So this Jericho thing is a lot of fun right? You know, like when wrestling was fun in a simpler time? A surprise appearance followed by a beat down followed by an eventful press conference. Oh boy, this is a feud for the ages, right? Well, no. It isn’t.
I think that Okada v Naito is a feud for the ages, Alpha v Omega is just an excellent bonus.
Omega is an important entity in New Japan. I mean Bullet Club is a big merchandise mover and a huge part of the New Japan future expansion. To highlight this, I did a stand-up set in the middle of nowhere (Wellingborough) and in the audience, a dude in a Bullet Club shirt. I tried to too sweet him and he didn’t seem too interested. I wondered if he got it because he thought it was cool rather than what it represented?
I also went to the National Space Centre in Leicester with my kids, I was wearing a Kenny Omega shirt and was approached by a guy who worked there telling me how awesome Omega is. This was back in 2016 – before the Okada 6-star malarkey! There is a definite buzz and/or trend around Omega/Elite/Bullet Club.
Why am I telling you these stories? To let you know I do stand up? To gloat that I have been to various places in the midlands? Nope! I am using these mild anecdotes to highlight that something is happening with New Japan Pro Wrestling – hell, Rev Pro is selling NJPW merch now (bank account beware!) But Bullet Club is not THE reason.
Firstly, Okada has had a title run that would make Harley Race weep. This guy has put in a body of work within a calendar year of the highest level. He is the common thread in every match of the year candidates for me. Omega x 3, Shibata, Ishii, Evil, Suzuki – it really is an amazing series of top level performances and he doesn’t look like he is stopping any time soon.
Secondly – look at Naito, he ruined that IC Title and I loved every second of it. Being so disrespectful to this title, throwing it around, throwing into things – it was awesome. Yet, in doing such with the title, it sort of made it a cool title for people to try and win from him. These wrestlers HAD to win the title away from Naito, to prevent it from being disrespected further.
Something that sets Naito apart from Omega, Okada and Tanahashi is his presence in multi man matches. LIJ is a stable that embodies Naito, has a defined hierarchy yet works well as a team. Whilst I do not think it is a given that Naito wins at the Dome, I am salivating at the match, the outcome of the match and what craziness happens at New Years Dash.