Kenny Omega is an odd guy, and that’s not an insult, he’s proud of that. Having started his career at 16 years old, he took the name “Kenny Omega”, and took on a Hawaiian Surfer gimmick.” It didn’t take long for the surfer gimmick to be replaced with a gimmick based on otaku (to keep it simple, this is a Japanese culture obsessed/devoted to anime and manga.) Omega began a very successful independent career, winning countless titles across the world. He would gain his biggest notoriety however in 2008 when he was part of Ring of Honor, but didn’t win many matches. During this time, Omega would act like a character from Street Fighter, even shouting the well-known “Hadoken!” when hitting certain strikes. For the most part, Omega spent most of his time in Japan, where we was gaining popularity. This lead to Omega becoming completely enamored with Kota Ibushi. Omega would record himself wrestling “DDT style” matches in hopes of getting Ibushi’s attention. This story is well known, Kenny would be brought into DDT, facing, and later teaming with Ibushi, calling themselves “The Golden Lovers.” While unfounded, it has often been rumored that Omega and Ibushi were “legitimate” boyfriends at this time as well. Omega would also wrestle for ROH, PWG, and many other independents for years, gaining a fair amount of notoriety from hardcore fans around the world.
Omega would never be as “over” as he became when he began working with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2010. That said, this extreme popularity, and success, didn’t come immediately, as the highest level Omega reached in New Japan, between the years 2010 – 2014 was being one half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag champs with Ibushi. Omega was pretty much dominated by Prince Devitt during these years, even losing to Taguchi on several occasions.
In late 2014 Omega actually signed with New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the company got strongly behind him at this time, inserting him into their very famous, and successful, Bullet Club faction, as “The Cleaner.” This was a move Omega first rejected, saying that he didn’t feel like, or consider himself a “gaijin” (non-Japanese wrestler, or foreigner). Typically, Omega doesn’t like to give up much control of his wrestling ideas, and persona. It seems evident to me though that Omega’s ideas for himself simply never were as successful as ideas others had for him. Another example of that statement, is Omega’s leaving the WWE training territory DSW back in 2005, criticizing the trainers on his way out the door. Omega, seemed to give up some of his “control issues” this time and went along with New Japan’s ideas for him, as he would now be clad in a leather jacket, and mirrored sunglasses, quickly defeating Taguchi for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, and defeating him in a rematch as well. This Omega was “different,” this Omega was a cool, terminator inspired, ass kicking heel. He almost seemed to be taking the place of his heated foe, Prince Devitt, who had moved on to the WWE as Fin Balor. Omega continued to get a huge push from New Japan when AJ Style signed with WWE, Omega and the Bullet Club jumped him out of the company, and hailed Omega as their new leader! From here Omega went on to become the first non-Japanese (Gaijin) to ever win the infamous G1 Climax tournament. Omega went on to have two of the most praised modern day wrestling matches ever when he first lost to Kazuchika Okada, and then later faced Okada again in a 60 minute time limit draw. When Cody Rhodes joined Bullet Club, in 2017, almost instantly there was tension between he, and Omega. Shortly after this, Omega would become the very first IWGP United States Champion, defending the title against numerous defenders, including Chris Jericho, before losing the title to another gaijin, Jay White. Adam Page attempted to attack the new Champion, but Omega stopped him. This caused Cody Rhodes to confront Omega, and lead to months of tension inside the Bullet Club, until Cody and Omega finally faced off. After Cody hit his finisher on Omega, and Adam Page came to help Cody inflict further damage on Omega, Kota Ibushi stormed the ring to rescue his friend, and fellow “Golden Lover.” This was a strong sign to me that Omega was resisting any more of New Japans direction for him, desiring instead to be the kind and type of performer that he wished to be. Even before this time, Omega has turned “The Cleaner” gimmick into a silly janitorial style of presentation, as he and The Young Bucks would often bring brooms to the ring with them, mock sweeping along the way. Being cool, and bad ass, just isn’t Kenny’s thing. Even though the look, and feel, and attitude, that he displayed when first entering Bullet Club was more over than anything Omega had ever done with himself, it was clear that he wanted to go a new direction. That summer, Omega would finally defeat Okada for the IWGP heavyweight championship. To me, this felt like a desperate move on New Japan’s part to keep Omega happy. It has been reported, and teased by Omega himself, that the WE was strongly after him to sign with them. Later that year Omega would face Cody Rhodes for the title, and defeat him, and claim that he was still the leader of Bullet Club. That said though, during the post-match interview, Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, and King Haku attacked Omega, The Young Bucks, and Cody, declaring that they were the real Bullet Club, dubbing themselves “The Firing Squad.” In my opinion, this was legitimate tension in the Bullet Club Faction. The Samoans clearly wanted no part of the sillier, more light hearted, and “fun” “Elite” faction of the Bullet Club, instead wanting to remain ass kicking heels that didn’t cater to cheers, or try and make fans laugh at their antics. This was clearly Omega’s vision. The two factions of Bullet Club feuded on social media for months, until finally Matt Jackson announced on Chris Jericho’s podcast that “The Elite” were no longer part of the Bullet Club.
The Elite had a very successful run in Ring of Honor Wrestling, but Kenny Omega was seldom part of anything with the faction during that time. Instead, Omega was finishing up with New Japan, dropping the IWGP Heavyweight title to Hiroshi Tanahashi. It wasn’t until “All Elite Wrestling” signed Omega, and made their debut, that Omega was seen with The Elite. At that time, Omega went on a serious losing streak for the new promotion, losing to Chris Jericho, John Moxley, and PAC. Often times when Omega loses regularly he’s plotting a new path to take. As we know Omega recently won, and defended the AEW tag team titles with Adam Page, and they are telling the story of Page’s tension with the Elite, including his tag partner, Omega. I’ll admit that a great story is being told here, with a slow build to something none of us are sure of, which is always great! I do have to admit that though that Omga makes me nervous. He’s wrestled a nine year old girl, he’s wrestled a blow up doll, he wrestled a comedy match with Toro Yano in the prestigious G1 Climax tournament, and in a personal debate with me on Twitter, Omega flat out told me that he will “never forsake any style of wrestling.” You see, Kenny Omega sees wrestling like “art,” he sees in like a video game, he sees it as a blank canvas that allows him to do anything he wants to express himself. When Kenny Omega works in the confines of others that he respects, and listens to, he can be a good, to even great professional wrestler. However, when Omega breaks free of all constraint, and does anything he feels he must to get his “art” over, it can be a bad, or even a scary thing. When this story with Adam Page is over, what Kenny Omega will we be left with? After all, he’s a weird guy, and he’s proud of that. Let’s hope Tony Kahn reigns him in, and we get a cool, bad ass Kenny Omega again. AEW is on a great track as of late, and we don’t need it side tracked by the silly side of Kenny Omega. Kenny is quoted as wanting to “change wrestling forever,” I just want to know what in the hell that means! I don’t trust that it’s “Wrestling Done Right.”