Fans have been critical of KENTA’s performances since joining NJPW in 2019. His time in WWE was riddled with injury, and he never managed to capture the magic as “Hideo Itami” that he did in ROH and NOAH years prior.
KENTA was best known for his incredible bouts in Japan against Naomichi Marufuji, but also for his clashes with Bryan Danielson in Ring of Honor.
In his prime, he was one of the most influential wrestlers on the planet, inspiring a lot of Junior Heavyweights to wrestle his hard-hitting style.
However, his performances have not been up to par in recent years, with fans disappointed to see how injuries have ravaged KENTA’s body, and stopped him from putting on classic matches again.
While KENTA’s ROH performances live long in the memory, fans got another glimpse of what he can do when he fought Will Ospreay on Night 5 of the 2023 G1 Climax.
Will Ospreay vs KENTA
KENTA showed his killer instinct in his match with Will Ospreay, responding to pre-match taunts from the IWGP United States Champion.
He attacked Ospreay before the match, stealing his jacket and throwing him to the outside. He also DDT’s him on the floor outside, inflicting as much damage as he could before the bell even rung.
For what seemed like the first time in years, KENTA wrestled like he used to in NOAH and ROH.
He hit Ospreay with some ferocious kicks and punches, truly embodying the spirit of Strong Style within NJPW.
KENTA dominated Ospreay during the match, almost winning by count-out after a “Green Killer” onto the outside of the ring.
He also attacked the English star with a Kendo stick while the referee was down, showing just how ruthless the Bullet Club member can be.
After a decent back and forth to end the match, Ospreay overcame the cheating of KENTA to hit a Hidden Blade/Stormbreaker combo to win the match and increase his chances of winning his block in the G1 Climax.
This was one of KENTA’s best matches in NJPW, showing a glimpse of his old self in this match. Fans will see lots of the ROH KENTA in his performance, with Ospreay dragging out his best performance in years.
Fans on Cagematch rated the match at 7.67 – which is below their clash from 2019. However, Dave Metlzer saw this match much more favourably, being a huge fan of both these men.
He awarded KENTA vs Will Ospreay from the G1 Climax 4.5 Stars. This is KENTA’s highest match rating in two years, since his clash with Zack Sabre Jr in the 2021 G1 Climax.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.