This week Sports Illustrated published an article about NJPW superstar Kota Ibushi, and his long journey towards finally becoming IWGP Heavyweight champion. Interviewed for that story was Ibushi’s longtime friend and current AEW world champion, Kenny Omega. Hear what the cleaner had to say below.
Discusses the different levels of expectations that are made for world champions:
“For me, I learned there are three places of expectations as champion. There is the expectation of what the fans want from you, there is the expectation of what you want for yourself, and then there is the expectation of what the company wants you to be. I always found that, when I was wrestling for myself, I was able to take things to a certain point. When I was wrestling for the company, I barely made any headway at all. I lost myself. I never found out who I was. It wasn’t until I tuned into what it was the fans were looking for—there is always something the fans are left wanting. If you can satisfy the hunger that hasn’t been satiated by the fans, and give them what they hunger for, or do it better than the person before you, that’s where you find your most success. That’s where you’ll find the passion, and then you can project that in your own performances.”
Tells his longtime friend Kota Ibushi that he must become the person he was destined to become:
“I don’t mean this in an offensive way, but what I would say to Ibushi is, he’s done a great job of delivering everything that the company has asked him to be. He became, on the exterior, everything that they’d asked him, everything they’d wanted him to be from the beginning, everything that [Hiroshi] Tanahashi wanted him to be. I think that, if he wants to ascend to another level, he has to leave that behind and become the person he was destined to become. Company man Ibushi is not what makes him special, and that’s not the reason he’s champion.”