Facts About Kenny Omega Only Hardcore Fans Know

The debate of who is the greatest in-ring performer of this current generation is littered with names, one of which is Kenny Omega. The Canadian-born wrestler has won countless championships and tournaments around the globe, becoming one of the most recognizable personalities. In 2021, he was rewarded for his efforts with the number one spot in the prestigious PWI 500.

Omega's climb to the top of the pro wrestling mountain is almost as fascinating as the angles he participates in on television. While other performers have followed linear paths to becoming superstars, Omega took the road less traveled. He rejected the chance to sign a mega-money deal with the WWE and he never expected to become a full-time performer in America, choosing to make Japan his home for many years. Along the way, there have been several twists and turns that have taken him to where he is now. Let's take a closer look at Omega's story and how he established himself as one of the biggest pro wrestlers in the world.

The WWE made Kenny Omega a good offer

Kenny Omega is one of those rare pro wrestlers who built up a high-profile reputation and global fan base without the backing of the largest promotion on Earth. While he spent some time in the WWE's then-developmental Deep South Wrestling in the mid-2000s, he never reached the main roster. That said, the WWE has kept close tabs on him throughout the years, recognizing how he's a talented performer that could add something special to the company. Omega himself told Sports Illustrated that the top brass at "NXT" reached out to him and promised he would be on television within a week if he signed a deal with them.

In 2019, before Omega officially signed for AEW as a performer and executive vice president, he was one of the hottest free agents in the business. Discussing the period with Wrestling Observer Radio (via Fightful), the master of the One-Winged Angel revealed the WWE had reached out to him with a lucrative offer. "WWE's offer was fantastic," he said. "They went about it in a very professional and courteous way. They are nothing but consummate professionals in the way they dealt with me." Omega added that he had heard negative stories about the WWE's negotiation tactics and its behavior from others, but he couldn't find anything to criticize about his dealings with the promotion.

His first introduction to hardcore wrestling was an unexpected match

Part of the appeal of Kenny Omega is his ability to have any kind of match with various opponents. Whether he's wrestling to a draw with Bryan Danielson in a classic bout or spilling buckets of the red stuff with Jon Moxley in an exploding barbed wire death match, he isn't precious about which type of wrestling matches he partakes in. In 2013, Omega was a part of DDT Pro-Wrestling, where he captured the DDT Extreme Championship and developed a reputation of being willing to go to the extreme for the win.

When interviewed by Daniel Johnson about his earliest hardcore memories, Omega revealed a surprise match that captivated him. "It wasn't a hardcore match per se, but an influential hardcore moment that I remember vividly was when Diesel knocked Bret Hart off of the apron through a table in one of their matches," he said. "I thought it was one of the craziest things ever!" The incident in question is likely from Survivor Series 1995, when Diesel and Hart wrestled in a no disqualification match for the WWF Championship. The match is widely remembered for Hart going through the announcer's table, as well as its unexpected finish, when Hart rolled up his opponent in a small package and won the title.

He didn't expect to be a full-time wrestler in the United States

Despite most current performers having cut their teeth in the WWE and TNA, establishing themselves as household names among the U.S. audience, Kenny Omega chose a different path to execute his V-Triggers. Yes, he has history with both promotions, but he chose to head off to Japan and create a name for himself on a different continent. It worked out in the end, as he became one of the most sought-out pro wrestlers in the world due to his unbridled success in NJPW.

For Omega, though, he never planned on becoming a regular performer in America at all. Speaking on the AEW "Wrestling with the Week" podcast (via Wrestle Joy), he said the following: "It's very odd. I mean, if you would have asked me how I see myself years from now, I never would have said I'm going to be a full-time wrestler in America. I thought for sure I was going to retire in Japan, heavily leaning towards living in Japan for the rest of my days." It was the launch of AEW and its resultant impact that pushed Omega in a direction he never imagined in the first place — including making America his wrestling home.

He wanted The Elite to face The New Day

While fans like to pit promotions against each other and have Twitter feuds over who is the best, most pro wrestlers can appreciate another company's product and talents. In other words, game recognizes game. While in NJPW, Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks formed a trio known as The Elite, and they harbored the ambition to face one of the hottest trios around: The New Day.

"We really wanted to do something with a New Day, who was — at that time — they were sort of the hottest trio in all professional wrestling," Omega told Bleacher Report. "And not only that, we were friends with the guys. So we had really thought it'd be cool to go up and above everyone's heads and make the appeal that we wanted to make this match happen." Unfortunately, The New Day was under contract with the WWE, and the promotion had no desire to open the "Forbidden Door" and create a cross-promotional program between its trio and NJPW's The Elite. With AEW introducing the World Trios Championship, though, there's a chance this dream bout could still happen in the future, especially if Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods decide to jump ship to the competition.

Kenny Omega criticized NXT

When AEW launched "Dynamite" on television, it went toe-to-toe with WWE's "NXT" programming on Wednesday nights. Naturally, this got tongues wagging and the statisticians pulled out their calculators and spreadsheets to determine who was winning the newly heralded "Wednesday Night Wars." In the end, "NXT" moved its programming to Tuesday evenings.

At the time, Kenny Omega was asked by Sportskeeda Wrestling how he felt about the competition. The wrestler started by praising many of the other promotion's stars as his friends, but he couldn't resist the opportunity to take a potshot in the process, too. "Let's just pretend there's one big promotion," Omega said. "If these guys were on the same show as me, they'd be in the dark match, maybe the opening match, of my main event match. You're gonna call that a war, you're gonna call that a competition? Go ahead." He added that "Dynamite" delivers "real stars" to the fans, while "NXT" showcases "developmental talent." It'd be interesting to hear what Adam Cole thought of this barb, especially since he was the face of "NXT" at the time before jumping ship to AEW.

Kenny Omega was shocked by Cody Rhodes' departure for WWE

When Cody Rhodes departed AEW for WWE, it shocked the wrestling world. After all, not only was Rhodes a marquee performer for the promotion, but he was also one of the executive vice presidents who helped to launch the so-called revolution. "The American Nightmare" has done his best to quell any rumors of discontent on his part, tweeting that it was a personal decision to pursue his dreams with the WWE. One person who was left blindsided by his decision was Kenny Omega.

Discussing Rhodes' departure with Wrestling Observer Radio (via TheSportster), Omega revealed he was caught off guard by not only the former EVP's decision to leave but also to return to WWE. "When this thing first started, the most passionate person of our revolution, the most passionate person of creating the 'us vs. them' mentality was Cody," Omega said. "It was strange for him to just choose to up and walk away." He added that there's a possibility that the direction Tony Khan chose for the company wasn't aligned with what Rhodes wanted either, hence the wrestler's decision to depart.

He took issue with Jim Ross calling Randy Orton the best wrestler in the world

Regardless of CM Punk and MJF's claims of being "the best in the world," opinions about who is the actual best wrestler in the world varies among peers. Some believe it is all to do with the talent in the ring, while others think drawing power has more of an influence on who can lay claim to the throne. At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, right?

Well, Kenny Omega didn't appear to take AEW commentator Jim Ross' thoughts on this topic with grace and acceptance. As per WrestleTalk, Ross discussed how he believed Randy Orton was the best wrestler in the world on his podcast. He mentioned how some of Omega's fans might think otherwise, and he put over Omega's talents, but this was merely his opinion on the debate. Chris Jericho tweeted out his own thoughts on the matter, stating how Omega was number one on his list. Sarcastically, Omega responded, making fun of his detractors such as Jim Cornette, WWE fans, and also taking a shot at JR who had mistakenly called him the WWE Champion during a live broadcast. At the same time, it's unclear if Omega was merely staying in character on social media, hence the spiciness of his response.

He has a long-standing feud with Jim Cornette

Mixing gasoline with fireworks is a recipe for instant disaster. Pairing Jim Cornette and Kenny Omega might well lead to an even more explosive result, where people lose eyebrows and countless feelings are hurt. The legendary and controversial wrestling personality is not a fan of Omega, taking issue with him being labeled the best wrestler in the world and his style that he believes makes a mockery of the wrestling business. Tune into any episode of his podcast where Omega is mentioned and Cornette doesn't hold back in his assessment of the performer he dubs "Twinkle Toes" or "Kenny Olivier."

Omega hasn't taken the insults in his stride, though, as he's lashed back at Cornette's criticism numerous times. During a Twitch session, Omega laid into Cornette's podcast and fan base. "When he realized he could make money by delivering hateful speech, he backed himself into a corner," Omega said, "and now, if he wants to make rent, if he wants to buy his fancy McDonald's double cheeseburger meal, he has to talk about the things that are going to get attention and a lot of the time, that's going to be yours truly." It might not be a legendary feud in the same vein as Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart or "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock, but Omega and Cornette's ongoing beef is certainly entertaining.

He critcized NJPW's work ethic

The best kind of pro wrestling blurs the boundaries between what is real and what isn't. In some cases, the shoot becomes a work, or vice versa, as everyone tries to figure out the true intention of something. In 2018, Kenny Omega riled up NJPW fans and the industry due to a promo he cut after winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Kazuchika Okada at Dominion 6.9.

As per Cageside Seats, Omega said, "I'm serving this as [a] warning to all the domestic talent in New Japan. You guys have to step up your game. Because right now, you are not at our level. And I don't mean that as a negative comment. I want everyone to do their best. I'm just saying that we need to do the best that we can, and that what you're doing right now isn't enough." Due to his specific mention of Japanese performers, there were accusations of racism leveled at Omega. The pro wrestler eventually addressed the backlash, admitting there was an element of kayfabe to what he had said and denying he ever meant it to demean or devalue anyone else.

Kenny Omega has a dream opponent, but it's likely to never happen

Every wrestler has a dream opponent — someone they'd like to face more than anyone else. For someone like Kenny Omega, he has had the luxury of sharing the ring with a host of legendary performers. From the likes of Hiroshi Tanahashi to Bryan Danielson and Chris Jericho, Omega has rubbed shoulders with the best of the best. However, there is one talent whom Omega would have loved to share a match with.

Responding to a fan's question on Twitter, Omega revealed that "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels would be his dream opponent. Unfortunately, HBK decided to call it a day in 2010, except for that one-time return as part of D-Generation X to take on the Brothers of Destruction at 2018's Crown Jewel event. That said, had Omega stayed on with the WWE when he was still in developmental, it would be interesting to ponder if he would have gotten a shot at Michaels, who was still an active performer at the time. A 60-minute Iron Man contest between HBK and Omega sounds like the five-star match wrestling fans would salivate over.

He doesn't want wrestling to become a monopoly

While Kenny Omega is undoubtedly an AEW guy, someone who wants to see the promotion he's heavily invested in become the top company in the world, he previously spoke about his fear of wrestling becoming a monopoly with the WWE. In an interview with Uproxx, he revealed how the WWE hoarding talent for the sake of it didn't help anyone in the long run. While he stated he was happy that people were getting paid and having the opportunity to wrestle for a living, he also saw the detrimental effect on the industry as a whole due to the lack of competition.

"But as everyone gets picked up, as all these independent promotions have to shut down and close their doors because of WWE scooping everyone up, everyone's going to lose an option," Omega said. "And that guy you saw for that one tournament, you're not going to see him anymore. You can't put him on TV, there's only so much time. So eventually, people are going to run out of options." While these comments were made in 2016, it would be interesting to gauge how Omega feels about this in lieu of the fact the AEW now has a loaded roster that's also impossible to feature on television every single week.

Kenny Omega played a Street Fighter character

From his Twitch channel to his overall involvement in "AEW Fight Forever," there's no disputing that Kenny Omega is a huge video game fan. In fact, one of his signature moves, the V-Trigger, is inspired by the popular fighting game "Street Fighter." As a fan of the franchise, Omega received a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join it in the form of appearing in a live-action promo video for the launch of "Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition" in 2018.

Omega confirmed his involvement in the project via Twitter, where he revealed he portrayed the role of the fighter Cody — which was ironic to wrestling fans since the character resembles Cody Rhodes a lot more than Omega and "The American Nightmare" was one of his biggest nemeses at the time. Regardless, the opportunity certainly meant a lot for Omega as a fan of the games. It remains to be seen if the franchise considers bringing him back if another "Street Fighter" movie or television series enters production in the future.