So inextricably linked is the venerable Dave Meltzer to New Japan Pro Wrestling that, as soon as Kazuchika Okada dropped the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the memes dropped all over Twitter.
Dave Meltzer is going to break the scale again. Except he isn’t, because the match took place in Osaka-jo Hall and not the Tokyo Dome!
Dave Meltzer is going to rate this ******* out of *****.
Dave Meltzer is going to rate this ********************* out of ***** - seven stars for all three falls.
As it happens, Dave Meltzer has officially shattered his ratings scale by rating the match a mere ******* (SEVEN) in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
And who can blame him?
This wasn’t a mere classic wrestling match, nor merely the best match by far in a year of incredible in-ring action. This was an incredible convergence of all that is wonderful about the art of professional wrestling. Omega, wrestling the match with a rousing humility, entered an all-time great babyface performance in a programme that was superb enough without this timeless, emotional dimension. Finding a downright magical sweet spot of pacing - they went over an hour without labouring nor betraying logic by over-compensating with content - Okada and Omega crafted a classic of drama, suspense, next-level athleticism, storytelling, continuity, physicality and psychology that rewarded those who paid attention for at least two genius calendar years.
All who watched - as opposed to those who didn’t but still saw fit to write it off - experienced an immediate and potent endorphin rush stretched out to over an hour, at the end of which pure happiness engulfed the New Japan fandom.
And, on the evidence of the Observer rating, a certain spot in California.
For an in-depth review of the match itself, please click here.