Puroresu Weekly Recap Special: From Canada to the IWGP Championship

Added by Luke Hickey

I’m just going to state it now, I’m a massive Kenny Omega fan, if his glorious victory at Dominion in Osaka-Jo Hall wasn’t your cup of tea, this article is likely not going to be your liking.

All that being said, it takes two to tango so to speak, unless it is in DDT which I’ll get to in a while, and Kazuchika Okada was phenomenal too. His reign has to go down as one of the greatest championship reigns in modern history, at the very least. We can argue about if it’s been the greatest of all time on a later date.

Unlike Western wrestling fans who tend to watch multiple promotions, Japanese fans tend to have one or at least a primary promotion that they watch religiously. If I was asked, whats my fave puroresu promotion? I’d probably stare blankly and maybe combust, I watch NJPW, AJPW, Noah, DDT, Dragon Gate, Stardom, Sendai Girls, FREEDOMS… the list can go on and on. My love for it is infinite, but if I was asked my favourite wrestler, the response would be a lot quicker, without hesitation I’d say, Kenny Omega, the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

Kenny Omega would begin his career in his home nation Canada with the promotion Premier Championship Wrestling, before ending up in one time WWE developmental promotion Deep South Wrestling between 2004 and 2005. His time here left him feeling sour about the wrestling business and for a time he attempted to pursue other avenues before eventually returning to the wrestling business.

He would begin working for Dramatic Dream Team in 2008, win PWG Battle of Los Angeles in 2009 and in 2010 he would spend most of his time between DDT and NJPW with spells in other places such as All Japan Pro Wrestling.

Omega hasn’t wrestled for DDT since 2014, sadly for me since they are the first Japanese promotion I ever watched, but 2015 saw him move to NJPW on a fuller schedule. Initially, Kenny Omega was a junior, junior size and build, instantly slotted into their Junior division and as a member of the Bullet Club.

Ultimately, fate had bigger plans for Kenny Omega, as AJ Style, Shinsuke Nakamura, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson would follow Prince Devitt to the WWE, and so there was questions of who to fill the void in the heavyweights and who would lead the Bullet Club, Kenny Omega was chosen and steadily built up, winning first the IWGP Intercontinental belt before becoming the first gaijin to win the G1 Climax in 2016 that led to the first epic encounter with Okada at the Tokyo Dome in 2017, Omega would lose in a 5 star match to the defending champion, it was still not his time.

Okada went through another few challengers, Shibata being one, before Kenny got another shot at Dominion in 2017 but this time they fought to a time limit draw, Okada retaining. Still not his time. Kenny Omega was left to pick up the pieces, Bullet Club was beginning to show fracturing more rapidly than before, but in Long Beach, Omega became the inaugural IWGP US Heavyweight Champion.

Kota Ibushi was announced for that years G1 Climax, Omega stated he wanted to beat his old friend in the finals, it wasn’t to me, as he lost to Tetsuya Naito. But the major talking point for Omega’s tournament, was the pinfall victory he got on Okada.

Despite some rumour that it would be Kenny vs Kota at the Tokyo Dome for the IWGP US, it actually became knowledge that it would Omega vs fellow Canadian, Jericho at the Dome. Omega successfully retained.

The following New Years Dash event, Cody went to attack Ibushi. Omega made the save. Cody was enraged. How could he be fit to lead Bullet Club?

New Beginning in Sapporo, Jay White dethrones Kenny Omega for the IWGP US Championship, Adam Page wants to make the challenge to White but Omega stops him, handing White the belt. An argument follows and after Kenny unintentionally pushes down a Buck, they leave him alone with Cody and Page, Cody hits a Cross Rhodes… things aren’t looking good for Omega. Until, it happens. One of the greatest moments this year out of the ring happened. Kota Ibushi saved his former Golden Lovers tag team partner. And then. They embraced.

Stateside, The Golden Loves defeat The Young Bucks at Strong Style Evolved but at ROH Supercard of Honor, after the Bucks accidentally take out Omega, Cody gets the win and becomes the new leader of the Bullet Club.

There was no sign that Omega was after Okada but after Okada defended successfully against Tanahashi at Wrestling Dontaku, Okada grabbed the microphone and ran through the list. And then he said ‘there’s one draw, isn’t there?’ and called out Omega, who accepted under the rules of no time limit and 2 falls to win. Okada accepted.

09/06/2018 came around and I was nervous, nervous that NJPW wouldn’t go with the man who I have been vicariously living through during the last few years wouldn’t be crowned IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

Omega started dominant but Okada got the first fall. Oh shit.

Okada started dominant but Omega got a draw. But now both looked utterly shattered, how either could win this, and then in the 65th minute he hit the One Winged Angel and Red Shoes counted the 3.

Kenny, with Kota by his side, won the big one. But as Red Shoes was handing him the title, he pushed it aside and hugged the Bucks. And I said I wouldn’t cry, and he probably did too, but his eyes welled up nonetheless as Kota Ibushi wrapped the IWGP Heavyweight Championship around his waist.

It still hasn’t fully sunk in, after dealing with a variety of illnesses during the last few years, living vicariously through Kenny Omega brought respite. Puroresu always giving me that comfort, that spirit to fight on, but Omega’s journey for whatever always brought me that bit more.

AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Championship​
DDT Extreme Championship​
KO-D Six Man Tag Team Championship (2x)​
KO-D Tag Team Championship (3x)​
KO-D Openweight Championship​
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship (2x)​
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship​
IWGP Intercontinental Championship​
NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship (2x)​
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship​
IWGP Heavyweight Championship​
G1 Climax 2016​
King Of DDT 2012​

Thank you, Kenny.