Tomohiro Ishii vs Kenny Omega
March 12, 2017
Baycon General Gymnasium in Amagasaki, Japan
NJPW New Japan Cup – Day 2
This was Kenny Omega’s first truly stellar performance since the Kazuchika Okada classic, and he delivered. Tomohiro Ishii was great as well, actually better than usual because his selling has improved a ton and his style has broadened to where he’s no longer the guy who just relies on chops, slaps, and headbutts. He still does them, but he was pulling off huracanranas and even a Stone Cold Stunner to mix up his game.
The match started slowly, at least in terms of crowd reaction. Omega often oversells in a comedic manner, much like early to mid 90s Shawn Michaels, which is the closest comparison to Omega right now. If he can tone that part down a bit, at least in the beginning of the matches, he’d be even better. He made fun of Ishii’s height, which never really stood out to me until this match. But once the bell rings it’s not really an issue. He works stiff and believable, much like Chris Benoit (and boy what an amazing match those two would’ve had in their primes).
Second half of the match was tremendous, and I have no idea how either of these guys can pull off those knees to the face and still do no damage. Their respective styles blend well together and each guy changed things up a bit to tailor their move set in a manner that allowed both to shine at what they do best. In any other quarter this would be among the best matches, but it’s got stiff competition (in Omega’s case, against his own self).