Last January in the historic Tokyo Dome two performers in the prime of their careers carved out a moment in time that won’t soon be forgotten by professional wrestling fans. Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada put on one of the best pro wrestling performances seen in years, possibly ever. Fans around the world were left in awe and within days the match had been seen millions of times across multiple continents. The Pro Wrestling Observer rated the match an unheard of 6 stars & Kenny Omega quickly became the hottest free agent in professional wrestling.
Throwing around labels like “best match ever” or “greatest match in the modern era” on any match is sure to incite debate and negativity. Not every pro wrestling fan appreciates Omega’s propensity for theatrics and high risk spots. One fact is without question though: The main event of Wrestle Kingdom 11 was an epic performance by both men & generated more buzz internationally for NJPW than the company has ever experienced, especially in North America.
Since January, the two men have gone their separate ways. Okada has successfully defended his IWGP Title against worthy contenders such as Shibata & Bad Luck Fale. “The RainMaker” is the face of NJPW and is being treated as such. Omega, after playing coy during rampant rumors of a WWE signing, finally resigned with NJPW in February. “The Cleaner” has been relatively quiet since rejoining NJPW; suffering a surprise first round loss in the New Japan Cup & mostly working tag matches with the Bullet Club.
No one was sure when a rematch would occur, but at the NJPW Dontaku event the answer was revealed. After defeating Omega’s friend & Bullet Club member, Bad Luck Fale, Okada called out Omega for a rematch. Okada choosing Omega as his next opponent shows the level of respect between the two men & instantly sets the stage for one of the biggest rematches in recent memory.
The entire wrestling world will be watching on June 11th at NJPW Dominion. Omega vs Okada II will undoubtedly be a phenomenal match. Both men always elevate their performances when it matters most. While both Omega and Okada will be focusing on (somehow) topping their first match, what else is at stake?
NJPW is at a crossroads as a company. The NJPW World video streaming service is available internationally & for the first time ever they will be holding events on American soil this July. The company is clearly trying to expand beyond Japan; but is also deeply rooted in its own traditions and culture.
Many expected Kenny Omega to win his first encounter with Okada in January due to the incredible hot streak he was on & his undeniable marketability to North American fans. When Okada won at Wrestle Kingdom 11 it signified that “The Rainmaker” had been chosen, at least for now, to lead NJPW’s expansion in 2017.
Omega vs Okada II presents another opportunity for NJPW to pass the torch to Omega. Kenny Omega has stated publicly multiple times that he feels he is the best choice to lead NJPW into international success. It is hard to argue with Omega; the Bullet Club is as popular as ever in North America & Europe. Omega & The Young Bucks YouTube channel “Being the Elite” is watched by thousands outside of Japan every week. Okada is a fantastic IWGP champion but the stage is set (again) for NJPW to make a change & in doing so help spread their brand across the globe.
The IWGP Championship is a prestigious title; only a handful of Gaijin have ever been crowned champion. Kenny Omega has proven he is worthy & is the right choice for champion in 2017. On June 11th, one of the best matches of all time will have a rematch & NJPW will have an opportunity to truly begin a new era. The wrestling will be fantastic, but there is more on the line at Dominion than just bragging rights.