New Japan Pro Wrestling is second when it comes to the hierarchy of pro wrestling promotions, but the match that occurred on June 9th between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega pinpoints another shot in the arm in NJPW's war with WWE.
Okada/Omega's two-year rivalry culminated in a two out of three falls, no time limit match of the CENTURY.
Omega, having an up and down 2018, finally reached the pinnacle of his career by winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Okada. A championship that has alluded Omega since he won the 2016 G1 Climax, he finally managed to overcome Okada's 700-plus day reign in a match that fans, critics, and myself are calling "THE best match of all time."
New Japan has an avid underground following as of late, with stars like AJ Styles, Finn Balor, and Shinsuke Nakamura either jumpstarting or revitalizing their careers that had WWE calling for them. Many fans also say that New Japan is a better promotion than WWE in terms of storylines and matches while WWE is second-rate. However, New Japan is on a level where their product and talent pool is on par with WWE. The quasi-war between both promotions, as well as ROH's role in the two, is a great time for fans to watch pro wrestling in general.
New Japan is providing an alternative product to fans that want hard-hitting matches, MA-rated content, and overall, wrestling.
Recently, WWE greats like Chris Jericho and Rey Mysterio have shown up in New Japan and put on amazing matches. Jericho's full-heel attitude (swearing, giving the finger, brawling) has drawn audiences not familiar with New Japan to it: an uncensored Y2J doing what he wants without worrying about PG-minded Vince McMahon. Additionally, New Japan has run shows in the U.S. that have sold out quickly, another sign that New Japan is eye-to-eye with WWE.
Okada's 2-year reign came to a remarkable end on June 9, 2018, when he and Omega went over an hour in a classic confrontation.
On the other hand, WWE is not the loser at the moment.
In fact, WWE is still on top in a lot of fans' minds. Obviously, Lesnar's stale reign as Universal Champion and Vince's millionth attempt of pushing Roman Reigns down our throat is 2015-esque, but wrestlers like Seth Rollins and AJ Styles are having tremendous runs in the company that is drawing more and more fans to WWE. FOX's deal bringing Smackdown Live next year is also very interesting, and NXT's strong following adds more fuel to WWE's continued success.
It will be interesting to see what New Japan has in store with new champions like Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho, especially with Omega's reunion with The Young Bucks that has spawned the new faction "The Golden Elite" with Omega's old tag team partner Kota Ibushi. WWE's next event, Money in the Bank, will set the tone for the rest of their summer plans leading up to Summerslam. Let's hope that WWE can return the favor and have a match that contends with Omega/Okada IV this year.