Despite not having the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on the line in this match, Kenny Omega vs Will Ospreay was still the most anticipated match on the card. Ospreay is quickly becoming one of the best wrestlers of all time at the age of just 29, earning a record number of star ratings in his career even surpassing Omega himself.
It has been 4 years since Kenny Omega left NJPW to help form his own promotion – All Elite Wrestling – and the fans in the Tokyo Dome could not have been more excited to see the Best Bout Machine returning to their shores for another match. The pre-match press conferences provided some extra fire for the match but it wasn’t until the duo stepped into the ring that fans truly saw what Will Ospreay and Kenny Omega were truly capable of.
Battling for the IWGP United States Championship, the match felt bigger than any belt. It was a battle between the future and present vs the past. Ospreay, only 29, was already a former IWGP World champion and one of the best workers in the world. He took the mantle of top gaijan that Omega left when he abandoned the company in 2019 and ran with it, leading his own faction and representing New Japan in the best way possible.
Meanwhile Omega left NJPW in 2019 to help form AEW. While he is a huge success in the company as a former AEW Champion, he never reached the legendary heights he did in Japan. His matches with Okada still hold up among the greatest of all time and is revered as a “God of pro-wrestling” in Japan, and not just to Don Callas.
The match itself was incredible. Brutal strikes and fantastic counters saw a fast-paced match between two all-time greats march into “Match of the Year” contention just four days in. Kenny Omega picked up the win after paying tribute to Kota Ibushi with a Kamigoye before launching a bloodied Ospreay into the match with a One-Winged Angel. He won the IWGP United States Championship for the second time, indicating he will be staying in NJPW for some time now.
Ospreay took some punishment from his Canadian opponent. A double foot stomp through a table (followed by Omega’s reference to The Shining) could have been the end of it. Ospreay falling from the top rope, smashing his face on the apron and pouring blood all over Tokyo also looked like the spot where Red Shoes would end the match – yet he continued.
He simply could not keep Omega down, however. Kicking out of a hidden blade, multiple Oscutters and a Stormbreaker, The Best Bout Machine seemed invincible. It was star making, seemingly face turn by Ospreay, who stayed defiant until the end. He spat in the face of Omega before being hit by Kota Ibushi’s (Omega’s long-time partner and best friend) Kamigoye and Omega’s unstoppable finisher – the One Winged Angel – and pinned for the three count.
It ended a match which felt like a 5 minute free for all but actually went over 30. It’s a testament to both men that the match felt so short as there was little wasted movement as the bout flew by. It is already the frontrunner for match of the year in 2023 and it’s frightening to think what kind of match could outdo Will Ospreay vs Kenny Omega this year – although I can’t wait to find out.
What did you think of Ospreay vs Omega? Let us know in the comments down below what rating you would give this legendary bout.
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.