#NewJapanWeek Kenny Omega: From “Golden Lover” to Being The Elite

Photo: NJPW

Kenny Omega is widely considered as the best wrestler in the world today, but how did the wrestler who fought a doll and a child become the Bullet Club leader and Tokyo Dome headliner? Let’s take a look into the past, present and do a little speculation on the future of the “best bout machine”.

Kenny Omega: The Past

Tyson Smith was born in Winnipeg, Canada and quickly became obsessed with Japanese wrestling. His uncle is the Golden Sheik who was the manager of Don Callis at that time, who has been one of Kenny´s companions since his beginnings in Canada. Kenny debuted on the Canadian scene in 2000. He has been in WWE´s Deep South Wrestling between 2005-2006. In 2009 Omega won the Battle of Los Angeles and the vacant PWG World Championship at the same time. His Japanese beginnings were in DDT Pro wrestling, where he teamed up with a young Kota Ibushi. Around 2008 he started competing for ROH and PWG where he incorporated some comedy elements into his matches which were gone for a while, but resurfaced when “Being The Elite” was born….During his first run with ROH / PWG he had matches with El Generico, Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries. In Japan however he had an infamous match with a 9 year old Girl, this one showcased the abilities of Omega, because he really put together a wrestling match in that case.

Kenny Omega: The Golden Lovers

Photo: DDT Pro

The Team of Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi existed from 2009 to 2014 when Omega went to NJPW. They quickly became friends during Omega’s first DDT tour in 2008. They wrestled in NJPW and received the honor of being the first ever Junior Tag Team receiving the best match of the year 2010 award, as voted by Tokyo Sports. The team held the KO-D Tag Titles two times before Kenny signed to NJPW in 2014, Ibushi was also a semi-regular in NJPW at that time but in the heavyweight division. Omega wanted to stay in the Junior division in those days. They met multiple times over the course of time, for example at Invasion Attack 2015 where Omega cost Ibushi the match against his former Bullet Club leader AJ Styles. He had a match previously with Kota Ibushi at DDT Budokan 2012.

Kenny Omega: The Cleaner

Photo: NJPW

The gimmick debuted at Power Struggle 2014 where Omega challenged Ryusuke Taguchi to a match for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, which he eventually won at Wrestle Kingdom 9. The Cleaner gimmick is influenced by someone who cleans crime scenes which is fitting to the Bullet Club concept, where Prince Devitt was the “Real Shooter” and Karl Anderson was dubbed “Machine Gun”. One day after Wrestle Kingdom 10 the Bullet Club turned on AJ Styles and Kenny Omega took the position as the leader and declared himself as a heavyweight. The rise continued with him winning the IWGP Intercontinental Championship when he defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi for the vacated title at “The New Beginning in Niigata”. During that time “The Elite” was born, this group and their YouTube series are deserving of an on article. After losing the Intercontinental title to Michael Elgin, he won the G1 Climax 26, which made him the first non-Japanese wrestler (gaijin) to win the tournament. After two successful defenses of his title shot against Yoshi-Hashi and his G1 final opponent Hirooki Goto he moved to an astonishing 2017.

Kenny Omega: The Present

Photo: NJPW

Over time the Cleaner was depicted more as a Terminator inspired character, which is Omega´s favorite film as he once told. It had been presented dominantly during his Wrestle Kingdom 11 entrance.

The first ever and current IWGP Unites States Champion (won at the G1 Climax Special in the USA) has had a great 2017. It started with a 6 star classic at Wrestle Kingdom 11 against Okada that broke the Dave Meltzer scale. He moved on to have two other outstanding performances with Okada at Dominion and in the G1 Climax 27, before a great G1 final with Naito. Omega broke the rating system 4 times this year. Kenny Omega is a true artist, not focused on the profit that can be made, but on the way you can change and influence the business.

Photo: NJPW

The creative freedom of the individual is the greater good needed in the wrestling world and Kenny Omega can be the leader to a new form of Pro wrestling. Don Callis called him the Mozart of Professional Wrestling once, which seems very fitting, if we look back at 2017. In 10 or 20 years, we could see that this was the greatest year in professional wrestling due to the performances by who could be the best of all time. He teased some confrontations with Ibushi during the year and had been vocal about wanting to face him in the G1 final, although it did not happen in the end… at least not in 2017. In 2017 Omega returned to PWG for a 6 Man Tag match and wrestled quite regulary for ROH since October where he is also booked next year.

Photo: NJPW

Kenny Omega: The Jericho Match

Photo: NJPW

He had knee surgery after the G1 which normally needs 4-6 weeks to heal, Omega returned after 2 weeks to face Juice Robinson. At Power Struggle 2017 he defeated Trent Barreta. After the match he got challenged by Chris Jericho, which now leads to the highly anticipated “Alpha vs Omega” match at Wrestle Kingdom 12. This match got a No DQ stipulation after the two had a bloody brawl during the build up shows and Press Conference on the way to WK 12.

Kenny Omega: The Future

Photo: NJPW

There is one more match which needs to be done in order to close a chapter of two men forever linked in their careers: Kota Ibushi vs Kenny Omega. This match needs to happen before anyone makes a huge change in his career. Either a G1 final or the Tokyo Dome in 2019 maybe. Kenny wanted him in the G1 27 final, which did not happen, but they keep teasing this match in the background. An interesting match in this constellation is Cody vs Ibushi, this takes place at Wrestle Kingdom 12. Bullet Club vs Ibushi is not too far away to build something in the direction that everyone wants to see.

Photo: NJPW

If he retains the IWGP US Championship he could defend the title all around the world as part of NJPW global expansion in 2018.

Kenny Omega: The Unknown

Photo: NJPW

Kenny Omega has signed a contract over 1 year with NJPW, so it makes it quite tough to see his long-term future. His goal is to change the wrestling world. If he would go to WWE he is set for life in terms of money but they would completely strangle his creativity and he is not the guy to be happy as a corporate stooge.

He now has a very high profile match with Chris Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 12 on January 4th. This show is build as a double Main Event show, which shows the different drawing powers involved. Omega and Jericho are the international attractors, Naito and Okada on the other hand are the biggest selling points inside of Japan.

Photo: NJPW

Many are thinking that Jericho is there to get Omega into talks with WWE, but he is already announced for the ROH show on WrestleMania weekend. So it is unlikely, at least for 2018. This Jericho vs Omega match will really bring NJPW on the international map before they return to the US in March (3/25) for “Strong Style Evolved”. In a recent interview he commented on his future. This interview seems to signal that he still sees his future in Japan.

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