Kenny Omega and New Japan Pro Wrestling have long been tied to one another. Their alliance wasn’t just one of convenience, but one where both parties were invested in one another.
Omega began his journey with the promotion as a Junior heavyweight, and continuously moved up until he became the leader of the Bullet Club. Under his leadership, the group ushered in new faces including Ring of Honor’s Adam Cole and ‘Hangman’ Adam Page. This role increased not just his position within Bullet Club, but his overall perception in New Japan Pro Wrestling. With hard work, commitment and trust, Omega became one of the key performers called upon to help raise the profile of the company, as a star ‘gaijin’ was important when showcasing the promotion to a North American audience. Omega wasn’t just growing in popularity because of who he was and what he stood for, he was becoming more and more valued by the company. He respected the Japanese culture and was as entrenched in it as much as he was in NJPW.
During his time as leader of Bullet Club, fans saw Omega embroiled in a long feud with the leader of CHAOS, the IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. These two had a series of epic confrontations, and eventually Omega finally captured the IWGP Heavyweight championship. He would go on to defend the championship at the beginning of this year at Wrestle Kingdom, against Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi defeated ‘The Cleaner,’ which left many to question what was next for Omega.
Throughout his time with New Japan Pro Wrestling he never swayed in his loyalty to the promotion. He bled NJPW. However, all good things come to an end, and at the end of January it became clear that it was time for him to explore new options. When All Elite Wrestling was announced by Nick and Matt Jackson along with Cody Rhodes, conspicuous by his absence was Omega, who was close friend with those three as well as being in the wrestling faction The Elite with them. It was revealed later on that due to his contractual obligations to NJPW, he couldn’t appear during the initial reveal of the formation of AEW.
Eventually it was announced that he had signed a four-year deal with the company and was taking on a role of one of the company’s Executive Vice-Presidents. When a rally was held to officially announce AEW’s upcoming Double or Nothing event, Omega came out to a hero’s welcome from the audience in attendance. At this event it was also revealed who he would be facing, because the Alpha to Omega, Chris Jericho, also appeared in a stunning revelation. The two men brawled and had to be pulled apart.
Omega was turning the page on in his career, but he still spoke fondly about his time with his previous company:
I, again, like I said, my heart was really in Japan and I do look at that place as a home. A lot of those guys, it’s hard to say goodbye to something that you’ve given everything to. I gave a lot of my time and my health to DDT, but in a very different way. Even though it was a shorter period of time, I gave more of my soul to New Japan. To feel like you’re walking away from that was really difficult…
Walking away was a risk that he believes he needed to take. As a performer, as an artist, he stands before this canvas of opportunity, an opportunity where he has creative control of his character and can do new things with it. This is something not often available to talent today when they are performing in major companies such as WWE. It is something money cannot always offset. It is something that goes Omega looks forward having with AEW.
AEW presented something that was - they just couldn’t be beat. I’m with my best friends in the business, I have a little bit of control in the creative, which is always, of course, very important. And I really feel like it’s the true platform for me to sort of have my voice be heard and I always like challenges. And I like the prospect of this being a blundering failure
As part of this creative process, not to mention the exposure of the AEW brand, Omega and his friends have been appearing unannounced at independent shows to help further storylines and come face to face with adversaries. It is quite telling that being with AEW doesn’t just open doors for him economically and as an executive, but as a performer. This was evident when Omega recently thwarted the efforts of Chris Jericho at a show in Canton, Georgia for Southern Honor Wrestling. With Double or Nothing being a mere couple of weeks away the question remains as to where will Kenny Omega may appear next.
Omega is as respectful of the business and those who came before him. However, he is also about evolution and ushering in new forms of entertainment media and marketing in order to grow professional wrestling and sports entertainment to heights it hasn’t seen before. He has faced criticism because of some of the comical and less realistic forms of competition he has been a part of, but he hasn’t allowed that criticism to dictate the choices he will make and the places where he will perform his art. With All Elite Wrestling, Omega ushers in a new era for himself. It is an era that will allow him to redefine himself not only as a person but as a professional. The future is bright for Kenny Omega and AEW. The time is now to reign, supreme.
As a wrestling enthusiast for over 30 years, my fondness for professional wrestling explores the irrational in a rational way. I will explore the details inside and outside the ring and hopefully have a laugh with you in the process. I've had the fortune to interview wrestlers from Lucha Underground, TNA, Ring of Honor, GFW, and former WWE talent as well. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram and feel free to visit my website Pro Wrestling Post.