Updated: Jul 18
Today we are contrasting the greatest rivalry in North America with the greatest rivalry of all time. That being WCW's 1989 Steamboat/Flair trilogy with NJPW's 2017/18 Omega/Okada series. In the following graphics and charts you will find an embarrassment of riches in comparative data.
The 3 match series from 1989 is almost 2 hours less in the ring than the late 2010s genre bending entry, that one benefiting from having an extra match. That being said, the average length of a Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega match is 50:18 and the average length of a Ricky Steamboat vs Ric Flair match (in this trilogy) is 35:21. Meaning the average Steamboat/Flair match is 70% the length of the average Okada/Omega match.
As mentioned many times on this site, comparing match totals doesn't really tell us much out with which match or series accumulated the most ring time. So below we are going to look at the average performances of the competitors in each match.
This match series has been compared and contrasted in a lot of detail in the following article. If you haven't read it, it does fit in nicely before you tackle this one. But the short version is that Omega tends to out do Okada in the ring in almost all metrics with Okada's reversal ability leading to Rainmaker laden victories.
These are the averages for both men across the Steamboat/Flair trilogy. What immediately jumps out is how much more plentiful a lot of their offence is. Especially Strike Rates and Submission Rates. For even more numbers and analysis of this series, check out this article.
Below we are going to dive into the crux of the matter. How does almost 30 years and differing competitors in the ring lead to similarities and differences between these two titanic rivalries.
Here we have compared the performances of winners and losers in the seven matches. Please note, in the Dominion 2017 match, Okada has been considered the winner, even though it was a draw as he was champion going in and coming out of the match, just to make that match displayable on this graphic.
As you can see the matches from 1989 were far more plentiful in total offence with only the G1 clash getting anywhere near it as the lesser match time enabled the two competitors to wrestler at a far higher speed. The other three Okada/Omega matches are very closely clustered together.
The image below is a screenshot of the total offence from each match, sorted by which had the most frenetic pace. As you can see, all three of the Flair/Steamboat matches out-paced the Okada/Omega matches. This is not just down to match length as the Clash of Champions match was longer than two of the Okada/Omega matches.
As previously mentioned, the Steamboat/Flair matches are brimming with Strikes and Submission holds. But how do the matches compare in other facets?
In terms of Strike Rate and Submission Rate, the WCW matches dwarf the NJPW ones. However Strikedown, Grapple and Dive Rates are much more comparable.
Strikedowns are slightly more common in Steamboat/Flair but sometimes Omega/Okada matches contained more. Grapple Rates were more notable in the Okada/Omega series, only the Wrestle War clash between Flair and Steamboat rivaling any of those matches. Unsurprisingly, Dive Rates are higher in the more recent matches, however not by as much of a margin as you would think.
The next collection of in-ring metrics show big differences in Pin Attempt Rates and use of Fouls. With Flair's influence on proceedings becoming apparent. Check out Flair's use of these metrics in the Steamboat/Flair article mentioned earlier in this article.
As you can see from the above chart, Omega and Okada are utilising Reversals at a faster rate than Steamboat and Flair but the Chi-Town Rumble match did out-do both marathon Dominion encounters in that regard.
With the exception of Wrestle War which was notable for Flair's complete abandoning of his previous tactics, the other two Steamboat/Flair encounters dwarfed the Okada/Omega series in terms of Pin Attempt Rates. As they did with Foul Rates as Flair's heel antics were far more prevalent than Omega's.
Steamboat and Flair's matches also contained more taunting but Omega and Okada used slightly more established finishing manoeuvres in comparison.
To further compare these matches, we also have averages for heel/face performances, winning/losing performances and rates of performances for each wrestler across all 7 matches.
Thank you for reading. If you haven't already make use of the Excel sheet to make your own observations and let us know in the comments below!