Views From The Turnbuckle: A Look At Wrestling's Most Unique Star

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During Ring of Honor's 14th Anniversary show, Kenny Omega made his return to ROH after a six year absence from the company. Getting a big reaction from the crowd and aided by his fellow Bullet Club members The Young Bucks, Omega charged down to the ring, holding a broom to symbolize his gimmick of being The Cleaner. Omega marched to ring side and furiously sat the broom down next ROH play-by-play announcer Kevin Kelly and attached a headset to the broom, as if it was going to be a third person on commentary.


Normally this would be very silly, and in fact there was an air of goofiness to Omega's action, but he is able to routinely do this and similar acts and still be taken seriously as a competitor because of the utter sincerity in which he performs them. There is no smile on Omega's face when he does this, no wink to the audience that this is a moment of comedy before his match, he gives off no impression except that he really wants this broom to take a seat at the commentary table.

In an industry that used to worship creativity and individuality, professional wrestling has seemed to revert back to a more basic form. In the era of state-of-the-art performance centers and the cookie-cutter model for what a professional wrestler should be, there seems to be less and less room for originality in wrestling. There is a consensus in wrestling that there seems to be a lackluster amount of new stars being created, and part of that probably relies on the fact that so many up-and-coming wrestlers seem to be the same. So many of the wrestlers poised to carry the industry into future decades are criticized for being boring, or lacking charisma. This is certainly not true for all talents, if at all, but there is no doubt that part of the reason the business has been in an overall decline recently is because the industry lacks new, exciting stars.


When it comes to Omega, he is truly a wrestler who marches to the beat of his own drum. Even if you are not a fan of Omega and find his gimmick senseless, there is no denying that Omega is a unique and original talent. He has most famously adapted his gimmick after a hardcore gamer, which is interesting considering nothing seems intimidating about someone who plays video games often. Video games have obviously influenced Omega a great deal in his career, and his character as a performer mirrors the characteristics of classic video game villains.

However, it was a movie character, Sylvester Stallone's Marion Cobretti from the 1986 film Cobra that would inspire Omega's latest and greatest creation. Since debuting returning to New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2014, Omega has dubbed himself "The Cleaner" someone that was going to clean up the NJPW Junior Heavyweight Division. Taking one look at Omega it is incredibly unsurprising that he was influenced by characters from the 1980s, with his trench coat, sunglasses, tooth pick and haunting music, he might as well be in a 1980s action film.

It is not just his character that is so different, but Omega himself has become a true rebel in the business. After working in his native Canada for the first several years of his career until he was given a WWE developmental contract in 2005 and was assigned to Deep South Wrestling, which at the time was a developmental territory for WWE. Despite being just 22 years old and steps away from reaching the bright lights of WWE, Omega grew discontented with the company, clashing with trainers Bill DeMott and Bob Holly, and eventually left the company in 2006.


After leaving WWE, Omega was notified of a promotion in Japan called Dramatic Dream Team, or DDT for short. DDT specialized in comedic matches that parodied American wrestling promotions like WWE or and WCW. Considering Omega's comedic talents and the fact that his character was influenced by mostly Japanese video games, it seemed like a perfect fit. While watching DDT matches, Omega also grew enamored with a young aerialist named Kota Ibushi who he desperately wanted to work with. In one of the more unique ways to get hired, Omega filmed himself wrestling a cartoonish wrestling match outside of a house and challenged Ibushi to a match at a DDT event. After uploading the video to YouTube, Omega got his reward and was signed to a match with Ibushi. Eventually the two would form a tag team and become an institution in the company.

The theatrics that Omega became known for began to overshadow the fact that Omega was a tremendous wrestler in addition to being a gifted entertainer. A tremendous athlete, Omega can take to the skies and deliver high-flying maneuvers as well as grapple on the mat and exchange holds with technical and submission wrestlers. Lately he has added more power moves to his arsenal, including his awesome finisher, the One-Winged Angel. Omega has earned a reputation as one of the very best workers in promotions around the world, not only in Japan but in Ring of Honor and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla as well.


Omega has since moved to Japan and currently lives in Tokyo. He has become entrenched in Japan more so than pretty much any other wrestler in history. Plenty of wrestlers, like Stan Hansen and The Funks were bigger stars in Japan, but none of them breathed Japan the way that Omega does. He speaks fluent Japanese, although in a tremendous heel move, he stopped cutting his promos in Japanese and spoke them in English, a direct slap in the face to the Japanese fans.

When Omega joined NJPW, he vehemently denied being a member of The Bullet Club. The Bullet Club of course was a stable comprised of gaijin, or foreign, wrestlers who were taking out their aggressions on the native wrestlers. Omega said that he did not feel that he was a gaijin, and thus he wasn't ideologically in line with The Bullet Club. To an extent this was true, plenty of foreign wrestlers work in Japan, few work for independent promotions like DDT and even fewer end up living in the country and mastering the language. In a lot of ways Omega could have been the perfect foil for The Bullet Club, a North American wrestler that appreciated Japan instead of insulting it. This is why it hurt so much when Omega ended up in fact becoming a part of The Bullet Club and turned his back on the country that made him famous.


Since joining The Bullet Club Omega has seen his career reach unprecedented heights, moving up to the heavyweight division and dethroning company ace Hiroshi Tanahashi to capture the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. He has become one of the top names in all of wrestling and one of the most requested talents on earth, wrestling for NJPW, ROH and PWG, essentially taking up all of the dates that AJ Styles vacated when he left for WWE. Speaking of WWE, the company has reportedly made several offers to Omega in the last couple years, with Omega flat turning them down each time. If only they knew what they had back in 2005, the entire wrestling industry could be very different.