Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I Also Watched Omega vs. Okada

So this has pretty easily been the most talked about wrestling match of the new year, with some wildly divergent opinions. Phil watched it last week and didn't like it, and he and I tend to match up on opinion 80+% of the time. But since so many are talking about this match I just had to see it for myself. Also, I wanted to see if I would get one of those giant cardboard checks for being the one millionth person to write an opinion on this match on the internet.

And I ended up liking this match more than I expected to. Also, I hated this match more than I expected to. Instead of writing a couple of supergraphs going over match analysis, I figure I'll just toss out some shorter observations in no order of importance.

Omega put on an athletically freakish performance, the type of performance we may be able to look back on and pinpoint exact moments where he body started to die. His bumps were insane, and not just the epic backdrop through a table, but all of his bumps off of almost any Okada strike. Now, what's really absurd, is the VAST disconnect between Omega's bumps, and Okada's shitty, shitty strikes. Okada's the champ, he's the man, sure. But Omega bumps for him as if Okada were Stan Hansen. But a Stan Hansen who was an astronaut, whose body was rebuilt with bionic parts by OSI. I guess it would have been easier to make a Stone Cold Steve Austin joke right there. ANYWAY, by the end this started to feel like the Hulk Hogan/Shawn Michaels match, with one guy throwing a shitty back elbow while the other guy launches himself 10 feet across the ring, lands on the back of his neck, flips into the ropes and then rebounds off the ropes. It's like Omega was fighting against fucking Iron Man. All of Okada's offense is built around his opponent making it look good. It NEVER looks good otherwise. He needs guys to take dangerous bumps off the top rope from a floaty dropkick, needs guys to dump themselves on their head after a lariat, needs guys to sell his awful strikes. And Omega's bumping was so damn violent the whole match, that it looked almost comical when you watched what was supposedly causing him to get bumped like that. Standard dropkick? Fly backwards as fast as you can into the corner! Omega was killing himself out there, while Okada looked like a guy who would have gotten his jaw kicked in on a WAR undercard.

The 6 star rating is going to mean it gets compared instantly with matches like Misawa/Kawada, which isn't going to do any favors to Omega/Okada. When you essentially call a match "perfect" you're practically begging people to look for imperfections, which isn't really fair. And I did not try to do that. But one major thing I noticed about this match was just how often a guy did something only so his opponent could do a move. There were so many moments of Omega running at Okada, only to get hit with a backbreaker or elbow...but Omega had nothing planned himself. Was he just planning on running into Okada? They weren't even attempting to make these things look like a reversal, even though the whole match was built around reversals. It's sloppy move planning, something you never saw in Misawa/Kawada. If Kawada was going to run into an elbow, he wouldn't just run full steam across the ring with his arms at his sides.

For a match built around two guys obsessively trying to hit their finishers, goddamn do they have two of the most convoluted finishers in wrestling. Okada just can't lariat his opponent, he has to do a 7 step polka before doing so; Omega can't just do a Michinoku driver, he has to bury his head up Okada's ass to lift him up on his shoulders in a seated position, fumble around to lock a couple of arms, drape his leg a certain way, it's absurd. This isn't Misawa dropping to a knee and doing everything he could to sandbag a folding powerbomb, this was two guys working together to perform needlessly complicated moves. Do you know how hard it would be to get someone seated on your shoulders, if that person even slightly didn't want to? And this is just talking their awful finisher set up, there are plenty of other moves that you'd really have to think hard to figure out who performed a move, and who was supposed to be impacted by the move. The worst offender was Omega hitting some sort of large leaping leg lariat/bulldog, but just leapfrogging over Okada's head while Okada just kind of fell on his face. I have no clue what it was supposed to be, but apparently it hurt one of them?

We don't need to go into how fucking terrible Red Shoes is. He turned in another all time worst performance in this one. His mannerisms are so distracting. I don't understand them. Omega takes a move and both men are lying on the mat, and he just gets right in between them and waves his arms toward Omega, like he's just saying "Cover him! Cover him! Cover him! Okada! Cover Omega! Omega is on the mat! Cover him! Now! On the mat!" just waving his arms like he's trying to fan away the biggest fart. He gives these hand directions the entire match. "Pick him up! Lift him! Do a move!" He's the absolute worst.

To end on a more positive note, I really liked Omega's kneelifts and knee strikes. Knee attacks can be a tough sell, and Omega's looked as good as Chris Hero's best. They certainly looked more devastating than anything Okada did. Also, for a 45 minute match, I must say it didn't feel nearly that long. I think that's a major compliment. Despite how flawed I thought the match and execution were, the time flew by. That's not necessarily what I look for when watching wrestling ("This thing I watch for fun didn't feel like a chore to sit through!") but it's a definite feather in the cap for the match. 45 minutes of wrestling CAN be a chore, and this wasn't.

I would love to see Omega work someone who could tone him down, as he has a lot of things I could really like about him. And for his own sake, he should tone down the bumps, for his own health and from a match psychology standpoint. Once you bump huge for every move big and small it starts going down that "everybody reverses the Angle lock 5 times in a match" path. Once you're flying across the ring and landing on your neck for shitty Okada strikes, it makes the actual big moves in a match look less important and less dangerous by comparison.

I'm glad I watched it, glad that I saw for myself what was getting all of this hype. I'm excited to see just how much is still memorable to me by the end of the year.

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Anonymous Jetlag said...

You won't watch a 36 minute Gulak match, but you'll watch a 45 minute Kenny Omega match and write a dozen paragraphs about it? Is NJPW sponsoring this blog now?

2:42 PM  
Blogger EricR said...

My life is littered with questionable choices.

3:29 PM  

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