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[2017-08-13-NJPW-G1 Climax] Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito

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I don't know, guys. I think they broke me. Perhaps I just understand the "grammar" of this style more now or perhaps they really just have finally refined this main event NJPW style to something that I completely enjoy because I LOVED THIS.

 

It starts off a little slow but without much of the meandering matwork that comes from matches earlier in the year. Here, they go right for the good juicy meaty stuff. Lots of mind games from both guys as expected and lots of personality. Both guys target the neck relentlessly and there are some pretty fantastic moments that surround it. Omega not being able to complete his usual kip up and springboard was MASTERFUL (5 star moment). Omega stayed fairly consistent with his neck selling all throughout the match too and god knows it played right into the finish as well. Naito meanwhile put in what might be one hell of a babyface performance. He looked amazing taking just a BRUTAL beating from Omega. I have so much love for Omega's repeated and deliberate V Triggers all building up to that glorious callback of Naito collapsing just as Omega went in for one more (5 star moment). It was a great spot at Dominion and it's a great spot here. Then you have that ridiculous top rope DDT into the ring post and a whole series of bumps that people really shouldn't be taking (face first into the turnbuckle off the top, top rope powerbomb countered into Rana, etc.). Loved the desperation of Naito at the finishing stretch trying to hit any variation of Destino possible to get a pinfall. He probably went for one too many but that is a minuscule nitpick to this match.

 

Is this the MOTY? It just might be. It really just might be. While Okada-Omega III had the blistering pace and the down to earth story, this seemed to perfect the more theatrical elements that something like the Dominion match aspired for.

 

Whoa, boy, what a G1.

 

*****

 

 

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This was just incredible. An absolute spectacle - what prevents it from being a stone cold 5* classic is that the first third or so were really super dull, didn't do anything to me, but once Naito had Kenny on the corner, only for Kenny to drop him face first into the turnbuckle - that's when things got AMAZING. Terrific, brutal work over the neck by both guys, super dramatic counters & real big match atmosphere. An epic. ****3/4

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From what I've seen from both of these guys this year, I'd put this at the bottom of both of their lists. The idea of working over Omega's head/neck and Naito's shoulder is completely thrown away. And we're left with a total bomb fest, without of much of anything in the way of engrossing work or storytelling. One of the elements that made me appreciate the Omega/Okada draw, was the idea that their strikes progressed during the match to the point of looking like something that could end the match, but, it didn't seem to dawn on either of them. Compare that to the way the V-Trigger is used here, with Omega hitting at least a dozen of them (I lost count) with a sickening smack. Not only doesn't he even try to pin Naito, but, Naito eventually starts sucking them up and making a comeback. The Destino is the same way, with Naito using it far too often, by the time it's over the message it gave me was that Naito won after hitting his finisher multiple times, after he'd worked over the area that the move targets. The one V-Trigger spot that I liked was when Naito dropped to avoid it, like Omega with the Rainmaker in June, and then him blocking the next one. But, instead of going anywhere with it, Omega just cracks him with another knee.

 

They had some clever spots, like the facebuster counter into the corner that SLB pointed out, and the Destino counter to the One-Winged Angel. But, it didn't matter because they just hit their bombs and then it was onto the next one. The spot with Naito slipping on the top and hitting the post is a perfect example. It could have allowed Omega to take advantage the opening and try to win. But, instead they just got to the top rope powerbomb, countered into the rana, making the post shot mean nothing. God Bless Callis for trying to make it seems like the last Destino would have to be the finish, because Omega landed on the top of his head, but, he'd already been hit with several of them by that point.

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I knew as soon as the 3 count ended, I would probably be low on this one. There was some incredible stuff done here but they were so determined to go onto the next thing that the pace was lost. This was the worst case scenario of a Toyota match from a pacing standpoint with better execution. I went back this morning and rewatched and got even more angered. Stuff like a piledriver on a table/floor leading to Omega literally being back on offense two minutes later is too much of a leap in logic for me. I wanted to see if I was being fair so I went back and looked at the 10/31/98 Misawa vs Kobashi mtach. That was a match that I remembered really edged up to access without going over. In that match, Misawa hits the TD from the apron at the 35 minute mark and the only offense after that for Kobashi was a lariat as a defense mechanism and one chop. This match had 25 minutes of action after that piledriver spot leaving it meaningless for the finale. There is other more nitpicky stuff that has plagued some of Omega's biggest matches like the V Triggers being in excess, the first two Destino's being moot according to the way the move has been presented throughout the tournament, and Omega having Naito in the optimal position to hit the One Winged Angel which no one has kicked out of and opting for the feat of strength German instead that Okada just kicked out of the night before. All of that and a finish that was never in doubt make me portray this as a wonderful spotfest but no where near one of the best matches I have ever seen and contemplating whether modern wrestling to one degree or another has passed me by. ****

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I knew as soon as the 3 count ended, I would probably be low on this one. There was some incredible stuff done here but they were so determined to go onto the next thing that the pace was lost. This was the worst case scenario of a Toyota match from a pacing standpoint with better execution. I went back this morning and rewatched and got even more angered. Stuff like a piledriver on a table/floor leading to Omega literally being back on offense two minutes later is too much of a leap in logic for me. I wanted to see if I was being fair so I went back and looked at the 10/31/98 Misawa vs Kobashi mtach. That was a match that I remembered really edged up to access without going over. In that match, Misawa hits the TD from the apron at the 35 minute mark and the only offense after that for Kobashi was a lariat as a defense mechanism and one chop. This match had 25 minutes of action after that piledriver spot leaving it meaningless for the finale. There is other more nitpicky stuff that has plagued some of Omega's biggest matches like the V Triggers being in excess, the first two Destino's being moot according to the way the move has been presented throughout the tournament, and Omega having Naito in the optimal position to hit the One Winged Angel which no one has kicked out of and opting for the feat of strength German instead that Okada just kicked out of the night before. All of that and a finish that was never in doubt make me portray this as a wonderful spotfest but no where near one of the best matches I have ever seen and contemplating whether modern wrestling to one degree or another has passed me by. ****

 

I'd argue (or perhaps agree with your arguing) that something is innately broken/out of whack when you feel that way for a match you gave 4 stars.

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I have a firm appreciation for the effort that was put into the match. The output didn't make complete sense to me from a storyline perspective but the execution and effort was top notch. I have little doubt that in both competitors mind, they went out and accomplished exactly what they set out to. As far as my rating for a "great" match, I do think it was a great spotfest which is what I referenced above. Those cap out for me around **** historically so therefore you have the rating I have landed on here. I didn't think the amount of stuff right they did matched something like Misawa/Kobashi from 6/99 which also dipped into access.

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A total epic. Watching the match evoked a response in me that barely any other match has done before. I bought in to both the characters and their separate motivations, I was totally invested. Doing spots that looked like botches but weren't actually botches is next level working in my eyes. I agree with some of Chad's thoughts, but I will put it like this; just because Pet Sounds (Song) from Beach Boys - Pet Sounds is the weakest track on the album, the album is still *****+. Just because some of the selling could have been improved, the good stuff in the match was so good, the lesser stuff didn't matter in the macro sense. This is one of those matches that I will never ever forget watching. *****+

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This really didn't pick up for me until the end and even then, it felt a little bloated and it's obvious now that Naito needs to come up with something other than the Destino to use as his "big match" finish. I did like the general sloppiness of this match as opposed to a squeaky clean Omega spotfest, with the "botched" piledriver off the table and ringpost DDT adding something of an unstable element to the overall narrative. Naito's performance underneath was terrific, especially in the backhalf...that fainting spot during the knee strikes was awesome. But in the end, this was exhausting and a little too self-indulgent for my tastes. I preferred Okada/Omega 3 much more to this and even last year's Naito/Omega spectacle.

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What a gigantic letdown, especially compared to their excellent match last year. It sorely lacked the build and selling of that match. This felt like a mindless spotfest with no real structure. I guess some of the spots were cool and there were some neat moments but they were few and far between. The narrative I picked up on was that Naito seemed to be working from underneath but the transitions were so back and forth and weak that it didn't really work. I didn't absolutely hate it like I did Styles vs. Cena at the Rumble but this was boring as hell and a chore to get through. **

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What I said about the match in the MOTY nominations thread.

 

It's not always easy to give a match a "big fight feel", but with the entrances, the staredown, and the crowd reaction, you could FEEL the stakes of this match. You could feel that apart from the champion Okada, Kenny and Naito were the top dogs of New Japan and that only one of them would earn the right to challenge Okada's status as ace. And then the match started. This was a NJPW main event doing King's Road to perfection. There was a very clear and logical sense of escalation, with each spot getting bigger and bigger. And instead of relying solely on signature moves and finisher attempts, there were incredibly creative spots such as Kenny DDT'ing Naito onto the ring post from the turnbuckle. Though it seemed certain Naito was going to win, there were legitimately times that it looked like Kenny would pull it off. Creating a sense of doubt even when the conclusion seems forgone seems like a bit of a lost art these days, which is a shame considering it's a quality that always elevates a match to the next level. The main story was Naito targeting Kenny's neck, hitting a particularly nasty piledriver on the announce table in the process. Meanwhile, Kenny took the same deliberate approach he did in the Okada match, most evident when he hit the two standing V-Triggers. There was also a great callback to Okada-Omega at Dominion, with Naito collapsing in exhaustion during a V-Trigger attempt. And while the end may have used a finisher too many, it ultimately furthered that sense of doubt as to who would walk away the winner.

I feel like me trying to put this match into words can't do it justice. Just watch it. It's probably my number 1 pick for Match of the Year in a year that's had a boatload of great matches.

*****

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I have a firm appreciation for the effort that was put into the match. The output didn't make complete sense to me from a storyline perspective but the execution and effort was top notch. I have little doubt that in both competitors mind, they went out and accomplished exactly what they set out to. As far as my rating for a "great" match, I do think it was a great spotfest which is what I referenced above. Those cap out for me around **** historically so therefore you have the rating I have landed on here. I didn't think the amount of stuff right they did matched something like Misawa/Kobashi from 6/99 which also dipped into access.

 

I agree. Mechanically the match was good, but the layout was terrible. Even for modern day NJPW, the excess was much too..excessive, without providing any reason to be excessive. Omega was just completely out of control. I get that he's going for epic, anime fights, but reusing moves 25 times kind of takes one out of that frame of mind.

 

If these guys are going to go crazy with big moves, they need to learn some tricks to actually make the excessive near-falls reasonable. Something as simple as having a pin attempt close to the ropes so the victim can get his foot up would go a long way to making things seem less ridiculous.

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Bomb fest for the ages. Yeah, the same kinda match as AJ vs Cena at the Rumble (which I loved) was, only better. Not the absolute masterpiece their last year's G1 match was, but holy shit nonetheless. But don't do that again. MOTYC.

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My least favorite kind of NJPW match is exactly what WWM outlined above: it's the excess beyond excessive that has no reason to go to those lengths as it just dilutes things. Every awesome V-Trigger is diluted by the next and they eventually lose their impact - despite how crushing they are and how well Naito did sell. And it's hard to be invested in a match layout that forgets incredible sequences 30 seconds later - like that piledriver outside, which was incredible. Omega/Ishii from the US is another example of this type of match, and I don't even want to watch that same dance Kenny did with Elgin in the G1. Still, the effort and execution was tremendous, near perfect. also outlined above - they did build and mix things up, with high impact stuff you don't see (like Naito just taking the turnbuckle bump on his face, and the ring post DDT). I just wish those meant more in the end. ****1/2

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