Both Kinemon and Momo were kinda meh characters before Wano, but have become quite awesome during this arc imo, especially the former. From this moment
which imo was the "moment of absolute despair" of the arc that everybody was clamoring for, to this
which was one of the funniest moments of the whole series, to Kinemon declaring in front of Kaido that Luffy will rule the seas one day, like a true badass, this has been a really good arc for him.
I know people standing up again and again after seemingly having been mortally wounded can heavily decrease tension but nevertheless, him being shish-ke-babbed by Kaido was also one of the most tense moments, so he actually greatly contributed to the drama. I don't think all of the samurai needed to stand up after their fight against Kaido, especially so quickly, but I'm fine with a few of them, like Kinemon and Denjiro, still playing a role during the raid.
Anyway, alright chapter. If this is Kaido's defeat, I'll have to agree that it was a tad lackluster. Not bad or lame, but just not very memorable. Especially because Big Moms defeat was actually handled way better. I also wanted more out of Kaidos flashback. It revealed some interesting stuff but I was missing any emotional insight. I wanted to get a clearer look at what makes him tick, why he wants to die, why he treats Yamato so badly etc. Kaido is a fascinating character precisely because he is full of contradictions. I still want to know more about him, dammit.
I think the last two chapters could have been more impactful if Oda wasn't skipping around so much and had instead mostly focused on one thing in each. Theoretically, last chapter was about Orochi going down and this one was about Kaido going down, but it didn't quite feel like that, even though the puzzle pieces were all there. Here's how I would restructure chapters 1048 and 1049:
Sooo, chapter 1047 ended with a burning Orochi attacking Hiyori and Luffy making a giant fist to smash Kaido and telling Momo he had to move the island (wait, is this LOST??:ninja:)
Instead of picking up right away with Kaido, Momo and Luffy in chapter 1048, I think it should have started out focusing heavily on Orochi and Hiyori. I know people were getting tired of the Orochi storyline by this point, but it's Oda's job to make you care, and I absolutely think it's achievable. Maybe some of the flashbacks in that chapter weren't needed, but I think most of them were necessary to remind readers of all the horrors Orochi in particular has caused and what a bastard he has been to make his death more satisfying and cathartic. So start the chapter out with Orochis attack on Hiyori being intercut with these small flashbacks we got and also people in the castle being engulfed by the fire. Instead of showcasing Jinbei and Raizo extinguishing the fire in earlier chapters, it should have all been saved for this one, too.
Orochi's threat to me was represented by the dangerous fire he had caused by himself and through Kanjuro. So people being saved from the fire should have been intercut with Orochi being finally beheaded by Denjiro, to create a clearer symbolic connection between the two events. After that problem had been dealt with, include that little snippet we got this chapter between Denjiro and Hiyori to fully finish the storyline in the same chapter. Only then cut back to Luffy and Kaido, and show Kaido creating his fire dragon form to counter Luffys attack. But do not show Luffy using his new Haki technique he learned from Hyogoro to counter Kaido yet - save it for 1049 instead, to keep the tension alive between the two chapters. And to increase the tension, end the chapter not only with Kaido revealing this new form, but also by having the water extinguish the cloud flames and letting Onigashima fall as a cliffhanger. I think a problem with the tension in the last few chapters was that first, the fire problem was solved a couple of chapters too early, and secondly, the "falling island" problem was introduced and handled almost as a footnote in 1049. By instead keeping the solution for the fire hidden until 1048 and then immediately after that is solved introducing a new problem, with Onigashima and everybody on the island falling to their doom, the tension would have been instead kept throughout.
Then, start chapter 1049 with the Kaido flashback. I'm not changing anything about the flashback because who knows what Oda might still have planned for that fingers crossed. That also would create a nice parallel between the chapters. 1048 starts off with flashbacks centered around Orochi and mainly features his downfall; 1049 starts off with flashbacks centered around Kaido and mainly features his downfall. When the flashback ends, we are still at the moment where Kaido attacks Luffy with his fire dragon form while Onigashima is falling down beneath him. Momo flies downward to catch the falling island, while we get a few extra panels featuring people on the island like Nami, Yamato, Kidd or Jinbei realising they are falling to their death to better sell how dangerous the situation is.
Only now we have the double page spread of Luffy using the Ryou haki technique Hyogoro taught him to counter Kaido's attack, which was actually in chapter 1048. Then we get another doublespread of Momo desperately trying to save the people on the island, then being encouraged by seeing the lanterns and finally creating his own clouds, thus catching Onigashima in time and also moving it out of the way. And then go back to the double page(s) of Luffy punching Kaido down into the earth, ending the chapter. This way, everybody being saved and Kaido being defeated are still tied together and happen in quick succession, but each moment get its own doublespread to give Momo's big moment more weight.
My version actually doesn't change much about the content of the chapters, but it does feel a little more cohesive, tension-filled and satisfying to me.
All that said, the whole fight against Kaido, from the beginning of the raid to now, has been one of the most amazing fights of the series for me, anticlimactic finisher or not. And Kaido himself has absolutely lived up to his hype imo, Awakening or no Awakening. He fought basically during the whole raid, without any breaks, against dozens of the strongest fighters on the island and managed to defeat Luffy (who both got to actually take a break and rest for quite some time AND unlocked a whole new power-up during the fight) several times, actually killing him in the process, at least for a couple of minutes. And even after Luffy went Gear 5, Kaido STILL managed to keep up more than well. Major impressive showing. He has definitely earned his place at the pantheon of great One Piece villains.
Even though these last two chapters haven't fully impressed me, in general, I loved the raid. I really did. It had a few lows, true, but not as many as people claim. It also had a shit ton of absolutely amazing, memorable, badass moments. Some of the complaints are valid, some are only fueled because personal expectations or theories weren't met (plus simple arc fatigue, which is certainly understandable at this point). Personally, I can't wait to reread the whole thing, from Volume 97 onwards. It's been so much fun.