84. Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Kenny Omega (IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match, NJPW Dominion 2017)

Could the inevitable rematch between Okada and Omega live up to the greatness of the original? According to Dave Meltzer, it surpassed the original; he awarded it 6.25 stars!!! At the time, that was his highest rated match ever. He was right about their first bout…but their rematch fell below my very high expectations.

Now, that’s not to say it’s even a mediocre match. It’s very good, sometimes great, but it’s probably 15/20 minutes too long. One of my favourite films is Terminator 2, but I can admit it is a little bloated. And, by God, this match is bloated. Like some of the more recent Okada matches I’ve watched, the first third is padded out without any real meaning or purpose. And this match goes on for one hour…and I felt the first twenty minutes dragged on for just as long.

Now, if these twenty minutes played into thr story or finish or the match, then I’d understand. But the first third of the match sees Omega target Okada’s leg…and, to be fair, Okada sells it really well. Up until they hit the middle of the match, and promptly Okada forgets about it. Come on! I mean, Okada is known for his impressive dropkick, yet he’s spamming away with it at the end of the match. What was the purpose of working on Okada’s legs if he isn’t going to sell it properly?

If you disregard the wasted first third, however, the finals two thirds of the match almost reach the heights of their first clash. Gloos over Okada’s knee magically healing itself, and you have the makings of another five star collision. These two build upon their first encounter, revisiting sequences with a different twist or counter, digging down deep into their already cavernous reportoires. Once again, a table is teased, and once again reaps rewards.

It’s in the last five minutes the match veers off into absurdity and bloat, however. All I remember is Omega attempting the One-Winged Angle, Okada hitting a dropkick…rinse and repeat. For all the inventiveness and innovation shown in the middle portion, this repetitive inanity is a crying shame. It also suffers from the habit of both wrestlers to sell utter exhaustion one second, and then be hurtling around the ring at 100 mph the next.

Like many sequels, this goes for bloat over brevity, excess over simplicity. I feel that they had the goal of wrestling for an hour, but didn’t plan it out well enough or think through the logic or story of the bout. There’s a five star match somewhere here, and the middle portion (and most of the last  portion) fly high along with the quality of their first encounter. But the first third ended up heing meaningless, and the last five minutes feel like they are never going to end. More often than not, less is more…

Hammy’s Rating: **** (out of 5)

(Click here for more of ‘A Wrestling Match A Day‘)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.