Dreams of the Past: Kenny Omega vs. Kota Ibushi

Kenny Omega Kota Ibushi

If someone was to be asked what was the “most important match in the history of pro wrestling?” there could be a list of answers. All have their cases. However, a match that would occur on August 6th, 2008 would enter its name onto that list. Arguably, the ramifications from Kota Ibushi vs Kenny Omega could be felt to this very day.

Kenny Omega wasn’t that well known going into this match; he had wrestled in Deep South Wrestling and NWA Wildside, but this was his first tour of Japan. Up until this point, Omega mostly stayed to Canadian promotions. He debuted during the Beer Garden shows in 2008, his first match being during the HARASHIMA Produce show taking on two HERO!s in a tag match with Ken Ohka who adopted the name Kenny Ohka in the middle of the show in a losing effort. His next match would be on the Kota Ibushi Produce show. Omega’s opponent would be Kota Ibushi in a two out of three falls hardcore match.

Kota Ibushi was trained and loyal to the DDT system, having spent his entire career in the promotion. He would take bookings in other sometimes larger promotions. However, the plurality of his matches would end up being in the wild world of Dramatic Dream Team. This was a stark contrast to the man he was going to be facing; for Omega, this was his chance for a big showing.

Kota Ibushi vs Kenny Omega started on a hard-hitting note. The two would brawl, taking full advantage of the hardcore rules. Most of the match took place outside of the ring rather than in it. It was controlled chaos rather than weaponry going back and forth. Many spots involved suplex attempts, dives, and the like. The match showed the athleticism and creativity both wrestlers would come to be known for. In the end, it came down to the third fall in the middle of the ring. A few missteps from Omega later and Ibushi put him away with a stiff kick to the head to keep him down to end the third fall.

Kenny would finish his tour at Summer Vacation Memories on a high note beating HARASHIMA at the end of the month. However, he would come back at the beginning of 2009. From there, he teamed with Kota Ibushi, starting the team known as the Golden Lovers, winning the KO-D tag titles in their second match. These two together promised to change the face of wrestling together. The team would tour together through companies such as NJPW, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Championships together and defending them in DDT. This team would stay together until Kenny Omega’s departure from DDT in 2015.

Kenny Omega would go on to become one of the top stars in NJPW, going from The Cleaner to IWGP Heavyweight Champion. As part of The Elite, he would help bring western exposure to NJPW. At the same time, Kota Ibushi would take part in the inaugural Cruiserweight Classic. But as we cut to now what are these two doing? Kenny Omega went on with The Elite to make All Elite Wrestling while Kota Ibushi stayed in NJPW. But both stand on top of their respective mountains as champions. The ramifications of Kota Ibushi vs Kenny Omega in 2008 are still felt twelve years later.

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