Dec. 10 in Fukuoka, Japan, after Kenny Omega won his match at a New Japan event and he was celebrating, a video interrupted. It showed Chris Jericho applauding and cutting a promo, mock applauding him for another hard fought match. He asked if he was ready for him on January 4 where “we will find out who the best in the world is.” He said Omega better be ready because he planned to beat the hell out of him.
Then back in the arena, the lights came back on and Jericho was standing behind Omega. He surprised Omega with a Code Breaker. He pummeled him with a barrage of punches. Then he smashed him in the face with the belt. He hit the referee and a prelim wrestler who jumped in to stop him. Omega came up bleeding. Jericho punched away at his forehead as the bell rang over and over. Announcers Kevin Kelly and Don Callis called for somebody to stop the attack, but said there wasn’t anyone to stop it. As soon as Omega stood, Jericho took him down with another Code Breaker. Jericho strutted. Kelly called on Callis to go check on him, but then told him not to go in the ring and instead let the doctor do it. Jericho was about to leave, but then returned to the ring and saw Callis checking on Omega. When Callis angrily asked him what he was doing, Jericho gave him a Code Breaker. Then he went back after Omega and the bell began ringing over and over again. He rubbed the U.S. Title belt across Omega’s bloody face, then smeared the blood on the belt. The Young Bucks ran into the ring with a baseball bat in hand. Jericho left the ring, then threw the bloodied belt back into the ring and walked away with his arm raised. Kelly said Callis and Jericho have been friends for 25 years or longer. Jericho shoved a camera as he walked to the back. He yelled: “I’ll see you at the Tokyo Dome!” The Bucks helped Omega to the back, clutching his U.S. Title belt.
The next day at a press conference, a bandaged Kenny Omega said after the challenge, he felt this would become a gentleman’s contest between the Best in the World versus perhaps the Greatest of All Time. “Chris Jericho, I looked up to you,” he said. “And then after yesterday, I’ve got yet another reason to believe that you are the best. I’ve got another reason to look up to you, Chris Jericho, because you taught me a very valuable lesson.” He said as pro wrestlers they are performers and artists, and sometimes they get caught up too much in the entertainment of fans. He said he can get caught up in having five-star and six-star matches and being the MVP. “You reminded me, Chris Jericho, that at its core, professional wrestling is a fight.” He said this won’t be who is a greater athlete or who can win over the live crowd or who the crowd is cheering for. “This isn’t going to be WWE versus New Japan Pro Wrestling… This is going to be a fight between two people who think he is the best.” He said they are both willing to shed blood. “So Chris, bring your best and next time, yes, I can promise you, you’re not going to get a chance to attack me from behind. You’re going to see me coming head on.”
Omega paused for questions from the assembled media.
•On how bad his injury is: “This is the first time someone has purposefully injured me, cut me. After it happened, it really got me thinking, what was the meaning behind this? What does this do for our match? How can this now be a gentleman’s contest? How can you find out who the best in the world is if you do these things, Chris? Then I remembered Chris Jericho had said he was willing to do what it took to beat me and he is the best and prove he is the alpha and the alpha is always better than the omega. Chris, congratulations, you have studies me well. Every time I have won a match that meant something, it has always been man to man, fair and square, with all of the cards on the line. You attacking me from behind while distracting me with a video, well, that’s something you’d expect to see on Monday Night Raw isn’t it? And that is my mistake not to expect that. See, Chris, I have always praised just how smart you are. It’s how you’ve remained relevant all of these years, it’s how you have people around the world still calling you the best. And now, after yesterday, I cannot even be mad. I can’t disagree. Chris, you’re officially smarter than me. I never saw it coming, but don’t count me out, Chris, because I’ve got a few surprises of my own, and at the dome, I’m going to show you. And even though this isn’t the match I thought it’d be, it’s definitely the one everyone is going to want to see and definitely the one that everyone is going to remember. How is my head? It’s fine. I’ve bled, I got some stitches, but it’s going to be nothing compared to the carnage and destruction that you see at the Tokyo Dome. All bets are off. This is no longer a gentleman’s contest, it’s going to be a fight.”
•On mistakes he made: He said he shouldn’t have said how much respect he has for Jericho because Jericho took advantage of that. “You’ve already taken advantage of my kindness. You’ve already taken advantage fo my stupidity. I won’t make that mistake again. I won’t make the mistake of respecting you in this match. It’s already too late. We’ve already crossed the line. So no, I’m not going to respect Chris Jericho in this match. I’m will show him absolutely zero respect once we step through those ropes in the Tokyo Dome. There is no way I can come up the victor if I do. Do I respect your career? Yes. Do I respect your band? Yes. Do I respect your side projects, all the money you’ve made? Yes. But I don’t respect you as a human being at the Tokyo Dome. When I see you in that ring, I’m going to treat you like that piece of shit that you are, and everyone’s going to see it, that there’s this big gap in difference between who Kenny Omega is and who Chris Jericho is. You’ve already shown all your cards, Chris. There is nothing more you can do to me that you haven’t already done. Maybe that’s the way you want it, but Chris Jericho, you’ve unlocked the true Kenny Omega, a Kenny Omega that I really haven’t had the chance to show here in New Japan. You’ve unlocked the Kenny Omega that is willing to fight to show that he is the best.”
Omega stood to leave. As he walked away, he eyed his New Japan U.S. Title belt. Then a staff member carried away the belt while other workers placed a new water bottle delicately on the table and another worker in a tuxedo straightened the chair perfectly sin preparation for Chris Jericho’s arrival. After several minutes waiting, Jericho finally showed up. He settled in and was introduced and listen to the first question. A translator asked if there was any reason he attacked Omega last night. Suddenly, as Jericho began to answer, Omega leaped at Jericho and beat him down. Several people pried Omega off of Jericho. Jericho threw the table at him and attacked Omega next. Jericho yelled at Omega and called him a son of a bitch as Omega was dragged out of the room with a smile on his face.
Jericho returned to the front of the room, walking past shocked looking press conference organizers. He grabbed a mic and stood and began cutting a promo. “This is going to be a match that you’ve never seen in New Japan,” he said. “This is not about five stars, seven stars, not how many times you can go for your finishing move. This is a fight, it’s a war, it’s alpha vs. omega, and Kenny you are going to get the shit kicked out of you. You understand me? You get it? Huh? I’ve been in Japan sixty times, and this match at the Tokyo Dome is the most important I’ve had in Japan. What are you laughing at, f— face? Shut your mouth. Don’t miss this match because you’ll never see it again in New Japan ever. Dream match, alpha vs. omega, one time only, Tokyo Dome, January 4th. Kenny Omega, it’s time for The Cleaner’s career to be done. January 4th will be Kenny Omega’s last match in the Tokyo Dome, it will be Kenny Omega’s last match in the Tokyo Dome. Write that town, Fumi Saito.” Then he threw down the mic and walked away. He grabbed a media member’s pen and wrote on his note pad: “Kenny Omega’s last match in New Japan. See that!? Last match!” He ripped up the note pad and threw it. The camera panned as reported looked on at the disheveled Jericho exit the room.
Keller’s Analysis: Tremendous angles both the night before and at the press conference. This had a real old-school vibe, although since they happened in 2017’s New Japan it shows that the so-called old-school vibe really is timeless, and what it actually means is “different than the way WWE does it.” This had that sports-like vibe that works so well when done well. Jericho was just tremendous here, with a fresh look and a crazed and vicious determined demeanor that made the match feel like more than “just a dream match” and now an intense grudge match. Omega was also really good answering questions and feeding the fans in Japan the key lines to make them feel that something different and special was going to happen, firmly establishing that he is no longer approaching this match as a “gentleman’s contest” but now a fierce grudge match. This is not done often in New Japan, and it really stands out there for that reason. I loved the touch at the end where Jericho saw a note pad from a reporter and in a crazed way wrote down that it would be Omega’s last match and then tearing it up and throwing it into the air. The angle the night before was also as basic as it gets – heel sneak attacks babyface, then attacks an announcer who has connection to fallen babyface, and then storms off untouched, setting up the babyface to get his revenge briefly after the press conference to give the fans a taste of what’s coming at the event. Just tremendous all around – the wrestler performances, the setting for the press conference, the camera work that made everything feel impromptu.
WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE HERE.
WATCH CHRIS JERICHO ATTACK KENNY OMEGA THE NIGHT BEFORE HERE.
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