Sam’s Note: As you may or may not be aware, we currently have a columns writing competition going on in the Wrestling Headlines Columns Forum called the Wrestling Headlines Last Man Standing. We have entered the fourth round now and for the assignment in the third round, the entrants had to write a column about a wrestler they had changed their mind on. Former Main Page writer Rob S. stood out with this antagonistic take on the current AEW World Champion, Kenny Omega and we wanted to highlight it here today.
If you have ever thought about writing about wrestling, the Columns Forum is the best place on the internet to start. You will have free reign to write about whatever you want and a ready made audience of die hard fans and veteran writers to help you out along the way. You can check out more columns in the tournament or sign up for youself here.
Enough from me though, on with Rob’s column.
“The best wrestler in the world is me” – Kenny Omega
Every wrestling fan probably has a bucket list of wrestlers that they’d like to see live at least once. After watching wrestling for 40+ years and living in an area where I get to see live shows quite frequently, my list is not as big as most. There was one wrestler that I was missing though, and it was someone that my friends told me I had to see, Kenny Omega. I didn’t watch a lot of NJPW, so I wasn’t all that familiar with him at the time, so I sought out some matches, notably his epic encounter with Okada at Wrestle Kingdom. I’m a sucker for a well told match with some time and their battles certainly fit the bill. My friends were right, Kenny Omega was quite the professional wrestler, and had now taken a high spot on my bucket list.
When AEW was born and Kenny Omega came to join his Elite brethren I was ecstatic. Their first TV show was going to be in Washington D.C. and I was finally going to be able to check Omega off my list, among others. The Main Event was Jericho, Santana & Ortiz vs. The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, but the match didn’t really give me my Omega pay off as Jon Moxley appeared and took Omega out fairly early in the match with a brawl that saw Omega put through a glass table. I was kind of bummed. I checked the box, but it was still kind of empty
I’m not an AEW fan or an NXT fan or an “Insert Brand Here” fan. I’m a wrestling fan. I watch both Wednesday night shows whenever I can, and I can tell you one thing I’ve learned over the course of the last year that has truly become a problem for me in regard to AEW and the internet love of “The Cleaner.”
I’ve grown to HATE Kenny Omega.
There’s a level of ingrained arrogance in Omega that drives me up a wall. There’s no denying he’s a very good wrestler, but underneath all of that is what I perceive as an attitude of superiority. Week after week I’ve watched Omega become a wrestler that truly believes that he can do whatever he wants, and everyone is going to love him for it. He is often quoted as saying he truly loves performing, which I do believe, but does he love performing because he wants to entertain the fans, or does he love performing because he loves the praise and adulation that the fans give him? The more I see him, the more I lean towards the latter.
There’s more to that quote than meets the eye. In AEW’s first EIGHT PPV’s, Kenny Omega had the longest match time in five of those events. In the other three, his match time was second, and those were only by 2 minutes or less of the longest time on the card. I was in attendance for Full Gear 2019, at which Omega and Moxley main evented with a Lights Out unsanctioned match that went almost 40 minutes. It was one of the most self-indulgent, drawn out matches I’ve actually ever been in attendance for. It wasn’t 40 minutes long because that’s what the story called for. It was 40 minutes long BECAUSE THEY COULD! In fact, Omega’s next three PPV matches would all be over 30 minutes, all of which were filled with a level of egocentrism that only Omega could deliver.
Kenny Omega can wrestle. I’m not going to be foolish enough to say otherwise, but Omega is much like Bret Hart who truly believes he was the best there ever will be in the squared circle. You could also throw in some Triple H comparisons as well, as Trips consistently had the longest match on a card, even when he was semi-retired. But Omega is playing in a sandbox of his own creation when it comes to AEW. He’s ALLOWED to be the focal point because he’s one of the people in charge. As I rewatched the Omega/Okada matches I realized that perhaps the first time I watched them I was over glorifying Omega because of what I had been told, when in reality during a second viewing I enjoyed Okada’s performance even more. I realized that maybe I never really liked Kenny Omega all that much to begin with.
There’s more to it than his in-ring arrogance though that has changed my mind. One of the main points of contention with AEW among wrestling fans is the lack of focus in regards to their Women’s Division. From all reports, Omega himself has been in charge of (the lack of ) booking that division for much of AEW’s existence. Most weeks the AEW women have one segment on Dynamite, and even then it is often a bit of a mess. Many of their female wrestlers lack seasoning, so more of a focus on their development is going to be needed to improve that division into something that is competitive in the market. I’m just not sure that Omega is the person to do that when he’s not shown any willingness or desire to date of improving what some could consider to be a “hot mess.”
This week AEW started the 16-woman AEW Women’s Eliminator tournament to crown the new #1 contender to Hikaru Shida. For those unaware, half of that field isn’t even comprised of AEW wrestlers. Instead, an entire bracket will take place in Japan, and consist of many Joshi wrestlers who Kenny Omega has enjoyed over the years, but if you’re trying to build your OWN Women’s Division, why leave out so many of your own talent? Missing are Ivelisse, Diamante, Abadon, Shanna, Red Velvet, Penelope Ford, Leva Bates and Big Swole. There’s the other half of your bracket right there. It’s just another example of Kenny Omega doing what entertains Kenny Omega.
In other parts of AEW, a multi-company invasion storyline is occurring. Now I’ll be the first to acknowledge that the idea of collaborating with Impact and NJPW is entertaining, and for all intents and purposes this was the brainchild of both Omega and Don Callis, but who is it really helping? Impact is certainly getting a bit of a rub from it as they’ve seen a boost in their ratings. The impact (no pun intended) that it will bring to New Japan is probably minimal however. Ratings will show you that since it has begun, AEW really hasn’t seen any kind of boost to their viewership. They’ve been hovering around the 700K-900K range pretty consistently which has been their viewership for the better part of their first year. At the end of the day, the angle is really only being done because Omega wants to work with his friends, but how much does that take the focus away from the AEW talent that to Omega’s own point have “time and opportunity.” For every Impact and NJPW wrestler that shows up on an AEW show, an AEW wrestler sits on his hands. It might be fun to watch now, but the longer it continues the more frustrated you may see AEW talent become.
There are really very few wrestlers today that can spark an argument among fans like Kenny Omega. His hardcore base will tell you that he can do no wrong and that he truly is the Greatest of All Time. But if you look at Omega with an open mind you’ll see that he’s really not all that important to the wrestling business. Kenny Omega doesn’t exist to improve professional wrestling. Kenny Omega exists to improve Kenny Omega. Because of misguided motivations, Omega will never truly be at the top of the wrestling business, as the business doesn’t exist to cater to the whims of one man. The business exists to entertain the millions of fans that watch it and that’s something Omega doesn’t seem to grasp.
Kenny Omega exists to entertain one fan; HIMSELF. For many that may be good enough. It’s just not enough for me.