NJPWWrestling News: Omega vs. Okada at WK11 Voted Wrestling Oberver's Match of the Year for 2017
What’s the story?
From a match quality perspective, 2017 was an outstanding year. All over the world, there were some truly phenomenal matches that have been praised by fans, journalists and even other wrestlers for their quality.
But in terms of which match was the best for 2017, that award goes to the one between Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11, as it was voted so by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
In case you didn’t know…
2017 had one of the highest concentration of excellent matches in wrestling history (at least, according to the Wrestling Observer). In that calendar year alone, there were six matches rated 5-stars, 21 matches with a 4.75-star rating, and a whopping 42 that were rating 4.5 stars.
Although these particular match ratings are determined mainly by Dave Metzer himself, many people tend to agree with his match ratings and the praise he directs towards certain matches and wrestlers.
The match to take home the award for Match of the Year – Okada vs. Omega I – was the first match since 1994 to be officially rated six stars out of five. The last one was a now-legendary bout between AJPW legends Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada on June 3rd, 1994.
The heart of the matter
Omega vs. Okada I was voted Match of the Year by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s readers in an end of the year vote. Interestingly, the four top runners-up all involve either Okada or Omega. Their second match (the 60-minute draw match) was the #2 match, while their third confrontation was number five.
Entering in the #3 spot was the IWGP Heavyweight Championship match between Okada and Katsuyori Shibata (a.k.a. the match in which Shibata gave Okada the world’s stiffest head-butt), and in the #4 spot was Omega vs. Naito in the 2017 G1 Climax Finals.
Unfortunately, no WWE match appears to have been able to get close to the matches Okada and Omega put on in 2017, both with each other and with others. However, a few WWE matches did get close to a 5-star rating and were still fun to watch.
These include: the SummerSlam Fatal-4-Way, Styles vs. Cena at Royal Rumble 2017, Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate at NXT TakeOver: Chicago, Asuka vs. Ember Moon at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, and the Extreme Rules Fatal-5-Way.
There are many big shows coming up in the coming weeks and months, and any one of them has the potential to produce a Match of the Year Contender.
Strong Style Evolved will feature a tag team dream match between the Young Bucks and the Golden Lovers (Omega and Ibushi), Rey Mysterio will face Jushin ‘Thunder Liger’ (which has the potential to be something historic if nothing else), Omega will confront Cody later this year as well, which will likely lead to a heated and dramatic contest between them.
On the WWE side of things, WrestleMania 34 is approaching quickly, and there is at least one match announced already that, if booked properly, could become Match of the Year, and that’s the one between A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura.
Omega vs. Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11 was an out-of-this-world match that set the world on fire. No other match created more (positive) discussion than this one, even if Omega and Okada did have one match later on in 2017 that actually got an even higher rating (their 60-minute draw was rated 6.25 stars).
Fans have been debating that match more or less nonstop since then, which has translated into much more attention towards both of them and the NJPW product as a whole.
Was that match deserving of a 6-star rating? In my personal opinion, no.
There were some parts of it that felt a bit off (such as the table spot), and the top-rope Dragon Suplex left me legitimately concerned about Okada’s health as he took it like a traditional head-spoke instead of rolling onto his stomach (this is the same reason why Bryan Alvarez didn’t rate the match between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels 5-stars; one botched spot took him out of the match and made him wonder if a wrestler involved was seriously hurt or worse).
That said, the match was still something incredible that’s enjoyable enough to watch many times without it feeling repetitive.
Ultimately, Okada and Omega earned this award for their legendary performance, without a doubt.