5-Star Match Reviews: Kenny Omega vs. El Hijo Del Vikingo – AEW Dynamite, March 22, 2023
If Dave Meltzer is to be believed, AEW is on a massive roll when it comes to supposed historically-great matches.
AEW hasn’t even reached its four-year anniversary yet as of this writing that company has had 20 matches rated 5-Stars or higher. To put that in perspective, that’s more than WWE, All Japan Women, WCW, ROH, NOAH, Jim Crockett Promotions, PWG, and all the other smaller federations around the world.
But is AEW really on that much of a roll right now? Is AEW’s in-ring product really delivering on a regular basis when it comes to so-called “dream matches”, or has AEW begun following other companies and over-hyping things just to get the asses in the seats? Read on as we revisit a recent in-ring spectacle that was given the same rating as true industry classics involving the likes of Flair, Michaels, All Japan’s Four Pillars, and many other in-ring greats.
As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star and almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes back to the 1980s and I’m going to pick different matches from different eras to see how they look today. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here.
AEW promoted this match-up as a genuine dream match under the premise that Omega and Vikingo had never wrestled each other before. However, the match we got here was actually supposed to happen much earlier.
Back when Omega was doing his “Belt Collector” gimmick, he carried several singles titles at once, including the AAA Mega Championship. Omega reigned as Mega Champion for over two years and was originally supposed to defend it against El Hijo del Vikingo at Triplemania Regia II, an AAA PPV in December 2021.
However, two weeks before the scheduled title defense, Omega had to pull out due to his many injuries. Because of that, the title was vacated and a five-way match was scheduled for that same event to crown a new champion. Vikingo won that match and has been the AAA Mega Champion ever since.
So while this might’ve been presented as a cold first-time-ever match, there was a bit more to it under the surface. Vikingo carried the title that Omega never formally lost and Vikingo was facing the bigtime superstar that had taken his home company’s title away and treated as nothing more than another piece to his collection.
Given that this was the first time these two ever faced off under any circumstance, fans didn’t know what exactly to expect. Most people didn’t know who El Hijo del Vikingo was. Meanwhile, Omega had his own reputation to live up to. As “The Best Bout Machine”, Omega was expected to deliver top-level in-ring classics regardless of any history with his opponent or any lack thereof. But could he live up to those expectations with so little hype and build?
This match originally took place on March 22, 2023. It is not for Vikingo’s AAA Mega Championship.
Before the bell even rings, Vikingo pulls a Hayabusa and dives onto Omega with his entrance attire still on. He follows with a second dive and then hits a springboard dropkick in the ring. Both wrestlers trade strikes in a corner and then the bell finally rings. Omega goes for a corner whip but Vikingo lands a tiger feint, a pair of corner enzuigiris, and an imploding 450 hurricanrana. That was impressive. Vikingo hits a corkscrew kick and a running double knee attack followed by a running moonsault splash from the apron to the floor.
After a short pause, Vikingo tosses Omega into the ring and hits a springboard 450 splash for a two-count. He follows with another corner enzuigiri but Omega hits back with some chops. Omega follows with some jabs and then lands a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a two-count of his own, and then he gets another two-count off a fisherman buster. Omega kicks Vikingo to ringside and then throws him into the ringside barricade and then pulls out a table as the match goes to commercial.
We come back and Omega is stomping away on Vikingo in the ring. Omega goes for more strikes but Vikingo counters with a running headscissor. Both wrestlers end up trading strikes on the apron near the table until Omega lands a monkey flip onto said apron. Omega teases a dragon suplex through the table but Vikingo escapes, lands in the ring, and lands another enzuigiri. Then he jumps onto and balances himself on the top of the ringpost. Diving dragonrana to the floor.
Back in the ring, Vikingo lands more enzuigiris and goes for a top-rope move. Omega fights out and goes for a diving powerbomb but Vikingo counters with a midair hurricanrana. Then Vikingo balances himself on the second rope on the outside and hits a springboard phoenix splash into the ring. One, two, Omega kicks out.
Vikingo lands more kicks and attempts another springboard move but Omega counters with two powerbombs and a V-Trigger knee strike. One, two, Vikingo survives. Omega hits a snap dragon suplex followed by a second V-Trigger. Omega goes for the One-Winged Angel. Vikingo escapes and hits a springboard poisoned Frankensteiner. Omega ends up on the table and Vikingo gets a big running start. Running jumping 630 senton. Both men crash through the table.
Both men make it back into the ring at the count of nine and Vikingo covers for a two-count. Vikingo wins a strike exchange and charges to the ropes but Omega hits him with a third V-Trigger. Omega sends him into the ropes but Vikingo counters with a Manami Roll/Yoshi Tonic sunset bomb for a 2.8-count. Vikingo ascends the turnbuckle for another 630 senton. Omega dodges it and hits another V-Trigger. One-Winged Angel. One, two, and three! Omega wins!
Winner after 16:53: Kenny Omega
This was ludicrous. The whole point of this match was to showcase what El Hijo del Vikingo could do and I guess AEW thought that Omega was the best guy for the job. He was definitely impressive if you’re of the mind that the best wrestlers are those that can do things ordinary people can’t or defy gravity and/or reality. But I don’t know if I can call it anything other than a “video game match”. For better or worse, this was a fun little display of wrestling moves and not necessarily wrestling. I’ve made that distinction before and it bears discussing again. This was just motion without movement. It was fun and impressive at times, but just because a wrestler can do crazy things doesn’t automatically equate to a true historic classic.
Vikingo’s entire purpose here was to defy reality as much as possible, which he did with all of his flips and dives. He made the most complex maneuvers look effortless. He moved around the ring smoothly like a young Rey Mysterio or
But when it came to building heat or telling a story, there was little to nothing. Omega undid all of Vikingo’s early momentum with a few chops. There was no real connection between the wrestlers and the audience. Everything they did felt generic in the sense that nothing had deeper meaning, which made it next to impossible for anyone to really care about this beyond the surface-level athleticism being displayed.
And while some of Vikingo’s moves were very impressive, there was so little follow-up from them. The match didn’t slow down despite so many big moves being landed. The selling of supposed high-risk and high-impact maneuvers bordered on nonexistent. There was so much wasted motion from both guys as they paused before running to the ropes. And because both guys just got up and brushed stuff off without looking like they were fighting through any sort of pain, the match ended up coming across as incredibly phony.
This isn’t a knock against lucha libre; I’ve seen many classic lucha matches and many of them do a much better job of telling a story and adding emotion while still retaining the same athleticism-driven style. This was just a list of moves. If you imagined a HUD or a Super Smash Bros-style damage meter under each wrestler then this would look even more like a live action video game.
Final Rating: ***3/4
This was like a singles version of THAT Dragon Gate Six Man from 2006 with its blistering speed and surrealism. Video game matches are fine from time to time as a break in monotony, but to call this some kind of world-class classic is ridiculous. This is one of those matches that really make it seem like all one has to do to get praise is do wacky nonsense. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
If this match was meant to serve as an introduction to El Hijo del Vikingo for an audience unfamiliar with him, it was successful. I’m sur that after seeing this match some people will try and find more of his work and see what else he can do.
But let’s not kid ourselves here. This was eye candy and not eye protein. Just because it was flashy and had the odd impressive move doesn’t make it into a classic. It’s an exhibition match and a good one at that. But by no means should anyone take this seriously as the best match of the past thirty days, much less one of the best matches of all time.
Thanks for reading. You can email me with any questions or comments, and be sure to check out my 5-Star and Almost 5-Star Match Reviews series here.