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Kenny Omega Reminds the Jabronis and Haters That He's Still The World's Best
Kenny Omega, soundtrack to Final Fantasy blaring in the background and hair extensions flowing to the point of absurdity, gestured one arm to the left, activating a giant winged shadow. Looking every bit the video game final boss, he strode confidently to the ring, tanned, fit and ready to prove he was still the man we all hoped he was—the best professional wrestler on the planet.
“The God of pro wrestling,” his unofficial spokesman Don Callis calls him. And, for years, it felt true. But, as crazy as it seems in retrospect, there was significant doubt in the wrestling fan community that it was still true. After all, Omega had wrestled just one singles match since losing the AEW championship way back in 2021 and even that reign felt held together by KT tape and hope. Every one of his 39 years and each of his five star classics wore on his body, their combined weight a burden that seemed like it would inevitably prove too much for him to bear.
Could he wrestle the main event New Japan classic his fans have come to expect against the current King of Workrate Will Ospreay? It was a match ostensibly for the New Japan United States Championship. In reality, the title being contested was more meta than that. The two were fighting to show who was the best in-ring wrestler in the world, nothing more and nothing less.
And, in the days leading up to the match, even Omega appeared to have his doubts.
“You know, we always hear like ‘you’re the best in the world,’ ‘greatest matches of all time’. But maybe somebody else is the best in the world to somebody else,” Omega told New Japan’s website in an uncharacteristically humble interview combining journalism and storyline. Could he still be Kenny Omega after years of abusing his body to become so?
After 34 epic minutes, the answer was clearly a resounding yes. The title of “world’s best” remained firmly in Omega’s hands in a match that will undoubtedly test new limits for Dave Meltzer’s five star ratings system. Will it be six stars? Seven? A record eight? The mind boggles at the possibilities.
For Kenny, it was a flashback to better times. If he doubted his own surgically repaired body, there was no sign of it. He brought out all of his most spectacular old spots—the double stomp through the table, the incomparable tope con hiro, the avalanche Croyt’s Wrath—and enough callbacks and references to his wrestling life partner Kota Ibushi to make even fans obsessed with the lore happy.
Ospreay is Ospreay. His brand of cat-quick endless reversals and vaguely sterile athleticism has never been for me. But he found himself here, grounding his physical excellence in anger. This wasn’t Ospreay as a technical marvel. It was a man, unhinged by the challenges of COVID, throwing punches recklessly, shoot kicking his opponent sneakily in the face and generally finding new ways to express his dark side, discovering his missing creative soul through the pure power of hate.
The result was something that felt less like an exhibition and more like two men fighting for something that mattered. And that, more than moves or clever quips, is the heart of pro wrestling. It feels good anytime we find it.
In a post-match media appearance, a battered Omega appeared to have regained his mojo. If he had doubted himself, those questions had been buried in an avalanche of his own excellence. Better still, for wrestling fans, he seemed to lay the groundwork for a rematch that must surely follow.
"What I never told you Will, this is just for me, 364 days a year, you're a better wrestler than me but it only takes one to be a champion,” Omega said. “It only takes one to prove I'm the best. To prove I'm still the best. To prove I'm still the true champion and the true spokesperson for this and all of professional wrestling.
"Will, look at me. Look what you've done to me. Look in a mirror and look what I've done to you. I look in the mirror with my one good eye and I see a winner, I see a legend. When you look in a mirror, you're the same as you've ever been. You can even say you're the best thing going, but you can't say that you're the champ.
“If there's one thing that you take from this lesson tonight, Will, is that you were right all along. You were done wrong. I didn't have the heart to tell you at the press conference because I needed you to see it for yourself. All of us are nothing but mere circus animals and there can be only one ringleader. I wasn't ready to give up that spot. Why would anybody give up that spot to be the ringleader? You, everyone like you, everyone else, you can be treated like animals. I'm not ready to give up that spot. I'm not ready until you take it from me."
It’s become popular in recent years to denigrate Omega. Whether it’s angry Jim Cornette fans fighting desperately against the passage of time or contrarian hardcores trying to differentiate themselves from the pack by chopping away at a beloved act, some have felt desperate to bring Omega down. But, after Wrestle Kingdom 17, it’s all too clear he’s still standing tall—as the best pro wrestler on Planet Earth.