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    Thursday, December 20, 2018

    31 Days of Wrestling (12/20/18): Kenny Takes On That Hardcore Guy From TNA

    Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. Once again, we're at that point where we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling 2018 produced for us.

    When Kenny Omega found out that he would be facing Penta El Zero at All In, he looked like this:

    Meanwhile, the rest of the wrestling world was salivating at the thought of this matchup, which was often referred to as a "dream match."

    We often throw that term around to describe highly-anticipated, once-thought improbable matches, and it's as apt a description for this match. Omega headed into this match as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, fresh off a respectable, yet brutal showing at the G1 Climax. Penta, on the other hand, was the Lucha Underground Champion and the face of Lucha Underground, as well as one of the biggest names from the American continent's independent scene. Both men were affiliated with vastly different scenes—Omega with NJPW, and Pentagon with Impact Wrestling and its affiliates. These groups rarely cross these days, and when they do, they tend to be special—and All In was the perfect place for this clash between East and West.

    This was the first singles match between the two, and it definitely delivered on an All In card that was rife with special moments. There's a bit of a feeling out moment to start where Penta established himself as an atypical Omega opponent, but the action quickly picked up after that. Omega's skill was on full display here, and for the most part, the Cleaner was actually in control of this match. Penta, however, found his openings and made the most out of them, leveling Omega with some high-impact moves that came so close to scoring that sought-after pinfall. He even had the One Winged Angel scouted well, managing to get out of it every time Kenny went for the finisher.

    Penta's image as the defiant, rebellious fan favorite was highlighted here as well, as he immediately got into Omega's face at the start with his signature cero miedo taunt. This was a match that saw both men play to their strengths very well, and while only one came out on top, both of them left it having proven why they are two of the biggest names in wrestling today.

    A ton of matches often get that dream match moniker every year, but this one stood out as one that was actually worthy of that title. It was a match between two guys who had no logical way to get to one another given their affiliations but did so anyway thanks to the biggest independent wrestling event ever.

    Finally, it's worth noting that today's entry is the third time we've featured Kenny Omega in this year's series, the second time we've featured Pentagon, and the second All In match we've featured. All of these have had a stellar 2018, and it's very easy to see why.

    31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2018.

    Read our previous entries:

    1. Winnipeg Boys Conquer the Tokyo Dome (Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho, No DQ match for IWGP US Heavyweight title, Wrestle Kingdom 12)
    2. Roman Reigns Finally Becomes Universal Champion (Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns, SummerSlam 2018)
    3. The Man Is Last Woman Standing (Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch, Last Woman Standing match for SmackDown Women's title, Evolution)
    4. Kenny Omega, Finally IWGP Heavyweight Champion (Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega, 2-out-of-3 Falls match, Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall)
    5. The Resurrection of Daniel Bryan (AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship, WWE SmackDown Live 11/13/18)
    6. Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Unsanctioned match (NXT TakeOver: New Orleans)
    7. The Lightbringer Has Arrived (Ralph Imabayashi vs. Quatro for the PWR Championship, PWR Live: Homefront)
    8. The First Ever Women's Royal Rumble (Royal Rumble 2018)
    9. To Surpass God (Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi, G1 Climax 28 Finals)
    10. Wreck It, Rowdy (Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs. Stephanie McMahon & Triple H, WrestleMania 34)
    11. Pentagon Dark vs. Marty "The Moth" Martinez (Ultima Lucha Cuatro)
    12. King in the North (America) (6-Way Ladder match for NXT North American title, NXT TakeOver: New Orleans)
    13. A Dream Ricochets (Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream, NXT TakeOver: Chicago II)
    14. Of Queens and Empires (Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka for the SmackDown Women's title, WrestleMania 34)
    15. #ALLIN For Ten Pounds of Gold (Nick Aldis vs. Cody for the NWA Heavyweight title, All In)
    16. The Renaissance of 205 Live (Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali, WrestleMania 34)
    17. The Second United Kingdom Championship Tournament
    18. 100 Percent (Robin Sane vs. Fabio Makisig for the MWF Championship, MWF Noche Buena)
    19. The New King is a Queen (Danshoku Dino vs. Meiko Satomura for the KO-D title, DDT MajiManji 8/28/18)
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    Item Reviewed: 31 Days of Wrestling (12/20/18): Kenny Takes On That Hardcore Guy From TNA Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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