Kenny Omega is the most interesting man in pro wrestling

July 6, 2018

Kenny Omega is the most interesting man in pro wrestling.

It’s not because he is one of the most athletic and entertaining wrestlers inside of the ring and a great promotional speaker, it’s his thoughtful delivery that makes him one of the best today.

Via AXS TV

In a recent teleconference to promote this Saturday’s New Japan Wrestling show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, Omega answered a variety of questions about the upcoming event, video games and how he learned Japanese.  It was impressive to see how thoughtful and articulate he was in answering and responding to all of the questions.

If you have watched Omega, he has the versatility to converse with Japanese audiences in their native languages.  Omega promised to speak more in Japanese to the fans.  The Japanese promos are done in a conversational way and it took Omega time to learn.  He started to learn from a book in 2008.  But, he stated that he couldn’t learn from a book because that was not really used in everyday conversation.  He had a Japanese friend that he was fluent in both English and Japanese.  He’d ask about words and phrases and kept them in a notepad.  From the words and phrases, he began to recognize sentence structure and grammar.  By 2011, he had a breakthrough where he could approach someone and have a conversation.  It was also the first time that he was able to cut a promo.  He noted that it was difficult at first to cut a promo in Japanese as the intent is to be intense and strong and to do it without stumbling over the words.  But now, he’s able to do it with confidence and without having to search for the correct words.  The out-of-the-box thinking to learn Japanese to use in front of audiences is bold and dedicated for a non-Japanese wrestler.

The strategy, commitment and execution of learning Japanese is similar to his in-ring ability.  His ability to put on 60 minutes plus matches with the same intensity and athleticism is remarkable in a day and age when most WWE fans are used to short, TV-style snippet match.

Pro wrestling fans are beginning to see more and more of what he can do.  “I don’t want to be limited to strictly America, I would love for New Japan to have a multiple presence in numerous countries,” stated the NJPW champion.  “I’ve increased my training,” Omega said of his ability to perform in the ring as a heavyweight.  “I’m a better athlete and a more healthy athlete as of now,” said the NJPW champion in response to his move to heavyweight from junior heavyweight.

At 34, Omega does not see an end in sight.  Omega stated that he modeled his career similar to Chris Jericho, a man who he faced early last year.  He spoke highly of Jericho’s career outside the ring.  He noted his work with E3.  Omega is a gamer and did some work at the annual video game expo in Los Angeles this past June which included a face-off with the WWE’s New Day.  It’s clear that he would like to expand his reach into some of his interests.  During the teleconference he talked about shooting commercials and other promotional activities on behalf of his brand and New Japan.  “If it brings eyes to our company [New Japan], that’s what I’m going to do.”  As a veteran of the New Japan roster, he sees himself in more of a senior role for the company. “It’s not just to carry the belt out for every house show,” he added, “We have such and deep and talented roster, I think that they will be fine on the house shows. I think it’s my job to bring more eyes to the product and with the skill set that I have I can do more that is equipped.”

Omega noted that the wrestling is only just the surface to the package.  “I think as wrestlers we have to show ourselves as multi-layered.”  He eschews the meat-head moniker of pro wrestlers.  “That’s why I really want to have my voice heard.”

He preached being a positive role model and as pro wrestlers have more of their voices be heard.

Earlier this year, Omega was indifferent about perceptions about whether his character was a homosexual as he and Kota Ibushi reformed The Golden Lovers. “I can’t lie, that story was created for us,” Omega said about getting back together with Ibushi.   He told Yahoo, “If LGBT people can identify with our story, if they think ‘the Golden Lovers are my team,’ I’m good with that.  It’s the story of two wrestlers who share dreams on their way up, who became fast friends, who are now reuniting at the top of their game.” Omega’s viewpoint reflects an open-mindedness and sense of inclusion which is welcoming of all types regardless.

Via AXS TV

Perhaps the only concern fans have with Omega is that he might become to big of a star that the WWE will come calling.

Yet, he has amassed a following without the help of the WWE and is on the cusp of being a bigger star with AXS TV’s second United States show for the Japanese promotion.  Later this summer, he’s sure to be one of the headliners for the “All In” event in Chicago, an all-independent wrestling show which sold 10,000 tickets in one day, a remarkable feat.

Omega is in the main event against Cody Rhodes Saturday night at the ‘G1 Special in San Francisco’ on AXS TV.

Has pro wrestling evolved with The Golden Lovers?

March 25, 2018

A gay wrestling tag team?  Almost 20 years ago, the WWE gained notoriety when Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo teased a gimmick in which they feigned a homosexual relationship which led to a televised “commitment ceremony.”  In 2018, a similar tag team relationship is being teased, but with the times, it is not that controversial.

Billy and Chuck received national attention for an alleged stunt in which they were going to have a commitment ceremony.  The WWE had worked with GLAAD in securing publicity for the event.  Once the ceremony took place (which turned out to be a swerve), GLAAD denounced the stunt as they were duped into helping the WWE obtain awareness for the purpose of gaining ratings.

The Golden Lovers, Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi are taking on The Young Bucks on Sunday Night in Long Beach, California in the main event of the New Japan Wrestling Show to be televised on AXS TV.  The promotion has taken off since airing on AXS and the event in Long Beach sold out its 6,500 or so venue within 15 minutes.

The issue of homosexuality in wrestling is no longer a de facto heel character as in the days of the WWE’s portrayals of Adrian Adonis or Goldust.  Omega even invites the thought that the characters may be homosexual.

For that matter, there is not much backlash from NJPW fans.  Arguably, Omega is the biggest fan favorite in the company, and maybe even all of pro wrestling.  His demand is through the roof and its clear that he is in no way looking to parlay his popularity into a shot in the WWE.

 

Via AXS TV

Omega does not care about the ambiguity of his character’s relationship with another man.  In an interview with Yahoo this week Omega let it be known:

“Let people think what they want to think.

If LGBT people can identify with our story, if they think ‘the Golden Lovers are my team,’ I’m good with that. It’s the story of two wrestlers who shared dreams on their way up, who became fast friends, who are now reuniting at the top of their game.

I think it’s important to show in the 21st century that if you’re gay, lesbian, trans, whatever, that you should feel just as welcome to be a wrestling fan as anyone else. You’re welcome in the space.”

Pro wrestling is made up of characters and sometimes it’s based on dredging up the stereotypes to illicit a response from the fans.  From the bad Russians, to the savage Samoans to the good guy American, characters were premised upon typecasts.  Since the WWE became a publicly traded company, the era of focusing on race, gender or ethnicity have largely gone by the wayside.

The newfound view of sexuality is inclusive for everyone and indicative of a new viewpoint on pro wrestling in 2018.  The fans have evolved and are much smarter and are less likely to be pulling for a wrestler based on vanilla characters.