(Virtually) 5-Star Match Opinions: Kota Ibushi vs. Kenny Omega


There are few fashionable wrestlers extra polarizing than Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi. Each of them are just like each other, which might be why they teamed collectively for a very long time and stay such shut buddies.

Each of them have legions of loyal followers that reward all the things they do and defend them with each keystroke. On the identical time, each of them have many detractors, each amongst followers and inside the wrestling business itself. One may make the argument that each of them had been integral within the gradual shift in wrestling from one thing severe to one thing foolish and farcical and so they’d have loads of supporting proof. In fact, if one had been to make that argument, the opposite aspect would level to all of the ‘severe work’ Omega and Ibushi have performed in recent times, particularly in New Japan.

However what occurs once you put these two “maverick” wrestlers within the least restrictive setting doable and allow them to do no matter they need? Learn on to search out out.

As a reminder, I’m reviewing 5 Star and almost-5 Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes again to the Nineteen Eighties and I’m going to select completely different matches from completely different eras to see how they appear as we speak. Try earlier entries in my 5 Star Match Opinions collection proper right here.

The story

A few years in the past, DDT Professional Wrestling was an indy promotion in Japan that attempted to repeat WWE’s entertainment-focused fashion however with puro matches blended in as nicely. DDT turned quasi-famous on the web for taking some WWE concepts to the acute. They’d their very own model of Goldust however WAY creepier, they’ve featured among the wildest and most incomprehensible match stipulations ever conceived, and their model of the hardcore or 24/7 title has modified over a thousand instances and has included each animals and inanimate objects as champions. So yeah, DDT was the place wrestlers went to push the envelope. And each Omega and Ibushi did simply that.

Ibushi’s most notorious profession second got here when he wrestled a DDT character named YOSHIHIKO. The issue with this state of affairs was that YOSHIHIKO was a intercourse blow-up doll, which meant that not solely was Ibushi principally wrestling himself, however he additionally needed to promote for “his opponent”, together with one thing known as an Infinite Canadian Destroyer.

As for Omega, DDT loaned him out to STARDOM in order that he may wrestle a nine-year-old trainee named Haruka.

If Ibushi and Omega had been able to such unbridled lunacy individually, then what kind of insanity would unfold as soon as they competed towards one another one-on-one?

The match

This match initially occurred on August 18th, 2012, at DDT’s annual Peter Pan occasion. It was by no means given a proper ranking by Dave Meltzer, however it has been praised by wrestling followers on-line all the identical. Let’s see how nicely the match holds up after over a decade.

That is for Ibushi’s KO-D Openweight Championship. Omega will get a clear break on their first lock-up after which counters out of varied holds from Ibushi and knocks him down. On the subsequent two shoulder sort out spots neither man goes down and Omega pie-faces Ibushi. They commerce operating kicks All Japan fashion till Ibushi catches Omega’s foot and lands a martial arts rush. That’s adopted by a coordinated dance routine-style change, together with a literal Road Fighter-style ‘Hadouken’ from Omega. He thinks he’s Ryu and Ibushi has to promote for that. OK, in order that’s the way it’s going to be.

They shake palms and Omega begins working over Ibushi’s left arm. Surprisingly, Omega begins wrestling extra like Bryan Danielson or ZSJ with some psychology and logic as he each dismantles Ibushi’s arm.

Ibushi escapes however Omega continues hammering his weakened left arm. Ibushi fights out of a standing armbar however Omega hits again with chops and an Undertaker-style elevated arm wrench. Then Omega follows with one of many nastiest over-the-shoulder armbreakers I’ve ever seen, which he worsens by twisting Ibushi’s arm in order that it’s extra more likely to snap because it crashes into his shoulder. Omega goes for an additional arm wrench however Ibushi escapes, geese a leapfrogs, and roundhouse kicks Omega. However his management doesn’t final lengthy as Omega counters an Irish whip and kicks Ibushi’s unhealthy arm. Omega lands one other chop however runs right into a dropkick that sends him to the ground. Ibushi goes for his triangle moonsault to the ground however Omega cuts him off on the turnbuckle. Then Omega spikes Ibushi with a half-and-half suplex on the ring apron. Nasty touchdown for Ibushi.

Ibushi returns to the ring and eats a nook elbow. He blocks a suplex so Omega lands stiff forearms to the again of his neck which was tenderized moments in the past by that apron suplex. Omega connects with a deadlift vertical suplex for a two-count after which applies some double-arm submission maintain to focus on each of Ibushi’s arms and his neck. Omega switches to a neck crank and when Ibushi tries kicking out (actually), Omega elbows his neck and collar Danielson-style. Ibushi continues touchdown fast however largely ineffective strikes between Omega’s assaults so Omega will get angrier and lands a operating kick to Ibushi’s neck for an additional two-count. Omega applies a modified cross armbreaker. Ibushi powers over right into a pinning predicament for a two-count. Omega simply forces Ibushi again into the armbar and wrenches it as a lot as he can. Ibushi nonetheless tries powering over right into a pin however can’t keep in that place for longer than a two-count. Ibushi finally escapes by stomping on Omega’s face and hits an elbow strike along with his (comparatively wholesome) proper arm. However Omega overpowers him with a double ax deal with to his left arm after which stretches it by the ropes utilizing his foot. Omega sends Ibushi into the alternative nook. Ibushi flips out and lands a counter powerslam. He goes for the moonsault half of the combo however Omega will get his knees up. Then Omega goes again to the armbreaker however Ibushi will get a ropebreak.

Omega lands an ax deal with to Ibushi’s neck and Ibushi hits again with (unhealthy arm) punches. Omega stiffs Ibushi and costs however runs into one other roundhouse to the intestine. A chop/elbow change ensues and Ibushi musters by the ache in his proper arm to hit again (as an alternative of utilizing the left arm; what’s it with these supposedly top-tier wrestlers at all times counting on their proper arms to strike at the same time as these arms are focused and weakened?). Ibushi hits extra roundhouse kicks and sends Omega into the ropes for a dropkick however Omega holds onto the ropes to keep away from it. Ibushi will get despatched to the apron, blocks a forearm, and springboards for a dropkick, just for Omega to dropkick him in midair. One, two, Ibushi kicks out.

Omega goes for his Aoi Shoudou fisherman neckbreaker however Ibushi escapes with knees to Omega’s head. Omega hits a boot to dam a nook cost after which flips over right into a snap Frankensteiner. However Ibushi bounces proper up and lands a Frankensteiner of his personal that sends Omega to ringside. Ibushi jumps to the highest rope and lands a corkscrew senton to the ground.

Ibushi lands a springboard dropkick into the ring after which a second one onto the elevated entrance ramp. Ibushi goes for what seems to be like a garden dart toss however Omega escapes. Omega teases a dragon suplex on the ramp. However Ibushi blocks and lands a half-and-half suplex of his personal. Omega will get spiked on his head and neck this time.

It takes Omega a while to return to the ring, and when he does Ibushi drops him with stiff kicks and a moonsault knee splash for a two-count. Omega reverses a nook whip and a faculty boy roll-up try. Then he geese a roundhouse kick however Ibushi makes use of the momentum to land a standing corkscrew moonsault splash for an additional two-count. Ibushi goes for a Final Trip Powerbomb. Omega escapes, teases a Hadouken, makes Ibushi flinch, and hits a excessive kick as an alternative. Omega confuses Ibushi and hits a operating dropkick to Ibushi’s knee adopted by his Kotaro Crusher for an additional two-count. Ibushi blocks one fireman’s carry however can’t block one other as Omega lands a slam/operating taking pictures star splash combo for yet one more two-count. Omega follows with a leaping thrust kick and teases one other dragon suplex. Ibushi escapes and tries to run the ropes however Omega pulls him again and connects with the dragon suplex. Ibushi rolls to ringside and Omega lands his suicide dive to the ground.

The video on the finish of this part has the complete match however it misses a key spot within the match. Each guys brawl into the stands and Ibushi regains management with a kick to Omega’s face. Omega goes down and Ibushi summons his interior daredevil. Ibushi climbs to the balcony and moonsaults onto Omega under! Ibushi has no regard for his personal life.

Again within the ring, Ibushi lifts Omega up for a brilliant Frankensteiner however Omega blocks and drops Ibushi face-first into the highest turnbuckle. Huge bucklebomb by Omega. Then he costs for an assault however Ibushi hits first with a thrust kick. Omega lands on his ft to dam one other suplex. Ibushi does a backflip/matrix to dodge one other Hadouken after which hits each a roundhouse and a deadlift German suplex. However Omega bounces onto his ft and connects with the Hadouken (actually only a double palm strike). One, two, Ibushi kicks out.

Omega lifts Ibushi up for the One-Winged Angel however switches to a bridging German as an alternative for a two-count. He costs to the ropes…and runs right into a lariat. Final Trip Powerbomb by Ibushi. Omega barely kicks out after which cuts Ibushi off as Ibushi climbs a turnbuckle. Then Omega lifts Ibushi onto his shoulders (along with his neck showing to have recovered miraculously) and lands one other Croyt’s Wrath deadlift German however off the highest rope this time. Ibushi lands on his head from the highest rope however nonetheless has the facility to kick-out at two.

Ibushi cuts Omega off on the highest rope and teases a powerbomb. Omega resists and lifts Ibushi right into a backward piledriver place however Ibushi falls to the mat as an alternative and hits a handspring again kick. Determined, Omega drives Ibushi’s face into the turnbuckle however Ibushi escapes…and jumps onto the highest rope. Springboard hurricanrana from the highest rope to the ground! Holy shit!

It takes each guys a very long time to re-enter the ring however each finally make it. Omega hits a couple of slaps however Ibushi fires again with a nasty spinkick to Omega’s intestine. They commerce forearms till Ibushi hits again with close-fisted punches. Omega tries blocking however Ibushi retains hitting so Omega geese and lands his snap dragon suplex. However Ibushi will get proper again up smiling and roundhouses him once more. Ibushi misses a Phoenix Splash however rolls away…just for Omega to crack him with a V-Set off knee strike. One Winged Angel connects! One…two….and thr – NO, Ibushi kicks out. Ibushi turns into the primary and solely particular person to ever kick out of Omega’s finisher! Ibushi fires up however can’t even keep standing and each males sink to the canvas.

Each wrestlers make it to their knees and begin buying and selling forearms. They proceed exchanging strikes as they battle to their ft after which each join with simultaneous lariats. Omega blocks one other lariat however Ibushi turns that right into a backflip kick. Ibushi costs for a lariat. Omega geese and hits a northern lights suplex right into a cross armbreaker. He hammers Ibushi’s palms to interrupt his grip and locks the maintain in totally. Ibushi tries re-clasping his palms so Omega switches the maintain to Ibushi’s different arm. however Ibushi manages the seemingly unattainable and rolls over to the ropes for a break.

Omega indicators the tip and goes for an OWA from the turnbuckle. Ibushi hits proper hand punches to Omega’s head and finally makes Omega slip down. Ibushi lands an enormous roundhouse to place Omega on the highest turnbuckle. Then Ibushi packages Omega down and hits a top-rope Phoenix-plex. Good God, he simply folded Omega in two and spiked him on his head from the highest rope. One, two, Omega barely kicks out. Phoenix Splash connects! One, two, and three! Ibushi beats Omega!

Winner and STILL KO-D Openweight Champion after 37:26: Kota Ibushi


That wasn’t fairly what I anticipated. With this being DDT, I used to be anticipating forty minutes of pure lunacy blended with silliness and goofy gestures. What we obtained as an alternative was 98% New Japan-style severe wrestling and possibly 2% silliness within the type of Omega’s facial expressions and each guys’ standing up after being spiked. In case you’ve seen Omega or Ibushi of their primes in New Japan, that ought to provide you with an thought of what occurred right here. This wasn’t the joke or mockery of professional wrestling I believed they’d pull off; as an alternative, it was a high-octane wrestling competitors with a wholesome dose of psychology blended in with the diabetic extremes each guys have develop into identified for. And in the long run, it was among the finest matches each wrestlers ever had, together with their rematch six years later in New Japan.

This match felt extra like a callback to Nineteen Nineties All Japan than it did an indy spot-fest. Omega began the match dismantling Ibushi’s arms and neck and wrestled neatly for the primary fifteen minutes. However regardless of all his intelligent work, Ibushi slowly saved resisting after which pushing ahead. Omega obtained loads of warmth by retaining Ibushi grounded and on the defensive. For each one weak hit Ibushi obtained in, Omega obtained 5 sturdy ones. Omega created this enormous problem for Ibushi to beat, which Ibushi did, slowly however absolutely. Regardless of Ibushi’s flashes of management, Omega did a unbelievable job controlling the match and making it tougher and tougher for Ibushi to make a sustained comeback. that story ended up working nicely’ Ibushi has made a profession out of taking prolonged and brutal beatings solely to return again not abruptly however regularly in a piecemeal type of manner.

However the true attraction on this match comes from the loopy high-spots these guys do. However what makes them completely different from, say, AEW or black and gold NXT, is that there’s nonetheless a kernel of logic and realism hidden inside these laborious and flashy spots. Neither Ibushi nor Omega pulled any punches right here; they hit as arduous as they might at any time when doable and went out of their technique to make their greatest strikes look painful and impactful. Beneath all of the flash was a way of escalation from Omega; he was in management for many of the match and ran out of choices as time handed and Ibushi saved going. Ibushi even kicked out of Omega’s OWA, which was protected for therefore lengthy and nonetheless is to at the present time. Together with his greatest weapon incapable of ending the match, Omega determined to strive an avalanche model (as an alternative of going for the OWA once more; there was no manner Ibushi would kick out of two of them however I digress). However Ibushi survived that and each different little trick that Omega threw at him. And when Ibushi was on offense, he realized the one technique to beat Omega was to go full steam forward with the high-risk-high-reward mentality. Ibushi hit some loopy strikes right here as a result of he couldn’t play it protected; he needed to shock Omega and do a number of harm in a brief interval if he needed to win. That’s why Ibushi did all these insane dives and excessive spots just like the Phoenix-plex.

However the match nonetheless had some flaws that may make it arduous for some viewers to get into. Ibushi’s promoting was hit and miss right here as he took loads of harm to his arms and offered accordingly however didn’t actually do the identical along with his neck, as seen along with his athletic bursts out of nowhere throughout his first comeback. It appeared like Ibushi had no thought learn how to incorporate Omega’s limbwork into his comeback so he simply brushed it off and didn’t do significantly better promoting till the tip when Omega went again to the arm out of desperation.

As for Omega, he wasn’t as wacky or over-the-top as he’d develop into in a while however he nonetheless confirmed a few of his personal points right here. The way in which he bounced up and moved round at instances following such high-impact bombs from Ibushi made him look virtually cartoonish. He had these bizarre facial expressions that made him look much less severe or in ache and extra goofy and exaggerated (Vince McMahon as soon as stated {that a} wrestler’s facial expressions are essential; so if we take a look at how Omega did on that entrance right here, he kinda struck out). And like in Omega’s later matches, he didn’t actually decelerate that a lot as soon as he obtained off the mat. he’d take a beating, promote on the mat for a very long time, after which rise up and transfer with the identical velocity and agility as earlier than.

Then once more, this problem was frequent to each wrestlers; they acted like being on the mat for a very long time allowed them to heal up so rapidly in a short while, as an alternative of staggering their recoveries and making the match come throughout like extra of a wrestle.

And except for the above, the one different factor that might’ve improved the match and made it REALLY unbelievable could be Omega attacking Ibushi’s legs. We noticed a glimpse of that as Omega hit a operating dropkick to Ibushi’s leg. It might’ve made excellent sense for Omega to go down that avenue as nicely since Ibushi’s fashion was constructed round kicks and dives. And if he couldn’t use one leg then Omega would’ve had a good simpler time in management and would’ve come even nearer to profitable. And even when Omega didn’t win, happening that path would’ve gotten him much more warmth and made Ibushi’s comeback far more compelling as he’d have much more ache and harm to beat.

Last Ranking: ****3/4

This match was the antithesis of just about all the things DDT turned (in)well-known for. It wasn’t a joke, it wasn’t over-the-top, and it wasn’t a mockery of pro-wrestling or an try at exposing the craft. This was as near severe and aggressive wrestling because it will get with these two daredevil mavericks. What’s extra, it was astonishingly nice; these guys really wrestled and took this match significantly. The match really had a way of competitors, pressure, and linear construct in the direction of an thrilling end. Despite the fact that it had some ridiculous dives (as a result of, Ibushi) and a few cartoonish moments (as a result of, Omega), these issues had been barely noticeable within the grand scheme of issues.

This is likely one of the higher matches involving Omega and Ibushi in the identical ring. It’s disappointing that, years later when their work would attain a a lot bigger viewers, they’d fail to dwell as much as the usual they set for themselves right here.

Thanks for studying. You possibly can e mail me with any questions or feedback, and make sure you try my 5-Star and Virtually 5-Star Match Opinions collection right here.


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