When Wrestling and Street Fighter Combine, It’s A Beautiful Thing

I’m a big Street Fighter fan. I’ve been a fan of the game ever since I saw a Street Fighter II cabinet in the arcade of my local mall way back when I was in high school. I’ve followed the series since then and, while I have been critical of Street Fighter V because of it’s lack of an Arcade mode, I still play the latest entry to the series frequently.

I’m also a huge fan of wrestling. I was a fan of the WWE when it was called the WWF. I’ve been a fan of “sports entertainment” way before “sports entertainment” was even a term! I was a fan of wrestling ever since I watched Wrestlemania II and I saw “The Real American” Hulk Hogan wrestle the humongous King Kong Bundy in a cage match to retain the WWF Heavyweight title.

Now, I had no idea it was actually possible to combine these two worlds. On paper, it seems like both of them should go hand in hand easily. They both involve fighting, after all. However, the biggest difference between Street Fighter competitors and wrestlers is how outspoken they are. Guys who usually compete in video game tournaments may love to trash talk but they’re usually really reserved. There are a few that may love to brag and play the heel like Filipino Champ but, most of the time, the guys and gals who play in video game tournaments are pretty tactful with what they say, which is direct contrast with how wrestlers are supposed to behave when the camera is pointed at them.

However, this weekend, during this year’s CEO (Community Effort Orlando) fighting game tournament, it finally happened! The worlds of professional wrestling and Street Fighter finally collided! And it was an experience like no other! Oh, the actual tournament and the matches were fun to watch and they were very exciting. But it was definitely the hype that New Japan Pro Wrestling and Bullet Club member Kenny Omega and Up Up Down Down founder Austin Creed AKA WWE and New Day member Xavier Woods that brought the house down!

In fairness, every year, CEO organizer Alex Jebailey tries to make the event a lot like wrestling. Instead of a stage, he has a ring outfitted with ropes, turnbuckles and everything. He also has tried to make the participants join in the festivities and some of them have been game, such as giving them entrance theme music so they can enter the “ring” with the fanfare of a WWE event. Last year, we even had K-Brad come in and ape “Stone Cold” Steve Austin complete with him delivering the Stone Cold Stunner on some hapless individual!

However, this year’s CEO reached a new level of melding the crazy personalities of wrestling with the intricacies of fighting games. Well, that’s thanks to Jebailey getting Kenny Omega and Austin Creed to actually participate in this year’s festivities! I imagine that was no small feat as he had to fix their busy schedules and whatnot but he managed to pull it off!

They hype started on Friday with Kenny Omega entered as one of the participants in this year’s Street Fighter V “Royal Rumble” event. Kenny Omega delivered a promo against one of the “top dogs” in the Street Fighter tournament community, Justin Wong. The New Japan Pro Wrestling star cut a promo before the match what was just fantastic. What was even more fantastic is what happened after the match! Seeing Jebailey slide into the ring, in full John Cena regalia and try to perform an Attitude Adjustment on Kenny Omega, only to have Kenny wiggle out of the move and deliver Sweet Chin Music was just pure hype!

Kenny Omega didn’t do so well against Justin Wong. Sure he’s extremely skilled in the ring, but he just doesn’t have the mystical Wong Factor! But Kenny did show that he does have a lot of Street Fighter knowledge as his actual tournament match on the stream highlighted on Saturday! His first match was against a guy named AGOAT and he looked legit. His Alex was pretty good, not the best but it was good enough to beat AGOAT’s Ken move him along the winner’s bracket.

But the hype was ratcheted into the stratosphere later in the day when Up Up Down Down’s founder Austin Creed crashed the party. Austin decided to pay Kenny a visit while the latter was doing commentary (which was actually pretty good as he displayed a lot of knowledge about the game). Now, this was interesting as both of them are actually in kind of a feud with each other. Kenny Omega talked trash about Austin and vice versa. So, seeing them both at CEO at the same time was actually pretty jarring but a welcome surprise!

And, what do wrestlers do after trash talking to each other? Why, they have a match! In the ring! And it actually happened at this year’s CEO! And it was an epic match!

It wasn’t an epic match in the classic sense. The fighting was impressive but only because, honestly, I half expected them to play like garbage. So I was pretty surprised with Kenny Omega’s ability to V-Trigger from Alex’s big boot into combos and  Austin Creed’s poking skills to keep out his opponent as much as possible. In the end, Kenny Omega did come out on top as he did look like the more skilled player.

But I guess what made the match exciting wasn’t the actual fighting. It was the people behind the fighting. Wrestlers are entertainers and they know how to react to a crowd and how to play off one another. Kenny Omega and Austin Creed definitely demonstrated they know how to ham it up for the audience and they did a fantastic job! It was a spectacle and showmanship at its finest.

Oh, by the way, Tokido won the entire Street Fighter V tournament. It was a very hype win as he finally took out his archnemesis Infiltration after losing to him for so many times. It was a very emotional win, without a doubt, and I don’t want to take anything away from it. However, I think this year’s CEO will be remembered as the time when Kenny Omega did battle with Austin Creed. Still, congrats, Tokido!

What did you think of this year’s CEO? Let me know in the comments section below!

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