “The Rainmaker’s” but rest assured “The Cleaner” will defend the IWGP Heavyweight Championship with pride and class against the best NJPW has to offer.

This historic title win comes just a couple years after the NJPW die-hard audience refused to believe Omega would ever become IWGP Heavyweight Champion because of his comedy antics in the past with DDT. The new IWGP Heavyweight Champion has silenced all of the doubters and showed why why he is “The Best Bout Machine.” Now with the annual G1 Climax looming this Summer, Omega is far from finished testing himself against the finest NJPW has to offer as he enters his first G1 Climax tournament and North American event (the second G1 In USA) as champion.

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