“Fans have been conditioned to believe that there’s an enormous skill gap between WWE and everyone else,” Kenny Omega says. “A major league and a minor league. It’s either you’re there or you’re just not good enough.”
Kenny Omega and Pentagon Jr. combined for the match of the night this past Saturday at All In.
There were several stand-out matches on the card, but Omega-Pentagon was unique in its ability to tell a complete story solely from bell-to-bell with no other enhancements—video packages, a social media storyline, or prior singles matches, as the two had only locked up once prior in a six-man tag—to help give meaning to the encounter. This match was entirely defined by what took place in the ring.
The story built organically, with Pentagon leading the offensive charge. Omega sold his slingshot backstabber in a manner few others can do, and the question of the match quickly developed: could Omega withstand the violent assault from the extreme Pentagon?
The momentum turned slightly after Pentagon delivered a harsh package piledriver on the ring apron. Omega finally overcame Pentagon’s arsenal, countered his reversals, and closed out the match with the One-Winged Angel, the rare finishing move in 2018 that definitively ends matches. On a night filled with special moments, Omega’s triumph was in showcasing his own ability while simultaneously introducing Pentagon’s talents to a much wider North American audience.
“Pentagon not only has the untrainable ‘It’ factor, but also the rare ability to adapt and succeed wherever he competes,” said Omega, who is now back in Japan preparing for the next New Japan tour and and an upcoming IWGP Heavyweight Championship defense against Tomohiro Ishii in Hirsohima on September 15. “He has a unique charisma about him that fans connect with and regardless of where he competes or what style is prominent, he seamlessly blends in—yet stands apart from everyone else on the card.”
A common complaint by detractors of Omega’s cutting-edge work is that he needs 30–40 minutes to make his matches mean something. Fittingly, at All In, an alternative to every other wrestling promotion in the world, Omega showed off his versatility and storytelling ability in under 18 minutes.
Omega now finally represents the change he has always wished to see in wrestling, a feat he takes immense pride in.
“Fans, wrestlers, and even the general public have been conditioned to believe that there’s an enormous skill gap between WWE and everyone else,” explained Omega. “A major league and a minor league. It’s either you’re there or you’re just not good enough.
“While it’s true their collection of talent is undeniable, a small group of us have bet on ourselves and on the unique alternative vision we have for pro wrestling. What they can offer in flash, we can offer in substance. While their writers produce TV for a certain demographic, we’re producing stories for fans that want something a little different.”
WWE is one of the grandest forms of entertainment. New Japan Pro Wrestling treats wrestling like serious sport, while Ring of Honor is a blend of both. But All In, with Omega as the show’s signature star—he is, after all, the IWGP heavyweight champion—combined a unique form of entertainment (see Ryan, Joey) with some of the most sublime wrestling in the world.
“There’s no right or wrong answer as a fan or a wrestler,” said Omega. “Like one, like the other, like both, or even like none.
“The journey for the ‘Being The Elite’ cast continues and we will still grind and put in the work to create the alternative that we believe has a place in the wrestling world.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.