Editor’s Note: Every day this week, we’ll take you back to one of Dave Meltzer’s top-rated matches of the past year, starting with No. 10 and going through No. 1. What follows is an edited version of Dave’s writeup of that match from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter with the context relatively intact.
Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito
G1 Climax Finals | August 13
The highest caliber G-1 Climax tournament in history had perhaps the most predictable ending.
From the announcement of the lineup, it looked like the A block would come down to Tetsuya Naito beating Hiroshi Tanahashi, the B block to Kenny Omega getting his first career win in his series with Kazuchika Okada, and that Naito would get revenge for his 2016 B block final loss to Omega, by beating him in the final. And that would set up Okada vs. Naito, the company’s most popular wrestler, for the Tokyo Dome main event.
That’s exactly what happened, but predictability didn’t matter. It wasn’t so much about who won and lost, because of match quality in the tournament, almost everyone won. Yuji Nagata was 1-8 and many had him as the tournament MVP. Omega had two of the best matches in pro wrestling history, both within a 21 hour period, and yet that wasn’t enough to stand out from a pack of the deepest pure talent pool in tournament history.
Naito vs. Omega was an insane dangerous classic. Most had this as the best match of the tournament, and in doing so, makes it a strong contender for match of the year. As far as an explosive emotional match goes, there was none better this year. I liked Omega vs. Okada more, because I thought it was superior when it came to athleticism, While also coming across far too dangerous, this match tread even more into that territory.
Tetsuya Naito pinned Kenny Omega in 34:35 to win the G-1 Climax tournament
Omega did a moonsault off the guard rail. Naito came back with a neckbreaker on the apron and a neckbreaker off the apron to the floor. A great spot saw Naito do the Tranquillo where he usually just lays there and poses, but then got up and hit a tope. Naito then went to piledriver Omega on the hard Japanese table, which is bad enough, but jumped up and somehow missed the table. We thought Omega was done for good. Believe it or not, no wrestlers were maimed making this match.
To his credit, after missing the table, Naito did protect him well on the way down. Omega sold like crazy. Omega later started working on Naito’s bad shoulder. The night before, the shoulder was all taped up but Naito wore a shirt so you didn’t know it. It probably would have been better to have been taped up here to add to the drama, but I guess he didn’t want to be seen as going into the match injured, even though he was. Omega went for the You Can’t Escape, but after doing it, he started selling the neck so he couldn’t do a moonsault. Naito used a Frankensteiner and Omega hit the Terminator dive. Omega followed with a missile dropkick to the back of the neck. Naito worked him over with a German suplex and a neckbreaker over the knee. He went for a German suplex, but Omega landed on his feet. Still, Naito hit a tornado DDT. He later went for the Frankensteiner off the top, but Omega reversed into a hot shot and a snap dragon suplex, followed by a V Trigger. Omega tried a Jay Driller, but Naito blocked it. Naito reversed a power bomb into a tornado DDT. After a series of moves, Naito went for the destino, but it was blocked and turned into a reverse crunchy piledriver by Omega.
There was a crazy spot where Naito went for a superplex, but Omega reversed it and DDT’d him on the post. I have no idea what they were doing, but that wasn’t supposed to happen quite like that and Naito could have been in a lot of trouble. Naito used a reverse huracanrana off the top rope but missed a stardust press. Omega hit the Jay Driller and two V tTiggers. Naito blocked the third one, but Omega hit the next one and hit a doctor bomb. He did a running V Trigger and went for the One Winged Angel, but Naito reversed into a reverse huracanrana. He went for the Destino but Omega hit the crunchy roll for a near fall. Omega was killing him with V triggers, and again went for the One Winged Angel, but Naito reversed and hit the Destino. Both were selling big and they teased a double knockout. Naito was bleeding from the mouth. They traded slaps and Omega hit another V trigger. Naito used a koppo kick and two Destinos and got the pin.
After the match, Naoki Sugabayashi gave Naito the G-1 trophy and Masahiro Chono, Mr. G-1, came out and gave him the flag and fist bumped him. Naito cut his usual promo with all his LIJ members and fist bumped everyone including Darryl.
In many people’s eyes, the DDT on the ringpost by Omega where it looked like Naito’s career could end and Naito’s piledriver off a table to the floor are what made it the best match of the tournament and those spots will probably always be associated with this match, even if they weren’t supposed to happen like that. The piledriver was supposed to be a piledriver through the table but for whatever reason when Naito jumped up, he missed the table and landed on the floor. To his credit, he was able to protect Omega going down, and the fear of injury and the selling like this was real. In each case, they went too far and were really hurt, but it added to the match.
– Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak
– WALTER vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
– Tanahashi vs. Naito
– Okada vs. Shibata
– Will Ospreay vs. KUSHIDA
– Naito vs. Michael Elgin