The build for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 has been an entertaining one so far. And as the card has taken shape, it’s looking like it will be a great show, like usual, that will be worth staying up late to watch live!
Recently, it was announced that there is a DOUBLE main event: Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship and Tetsuya Naito vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Some fans aren’t happy about the Omega v Jericho match taking the spotlight away from the long-awaited Tokyo Dome main event match for Naito. The company has been building to that title shot for quite some time now. And while some are unhappy about the double main event label, others are pleased that NJPW will be getting more global exposure. This is in part due to the participation of Chris Jericho.
Regardless of your feelings about it being branded as a co-main event, here is why you should be excited about Alpha vs Omega:
During the NJPW World Tag League Finals, Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks reigned victorious in their match against Roppongi 3K and Rocky Romero. After the match, a video from Chris Jericho played on the big screen. When it was over, Jericho attacked Kenny Omega from behind. This was their first face-to-face interaction since the beginning of their feud and the announcement of their WK match.
During the encounter, Jericho hit Omega with the IWGP United States title, resulting in Kenny getting some color. A blade job hasn’t been done in a NJPW match in a long time, which helped make their in-ring brawl more unique. It was a touch of old school flare which helped the confrontation seem more intense, more special, more REAL.
Following this, there was a press conference where both Omega and Jericho talked separately, answering questions about their WK matchup and their confrontation that had just taken place the night before.
“After the challenge, I thought this would become a gentlemen’s contest. This would truly be the best in the world versus possibly the greatest of all time. I was excited…You know as professional wrestlers we are performers, we are artists, and sometimes we get caught up too much in the entertainment of the fans. Someone like me gets too caught up in five star matches, six star matches, best bouts, being the MVP. You reminded me yesterday, Chris Jericho, that at its core, professional wrestling is a fight. So I understand now what I must do. This isn’t EVER gonna be who’s the greater athlete. This isn’t gonna be who can attach themselves more to the fans, who can win over our live crowd. This isn’t gonna be who the world is cheering for. This isn’t gonna be WWE vs New Japan Pro Wrestling. This is gonna be a fight between two men who truly think they are the best.
I am willing to shed my blood for it, Chris. And you’re willing to shed blood for it too, I can feel it.
This has become something special, something that’s really taken a life of its own…As professional wrestlers we have pride. Being a main event is a prideful thing. It’s a feather in our cap; its’ a notch in our belt. This year I was able to main event against Kazuchika Okada, possibly one of the greatest matches of all time. And I take pride in saying that that WAS a main event. A main event worth remembering, a main even that may become legendary. I have no doubt in my mind, Chris, that our match at the Tokyo Dome will be a legendary match, but I could care less where it is on the card.
This has now become a personal battle. So, Chris, bring your best. And next time, yes, I can promise you you’re not going to get a chance to attack me from behind, you’re going to see me coming head on.”
Shortly after that, during Jericho’s question and answer session at the same conference, Kenny Omega then attacked Jericho. He came diving in, and they traded blows. It looked very realistic, and felt like a passionate exchange with real emotion behind it. Chris Jericho then threw a table at Omega and couldn’t be held back by those trying to restrain him. He also cursed, dropping the f-bomb multiple times. It was nice to see this unrestricted Chris Jericho. And as Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer have recently commented that it’s nice to see him in a more free, creative environment where he isn’t reading from a script and hitting specific marks for the camera. Everything looked natural.
They are building this match as an all-out brawl between two of the best in the world. The interactions have felt raw and sincere, and nothing has felt forced or fake in my opinion. The promos have been well thought out and delivered with conviction and emotion. And even though NJPW may be using a world-class performer who is known for being a staple of the WWE product, the company is doing a great job at making the feud feel different than a WWE match. But at the same time, they are still making the match appeal to those who may be more accustomed to that WWE brand, which really is a testament to NJPW’s commitment to reaching a wider, more global wrestling audience.
The match has a big fight, real sports type of feel to it. And that’s nothing new for NJPW-style matches, but what is different about this buildup is the classic, “old school” wrestling feel to the storyline. The use of color in the attack of Omega by Jericho, the short, intense interactions between the two, and the well-delivered promos are all evidence of the possible classic that could be in the making. Meltzer and Alvarez compared this build to that of 80s-style wrestling, even comparing the Omega/Jericho promos to some of Flair’s classic promos. Meltzer called Jericho’s performance at the end of the press conference, “elite-level pro wrestler performance at a level you don’t see in this era.”
So avoid spoilers altogether by watching Wrestle Kingdom 12 live on January 4th on njpwworld.com. All the matches will be great! But I am confident from knowing the caliber of both wrestlers involved and from what I’ve seen so far that during Alpha vs Omega you will, no doubt, bear witness to the birth of a wrestling classic!