Battle of the Feuds: Comparing Reigns/Lesnar and Okada/Omega
For all the current day problems with Professional Wrestling, most notably its seemingly consistent failure to live up to the high standards of previous eras, 2018 is an interesting time to be a fan. There is a certain buzz of anticipation in the air for what might come, and a large part of that has been the growth of the non-WWE wrestling world.
Over in New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada have just concluded the latest chapter of a rivalry that has caught the imagination of fans across the world. Their epic encounters have already formed part of wrestling folklore and is taking NJPW into unchartered territory as far as their Western appeal is concerned.
Over in WWE, however, the company has been struggling to keep fans engaged. Despite some very lucrative TV deals struck recently, the in-ring action and overall booking appear to still be on a downward trend. Their main rivalry over the WWE Universal Title, contested by Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar has only served to throw more fans towards New Japan as once loyal members of the WWE Universe are craving something new and exciting.
The following article takes a look at the two signature rivalries that have dominated both WWE and NJPW over recent years, assessing the success of each and how they ultimately measure up when pitted against each other:
#1 Match quality
Those who have witnessed every individual match these four have put on together will probably be of the opinion that the Reigns vs Lesnar feud cannot hold a candle to Omega vs Okada in terms of sheer match quality. For most, deciding on this one is a mere formality.
Whatever your thoughts on Dave Meltzer and the Wrestling Observer, you have to admit that when a feud consistently breaks the 5-star rating system, designed to grade wrestling matches from across the world, you know you have something fairly special on your hands.
Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada have given wrestling fans a series of classics they are not likely to ever forget. Their first meeting at Wrestling Kingdom 11 was nothing short of sensational and drew in many first-time Western viewers to the New Japan product.
And just when we thought nothing could top it, the pair well and truly surpassed their first effort at Dominion later that same year. Not even 6 stars were enough to contain the classic time-limit draw that once again saw Omega fall short of his dream to capture the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
The jury is still out on where their latest chapter will ultimately feature, but even if it doesn't quite reach the heights of those that came before it, one would expect the 5-star rating system to be under serious threat all the same.
So, in light of this, is there anything that can be said for Lesnar vs Reigns?
Once you accept that the WWE Superstars are currently no match for Okada and Omega in the ring, you start to appreciate what Reigns and Lesnar did manage to give us in terms of match quality. True, it's not exactly promising when the best thing you can say about something is that it surpassed quite low expectations, but the fact of the matter is that these two did put on some entertaining stuff, which was a lot better than many of us originally thought.
Their meeting at WrestleMania 31, for example, was hard-hitting and fun. Lesnar managed to make us feel every inch of punishment he dished out to The Big Dog, and when Reigns did finally get the momentum back on his side, it felt like we were right there with them, chopping down the seemingly unbeatable Beast.
Their WrestleMania 34 meeting was a lot less impressive, however, with the two of them relying far too heavily on the 'shoot-fight' element. It was sluggish and clumsy, and at least as far as Brock was concerned, it felt very half-baked. And by the time the Greatest Royal Rumble came around, the pair couldn't really give us anything more, despite the added stipulation of the steel cage.
If you searched hard enough, you might find one or two that would claim Lesnar and Reigns put on the better series of matches, but any wrestling fan worth their salt really ought to know better. Omega and Okada easily win this round.