Dave Meltzer has once again broken his star-rating system to award six stars to Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi’s match for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.
On Night 2 of New Japan’s Pro Wrestling Dontaku shows, Ospreay and Takagi faced off in a near forty-five-minute classic. Ospreay went into the match as champion after capturing the biggest prize in Japanese wrestling from Kota Ibushi on the 4th of April at Sakura Genesis. Los Igobernables De Japon’s Takagi claimed Ospreay’s first title defence after an impressive start to 2021 which saw Takagi reach the final of the 2021 New Japan Cup.
Will Ospreay won the match retaining his title as English language commentator Kevin Kelly exclaimed:
“We’re prisoners of the moment. I’ve called Omega and Okada, I’ve called Tanahashi and Okada. I’ve called Jay and Ibushi but this is the best wrestling match I’ve ever called.”
It is the first time the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer has awarded six stars to a match in 2021. The last six-star match came in February 2020 when Kenny Omega and Hangman Page successfully defended the AEW Tag Team Titles against The Young Bucks.
Both Ospreay and Takagi have now achieved five or more stars using Meltzer’s system four times apiece in 2021. The two men had a 5.5-star match in the New Japan Cup Final that Ospreay won in March. Ospreay’s other memorable performances came against Kazuchika Okada and Zack Sabre Jr. Takagi’s five-star opponents were Jeff Cobb and NJPW legend Hiroshi Tanahashi.
For context, only two matches have garnered more than six stars from Dave Meltzer while Takagi and Ospreay’s duel becomes the sixth match to gain exactly six stars. The only two wrestlers to better six are Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada. Their meeting at Dominion in 2017 earned them six and a quarter stars which was then bettered one year later in a two out of three falls match that earned seven stars.
The highest rate match under the WWE umbrella of shows was earned in 2019 at NXT TakeOver: New York. Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano were given five and a half stars for their two out of three falls epic for the vacant NXT Championship. The last time a main roster WWE match attained five stars was for the classic CM Punk vs. John Cena WWE Title match in 2011. Since AEW’s inception in 2019, the company have achieved five star or above matches on seven occasions.