There has never been a wrestler on a hotter 18-month streak than Kenny Omega. It is arguable that he is the best wrestler in the world right now. He is the king of the IWC, and the hottest non-WWE name today and quite possibly ever. It really all began January 5th 2016, after pinning then IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura clean, and then laying out then tag team partner AJ Styles. Omega had finally arrived.
It seemed that Omega and Nakamura were headed to a showdown for the IWGP IC Title, but in a rare move by NJPW, they instead stripped Nakamura of the title as he announced he was leaving the company. So instead of facing Nakamura for the title, on February 18th 2016 Omega would face and defeat Hiroshi Tanahashi for the title. Surprisingly four months later, Omega would drop the title to Michael Elgin in a ladder match. All in all, it was a pretty disappointing title run, that may have suffered from the minute NJPW stripped Nakamura instead of him putting Omega over.
Later that summer Omega would compete in the annual G1 Climax tournament. He would dominate with a 7-3 record to become the first non-Japanese winner ever. After defending his guaranteed Wrestle Kingdom title shot multiple times, he was headed for a show down with IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada.
We all know what happened next. Omega and Okada for nearly 46 minutes put on what may have been the greatest match ever. We all know about the 6 star rating from Dave Meltzer. Okada retained, and one could argue, that if Omega’s future was not up in the air at the time, that maybe the result would have been different. It was again disappointing to see Omega dominate so much only to fall short despite the greatness of the match.
After some time away, Omega returned in March, but surprisingly was eliminated in the first round of the New Japan Cup to earn another title shot at Okada by Tomohiro Ishii. Omega would avenge the loss in May, and it was there that Okada announced Omega as his challenger for the Dominion show.
The rematch happened on June 11th and despite going to a 60 minute draw, was ranked even higher by Dave Meltzer, getting 6.25 stars. For all the greatness of the match, it will perhaps be remembered for Cody Rhodes attempting to throw in the towel during the later part of the match. It would appear that the stage was set for Okada/Omega 3, but shockingly NJPW, has gone in another direction.
Before the G1 US special, the G1 Climax blocks were announced and surprisingly Omega and Okada are both in the same block together. Which means Okada/Omega 3 will happen in the G1 and not in a defining title match. The other “unique” aspect of the G1 pairing is that the fourth match could also happen in the G1 as well. It makes no sense as to why NJPW would pay this off in the G1 and not in a final title showdown. Even if Omega wins the G1, does Omega/Okada FIVE hold the same value, especially if Omega already has a win or two over Okada from the G1?
Now to get back to current events, over the coarse of two nights at the G1 US special, Omega put on three of the best matches of 2017 on his way to becoming the first IWGP United States Champion. As of this writing, there is no information on the direction of the title. With NJPW looking to establish a stronger U.S. presence, it has been speculated that the title is part of that. As of now, as far as the U.S. is concerned Omega is the face of NJPW.
But will that be enough?
Is it the growing presence of Cody Rhodes? Is it the lack of long term contract? Is it the fact that he is American (Gaijin)? There is something missing as to why NJPW won’t pull the trigger on Omega as the top guy of the promotion. Does Omega get frustrated at the lack of payoff for his character and finally take the WWE offer that he has turned down each year for the last 3 years? Only time will tell, but let’s hope there is a bigger plan in place for Omega.
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