The concept here is to take every match Dave Meltzer has given 5 stars (or more) to throughout 2018 and give my own review, and see whether I'm there with him or not. The thinking behind it is a lot of people complain about NJPW bias and that Dave is getting too generous. So let's challenge him. I was going to do the same for 2017, but there was honestly no point, I had a look at the list and every match that was given 5 stars that I've seen I agreed with (I don't watch PWG so I didn't catch any of those matches but I saw everything in NJPW), but 2018 might get a bit more interesting, so let's revisit these matches and see what happens.
Dave Meltzer, of the Wrestling Observer awarded Alpha Vs. Omega the once-elusive ***** rating. It has, at least, eluded Chris Jericho throughout his entire career; Y2J has reached near-perfection before, amassing a handful of ****3/4 bouts, but last year at the Tokyo Dome in front of 40,000 for NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, at 47 years old, Jericho finally reached the critical achievement.
Meltzer's ratings are often subjective, though widely respected throughout the wrestling community - a trusted gateway into the glorious history of the worldwide wrestling scene and I good way to find out some of the best matches of all time. Writing objectively, however, the match accomplished a rare modern feat, in how it drew tens of thousands of new eyes to the New Japan product, both increasing subscriptions to the company's New Japan World streaming service and drawing the highest non-worked Tokyo Dome attendance in several years. Chris Jericho can lay claim and add another statistical achievement to yet another accolade in a career which is full of them: biggest draw in the industry.
The match was extremely heated as Jericho and Omega orchestrated the crowd into a frenzy by the finish, and paid off the wider blood feud mentality perfectly in the context of the blow-off. This was a brand new Jericho in a brand new context, fulfilling also Meltzer's self-imposed innovation brief. Omega also worked a brawl style in this match, which is very different to his usual best-bout, technical execution that we're used to. It's hard not to see why Meltzer awarded the match the full *****, given his own criteria.
So here we go...
WRESTLE KINGDOM 12 - NO DQ US TITLE MATCH: Kenny Omega vs Chris Jericho
Omega has the Bucks with him. Jericho attacks before the bell and the lions have to separate them. Bell rings and it's a hockey fight. Omega grounds Jericho and lays in the right hands, followed by chops. Jericho rakes the eyes and comes back with his own chops. Walls of Jericho but Omega makes the ropes, Jericho refuses to break (why should he? it's no DQ).
Omega escapes and sends Jericho to the floor. Jericho cuts him off but gets shot over the barricade. Omega fires up and hits a springboard over the barricade, Don Callis gets wiped out. Jericho shoves the ref down and beats up some young lions and locks the walls in on one (who happens to be referee Red Shoes son). Omega fights back hitting Jericho with chairs and a monitor. They brawl by the commentary table, Omega takes him down and puts a table on him. Double stomp off the barricade. Jericho fights back hitting a suplex on the floor. They beat the count and Omega fires away. Jericho stops that momentum with a springboard dropkick.
Omega posted his hand and he's selling it well. Jericho sets up a table and powerbombs Omega on the floor. Jericho grabs a camera and takes some pics and flips off the crowd (he's loving being an asshole here). Back in, Jericho goes up and flies in with an elbow for 2. He chokes out Omega in the ropes. Omega tries to come back but gets cut off. Then he lays in chops and slaps before he's cut off again. Jericho with a lionsault for 2. He celebrates a bit and lays in the boots. Omega hits a rana and takes Jericho to the floor and then wipes him out with a tope (loving the desperation here). Back in and Omega keeps control. Neckbreaker and knee, Omega looks for the V trigger but Jericho counters for the walls, but Omega rolls him up for 2. Jericho escapes the snap dragon and hits the walls. Omega crawls to the post and gets a can of freeze spray, he blinds Jericho with it and sprays himself (including spraying his crotch which was a comedy spot that didn't work here and bugged me).
He's all fired up now, wedges a chair in the corner but Jericho shoves the ref down and sends Omega into it. He slams Omega into the chair a few times. He poses in the corner very proud of his work before slamming him again and going for some more posing. Omega is busted open. He tries to fire back but he has nothing left. Jericho continues to dominate and goes after the cut. Omega digs down deep and hits a snap dragon. He hits another and a spin kick. One Winged Angel but Jericho fights out of it and bashes Omega with the chair. More chair shots and the chair breaks.
Jericho to the 2nd rope and hits another chair shot. He has a new chair now. He goes up top but Omega dropkicks the chair into his face and Jericho falls through the table he'd set up earlier. Omega takes him back in and he's pissed now. Knee strikes and a V Trigger, Tiger Driver gets 2. Another V trigger and Jericho is about done. One winged angel, but no, it's countered, Jericho gets the walls. Omega fights, gets to the ropes but Jericho pulls him back, and now it's a lion tamer. Omega rallies back and struggles to the ropes. Jericho shoves the ref down. Code breaker is countered. V Trigger, one winged angel and Jericho just makes the ropes. Both men are down. Omega is up first, he goes up but Jericho crotches him and follows Omega up. Omega slides out and slams Jericho in the buckles. Moonsault is missed hits a code breaker, but it only gets 2, awesome near fall. Jericho lays a chair on Omega but Omega off the lionsault and hits the one winged angel on the chair and Jericho is done at 35:17.
This blew away every expectation I had for it at the time, as Jericho is 47 here and, honestly, hadn't had a great match in years. He was working with a purpose and some real aggression. This was a violent blood feud, and the no DQ stipulation certainly added to that and they played it perfectly (I'm not sure Jericho could have the same quality straight up wrestling match as he could've a decade ago so it was good call anyway). Jericho was a super heel doing all kinds of nasty things and Omega was a super babyface making well timed comebacks.
Nothing but praise and credit for both guys. There were minor negatives, I felt like it dragged a little at certain times, though I can say it never got boring, and went a few minutes passed it's peak. Omega spraying the freeze spray down his crotch really bugged me in a match like this also (I hate to single out minor spots like that, but it just reallly annoyed me to see that comedy spot in a match like this). Having said that I can't fault anyone giving this the full 5 but I'm not quite there on it. (****3/4)