85. Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega (G1 Climax Block B Final, NJPW G1 Climax 2017)

After the bloated, excessive rematch between Okada and Onega, it’s fate that their third match took place during the first round of the G1 Climax tournament. It meant they were contained to thirty minutes. Everyone needs limits, don’t they? This contrainst reaps rewards, creating a contest that’a a clear five star match, and close, so close, to the exceedingly cracking quality of their first bout.

Movies. Movies nowadays are prone to bloat, aren’t they? When I see a movie stretching over two hours, I hope it does enough to justify its length (also, I have a small bladder, so cinema trips need to be breezy!). Same with books. Both Stephen King and JK Rowling spring to mind when I think about overlong, drawn-out books (admittedly, King has tempered his need for excess his recent novels). The same applies to wrestling matches. The ideal duration (unless it is an Iron Man match, obviously) is half an hour.

Of course, some matches justify being long. The first match between Okada and Omega went nearly fifty minutes, and it didn’t feel excessive. Every moment (well, almost) had its purpose. In their sequel, they attempted to outdo themselves, but in the process created a lot of wasted motion. Here, in their threequel, there was no time for wasted motion. A time limit always increases tension for the audience…and Omega had only thirty minutes to put away Okada.

Okada had beaten Omega im their first match. In their second, they went to a 60 minute draw. In their third match, the IWGP title wasn’t on the line. The G1 Climax was on the line! Omega had 11 points, Okada had 12 points, so all Okada had to do was reach a draw. The onus was on Omega to attain victory. The heat was on…and heel Omega was burning to put Okada away.

And hr attempts to do it by ruthlessly targeting Okada’s injured neck. Yes, this is heel Omega at his most heinous, his most vicious. A mere ten minutes in, Omega hits a reverse Frankensteiner on the outside, and Okada sells it like his neck is broken. Doctors come out; Omega is eager to get the match going again. As soon as Okada gives the thumbs up, Omega is back on the attack.

And that’s the story for the match. Omega hones in on that weakness, taking every opportunity to break Okada’s neck. Kenny’s usually criticised for putting psychology to one side in favour on big move after big move, but here he’s in-ring psychology is spot on. On the other hand, Okada is known for his inconsistent selling; but here he looks like an injured man, barely able to keep sustained offence for more than a minute or two. You can believe his neck injury is real.

Of course, they keep you gripped until the last few seconds. Will Okada overcome a tremendous beatdown, as he always does? Or will Omega’s relentless assault on Okada’s neck reap rewards? It makes this bout a G1 Climax classic (I mean, I am saying that from watching only one G1 Climax bout, this one…but surely not many can reach this level of greatness? I shall have to find out). Okada and Omega needed a time constraint, and here they create magic in under thirty minutes.

Now time for their fourth and final bout…which goes over an hour…

Hammy’s Rating: ***** (out of 5)

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


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