Recently on Talk Is Jericho, ‘The Superstar Of All Superstars’ Chris Jericho caught up with the hottest professional wrestler in the world today, Kenny Omega. Among other things, Omega talked about his notorious match against a little girl, wrestling a blowup doll, and the Kenny Omega character.
On the subject of Omega’s match with a 9-year-old girl, ‘The Cleaner’ admitted that it was his favorite match of that year. As the story goes, Omega’s opponent was a young child who was upset that she was not being recruited to become a professional wrestler. The promotion wanted to cheer her up by letting her have a match.
“We were a small company [at DDT]. Eventually, we had grown as sort of the mainstays of the company to become this number two [or] three promotion in Japan. We were running Ryogoku Sumo Hall and we eventually even ran [Nippon] Budokan when [Kota] Ibushi and I had that rematch in 2012 in front of a sold out Budokan. But yeah, we were running Ryogoku, and there was this promotion that had a lot of money back behind it. And they were using a lot of, like, kickboxing girls who were just getting into becoming Joshi pro wrestlers. And, for whatever reason, when we were scouting talent and recruiting talent, in the beginners class, there was this little girl and I believe she was seven years old. And she was a huge wrestling fan and she was really jealous and heartbroken that all these girls were getting scooped [up] from the shoot boxing academy to become pro wrestlers because she was the biggest fan of them all. So they felt bad and they wanted to find something for her and so they had asked me because I had done some mix [gender] stuff before in Japan on the indies and said, ‘Kenny’s really good. He’s safe. He [has] helped some of our developing talents become better and maybe you could work with him for a couple of weeks and see if we can get you to a point where you could do something in the ring.’ And so, I said, ‘yeah, sure!'”
Omega acknowledged that he was worried that the match would have been career suicide if he hurt the girl, but the positives outweighed the possible negatives.
“They had said, ‘okay, well, on the day of your big show, we’re hoping that you could do an exhibition with her’ and it felt like time had moved to a standstill because I saw this grand opportunity in front of me where I could show everyone something special and something real fun and funny. But at the same time, it’s a huge risk because that’s a permanent black eye on your career. It’s possibly career suicide. If you hurt a girl in front of a huge, sold out crowd and then that goes online and you know how things work. And then, I just become a laughing stock if I wasn’t already. Do you know what I mean? But I think the positives outweighed the negatives.”
As for wrestling a blowup doll, Omega explained that the blowup doll was featured in matches at DDT, but he and Ibushi were the first to wrestle the doll in competitive matches.
“We had both done the blowup doll 10 or 12 times.” Omega recalled, “and Ibushi and I are really strange and having a fun time and we like innovating when we can and where we can. Then we decided, ‘let’s have a more competitive match with these. We’re top guys in this company. In this crazy world that is DDT, which is kind of a world that exists within itself, let’s have a match where this guy takes us to the freaking limit.’ And it got so over that we ended up having to do this match over and over and over.”
Omega professed that he tried to structure the matches in a way that it seemed possible the doll could win.
“If you’re willing to enjoy the match for what it is, I really try to structure it in a way where, ‘yes, this thing is defending itself, it’s attacking, it has a chance of winning.'” Omega added, “we make people feel sorry for this thing and make people feel as though it’s a human being putting its life on the line for the entertainment of the fans.”
In Omega’s view, he and Ibushi put a lot of time and energy into making those matches good.
“We took a lot of time and effort to come out with a way this is going to look legitimate and a way that people are going to be sucked into this world where you could believe it. And yeah, the more I talk about this subject, the crazier I’ll sound, so I’ll leave it at that!”
With respect to the Kenny Omega character, Omega said that ‘The Cleaner’ was supposed to be a hitman or a silent and cold persona like ‘The Ringmaster’ Steve Austin, but he always pictured himself more like Jericho.
“When I was given the Kenny Omega, ‘The Cleaner’ gimmick I’m using now, that’s the thing. What is ‘The Cleaner’, right? It was supposed to be, because of The Bullet Club, the bullets and guns, ‘The Cleaner’ was supposed to be sort of like an assassin gimmick, the guy that cleans up the murder cite or whatever it is after there’s a hit put on someone.”
Omega continued, “the idea they gave me, I was supposed to be like the dude from The Professional. They wanted me to be very silent, very cold. The way I had pictured it, because New Japan takes a lot of influence from WWE, the way they book things, the way they model their characters, it sort of felt like they wanted me to be like ‘Ringmaster’ Steve Austin where he had mouth pieces around him at all times, where he was more or less silent, and a very cold, calculated individual. And I always pictured myself more like [Jericho], where, yes, I can wrestle, but also I can speak for myself. I have this original style that I want to show to the world. I don’t want to be kind of this beat down, bruise you up kind of dude and have Karl Anderson cut all my promos for me. I don’t want to have to do that.”
Omega believes that ‘The Cleaner’ became something “totally different” when he began to treat the name literally and brought cleaning supplies to the ring with him. Moreover, Omega says the character is really just himself.
“I sort of took the literal term of ‘The Cleaner’ and I started bringing janitorial items to the ring with me, so I took garbage bags and brooms and mops.” Omega reflected, “I guess what Kenny Omega is, even though the image is something that was given to me by New Japan, and then tweaked by me, it’s just me, Tyson Smith. Yeah, that’s me, just a guy that likes to joke around when he doesn’t have to be serious. And when he has to be serious, he’s really serious!”
Omega picked his ring name because he wanted a name that sounded like a real name, like Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, but he also wanted to use the last name ‘Omega’.
“Okay, we were in high school and we were sort of like, ‘hey,’ this is when the nWo boom came about, so this is when Razor Ramon and Diesel would reveal that their names are really Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. And I was like, ‘what? They’re going to wrestle as their real names?'” Omega continued, “I was set on using ‘Omega’. And I was like, ‘what can I add to Omega not to sound like I was some kind of supernatural being, but just like a normal dude?’ And I just thought that ‘Kenny’ flowed into the ‘O’, so it was like, ‘Kennyomega.’ Do you know what I mean? And that was it and it kind of stuck.”
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Source: Talk Is Jericho