For the first time ever, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has given a six star rating to a match from the first major pro wrestling event of 2017, which turned out to be Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega.
If you have never watched a match from New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), why not start with one that was recently given a 6/5 star rating from Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Yes, you read that correctly; 6 out of a possible 5 stars. Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada are two of the biggest stars in pro wrestling right now so we knew they were more than capable of putting on an incredible performance.
In case you weren’t lucky enough to watch this event live, Daily DDT’s own Rob “Stay Woke” Wolkenbrod gave a detailed account of this match and awarded it 5 stars, going so far as to state: “This match will go down as one of the best ever at Wrestle Kingdom. Yes, it was that good”. One of our featured writers, Carl “Wolfman” Gac, has provided some incredible video highlights from the match as well.
Meltzer’s own rating system grew from a similar process used by Jim Cornette which rates each match from 0-5 stars. While the criteria for awarding these stars may vary from other pro wrestling writers, it is generally accepted that aspects such as crowd reaction, variety of moves, and storyline build-up all play into how a match is rated. In the context of how many pro wrestling matches occur around the world each week from various promotions, a 5-star rating from Meltzer is relatively rare. The last match given this honor was Adam Cole and The Young Bucks vs. Matt Sydal, Ricochet (AKA Price Puma to Lucha Underground fans), and Will Ospreay back in September during the Battle of Los Angeles tournament for the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla promotion.
To be fair, the majority of matches granted 5 stars by Meltzer come from NJPW, but that has less to do with his preference for that brand and more to do with the fact that the focus of NJPW is on the style and substance of wrestling when compared to the WWE. Vince McMahon focuses on the drama and more outside the ring “soap opera” aspects of his product and that plays well to American audiences. The last 5-star match from the WWE was CM Punk vs. John Cena from Money in the Bank in 2011 and it was well-deserved. Inversely, the largely Japanese demographic for NJPW tends to focus more on the skill and precision found inside the squared circle and thus more of them are worthy of a higher rating.
Meltzer’s unprecedented rating for this match seems pretty clear to anyone who watched Okada vs. Omega and few (if any) will disagree that this match was more than worthy of being the first ever to receive a 6-star rating. Congratulations to both men for such an incredible performance. Matches like this remind us why we watch professional wrestling.