Match Point: Kenny Omega vs Rey Fenix (11/9/18)

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Rey Fenix vs Kenny Omega
Credit: Northeast Wrestling

Match Point is an on-going series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling, where we look at intriguing matchups in indie wrestling and beyond. They may be dream matches, first-time matchups, or hotly anticipated rematches. Today’s edition is both a dream and first-time matchup. Just a few months after taking on his brother at All In, Kenny Omega is making his Northeast Wrestling debut to face Rey Fenix at NEW Redemption on November 9, 2018.

Ever since becoming a fixture with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2015, a Kenny Omega independent wrestling appearance outside of Ring of Honor has become somewhat of a rare occurrence. In fact, over the course of his entire career, Omega has only wrestled for 43 different promotions. That may sound like a lot but when put into perspective of the burgeoning indie scene and the fact that there are hundreds upon hundreds of promotions out there, it’s really just scratching the surface.

In some ways, Omega’s resume reads like that of a WWE superstar with just a little bit more outside padding. He always returns to his old stomping grounds, Premier Championship Wrestling, at least once a year, perhaps out of respect to not forgetting where he’s come from or perhaps for nostalgic reasons. But other than that and occasional one-off appearances here and there, ROH and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla are the only indies Kenny Omega visits with any sort of regularity.

Because Omega’s appearances outside of NJPW are so rare, that’s why each time he does show up at an indie, it’s a big deal. Especially when he’s making his debut at one such as will be the case this Friday when the IWGP Heavyweight Champion visits Northeast Wrestling for the first time. It will also be the first time, in singles action, and just the second time overall, that Kenny Omega will be sharing the ring with Rey Fenix, who made his own NEW debut just a few months ago.

One of the hottest names in the indies, Rey Fenix, who counts Gran Apache among his trainers and Konnan as a mentor, began his career as most luchadors do, in his native Mexico. Fenix was just 19 when he made his pro wrestling debut in 2010, the same year that he started working for the country’s top promotion, Lucha Libre AAA. While he had just one match with AAA in his rookie year, in 2011, Fenix had become part of the promotion, wrestling 21 times for them while also beginning to pick up work in some other local indies. He made his first excursion to Japan in 2013 for Pro Wrestling NOAH and even challenged for the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship, then held by Taiji Ishimori.

While not yet well known outside of Mexico, Fenix’ star was on the rise by the time he was chosen as one of five members from the AAA roster to help start up the brand new Lucha Underground. Rey Fenix won his first match and then entered a brief feud with his real-life brother, Pentagon Jr. As Lucha Underground picked up steam and mainstream success, so too did Fenix, who was starting to become a household name. By 2015, Fenix began to pick up his first U.S. bookings outside of LU, taking part in and winning CHIKARA‘s 2015 King of Trios tournament, AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined and PWG where he was in the Battle of Los Angeles.

Feeling restricted by his inability to work more in the U.S., Fenix left AAA towards the end of 2016. The following year, his profile exploded on a national level. In addition to working primarily for AAA rival, The Crash, and AAW, Fenix picked up bookings in the UK for Defiant, Fight Club: PRO, Southside Wrestling Entertainment, Revolution Pro, IPW: UK and Over the Top Wrestling, in the U.S. for Bar Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling, WrestleCircus, PCW ULTRA, Beyond Wrestling and of course PWG, where alongside Pentagon Jr., the two won the tag team titles. PWG was also the promotion where Fenix and Omega met for the only other time in their careers, in a six-man match of the Elite (Kenny Omega and the Young BucksMatt and Nick Jackson) vs Penta El Zero M, Flamita and Rey Fenix.

In 2018, Fenix returned to AAA but on a more open-ended basis. Additionally, he began working for IMPACT Wrestling and Major League Wrestling, putting him on TV three times a week in the states. His continued exposure has helped people see that Fenix is one of the best luchadors in the world and it also garnered him interest from a certain company whose headquarters are in Connecticut. But Fenix and his brother reportedly turned down any overtures from WWE as it was announced that they will be with MLW for the “foreseeable future.”

In his career, Fenix has won 18 titles, including five of which he holds currently (AAA World Heavyweight Championship, PDM Light Heavyweight Championship, MLW World Tag Team Championship, WAR World Tag Team Championship and The Crash Tag Team Championship). He was the first person to win the Lucha Underground Triple Crown (Gift of the Gods, LU Champion and Trios Champion) and only one of two people ever to have that distinction.

Much like Fenix, Kenny Omega did not become a household name overnight. And just as Fenix cut his teeth in his native Mexico, Omega did the same in his home of Canada. Omega’s career began sometime in 2000-01 but it wasn’t until 2005 that his career took him stateside, specifically to the South as he was signed to a WWE developmental deal with their territory, Deep South Wrestling. Omega’s time in DSW was negative in many ways and almost led to him quitting professional wrestling for good. But then, in PCW, Omega wrestled AJ Styles for the first time and it reinvigorated his love for the industry that he would later go on to dominate.

Omega returned to the indie circuit in 2007, where he picked up more U.S. bookings with ROH, Pro Wrestling Syndicate, Jersey All-Pro Wrestling and PWG, where he is a former world champion and winner of the 2009 BOLA. A year later, Kenny Omega saw a dream realized as a video he filmed challenging Dramatic Dream Team wrestler Kota Ibushi, made its way to the promotion and the match was signed. DDT was the beginning of Omega becoming a Japanophile and also the beginning of the immense success that has made him one of the best wrestlers in the world.

Through DDT, a promotion where he won all the titles they had to offer, Kenny Omega was able to experience many other Japanese promotions because of the working relationships they all had at the time. Omega made his NJPW debut in 2010 and his All Pro Wrestling debut in 2011 where he is a one-time junior heavyweight champion. Omega left DDT at the end of 2014 to join NJPW full-time. It was after his participation in that year’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament that Omega revealed he had not only signed with NJPW but that he had joined Bullet Club, a stable he formerly despised, as well.

While initially Styles’ junior counterpart, Omega shed the junior heavyweight mantle in 2016 and took over the reigns of Bullet Club. As a heavyweight, Kenny Omega made his mark with such accomplishments as, winning the IWGP Intercontinental Championship in his first attempt, taking part in NJPW’s first-ever ladder match, winning the G1 Climax in his first attempt and becoming the first non-Japanese wrestler ever to win, becoming the first IWGP United States Champion, and of course his series of 6+ star classics against Kazuchika Okada which classify as one of the best pro wrestling feuds ever and which ultimately resulted in Omega winning the IWGP heavyweight title.

In all, Omega has won 33 titles throughout his career including the PWG World Championship, seven titles in DDT and all of the NJPW championships save for two (he has eight reigns with the promotion in all). Known as the “Best Bout Machine,” Omega has recorded 26 4.75 and 13 five-star or better matches. He’s also the man who broke Dave Meltzer‘s five-star scale with the first ever 5+ plus match. And then he broke it again, and again, as one of only two men, the other being his sparring partner in Okada, to have recorded a six and seven-star match.

After defeating Pentagon at All In, Omega is currently 1-0 against the Lucha Brothers. Fenix is an entirely different beast however. For as much as Pentagon is a brawler and technical wrestler, Fenix is an acrobat, a perfector of the lucha libre art. Kenny Omega hasn’t been in the ring with many guys quite like him because frankly, there is no one doing what Rey Fenix is able to do in today’s scene. His offense is high-risk and incredibly innovative, but so is Omega’s. You don’t get nicknamed the “Best Bout Machine” for not being great and Omega surely is. He’s one of the best and will likely go down as the best gaijin to wrestle in Japan. Wrestling Fenix will be a new experience but Omega is nothing if not adaptable.

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Wrestling like writing, is an art form. Both involve great storytelling, memorable characters and the ability to invoke some kind of emotion in a captive audience. But only one of them involves getting body-slammed, thrown through tables and 60-minute tests of endurance. That's why I leave the wrestling to the wrestlers and just write about them as well as the wonderful industry of pro wrestling, from WWE to the smallest of indies and everything in between... "If Shakespeare was alive today he would be writing wrestling shows" - Chris Jericho

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