Over the past two years, the paths of Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega have crossed three times. After Omega became the first North American wrestler ever to win the G1 Climax tournament in 2016, Omega challenged Okada for the IWGP heavyweight championship at Wrestle Kingdom 11. They battled for over 45 minutes in what became the longest match in the history of New Japan Pro Wrestling's signature show, with Okada barely edging out Omega for the victory in a match that cemented Omega as one of the top heavyweight wrestlers in the world.
In June 2017 at Dominion, another of NJPW's biggest shows of the year, Okada and Omega pulled off another stunner of a world title match -- one that ultimately ended in a 60-minute draw. In the final match of Block B in the 2017 G1 Climax tournament, Omega finally hit his One-Winged Angel finisher on Okada and beat him in a whirlwind 24-minute match (though the IWGP heavyweight title was not on the line).
As this rivalry for the ages sits at one win, one loss and one draw apiece, there must be a deciding fourth match to determine who ultimately walks out the winner. In the main event of Dominion on Saturday in Osaka, Japan, Omega challenges for Okada's IWGP heavyweight championship once more, in a 2-out-of-3 falls, no time-limit match that will likely dictate the direction of New Japan Pro Wrestling for the rest of 2018 and beyond.
The smart money has to be on Okada, who will hit 715 days in his record-breaking reign as NJPW's top champion by the time the main event hits. Omega is the last loose end to tie up in a stretch that's seen Okada defeat and avenge every challenger and black mark on his record over the past two years. Tetsuya Naito seemed a likely usurper heading into Wrestle Kingdom 12 in January, but with his loss at that event it may come down to Naito finally persevering at Wrestle Kingdom 13 to derail this historic run.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, making Omega the man to finally defeat Okada is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring Omega as close to an equal to Okada that NJPW could possibly muster after two years with Okada reigning supreme. With a pair of NJPW shows in North America -- the CEO x NJPW show in Daytona Beach on June 29 and the G1 Special in San Francisco on July 7 -- there would be more foolish decisions than to make Omega the poster boy. There's also the fact that Naito is wrapped up with the IWGP Intercontinental championship and another rivalry.
An Omega win would also set up the possibility of a fifth match somewhere down the line, and it would be a lucrative opportunity to cash in on the rivalry that has the most worldwide appeal.
No matter the result, it's clear that fans will be in for something special on Saturday when two of the best performers in the world lock horns. If history is any precedent, the fourth match between these two men will be distinctly different from their first three contests while still building upon their history and momentum.
It's sure to be a moment in the annals of wrestling history that won't soon be forgotten.
- While the headlining match is appropriately drawing the most attention heading into Dominion, the rest of the show has a lot of other matches and moments to look forward to. After attacking Naito at New Year's Dash back in January, Chris Jericho tried to fake everyone out by saying that his relationship with NJPW had frayed -- only for him to pose as a fan in the crowd during NJPW's Wrestling Dontaku and sneak-attack Naito a second time, leaving him bloodied.
Now the nine-time WWE Intercontinental champion is poised to win NJPW's version of the title -- a championship made famous by Shinsuke Nakamura. Jericho's second New Japan match of 2018, against another of the company's top performers, is the co-headlining bout on this show.
- After an incredible Best of the Super Juniors tournament, which concluded last week with a tremendous final between Hiromu Takahashi and Taiji Ishimori, led Takahashi to an IWGP junior heavyweight championship match against Will Ospreay. If you're even remotely familiar with either man's style, you're aware of the possibility of a true spectacle in the making once these two clash.
- Rey Mysterio makes his NJPW debut in a star-studded six-man tag team match alongside Hiroshi Tanahashi and Jushin Thunder Liger against a Bullet Club trio of Cody, Marty Scurll and Hangman Page. With all the WWE history between Mysterio and Cody dating back to their WWE days, and Mysterio's recently announced participation in All In, this could be something big. There are also outstanding challenges for Mysterio tied to Liger, Ospreay and Scurll, so that's worth keeping an eye out for as well.
- Three other titles will be on the line at Dominion. Record-setting IWGP junior heavyweight tag team champions The Young Bucks get their second-ever shot at the heavyweight tag team belts against Los Ingobernables de Japon's EVIL and SANADA. Hirooki Goto defends his NEVER openweight championship against Michael Elgin and Taichi and, in what will be the opening match of the show, Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh) challenge Suzuki-gun's El Desperado and Kanemaru.
- The card's rounded out by a pair of tag team matches. Zack Sabre Jr. and Minoru Suzuki face off with Tomohiro Ishii and Toru Yanu, while IWGP United States champion Jay White and Yoshi-Hashi take on David Finlay and Juice Robinson.