10 Pleasant Surprises For Wrestling Fans In 2017

1. The Okada/Omega Trilogy


At NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom 11, Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada contested a 46-minute thriller for the IWGP Heavyweight Title. Futuristic yet tied to wrestling's traditions, it was rich in high risk and even higher end psychology. Heavily scented with one of wrestling's simplest narratives, Omega's inability to end Okada with his One-Winged Angel was his undoing. It ingenuously subverted some of WWE's finest matches of the last five years. Whilst their big battles almost insist upon multiple finisher kickouts, Kenny had failed to even hit his big move. The bout earned a six star rating from Wrestling Observer kingpin Dave Meltzer, stretching his tried and tested system beyond ordinary perfection for just the second time.

It was only January.

NJPW's announcement that the pair would headline June's Dominion show risked tarnishing the genuinely glorious spell they'd cast on the wrestling world at large. It remains literally unbelievable that they managed not just to better it, but to perhaps better every professional wrestling match of all time.

The 60-minute six-and-a-quarter-star draw was theatre maybe beyond a Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart or Ric Flair on their very best day. Renewed fury carried an energetic opening stint, with a knee injury to Okada affording the bout emotional heft before 'The Cleaner' hit his One-Winged Angel for the very first time. It didn't have the desired effect. Exhaustion took hold in the final third, as Omega inadvertently avoided an Okada Rainmaker by collapsing in a dilapidated heap. The inconclusive finish promised another war, which the company shrewdly delivered in the G1 Climax Semi Finals.

It was inspired. Working to a 30-minute time limit, the pair had to sprint through best bits and new hits in a guaranteed paradigm shift from the first two encounters. Omega finally got his win in 24 minutes, just over half the time it took Okada to earn his scalp in January. At 1-1-1, a fourth match is now the most anticipated match in the world. Pity Omega and Okada for the expectations that will come ahead of that clash.

Wrestling may never again hit such heights.

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Square eyes on a square head, trained almost exclusively to Pro Wrestling, Sunderland AFC & Paul Rudd films. Responsible for 'Shocking Plans You Won't Believe Actually Happened', some of the words in our amazing Wrestling bookazines (both available at shop.whatculture.com), and probably every website list you read that praised Kevin Nash.