IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
Ryusuke Taguchi (c) vs. Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega is one of those performers that’s been working in the business his entire adult life, which makes it feel like he’s way past his prime and on the tail end of a less than spectacular career. Then you find out his biographical info and realize he’s only 31 — younger than most of the other stars on this card outside of the glorious golden child Okada — and in fact just entering the point of his career when most performers begin to come into their own. And this match, with its nearly perfect mix of storyline and spectacle [ref] 1. Which, while buttressed to a “elevating the match” extent on the English broadcast, even popped in the Japanese edition[/ref] was exactly the type of match where a performer like him — who has, from the very beginning understood “it” (meaning the whole point of the damn enterprise, to entertain) and the power of “it” when mixed with the right combination of technical skill (which he has in abundance) to move audiences as well as mountains — can do exactly that.
From his matches wrestling little girls — which is its own special kind of spectacle — to the subtle charm of deciding to only do interviews in English (despite being fluent in Japanese) after joining the Bullet Club, he’s been the type of performer that can become a star not just from his sheer talent — of which there is plenty — but his dedication to his craft. All of that came across in this match, and along with the botched interference of the Jackson brothers (the Young Bucks are, not surprisingly, part of the Bullet Club alongside Omega) gave their storyline — him being the only member other than AJ Styles to not just keep or win a title, but a match at all during the show — a major boost.
However, as someone unfamiliar with Taguchi, he came off as a bit of a letdown for a roster so talented to be represented by someone so… middle of the road? With a Disco Inferno gimmick and a moveset that didn’t exactly set the world on fire, it felt like the goal was to give Omega an easy target to pick off to start his ascension (and presumably his separation from TBC). Which, given Omega’s talent was at least a little disappointing and ultimately stopped this match from being a classic, or even on par with other great matches last night.
Match .75 | PPV 4.1