By R.W. Andrews
Part IV: Divide and Conquer
With the Sydal business out of the way, Omega has his sights set on a stage big enough to flaunt his ambition to be the best wrestler walking the Earth. With a virtual smorgasbord of opponents impatiently lined up and already pissed that he passed them, Omega’s ambition can only be held up by the man he picks to face him at Wrestle Kingdom 10. “I’m your huckleberry,” shouts KUSHIDA as he reaches deep into his shorts to whip out a rematch clause of his own. The rest of the division nods in astonishment over what is produced, forced once again to disperse with their heads hung low. As Omega shakes his fist at the sky in anger, Gedo’s laughter can be heard echoing in the distance.
Match 5 – Kenny Omega (c) vs. KUSHIDA
Wrestle Kingdom 10 in the Tokyo Dome
January 4, 2016
Ah yes, one of my personal favorite Dome layouts – the massive tron flanked by tron strength bars. Just gorgeous. The Time Splitter video is of particular brilliance in this format, the ante upped mightily as the camera cuts to the ring where Taguchi slides under the bottom rope dressed like famed time-travelling DeLorean enthusiast Dr. Emmett Brown. His hands busily fiddle with an RC controller while projecting a blank, thousand-yard stare and walking around like a zombie. It’s an odd choice, but then again he’s an odd dude. A haze of smoke fills the tron as Omega is shown next, his body knelt on the entrance ramp in full Terminator pose. His pace to the ring is slow, the Young Bucks traveling behind with trashcans and brooms at the ready. KUSHIDA easily dominated the catwalk, but it’s in the ring that counts on this night.
Omega enters the battlefield and quick-draws a finger-gun, switching it between KUSHIDA and Taguchi. He cocks back the hammer on Doc – who is still fiddling with the controller by the way – followed by an Elite superkick. They beat down KUSHIDA until Marty can corral the Jacksons outside. As Omega strips KUSHIDA of his vest, Marty calls for the bell, seemingly showing an allegiance to whoever has the belt. He can be a rotten bastard sometimes, can’t he?
Omega runs KUSHIDA’s lines, hitting a basement dropkick before cartwheeling into position to…spit on him. And a classy champion he is. He blanches KUSHIDA’s chest with a stiff chop before the challenger snatches back the playbook to hit a basement dropkick and cartwheel into position to spit – no wait – dropkick Omega in the face. As Omega bails to safety, KUSHIDA gifts Matt and Nick Jackson with a matching set of forearms. The camera switches to a bird’s eye view, revealing that Taguchi is still laid out on the floor from the triple superkick.
Both Omega and Matt search the stash spot as KUSHIDA leans over the middle rope to peep the scene. Marty decides to pull him back, giving Omega clearance to mace KUSHIDA with cold spray with the ref none the wiser. He gives his patchwork a good dosing, his shifty eyes crowd surfing those forced to witness his version of a whore’s bath until KUSHIDA strikes back with a baseball slide. Trying to push the pace, KUSHIDA runs the apron and leaps towards the outskirts, his path colliding with a trashcan lobbed straight at his head. Omega flip-tosses the trashcan to Nick – who is stationed in Level 2 – before hauling KUSHIDA off the floor and hitting a front-flip slam followed by a springboard moonsault off the rails where he grabs the trashcan to crush it atop KUSHIDA’s torso! These f—ing guys, man.
Back in the ring, Omega shot-calls to anyone within earshot, barking “Backbreaker!” before hitting the move. KUSHIDA rolls outside, but there’s no safe zone to be had as he’s hunted down by a flip over the top rope that jolts him to the floor. Omega rolls him back in, getting the launch code to hit a beautiful leapfrog bulldog. While busy laying in a trio of chops, KUSHIDA leaves his face unprotected against an open hand thunder clap cracking into his jawline. He dizzily manages to block a suplex and duck an axe kick, quickly shuffle-stepping sideways to counter-react with a Pele Kick.
Omega races into KUSHIDA’s backflip heel-kick, his reflexes unable to fire and avoid an incoming enzuigiri. KUSHIDA springboards back in, hitting a King Corn Karn-style chop to the top of the head before continuously punting Omega on the arm. He counters an Irish Whip with a handspring back elbow, quickly going airborne to drag Omega down with a Hoverboard Lock. Coming in hot, his momentum inadvertently intertwines Omega in the ropes, forcing Marty to order the break.
He stays on Omega’s arm with a kick and arm-smash over the shoulder before taking off for the ropes. His charge is stopped cold by a chop to the throat, his body hunched over and clasping his windpipe as Omega smacks him on the back. Riding the pendulum swing, Omega throttles into forward-forward Dash mode to reverse course with a waistlock, his trail sniffed out by a handspring heel kick off the rebound.
With Omega outside, KUSHIDA heads up top and hangs a swanton on him before hopping back in to hit an ambush dropkick when Omega cleans up Marty’s count. He follows up with a moonsault as Marty belly-flops to the canvas. 1, 2, KUSHIDA pops up with Omega’s arm in tow, twisting it to sink in a Hoverboard Lock! Omega fights each torqued turn, leaving KUSHIDA looking like he’s battling a lunker on the other end of his line! Forced to give up the pursuit, he smartly reverses his position and goes for a cross-arm breaker. But as he pulls back, Omega rolls through, rising with KUSHIDA cradled like he’s in a papoose before lobbing him clear across the ring with a release German Suplex! The sound of that impact!
Omega perches KUSHIDA on the top rope, but as he hops up to join him, KUSHIDA quickly twists his arm back and bulldogs the damn thing! With Omega’s Pip-Boy screaming for a stimpak, he reaches out to halt KUSHIDA’s progress to the ropes, coming up with a wad of shorts bunched up in his hand. He pulls him into another German Suplex attempt, blocked but countered with a f—ing spin kick! KUSHIDA blocks a follow-up flying knee before reaching way back in the windup to brand Omega’s cheek with a straight right! He heads up top in a curious decision, one that leaves him crashing to the canvas off a corkscrew moonsault. Omega begins driving his own arm into the buckle pad before smacking it furiously to wake up his veins. KUSHIDA kicks it and goes for another handspring back elbow, but Omega squats low to catch him on his shoulders. He opts out of a One Winged Angel, popping KUSHIDA forward to snag him mid-air and hit a bridging German Suplex! 1, 2, KUSHIDA rolls through with Omega caught in another Hoverboard Lock! This is insane!
Omega clasps his hands together to try and block the submission, his eyes catching a safety line slithering his way. He releases his grip and grabs ahold of Matt Jackson’s hand, who along with Nick holding onto his ankle, have formed a human chain to drag Omega to safety! These f—ing guys! KUSHIDA spots it, his head swiveling around to scream at Taguchi to get off of his ass and help. Doc groggily jogs from around the other side of the ring to break each link of the chain with a trashcan. While the assault is going on, Omega gets to his feet and pops KUSHIDA into the air for a One Winged Angel. KUSHIDA hammerfists Omega’s hairline to break free, only managing to escape after Omega overshoots trying to grab the back of his head. KUSHIDA hits a discus-forearm, but gets hammered with a knee that leaves him folded on the mat! Omega pulls him up and hits a one-handed powerbomb as Marty slides in for the count. 1, 2, KUSHIDA kicks out with millimeters to spare! In-f—ing-credible!
Omega waits in position as KUSHIDA climbs to his feet, striking with a V-Trigger right as KUSHIDA’s body turns into it! Holy shit! After placing KUSHIDA’s near lifeless body so his head is resting on the second rope, Omega steps to the other end of the ring, his head filled with an evil plot to personally punch the challenger’s ticket to San Junipero. He sprints forth with a yard churning burst, his knee slamming straight into the side of KUSHIDA’s head with a nasty V-Trigger! Good Lord, Man! He hauls KUSHIDA onto his shoulders for a One Winged Angel, but while reaching up to snatch his head, KUSHIDA escapes with one last gasp of life and flips to the mat with a Hail Mary roll-up! Marty meets the resurrection head-on, his hand banging against the canvas as Omega remains locked on the mat! As his hand delivers the second strike, Omega’s body bucks! KUSHIDA fights the twitches trying to break free, holding on as Asami delivers the final strike to seal Omega’s fate!
Winner: KUSHIDA to regain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.
After the match, the Jacksons come in to rough up the new champion, but Omega motions for them to leave him be. They retreat single-file through the crowd, the former champ left to regroup and devise a plan to reach the lofty heights that escaped him. In the ring, Marty snaps the title around KUSHIDA’s waist while Taguchi busily fiddles with the controls in the background. As the Tokyo Dome crowd shower the ring with adulation, the camera zooms in to pick up Taguchi looking on with pride, stamping his approval on the new standard bearer of the division with a thumbs up. This is the most All-Valley ending in pro wrestling history and I am reveling in it!
Impressions: What an absolute joy to watch. Everything about this match was spectacular. The KUSHIDA/Taguchi entrance, the crazy pace, the limb trauma, the pace pushed even further, the human chain, the reversals, the RC controller. Tremendous! This is beyond a must-watch. This is a feel-good story that you could pop on whenever you want to just sit back and smile at how great pro wrestling can be when done to perfection.
These are two of the best wrestlers on the planet and together they presented three sensational matches that highlighted their skills. The best of the three was the Wrestle Kingdom rubber match, followed by their first encounter, then Destruction in Okayama bringing up the rear. I’m not knocking the middle match for all of the interference. I actually found it rather enjoyable. But Wrestle Kingdom was flawless and that first match was a stellar ass kicking mixed with KUSHIDA showing the world that he’s just as good as an underdog as he is as a champion. I would never tell a fan to sit through a match slathered in interference, but if you can stomach it then by all means watch all three in order and be prepared to smile…a lot.
KUSHIDA was just awesome in this feud. As mentioned in the opening salvo, I’m a sucker for picking apart a limb in order to work for a submission. Although not as versatile as Omega, he can set a relentless pace that captivates the crowd. His mat wrestling is off the charts and his strikes land with speaker-popping clarity. Today he still holds the honor of being the standard bearer of the division, complete with a new move that further varies up the ways he can end a match. As long as he stays healthy and continues to sprinkle in new additions to his arsenal, I don’t see KUSHIDA’s position changing anytime soon. Hell, hopefully one day he will dazzle the Tokyo Dome in the main event. Can you tell he’s my favorite wrestler?
As far as Kenny Omega goes, is there really anything I can type that the world doesn’t already think? You can’t pigeonhole him and you damn sure can’t make him look bad. He can have a match with a child, a battle-tested warrior, and even Matt Sydal. And as strong as my allegiance is to KUSHIDA, Kenny Omega IS the best wrestler on the planet. He can do it all in the ring and his personality is so refreshing in a business of cookie-cutter lemmings just following “it”. Unfortunately, one day he will be gone. They all go. It’s a shame that only one man has the pockets deep enough to make being a pro wrestler worth the health risk, and you certainly can’t blame a guy for taking it while he can get it. Those pockets are so deep that even guys who have been fired and banished from the pocket eventually swallow their pride just for a chance to suckle at the teat once more. And one day Omega will suckle. But rest assured, he’ll do so with style. But for now we bask in his brilliance and watch in awe as he continues to build the bridge for new NJPW fans like myself to trek.
Last feud I became enamored with Masato Tanaka after going off the beaten path to check out his match with Yuji Nagata. I was hoping to catch lightning in a bottle twice with this feud. Well, for one, I already came into this as a fan of Ricochet. Although I type about New Japan bringing me back into pro wrestling, it was actually Lucha Underground that sparked my initial interest. One Prince Puma match and I was helplessly in love with the guy. In fact, if it wasn’t for the second half of Aztec Warfare 2 I might have stuck around and thus never aimlessly stumbled across AXS. If I can find the right feud, rest assured that Ricochet will reemerge in this series. As far as Matt Sydal, well, much like my staunch stance to root for Bad Luck Fale no matter how much it hurts, I really want to find out more about Sydal and try to get into him. Discovery is at the heart of this series after all.
I really hope I don’t regret that one.
Coming Soon: Disparate Fortunes – Satoshi Kojima vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
A Friendly Game of Mishegoss
A couple quick thoughts: 1) Ty Montgomery didn’t need Jamaal Williams’ help to drop his stock. Yeesh! Keep the ball off the ground, Dude. 2) Joe Mixon will be the starting running back for the Bengals sooner rather than later. 3) Terrence West and Danny Woodhead are both going to be fantasy viable. Buy em’ up. And 4) let the Kenny Golladay climb commence!
And now to the meat of the matter. I was all-in on Sammy Watkins this year…until Friday. The trade that sent him from Buffalo to Los Angles was kind of a stunner, but in hindsight the writing was on the wall in large Krylon swoops. First Buffalo declined his option over the spring. Then they used the first preseason game as a showcase, peppering him with targets before getting him the hell off the field before he did something that would make him highly unlikely to pass a physical. It all makes sense now. Then Buffalo restocked the cupboard with Jordan Matthews, a decent slot guy who had fallen out of favor in Philadelphia. So let’s take a look at how it effects the great game of luck known as fantasy football.
Sammy Watkins – Not being with a running quarterback who loves chucking you the ball is going to hurt. Playing with Jared Goff might hurt even more.
Tyrod Taylor – He went from sneaky late-round pickup to streamer in one fell swoop.
Jordan Matthews – No Carson Wentz and injured within an hour of being on the Bill’s practice field. Yikes.
Lesean McCoy – Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2017-18 leader in receptions out of the backfield.
Zay Jones – We’ll have to wait and see, but feel free to grab him late just in case.
Todd Gurley – Eight in the box may never go away, but if Watkins is healthy the defense will have to account for him.
Zach Ertz – There’s a good chunk of vacated targets up for grabs in Philadelphia and it doesn’t look like Nelson Agholor will be the main recipient.
If healthy, Matthews has the opportunity to become a target vacuum. There’s some value there, though his ADP will be all over the map. Good luck with that one. The Eagles made out like bandits on their end, getting a damn good cornerback in exchange for a guy they didn’t seem too enthralled with anyways. A win-win for all parties. For the Bills, netting a 2nd rounder from Los Angeles was brilliant, especially after Watkins had spent more time on the trainer’s table than on the field in his brief career. Sometimes you just gotta start over. Although I won’t be reaching for Sammy Watkins, I’m still going to take a shot in the early middle rounds. After all, I’m a sucker for a guy playing for a mega contract. But keep in mind, you’re reading the words of a dumbass who got suckered in to taking that son of a bitch in the 2nd round last year. So what the hell do I know?
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