A few weeks ago, Chris Jericho made an absolute blockbuster of a challenge to the NJPW Unites States champion, Kenny Omega. The two will now meet on January 4th at one of the biggest worldwide professional wrestling events of all time. Wrestle Kingdom 12 already has all the tools to produce matches that we’ll be talking about for a long long time, but the recent announcement of Jericho vs. Omega is simply one that nobody thought could happen.
What is now billed as Alpha vs. Omega has global implications in the professional wrestling world, and both men are set to change the face of the business in 2018 and on.
Here are five reasons why Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho is already the most important match of 2018.
The “Japan” Story
Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega both have firm roots in Japan. Jericho got his bearings as “Lionheart” in Japan while Omega made himself a star there. There’s something to be said here about the japanese professional wrestling system. Two of the best in the world are one way or another products of Japan. No matter how long Jericho stays away from Japan though, the fans always treat him to a hero’s welcome when he returns.
The Japanese fans play an integral part in the setup and the execution of this match. Japanese fans adore Jericho, and they also adore Kenny Omega, who has become one of the faces of NJPW in recent years. I’m curious to see what direction the fans will sway once the bell rings, and I’m also curious to see if either men will work heel. Chances are that it will be just a straight up match, but that still leaves the fans as an outstanding variable. Their reaction will give the match even more of a storied feel than it already has, and the location of the bout is perfect.
This is an easy one to pick out. The Internet (myself included) is very hyped up on the fact that Chris Jericho is having his first match outside of WWE in over 17 years. Rightfully so, Jericho performing at Wrestle Kingdom is a huge deal as that only creates buzz for NJPW and leaves non-smarky WWE fans thinking about how something like this can happen.
It’s difficult not to fixate on this very point. Kenny Omega is a top player in NJPW, which at most times feels like it’s hosted on a different planet than WWE. They are two huge names from two hugely different worlds colliding — think a professional wrestling version of Mayweather vs. McGregor.
They’re Both in Their “Prime”
I say “prime” because Chris Jericho is certainly not in his physical prime. However, Jericho is completely in the midst of his mental prime. I have never seen Jericho more determined to put on a show and draw buzz. The man has a good business sense about him and he can get a reaction out of an audience of literal crickets if he wanted to. Jericho’s mental prime is further along than any wrestler can hope to get in the wrestling business, and that is why this match is so exciting — there’s a big fight feel around it.
While Jericho is having the moments of his career, Omega is having the matches of his career. Omega vs. Okada, Omega vs. Naito and others are some of the greatest professional wrestling matches ever broadcasted. The fact that the 6-star match wizard is going toe to toe with one of the most historically influential workers in the business is fantasy warfare if I’ve ever heard it.
Wrestle Kingdom Sets The Tone for The New Year
Wrestle Kingdom 12 emanates from the Tokyo Dome on January 4th, 2018. Unlike WrestleMania, Wrestle Kingdom has a chance to kick off the new year with a “bang” each and every year. The year of professional wrestling in 2018 will start with Chris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega. This match has implications for the rest of the year as to what Jericho ends up doing. Could Jericho come back to complete a three match series with Omega? How will Jericho’s return affect a possible WWE return later in the year? Only time will tell.
Nobody thought this would happen anytime, let alone in 2018. When Jericho and Omega first started exchanging tweets there were rumors flying around about them having a match on Jericho’s cruise, but the Wrestle Kingdom Stage is a huge step up. I’m genuinely surprised that something came of a worked twitter war, but that just goes to show the way of the business today and how both men are so great at selling a storyline.
Overall, this match is a genuine surprise and treat for all wrestling fans. Omega and Jericho will no doubt wow the public and change the face of professional wrestling forever. This match may not attract as big of a crowd as Wrestlemania, but everyone watching will be extremely invested because of the build, the talent, the cross-promotional nature and the grandiose implications of this worldwide collision.
Needless to say, I’ll be tuning in.