Throughout the week leading into December 31st, we’ll take you back to some of Dave Meltzer’s top-rated matches of the past year, starting with the five star matches and ending up with a seven star classic.
15 matches got the five star treatment while six matches garnered ratings above that level.
What follows is an edited version of Dave’s writeup from the match from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, available in full for subscribers. Also, we want to give a big shoutout to Cagematch.net who makes research for this list ridiculously easy.
Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii
NJPW G1 Climax | August 4, 2018
“The experiment in running the Edion Arena in Osaka on two straight nights was a financial success, as both shows sold out. The first night featured Omega vs. Ishii which seems to be considered the best match of the tournament.
While there are a number of candidates for this honor (Omega vs. Naito, Ibushi vs. Ishii and Ishii vs. Goto the ones mentioned the most often), this seems to have the most support. It would easily have won match of the year most years, but this year is just ridiculous, but even so, a number of matches here would probably be ranked anywhere from two to ten in match of the year so far, and really, because there are so many that could be, some will likely be lost in the shuffle. But that also happens every year.
The crowd was hot for this right away. The story here was that if Omega, with 12 points, lost to Ishii, with four, it would tie the biggest point differential upset in G-1 history. The other eight point differential was last year in the same building, when Omega, with ten points, lost to Robinson, with two. That record ended up being broken the next day when Yano beat Omega, which was a ten point differential.
The story early is Omega was a better athlete, too fast, and he’d slap him around, but he couldn’t hurt Ishii badly and finish him. Ishii then started slapping Omega around. Omega did a huracanrana out of nowhere and followed with the Terminator dive, which was the move he hurt his heel with in the Cody match in San Francisco and he’s still doing it on most shows. They did sick chops. Ishii did a delayed superplex. Omega’s mouth was bleeding from what looked to be a hard clothesline, and got worse as the match went on. Ishii’s mouth was also bleeding. Omega kept hitting V triggers and Ishii got stronger. Ishii was back with elbows. Omega did the reverse huracanrana. Omega also did a springboard double foot stomp onto Ishii who was draped on the apron.
Omega landed on his feet after a German suplex and hit another V trigger followed by a J driller but Ishii kicked out again. Ishii was killing him with hard lariat and Omega was back with V triggers. Ishii did two more head-butts and Omega did an inside out bump after a lariat. Omega hit the brainbuster, Ishii’s finisher, on him but Ishii kicked out at one. Ishii did another sick lariat, a headbutt, an enzuigiri and finished him with a brainbuster.”