Reigning and inaugural IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega was recently a guest on E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness. Among other things, Omega talked about leaving WWE developmental for Japan, his original character in NJPW, losing the opportunity to lead The Bullet Club to AJ Styles, doubting whether he would be taken seriously as a heavyweight in NJPW after being in the junior heavyweight division, and being friends with Xavier Woods.
According to Omega his goal was always to work in Japan, even when he was with WWE's developmental territory at the time, Deep South Wrestling.
"Even coming in to going to developmental, my end goal and the place I always wanted to be was Japan still, so I went into developmental wishing I could be in Japan or at least having experienced that first." Omega considered, "looking back at it now, maybe I wasn't mature enough or I couldn't… I mean, I loved wrestling and it was such a passion of mine to… and I mean the artistic and creative part of wrestling and actually the act of doing it. I didn't love the business part of it, if that makes sense."
Omega claimed that he became disillusioned by WWE's developmental system because he was creatively stifled.
"I felt like any attempt to show my personality was sabotaged in a way a little bit. I would have a move, for example, and then, I'd have somebody tell me exactly why it makes no sense, but really, nothing makes sense. It's so easy to [say that a pro wrestling move makes no sense]." Omega added, "so I was kind of mindf--ked a little bit and I started to, not lose confidence in myself, but just kind of lose confidence in the system."
Also during the interview, Omega recalled that he decided to leave Deep South when he asked for some creative direction and it went unanswered.
"I wrote some stuff out and I didn't hear anything back. They didn't even go, 'that sucked' or 'it was okay'. I heard just nothing and at that point I thought, 'wow, there really is no light at the end of this tunnel and I really don't want to be this guy that is miserable sitting on the sidelines wishing he could contribute more.' And so I thought I still have this faith deep in myself. I do believe there's something more I can do. So I just wanted to show WWE that I could be someone that could make wrestling a lot of money and be a major player as myself. And I understand at that point in time the broken down 170 lbs. Kenny Omega was worthless, so what I wanted to do was build myself back up from the bottom again, actually refind that confidence that I once had, go back to the drawing board and come up with something to make me me, and head back at it."
Omega stated that he originally had a 'Ringmaster' Steve Austin type of gimmick at NJPW. Moreover, Omega divulged that there was talk of making 'The Cleaner' the leader of The Bullet Club before Styles signed with NJPW in 2014.
"Originally, I was supposed to be kind of like 'The Ringmaster', Steve Austin, 'The Ringmaster'. I was supposed to be cold, calculating, I was supposed to always have a mouthpiece. New Japan fans are kind of their own fans. There were of course some crossover, but a lot of New Japan fans only knew their product, so they thought it was cool for me to just pretend I never knew Japanese anymore or at least chose not to speak it, so I was no longer, or I wasn't supposed to be a wrestler. And for me, I really thought I was going to be given a chance to shine, especially now that before then, I was sort of or they had discussions about making me the leader of The Bullet Club.
"Yeah, and then, right at the eleventh hour, AJ was freed up from his eight-month contract and they were like, 'oh, AJ's free - we've got to do something. We'll make him the leader of The Bullet Club.' So I kind of became the junior guy. I was like, 'okay, well, if that's the case, I'll just be the best darn junior guy I can be.' It didn't last very long and eventually, I was kind of able to do my own thing again."
In regards to his move from the junior heavyweight division to NJPW's heavyweight division, Omega admitted that he initially doubted whether fans would take him seriously as a heavyweight, but had everyone believing within a month.
"After I had become a heavyweight, I was vaulted into the Intercontinental title picture and people were kind of hesitant at first because I had literally just lost the day before, the Junior Heavyweight title. Why are they going to believe, suddenly, that I can challenge for the IC belt? I totally understand the reason they didn't buy it at first, but I thought when I first kind of heard the crickets upon me announcing that I would challenge for the IC belt that, 'just wait, I'm going to show you guys and prove my worth here' and within a month people were believing."
On his relationship with Woods, Omega brought up their mutual love of video games. 'The Street Fighting Man' said Woods is "cool guy" and he proud to call the SmackDown Live Superstar a friend.
"I've really got to hand it to the guy. We both barely have any time to do anything. And he [has] always just been so cool where if I'm able to make it to an event, he'll find a way to be at that same event as me. This year, like, I was in Florida for a video game competition and I think he took a redeye from somewhere across the country to be there that day without any sleep. Real cool guy. I'm proud to call him my friend or frenemy or whatever."
Don't be a reekazoid - check out the podcast here! If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness