Kenny Omega took questions from the media during a conference call on Monday to promote this weekend's New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Special shows from Long Beach, California. On night one, which will be broadcast live, Omega will face Michael Elgin in the first round of the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship Tournament. Cody Rhodes will headline in a match against Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
"You go into the mindset where you're wrestling pretty much for, you know, the most prestigious wrestling prize in all of professional wrestling and I emptied the tank," said Omega. "I gave everything I had in our probably number two or three show of the year and to detach yourself from that and kind of accept that you know, maybe, we're putting this story on pause and now we're going to start a new journey."
"It's tough to take your mind out of something that was so demanding and then completely change your mindset and then set your sights on something completely new," Omega admitted. " While keeping it alive in the back of your mind, the issue and the story with Okada is far from over. But, you know, much like in life, sometimes you have to let things go and come back to them later. I'm not one to never not give 100 percent at a return so I do want to devote all of my brain power, all of my physical athletic power towards putting forth a good performance, one that I'm proud of on the weekend."
Omega explained he has to switch gears and focus on a new task at hand, a completely different title that he will work for at the G1 Special shows before heading back to Japan for the 2017 G1 Climax.
"It's that process of detachment to be in the hunt and to be in the thick of coming so close to having the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and flipping a switch and saying OK no, it's back to zero and we're going for a completely different belt now," said Omega.
Omega was asked in a follow-up if he'll challenge the winner of Cody Rhodes vs. Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
"I am a very firm believer in Cody Rhodes," said Omega. "I think he is fantastic, an absolute Superstar. Unbelievable in the ring, great timing, great pacing, he's in great physical conditioning, can cut a heck of a promo and just an all around good guy."
Cody is one of the hottest talents not under WWE contract in the United States of America, but the same is not yet true for Cody in Japan. Something that Omega believes will cause his challenge for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to have a very different feel in the US than it would in Japan.
"I do believe that him [Cody] challenging in America plays towards his strengths and he's more familiar with the people here so I do believe it's going to be a very different atmosphere than if they had done that match in Japan," Omega said.
"So I expect, it makes me a little jealous of Okada's position where he's able to have all these different types of matches with all these different types of opponents. And again, he's going to be in foreign territory, facing someone who is much more famous — right now — here in the US than he is in Japan. So I expect a very different feeling of match."
"I'm not sure what percentage of the crowd will be behind Okada, what percentage will be behind Cody but I do think it'll be a very Bullet Club friendly crowd," Omega predicted. "I would have no qualms of Cody taking the belt. However, I feel as though, and I've said this in previous interviews too, if I defeated Okada, I would want to make the American shows a complete Bullet Club takeover and I would award Cody a title shot if he had wanted one."
"So I would hope that, you know, once the shoe's on the other foot, if Cody does take the belt, out of the kindness of his heart, give me a chance, a crack, at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship," said Omega. "However, I am already in the US title picture with the tournament there and then I come directly back to Japan to enter the G1 [Climax]. So regardless, I will have to put that in the back of my mind for a little bit."
NJPW will hold their G1 Special event in Long Beach, California as a prelude to their biggest tournament of the year, G1 Climax. Saturday's show will air live on AXS TV at 8pm, while the July 2 show will air on AXS TV on Friday, July 7 at 8pm ET, both will have commentary by Jim Ross and Josh Barnett. Both shows will air live on NJPW World, but the July 1 show will be unavailable in the United States until the VOD comes out (exact time is not yet known). It's about $9 to sign up for NJPW World.
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