Unless you’ve been living under a rock or don’t have a Twitter account, you’ve probably heard about a huge match happening soon. On June 9th in Osaka we are going to get to see the continuation of a feud that helped to define 2017 as one of the greatest years in pro wrestling, Okada/Omega 4. Their feud began at Wrestle Kingdom 12 where Okada retained in a spectacular match that broke Dave Meltzer’s rating scale, continued that June at Dominion where the two went to a 60 minute draw, and most recently where Omega was able to secure his first win against Okada in the G1 but not for the title. The feud helped to launch Omega into superstardom and was a major part of Okada’s current historic title reign with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This rematch has major implications for the future of New Japan as a company and I’m going to tell you why Kenny Omega will step out of Dominion as the newly crowned champion. But also why he won’t.
Omega’s path to the belt truly began when he won the G1 Climax in a classic match against Hirooki Goto, making him the first foreigner to ever win the tournament. This set him on the path to face Okada in the Tokyo Dome. It just felt like it was Omega’s time with the title, I know I definitely felt that way as I watched the match live at four in the morning. But it wasn’t Kenny’s time and neither was the draw they had at Dominion just a few months later. It wasn’t until their third meeting Omega pulled out a win but he couldn’t finish the job against Naito in the G1 Final.
This all occurred during a time when New Japan was looking to expand West so naturally you would think Omega would be a great person to be the wrestler to lead the company in this direction. But it seems at the time they were more comfortable to continue having Okada be the face of the company. That said, now is Omega’s time. He’s only grown in popularity due to his amazing matches throughout 2017. He’s fluent in Japanese and now that he’s turned face, he’s using it in his promos again which allows him to connect with both the Japanese fans and Western fans. He’s made it obvious he has no interest in leaving for WWE like past foreigners in the company have done so he’s someone New Japan can safely put a lot of stock in. They clearly trust him a lot considering they made him the inaugural IWGP United States Champion and that they are allowing him to run an event with the New Japan name, the NJPW x CEO Event this summer. This is a big deal in comparison to All In which is using New Japan talent but not the name. Omega is also the perfect way to sell out the upcoming show in California at the Cow Palace. Who wouldn’t want to see the newly crowned champ Omega defend his title for the first time, likely in a rematch against Okada or a continuation of his feud with Cody? In addition, Okada really doesn’t have anything else to do as champion. He’s broken the record for longest reign and most title defenses in a single reign. He’s defended against big names on the roster as well big Japanese stars outside the company like Naomichi Marufuji. You could continue to solidify Okada’s historical reign but at this point it’s just frosting on the cake. There are really two men that could likely end Okada’s reign, Naito or Omega. Naito already had his shot this year and Kenny Omega is the perfect man to continue New Japan’s expansion west as they attempt to grow and to become a legitimate alternative to WWE. So it’s highly likely he’s walks out of Dominion June 9th as champion.
But there is a very good reason why he won’t, you never bet against Kazuchika Okada. This year at Wrestle Kingdom 12 Okada defended his title against the hottest wrestler in New Japan, Tetsuya Naito. Every time you turned on a New Japan show the crowd volume doubled when Naito appeared, everyone loved him and LIJ. He was finally going to main event Wrestle Kingdom against Okada like he was supposed to four years earlier and win the title. But then he didn’t. New Japan clearly had more faith in Okada to grow the business and it’s hard to blame them. New Japan’s growth with Okada as the face of the company has been nothing short of a miracle really and why would they want to deviate from that. Minus a few months where they gave Naito a short title run in 2016, Okada has been IWGP Champ for three straight years since he won the title from AJ Styles in 2015. Okada is New Japan’s Ace and it’s really hard to bet against him yet again retaining against Omega at Dominion. Not to mention his record at the event itself. Okada has main evented Dominion five times and the only time he lost was his first main event in 2012 against Hiroshi Tanahashi. He could easily increase his record at Dominion to 5-1 by defeating Omega here.
The match could go either way and it’s going to decide the future of the company which is exciting. I’m personally expecting Omega to finally finish the story that began Summer of 2016 and capture the title. But regardless of the result, with these two guys in the ring together it’s going to be a must see match. If you want to watch, it will be live on New Japan World June 9th 3:00 AM EST.
Follow author of this article, and NAIborhood Member TJ on Twitter at @aspir_