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NewsAEWKenny Omega On His Connection To Japanese Pro Wrestling

Kenny Omega On His Connection To Japanese Pro Wrestling

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Widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of the modern era, Kenny Omega initially made an impact on the sport from his time in Japan.

Omega faces IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay this week at Wrestle Kingdom 17 in Tokyo and the current AEW wrestler discussed the match, what attracted him to wrestling in Japan, and various other topics, in a recent interview with Monthly Proresu.

Will Ospreay

You can check out some highlights from the podcast below:

On what initially attracted him to Japanese wrestling: “I had wrestled all throughout the indies – and when I say all throughout the indies –really, just locally in my local federation in Winnipeg. And, we had a small group of people who studied tapes. And at that time it actually was just tapes, it was wrestling videotapes. Every Friday we would study tapes from 8:00 PM, all the way until sometimes 6:00 AM. And we would just try things. We would take what we saw and then tried to apply it into our matches. And see if we could train ourselves to do what we had seen. And take some of the philosophies and the way that other countries would practice the wrestling. So, one day we would watch a lot of lucha libre, another day we would watch some King of Sports Style stuff. And then we found ourselves watching more Strong Style wrestling, and we all had our favorites. And we would go back to the 1990s, AJPW quite often. But in that time it was early 2000s, so we were watching a lot of NOAH, back when NOAH first became a real powerhouse within the Japanese wrestling industry.”

On the importance of finding allies when you go to Japan to wrestle: “That’s very true. I think at that point too, there was no real feeling that the roster or many of the rosters needed to learn English either. I’d always felt that the only way for me to thrive here is to go out of my way, and take the steps needed to learn this language. I was also torn within myself because I thought “Well, this was the dream and this should be where I can say I can pack it in.” If DDT never wants to bring me back, I need to accept that, because in Winnipeg there’s not many outlets to make it anywhere. We don’t have connections. We don’t have anyone’s family. No one’s father, grandfather, brother, or whatever. No one’s willing to vouch for us to get us somewhere else. Not only that, but if you go someplace, chances are wherever it is that you go, your travel expense is going to be very high. Not just your hotel, but either the gas or the flight. So you need to be way more worth it for the promoter. And he has to be very convinced that you’re going to be able to make him that money back, for him to want to bring you back. Winnipeg, even though it was very central and we do have a major international airport, it was still very geographically optimal to be living there and actually trying to make it out of there.”

On if he would go back to Japan and work with Takagi-san now he’s in charge of DDT: “I did the one show at Ryogoku Sumo Hall which was incredible. It was an incredible feeling. I can’t put into words what it felt like to go back there and to see so many familiar faces. My mind is blown when New Japan will run a random poll as to ‘Who is the best foreigner of all time in New Japan?’ And then I win it! And it’s like “How?” “You remember me? And you remember me fondly enough to say that I’m that guy?” It’s incredible. So then for me again, this goes back a little bit in 2008, for me with DDT, for those fans. DDT told me, once we announced that you were going to be there and we played that video, our phones were ringing off the hook and we sold this place out just like that. I was thinking, I could tear up. I talk about it too much, but you remember me from that far ago, like I don’t. I don’t think I could do that in Winnipeg. And that’s where I was born. You know what I mean? But that’s just how special those fans are and they don’t forget. It means a lot to them. It’s special to them. And it’s like you said, Sonny, it’s a real family environment and atmosphere. It’s family, it’s trust, it’s respect, it’s the loyalty. It’s all those positive things that go into the idea that a lot of people have an idea of Japanese culture, which is that honor system, you know, everyone thinks “What is Japanese culture?” They think it’s about samurais, ninjas, and Godzilla. I say: “Yeah. Sure.” But, if you take some of the things that make those, what they are embedded within those are, are those qualities, is what makes it such a special country. So for that fanbase to remember me and to give me just a real nice homecoming, it was wonderful in 2019. And I would love of course, to be back at some point in time. Whether it be for DDT, for NJPW. I’ve never actually once wrestled for NOAH, but since they’re a part of CyberFight, now it’d be cool to do something.”

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