Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho
January 4, 2018
Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan
NJPW WrestleKingdom 12
NJPW US Championship; No DQ
Very historic match that may one day be viewed as revolutionary in terms of inter-promotional cooperation. While Chris Jericho was technically not under contract to WWE, he only did this match with Vince McMahon’s blessing out of loyalty to WWE. New Japan, for their part, granted an immediate semi-main event slot to a guy who they knew wouldn’t be around awhile.
In the end, this whole spectacle was a huge win for everybody. Chris Jericho got a huge payday, artistic freedom and satisfaction, and added a 5-star match to his legacy. Kenny Omega got tons of notoriety and exposure in the US thanks to Jericho’s involvement, and he went over in the finish convincingly. New Japan got a relatively huge gate and attendance at the Tokyo Dome, and WWE increased the worldwide profile and street credibility of a guy they know will be back soon. Also, the success of this show had absolutely no detrimental effect on WWE’s business the way it would have 20 years ago if it was WCW promoting such a match.
The angles and promos leading up to the match were strong. The appearance of Jericho in NJPW caught everyone by surprise due to its top secret nature. As for any concerns the match would deliver, they were destroyed. They put on the best match on the show and greatly exceeded expectations.
Omega is probably the best wrestler in the world, and top 3 at worst. While Jericho is physically no longer the performer he once was, his ring psychology is better than ever. It was also a new look and persona for him, as he FINALLY grew his hair long again (some 15 years overdue), which made him look like far more of a charismatic star than the short-haired look he’s inexplicably insisted on having since his grand return to WWE in the mid 2000s. And while Jericho is no longer 27 years old, he’s still more than capable of doing athletic high spots thanks to his DDP Yoga and staying in shape in his late 40s.
They played to their strengths, putting on an unpredictable match involving unique spots like Jericho attacking the referee (Red Shoes) and his son, and both men bled from brutally stiff shots that made this match no walk in the park for either. Omega took a chair shot to the head (how does that still happen in 2018), and Jericho took a One Winged Angel on the chair that looked ultra stiff. They also went a long, fast pace in a match that exceeded 35 minutes.
An enormous success by any barometer.