97. Kenny Omega vs Tetsuo Naito (NJPW G1 Climax 28 2018)

I just realised…I never finished the Naito/Onega G1 Climax trilogy! Their first bout, at G1 Climax 2016, was a five star classic (click here for my review). Their second bout, the following year, was great, but bloated and OTT (click here for my review. How would their third G1 Climax bout rate among those two much-loved bouts? Let’s just say it was my least favourite out of the three…

Here, Omega was the IWGPWorld Champion, after finally defeating Okada for the belt. He was cocky, at the top of his game, and thought he would streamroll over Naito. Would Naito be able to defeat the champion, securing a future title shot? They were one victory apiece at the G1 Climax…who would win the rubber match?

I hate to say it, but if you’ve seen the previous two clashes between the two, you’ve seen this one. Their first match was a five star classic, their second bout was bogged down by an excessive ending. This third bout is a mix of those, and doesn’t really do anything different. There’s an electric chair reversal into a sunset flip powerbomb off the tope rope, but apart from that, the two wrestlers simply copy and paste from their two previous clashes.

And, to be fair, it’s still creates a good bout. There’s tension over who could win. Omega plays the cocky, arrogant wrestler really well, openly mocking Naito to encourage fan support (which works a treat). From that point of view, this bout has the psychological edge over their second encounter, which was just big move after big move ad infinitum. But, eventuallt, it does descend into big move after big love, with little story or meaning behind what is happening.

Of course, it isn’t a bad match. If you haven’t seen either of their previous two bouts, you’ll love this one. But, after seeing those two, you’ll appreciate this is a series of diminishing returns. Their first G1 Climax remains their best.

Hammy’s Rating: *** (out of 5)

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


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