Daily DDT End of Year Awards: Danielson & Omega Take Home AEW MOTY

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2021 saw many great matches happen in AEW, from the Young Bucks facing The Lucha Brothers in an epic cage match, to Thunder Rosa vs. Britt Baker, to Bryan Danielson having a 4* or higher match seemingly every week, but only one could get top voting in the Daily DDT 2021 End of Year Awards: Bryan Danielson vs. Kenny Omega.

While this was not my first choice for match of the year in AEW, it was easily on my shortlist of top matches in AEW for 2021. The best match of the year, in my estimation, was the cage match with the Young Bucks and Lucha Brothers, but saying that is no slight to this instant classic that Danielson and Omega had.

Danielson and Omega was a dream match that has been spoken about for many years, with many suggesting that it would be one of the best matches of the year even before it happened. When Bryan Danielson’s WWE contract expired and he left the company, people immediately began speaking about the potential of him going to AEW and facing off against Omega.

AEW and Bryan Danielson seemed like a perfect fit for each other since day one of AEW, and Danielson leaving WWE to go there ended up being a great decision that helped both.

Danielson had done all there was to do in WWE, and with no challenges left, helping AEW, the upstart company, further establish itself as an alternative to WWE is proving to be exactly the challenge he was looking for. With potential NJPW dates ahead and a feud with Jon Moxley heading into AEW Revolution, Danielson is poised to have one of the biggest years of his career in terms of marquee matches.

But before all that, he had one man standing in front of him, and a lot of questions – questions that he asked himself. Danielson, according to Jon Moxley, wondered if he could keep up with the pace in AEW. To fans who watched him work for 20 years, the thought that he couldn’t keep up with the top guys in AEW is laughable, but as is the case with many things in life, no one doubts you more than yourself.

Moxley told Danielson that he was the best wrestler in the world, and that he could keep pace with anyone. Moxley might have been right, because Danielson has fit right into AEW effortlessly, returning to a more physical style that we saw him work while in ROH.

Danielson and Omega faced off at AEW Dynamite Grand Slam in New York, tearing the house down in a 30-minute draw. In the end, there was no other way to book this – Omega was always going to drop the title to “Hangman” Adam Page, and Danielson still needed to be established as a guy that could go with the top workers in AEW, thus this 30-minute draw that made Danielson look like a killer in waiting who could have beaten Omega if he just had a few more seconds.

This was a masterfully paced match from start to finish, earning 5* from Dave Meltzer, and 5.5* from me in my own recap here at Daily DDT. Omega more than held his own in this match, but it was clearly designed with the intention of getting Danielson over as a threat to anyone in the company, and it has done so spectacularly.

If there were any questions before that point about Danielson belonging in AEW, they were answered rapidly by this match. One has to wonder if a bigger challenge in Kazuchika Okada is awaiting Danielson when the situation with COVID-19 dies down in Japan, in what will undoubtedly be another instant classic.

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Since then, he has wrestled two masterpieces against “Hangman” Page, with one going a full hour and the second going for nearly 30 minutes, both being 5* matches in my opinion.

While this has mostly spoken about Danielson, Omega’s contributions to the match cannot be understated, as he remained one of the best to ever lace his boots in wrestling, further elevating the AEW World Title into a top title position with his quality of performances, which are even more remarkable when you consider how hurt he was going into all those matches.

Regardless, this was easily one of the best matches in AEW history, and one that I will always remember as the night the American Dragon truly came back to professional wrestling.