Updated: Jul 18
Greatest Matches of All Time Series - Okada/Omega 1
Written By Gareth Ford-Elliot
Oftentimes the most overlooked of the four meetings between Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada, their third meeting on Day 18 of the G1 Climax 27 is arguably the most fascinating. But then I would say that as I’ve just spent 3 days mulling over all the little details.
The context in which the match exists is simply fascinating with Okada only needing a draw to progress to the final and Kenny Omega needing a win in a match capped at a 30-minute time limit. Given these two are coming off a 60-minute time limit draw and a 46-minute match before that, it seems near impossible that Kenny Omega can win.
Not only this, but Omega is coming up against the one man he’s never been able to beat. So, whilst this match doesn’t have the material stakes of the previous two matches, fought for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, it does have the mental stakes on a level with the greatest tales of time. It’s not about materials. It’s about pride and fighting spirit. The very soil that Puroresu blossomed from.
With that context in place, Omega comes into this match knowing he has to dominate Okada and get a fast start in order to finish it inside 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Okada merely needs to survive. Even if Okada’s pride means he’d rather win, even if he loses, his main goal of being champion is still intact.
One thing that stats miss are context and nuance. That’s kind of why I’m here writing this. But for this match especially, context is so key. At first glance at the overall stats, it looks fairly even which contradicts the story of this match that it is one dominated by Omega.
Okada throws one more strike and, on the whole, seems to be the harder hitting with two more strike downs. Okada offered 45% of the match offence and whilst that’s still less than Omega it doesn’t tell the full story.
Okada was often striking Omega out of a place of defence, rather than using it as offence. At one point even hitting a Rainmaker just to buy himself some time, showing the desperation in that moment.
For example, Okada attempts eight fewer pinfall attempts than Omega. Whilst this shows Omega’s desperation to win, it also shows that Okada was never able to capitalise on his offence and never really looked like winning the match.
Another stat which accentuates this is taunting. Omega taunts ten times in this match, to Okada’s zero. This shows Omega had the time to catch his breath and showboat whereas Okada used every spare second he had to recover.
The match starts off fairly even with neither Okada nor Omega able to get one over the other. Lots of reversals with Omega having slightly more of the action until Okada puts together a string of moves and goes for The Rainmaker, sparking English commentator Kevin Kelly to exclaim, “Can Okada do it in less than 5 minutes?”
It’s here when Omega realises the severity of the situation, reverses the Rainmaker by sending Okada to the outside, delivers a hard drop-kick to the back of Okada’s neck. With Okada back in the ring Omega starts cranking the neck of Okada before delivering elbows.
This begins Omega’s first spell of dominance as he continues to work the neck with chops, kicks and forearms. Okada attempts comebacks but Omega is always a step ahead. Shown best when Okada goes for a senton which Omega reverses with knees to the upper back of Okada.
It’s around this point where Don Callis on commentary says, “if we’re scoring this on points, I’ve got it 10-8 Omega,” to which Kevin Kelly and Rocky Romero, also on commentary, agree. This comes immediately before Okada makes a comeback which ends as Okada goes to kick-up but is unable to and left to nurse his neck.
Omega has inflicted so much pain to Okada’s neck that it is now inhibiting him from doing fairly basic moves. Omega, seeing this, goes to take advantage but Okada, realising he could be finished, meets an attempted springboard attack by Omega with a dropkick, sending Omega to the outside. However, this proves to be an error by Okada as it allows Omega to hit a reverse-rana on the outside. This move is a physical motif in the series of matches. A move Omega continuously goes to when he’s in trouble and one that always produces results.
Okada is then down for the best part of a minute as referee Red Shoes and a doctor check on Okada. Omega’s patience runs thin, however, as he picks Okada up and delivers a Snap-German Suplex making Okada’s neck bounce off the ring apron. Omega then hits Aoi Shoudou in the ring, snapping Okada’s neck off his knee.
At this point Omega’s second spell of dominance is in full flow. Okada kicks out but Omega delivers multiple V-Triggers, not allowing Okada to fall to the floor which leads Rocky Romero to say, “I think Red Shoes should stop this.” Red Shoes meanwhile looks helplessly to the audience.
Omega struggles to put Okada away but dominates the match by maintaining a level of offence that allows him to maintain control without exerting huge amounts of energy. Omega uses submissions and grapples in these moments to control Okada whilst he plots out space to hit his bigger moves.
Submissions and grapples are two of the ways Omega builds his total offence to a significantly higher level than Okada. Knowing he must control the tempo of the fight without gassing out and allowing Okada time to recover.
As the match approaches the 17-minute mark, Okada refuses to stay down and attempts a comeback. As Omega delivers a series of chops which drops Okada to his knees, they only act to anger Okada. Omega goes for a V-Trigger which Okada defiantly blocks.
But however defiant Okada is in spirit, his body is breaking. He attempts punches to Omega but they are too feeble and laughed off by Omega who attempts the One Winged Angel. Okada, knowing the peril that awaits him after that move, hits a Tombstone Piledriver to buy himself some time.
As Omega gets to his feet Okada lands a dropkick from the top rope which grounds Omega and presents Okada with an opportunity. Except Okada’s neck can’t take the impact of landing the dropkick as Omega starts to see the fruits of his early strategy.
From here it’s a sprint to the finish. Big move traded with big move. Just as Omega seems to gain some momentum Okada hits a dropkick, a German Suplex or a Rainmaker to buy himself some time.
Omega, conscious of the time as we creep towards the final five minutes, starts to make desperate pin attempts but Okada’s resilience kicks in as he kicks out of them all. Suddenly it becomes obvious that Omega is struggling to put Okada away, with Okada now looking just to survive the 30 minutes.
Omega, realising this, goes through his list of moves as Okada keeps avoiding the One-Winged Angel. Omega hits suplexes, a reverse-rana, Croyt’s Wrath and V-Triggers but nothing can put Okada away.
Okada’s attempts to stop Omega have grown feebler as his body is now almost finished. Omega, desperate, prays to the sky for a second before hitting a mean V-Trigger. Don Callis, unable to contain his excitement, says “that’s the move that’s worked all night for him!” Omega lifts Okada up for the One-Winged Angel and finally hits it, securing the win over Okada after two hours, eleven minutes and 24-seconds of trying.
This result had so much significance coming off it. Firstly, just in the ramifications for the G1 Climax, meaning Omega progresses to the final. But beyond that it’s Omega proving to the world that he truly does belong at the elite tier.
Beyond that it puts a stain on Okada’s record, one he as a proud, fighting champion will want to set right which establishes a reason for Omega and Okada to fight again. To set the record straight once and for all.
And what it means for that future bout, Omega now has the strategy to defeat Okada. How will Okada adapt his strategy? Can he come back to prove he truly is the best?
It gives the perfect set-up for what is considered by many to be the greatest wrestling match of all time. A statistical breakdown of that match will appear on Pro Wrestling Musings soon. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, why not check out the breakdown of the first and second in the Okada vs Omega series available on PWM now!