First reviewed here.
A lot of this match’s issues can be traced back to Will Ospreay. That man will just never be my favorite, too much of his stylistic approach to wrestling just doesn’t jive with my own. For all his natural abilities, there’s always just some choice or moment that always gives me pause. In this particular match, it’s when he takes that big bump to the apron on the missed Oscutter. Great bump, looks gross, and Omega follows up immediately too with the vicious double stomp through a table on Ospreay’s back. All of this on top of the fact that Omega’s been consistently working over Ospreay’s back after an early crash into the ringside barricade.
Somehow, it’s at this high point of Omega’s offense that Ospreay forcibly fights back, punching Omega to the barricade. He follows up by hitting a perfect twisting moonsault off the top rope to the floor too, leading to a brief comeback that Omega has to cut off in the ring. It’s maddening!
I’ve found that there’s a lot about body part selling and limb selling that I’m willing to forgive but the combo of Omega’s target assault on Ospreay’s back, the vicious barrage kicked off by the apron bump, and then Ospreay doing this beautiful move off the top rope just sent alarm bells ringing in my head. Deeply annoying spot, sort of indicative of a lot of my issues with Ospreay in that even as he moves closer to striking a good balance, flash somehow always overtakes substance for the worse.
Luckily, none of that matters too much. No matter what choices and quirks bother me about this match, none of it can really take away from the core of what it is. What it is is something too powerfully enjoyable to deny.
This match is about Will Ospreay dying. Repeatedly. In increasingly brutal fashion.
Sitting through the first half of this match for the second time since watching it live, I thought the euphoria of Ospreay’s decimation might be dulled by a more critical eye. And while there’s nothing quite like recapturing the high of watching it unfold in real time and sharing that excitement with similarly minded friends online, boy does this still fucking rock.
The credit there must go to Kenny Omega. He’s not a perfect wrestler, but something about stepping into the Tokyo Dome again must have awoken something in him. That Dome air hit his bloodstream, and for half an hour, The Best Bout Machine got to live again. It’s a glorious, hellacious beating that Omega delivers here. The V Triggers are always good, but they have some real fucking crunch to them here. The power moves all land with such impact, Ospreay’s a great bumper and makes all of them look fantastic.
But Omega’s always been a wrestler who works best in all caps, and it’s the setpieces that stun. The DDT into the exposed turnbuckle, ramming Ospreay’s bloodied head repeatedly into the folding table, and the Croyt’s Wrath from the top rope are breathtaking. Genuine goddamn screamers that get the fist pumping. There’s such a casual disdain from Omega in this match, this almost breezy ability to steamroll this pretender to his throne in the Tokyo Dome. Even on a character level, Ospreay’s wrestling like he has something to prove, Omega’s wrestling like he’s done it all.
I praise the massive moments, but there’s even space for small details in Omega’s performance too. Denying Ospreay a headscissors counter to a headlock in the match’s first moments was one of the spots that signaled to me that something a little better than expected might be unfolding.
In the time since this first aired, I’ve also softened on aspects of Ospreay’s performance too. Mechanically, I think he does a lot right here. For one, the match relies heavily on his bumping and recklessness to put over the massive pile of shit that he has to eat in front of the Tokyo audience. But his selling between the setpieces works more than it doesn’t too. After the DDT to the turnbuckle, he’s basically dead in the water and he puts that over well. In spite of his offense, he’s also mostly mindful of his back, constantly reaching and stretching it out in the match’s quieter moments.
It’s got its warts, as a lot of work from these two do, but sometimes a match just has an idea it wants to run with that makes it all worth it. Sign me up for Ospreay death any day of the week.