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October 23, 2011 / arnfurious

KAI vs. Kenny Omega from AJPW 2011

Recap from Arnold Furious:

TJ Hawke asked me if I wouldn’t mind writing a few words about this contest from 23rd October 2011. Actually he asked me to write a few words about it two months ago but I completely forgot. Much like that time a football (or soccer to American readers) fanzine asked me to write a piece about the change in reserve teams a few years ago and I completely forgot about it. The moral of the tale is, uh, I forget. While we’re on the subject of memories, do you remember when KAI was a junior heavyweight and Kenny Omega worked for All Japan? You don’t? It was only four years ago, gentle reader! The show it hailed from was Pro Wrestling Love in Ryogoku Vol. 13. It was a regular hum-dinger of a show featuring a ****1/2 main (according to The Meltz) pitting Jun Akiyama against incumbent Triple Crown champion Suwama. It also had Strong BJ mangling All Asia champs Soya & Sanada. That match was also ****+.


So onto the third most hyped match on the card, the AJPW Junior Heavyweight championship contest. Champion is KAI. He won the vacant title in a tournament about four months ago, defeating Shuji Kondo. KAI was a fresh face but he had challenged for the title before winning it, against Kaz Hayashi the previous year. Omega only starting working for AJPW during their Junior Heavyweight League in September but his opening match saw him beat KAI. Therefore he’s in line for a title match. And here it is!


I love two things about the introductions. 1. Omega is so laid back and relaxed but gets a shit-load of streamers. 2. KAI looks really pissed off that the All Japan crowd gave that much support to an outsider. Once the match gets underway KAI shows his usual flaws, hooking a loose headlock that Omega has to turn his head into to make it look passable. Omega turns the match on it’s head by ripping off Muto moves, doing them better than Muto and flipping the entire crowd off. It’s the perfect way to get the crowd to actually support KAI, who was virtually ignored during the introductions. From there the match settles into a nice back and forth competition. Omega taking a massive spot to the floor allows us to get a good look at his seconds from DDT and one them is Kota Ibushi. The match has a fine mix of brutal high spots and countering. It’s a pity that KAI can’t quite keep up with Omega and Kenny insists on throwing some weird looking spots in there. It doesn’t quite click. They’re better off throwing lumber and doing the big spot/dramatic kick-out business. When KAI places his faith in Omega’s ability to do the extraordinary the match is at it’s level best. Omega is capable of dropping the odd jaw. KAI really isn’t. The result is some really high impact near falls but sadly the crowd don’t bite on the match. Not even when KAI reverses Croyt’s Wrath into a reverse rana. Come on people, this is good shit! Omega is incredibly resilient in this match, kicking out of all manner of shit including the frogsplash, LAT and what looks suspiciously like a Steiner Screwdriver. Just when you think this is overkill Omega goes and sells his neck on the Croyt’s Wrath bridge. So all those impact moves did have an effect. The insane nature of the kick-outs continues to the bitter end with KAI surviving a SUPER CROYT’S WRATH before a regular one finishes and gives Omega the strap. Not quite sure why they didn’t just finish with the one off the top rope but still Kenny scores the win in a combative contest. Should have been the making of KAI but he continued to drift as a performer after this.

Final Rating: ***3/4


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