You will not belittle me on the grandest stage that I am now. This is my moment now. You’re either going to pass this torch or I will f*cking take it from you.” – Will Ospreay the day before he defended the IWGP United States championship against Kenny Omega.
But Omega did. Not only did Omega belittle Ospreay, but he also took away the IWGP United States Championship from him while leaving Ospreay with a crimson mask and needing to be helped backstage by his fellow United Empire members.
Some former champions say it is not easy to lose your title; some say it’s like a weight off your back from all the pressure. But for the former champion, the pressure got to him, and in his words, “There was so much going on, so much pressure on me at the Tokyo Dome.” how could there not be?
Going up against the man who goes by the name of Best Bout Machine is as challenging as facing off against the Ace or the Rainmaker. While it may seem easy to come up with strategies to stop someone like Omega, actually stepping into the ring is a whole different ball game. It will require more than just optimism to prevent him from giving you the most severe thrashing you’ve ever experienced.
It is undoubtedly a challenging task for Ospreay to reclaim the title while confronting his enemy in their Canadian hometown during the most significant co-promotion event of the year. Additionally, Omega has made it crystal clear that if he manages to defeat the Aerial Assassin again, he won’t be returning to New Japan to defend the championship against anyone.
Ospreay became the NEVER Openweight champion by taking out Omega’s Golden Lover, Kota Ibushi. Omega, who was forced to watch Ibushi being stretchered out the ring and the Tokyo Dome following being concussed from the same Hidden Blade that Ospreay violently used at Wrestle Kingdom 13 to deliver a brutal end to Omega but was still defeated by the same man who has been the villain in the Aerial Assassin’s life.
The last three years proved to be the heaviest on Ospreay, who dealt with the constant pressure of trying to overcome the doubters who have had nothing good to say about him since he turned his back on both Kazuchika Okada and the stable that took him in the very beginning, CHAOS. Many wrestlers take on their villain role when sick and tired of being considered second-best or in the shadow of their friend/leader.
The Aerial Assassin reached the top of the mountain when he won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Still, it was short-lived when he suffered a neck injury during his first title defense against Shingo Takagi at Wrestling Dontaku and was forced to vacate the title on May 20, 2021.
He would return three months later, declaring himself the #1 contender for a match at Wrestle Kingdom vs. whomever the “interim champion” would be. After Okada defeated Takagi to win the world title, he’d again defeat the Assassin Ospreay, who failed in back-to-back years against the Ace Rainmaker. Ospreay spent the remainder of the 2022 year winning the IWGP United States title while his opponent for 2023’s Wrestle Kingdom was recovering from the incredible and brutal year he had been going through.
The Elite took a bold gamble by leaving New Japan and putting everything on the line, hoping not to fail. During this period, Kenny Omega proved himself to be one of the best professional wrestlers of our time. From November 2019 to November 2021, Omega won numerous titles, including the AAA Mega Championship, the AEW World Tag Team Championship, and both the Impact and AEW World Championships.
However, defending all that gold against top-tier opponents such as Jon Moxley, Rich Swann, Pac, Orange Cassidy, Dragon Lee, Laredo Kid, and Andrade El Idolo took a significant toll on The Best Bout Machine. After losing to Christian Cage for the Impact World Championship and Hangman Page for the AEW World Championship, Omega vacated the Mega Championship.
In November 2021, Omega had to take a break from competing due to injuries. He underwent hernia and knee surgeries before returning in August 2022. Omega saw this as a chance to recover from the grueling schedule he went through to prove his critics wrong.
Omega had previously made history by becoming the first Gajiin to win the G1 Climax and, a year later, defeating Okada in a two out of three falls match with no time limit to claim the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Dominion 6.9 in 2018. In doing so, he also became the first Canadian wrestler to hold the title.
You were mistaken if you thought this match between Ospreay and Omega would come close to ending in a draw. Both competitors used all their hate and aggression for each other, providing us with thirty-two minutes of pure mayhem. Omega and Ospreay attacked each other carelessly, captivating the fans in the arena and worldwide who watched years of pent-up anger being released.
Omega received a brutal Kawada kick that caused his eye to swell up badly, and Ospreay had his kidney stomped on through a table. Omega paid tribute to The Shining’s Jack Nicholson by yelling, “Here’s Kenny.”
Ospreay stared motionlessly at the camera with his crimson mask after receiving a top-rope DDT into the metal bolt below on the exposed turnbuckle. Both men executed their signature moves, from the God of Pro Wrestling performing an Avalanche Croyt’s Wrath German suplex to Ospreay landing multiple Hidden Blades despite being broken down from the beating. Even when the crowd expected Ospreay to win after paying homage to the former Bullet Club leader, AJ Styles, by performing the Styles Clash followed by a Hidden Blade, Omega landed the final blow with a V-Trigger before executing a One-Winged Angel for the pin and becoming the new IWGP United States champion.
After the match, we witnessed a fierce battle with a clear victor, yet the war was far from over. The spectacle was brutal, eschewing the flashy flips and high-flying maneuvers typically associated with these two in favor of violent shots to the head. This resulted in a test of strength and fortitude to see who was the better man that night in the Tokyo Dome.
After their intense match, Ospreay struggled to walk without assistance. Meanwhile, Omega returned to the US to team up with the Young Bucks and compete in the AEW Trios Championships. Both wrestlers were aware that they would face each other again. Still, they were uncertain which event would showcase the most significant matches leading up to their anticipated rematch until the Forbidden Door opened again.
“I had a responsibility, but I fell at the hurdle, and even though everyone said that the match was incredible, that doesn’t matter to me. What mattered to me was that my family was at home watching that match. My mum had to turn it off halfway through because she knew it was done.” Ospreay said in the build to the rematch against Omega.
The match was incredible, and it was so great that this weekend will be the Rematch of the Year in front of the loudest, rowdiest fans in the North packed up in the Scotiabank Arena. It’ll also be the only chance for Ospreay to show that the last couple of months fighting to get the opportunity to rematch the champion Omega to show he can give the same beating that his rival dished out to him in January and humiliate the Best Bout Machine in enemy territory.
Omega has one of the brightest minds outside of the squared circle when talking about his enjoyment of video games, but when he steps into the ring, despite being the good guy in his mind. Deep down inside, Omega is the final boss many of us have faced growing up that always knocks us down. Despite him not being looked at as one, the hero is the Aerial Assassin. He had to fly the flag and defend his home from the villain who won everything and left to make history. Ospreay had Shaq-sized shoes to fill but couldn’t because not everyone could defeat the final boss on their first try.
In a hypothetical Mortal Kombat world, Ospreay would embody Johnny Cage, while Omega would be Shao Khan. Similarly, in Street Fighter, Ospreay would be Ryu, and Omega would take on the role of Bison. During fights, Omega boldly announces and executes his moves, such as the backbreaker or asserting that his opponent cannot escape (a tactic he has successfully employed numerous times). Despite his undeniable talent, Omega’s underlying desire to prove his indispensability and superiority often casts him as the villain in the story. This motivation drives him to conquer promotions and demonstrates that no one can survive without him, no matter how long he’s been away.
Ospreay is set to return to the final tower, hoping to avoid a devastating defeat on Omega’s home turf. The crowd will likely be rooting against the Aerial Assassin, as they want their hero to maintain his hold on the IWGP United States championship until he decides to defend it in Japan against any challenger that New Japan can find to take on Omega.
Although Omega’s longevity and victories in battles have demonstrated his skill in New Japan, it remains to be seen how he will perform on his home turf in Canada. For Ospreay to succeed, he must remain focused on avoiding the same level of punishment he experienced at the hands of Omega. The champion has already achieved two victories (including the PWG match), and winning another over Ospreay could signify the end of any future battles between the two.
Both competitors are preparing for this major rematch while recovering from injuries, ranging from physical to emotional. The stakes are high for both as they consider the impact of the outcome on their future plans. Should Omega emerge victorious, Ospreay faces uncertainty about his next steps. If Ospreay claims the IWGP United States Championship, the potential for a trilogy match in the Tokyo Dome looms, intensifying the pressure for both fighters. Ospreay is determined to avenge himself, his loved ones, and New Japan for the humiliation he experienced after losing to his successor.
Ospreay has the chance to seize the torch and the gold, but Omega is determined to stop a new champion from being crowned on his home turf. The real excitement, however, lies in the highly anticipated rematch that will take place at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, where nineteen thousand passionate fans will gather to witness a potential match-of-the-year contender. Even those watching from afar will be treated to an intense battle as both competitors strive to prove themselves as the ultimate match and rivalry of the year.
The battle is between glory and vengeance, honor and infamy. In the end, only one person will emerge victorious, with all four words shining upon them like the gold that’ll be around their waist.
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