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[2017-06-11-NJPW-Dominion] Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega


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Some meh "feeling out process" to start things off. Really nothing happened until Kenny started to attack Okada's knee, he beat the crap out of it, so naturally the champ completely no sells that work done on his knee to run full speed, counter stuff with that "damaged" knee & do his usual signature stuff. Nice. So the knee work was complete filler. Then again we get into a section where it feels like nothing is happening until out comes Bullet Club; they do some dumb drama w/ Cody almost throwing in the towel for Omega. After that the finishing stretch kicks in & it's pretty amazing - they went completely nuts just like in their Dome match. Kenny finally hitting the One Winged Angel only for Okada to get out of it via a rope break was terrific; spot of the match easily. So yep - this is something I would use as an example when bringing up the "going long for the sake of it" argument, because that's what this was; going long for the sake of it. It's frustrating because these 2 have a goddamn classic match in them, but they aren't gonna have it by going this damn long - in my eyes anyway. Great stretch after the Cody/BC drama, but overall a super weak match. **1/2

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Like with the first match, a lot I loved and a good bit I hated. I thought the comments Omega had heading into the match about this one being different from the 1/4 match were really weird considering the match that was performed. It felt decidedly just like the first match to me in tones of a very slow and ultimately meaningless first half of the match and then a crackling back half culminating in sequences that are very cinematic looking. The cinematic comment probably reads harsher than I intend as some of the later sequences were great and amazing including the near Rainmaker with Omega falling down from exhaustion and the Asai moonsault with huge air from Omega once he gains his balance. The opening 20 minutes were meaningless besides Omega going for the One Winged Angel and Okada doing a funky lucha inspired counter to go into the Red Ink. Okada's leg was worked over for the bulk of this segment which was bone headed considering how much he utilized the dropkick in the later portions of the match. Knowing that a draw was a possibility, I thought they did a pretty poor job of covering that was where things were headed here. The build to the One Winged Angel being hit was well done but it was clear that Okada was going to reach the ropes and I almost wish he would have rolled out of the ring ala Misawa after the Back Drop Driver from Doc in the 1994 TC match. Again, perhaps unfair to compare to direct classics but that is the company others are projecting these matches up against so I feel it is appropriate of where I feel these matches stumble in comparison. That OWA nearfall also happened at around the 45 minute mark. Meaning Omega has hit his death move and now we still got 15 minutes of match. On one hand, that did lead to some drama that a finish could still take place in the 55-59 minute mark, but on the other it does kind of make the story of the series so far moot to a degree and degrades the One Winged Angel overall as Okada was able to recover and end the match in dominant fashion. Way too much good stuff throughout this match for me to hate it, but again too much inconsistency and the match felt too bloated for me to slot it as a MOTYC much less one of the best matches I have ever seen. I still think these two have a classic in them and sort of hope they are in same G-1 block even though I think that is unlikely. ****

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I started watching from the beginning of the finishing stretch (which might as well have been the entire second half, a little before Okada hit the first Rainmaker). It was a lot more digestable having the match in the background while I was doing stuff and just checking in when they stopped laying around, and New Japan adopting WWE-style replays made this type of watching even easier as I didn't miss anything. I think they made a good booking decision, I quite like the lose>draw>win pattern where one wrestler gradually gets the other's number, it's the same one they used with Tanahashi vs Mutoh. Omega winning felt like too much of a foregone conclusion, and a tittle defence here will only add to Okada's aura. That said, I wasn't really impressed with the match. I mean, I didn't really dislike it either due to adjusting the format I watched it in (I really watch too little wrestling these days to be able to afford spending time on something I won't enjoy), but while I could at least acknowledge the Dome match as a milestone in modern New Japan style this match really felt like it jumped the shark. What do you do after a match like this? Okada did like 15 Rainmakers, for the last 15 minutes almost every transition was either a Dropkick or a Running Knee and was based on "you think he's going to go for a finisher attempt after this! no!, the other wrestler is going to pop up and hit his move" and so it went and repetead over and over again. Both guys looked like they have never been in a fight in their life, and the match lacked any kind of natural flow or consequentialism. What, Okada hits three Rainmakers and he's going to take pity on Omega instead of going for the cover? Jesus Christ. Nothing says "I am a professional athlete who wants to win" like that. There were moments of legitimately good wrestling in there-like when Okada was trying to crawl his way out of an Electric Chair. Maybe in ten years when they can't do so many Dragon Suplexes and Dropkicks they'll put more emphasis on the struggle beyond "I am in danger of being hit with a finisher". There were some fun spots and interesting ideas, but I wasn't convinced I should pay full attention, let alone it was greatness I was missing.

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A quick precursor - I loved the 1/4 match (****3/4) and had no issue with the first portion as it played fine to me as a feeling out between two guys that hadn't faced off, and the work was all around the neck and Omega trying to wear Okada out to hit the One Winged Angel later in the match. Loved it - my MOTY still so far.


This one: The beginning with the knee stuff went nowhere outside of very tiny callbacks late when Okada would try to power Omega up (one of the tombstones). And maybe that's on Omega for leaving the knee alone - i have no issue with limbs regaining health during a match if they aren't worked. It's a shame this didn't go anywhere, but perhaps it's a focus in the third match.


What I liked: This was 2017 "I beat Shibata, Suzuki and Kenny Omega" Okada - and instead of seeming like he was trying to catch-up to Omega and survive like 1/4, he worked it as the ace - perhaps a touch too much (more on that). Lot of good callbacks and counters to stuff from the 1/4 match - Okada catching the flying knee (which was used way more 1/4 than here), the drop kick into the powerbomb, etc. The work around the dragon suplex up top was a good transition by Okada into the DVD on the apron and then his time on top. Obviously these guy are incredible athletes and the match went fast for me - at the 55 minute mark I thought it had only gone 40 or so. A credit to both guys, i'm consistently engaged in their encounters.


What I didn't like: So as mentioned above, the knee selling stuff is notable, i also thought they went way too much to the well with the dropkicks and snap dragons. The teased throwing in the towel was a match killer for me. This took place timing-wise earlier than when the 1/4 match ended, so it felt really off that after the same amount of rainmakers, now Okada is stopping and the ref is checking on Omega? And normally that type of angle it then paid off later in the match, and it really isn't since Kenny doesn't win! So we have Cody come out with a towel - man i did not like this. So now Bullet club is down around the ring for this finish and I really thought after the OWA that it would be Okada fighting to survive the draw, but instead it was Okada nearly winning, only to not be able to get the final cover before the bell rang. Coming out of 1/4 Omega looked like the stronger guy,but it didn't feel this way to me this time.


Of course I'm being very specific with the pieces I didn't like, but this is by no means a bad match. It was incredible, not as good as their 1/4 to me (I felt that had better dramatics), and not better than the Shibata match either imo, but still another NJPW '17 classic. ****1/2

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A great match marred by the frustrating bad habits of the two workers in it. It's so hard to watch this match because of all the points in where flashes of absolute brilliance shine through only to be bogged down by no-selling, overused finishers, and generally predictable booking. What I can say for this match is that its peaks far outshine the peaks of the 1/4 match. On this forum, I've made note of the "5-star moments" and this match is actually riddled with them. The problem is the rest of the match can't support the brilliance of those individual spots and moments.


5 star moments include: springboard basement dropkick (looked AMAZING), finally hitting the One Winged Angel, Omega's BC taunt pulled into a Rainmaker, and the Rainmaker-crumble-dodge.


But, as others have noted, too much is out of place here. The Cody drama killed the momentum (even though it signaled the start of the best 6 to 10 minutes of the match), the fairly brutal knee work that I really enjoyed went absolutely nowhere (The Most Beautiful Dropkick In No Selling Today!), and as soon as they announce that they're 50 minutes in, you know exactly where they're going and all tension disappears.


The last ten minutes or so of this match are deathly boring and predictable. The only highlight might just be Okada's desperate crawling towards Omega at the finish. I thought that showed a lot of intensity and urgency. Too bad it came after ten minutes of telegraphed finishers and needless dropkicks.


Great, but frustrating.



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Not sure how I feel about this one. Didn't like it as much as Wrestle Kingdom. I made the Marvel movie analogy for that one and will use one/sequels to blockbusters here. Wrestle Kingdom was Guardians 1, Dominion was Guardians 2. Still very good but can't top the novelty (for me anyway) of being first and didn't really improve on the original. Still, it advanced storylines (turning Omega babyface, positioning Cody as a focal point for the company, building to a 3rd encounter, etc), had great heat (also hard to top the epic atmosphere of the Tokyo Dome), and the final 10 minutes were pretty dramatic, if not full of no-selling big moves one after the next. I really like both guys and look forward to #3


Hard to judge this one without comparing it to 6 Stars. Great but no masterpiece



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  • 4 weeks later...

I loved this match. Thought it got off the ground a lot quicker than the WK match and was much more of a collaborative effort rather than the Kenny Omega show. Also loved the role reversal callbacks from the prior match. Thought the first half went by pretty quickly and then we were off to the races following the Cody spot (really the only thing I disliked). Would have made more sense for Omega to try and make the cover on Okada as time expired but considering he couldn't get the job done in 60 minutes leaves Kenny well-protected.


That being said, it wasn't perfect. The Cody spot was annoying and the leg work on Okada being dropped after the 15 minute mark or so was odd, but I can't really complain because I felt everything else delivered in spades. Unbelievable action, felt shorter than its actual run time, and had great storytelling. I couldn't have asked for much better.



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  • 2 weeks later...

My favorite parts were probably the counters and callbacks to the January match, almost 6/3/94 ish in how they had prepared and had each other scouted. They continued the story of Omega throwing everything to take down the ace and superior wrestler Okada and Okada always finding a way to be on top. I liked the growth as well where Omega managed to make a comeback during the towel drama segment around the 45 minute mark and salvage a draw, unlike 1/4/17 where he was beat within 45 minutes. They managed to make the last 5-10 minutes shockingly dramatic, usually in these matches it is pretty obvious it is heading towards a draw but here they made me buy that Omega might not survive to the time limit or Okada might get caught out. ***1/4 (same rating I gave 1/4/17 but this match is slightly superior).

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  • 5 months later...

I went in with negative preconceptions. Not a huge fan of either. Not a big fan of the first match. Insane hype. One hour...

And yeah. Turned my head around. MOTYC, easy. All-time classic ? Probably. They did a wonderful job pacing the hour, made a great use of teasing two huge spots from the first match, gaining time in the process. Great selling down the stretch (come on, who cares about the knee stuff, it was nice to waste a bit of time at the beginning with a sub-plot and Okada was terrific selling it, but it wasn't to be the whole story, especially when you go one hour). Nice twist with the Cody Rhodes stuff which allowed that Rainmaker to be protected. Awesome, classic finish. Not a dull moment in the entire hour, and although you can pinpoint a few flaws (average execution at times, yeah, sorry, it counts; typical no-sell stuff inherited from Kobashi), it was a pleasure from start to finish.


Yeah. Pro-wrestling at its best.


(Kevin Kelly is a pretty fucking terrible announcer though)

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  • GSR changed the title to [2017-06-11-NJPW-Dominion] Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega
  • 1 year later...

This is the match from the series I was looking forward to re-watching the least. My fears seemed justified as it took demonstrably longer than the first match to really get going. Eventually it does when Omega begins to focus on Okada's left knee. This is a good segment but after a while it becomes clear that this is going to be almost entirely forgotten about which is a shame. After the limb segment Okada fights back and appears to be struggling on the leg and Kelly and Callis note that he's "taking careful steps". I'm not sure he really is, but at that point I'm willing to buy it. As someone noted in here, it's not so much that Okada seems to forget that he's really hurt his knee. It's that Omega seems to forget as well.

The match feels less coherent than the first. As if they're chucking stuff in there purely to try and pad out the time (which would be understandable given they have to go exactly one hour). It's not flowing as smoothly as the dome match. That said, the first 40 minutes goes by fairly quickly and it is littered with some memorable spots. Omega almost crashing and burning as he loses his balance on the top rope, before regaining his balance spectacularly and hitting a picture perfect asai moonsault. The DVD on the apron, etc. There's a number of callbacks to the first match such as Okada anticipating Omega's Rise of the Terminator attempt rather than eating it as in the first match and Omega going for the top rope dragon suplex that almost had Okada beaten in their first match. There's a number of other instances of one guy countering a move that had been successful in the first match or vice versa, which is cool. 

I think it's around the 40 minute mark when they start suggesting that Omega can't continue. Bullet Club appears on the ramp as they tease Cody throwing the towel in. I get that this was the story they were telling. It was one that I was pretty into. But this doesn't age well and comes off as a bit hokey. As someone else said, it's not as if Omega looked any more done than he was at this point in the dome match so having just watched the dome match beforehand it seemed all the more silly. I did enjoy watching the reactions of the various bullet club members around the ring for the rest of the match though. 

Lots of good stuff in the last 15 minutes. Omega finally hits the OWA and Okada survives by getting his foot on the rope. This was good but after reading soup's post on Misawa's roll out of the ring it's hard to get that idea out of my head and how much better it would have been. Omega dodging the rainmaker attempt when he collapses is a classic moment and given how many times I've seen it mentioned since, surely the match's most memorable spot. Omega on his knees pathetically hitting Okada before realising he's given him his wrist was great. Okada desperately crawling towards Omega and screaming at him in the dying minutes is also a terrific moment and one that I had forgotten. 

As many others have said, this is a long match that featured a whole lot of great moments. Is it a great match though? I don't think it flows as well as their first match and there's definitely more fluff here as well as more stuff to genuinely irritate (the forgotten knee, Cody and the towel). But the peaks are really high. I've just spent an hour and 45 minutes watching these two wrestle and if I was forced to pick one of the first two matches to immediately watch again in full it'd be the first. But I'd probably pick some of the top moments in this match above the equivalent in the first. 

Current ranking:

  1. 1/4/17
  2. 6/11/17
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  • 2 years later...

(EDIT: Somehow, copying and re-pasting a paragraph apparently unleashed hell on the formatting of my post below, so apologies for the weird formatting in advance.)

I actually think Cody’s early attempt to throw in the towel works insofar as it both sets up the Okada/Cody match at the G1 in the USA special the following month and further stokes the Omega/Cody tensions in Bullet Club. It’s so impeccably timed after the Rainmakers that it feels self-serving, a point that becomes more explicit when Cody challenges Okada mere moments after Okada enters the post-match press room.

As for the actual match, I think the Wrestle Kingdom match (which I loved) has the flashier high spots and the better work in general, but the 2017 Dominion match does a really great job of weaving its work into the broader ongoing storylines with one glaring exception: Okada completely no-selling the knee damage early on. The match recovers (and clicks into a higher gear) after Cody and Bullet Club comes down, but Okada’s abrupt transition away from all of Omega’s hard work early on is a really glaring blowoff that stands out in contrast to how fluidly the WK match developed from its opening matwork onward.

The ending here goes a long way towards building up the special feeling in this match and rivalry. One of Okada’s promos ahead of WK talks about how he could never lose to Kenny because he’s endured more as a champion than Kenny can even imagine but, after standing triumphantly after their first match, Okada is left shell-shocked in the post-match as Gedo tries to hype up that’s he’s still the champion after the time-limit draw. Omega, unthinkably, has been carried away to cheers, having gone the distance with Okada and even gotten the better of the champ on a forearm exchange late in the match. Okada eventually finds his feet as the gold tassels fall around him, but it’s hardly a post-match celebration, as he feels more defeated than he has at any other point in this historic title reign.

It’s not the Austin/Bret WM13 double-turn, but it’s almost as critical of a turning point for this era of NJPW history; the ascendance of Omega and Cody lays the foundation of AEW here (as the Bucks and Adam Page cheer on from ringside), the seeds of Okada eventually losing his self-confidence are planted and the curtain begins drawing to a close on this red-hot run for the company. Not long after this, Okada would beat Naito in a stunning unforced error of booking, Omega would win the title just in time for the Elite/NJPW relationship to unravel, and Gedo would turn on Okada to begin the Rainmaker’s post-‘93 Flair run as Jay White’s perpetual whipping boy and as a faded memory of better times for the company.


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