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#MustWatchMonday (1/2/17): Kenny Omega, Main Eventer



Hey guys, it's Ro filling in for Brandon on the very first #MustWatchMonday of 2017.

As you all know, Wrestle Kingdom 11 is happening this Wednesday (already)! NJPW was very kind to make all January 4 Tokyo Dome shows free on NJPW World until WK11, and they went the extra mile to make all the title matches of 2016 free to watch for the same period of time as well. That means you've got the next few days (and, well, this whole holiday season) to get hyped and stay hyped for the big show.

And since for the first time in a long time, someone not from the established NJPW status quo is challenging for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom, it's time we take another good look at Kenny Omega. NJPW World making 2016 title matches free to watch gives us the bonus of seeing how Omega might wrestle in the main event.

We're talking specifically about his Intercontinental Championship match versus Hiroshi Tanahashi at The New Beginning In Niigata.




All right, so basically, it's your typical NJPW main event-style match, meaning to say it's a long, drawn-out affair that follows the traditional pro wrestling formula, but makes it intense because FIGHTING SPIRIT and Japan and whatnot. However, since a gaijin and the Bullet Club are involved, Western-style faction shenanigans are also in play.

In the early goings, Kenny opts to wrestle the match one-on-one, refusing the help of fellow Bullet Club members Cody Hall and Yujiro Takahashi. Kenny wrestles a mean game, staying on top of Mr. 1/100 and targeting his arm in a vicious assault. Kenny takes Tanahashi all around the unforgiving steel at ringside, and when Tanahashi finally fires up and starts fighting back, eventually culminating in Tana getting Kenny in a painful Texas cloverleaf, the Young Bucks emerge from under the ring and interfere. Bullet Club comes back down, but it's former ROH World Champion (and yet-to-be IWGP Intercontinental Champion at the time) Michael Elgin who comes down to make the save for Tanahashi, clearing out Bullet Club.

A lot of good things happened in this match. One is that there are a lot of references to former NJPW wrestlers in the match. Kenny does a Styles Clash to mock AJ Styles, who they kicked out of Bullet Club before he left for the WWE. Both Kenny and Tanahashi do little tributes to Shinsuke Nakamura, arguably the greatest IWGP Intercontinental Champion of all the times; Kenny hits a few Boma Yes, especially one before he hits the One Winged Angel for the win, and Tana does Shinskay's infamous corner moves.

Second was the underratedly clever structuring and booking of the match. One might say that the Bullet Club interference spoiled what was a solid technical and hard-hitting match, but they needed to do that to reestablish Omega as the clear heel, just in case the audience was starting to think of cheering for him. The true genius of whoever booked that match lay in Elgin coming down and getting rid of the Young Bucks, ensuring that even though the Bullet Club needed to interfere, the match was going to end clean after all. And Tanahashi surviving all the odds showed why he is a true Ace of the company—of course, up until the point where Kenny was just too much for him.

Most importantly, though, the match reaffirmed that Kenny can absolutely go in a main event position. Not that diehard fans really needed to be told that again, but just in case there were people who needed to be convinced that he was in the same mold as Okada, Tanahashi, Nakamura, and Naito, here you go. He's just as good in that NJPW long haul. In fact, I will personally go so far to say that he's NJPW's new Nakamura, although that's a disservice to Kenny in itself.

Photo from NJPW

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