Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada have engaged in what many have called the greatest in-ring rivalry of all-time. Four bouts with 25 ¼ stars ratings between them have changed the conversation on what makes for a stellar wrestling match. You can’t go wrong with picking one match over another. However, one encounter tickles my fancy more than most due to its simple and compelling story.
The third bout between Omega and Okada occurred in the B Block finals of New Japan’s 2017 G-1 Climax tournament. It took Okada forty-six minutes to beat Omega in their first encounter, and they wrestled to a sixty-minute draw in their second outing. This time, under G-1 rules, there was a thirty-minute time limit. How was Omega going to beat Okada in thirty minutes, never mind at all?
To add fuel to the fire, Okada could advance to the finals with a win or a draw due to a one-point differential in his favor. Okada was vulnerable due to a neck injury he suffered in a previous bout. However, Okada stated he wanted to win and not coast to the finals since their last match ended in a draw. For Omega, winning was the only option.
Both men wrestled a high action sprint from the jump. Omega found his target and attacked Okada’s neck. Okada fought him off with everything he has had. Early on, both missed their signature moves and Okada gained control by sending Omega to the floor. Okada sold his taped up neck, only for Omega to light it up with a barrage of chops.
All of Omega’s offense battered Okada’s neck. Reverse hurricanranas in and out the ring, V triggers knees, snapdragon suplexes on the apron and missile dropkicks. Okada’s manager, Gedo, considered throwing in the towel after Omega delivered a pair of V triggers to the back of Okada’s neck.
Okada came back, and reversed two One-Winged Angel attempts from Omega and delivered a tombstone piledriver and a German suplex. Okada went for his finishing move, the Rainmaker, Omega ducked, went a third One-Winged Angel, Okada slipped out and hit the Rainmaker for a near fall.
In the closing moments, Okada went for another Rainmaker, Omega ducked, delivered two V triggers and a Jay Driller. Then, after countless attempts throughout three hard-fought matches, Omega finally produced his pièce de résistance; the One-Winged Angel. 1-2-3, Kenny Omega pins Kazuchika Okada and wins the B Block.
Okada vs. Omega III was the best of both worlds. Okada wanted to win as badly as Omega needed to succeed. It was comic book action come to life inside of Sumo Hall. A masterwork of storytelling that delivered an excess of greatness that stands in a class of its own.
My Favorite Matches
Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 25
Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – Survivor Series 1996
Kurt Agle vs. Chris Benoit – Royal Rumble 2003
Bret Hart vs. Undertaker – One Night Only 1997
Ricky Steamboat vs. Macho Man Randy Savage – WrestleMania 3
Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart – Summer Slam 1991
British Bulldog vs. Owen Hart – Monday Night Raw 3/5/97