Featured image by Portrait of a Wrestler

What a banger. My biggest complaint about New Japan-era Kenny Omega was, of course, the classic New Japan Bloat. A worker like Omega whose style leans towards the maximalist side of wrestling falls prey to that for sure. He throws everything into his matches, trying to figure out what will stick, and though he’ll stick the landing often, there’s always the chance of something just not clicking. So whenever Omega gets tasked to work longer than twenty minutes, there’s always the chance he gets in his own way.

Luckily not here. What we get instead is a wonderfully paced thirty minutes utilizing some of the classic Iron Man match tropes to maximum effect. While the first fifteen minutes plays out as you’d expect with both guys going back on forth on their crisp offense, things take a great turn at the halfway point.

PAC utilizes a chair shot to give up a disqualification point before following up with a quick Black Arrow to even things up. With Omega deep in the hole, PAC then inadvertently takes out the referee which allows him to wreak even more havoc like a sweet Shooting Star through a table on the outside. Spectacular offense like that is to be expected from these two but what puts it over the top is Omega’s great selling. When he’s committed to it, his exhausted selling and physicality really does a lot to put over a beatdown like what PAC lays in.

While I do wish that Omega earned his comeback a bit more, it’s never insulting. The finishing stretch is tense and they play into the Brutalizer drama pretty well. Definitely better than Jericho and Jungle Boy working a similar spot late last year. Omega’s occasional escapes followed by PAC’s desperation to keep the hold in added a lot of urgency to the ticking clock. The quickness of the overtime also did the same to put over Omega’s desperation as he reached into his bag of tricks–including a nod to an old friend–before finally pulling out the win.

Between his fantastic tag team with Hangman Page and now this excellent TV offering, Kenny Omega’s climbing the ranks on the WOTY list that he fell off so steeply in 2019. If he continues at this rate, wouldn’t be a shock to see him somewhere in the Top 20 and maybe even Top 10 given the right booking.

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